Well, after a day of appointments and not getting much done workwise because I was so down in the dumps, Friday evening saw me to drive to Hereford.
When I left London I felt listless and numb with all the bloody crying and black moods of the previous few days. When I got to Hereford I felt sheer relief, like I'd shed the black mood like a skin behind me. I still felt a little fragile, but after a few hours curled up on the sofa and a good night's sleep, I woke up on Saturday and felt normal again.
I'm not sure how much credit I can lay at R's feet for this. Certainly he plays a massive role in keeping me feeling happy and positive. He just seems to be able to do it without doing anything much identifiable exactly. If I had to pinpoint what he actively did, I'd find it very hard. It's clearly all done with sleight of hand and bad puns. But I am grateful.
Saturday saw us visit friends - one of whom was diagnosed with metatastic melanoma last autumn and is having a very hard time of it. Since then he has had one operation on his leg to remove a 9x2cm tumour, three operations on his brain (one to remove the tumour that had settled in up there and two to go back in and pour hydrogen peroxide in there to rid him of some infection they'd left in there...), a further massive tumour removed from his upper right arm which also meat removing a piece of a nerve which means he has lost control of his right hand, and most recently, a massive operation to remove 7 or so tumours across his stomach. His skin is made up increasingly of long scars, he has lost his hair through the radiotherapy he's received on his skull, he can no longer use his right hand for anything, nooone can tell him how long he has got left, and he's currently on chemo 3 of 6. We talked a lot, and it was with heavy hearts we left. He's a lovely guy with a lovely family and deserves to have a hell of a lot longer than he's probably got.
Whenever I meet others who have been affected by cancer, firstly their cases uses make mine pale into insignificance, and secondly, I always leave, blown away by the sheer magnitude and scale of cancer and how it dramatically impacts so many people's lives.
The scale of the unfairness and shittiness of this situation always upsets me. None of these people seem to have done anything to deserve it, neither from the point of view of living the wrong sort of lifestyle nor from the more buddhist stance of deserving some of divine justice for crimes and misdemeanours previously committed.
It's just simply not fair, and I guess that's where a lot of the anger comes from.
But trite and shallow as it might be, our moods were soon lifted by the evening's entertainment. We'd got tickets to see a band we like - one we originally saw at one of the summer festivals. Called The Redlands Palomino Company they play great country rock - they are from somewhere round the Forest of Dean/South Wales/Gloucestershire area, but sing and play like they're in a spit and sawdust bar in some hick town in the Southern States. Last night's gig was at a tiny, beautifully restored theatre in Monmouth. When we arrived there were about two people there and we feared for how the evening would develop. However, halfway through the support act's set, about 30 fans (or possibly just drinking buddies) of the band walked in. All of them wore brightly coloured caps, lumberjack style flannel shirts and stuck on black goatie beards in homage to the male vocalist from RPC, Alex.
The evening turned into a surreal mix between great music and surreal comedy, as the real Alex scorned and mocked the fake Alex's, and vice versa, culminating in getting all the fake Alex's up on stage for the final encore. They swarmed the stage and the real Alex went to hide behind the drummer, playing his guitar in the relative safety of the shadow of the drums.
R and I drove home and agreed we had never been to a funnier music gig...