Friday, 13 March 2015

The Greedy Thief and Mary Berry's One Bowl Method

I have been getting some stick from certain quarters about not writing a blog for a while. The reason for my blog-silence is because life for me has changed a lot recently - all to the good, I'm pleased to say - and with that has come quite a big mental adjustment.

During the eight or so months since the beginning of my diagnosis, it has been hard to think about anything but getting through the day. Indeed, my mantra has been, until recently, 'tomorrow will be better'. I call cancer the Greedy Thief because as well as all the obvious characteristics which are both inward and physical, and outward and visible - from nausea, flu-like symptoms and fatigue to hair loss and the drastic state of my toe nails with everything in between, there is also the mental aspect. The Greedy Thief takes over your mind.

So when you start to feel better and other parts of your life come back into focus, they jostle for position in your cancer-ridden brain.

First this took the form of not-joined-up-thinking, as they say in management-speak. I could only explain this to number 1 daughter in terms of the Mary Berry Victoria Sponge One Bowl Method. Here's how it goes... You put the butter, sugar, eggs, baking powder and flour into the mixer and switch on. A few moments later - having greased and lined two sandwich tins (in case you're following this recipe) you go back to the mixer. In the normal brain world, the bowl would contain sponge mixture but because my brain hasn't been joining things up in this way, in my bowl there are still butter, sugar, eggs, baking powder and flour. So the separate elements are there in my brain but they are not joining up.

Anyway, joining up seems to be happening a bit more now but there are a million things which I could not, and therefore did not, address which are now most definitely barking for attention. After months of not sweating the small stuff, there's a veritable mountain of small stuff to sweat.

Whilst I was poorly, I lay about a good deal more than usual and wrote lists. There is the bucket list on the blackboard wall in the downstairs loo of places I want to go - one done, four booked but dozens more to go. Then there is the secret list of things I would like my beloved to do (think diy not 50 Shades!) but I can't tell him about that because he is not List Man. If I write him a list he goes into meltdown and does none of the things on the list so I have to sneak up on him and give him one thing to do at a time (after 30 years of marriage I am getting subtle!)

Finally there is the domestic snagging list - the longest list of all. This is the result of going into each room and deciding what needs doing after living in this house for 27 years and being too busy with children and life to do much in the way of home maintenance. And now all these things are being done with the help of the lovely Andy (thank you Sue Wells!) and various other professionals including decorators and the marvellous plumber, Steve who was only slightly embarrassed to find a thong down the back of my office radiator and mighty relieved to discover it wasn't mine!

So I feel like I am at last catching at the coattails of life. Yes, I've been to Edinburgh and seen where beautiful number 4 daughter has lived since September. I am embracing number 2's wedding in November - via two other weddings along the way, at one of which I am honoured to be giving a reading - thanks so much Sam and Rachel and Oli and Emily. Number 1 is returning home from the Far East after her triumphant season finale in Call the Midwife and number 3 will be coming home next week with tons of washing and hopefully no facial hair (well, a mum can dream!) So life really is starting to go on and I am no longer stuck like a pooh stick lodged under a bridge.

Number 4 is running the Great North Run in September in aid of Cancer Research. I am so proud of her. If you would like to support her, go to

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