Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cornettos

Over the last few days I've received some disheartening emails from a few people who correspond with me in the context of this blog. It wouldn't be right to go into specifics but they share a common theme of people grappling with the realities of their own mortality

Which has got me thinking about Cornettos




About two years ago I was sitting in a hospital with my mother and my father

My father was suffering from cancer and had been in and out of hospital for three years; first for some surgery and then as a result of, surprise surprise, an infection contracted in the hospital after the surgery


My Dad would often complain about having a dry throat and he wasn't eating very much. We had got into the habit of picking up some ice creams from the hospital shop to share with him

So, there we were, all three of us eating Cornettos when his consultant appeared and sat down at the end of his bed. Then the consultant said something like...

'Well Tony. Your test results are in and, um, it seems that there's no more we can do for you. Now's the time to do whatever it is you want to do and to put you're affairs in order. OK, um, I've got to pop down to surgery now but if there's anything that I can help you with you know how to get hold of me. Righty ho, bye'

and then he fucked off

We were still holding our ice creams

which we proceed to finish off, in silence, being careful to pop the wrappers in the bin afterwards

There are a couple of reasons why I'm writing that story down

First off, because the image of me sitting there eating ice cream whilst my father was being told his number was up is one that will stay with me to my own dying day. Whenever anyone suggests that there is a Creator and that he has seriously warped sense of humour, I think ice cream

Secondly, for a moment after hearing the news, I thought about chucking my half-eaten treat into the bin but I checked out my parents and they continued chomping through theirs. And I remember thinking, fuck it, if I were to stop eating ice cream just because I know someone I care for is going to die, or that I'm going to die, I'd never eat another fucking thing, or do another fucking thing, ever again. Why should having a better idea of when the inevitable is going to happen make any difference?

though, it has to be said, that's the last Cornetto I've ever eaten and subsequently, whenever given the choice, I've always plumped for a cup rather than a cone

-

I pasted up that link to the Sheldrake video a few posts back because, for all his faults, what Sheldrake and plenty of others are suggesting is that we, in spite of all of Dawkins' reductionist protestations, really haven't got the foggiest idea of what Life is all about. It might not all be just about selfish genes. I personally think that there probably is something else going on. Sheldrake and Co. are also reminding us along the way that Life is a wonderful, as well as a mind-bogglingly mysterious, thing. It is easy, particularly in hard times, to forget that

I cannot prove it scientifically but I am sure that Life is worth living, every day right up to your last, that it is the hard times rather than the good which bring out the best in people and, short of serious, debilitating pain, I would never consider condoning the termination of my, or anyone else's, existence prematurely

I'm glad that video resonated with a least a couple of people who clicked on the link and for anyone else who clicked but didn't feel the vibe, apologies, I'll try and find something else one of these days

-

edit: and as luck(?) would have it, half an hour after I put this post up, I was walking down the road and noticed this newly chalked graffiti in the entrance to a boarded up pub...

.

26 comments:

somebodysomewhere said...

It's not about selfish genes, there is much more going on and the world that we live in is not the same as the dark place that Dawkins inhabits and promotes. Mr Dawkins is in for a bit of a surprise I think.

All the best to you and keep up your good work.

Anti_NWO said...

Sorry to hear that Stef. But hey, at least you weren't disowned for dating a girl of different culture and race.

Stef said...

@sbs

atb to you too

@anwo

no, I haven't, and if anyone pulled that shit with me I certainly wouldn't be buying them any ice creams

rob said...

Similar story to yours.
My mates father died about 6 months.He was in his 80´s and had been ill for a few years with respiratory/lung problems.

Anyway he got taken into hospital.He was in a real bad way,,looked like his number was up.Martin went to visit him the next day after they had done an emergency op .He went with his mother and sister.He found his father sitting up in bed looking great and in good spirits.
Just like your experience Stef,in pranced a young doc and said in the middle of the visit"Danny,you know that your going to die soon"
My mate said he felt like jumping up and smashing the heartless bastads head off the wall.Anyway after the insensitive cunt made the final announcement the life literally drained out the old boys face.He died a few days later.



Kariark

Anonymous said...

no, I haven't, and if anyone pulled that shit with me...

Same sort of thing happened to my other half for different reasons, she's been through worse shit than me. But you know what, we both came out stronger after it so perhaps it wasn't all bad.

She's held down jobs fairly consistently despite all that, I'm finally getting some leads into employment myself nearly a month after losing my last job..

paul said...

My father shuffled off about 13 months ago at the grand old age of 90. Ambulatory until the last month when he broke his hip, had a gruelling operation, and then succumbed to a massive haemorrhage from a tumour in his bowel.

He managed to hang on to receive absolution from a comedy irish priest, thanked my mother for a lovely life and we both watched the light go out of him.

I wouldn't have taken away the comfort his accepting, unquestioning faith gave him for all the rationality in the world.

The medical staff were excellent.

Merkin said...

Thanks for your story, Stef.

It brought back memories for me from last year.

Even though I am from a medical family it was difficult to 'mention the war'.

I blogged about it elsewhere.

'Yesterday, I had told the nurse that I was pretty sure that my mother had not been told exactly what her state of health was.

Maybe Doctors have reasons for that but it is not what my mother would want.

In fact, the nurse asked her that exactly ‘are you the sort of person who wants to know or do you want to leave it to others?’

Imagine what my mother said !!

‘So, what do you know so far?’, she asked.

My mother told her.

Ok. The nurse expanded on that in a matter of fact way that automatically took us through the barriers.

I could hardly breathe and wished I had cut my nails my fists were so tightly clenched.

We went through the next steps.

‘Home’ to hospital across the water as a first step - which cheered my mother up immensely. She also mentioned that there is a place in the Hospice that is free - so you can decide which is better.

She is getting chemo and radio and that will continue - even though it is not curative.

Mum understands.

I said, ‘ok I have a wig at home’ and my mother laughed.

The nurse never thought I was being serious until I explained to her that I do still have a wig from my days in a heavy rock band.

We talk about wigs for a few minutes and the nurse outlines the options.

I suggest to my mother that she gets one of the ‘Cher’ types with all the beads and stuff.

My mother does a little shimmy under the bedclothes and reminds me that she is ’some dancer, when she gets going’.

We have a laugh.

The nurse has to leave for a few minutes.

My mum says ’shows you how quickly things develop. Still, I knew it wasn’t just a ‘bad back’ ages ago’.

I tell her I knew as well ‘as soon as you couldn’t go for your morning constitutional to the shops and get all the gossip I knew there was something wrong’.

Still, she is relieved that she knows a bit more.

The nurse comes back and we tie things up for the moment.

As we are leaving, I thank the nurse for her help in broaching difficult subjects.

She was marvellous.'

I was very lucky.

Stef said...

@m & p

your parents sound like dudes

the night my old man passed away, the nurses at the hospice (very excellent, very matter of fact) warned us what was likely. My brother came tearing down to pick me from South London where I was catching on some sleep and we came tearing back up to my father

He passed away no more than a couple of minutes after we arrived. Even though he was unconscious at the time, I'm pretty sure he was hanging on waiting for us. He was a very reliable bloke right up to the end

Stef said...

As for the fact that we are living in increasingly shittier times. jobs and all, I've personally maintained a pretty consistent position that things are going to get a whole lot worse before there's a chance that they're going to get better

I would like to be wrong.

But even if I am right I don't see that as defeatist thinking or a reason to be downhearted or depressed. Maintaining false hopes which are inevitably dashed, that's the path to losing faith.

The system we live under is going to die and we're not talking in a hundred years time. There's just no way it is going to die easy

Whether people replace it with something more decent or not, that's an issue where hope is an appropriate sentiment and all of us who are still around might be able to make a difference

Anonymous said...

"which we proceed to finish off, in silence, being careful to pop the wrappers in the bin afterwards"

I hope you would be similarly careful not to accidentally leave a thumbtack on a nearby seat, after beckoning the doctor to take the weight off his feet etc...

-lw-

Anti_NWO said...

The system we live under is going to die and we're not talking in a hundred years time. There's just no way it is going to die easy

Whether people replace it with something more decent or not, that's an issue where hope is an appropriate sentiment and all of us who are still around might be able to make a difference


Sod that. Thats pessimistic even by my standards. Are you saying because it took ~300 years to get here that it'll take 300 to reverse it? I don't think so..plus we have tools like the internet now.

Anti_NWO said...

Also, as a little research will show, history is never decided by the majority\average citizen. It is always decisive individuals that drastically change things.

Stef said...

Nope, the other way

When I say it we're not talking 100 years, I'm thinking more like 3 to 30 than 100 to 300

Whether you're impressed with the results or not, the American War of Independence had the support of something like 5% of the population when it got started. It didn't even have 20% support by the time it finished

If you exclude the people who can't be arsed or are in denial, an active 5%, or less, is enough

Stef said...

though I wouldn't count on the internet being around if and when the shit really does hit the fan

lots of big cables have turned out to be on the fragile side over the last year or two

Anonymous said...

Well yes, and I suspect those cables were deliberately cut (notice how they were all around the Asian continent?)

anon 22:41 said...

Active minorities are absolutely nothing, zero, nada, without the support or passivity of the greater numbers.

It's an old delusion that an active minority can change anything at all, that it can be a vanguard, that the masses would follow their example.

All attemps to overthrow a government by an active minority on its own have all failed miserably.

A good example being Che Guevara who ended up hounded like an animal in the arse-end of nowhere in Bolivia. Same stuff for the tupamaros, marighella, the baader-meinhoff, and the salafi.

Stef said...

I don't actually disagree and I don't think there's a contradiction there

A lot more than a small minority are going to get pissed off alright. That's a precondition for change and the reason why I've always believed things will have to get dire before things can get better.

The truth is that most people don't comprehend or care if their own comfort is dependent on the discomfort of others, or that the system they live under is unsustainable, until it is their turn to be uncomfortable or surplus to requirements

What does happen very frequently is that the discontent of the many is hijacked/ co-opted by a minority and steered to suit the minority's ends

This will happen again

There's one very well organised, well funded, ruthless minority which has its own ideas about how events and popular discontent are going to be handled

Theres's also another, less organised, appallingly funded, far from ruthless collection of loons who couldn't agree on a common ideology in a month of Sundays.

If I'm still around, and able, I'll be standing with the loons

Stef said...

For completeness' sake I should also mention a school of thought that was particularly popular in the 60s and 70s with people like Charlie Manson and, yes, Baader Meinhof

The idea being that you couldn't be arsed to wait for things to kick off of their own accord so you tried to wind Black or Working Class people up a bit by staging a few atrocities of your own

Aside from the fact that this both insane and wicked, and doing The Man's work for him, I can't shrug the feeling that these characters were no different to The Man and were simply fucked off at the fact they weren't in charge telling people what to do

Anonymous said...

The truth is that most people don't comprehend or care if their own comfort is dependent on the discomfort of others, or that the system they live under is unsustainable, until it is their turn to be uncomfortable or surplus to requirements

What does happen very frequently is that the discontent of the many is hijacked/ co-opted by a minority and steered to suit the minority's ends


Agreed. The first paragraph is basically what I was trying to say but didn't word it very well.

anon 22:41 said...

The idea being that you couldn't be arsed to wait for things to kick off of their own accord so you tried to wind Black or Working Class people up a bit by staging a few atrocities of your own

..or have planes slam into tall buildings. Terror is only a technique, and it is way more effective as a tool of control for a state than as a strategy of insurrection, as the payoff is repression.

However terror has one merit for a weak minority: it is great for publicity.

Stef said...

again I agree

which is what I meant by doing The Man's work for him

and in the case of many of these groups, I think, knowingly

Anonymous said...

My loon radar is detecting 'Hegelian dialectic' , but I wont go there ...doh!

Anonymous said...

Banks aint looking good.

ROYAL BK SCOTL GR (RBS.L)

BARCLAYS (BARC.L)

HSBC HLDG (HSBA.L)

LLOYDS TSB (LLOY.L)

paul said...

Banks aint looking good.

I can't remember when they did.

Parabellum said...

With regards to Baader Meinhof: While I agree on the other points you mention I think that your assertion that they were simply fucked off at the fact they weren't in charge telling people what to do is in my POV a blunt lie propagated by the scumbags that are here in Germany, mainly in the last years. If they were fucked off, then by the fact that the same nazi-shit scumbags were still in power in Germany, fraternizing with the imperialistic US or openly fascist Spain or Greece. Many in the German left believed that fascism was back for bad - and I can't blame them for that. Heck, I think I would have shot Schleyer if I had the chance. Placing a bomb in the US facilities in Heidelberg, which were at that time providing logistics for the carpet-bombing runs over North-Vietnam, was the best thing that the German RAF did in my POV, even if it did cost the live of 3 US soldiers.

That they did the work for the man - no question. A (rather small) number of them might even have been in the payroll of the scumbags that were, I'm rather sure.

Parabellum said...

And Stef, don't put too much hope in the Lumpenproletariat. Or at least be leery of the reliability of their support. When push comes to shove, they are easily lured into supporting the worst of the worst.