DIARY OF AN OCTOGENARIAN

- John Copeland -


Friday 14th April - Thursday 20th April, 2017


WARNING; The diary this week contains many details relating to my diagnosis of cancer. Many people may prefer not to read the entries.


Flowers

Japonica bush in the garden - a magnificent display


"There is no greater sorrow than to recall a time of happiness."

Dante


FRIDAY 14 APRIL

Yesterday morning Mrs. Copeland set off to visit an elderly lady in a retirement home the other side of Lincoln, but when travelling through the city found that the traffic was completely gridlocked. She therefore had to return home, the visit aborted. So many of the roads in the centre of Lincoln are now closed, and other roads have temporary traffic lights as gas and broadband companies dig up the highways. It is a nightmare, no doubt making life not only impossible for the motorist, but also immensely difficult for the police and fire brigades who have to take lengthy diversions when summoned to an emergency call.

Yesterday I had quite a busy day, wanting to take my mind off my troubles, clearing up the garden shed and removing a lot of the unwanted, hoarded items that Mrs. Copeland will be taking down to the Council Waste Unit ("The Tip") tomorrow, and even cutting some of the grass. I just want to try and carry on as usual, not giving into those nasty little bligthers who are buggering up my blood.

In the post I have received details of my PETCT scan (Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography scan) at Nottingham City Hospital on the 21st April at 8 a.m., the scan being used "to create a 3D picture of the inside of the body" to determine whether the cancer has spread and the treatment that may be required. In terms of required clothing, I am advised to come dressed in "a tracksuit and trainers", said to be "ideal", which is going to cause me a bit of trouble, never having worn such garments in all my life.

However, (it is said that sentences should not begin with "however", but sod that, just as I like using the word "nice", also frowned upon by grammarians), I will visit Primark next Tuesday and buy a tracksuit, certainly providing a new and very different image. At this rate of personality profile change I will end up listening to Lincs FM Radio, and when my hair falls out and end up bald I will probably be making make some new and very different kind of friends.

This Nottingham visit, to which son-in-law Phil has kindly said he will drive us to the Hospital with Mrs. Copeland, will be followed by a heart assessment on the 24th April at the Lincoln County Hospital, and then on the morrow I have an appointment to have yet another armful of blood taken, and then a review of the PETCT results with the consultant I saw earlier - a really fine man who is so caring and considerate, very different from the one I saw in that hell of the County Hospital SEAU ward. So the NHS is really getting things going, and although I dread the chemotherapy sessions, I know that it is all for the best, having earlier felt suicidal. It has certainly changed my life, possibly for ever.

Growler

An American plane, "The Growler", with the fleet off the North Korean cost waiting to deal with the troublesome Kim.


Friends in the village, who have been so kind and considerate to me in this time of trouble, invited us to lunch again, being joined by another couple who live in the village. It seemed amazing that of the six people present, four of us (including myself) have had cancer, the other 3 having fully recovered. It was a most pleasant occasion, making me so grateful for this support. You certainly know who your friends are at a time like this.

Back home I had quite a long sleep, and in the evening I read some more of "Nightmare in Berlin", but I am rather tiring of the book as it seems to be so repetitive.

I find it very upsetting that our Education Secretary is proposing to dilute the grammar schools that are being set up, insisting hat they should be available for poor families, whereas the emphasis, rich or poor, should be based on ability - the whole purpose of selection. I spent my career in the education service, as a teacher and then an administrator, and when serving as the Chairman of the 11+ Selection Panel, I invariably found that children from poorer families subsequently failed in a grammar school, usually because a lack of support and encouragement from their parents, not to mention the expense.

No doubt it is yet another example of the politicians ruining everything they touch, whether it is education, pensions, agriculture or welfare. Sadly, they just cannot leave things alone. Then there is the horror of the loud-mouthed teachers at their Easter Conference, opposing anything that is of benefit to the children. As we all know, the hatred of the teachers' unions of grammar schools is all to do with the loathing of excellence and high standards that will show up their own abysmal records.

I fully understand and appreciate that teachers today have an immense problem in the classroom, only a handful of children wanting to learn anything. Indeed, I think I would rather be a coal-miner than face the utter miseries in the classroom, but it still does not help when the teachers' unions behave so badly at the Conferences, presenting such a bad image to the public. Yet as I found during my days as a Divisional Education Officer, the worst teachers were always the most belligerent union representatives, the more intelligent and responsible teachers understandably wanting nothing to do with the unpleasant and badly behaved unions who ignorantly boo the Education Secretary.

SATURDAY 15 APRIL

I am most grateful to those readers who have written to wish me well with my present illness. Those messages have really helped to cheer me up, several having suggested that I should continue with the diary in its present form, and that if people do not like the medical details they do not need to read them. As mentioned earlier, much is going to depend upon my review on the 25th April, when I will know the results of the PETCT scan, showing if and where the cancer has spread, and what treatment can be proscribed. A rather worrying time ahead, and my glass is always half empty.

In so many ways I would like to keep the diary going, albeit recognising that there will be some days when I will feel too rotten with the chemotherapy treatment to write anything, though this will have the distinct advantage of making the entries much shorter. Down the years I have greatly enjoyed the intelligent and courteous comments on the diary, often correcting my views but never unpleasantly, and I know that I would sadly miss these communications.

The other problem is that the 8-year-old laptop is on the blink, presumably having come out in sympathy with its owner, and I just cannot face purchasing a new computer; indeed, some of the programmes, especially the juvenile web editor I use , will not work on the latest edition of Windows. On the other hand, I have an even older computer that still works, so that could possibly be brought out of its retirement.

It is, as can be imagined, a rather difficult time for me, especially these days in limbo, not yet knowing the full extent of the cancer and what treatment can be prescribed. In this uncertainty all manner of fears arise. Nevertheless, I have already learnt that I must not stay in bed in the morning wallowing in self pity, an agony that feeds upon itself making the future seem ever darker. So I must be up and about, getting up after the 8 o'clock news on the Radio 3, which is an excellent summary, properly and grammatically read, as would be expected of the posh BBC service.

In the mood swings that I am now having with regard to the lymphoma cancer, there are times when I wish that I could pass away in my sleep, not waking up in the morning, and not having to go through that awful six months of chemotherapy treatment, having needles stuck in my arm and stuff pumped into my veins, losing all my hair that will make me look as if I have just escaped from prison. This loss has nothing to do with vanity, certainly not at my great age. On the other hand, I realise that these are feelings are unhelpful and selfish, and that in terms of the "Boys' Own" advice, I must "pull myself together", difficult though it is to do so. Once I have started the chemotherapy, people telling me that it is not as bad as I expect, maybe I will start to feel happier, being grateful for the immense support I have had - something I will always appreciate.

Wedding

Mrs. Copeland and I attended a splendid wedding in the village, conducted in the local church, and then a reception at the local Club


Daughter Kate called in to see me this morning, bringing Easter eggs for me and Mrs. C., and at 11.30 p.m. a retired doctor friend called, which I greatly appreciated, having earlier resolved that I must not keep asking him questions about cancer. As it is, I have read so much about it that I probably do not need any more information, not that it is always a good idea to read about medicine on the Internet. Even so, the diagnosis on some of the sites was, as stated earlier, spot on, and I found the comments helpful in the early days of discovering the disease.

During the morning I had a telephone call from the wife of the President of the Retired Headteachers' Luncheon Club that I attend, telling me that her husband had died in the County Hospital last night. He had pancreatic cancer, but mercifully did not know that he had it, not feeling at all unwell except a few days' ago when he had pain in his limbs, being taken to hospital yesterday where he died. He was in his late 80s, and that is the way to go, no pain, no treatment, but it is nevertheless all so sad, probably meaning the end of the luncheon club.

This was a man who had hardly any of the hard stuff, ate all the right recommended food and looked after himself, but still went down with cancer, making a nonsense of all that five-a-day recommendation and all the rubbish that the Food Standards Authority puts out in its sheer ignorance about avoiding cancer. The real issue is that we are living far too long, surviving for far too many years in extra Biblical time, and our bodies are wearing out, resulting in these malfunctions. It is as simple and as miserable as that.

Fortunately, by way of a diversion, taking my mind off cancer, Mrs. Copeland and I went to a wedding at the village church at 3.30 p.m, , afterwards having a sit-down meal at the local Club. I normally find gatherings of people very difficult these days, but it was a most enjoyable session. In the past I always gave an Oxford English Dictionary as a wedding present, the full edition if I thought the marriage would last, but the abridged version for the likelihood of a shorter marriage. Today we give national garden vouchers. There was a rave-up in the evening, but I cannot abide this loud noise, so vexatious to the elderly spirit, so we went home, the evening being spent quietly in the conservatory.

Earlier in the day I read that a bunch of stag-party hooligans had been forced off a plane because of their ignorant and offensive behaviour. It saddens me that we now seem to live in a horribly unpleasant and vulgar, violent country, all the old standards of discipline and respect having disappeared. These ignorant yobs had had 11 years of compulsory education, but what utter good had it done them, probably leaving school more ignorant than when they started.

In today's "Times", Edward Lucas was saying in his column that "The Cold War was a scarier time than this. Compared with the USSR, Kim and Putin are far less of a match for a newly assertive America." Mr. Lucas makes the point that "Mr. Putin's clapped-out economy is about the size of California's." I certainly agree that Russia is no threat, being washed up as the columnist says, but President Trump is now having to deal with a North Korean leader who is totally mad. How on earth does he deal with such people, other than taking them out?

SUNDAY 16 APRIL

During the morning I did some more construction of the Airfix Shackleton aircraft, undertaking the painting, which I always find difficult, if not damned impossible, the paint usually taking 36 hours before it is dry. I made such a mess of it that, in my anger, I screwed the whole thing up and threw it into the bin, vowing not to make any more of the models.

I suppose it was all part of my despair today, a mood swing that took me to a real low in which I felt that I just wanted to die, not wanting to go through all that miserable months of treatment. In my present confused condition it would seem that I am just not able to cope with anything else going wrong, no doubt a well known psychological condition. All very pathetic.

What upsets me so much is that I had been going so happily along with life, really enjoying my retirement, when this suddenly happened, abruptly changing my life, possibly for ever. The recurrent thought of having stuff pumped into me next Friday and probably having six months of chemotherapy, feeling rotten every three weeks and losing my hair, fills me with despair and horror, making me wonder whether it is really worth it to live for a few more years, probably always worried the cancer will return.

Decorations

The excellent decorations at the local Club for the wedding reception - real imagination.


A low point indeed, but then I suppose I have to accept these mood swings that range from utter despair and wanting to have an end to life, to a degree of hope. Eventually, after wallowing in my misery, feeling as if I wanted to sob my eyes out, hardly a public school stiff-upper lip characteristic, I rallied somewhat, and at 4 o'clock we went to the local Club for a drink, which took my mind off my sadness for an hour or so. many of the members being so kind to me. Back home after a duck dinner, I sat in the conservatory making a start on reading "Reporting on Hitler - Rothay Reynolds and the British Press in Nazis Germany" by Will Wainewright, published by Biteback Publishing this year at 20. Unfortunately and possibly understandably, I felt little like reading, and in my sorrow and self pity went to bed early, having done with the day.

I therefore felt little like writing anything today, not even bothering about the North Korean missile exploding on take-off, meaning a severe loss of face for that Kim Jong-un during his celebrations. Maybe I will feel better tomorrow, when I really must try to stop wallowing in this self-pity, feeling as if my world has fallen apart.

MONDAY 17 APRIL

To add to our woes, Mrs. Copeland has severe toothache, finding it hard to eat, and there is no possibility of having any treatment until tomorrow, if then, if there is not an emergency slot. I just cannot believe the run of bad luck we are having at the moment, one thing following after another. No doubt the next thing will be for the computer to pack up. It really is so depressing.

Although I still felt so very low on waking up this morning, I am trying to put my life back together again, trying to take my mind off the grim days ahead. I have to realise that for the sake of my family, I have to "pull myself together", as they used to say in "Boy's Own Paper". I therefore read the newspapers, seeing that the teaching unions have backed plans for a possible boycott of primary school tests in England next year, the National Union of Teachers saying the tests for seven and 11-year-olds are damaging to children and education. One demented delegate likened Sats to the "monster stalking our schools", while another, apparently equally over-the-top said the tests needed to be "decapitated".

The reality is that the necessary tests show up bad teaching, and this is a terrible thing for the unions, totally unacceptable that there should be any quality control on what goes on in the classroom. Most children, if not all children, take the tests in their stride; instead, it is the teachers who are the ones worried about any form of testing, fearing their inadequacy will be fully displayed. No doubt our present Education Secretary will give into the demands, and as a consequence the standards in our schools, already at an all-time low in international measures, will fall still farther. What a miserable business it is when every policy that would improve the education of our children is opposed by the irresponsibility and selfishness of the unions, but it was ever this.

The only way to chart a child's progress is through tests, teacher-assessment often being too subjective. Indeed, it could be argued that everything in life has to be tested to examine its fitness - our health, our cars and equipment, all needing an evaluation at some point. Another very important factor is that we must not mollycoddle our children, not cocooning them in an environment free from all the dangers of the day and night, never subjecting them to any problem or pressure.

As adults they will all face immense problems in life, both in their work and in their marriage, and it will not help one little bit if as children they are overprotected, in all probability going down with stress. Facing an examination, even at the early age of 7 years, is one of those hurdles, and the children must be encouraged to face the test, rather than going down with stress because teacher says they might be upset.

It begins to look as if China will put pressure on that madman in North Korea to stop his nuclear tests, though I would not bank on it, the problem being that when weak and spineless men try to be powerful Big Boys, when they are nothing of the sort, they cannot accept a loss of face. Obviously, there is no negotiation with such a man, so the only hope is that the threat of sanctions from China will make him change his mind. It is being said that the Americans upset the North Korean computer system, thereby exploding the latest missile on take-off, which seems encouraging.

Cake

The simnel cake that Mrs. Copeland has made for Easter. Most enjoyable.

Among the e-mails - and I again thank all those people who have written to me to express sympathy for my present malfuction "situation" - I had an interesting one from a reader who told me that he had had surgery last month for colon cancer. "The signs are it was caught early and prognosis is good without any chemo. I would urge you to write about your treatment. It is of interest and could help others facing cancer."

He went on to say that, as a retied pharmacist: "There are many drugs e.g. analgesics, where one is told not to take alcohol. Frankly it is rubbish advice. All it means with analgesics is that you will have more drowsiness than usual. Only one drug, the antibiotic metronidazole, is not at all to be taken with any alcohol. With your chemo, take a small drink and see how you feel. No need to be unnecessarily self denying in my opinion."

Such excellent advice, which I greatly appreciated. I suppose the trouble is, though, that with chemotherapy the taste buds change, making a lot of food seem unpalatable, and even alcohol apparently does not taste so good. Even so, despite none of my friends believing me, I can quite easily do without alcohol. I greatly enjoy it, and I imbibe far too much, but I can easily give it up, not that I want to.

I begin to think that I may take the advice that I have received from several readers to continue with the diary, albeit in a somewhat truncated form. Whether some readers will want to read about my treatment is another matter, for it is obviously going to be a significant part of the daily entries. On the other hand, for those interested in the treatment it would be a guide to what to expect and the consequent actions and responses, seeing whether it is successful.

One problem will be finding sufficient photographs each week (8 in all), the difficulty being that it could end up as a flower book with endless photographs of the plants in the garden, not to mention the avenue of oaks.

Much to my disappointment, it seems that two of trees in the avenue of oaks - those nearest our garden, are dying, there being few leaves on them, making them look very poorly, and spoiling the overall scene. Presumably we are one step nearer to all the trees being taken down on account of health 'n' safety issues, a lovely "Oaklands" housing estate being set up in their place. This is how things work out on account of the lack of any concern for the environment in this country.

On a reasonably sunny morning, despite the temperature only reaching 10 C at 11 a.m., I rode in to town to purchase a "Times" and two books from Waterstone's, having found that I was running low in books. During the chemotherapy I will be spending 4 hours at each 3-weekly session, so I will quickly run out of books. I bought "The Locomotive of War - Money, empire and guilt", and "Russia in Revolution", this being the centenary year of that dreadful revolution that brought such misery to millions of citizens - and most of them, except for a few oligarchs, are still suffering under a brutal dictatorship, not far short of very unpleasant communism, albeit one in which capitalist organisations are allowed..

At 1.30 p.m. daughter Caroline and her husband Phil, together with granddaughter Chloe, came to lunch, so that helped to cheer me up. The evening was spent reading the book "Reporting on Hitler", which I am enjoying, a well written and interesting book.

TUESDAY 18 APRIL

Yesterday I bought a Journal in which I am going to record the cancer, describing the symptoms, the various stages of diagnosis, and the subsequent treatment, making a note of my feelings at each stage. It will no doubt make grim reading, but it will only be for home consumption. In this way I am trying to be positive about the outlook, difficult as it is at this uncertain stage when I am in limbo between diagnosis and treatment, the worry being that the cancer has spread extensively.

Fortunately, Mrs. Copeland, having suffered from painful toothache all over the holiday, managed to get an appointment with the dentist at 8.20 this morning, being told she had an infection, antibiotics being prescribed. So it was a relief that there was no need for a filling or extraction.
Car

The splendid Jaguar used as the wedding car on Saturday.


There was an announcement early this morning that Mrs. May was going to make an statement at 11.00 a.m., so I duly switched on the television to see what she had to say, guessing that it was about calling a general election, and sure enough the Prime Minister, in hearty voice, announced that there would be a general election on the 8th June. The justification for the election was based on the need for strong leadership to see the Brexit negotiations though, but we all know that she is relying on the Labour Party being in a hopeless muddle, being propped up by the not very effective Lib-Dims and the chaotic SNP Under Corbyn's leadership, the Labour Party has not a hope in Hell, being more than decimated which means one in ten, probably multimated.

I will certainly vote Conservative, believing that it is the only party that can fully represent and stand up for the country. The Labour Party has no firm policy on Brexit; on immigration; and on the economy its only policy is to get the country into even more debt. In many ways I fear what will become a very right-wing Government with an even bigger mandate, but we cannot allow the Labour Party to govern, not even able to govern itself, not that the Conservative party represents all sweetness and light amongst its diverse and conflicting members.

One thing is certain: there is absolutely no point in looking at the opinion polls, now totally discredited. They were hopelessly wrong about the 2015 general election, and totally out of order with the American Presidential election, wrong about everything, making astrology seen respectable. My guess is that the Conservatives, who only had a 12-seat overall majority at the 2015 election, should have an overall majority of about 50 seats, enough to carry through Brexit and ward off any threat from the ridiculous SNP party.

In preparation for our replacement oil boiler that, under new building laws, has to be placed outside in a concrete bunker outside, an oil boiler no longer being allowed inside a house (and what a nonsense that is), Mrs. Copeland made a start on clearing the bunker into which the oil boiler will be going, having to move a lot of logs into another nearby bunker.

For the PETCT scan that I am having on Friday at Nottingham at 8 o'clock in the morning, it is a requirement that I should wear a tracksuit and trainers, garments that I have never possessed, so this afternoon I went with Mrs. Copeland to Primark in Lincoln to purchase the required items of dress, buying what I believe are called "joggers" I have to admit that they were quite comfortable. . At this rate I will be ending up with tattoos. Even so, I just cannot believe the change of life I am now going through, so unexpected.

I had hoped that China would have put some pressure on the crazy Kim to stop him developing a nuclear warhead, but this does not seem to have happened, today's "Daily Telegraph" reporting that the Chinese and Russians were sending ships to shadow the American fleet off the North Korean coast. What on earth should President Trump do? Does he allow this unbelievably silly man to develop long-range nuclear missiles, possibly within the next two years, or does he take him out, risking a major conflagration?

Back home, I had yet another telephone call from the County Hospital asking me to comment on my recent visits, which I refused to do, regarding it as a complete waste of time and money, nothing ever being done to implement the suggestions for improvement. I would have liked to put forward the proposal that all mobile telephones should be banned in every ward, for they are such a menace, so unpleasant, invariably disturbing other patients in the ward, especially as so many men seem to shout into the appliances.

It seems that every service that is used these days prompts one of these nonsensical customer surveys. Ones from companies have the sole purpose of receiving personal details so that the items can be stored, or sold on to various ages. Concern about the product or the service is of no account. During the day we had two scams, but not feeling in the mood to give the scammer the usual false information, I rejected both calls, seeing false numbers coming up on the caller display unit. These caller displays are a real god-send.

The evening was spent in the conservatory reading some more of "Reporting on Hitler", dealing with the newspaper reporter Rothay Reynolds who actually had an interview with Hitler in his early days in power, regarding him as being totally raging mad, shouting all the time in the interview and never listening to any actual questions, just one long raging rant, frighteningly so - and the German people backed him, almost to the end.

The author records how the proprietor of "The Daily Mail", Lord Rothermere, fully supported Hitler in his early days of coming to power: "Within days of the 1930 election he was prominently airing his views in the pages of his newspaper, proclaiming that Hitler and the Nazis were a force for good and deserved to be respected." How wrong can anybody be, but then does anybody take the press seriously, knowing that its main intent is muck-raking and mischief.

I was somewhat surprised that the FTSE fell 180 points on the day following the general election announcement, but the rose. I would have thought that the City, knowing that there was going to be a large Conservative majority in the next Parliament, probably very right-wing, would have been rejoicing, seeing the prospect of Labour being virtually wiped out. It amused me that Mrs. Sturgeon, on hearing that there was to be a general election, said that it was a disaster. In other words, she knows that Scottish independence is a thing of the past, certainly for the next five years. For that let us give thanks.

WEDNESDAY 19 APRIL

I begin to think that I will never get over the shock of having cancer, nearly every hour of the day bringing some grim reminder that for the next six months I will be having invasive and unpleasant chemotherapy every three weeks. I have been warned that I will have a lot of discomfort, losing my taste buds and my hair. Maybe I will be rather calmer (or possibly even worse) when I have the results on Tuesday of next week, finding out the extent that the cancer has spread. Meanwhile, I suppose I ought to be thankful that I am still at home, not confined to a hospital bed. Life can always be worse, but I tend to think nowadays that it could be somewhat better.

I suppose I have to realise also that I just have to get over this feeling of despair and hopelessness; that I have to save myself, nobody else being able to do so. Somehow I do not want the help of a Macmillan nurse, wonderful though I realise they are, so helpful to some patients. On the other hand it has been wonderful to have the support of my family and various friends, even if one couple has virtually ignored me. You realise who your real friends are when in deep trouble.

I was nevertheless heartened by one lady reader who sent an e-mail to me wishing me well at for the PETCT scan at Nottingham this coming Friday - an event that I am dreading, having a radio-active substance pumped into one of my veins - and how I dread needles! My parents ought to have sent me to a public school, making me far more stoical though this week Prince Harry said that the emphasis on the "stiff-upper-lip" was mentally harmful, and I think I agree with him.

The e-mail advised me to keep on with the diary, saying: "Don't make any hasty decision about your blog. Please! Your reactions to the various doctors, tests and hospitals are bound to make interesting and informative reading. You do not have to tie yourself down to a long weekly blog. A short entry whenever you feel like it will make most of your readers happy." It is wise advice, and subject to any unpleasant turn of events I now plan to continue with the diary, probably having to leave out some of the daily entries when I am feeling grim after having had a session of chemotherapy. I know that if I ended the diary I would greatly miss all the comments from readers, all of which help to brighten my day, even when I am corrected.

Several of the newspapers are saying that the general election will destroy the Labour Party, one describing it as "Blue Murder." I certainly agree with this verdict, the party being in a hopeless condition, lacking any real leadership. Can anybody, even the most left-wing supporter, really believe that we could have Mr. Corbyn at the helm, not having a clue where the ship of state was going, and being totally lost in the arena of foreign affairs. Presumably the Lib-Dims may have somewhat of a resurgence, yet what is the point of voting for a party that can never become a government?

Quite rightly, Mrs. May has ruled out appearing in any televised debates. They really are a nonsense, a mere squabbling match that do nothing to enlighten the viewers about the respective party policies and programmes.

During the day I wrote a letter of sympathy to a bereaved wife. I find these condolences so difficult to write, all the words seeming quite helpless and worthless. Yet when my parents died I found the letters quite helpful, showing that other people cared.

Basil

"Basil" - the Good Luck" mascot that daughter Kate has given me.


Mrs. Copeland went to the Village Ladies Luncheon Club meeting this morning, while a friend came to see me and keep me company, which I appreciated, enabling us to have a baguette (obtained from Waitrose earlier) and some wine, almost like a communion. I may have to give up alcohol in the chemotherapy sessions, so I am making hay while the sun still shines.

Daughter Kate has kindly given me a cuddly toy representing a fox, called "Basil" to accompany me during my hospital visits to bring me luck. A magnificent gesture, though I think he will have to wait in the car rather than come in to see the consultant who might think I have finally tipped, possibly not to his surprise.

The rest of the day was spent at home. In the evening with a neighbour I watched the DVD "Sully" dealing with the plane that ended up in the Hudson. I had seen the fine film before, but enjoyed seeing it again. A combination of skill based on long years of experience and a degree of luck brought the plane safely down - an incredible feat. Somehow I don't think I will ever fly again.

We followed on by watching the first of two DVDs of "Das Boot", a really wonderful film. If we had seen active service during the Second World War, we were wondering whether we would prefer to be in a submarine or a Lancaster bomber flying over Berlin. Narrowly, we both thought that we would be in the Lancaster, at least having the chance of going home after the raid - unless shot down, of course.

THURSDAY 20 APRIL

As I keep tiresomely mentioning, I wake up each morning in despair in having cancer and all the lengthy treatment it involves. What worries me so much at the moment is the thought of that PETCT scan at Nottingham tomorrow, having a radio-active substance being pumped into a vein - and how I dread those needles. Somebody said I wll probably glow in the dark. However, I really must try to be brave, difficult though it is for somebody who has not been to public school.

There are times when I feel I have had enough of life, my country now being very different, and in so many ways so much worse from my earlier days. Overcrowded; hardly able to move on the roads; vulgar and materialistic,; hopeless politicians who do not know their elbow from their posterior; and much of our Englishness having been lost, I find life very difficult today, having hateful scam calls on the telephone most days, and viruses to contend with on the computer. I occasionally think that I would like to join a monastic life, getting away from all the horrors of the modern world, but I suppose even such seclusion has its problems. Not being all that religious probably would not help.

For the next six weeks we are going to be bombarded by endless details of the election campaign, page after page and programme dealing with the policies being presented. Mercifully we never watch television, so we will be spared all that dreadful stuff, but there is no escaping a full presentation in the newspapers. At the moment I feel like cancelling the newspaper until election day.

Already we have heard Mr. Corbyn saying that his party will create a Workers' Paradise in which the wealthy and corporations will be severely taxed and punished. Bearing in mind that this contingent, hateful and greedy though it may be, nevertheless creates the wealth for the country, this seems like a fine example of a nose being cut off to spite the face.


I suppose the worry is that we are now moving in this country towards political extremes of the right and left, while in the middle we have the Lib-Dims who appear not to know which day of the week it is with their pie-in-the-sky policies. However, as mentioned earlier, I think I prefer Mrs. May's political version, hard though it is going to be for many people in the country, especially those on welfare benefits for whom the Tories have no sympathy. I just hope my treatment is well on the way before the Tories cut the National Health Service,

Birdcage

The delightful "Birdcage" pub where we meet daughter Kate during one of her lunch-breaks each week.


Among the news today was a report that cycling to work helps to prevent cancer and heart attacks. Oh, dear: what an utter nonsense this is. In all probability a cyclist would end up under a lorry. As it is, I know of one person who regularly cycled, but still ended up with cancer, while others who ate the supposed right food also ended up with the dreaded disease.

The real problem is that the causes of cancer remain a mystery, despite all the fanciful ideas that take no account of all the other considerations that need to be taken into account, such as genes, environment, work and general health. If all the recommendations that have been presented were put together, hardly a week going by without some new "evidence", it would be far too dangerous to get out of bed in the morning.

It was also announced in the press that President Trump's armada that had supposedly been sailing towards the North Korean coast, was 3,500 miles away from it, heading in the other direction. At the moment things seem to have quietened down, hopefully not the calm before the storm, the worry being that crazy Kim could launch another firework.

As stated earlier, I have decided to continue with this diary after next week when I will reach the 1,000th edition. I therefore went to PCWorld this morning to purchase some more ink cartridges, black as well as colour, costing a ridiculous 59.88 for 3 for 2. What an immense profit there must be in those items, yet I am not all that keen on using alternatives that have been recommended to me, preferring to have the genuine HP cartridges.

At 1 o'clock we met daughter Kate during her lunch-break at "The Birdcage" pub in Lincoln, having a meal and drinks. The beer is always in excellent condition, and I greatly enjoy the visits.

In today's snail-mail post I received a copy of the groin lump biopsy, saying that "has now demonstrated involvement with high grade lymphoma of the diffuse large B-cell subtype with GCB phenotype with pending FISH analysis for C-MYC rearrangement", adding that "he will be able to able to commence chemotherapy." All looking very bleak, but this is what I had expected. I begin to lose all hope.


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E-mail: johncopeland@clara.net
Comments welcomed
Lincolnshire 20 April, 2017
No. 999

Only 1 to go to the 1,000th edition.





Diary of an Octogenarian<BR>



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