Still Alive!

Back from the hospital after major surgery, a hysterectomy plus a few extra bits. One of the extras was a free tummy tuck on the NHS, which they did to make the rest of the procedure easier. I have an amazing scar across my stomach – it looks like I’ve been sawn in half or attacked by a shark! Why anyone would choose to do this just for cosmetic reasons is beyond me! Amazingly I was totally pain-free after surgery – I spent three days with an epidural that made me numb – and I’m now just on OTC painkillers, paracetamol and diclofenac. All of the staff at Addenbrooke’s Hospital were wonderful – so friendly, caring and professional. My consultant visited me every day. Even the staff who delivered the meals and brought round drinks were great – always concerned that each patient had exactly what they ordered and ready to chat to cheer us all up. Obviously the meals weren’t up to gourmet standards, but given the budget for feeding us, they did well and I enjoyed what I ate.

I’m now at home, not doing much and resting. I can manage to climb the stairs and walk around a bit in the house. Won’t be driving for four to six weeks, so there’ll be much reading, TV watching and other relaxing stuff.

Just had a visit from two of my ex-colleagues from the lab with flowers, and a delivery of gourmet chocolate brownies in the mail. Thanks to everyone for all the good wishes and love.

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows

I had to drive across the heart of England this weekend, to attend the wedding of the daughter of one of my oldest friends. In April the hedgerows were full of white blossom, blackthorn and wild cherry, with a touch of pink from crab-apples and escaped ornamental cherry, but in May the main colour is yellow. I don’t remember ever seeing so many cowslips in the verges, great drifts of them along the roadside banks. They’re such a gentle, fluffy yellow, not as pale as primroses nor as bright as dandelions. The rape was in full flower as well, fields of vivid, fluorescent yellow, turning the landscape into a green and yellow patchwork quilt. I stayed in a Travelodge next to the town’s bypass, which should have been noisy, but was so quiet that I was woken by birdsong and the sharp calls of pheasants in the woods behind the building. More yellow here, with the gorse in flower.

The wedding? The weather was unkind, grey and overcast, with occasional rain, although it did stay away during the photographs. We went to the church in a red London bus, decked out with flowers. The bride was stunning, so beautiful she might have stepped out of the pages of Vogue or Country Life. The groom wore black and white co-respondent shoes, and the bridesmaids were in purple satin shot through with black.

The reception was a delight. Each table had a cake-stand full of sweets at its centre – flying saucers, penny chews, Love hearts and the like – and there were paper bags for the guests to take some home. The tables were named for superheroes – I sat at Wolverine – and those not in the know struggled to find Aquaman, the Beast and the Martian Manhunter. The room was decorated with bunting, made by the bride and a group of loyal friends, and there was heart-shaped confetti on the tables, painstakingly cut out of books* by the groom, which started a game as the guests tried to find rude or silly bits in the text. We ate fish and chips, with ice-cream cones for dessert. The cake was a triumph, four tiers adorned with Batman logos and silver stars (are you starting to see a theme here?). The bride and groom cut the cake with a Batman-handled knife, while the audience spontaneously sang “Dinna dinna dinna dinna, Batman!”. I had the lemon drizzle cake layer. which was gorgeous. Wish I’d tried the sticky toffee pudding layer!

I had a wonderful time. I wish Libby and Pete all the best in their married life together.


*He used three books – a Star Wars title, one by David Eddings and a Mills & Boon. I found one heart with ‘bastard’ on and another with the phrase ‘I stabbed him in the heart’.