Tuesday, 18 November 2008


It's official: David Cameron announced today that the Tories would definitely make cuts in spending on schools and hospitals, should we be fool enough to elect them. We have all been warned!

God knows, Gordon Brown is a dull man, but my instincts tell me he's a man of principle and commited to a socialist (with small s) ethic of free health care at point of need and accessible higher education for all - should they want it. GB has a son with cystic fibrosis, and Cameron, also had a child with special needs. It stands to reason that, with Labour (Labour!) paving the way for a two-tier health service by allowing patients to top up their drugs fund (something I'm still not quite over the fence about), the Tories will tighten the financial screws on cancer treatment even more. Part of me is frightened by this. Part of me rejoices that they are not elected yet, and, until they are, we still have access to a reasonable spectrum of care choices.

PLEASE, PLEASE DON'T VOTE THEM IN AGAIN! I made the mistake, when a naive 19 year old, still at university, and tired of doing my homework in the dark nights of the 1970s, of voting for Margaret Thatcher (just the once...but once was enough). She's a woman, I thought. She must care. But that didn't follow, no more than it follows that Cameron cares for universal health care in this country because of the recent tragic loss of his eldest child, cared for so well at NHS Trust St Mary's Praed St. Never again.

As a note to this: I worked once at an inner London cancer unit (The Middlesex Hopitai), checking in patients on reception in thr morning, typing up notes and doing clinic filing in the afternoons - as part of a summer temping job while at University in London. This place was really Dickensian - but, even then (Thatcher's Second Term), the moves were well underway to dismantle the good old systems of Matron bug cont/total ward managementl, et al. Then the private cleaning r came in - and we all know wherwe that has led us. There were no drivers for chemo patients (and chemo was GRUESOME in those days....) The patients had to wait all day for an ambulance to take them out into the hinterlands of Middlesex itself....The only entertainment was a woman who had had the roof of her mouth removed, and when she took out the prosthetic soft palate (can't spell medical words...), it sounded as though she was in an echo chamber. Used to please the punters anyway. After a day at that place, you'd have been thankful for Simon Bloody Callow and his inane drivel on the X Factor...

Friday, 14 November 2008


A pop-up ad on my Tiscali mail page reads:


And I'm sure there are plenty of takers in this crazy world who would put a bristling pair of new boobs on their wish-list for Christmas. (Credit crunch? what credit crunch?) Even as I write, the Tonight programme on ITV is running an investigation into those creepy-looking, pill-popping cranks who think it's their inalienable right to live to be 150. One anal-fixated, middle-aged male argues, in defence of the fifty plus supplements per day he's been taking for twenty years, that he aims to avoid 'the diseases of old age'. Is the unspoken one, the one that dare not say its name, a disease of old age? Try telling that to six year old with leukaemia or a twenty two year old with breast cancer and a two year old child to bring up.

Grotesque as they are, I feel mildly sorry for these cock-eyed opitimists who think cosmetic surgery can fix their lives. And what sort of life is one in which you feel obliged to 'restrict your calorie intake' (although the quack who came up with that popped his clogs at the not so ripe old age of 79) or spend your earnings on shed-loads of quackery? Imagine a society like that - a collection of grotesques in which old age doesn't begin untill you're ninety. I'm all for medicine fixing the body (it's fixing mine!), but not beyond its alloted span; and we would all do well to remember that the longterm tally for that is threescore years and ten. It's surely what we do in those alloted years that counts; but I guess I am giving this an unaccebtably moral overtone. Sad though, I think, that those eternal youth-seekers, fixated on 'eternal life', quite fail to see beyond the limitations of this world. It's materialism gone crazy - like a cancer.

The truth is, we are all dealt a certain hand. Some of us get cancer. Some of us don't live to get it because we die in road accidents or are murdered in the cradle by our parents. Do we ever get the breasts we want? The legs we want? The face we want? The height/weight/hair (curly or straight) we want? And when we pay to get what we think we want, we end up wanting something else entirely. That is, of course, those of us who can make those choices. (Credit crunch....what credit crunch?) If NHS funding for cancer care is the postcode lottery it is purported to be (though I haven't found it to be so here in my case....yet), and it came to the choice between spending money on breast reconstruction or some risky new life-prolonging chemo treatment, I think the choice is pretty obvious. In such a case, you'd get the breasts you want (for now, perhaps), but someone, somewhere would surely be paying later.

Friday, 7 November 2008


All royalties of my latest novel, PINCUSHION (BeWrite Books, www.bewrite.net) will now be donated to Breast Cancer Care. I hope, one day, that more can be done to support women living with secondary breast cancer, especially here in Cornwall, where there is no support gorup funding to date.