Saturday, 25 April 2009


..... Because I'm not so deluded as to believe this neurosuregon whom my oncologist is lining up for me is a woman. I don't care either. I'd cower in awed prostration if I met Susan Greenfield - although the Great Oxford Brain Barnoness and her theories about the brain being a fascinating, wonderful, untapped chemical soup leave me immensely excited. We should support the work of these SUPER brainy scientists (mapping the human genome etc etc/behavioural genetics) and share in what they are discovering about what makes us human (i.e. thinking beings, instead of numpties clowning in the stews of 'Britain's Got Talent' and 'The X Factor' (and GP Receptionist areas....). Britain's got Talent, alright. It' s got Dr W and his Team at The Sunrise Centre - and the neurosurgeon up in Plymouth (and please don't be numptyish about the cancer services provision at Derriford, Plymouth. If that is where you've got to go - then be grateful for it). They'll sort you out at the best place for the job. They're the ones we should be backing. Our Clinicians.

Anyway, before I sign off completely for at least the next few days - though I will now take the Macbook into hospital, unless oncologist advises against it...If don't get completely fried up in there, with Duncan and his men (and women) firing rads at me through their Linear Accelerators (- give it some welly, guys! Zap the buggers! ), I will try at least to read the blog, if not to post. My mentor at Artsmatrix, Lesley, is going to monitor it for me - and - I hope POST). Because a blog - especially a cancer blog, needs feeding with stories of experience, treatment, etc. Or just rant if you want to - I do! (How liberating to have a brain lesion. No one will ever know again if the rant is the tumour, ir if it's really me....I can go COMPLEETLY MENTAL.....I can be a grumpy old woman par excellence. Yippee...I knew it woud be good when I got to 50.

I want to dedicate this latest posting to my late grandmother, EDITH LOUKES. The second part of my psych thriller trilogy of novels (REMOVING EDITH MARY - is loosely based on her, although it's real subject is the human BRAIN (talk about art imitating life - oh gawd.....). What a woman Grandma Edith was, unlike the rest of my miserable, mean-spirited (God bothering) family back Up Country. And I have a feeling I am going to need her help.

She sat in the sitting room of the house she bought in Truro in 1947, after returning from a stint Up North during the War, where my late grandfather (Herbert John) was Reserved Occupation, the Electrical Engineer responsible for overseeing installations on merchant ships in Liverpool - during the Blitz too. But it was Grandma who always had the iron in the soul. They called their new Truro house 'Wentworth', partly because of her Yorkshire ancestry (she never, ever thought of herself as Cornish - even though she lived here over 40 years: "I am descended from the Earl of Strafford, love')), and partly because she was a super-keen golfer, Captain of Truro Ladies' team at one point - 'Though tennis,' she would say. 'Was my sport....' (She attended Wimbledon - as a spectator - every year till she was 85 and couldn't walk anymore.) She went deaf at 27 ('but never let it bother me..'; and as a Truro oldster, she campaigned to get lip-reading services set up for Cornish folk....). Then she got all the usual old people's things like cataracts and hip trouble and ended up near blind and almost immobile. Family Up North too busy bothering God via the CofE to bother with her. But her excellent neighbour, a retired Navy Nursing Matron ('have the other half, she'd say, pouring out a triple gin and tonic from the shaker - AND she smoked cigars!) gave me the key. I was in transit down to Cornwall on a BBC commission to make a film about fishing in St Ives....well, really, it was to shoot background footage for a 'video Diary' for the CPU about some hard-nosed TV reporter (me...although I was more of a field producer/researcher in those PBS jobs...), moving to Cornwall to take up the slow life with a local fisherman. He didn't work out - beat me up, in fact, something which never happened to me on all my world travels. Even when I interviewed some Russian Mafia in the insalubrious parts of Moscow). Anyway, I found my grandma Edith in the shit (literally...the downstairs loo had backed up something shocking;) and slowly started engaging with social services, local GPs, etc, to sort her out. In those days, the GPs at the Practice did come out - during the night even - whenever I rang and spoke to them - and I got put through straight away. In fact, I think the night doctors answered the phones themselves. There are a few senior doctors at that Practice who may remember the eccentric Mrs Loukes of Treliske Lane. Once, I came up early from St Ives on the morning coach (I couldn't even drive then - I never needed to drive in London and Paris), and I found a snaketrail of blood in the hall that went into the kitchen and splashed up the wall, making a pretty - if sobering - effect on the blue-grey tiles. Grandma was in her nightdress in the sitting room, her whte hair caked with blood. The house was freezing, but there were a number of unopened meals on wheels boxes sitting on the kitchen table by the indivudual payments which my grandma's POA, the excellent Hazel, had placed there at the beginning of the week when she called in. 'You've had a bump on the head,' I told grandma when she saw me using the telephone. The paramedics said it looked worse than it was, 'because these scalp wounds bleed profusely'. But they still took her down to the old Truro City Hospital Casualty (now a property development) for stitching and assessment, grandma putting the fear of God (the hex of the evil eye. probably) into the poor Spanish junior doctor who came to examine her. 'I've been to Seville,' she told him. 'I' can't complain dear. I've been in every capital in Europe....'

She died a few months later at Penrice Geriatric Unit, after a consultant geronitian did a domicilliary visit and told me straight that there was no way on earth my grandma could remain at home, even if I moved in, or a nurse moved in, or anybloodybody moved in. So we packed a bag and waited for the ambulance to take her up. When it arrived, grandma sat staight up in that chair, looked the ambulanceman in the eye and shouted: 'No!' 'We can't take her if she doesn't want to go,' the head man said to me. 'She'd have to be Sectioned.' No way was I having that, so we concocted a little white lie about taking her back down to City where the handsome Spanish doctor was going to take her stiches out. 'She'll have forgotten all about it when she gets in the ambulance.' the crew said happily. 'But don't come up to see her for at least a couple of weeks. Give her chance to settle.'

Couple weeks later, Hazel (her friend) drove me up there; and Grandma had been transmogrified. Cleaner, quieter, certainly, and thinner. Cared for yes - and very well. But her spirit had already sllipped its anchor. She never spoke again - to either of us. But she wouldn't watch the telly either, and there were none of those awful wee-smelling old folks chairs in that hospital, as far as I remember. Two weeks after that, I got a call to say she had pneumonia, and so I called my father in Cheshire and went up to Snozzle on the train to meet him there. Grandma was unconscious when I got there, and I wished her godspeed for that last journey - the one we all got to make, and make alone. Yes ALONE - no mobiles allowed! Fake boobs (- Jordan/aka Katiewhatsit Mrs PeterPlonker, please take note - ) explode in crematoria, so remember to take yer implants out before you go beyond the velour curtain in your pinky-winky princess-line box...

VECHNAYA PAMYAT' (RIP): EDITH LOUKES - 5 October 1905 - 12 MAY 1992

Anne Morgellyn. 25.4.09

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes yes yes, I will post while Anne has got her feet up in Plymouth - as long as I can work out how it works because, as it happens, I am a blog virgin. Any sort of virginity is a novel experience for a child of the 60s, so I'm happy to admit my ignorance. Just hope I can work out what to do next...