Here’s the story of Poppins, mortality, and Morris Dancing.
I sat there in the hospital waiting room wondering if the old man knew everyone could see his bottom, also contemplating my own mortality and who the hell Kate was. I wasn’t entirely sure what the social convention was, you see. If you’re in a hospital and a man walks past with one of those hospital gown coveralls that isn’t quite covering all, what do you do? You can’t tell him because he’ll be tremendously embarrassed, but equally, you can’t tell a nurse because they’ve got better things to do. One can assume he’s so old he’s arrived at that age when we just stop caring about everything except our grandchildren and the war, but it’s a tricky one. I honestly didn’t know where to look, readers. To my left, old man’s bottom, to my right, two police officers handcuffed to a criminal who looked like someone who could kill me with his mind. In the end, I decided to occupy myself with my phone. I discovered I had a text. That never happens. I mean, it’s usually a wrong num… oh, it was? Drat. ‘Good evening Kate, we look forward to seeing you tomorrow at 11 with Daniel.’ Who the hell was Kate! If she’s reading this, I can only hope you got to your hairdressing appointment and it was just a general appointment and not for something important, like, I don’t know, your… wedding, or maybe a Morris Dancing recital…
You know, I got a voicemail the next day from the same number. Sadly, my phone is a touch completely and utterly buggered so I can’t listen to it, leaving me free to ponder its contents. You know where this place was? Nottingham. I live nowhere near Nottingham! It’s a two and a half hour drive away! I am utterly fascinated by things like this. So much so, I took to their Facebook page to see if I could find a disgruntled review from a stranger named Kate. Or even whoever the heck Daniel is. Probably her future husband. But nope. I found nothing. Oh, I feel awful. I know it’s not my fault some hairdresser has fat fingers, but still… I hope she made the recital. That said, it’s only Morris Dancing. There wouldn’t have been more than two or three people in the audience anyway. Tee, he, he…
It’s things like this that keep one’s spirits up when one finds oneself in such a depressing hellhole like a hospital. You see, I’m not very well, readers. Still. I’ve been plagued by this cough for so damn long now that mother insisted I went to the doctors. And if you know me, you know that I never, ever go to the doctors. But needs must. My chest is in constant agony and is very tight. The coughing is as bad as you can imagine. Imagine a hundred year old miner who’s smoked a hundred cigars a day since he was five. Worse than that, honestly. For damn near five bloody gruelling weeks. Sigh. It just aint going away, readers. And I’m mightily annoyed by that. I hate being sick. I’ve already had to miss a Comic-Con this year because of this, and as each day passes by, with the cough still an ever-present bastard of doom, I’m getting closer and closer to missing my rock concert coming up very soon. I’m not a violent man. But if I get my hands on Mr. Fate…
I hated my trip to the doctors. So many sick people. I couldn’t be a doctor, readers. Too many germs. The waiting area was huge, so I made a deliberate effort to sit as far away from everyone else as humanly possible. Don’t tell me you can’t get sick whilst you’re already sick. I got food poisoning this week. On top of the cough. And a migraine to boot. I threw up for the first time in years. I forgot how awful it was having vomit in one’s extremely long hair.
The doc couldn’t have been nicer. I have never seen a man with such a huge smile. It was ear to ear. He was a foreign doctor and with that came the usual politeness I’ve come to expect. “GOOD MORNING! How are you doing? Aww, I see you’re coughing, let’s get that sorted for you, sir! Let’s make you better!” ‘Bloody Nora,’ I thought. ‘Are you an extra from Mary Poppins?’ He couldn’t hear anything on my chest but was clearly concerned. And so he sent me to the one place I hate more than the doctor’s surgery. The hospital. Oh, joy…
As I navigated my way around the warren of corridors, dark thoughts entered my mind. There is a strong history of lung problems and cancer in our family. The doctor was extremely worried. He didn’t say that, obviously, but you could tell. When you wipe the smile off the face of the world’s happiest man, it is a worry. A five week cough can only be something serious. Not to mention the constant chest pains. Since I had that chest X-ray, I’ve been finding it very hard not to be too worried. My mother said it’s just a precaution, but I can’t remember ever being this ill. I know it probably is nothing, as those who know me will attest that I am the world’s biggest worrier, but it got me thinking about… the end.
What if this is the end? What have I actually done in 26 years? Nobody likes being around me. Nobody has anything nice to say about me. I’m a constant misery and a pain in everyone’s side. People are always going out of their way to accommodate me because they know how fussy I am. I never join in with anything. I don’t know anything about anything. Everything I do seems to fail. I’ve never kissed a girl. I’ve never even been on a date. I didn’t have a normal youth and adulthood isn’t going much better. I’m rather unremarkable. If you asked anyone who knows me to sum me up in a sentence, they’d come back with… “Really, that many words?”
How I am on the internet is the exact opposite of how I am in real life. And it never bothered me before. I’ve always said that I wanted a simple life. A simple job. Get up, go to work, come home, go to sleep, repeat. Until I retire. Which I probably won’t do, knowing me. But if it all came to an end tomorrow, what would have been the point in those 26 years? Imagine my eulogy. “What can you say about Alan? Not much, really. Extremely shy. Never said a word. Never did anything interesting. Or anything… at all, in fact. But we’ll sure miss him. For a couple weeks, at least…”
The problem is that life is a paradox. If you want to lead a worthwhile and memorable life, you must be out of the ordinary, and I’m very much in the ordinary. As an introvert, I’m fairly limited on what I can and can’t do, and, more to the point, what I want and want not to do. I like the status quo. I like the way things are. I’m both content with that and, at the same time, not content with it at all. It’s a constant battle betwixt the two and it’s a tug of war that neither side will win. ‘Travel the world!’ ‘No, I hate flying!’ And so on…
What would happen if I suddenly left this mortal coil? I don’t know, really, but I’m in no great rush to tick off a bunch of checkboxes on a great bucket list. Like most people, I don’t even have one. In fact, I’m fairly certain I’d spend my remaining days doing what I always do. For you see, we’re all individuals. Some, like me, are deeply flawed, but that’s the way you were born and you can’t change your nature. Others live a life of great noteworthiness and pleasure, and good for them, for getting off their arses. Whilst I have thought a great deal this week about the end and what I’ve done in my nearly 27 years, an answer that is very obviously, ‘Absolutely nothing,’ I’m not saddened by that.
I know a great many people will be glad to see the back of me and some will feel the opposite way, but you have to remain true to yourself, in life. I literally couldn’t care less what they say in my eulogy. I’m living my life on my own terms and I can’t let thoughts of what others think of me dominate. I’m gonna jump out of a plane because when I die, I want others to say, ‘She did something with her life.’ Fair enough. But there’s no other reason people have a bucket list. You shouldn’t live life trying to make the most of it, you should live life however you want to live it. And when you do pop, that will be something remarkable to be remembered for. That’s my conclusion. When the end does arrive, I’ll try to face it with my usual shrug of ennui and carry on as usual. Rather that than jump out of a plane, if I’m being honest.
That said, I would really love to arrive at a point in my life where I don’t care if my arse is on show in a public place…
American actor, author, filmmaker, comedian, playwright and musician, Woody Allen (b. 1935), once said: “I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
Peace Out :|:
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