Thursday, 30 July 2009

The Doctor

Would you believe it but the doctor was on holiday in July. Am I ill? I phoned up last week and got through to her replacement.

We arranged for Thursday 10am. Now the great thing about the normal doctor is an almost otherworldly approach to time.

She has her first appointment at 9.00 but arrives for work at 9.30. Consequently the missus always ask for the one of the first appointments of the day and that way you get seen that day.

1140 is the one to avoid as you usually emerge anytime after 1pm because of the backlog. And people phone up while she's telling you that you've only got months to live.

It was good to see that the locum had eschewed house style by not only being in the surgery before his first appointment at 10am.

But he was ready to see me at 10am.

I went in to get a certificate which would allow me to play in the journalists' tournament at Roland Garros in September.

Last year's visit to my usual doctor for the certificate was not even in the notes. And I remember the exam was quite perfunctory.

This year the doctor asked me if I'd had an electro cardiogram. No was the reply.

As he loaded me up with the bits, a phone call came through and he just had to take it as it was the admin centre for his papers to start practising full-time at the surgery.

So there I was lying on the slab with electrodes attached to my test and he's talking to bureaucrat central. Oy what about your Hippocratic oath?

I was told to lie still while the things monitored my heart. I was motionless but one of the electrodes was getting into the groove of my heart and slipping off.

Sure enough the analysis of said heart showed I had an enlarged left ventricle. That's not bad in itself I was told. Sporty types often have this condition. What I've got to make sure is that it doesn't get dilated.

I have been given the numbers of two heart doctors who will do an ultrascan to tell me how it goes down from now on. I smell a scam here.

But given that my dad died of various complications to do with his heart and high blood pressure, you know where this might be going.

The heart doctor might well say you'll be fine just avoid playing football on a Saturday morning at 9.30 and avoid competitive tennis tournaments.

I plan to see the heart doctor in September.

The good news is that the soon-to-be-ensconced doctor at my surgery has a specialty in sports injuries. He told me this after seeing in my notes that I'd been on a couple of occasions for muscle strains.

My how we bonded over Eric Cantona and warm ups. I asked him if he played football. He said that he preferred rugby. I told him to see Looking For Eric and he spoke about the likes of Cantona and Lillian Thuram.

I chatted about interviewing Thuram for a programme at the radio station and blah blah blah we went on finally ending on if you've got any sprains or strains mate, I'm your man.

In at 1005. Out at 1115.

I think he's to the manor born.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

The Top Man

Usually when I work the extra day in London I am tired by the third day. My poor sensitive system cannot cope with the rigours of the third day. Especially if I go out on the night of the second day.

So sure enough when I woke up this fair Tuesday morning, I did not feel like a third day. But trooper that I am, I have trduged into the office to perform my functions.

On opening up the emails I found that the saxophonist who played at dad's funeral is playing in the pub next door to the Guardian tonight.

Well book me in. Tommaso Starace was dad's saxophone teacher a few years back. While clearing up dad's flat just after I got the news of his death, I saw cards dotted about with Tommaso's name and numbers. I remembered that dad had got me to listen to one of Tommaso's CDs just after it came out.

I called Tommaso and left a message on his phone to say that if any lessons had been booked then obviously dad wouldn't be coming and also to thank him for giving the lessons because I knew that dad had really enjoyed them.

I left it at that but while I was going over to my sister's for lunch I thought wouldn't it be good to hire Tommaso to play at the funeral.

Tommaso texted me back, we spoke and he asked me if I wanted him to play at the funeral. I said I'd foot the taxi bill. He said there was no need to do that.

At the funeral I gave the eulogy after Tommaso's solo of 'Round Midnight. I just about held it together for the oration. Outside the crematorium afterwards when I saw him I burst into tears and gave him a huge hug - you can do that kind of things with italians. He'd made the service for me.

He consoled me and said it was an honour to play at Victor's funeral.

I've emailed Tommaso to say that I will be there on Tuesday night to listen in. He's written back to give me an idea of his agenda. Playing at the Royal Festival Hall's open space and then up to the Cross Kings to play with a few other chaps in an Anglo Italian band.

I had lined up an evening of sorting out dad's stuff.

I think this is one time I can change the plans. It doesn't matter if I get home round midnight.

Monday, 20 July 2009

The Lull

While there is no tennis to watch on the TV, nor any football, surprise surprise it's been cricket and the newsroom today was bubbling before lunch as England wrapped up the second test against Australia.

It wasn't that confident a win really.

England were bossing proceedings on Sunday when they'd reduced the tourists to about 120 for 5. But then there was a doughty partnership which took the score to 313 for 5. That was 209 runs off the victory target.

From a position of overweening confidence to anxiety. Would England snatch defeat from the molars of victory?

Andrew Flintoff hadn't read the script and decided to help England win the test. It was their first victory at Lords against Australia since 1934.

Made for a buoyant newsroom.

The New Goal

I shuffled onto a tennis court the other day to begin the preparation for the 2009 journalists' tournament at Roland Garros. Last year I lost in the first round.

I was out of shape having been in Beijing for a month and out of practice. This year I intend to be only one of those two. I'm not quite sure how much practice I'm going to get but I can at least dedicate myself to avoiding too much excess.

I played the match after going out till late watching a few African bands at a place called Cabaret Sauvage. Indeed the venue was stashed away and it was pretty wild when the bands came on.

One was called Konono No1. Their sound was through some old speakers which had been bought from a failed politician. It was like listening to music in a pressure cooker. Not that I've ever done that kind of thing - though with the hot housing I plan to do on the tennis...

The other band was Staff Benda Bilili who were a group of disabled street musicians. They put out a sound which was pure dance.

Which is exactly what I did. So I wasn't exactly twinkle toes on the tennis court the next morning. Well at least one lesson is implanted: don't go out dancing the night before a match.

Probably knew that anyway.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Almost Back to Life

I haven't been going between Paris and London of late.

It's been more just getting rid of the working days in Paris to get back to London so that I can obey the housing association's ludicrous desire to have me out of my dad's flat. I was initially told July 22 but then in their letter, they said July 19.

Phone calls last week asking for someone in authority to look at the details of my plight don't seem to have borne much fruit. So I ferret away at my dad's flat before I come into work. I thought I cut rather a pathetic figure at 7.15am going through the papers.

Everyone's going on about the right to die and euthanasia what about the right to pick up the pieces in dignity?

I have to say the whole process of dealing with death is bleaker when there's no time to contemplate the minutiae of someone's life.

It's bad enough having to tear up letters and throw away pictures but doing it because some barbaric bureaucrat says there are deadlines to respect?

Yet it is not good to wallow in what was so to a certain extent it is good to be pushed. Part of the legacy is to embrace the what is and it struck me as I came into the Guardian this morning that I hadn't seen my children for more than a week. The little sweeties.

They're with their grandparents up in Bedfordshire and I speak to them but it is all very disorientating.

It's probably just as well that the football season is over and that I've been able to go out drinking on a Friday night in Paris with my mate Eric.

Friday night out? Well it was all so exciting. I even went to another arrondissement. I gawped in shock and awe at the wonders of the 18th.

More like I gasped in shock and awe after cycling up and down and round the labyrinth of streets to find the restaurant.

At least it was a freewheeling test of the bike's brakes down back into the 10th. Maybe next Friday we'll try somewhere on the flat plains.