Last week was week 3 after chemo and there was a changing of the guard inside and out. Outside, my elder sister Carole and Tony stayed here for 3 days to help with ‘guard’ duty! It was lovely to have them stay and spend more time in company with them than ever before. We went to the wonderful Depot cinema in Lewes to see Mercy, and what an intensive experience that was, particularly going back to our seaside home afterwards. It’s the story of Donald Crowhurst who was the amateur who set out to win the first single handed round the world yacht race and became obliged to deceive before committing suicide instead of returning home to ruin. It was won by Robin Knox Johnson who donated his prize to Donald’s widow before setting up Clipper Ventures to allow amateurs like me to enjoy the experience and in greater safety. Gladly Simon who saw it with us is now assured to be extra careful when he takes to the water in his boats future.
Unfortunately even the ultra comfy Depot was not good enough for the man who’s lost most of his backside padding so, courtesy of C and T and Seaford’s extensive range of age related comforts I now have a comfy cushion. Inside, the changes have been acupunctured to increase my white blood cell count before next week’s second and increased dose of chemo. It was a first time for me and all the better for the fact that my acupuncturist comes from my birthplace, Southend.
As well as acupuncture he gave me a session of moxibustion, forming mugwort leaves into a cone and holding the burning leaves over the acupuncture points as a liver tonic and to be toxic to the cancer cells. Apparently mugwort can also induce intense and vivid dreams but no sign of those yet. No one can accuse me of not be willing to try anything.
Seaford is a challenging, end of the world, neglected seaside place to live. Popular with elderly people who downsize and buy cheap bungalows or flats and live off the savings. We moved here 2 years ago after our Lewes house purchase collapsed days before exchange and planned to stay here a very short time.
The town’s motto is ‘In the wind strength’ and the gales test my walking power along the cracked concrete path that leads along the beach into town.
Mark loves sitting in our lounge with its wide, glass doors overlooking the sea and the ever changing weather. Sunlight streams onto the sofa where he basks in the bright light. Only the herring gulls interfere with the view as they fly past and shit down the windows.
As our lives change with his illness we’ve reaped the benefit of the large, elderly Seaford community. Mark is getting so thin that it hurts to sit on our dining chairs, so Mark’s sister Carol and husband Tony pop into the local Mobility shop which is packed with ‘daily living aids’. They come back with a Proform cushion designed to ‘eliminate discomfort’ which Mark agrees is perfect. Not many high streets could claim such a wide range of walking aids, powerchairs and shower stools.
The Cancer Research shop accepts requests – ‘have you got a tambourine for my grandchildren?’, ‘Any Thomas trains for them?’ Each week as I declutter, I leave gift aided, labelled bags in the huge donation mountain that the ladies sort at the back of the shop. The residents of Seaford indeed have too much stuff!
I recently gave a Russian oil painting to them which did not suit our seaside home – they cleverly sold it at Eastbourne auction for £270, so we have rapport.
Seaford residents have the biggest choice of chemist shops in any town I know. Kind pharmacists have offered advice on Mark’s medication as we now have a medical and alternative box of bafflement.
The wife of our Seaford greengrocer is a brilliant cook and the shop’s fridge is full of inventive home baked cakes, soups and quiches. Orange polenta cake, baked cheesecake and chocolate brownies are constant favourites.
And there’s Paul the fishmonger with ever changing local fish – I’ve marinated squid in olive oil and garlic which Mark says is delicious. Skate wings fried in butter and tossed with dill are a local delicacy. And there are plenty of scallops and smoked salmon to choose from.
In this medical maelstrom, my online education business continues to thrive, with little or no input from me.
Two emails have made me smile.
Jake, who must be a student, requested that we add these foods to our ‘amazing Nutrition Program database’ –
Wagyu steak, Iberian ham, Albino caviar, White truffle, Gold leaf
Katie, my incredible support, emailed him asking for the cost and nutritional information for 100g. And then emailed the teacher to ask if her students were using these ‘exquisite ingredients.’.
The shocked teacher replied that she could not believe that he had sent the request and ‘will give the student a severe reprimand in the morning.’
I sent her an email reply
I think it is an inspiring choice from a student that clearly knows something about food. If he was a member of the Guild of Food Writers like me, we would celebrate his choices.
So please don’t reprimand – let us enjoy his enthusiasm or joke and can he suggest a meal for me based on these ingredients – albino caviar is $40000 per teaspoon but I have eaten all of the others!
Another teacher emailed
In 2002 we bought a Textiles Pack from you with lots of textiles samples. Unfortunately they are worn and tired looking now. We would appreciate if you could kindly send another pack.
I didn’t email back but this would have been my reply.
‘Dear teacher – we are glad that you have had 16 years use of your textiles pack. I wonder if you had bought a pair of trousers from Marks and Spencers in 2002, would you take them back and say they were ‘worn and tired’ and expect a free replacement? And anyway, we no longer sell the fabric pack.’
Katie gave her an official reply which was more polite!