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Written on November 12, 2005, and categorized as Secret and Invisible.
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Fighting ceased in the eleventh month, on the eleventh day, at the eleventh hour, and ever since then, we’ve been observing two minutes of silence. I always find myself wondering, is it the same two minutes every time, come back round, or a new two minutes, to be added on?

I once did a two minute art performance for this national moment of remembrance. I tied fireworks to poppies, got into a makeshift shelter, and had them hurled at me whilst the National Anthem, Jerusalem, Rule Brittania and I Vow To Thee My Country were all played simultaneously at maximum volume, which caused a bit of a stir as you can imagine. Afterwards, one sensitive old guy came up to me as white as ghost and said, “When I saw what you were doing, I was so cross.. but now I understand why, and even though I am still shaking, I want to say well done…” and he shook my hand with tears in his eyes. Poor sod had served in WW2 and lost more than a few friends and family members. My mother’s oldest brother was in a Lancaster that was shot down, and he is buried in Belgium somewhere. It’s not that I disapprove of the sacrifices, I just hate the glorification of war.

If I wear anything, it’s a white poppy but this year I didn’t bother with any of it, until at 10.54 I realised the two minutes were upon us. I had just returned from the doctor, and I was feeling thoughtful, so for the first time in my life, mindful of my own fragility, and of the recent mysterious workings of our parliamentary democracy, I stood alone, and silent, and allowed myself to join in.

At the surgery earlier, I had been weighed (eleven and a half stone) measured for height (5′ 10″) and blood pressure (135/85) which is “normal” according to the nurse. I gave her some other data. Non-smoker. Exercise three times a week. Drink socially. Nothing about food diet in the questions, I noticed, or about stress levels. That was that. I returned to the waiting room and read a chapter of Leo the African. I was fairly relaxed, so much so that I failed to respond to the electronic sign flashing my name and the room to which I was being summoned. This is a new system, and the receptionists are used to chivvying slack patients into the correct medical cubbyhole, and so I was gently reminded as I sat absorbed in the fall of Granada.

Doctor M was sitting there looking chipper, dressed in grey. My local surgery is a unique place in Islington, started by an eminent General Practitioner called Jack Norell. He took modern techniques and good quality primary care into the shadow of Pentonville prison, and although he died some years back, the culture he originated still remains.

I knocked, entered and sat, book in hand, and waited.

“Your results are all normal,” said the doctor, reading my notes, not meeting my curiosity.

“Really?” I said, surprised. “For everything?”

“Yes.”

“Liver? Kidneys? Lipids? Red and white cells?”

“Yes.” She looked at me with a hint of amusement. My eyebrows were levitating. “All normal. May I have a look, please.”

She indicated that I should disrobe, so I stepped into the curtained area and dropped my jeans. She had a good look at my legs and arse, the skin of which is looking a lot more normal, just a couple of places still angry where there has been subcutaneous bleeding.

“Fine. Thank you.” She indicated I could pull up my jeans.

“So, what caused it?” I asked, emerging.

“Life, Mr Deekster, is a mystery,” she said, with a smile that surprised me even more than the results.

“Could it have been related to alcohol? I have not drunk anything for ten days, and it has diminished.”

“Possibly. In Islington, people generally think it is safe to drink far more than it actually is, and I trained in Belfast where they think nothing of drinking ten pints a night, so I am always suspicious when intelligent people don’t really know how much they drink.”

I said that I had no problem stopping, if that would help.

“My advice,” she replied, “is, live as normal. Come back in a month. And of course, if more bleeding occurs, come in straight away.”

Came back home, gave profound, loud and heartfelt thanks to God, and spontaneously observed two minutes silence. I noticed that despite my cool, I was extraordinarily pleased not to be facing an imminent life or death struggle – at least, as far as I know from the data gathered. They didn’t test my lymphatic system, so it could be connected to that. Or it could be the deoderant which I have been using. Still, nice to know everything they did test shows no damage or danger of immediate decline.

I have had a huge boost to my positivity from this health scare, from the many kind words of support I have received, and from having to prepare to face the worst. It has tipped me towards working on my underlying health, and made me much more generous to other people, attitudes which I shall try to sustain.

A short time later, a text arrived from K whose iBook is playing up. I was about to text her saying, much too busy to help sorry, but I deleted that one. Instead I sent her, call me and as I went shopping, talked her through fixing it. At the end of the process, I had the food for dinner and she had a working iBook. We decided to trade – my computer assistance for yoga, which she teaches, so I am booked in for next Monday.

I don’t think there is any danger of my becoming a born-again New Age funkster quite yet, but it has been a while since I experienced the workings of karma so directly.

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This thing has 6 Comments

  1. ME Strauss
    Posted 12 November, 2005 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Hey Mr. Deekster,
    “It’s nice to know I’ll not have to find another favorite writer, or listen to your tales of declining health, or learn nmore than I care to know about your physician . . . ,” she rattled on with a soft grin in her eyes.

  2. Chromatin
    Posted 13 November, 2005 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Glad to hear you’re ok.

  3. Laurie
    Posted 13 November, 2005 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    I once had a mammogram scare and saw my life pass before my eyes in about fifteen minutes time. It’s amazing how quickly even an optimistic person such as myself can sink to the depths of maudlin self pity and fear.

    Oh, and do keep using the deodorant.

  4. RuKsaK
    Posted 13 November, 2005 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    Am very glad that all is well and you can in fact still enjoy the odd pint.

    11/11 is known as paeopaeo day over here in Korea. It is a completely manufactured holiday on which they sell long, chocolate biscuits which look like the number 1 to signify the proliferation of ‘1’s in the day’s date. Seems wrong somehow.

  5. karma
    Posted 14 November, 2005 at 2:11 am | Permalink

    honey you had surgery on your arse??? hope you are feeling better now! and thanks for the vital statistics. i am here to work on you for 2 minutes ;))

  6. I.:.S.:.
    Posted 22 November, 2005 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    Do give yoga a chance, a really really good chance. Don’t force it, approach it gently, if you find yourself thinking: “Oh no, it’s yoga time again”, you’re doing it wrong.

    Start ever so easy (1 mins and 5 mins and then on to 10 and 15 min routine each day), and it will enter your life silently and secretly until you miss it when it’s not there. And pranayama! If you only study one aspect of yoga, let it be pranayama!

    The irony (and maybe condescension) of yoga advice from someone like me is not lost on me (or doubtless anyone who knows me), but once upon a time, I was not like this; I was a Trenchcoat Yogi and a seeker on a mystical path. Yoga is a science of your own nervous system, the like of which never developed in the west.

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