Archives for category: Margate

IMG_1642

Last Monday, adding to my general health woes, I woke at 2am with a strange and persistent pain in my upper belly.  Pains I assumed were something to do with the polyps they removed from my colon during a colonoscopy the previous week or maybe the MRI the day before establishing the size of a tumour on my remaining adrenal gland.

On Monday at 9am I had a meeting in Canterbury with a mental health professional.  I left the house in Whitstable at 7.30am.  I couldn’t find a way of alleviating the discomfort.  I sat on the loo.  I sat in the car an hour early for my appointment, pain overwhelming me.  I called the NHS help line.  I was advised to take paracetamol and call my doctor in a day if things hadn’t improved.

An hour later I was on my back in an ambulance, a morphine drip in my arm.  A mid line, not a cannula, they couldn’t find a vein.  My blood pressure slumped.  Three hours later, after vomiting a pint of yellow bile, I was taken into theatre, the anaesthetic a welcome relief.  Not just for the immediate pain but all the pain, anguish and discomfort I had suffered this past year.  I sank into the big black and just before I drifted away I thought to myself, perhaps for the first time ever, I wouldn’t mind if I never woke up.

I did not care about anything I previously cared about.  I did not care about the welfare of the Little Dog.  I did not care about my property.  I wanted at that moment to slip away on a gurney in a grim Margate hospital.   Margate on my death certificate.  That was that.

I woke up in the Cheerful Sparrow, a ward of six men.  All of them dishevelled, jaundiced, overweight.   The man to my left entertaining a family of obese relatives.  His eleven year old daughter the size of a small car.  Her young face perched on a ledge of processed lard.  To my right, a packet of ochre liquid stapled to his huge belly, a gruff male antagonized an ancient desiccated traveller laying opposite us.  Confused by vascular dementia he called out in the night.  Calling for long dead relatives.  Calling for his dog.

At 5pm the following day Robin arrived in his Range Rover, driving me home to Whitstable.  I slipped into his gracious car, black leather and reclining seats, protected from the smell of rotting cabbage Thanet seems unable to shake.  Wearing imaginary dark glasses and a velvet wrap, feeling like Grace Kelly after the horrors of the Cheerful Sparrow Ward at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Margate.

Three days later my possessions arrived from the USA by hauler Bishop’s Move.  As one might imagine… this was neither as simple nor as stress free as I wanted.  However, it was one step further away from Tivoli NY and for that I am truly grateful.  Bishop’s Move have a lot to answer for but we are just beginning to literally and figuratively unpack their disaster.

 

 

This past week, since my body waged war on me, I’ve been shown such kindness from friends I’ve known all my life.  Cared for, fed by, driven to, held.  I don’t need to remind you but if this had happened in the USA I would have been presented with a huge bill when I left the hospital and then my kindly Tivoli neighbours would have picked the pearls off my decaying body.

Which reminds me of the day my forty-something Tivoli neighbour Christopher Murphy (Village of Tivoli Trustee) fell off his bike directly in front of my house whilst performing stunts for his adolescent sons.  Falling badly onto boiling hot tarmac where he lay until I found him.  His hatred of gay people (or me) so profound he would not let me help him off the hot street. Schadenfreude prevailed.  I looked down at him squirming like an injured possum until his equally sour wife arrived to help his sorry ass.

IMG_1095.JPG

Another morning at the hospital.  Another biopsy on another lump. I’m quite sweaty today.  My arms hurt.  The arthritis in my neck makes my arms painful, numb and tingling.  The pain increases when I cough, sneeze or strain.

After the consultant I drove to Margate where I met Jonathan Viner who has famously bought the huge Margate Print Works, partially selling to Tracey Emin and others.  We ate a light lunch at David Liddicot‘s cafe on Union Row.  Jonathan rather sweetly paid for lunch, (£20).  Of course we discussed both projects.  He is unsurprisingly proprietorial about Margate.  Viner, I suppose, rediscovered it and put his money where his mouth is.

He very kindly walked me around the last remaining part of the huge building still unsold.  The cavernous concrete space ripe for something magnificent.  We discussed Brexit, we discussed moving to Kent, we chatted briefly about Jay.  He is obviously quite competitive but not in an overwhelming, American way.  I told Jonathan I’d met the ghastly Margate based architect Sam Causer who has all the charm of untreated sewage.

We discussed terrible Margate landlords who want too much for their properties and he was eager to remind me I didn’t own anything in Margate… yet.  I replied gently that if my idea fell through it wouldn’t be the end of the world.  I learned from buying at auction… there’s always something else, next time.  It’s not healthy to obsess about things.  It can get you into trouble.  God has a plan.  I just have to listen out for it.

I’ve been going to London meetings.  NA meetings.  It baffles me how people stay clean.  But of course… they don’t.  The real addicts die.  NA, divorced from Bill’s radical idea of a spiritual solution, is utterly worthless.  I am irritated by NA in the UK, the group therapy, feelings laid bare.  I was sharing step solution in a Chelsea meeting last week and a young woman in the meeting told me I shouldn’t talk about the steps because she found it ‘triggering’.

Meanwhile Chip, my friend in NYC, who worked a solid NA programme overdoses and dies.  He was a splendid, handsome father of one.  Divorced from God there was no other destiny for him.  Jail.  Institutions.  Death.

IMG_1849.JPG

The Whitstable Biennial opened this week.  Consequently there is ‘art’ everywhere: in beech huts, coffee shops, fishmongers, gardens, St Alphage church on the high street.  The art is pretty dull but the buzz around town is great.  I found two gorgeous bronze figures tucked away in a shed by sculptor Mark Fuller who is without doubt a bloody genius.  £80.

If my arms work I may go to Canterbury Pride this evening.

Ivan Cartwright visited me last weekend.  We had lunch at Dave Brown’s then drove to Margate.  He had never been.  He was very impressed.  Lunch with M&J at well reviewed Angela’s in Margate on Wednesday.  I ate Turbot and some odd tasting greens.

IMG_1087.JPG

Met in Soho last week with a gentleman who wants to buy my art collection, then a brief but good catch up with my producer.  I bumped into Johnny and Julian outside Maison Bertaux.  We drank a little coffee and I scoffed a large Mont Blanc, you know the one… with mashed up marrons glacés, meringue and cream.

I travelled from Whitstable to London on the train.  It was exactly the same time to get up there as it was 40 years ago.  It’s perfectly fine.  The bus from Victoria to Piccadilly Circus was wonderful. Swinging past the Wellington Arch, on the upper deck, very little traffic.  The trees around Green Park and Park Lane have matured beautifully.  Apsley house now looks like it’s sitting in the countryside rather than a concrete island.  I fell in love with London all over again.  Who wouldn’t?

After lunch I took the Piccadilly line to Gloucester Place and had tea with Christophe. He looks wonderfully relaxed after his hip operation.  Pain shows in the face, you know.  Without the pain he looks marvellous.  “Everybody says the same,” he smiled.

There was a coach from Faversham to Whitstable after 11pm but so what?  A drunk man on the bus was recounting his recent arrest for knocking someone out.  I had no problem with the railway.  I had no problem with the buses and the tube.  I’ve had no problems with the NHS.  I just wish the pins and needles would stop.