A Rottweiler, Frank & I by Ian Miller - HTML preview

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“A Rottweiler, Frank & I”

Part Two - The Waiting Room

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[Time Flies]

 

Fossilised Mollusc

 

Conceptual Piece - Museum of Modern Art [1962]

1
YOU CAN’T REALLY WANT TO KNOW?

A FRANK EXCHANGE OF OPINIONS

Tempus Fugit [as featured on the cover of this section] works as a metaphor in that the mollusc - not known for its speed - has fossilised with the inexorable passage of time. This could be viewed as a devastating commentary on the NHS for example.

Frank, as usual, sees it much more literally and wants to know why I am still “waffling on” about a fossil I found only a few weeks ago on a beach in Wales? And they wonder what separates us from the apes?

Unfortunately, circumstances also dictate that I have to prostitute my art by letting it suffer the ignominy of adaptation to “the commercial requirements of the market”. It can now be found being used as storage for wine coasters.

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You can still be assured of one thing though; I will never allow this book to be subjected to the humiliation of product placement.

 

WHAT NEXT THEN?

Living a life of counting days in The Waiting Room leaves me with way too much time for pondering. In the words of Shakespeare, [or was it The Eagles?] “…you can check out any time you like but you can never leave…”

Firstly, I resolved to do the following:

1. Make a list of all the things I would like to do before it was too late for me to do so
2. To stop making lists

Why would anyone want to know what I think are the best albums of all time? What about the best European cities?

This summarising process did however result in the generation of some of the following pieces of doggerel† included here for your reading pleasure.

Before all this though, you might like to consider joining me for lunch. I’m going to have a Tuna Melt Roll with Italian Herb Bread served with a Medium Coke. Delicious!

† [Doggerel noun poor or trivial verse]
OK so, strictly speaking, I am stretching this definition a bit to include
plain text but I like the word and it’s my book after all.

LIFE IN THE FAST LANE

 

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I have been inundated by requests from people who, having just
completed the arduous task of reading Some Recollected Matters,
want to know how events currently stand. Actually, “inundated” is a
very slight exaggeration on my behalf; surely somebody will be
interested though?

So, to briefly bring you up-to-date with events happening since last we met:

1. The Rottweiler is thankfully still confined to his cage after failing in his “ideal job” as Pub Dog. You know the one; lay by the fire, breathe in, roll over and exhale slowly [Repeat]. Apparently, he took exception to anybody entering the establishment and thereby interrupting his work.

2. Frank still labours under the illusion of more TV work and has therefore relaxed his stance on the wearing of hats.

 

3. I, on the other hand, remain along for the ride whilst still awaiting that GMTV call.

 

RELATIVE SUCCESS

In the preparation of this tome, I advertised its availability in the biweekly satirical paper Private Eye. An offer was made to send a copy free [Yes, I did said FREE] by Email for a limited period to any interested parties. My original view [since revised!] was that “if you can’t give it away you might as well give up!” I also wanted to distribute copies to gain feedback as family and friends are not always the best critics.

Many years ago, I can remember showing Mad Max 2 to my mother and enquiring what she thought of it immediately afterwards. “It was alright but which one was Max?” was her unintentionally devastating critique.

With some trepidation therefore, I repeated this process with A Rottweiler, Frank & I. “It was marvellous, I really, really enjoyed reading it. There was just one thing though…that bit about the Rottweiler… [Now I began to feel a bit nervous] Is that really how the hospital describes the grading nowadays?”

So anyway, what was the take up rate I hear you enquire? How would you like it to be expressed, by region or demographically? Will a rough estimation be adequate for your purposes?

I can confirm to you that, subject to formal ABC accreditation, it easily fits in the category of [0 – 10] copies [and sadly I do mean easily!]

2
MY TV AERIAL WON’T REACH

MEMORY GAMES

“Did you see that film last night featuring the woman who was married to that chap? You know, the one who used to go out with the woman who… Oh, come on, you must know her name!”

With my memory, I find myself playing this game quite regularly. Eventually - some way back from the first thing you can actually remember - you then have to retrace your tracks filling in the blanks as you go. I cannot imagine why this is that difficult though as the answer always seems to be Carol Vorderman for some reason.

TV TIMES

Have you noticed that those two part dramas beginning on Sunday night and finishing on Monday always follow the same basic plot? It is obvious that nothing of consequence can be resolved any earlier so why bother watching until the last moment? “How would we know when the last moment was actually due?” I hear you ask.

This troubled me too and therefore I am currently working on a foolproof technique [as I once explained to the local Vicar]. In this way, I could carry on living a life untroubled by religion [anyone’s!] before eventually repenting at the last moment. I am told that such a web-site already exists to help you with this –it’s called something like www.lastminute.com and it’s apparently [despite it’s name] nothing to do with the ethics of euthanasia.

It has also occurred to me that, if I could achieve this modest aim, it might solve a great deal of the world’s conflicts. Now, if I could make money from it as well!

A RAPID DECLINE

Observing how the rather awkward matter of terminal illness is handled on TV raises the following point. When a scriptwriting team have made the decision to write a character out, it will usually be because of the fact that the actor wishes to depart or because the part has run its full course.
The last thing the public will now want to witness is a character hanging around like a “figment of somebody else’s imagination” awaiting the Grim Reaper; a fact that inevitably leads to a very rapid decline and exit.

Any ambitious up and coming actors / actresses should watch out for that new story line on offer - Illness is invariably and very quickly fatal!

 

ALTERNATIVE WONDERS OF THE WORLD

It is one of life’s ironies that people who can afford Ferraris are probably too old to drive one. Likewise, people who are no longer “wage slaves” and therefore have more freedom to roam the planet are usually stymied by finances or illness.

I had already had the good fortune to travel, both through business and pleasure, and have been able to continue doing so whilst “counting those days”. These are a few wonders of the world that I uncovered; the wonder bit is usually meant as in “I wonder why?”

1. Floral Clock Perth, SW Australia: It’s a clock. It’s in a flowerbed. You will have to go a very, very long way to prove me wrong on this one!

2. Madeira Sledge Run: Don’t be fooled by the title and the fact that Ernest Hemingway once said “…it was the most thrilling experience of my life…” Was he being ironic? Yes he was!

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3. Babbacombe Model Village: 1950’s “state of the art” entertainment becomes a slight embarrassment forty odd years later. By the way, that Bedford Van that blew over in 1971; can somebody please turn it back over?

4. Big Pit, Merthyr South Wales: It’s a coal mine. “Mum, why can’t we go to Alton Towers like all my friends?”

5. Sunlight Chambers, Dublin: “Originally housing the eponymous soap company, it boasts one of the most unusual architectural features in Dublin; two multicoloured terracotta friezes depicting their product in use”. We have mirrors for this purpose surely? My own particular favourite Dublin friezes could be found on every available wall in the city and had more earthly subject matters.

On a recent trip down under, the guide enthralled us with detailed descriptions of each type of roof tile we encountered going on to explain the importance of some of these matters to a country called the UK. Well I never realised, it does however make you wonder what rubbish we are fed about local customs and dishes when we stumble through destinations abroad like “walking cash machines”.

Ever been paired with the obligatory US holidaymakers on an organised trip? “Prague was rebuilt after the war entirely from match sticks. This led to the great fire of London in 1966 when our President David Beckham declared war on the Isle of Man”.

“Will we be stopping for pictures?” No

 

THE ALAN WHICKER OF THE CANTEEN

 

Are you fed up with either? :

1. Insufferable bores giving you a full explanation of their latest exotic trips – apart from me of course.
2. Not being able [through finances for example] to travel widely enough to avoid humiliation when being asked where you went for your holidays.

The brilliantly simple solution can be found in the 1960 British comedy “The School for Scoundrels” with Terry Thomas where “one-upmanship” was a core subject.
Listen intently to your work colleague’s glowing endorsement of Guatemala City before adding a simple “…yes but only in the South surely”. Hold your nerve and trust me they will not have enough confidence to pursue the matter further.

INTERVENING TIME TRAVELS

On a recent mid-winter sojourn to Gran Canaria, I decided to research my earlier alternative universe dilemma by taking Stephen Hawkins’ “A Brief History of Time”.

My “travel buddy” and I agreed to meet at 1100 each day [at the Apartments] to decide on a plan of action for the day – this we found allowed a degree of freedom for both parties.
On the third day, I awoke early and, having completed all the usual daily routines, I went for a walk to kill some time. As I approached the Apartment, I noticed him standing anxiously on the other side of the road.

Are you alright, I was worried?
Why?
You’re nearly an hour late, I went back to the apartment and you didn’t answer the door

I was wearing an old 1970’s watch [a relic of my collecting days] and realised that it must have stopped. I readjusted myself to this “new time” and the day continued without event until we agreed to meet for an evening meal at 1900.

As we sat there waiting for the meal to arrive, I remarked that the restaurant was quite empty when compared with yesterday. Also, there was definitely something else strange but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I finally realised that it was much lighter than the previous day and, when a young family walked past in beach attire, the penny dropped. It transpired that his mobile phone had decided [over night] that it had just moved into another time-zone – yet another cautionary technological tale. We had managed to live an entire day one hour ahead of our surroundings!

And what has this to do with Stephen Hawking? The section I was reading dealt with the fact that there is “no unique absolute time and every individual has his own personal measure!”
Believe me Dear Reader; I was already struggling to hold on the modern world without this kind of thing happening!

AT A CROSSROADS

 

I have no wish to “paddle in a pool of pathos” but this really describes my current medical situation so well.

I recently rang the Hospital to arrange a meeting to clarify a number of points – arranging this transpired to be more difficult than I had ever imagined. Apparently, whilst the Reception Desk now accept that I am indeed a patient, their records do not show that I am receiving [or have received] Chemotherapy! Well, I know that my memory can be a bit poor at times but I was sure that I had been here before. The answer was later uncovered – apparently Chemotherapy in tablet form is not Chemotherapy. Confused? Don’t look to me for explanations as I forget what the question actually was!

Having recently had a very good MRI scan [and surviving over two years of Chemotherapy], I had to make a decision on future treatment. Apparently, I am classified as a Responder which I had previously thought to be a foe of Dr. Who! For my liking though, there was too much stress in the Consultant’s delivery when viewing the results, as if he could barely believe them himself or, more likely, that it was a position that he reached very rarely. Certainly, most of my original “fellow patients” have now, shall we say, moved on.

Do I?

1. Continue with treatment to attempt to reduce the cancerous cells still further at the risk of “hammering” my immune system for an indefinable benefit? [Micro approach]

2. Stop to allow the body to recover until evidence can be observed visually on a scan [at some later date] – this being at the risk of losing control of the situation? [Macro approach]

Q: What have other patients in my position done? A: There is insufficient evidence for us to know for sure the best option for you at this time.

 

Q: What would you do?

 

A: I agree it’s a difficult question

I would have consulted Gypsy Rosa Lee, but since switching to tea bags, her predictions have not been up to much. So there we are, right back where we started with “Informed Choice”.

[I should point out that, whilst the situations described above are true, they are presented here as an amalgam of the actual events for the sake of simplicity.]

 

ON THE ROAD

When recently attempting to regain my suspended driving licence, I had to make a number of additional visits to the hospital for field of vision tests. During one of these, I had yet another un-introduced registrar present in the meeting. It is enough to make you want to walk down a random corridor, selecting a room at random as you go. Now simply join the consultation in progress.

“Excuse me Sir, can I help?”
“No you just carry on it seems more interesting than mine”

At the time, the Polonium poisoning story [surrounding a Russian Dissident Writer] was prominent on the TV News and print media. I boarded the train and found, to my surprise, that my consultant was sat opposite me clutching to his chest a large briefcase. The conversation turned to the medical dilemma recently posed and the word Radiation was mentioned. I noticed that the volume of noise in the adjoining seats had lowered and eventually I whispered “Do you think this conversation is wise?” as I had images of being met by friendly armed police units at the station.

My test results confirmed that I did meet the requirement for the DVLA “Field of Vision” and I am now back in the Land of the Drivers. I did not greet this news with the unbridled enthusiasm that you might have expected, as I do not feel as competent as when I had driven before my operation. It does however make you wonder how much that chap coming towards you right now can see.

JUDGMENT DAY

We will all have our own “Personal Judgement Day” at some point, and it is not therefore presented to you here as being a religious based concept. The Waiting Room allows you to consider these matters at length as your chance of making any new external impact – being promoted at work for instance or even winning The X-Factor – are now drastically reduced.

Despite what you may have heard though, having a terminal illness does not automatically imbue you with wisdom although it does apply a sense of proportion to the importance of certain matters in life.

What would you have done differently? ; Difficult to say because it takes a brave person to act on their instincts when it also means giving up steady paid employment.

What advice would you give? Try to remember that the one thing that you can’t recapture is time… that and never wear hats indoors. This book began as a form of catharsis but was never intended to be an extended Blog. Certainly, I now have no wish to record any future decline if, or when, it should happen. If you are still interested, perhaps I could suggest to you that you read Medical Matters backwards and we might arrive at the same point?

Along the way, external events have had a habit of mirroring my own situation like my own personal low budget version of Life on Mars [the “time travelling” TV programme featured right at the beginning within Medical Matters]. As I write this, the final episode has just aired revealing the truth; our hero has been on an operating table all along… having a Brain Tumour removed!

It seems that this book is getting too dangerous for me to continue with so I must catch a flight out. Where to? Anywhere but back; baggage allowances are no longer a problem for me because I am not planning to take any...

00055.jpgWhat a very strange man he was, apparently he insists on wearing hats indoors and would only answer to the name “Famous Author” even though nobody I have met has ever heard of him!

 

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