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Unkind cutting

Saturday, July 5, 2014

I haven’t written a blog for some time and with this one I am breaking my flow of childhood reminiscences.

I was talking on Skype to my son in Japan. I said that once you hit seventy you have a prevailing picture of the Grim Reaper, scythe glittering in the sunshine, walking down a long hill towards you. If you are feeling particularly good in yourself, he recedes up the track to become a dot on the horizon whereas if you feel under the weather in some way he becomes increasingly magnified. The fact of the matter is that, at seventy, you are in his stalking territory for this is the killing field of the Hooded One. Around you friends and acquaintances of approximately your own age are dying with terrible regularity. Cancer and heart attacks. There is a harsh imbalance to it all. Why can’t we all go together in one merry swipe of the blade? Instead we have this haphazard genocide and as much unpredictability as can be squeezed out of what is, of course, the most predictable of our seven ages. It is true, too, as I mentioned in a recent tweet, that you age, usually become somewhat wiser but have less and less time and energy to employ your hard earned wisdom. This vicious irony is further exaggerated by the brain’s consistency, changing from chunky cheddar to holey Emmental so that sagacity deconstructs into quicksilver, sliding away from attempts to focus upon it long enough to communicate it to those around you.

Anyway, I went for knee replacement surgery here in France. The events of that carving and remodelling of some of my body parts are now a surreal dream of lumpy mattresses, debilitating pain, morphine-induced visions, a mad woman screaming through the night, padding nurses carrying hypodermics and pills to thrust into my quivering body at all hours and feats of endurance to get to the toilet and somehow try to evacuate my bowels as a consequence of the plates piled with food that reduce your appetite from minimal to non-existent. And finally the kines, the physiotherapists with their softly growling machines-diaboliques, into which your leg is strapped and which bend the resisting, swollen joints into something vaguely resembling their original right angle, regardless of the pain.

The operation itself was a miracle of modern surgery conducted by a gentle and humane man. Everything now seems straight and true. I now have my own machine on loan at home and am a masochist working my way back to happiness.

Better still, the cowled character on my landscape has retreated far into the mists of my blue-remembered hills.


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