The day before the Hartlepool Festival I had an accident, my knee dislocated and it was the worst pain I’ve ever experienced in my life. If you are a bit squeamish then it’s probably best not to read on at this point – to be honest, for the last two weeks even telling people about it (everyone wants to know) makes me feel faint.
I’d been in Hartlepool for all of an hour, been round a few of the venues we were due to use for the festival and I was hungry and bursting for the loo, so we headed back to Crump’s house for refreshments. I got through the door and her dog jumped up to say hello, I must have been at the wrong angle because his little jump knocked my leg and my knee popped out of place.
This is not the most artistic of my photos. Ideally I’d like to take the blanket up to Hillsborough Park’s Walled Garden to show it off a bit more, but I’ve not got the time.
So why have I chosen this stripy, single bed sized blanket to be my ‘symbol’?
“This band behind me’ll tell you that that trophy means more to me than owt else in the whole world. But they’d be wrong! Truth is, I THOUGHT it mattered. I thought that MUSIC mattered. But does it bollocks? Not compared to how people matter. Us winning this trophy won’t mean bugger-all to most people. But us refusing it – like what we’re going to do now – well, then it becomes news, doesn’t it? [flurry of press camera shutters] You see what I mean. That way, I’ll not just be talking to myself, will I? Because over the last ten years, this bloody government has systematically destroyed an entire industry. OUR industry. And not just our industry – our communities, our homes, our lives. All in the name of “progress”. And for a few lousy bob. I’ll tell you something else you might not know, as well. A fortnight ago, this band’s pit were closed – another thousand men lost their jobs. And that’s not all they lost. Most of them lost the will to win a while ago. A few of them even lost the will to fight. But when it comes to losing the will to live, to breathe, the point is – if this lot were seals or whales, you’d all be up in bloody arms. But they’re not, are they, no, no they’re not. They’re just ordinary common-or-garden honest, decent human beings. And not one of them with an ounce of bloody hope left. Oh aye, they can knock out a bloody good tune. But what the fuck does that matter?” Click on the quote for Pete Postlethwaite in his full glory.
Well, it’s been quite a week hasn’t it?
I can’t say I was particularly confident of a major shift towards something that I would have seen as more positive than the last government, but, as I believe was the case for many of my friends, the last thing I was expecting was a Conservative majority. I am saddened, I am disappointed, I am angry, I am frustrated, I am filled with dread with what is to come.
I have mixed feelings about my national identity. I am both English and British. I was born in a cottage in Buckinghamshire. I have one Scottish grandfather who died 10 years before I was born and one Irish great grandfather who died 75 years before I was born. We’ve traced branches of our family tree back over a thousand years and, as with many English people, our family has come from all over Europe – France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Norway, Germany, Turkey, Hungary – and that’s just the people we have records for. When I was abroad I think I ended up saying either depending upon how I felt on the day. I haven’t visited Europe recently so I’m not sure how we are currently being perceived over there.
I have real struggles with national pride and nationalism. I can see why people want to have a sense of pride of where they come from. People can be house proud, proud of their hamlet, village, town or city, their county, their region, their country, that’s fine if it brings them some happiness. What I really hate is when that is then used as an excuse to say “I’m this, so I’m better than you!” Just because you were born in this time and place doesn’t make you better than anyone who wasn’t. Perhaps you are a better person than someone else, but that has nothing to do with an accident of birth, that’s to do with how you speak to people, your actions and your intentions.
Three years ago, on my 28th birthday, I went for a smear test.
When I think of activities I’d like to do for my birthday, I’d normally go with bowling, seeing a play, taking some art class like pottery or printing, cinema trip etc. rather than have a smear. But, since I’d moved between surgeries when moving houses, the NHS thought this was my first smear and an over due one at that. (It was my second, first had been all fine. Wooo)
A couple of years before my Dad had been diagnosed with cancer of the bile duct. Obviously this is not connected to cervical cancer, but they always do that things of ‘Do you have a history of cancer in the family?’ and until that point I didn’t think we had. I still had both parents, my Grandmother was then 99, my Granddad was 88, all uncles and aunts were, as far as I knew, in relatively good heath, as were my siblings. My Grandfather had died of a heart attack at 75, my Nan died 9 years before of various things, not including cancer.
I know I’ve written about this before, but it’s important and so I’m going to bring it up again before I get carried away with the excitement and frivolity of going away again.
In February 2012 I had an abnormal cervical smear result. For those of you who don’t know what the scale is 0=normal, 6=cancer, I was a 5. I was shocked and scared.
I read about it, the procedure, how they might treat it and what could have caused it.
My smear had traces of HPV – human papillomavirus.