Saturday, 22 December 2012

2012 - An Unimaginable Year

So 2012 started, and that was something I hadn't imagined would happen. Not for me anyway. Being diagnosed with late stage cancer in September 2011 made 2012 seem like an impossibility, yet here I am at the end of it. This is my year.

January: My hair has started to grow back. Just a bit, not enough to ditch the scarves, but it's a start. My wonderful, beautiful daughter turns 16. We go to the cinema to see Sherlock Holmes 2 - my first public outing since my diagnosis. A week later I'm in St Thomas's for my operation. All goes well, although the moment when we discovered that the anaesthetic coverage is patch is a bad one! Still it means I have the hand held morphine thing which is marvellous! During all this daughter visits and applies for sixth form schools. She wants to go to the BRIT School so very badly. It means an audition and an interview and a lot of written stuff.

February: Lovely Agent doesn't like final draft of the 17th century story I'd been writing for years so it's ditched. But I start writing a new 17th century story! Hospital consultant is pleased with my progress. I have my last two sessions of chemo. My hair falls out again.

March: CT scan is, after some deliberation, deemed clear. I join the Royal Festival Hall and start to socialise! I even see a play at the Young Vic - Bingo with Patrick Stuart. I go to an exhibition - Getty Images 'Marilyn'.

April: I visit family in Wales. First time I've seen my mother since August 2011. She cries. I think the trip is hard for everyone apart from me. I'm fine. I feel fine. Everyone else worries that I'll do too much too soon and get ill again. I go to the theatre again - in London. The Ladykillers. I take back my part-time jobs that the very lovely people kept open for me. It's rather good. I have Something To Do. I'm still writing. Lots. I'm not sure it's any good though.

May: I go to the theatre. Really making up for lost time here. Misterman at the National which is absolutely stunning! I see Hay Fever too, which is great fun. Daughter starts her GCSEs. I ditch my head scarves. My first writerly outing without the scarves is to Miriam Halahmy's birthday brunch. I feel vulnerable and scared but everyone is very nice.

June: Hospital check up is fine. Next one in three months. Daughter finishes her GCSEs. They've gone well. See the preview of Spiderman at the O2 with daughter. Fantastic. I go back to Wales. No one cries. They're used to me now. Daughter leaves school. I finish the new novel. Well, the first draft.

July: We visit the BRIT school. Daughter has a confirmed place on the Theatre course. Thank you thank you thank you! We go to Norfolk. I feel like a normal person. Looking at photos now my hair is SO short but it felt luxurious at the time! I go to the theatre! Midsummer Night's Dream at the Open Air Theatre and it doesn't rain! I go to Wales. I watch TV a lot. It's the Olympics! I get obsessed with Oscar Pistorius.

August: Daughter and I have an excellent day at London Zoo where I gaze adoringly at the Okapis. Should it have an 's'? GCSE results day. She passes them all! Then she goes to Reading Festival for the day but phones at midnight to say she's staying there overnight. Nice. You can imagine how pleased! I go to Colin Mulhern's event at Foyles for his new book, Arabesque. Haven't seen him for six years! And see the lovely NoN from Catnip too.

September: Send new novel to Lovely Agent. Still not sure about it. See Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime at a cinema with NT live. Amazing! Go to Paralympics and see OSCAR! Go to the SCBWI Sara Grant revision masterclass. And see Timon of Athens at the National. Go to Wales. Come back. Have blood test. See consultant. Marker is rising but still in normal range.

October: See Damned by Despair at the National. Only person in the world who likes it. Go for a tour of Wilton's Music Hall. Wonderful place. SCBWI Miriam Halahmy stuck in the middle masterclass. Visit a Victorian mortuary during the London Open House weekend. A story spark is lit. Visit Rotherhithe, Wapping, and the Crossness Pumping Station. The spark grows. Talk to Lovely Agent about 17th century story. She's not sure either. I suggest we ditch it because the Victorian idea is So Much Better. I go to Bob the cat's book signing. Love him! See the Judas Kiss at Richmond Theatre. Good grief! Have blood test. Marker is now above normal range. I have a scan. I panic.

November: The scan is clear. The marker is still too high, but the scan is clear. I start writing the Victorian novel. I see 55 Days at the Hampstead Theatre. Douglas Henshall and Mark Gatiss. Perfect. My mother falls and breaks her knee. Is effectively bed bound. Not so perfect. Especially for my sister. SCBWI conference. Brilliant, inspiring, fun.

December: Daughter and I have a day out - shopping, lunch, and The Magistrate at the National - great fun and the best curtain call ever. Jo Franklin gets tickets to see Benedict Cumberbatch (and some others) recording Radio 4's Cabin Pressure and she takes me! Daughter is furious. I am thrilled. Take Cat #1 to the v.e.t. His ear is cancerous and will have to be removed. So will a couple of teeth. Operation booked for January 3rd. Mother's knee is mended. I have blood test and see woman-who-is-not-my-consultant. Marker is still going up. She is pessimistic. I don't like her. But, for now, all is OK as the scan was clear. I see the Hobbit and love it. So much!

So that's it. Tomorrow I'm off to Wales for Christmas. I'm back on the green tea. I feel fine. I'm optimistic. The Victorian novel is going extremely well. 2012 has been a mixed year but overall an excellent one. I'm still here and plan to be so for a very long time. This year has shown me how lovely people are. I'm so very grateful for the support I've had from friends, family, SCBWIers, and Facebookers. I've been carried along on a tide of good wishes. So thank you. 

I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sunday, 9 December 2012


This week's post is taken up by my excellent cat Tobias. I've had him for nine years now, having chosen him from a picture on the Foal Farm website. He'd been a stray for a long time and was very scared of everything. It's only now that I can use tin foil without him running away.

So last week he went to the V.E.T. because he has a sore ear. He's on antibiotics, which I shove inside a piece of cheese twice a day, but he may have to have his ear c.u.t. o.f.f. (If anyone has a cat with white ears - watch them!)

Anyway, here he is (pre ear crisis). Normal service resumes next week.