Is life so unremarkable that I can claim an entire seven days of oblivion? Seven days of such inaction that a plate of sleet may seem interesting? It’s hard to define nothing. It’s one of those frequently used words which means, well, nothing; zero, not a dicky bird, sweet Fanny Adams, not a sausage, no big deal etc. But was I facing the cold sea of insignificance?
Well last Saturday began with a fall. It was nothing, I was fine. No bones broken. Well actually it wasn’t nothing. (Now that’s using a double negative in its correct context.) What it meant, was a call on my magic lifeline pendant whilst sitting on my rear end on the carpet, patiently awaiting the para medics. I can still feel the numbness of his royal bumness. But the really helpful paras didn’t just pick me up and then leave. I was plugged into the ECG and blood pressure monitor. The lovely girl then made me a cup of tea before we had a chat about the rock choir she attends.
Then my mate Steve came round and we chewed the fat with some very nice whisky. And then? Oh picture it. The flat falls silent. I sit, head bowed as the clock ticks. The deep sighs punctuate the passive stillness. By my side, Seymour lies motionless as his chest heaves in the soporific wave of a deep sleep. I join him. In the background, cars whistle past. The light fades. I look into the blank future.
In a futile attempt for some form of cerebral stimulus, I switch on the television. It’s Pointless. Even Pointless Celebrities. Slowly a twisted smile forms on my hardened face. Is it all so pointless? Hell no. I love a bit of trivia.
I rose from my moments of slumber to raid the freezer. Yes, I do ping cuisine. But what’s pinging is purely home made. I love cooking. I love creative cooking. This is one way of banishing any notion of nothingness.
The next day I was inspired. A cheap old Tesco shoulder of lamb was resurrected from its icy bed. I made a marinade and they both went into a sealed bag to be acquainted with each other overnight in the fridge. I dreamt of its maturation.
The next day it was to sit in its basic sauce in the slow cooker while I adjusted the levels of flavour. Creamed coconut, tamarind and yoghurt was added at different points.For the whole day this melting pot of loveliness was singing quietly in its gentle heat.
Finally, I separated the soft meat, languishing in its heavenly bed of flavours. Some of it was confined to the ping schedule. I’ll look forward to that because my petit assiette was memorable. We often lament about a lack of time and the need for ready meals. But give time and love to food and it will love you back.
Then I made a bloomer. This sort of bloomer.
I made it by hand because I could. My indoor wheelchair rises to give me an opportunity to apply natural weight for the kneading process. Then I poached my reluctant plums. For five days, my home-ripening plums languished in the fruit bowl. Did they soften? Only when I poached them in cinnamon and sweet sherry.
Some of us may have genuine difficulties preparing food. That is the beast of MS for you. When I have cooked away from the comforts of home, it has been necessary to employ a volunteer band of sous chefs. That would be my hosts; always a willing band. It’s a good excuse for wine.
Monday and Tuesday also had an air of ping about them but I did make some wholemeal bread rolls. Then on the Tuesday evening, I prepared the falafel mixture. A little bit of flour, chopped onions, garlic, chick peas and spices went into the processor. I couldn’t help it; I had to try a couple of them. The preparation can be a bit messy but if you plan your kitchen it can be managed. Oh my word. Someone once turned up with M and S falafels and they were claggy and soggy. Not these little beauties. The next day I made pitta breads and a yoghurt mint sauce for them. They were enjoyed.
Not such an ordinary week I suppose. I received two visits from doctors. On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of Dr O’Connell’s company. He took one look at my ballooning feet and gave me a lecture on going to bed early and not falling asleep on the sofa before making a huge fuss of the cat. The good doctor is retiring soon. “Why?” I asked. “Because I’ve had enough of sorting out old bastards like you,” came the reply. Fair enough.
Another doctor came on the Thursday. Crossed wires, perhaps. She did the same things as Tuesday. She was a bit more serious. The rest of the week buzzed along in a whirl of creative cooking and crosswords. So it wasn’t another week of nothing.
Then this morning I had the idea of going up to the newsagents for The Times.
The shop has steps so I have to rat-a-tat-tat on the side door. The lovely lady appeared with my paper. There’s nothing ordinary in that.
Then a district nurse came to take some blood. Now my veins are quite elusive. She left empty handed threatening a return on Friday. But she didn’t like Seymour. She didn’t like anything much. You know those type of people who think nothing is their fault? This was most unusual for a nurse. You can’t win them all I suppose. In November I’m going to have a tattoo of a rose on my forearm.
Thank-you for reading.