TraveloguesEveryone has a story.
“Sometimes you’re better off not knowing,” I said to a good friend as we sat outside sipping coffee. He nodded in tacit agreement, without completely understanding what I was trying to say, giving me permission to keep going, not that I’ve ever particularly needed such a wave of the hand allowing me to forge ahead.
Things are somewhat difficult just at present. I stumble, almost falling backwards and all I’m doing is making lunch, a toasted sandwich. It’s the price I’m paying for having the brain tumour removed and the subsequent and ongoing recovery of same.
Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
“Rip down all hate,” I screamed
Lies that life is black and white
Spoke from my skull. I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now
Before I go on, I should preface my comments by saying that my intended audience for this missive is not the brain tumour community, they may read this and remark “tell me something I don’t already know”. It’s for anyone who may know a brain tumour survivor, or has met one, and who wonders what the fuss is about.
Clive James, in answering a question about his writing life, a question about the writing process, answered thus, “I get up in the morning, make myself a cup of coffee, walk up the stairs to my office, stare out the window and do what all great writers must do, absolutely nothing.”
The UN’s Philip Alston is an expert on deprivation – and he wants to know why 41m Americans are living in poverty. The Guardian joined him on a special two-week mission into the dark heart of the world’s richest nation
Floyd Collins sat on the hood of his Dodge putting on his walking shoes. The “hood” is a much more appropriate name to describe the flap that opens up to the engine than what the English would refer to as the “bonnet”, which is what you put on the head of a one year old English girl who’ll grow up to marry a gentleman of the aristocracy. Besides, it’s an American car; Floyd has maintained the original left hand drive and it drives like an American car should, all muscle and energy and James Dean swagger with the packet of Lucky Strikes under the turned up sleeve on the t-shirt.
Princes priests and diplomats
are trying to explain
The times that we are living in
the rumbling in my brain
For most of us, dare I say all of us, our lives are filled with the mundane. I’m sorry to break it to you this way, it may come as a shock. With the profound on the other hand, where an insight of emotional depth and intensity is revealed, we often, as individuals, as a society, flick pass it and shake our heads in wonder, not taking the time that is perhaps required to understand how it came to be, or perhaps even to see it at all.
Once upon a time, the world suffered.
In 1987, 20 million people across the world were plagued by a debilitating, painful and potentially blinding disease called river blindness. This parasitic infection caused pain, discomfort, severe itching, skin irritation and, ultimately, irreversible blindness, leaving men, women and children across Africa unable to work, care for their families and lead normal lives.
I attended a conference this week, one where my qualification enabling me to attend consisted of being a brain tumour survivor. COGNO, it’s a grand acronym to be sure, stands for the Co-Operative Trials Group for Neuro Oncology, held in Melbourne, conveniently enough, during International Brain Tumour Awareness Week.
The recent debates in Australia over same-sex marriage have followed the same wearisome pattern seen in so many other countries. Politicians try to manage their constituents, churches mount their vigorous defence of the definition of “marriage,” and the Bible, once again, is caught up in the determination of public policy.
Wisdom cries in the street
The humble rise to their feet
to kick their shoes off
before they hit the road
Following the 15 hour surgery on my brain 12 months ago, the whole left side of my body was left paralysed. There is still some way to go. My left hand still experiences constant pins & needles. It has about half of its required strength and dexterity. The neuro pathways, the synapse, from the brain to the hand still has obstacles.
Colin Birtles is stuck in traffic, or more to the point, stuck in his car, in a queue, at a service station, idling his engine, with other unfortunates, in traffic, victims all of a garish advertising sign offering a fuel price discount, pock marked on the side of the road, with all the other pock marks, blathering the health benefits of Gatorade, the communication benefits of a mobile phone, or the freedom offered by the latest Jeep.
A short video montage, mainly walking, of progress since my surgery.