My star sign is a Leo, my Chinese birth sign is a Tiger. I guess that makes me a big pussycat, and it gives me nine lives. I decided to count up how many of them I've used up. I make it five so far.
When my mum fell pregnant, she was unwell. She'd had five children and two miscarriages. She was advised that it was extremely unlikely that she'd see me born. At some point it was identified that there was an issue with the Rhesus factor. This happens when two parents blood types are not compatible. My mother spent nearly six months in hospital. I was born six weeks early and needed a series of blood transfusions. My mother once told me that in this day and age she'd probably have had an abortion, as having had five she'd done her bit. One life down
I was three years old. My parents went to Butlins at Clacton. The swimming pool had windows onto the street. I was fascinated by these. When we were at the pool, I decided to jump in. As I couldn't swim, jumping in the deep end was not a sensible move. None of the family noticed, but fortunately an eagle eye'd lifeguard did. He pulled me out and told off my parents for not keeping an eye on me. It put me off swimming and I didn't learn until I was sixteen. Two lives down.
My sister Caroline had a Triumph Herald Convertible. She rented it to the Haircut 100 for their video of Fantastic Day. With the proceeds, we all went on the lash. Her then boyfriend was a drunk, who took no notice of the drink driving laws. After an evening hitting the bars of London, he drove us all back. As the traffic lights changed on the A41, where the intersection with the Borroughs is, he announced that this was his favourite bend in the world and floored the accelerator. The car sped off, as we went around the bend, he lost control. The car span through 360 degrees and then another 180, leaving us in the middle of the triple carriageway facing the wrong way. Miraculaously, no other cars were hit and no damage was done. Luckily, we were all so bladdered that it was not as stressful as it should have been Three lives down.
I remember St Lucia's day well. The firm I worked for always made a point of celebrating it in style. The project I was working on had it's roots in an IT system for Svenska Handelsbanken, and St Lucia's day is a big celebration. We'd all get into work early and have a special, highly alcoholic, hot punch and ginger snaps. It was a day when not much got done. The day is the 13 December. We had a splendid day, followed by a splendid evening in the pub. I woke up on the 14th and I felt ill, very ill. I had recently split up with a long term girlfriend and moved home. I sat on the couch and the next thing, I was throwing up blood. My Father didn't mess around, he put me in the car and drove me to Edgware General. I spent the next month in hospital, and was informed that I was not to drink for six months, which I stuck to for three. At a check up after three months, I told the doctors that I found that fruit juice was making me feel very ill. They said that it was actually worse for the stomach than weak beer, so I allowed myself a couple of pints of weak lager. My weight dropped from thirteen stone to eight, all my friends told me after that they thought I had AIDS. After six months I was discharged. The doctor informed me that I was very lucky indeed to have recovered, and cautioned against anything that could cause a reoccurrence. They had concluded that the problem was actually caused by a prescription of Erythromycin, which I'd been taking for an ear infection. I'd finished this two days before St Lucia's, but they said this had severely damaged the lining of my stomach. I've always been very wary of medicines and doctors ever since. Four Lives Down
I'd arranged to travel to Plymouth to meet a friend, who was a Plymouth Argyle fan, to watch Man City play Plymouth at Home Park. The first part of my journey was to Burnt Oak, to get the tube into town. I had to pick up some cash, from the cash machine, so I walked from the bus stop to get to the Nat West on the corner, opposite what was the Co-op. The lights were red, and the green man was flashing as I made my way across. In the turn left lane was a 292 bus. As I stepped further, I saw a car heading for me at 40mph, jumping the lights. I realised it was going to hit me and there was nothing I could do. It might have bene my fifth life, but it was the first time I actually thought I'd die. They say your life rushes before your eyes at such times. It didn't. I just felt a tremendous feeling of calm. My Dad had died the previous year and I actually felt a great happiness that I'd be seeing him. But then my survival instincts kicked in. I wondered if I could jump high enough that the car would pass under me. A ridiculous concept, I know, but one that saved my life. It meant that rather than being hit head on and squashed under the car, the bonnet hit my thigh, my feet went through the windscreen, I rolled over the roof and off, landing on my head, that I'd used to protect my head. Despite a fractured tibia, a stress fracture of the spine and a huge bash on the thigh, I got up and the car driver drove me to Edgware General. The pain was so intense, that even the strongest pain killers couldn't dull it. Perhaps the worst aspect was that I had quit BT the day before and was supposed to start a new job at TSB on Monday, ironically replacing another member of staff in the IT department who had been run over. As it was, I started two weeks later. I've had a degree of pain in my back and leg every day since. Five lives down.
Someone up there loves me. In 2011, I had some issues with severe knee pain. The doctor I saw at Millway practice, the rather excellent Dr Harris, suggested an 'MOT' check up. The PSA level came back as slightly raised. It is documented elsewhere on this blog that I was diagnosed with cancer. In 2011, it was agreed that we'd adopt a strategy of 'active surveillance'. This meant regular PSA tests, biopsies, MRI scans etc. In 2015, it was detected that the cancer was turning aggressive. I had HiFU treatment at UCH under Mr Emberton. This successfully dealt with the issue. Now had I not had a bad knee, had I not seen a good doctor, who gave me good advice, I would never have suspected this. At no point have I had any symptoms. Who knows what shape I'd be in now. It is worth noting that the NHS don't even do the PSA test as part of the well man checkups any more. So I was lucky, right place, right time and right doctor. Six lives down.
I have realised that I am in my sixth decade and I've used six lives. At this rate, I should make my ninth decade, God willing. I've got to say, I am glad that I was born in August in 1962 though, I doubt I'd be here otherwise. So hopefully you'll have to put up with my blatherings for a good few years to come.