It was 7.30 pm.
I just finished the Prostate Cancer talk and as the audience were leaving I saw a familiar face in the crowd, the very same manager.
What are the odds…..
The last time I saw him it was my turn to hold his hand, covered it with my other hand and didn’t let go. I smiled, he smiled back. We didn’t need to say anything more than that. It was all said and thankfully forgiven.
Here is the oxymoronic part. Your problem is that you don’t depend on anyone and your problems begin when you do depend on someone.
Myself and Annette have separated and I have moved out. No single event was the cause but something that was creaking before my prostate cancer diagnosis and broke somewhere soon afterwards. I had my dad’s liver cancer stage four confirmation. I am seeing a shrink. I am suffering from insomnia. I have high blood pressure. I asked my mum for help four times and she gave me four “No’s” in return. My favourite auntie died and I was the official videographer and photographer at her going home celebration. I am living in a single room, I cannot barely afford in South London. Pretending not to be worried about the last PSA result. Oh and the little matter of the probationary period at the new job.
I am broken, mentally, physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually. When you admit, accept it and then own something you can fix it. No anger, no hate. Just numb.
You don’t go to the clock repairer and say this clock might get broken can you fix it.
I have said that maybe one day I would say that having prostate cancer turned out to be a good thing. I still cannot say that – I don’t know if I ever can. What I can say is that the first three months or so of the recovery were absolutely one of the lowest points of my life. That has given me a very low baseline to be able to say anything happening to me after that could not be as bad.
Just a bit going on then. No pressure anywhere.
Greek mythology says the phoenix rises from the ashes of its predecessor. I would go for the less poetic description and instead describe myself as being that last, lost chicken leg. The one that you find that had fallen down the side of the BBQ when you are cleaning it.
I recently took the sprogs to McDonalds as a treat. We all tucked away happily and at the end of the meal I asked Amaris to take everyone to the toilet. Amaris had already ventured upstairs to the toilets about thirty minutes previously so she was OK. At a certain time in the evening they shut off the upstairs part of the restaurant including the main toilets, leaving only the disabled toilets open downstairs. Just to confirm my decision Joel announced that he also needed the toilet. That’s effectively a two minute countdown. Amaris ventured around the corner with the kids and came back a few seconds later to announce that the disabled toilets were locked. I told them to go upstairs to the toilet. Amaris said it was closed upstairs and I said just go upstairs (it was also closed when she went upstairs previously but the woman cleaning the steps said it was alright). One of the managers came over and said it was closed upstairs. I said they are kids and they cannot hold it. He was not budging and said they had to wait for the disabled toilet. I picked all three of them up and carried them over the short barrier on the stairs and told then to go upstairs. The manager was still in my ears telling me that upstairs was closed. The kids got to the first landing of the stairs and someone out of my eye shot was telling them it was closed. Joel was now auditioning for junior Come Dancing. Amaris turned back to me with tears in her eyes and said they couldn’t go. I shouted up to Amaris, “Just go into that toilet, now!”
Let’s substitute the four letter ‘f’ word bomb (with and without the ‘ing’ at the end) with the innocent ‘Banana’ word instead.
The fuse stopped fizzing. The timer had stopped.
What followed next was a three minute total swearing rant at the top of my voice. Looney tunes Ellis had completely lost the plot and the whole McDonalds had fallen silent listening in.
I became that person in the McDonalds.
“They are only banana kids. How are you going to banana tell me they cannot go to the toilet?”
“You are a banana idiot”
“What you expect me to just let them wet themselves? You banana idiot”
I went back over to the table. After all I never leave my tray on the table for someone else to put away, why start now. A little old woman with her cup of tea decided to remind me of the obvious, that there was a disabled toilet around the corner.
There was a pause of maybe five seconds, while I processed in my ‘Did she actually say that’ before the laser pointer turned on her forehead and I gave her both barrels.
“Just shut up, you silly woman. Who the hell asked you anything. The toilet is banana occupied. Shut up!”
I think I warmed back up her tea.
I carried the tray over to the bin and slammed it on the top. Contradicting the moment, as the cartons flew off I put them back on the tray and shoved them in the bin.
“You are some sort of banana idiot. I have just spent £15 in this banana place and they cannot use the banana toilet”
“They cannot hold it like adults. Do you have kids?? Of course you don’t you banana idiot”
I am sure I said some more. I didn’t really let up much.
Another one of the managers came over and pulled my target away.
I left him with, “Go banana yourself”, ringing in his ears.
He came back a few seconds later drinking a bottle of water. He was about eight feet away and we just looked at one another. It was like two gunslingers squaring off, just waiting for the other to twitch. Not saying a word.
The kids came back downstairs. Totally oblivious to what had just occurred. We left without saying a word.
In the car, I had a tiny little voice in my head saying that was out of order. That little voice got a quick blast too and didn’t dare to come back. I apologised to Amaris for shouting at her. She said it was fine. I said it wasn’t and that I was sorry again.
The rest of the journey was pretty much in silence. I told Annette what had happened. The fact that Amaris didn’t say anything first and didn’t seem unhappy meant that it was all forgotten in her world.
I spoke to my dear friend, Denise, later. It was matter of fact conversation rather than I needed to unburden anything. She has a wise head on her shoulders, much wiser than mine. That is pretty much most of the time. I told her what had happened. She simply said that wasn’t about the toilet at all. It was about the last couple of months. It was just going to come out sometime and somewhere and this was it. It could have been a lot worse. It instantly hit me.
The next day I buried my Auntie G. The last memory I have of her was her was telling me I was getting chubby and smiling. I videoed and photographed the whole day for her. I wanted to make sure something special was done for her. I wrapped it up just after 7pm and made my way to my unfinished man cave room.
Speaking of room’s it’s practically a five star mansion upgrade to the ‘friends’ living room floor that was my home for four weeks. I have to say that inflatable mattresses are actually very comfortable. She had a mental health neighbour living downstairs that would play her music top volume until 11pm at best. 2am was the worse occasion. Of course because of those two magic words ‘mental health’ no-one could or would say anything to her. I never had any peace. The upstairs neighbour beats his wife but fortunately I never got to hear that. Then during the last week my ‘friend’ turned on me causing me to flee one morning. Balancing five Sainsburys bags for life and a suitcase, 5am in the morning, while wobbling back to the car parked nearly a quarter of a mile away was a sight to be seen. I had asked my mum if I could stay at hers while I sorted myself out and she told me no twice before I moved there and then twice again after this woman turned on me.
I would have to pass the McDonalds on the way. I was on the phone at the time and I told the person that I just needed to do something. I ventured in and called over one of the other managers and said that I had a stink of an argument with one of his managers yesterday and described him. I said I was here to apologise. He nodded and knew straight away who I was talking about. He walked off and returned about twenty seconds later with the manager who was the subject of my disgraceful performance the day before.
I asked him if we could talk away from the counter. I said I was here to apologise. I said that was not me yesterday. It had been on my mind all day. I don’t behave like that and that I was horrified by my behaviour. I had separated from my wife, this was the first time I had seen the kids all week, was living in a single room somewhere, was still recovering from prostate cancer and hours earlier had buried my favourite aunt. I said I don’t expect you to accept it but I have to offer it regardless because that was just not me.
“I am so sorry”
He actually said he was sorry too and that it could have been handled differently on his part. I said he really didn’t need to apologise. It was my fault. He said we are both human and it was OK. I said no-one should come into work to face something like that. He actually said he has had much worse. He thanked me for coming back to apologise. I shook his hand and held it. Then covered it with my other hand and did not let go. I smiled. I apologised some more.
It was now 8.30pm
The therapist announced that that was the end of my hour.
“Next session let’s explore what happiness looks like for Peter” he smiled.
I thought for a minute he wanted to make the session shorter so he could go and watch the game on TV.
Same time next week, he asked?
Yes I nodded, “Same time, next week”.