69. Those innocent days when it was only a drink

Corona Cherryade Bottle

It was a hurried, clandestine meeting, we could not meet in our usual place. I really had no choice, it was forced on us. I knew it was going to be difficult as we sat there in my car in the middle of a supermarket car park. I tried not to make it sordid, I hope she didn’t feel that it was. She looked beautiful, she had made the effort and I told her so. I didn’t have much notice beforehand, none of us did. We were not likely to see each other again for an unknown time. There was genuine sorrow and anxiety on my part. Selflessly, I didn’t consider her feelings.

Perhaps it was better that way.

I looked at her. She looked back at me. I momentarily closed my eyes as I stroked her cheek and ran my fingers across her head. I escaped somewhere beautiful, special and far away in her unmistakable perfume that gently caressed my senses.

I said goodbye.

I would leave few clues as to her existence, the greatest CSI minds would be baffled by the little evidence that would be left.  I closed my eyes again as I slowly and noisily bit into her. I could even have slurped a little, to be honest.

I bit into her again and again and again.

Earlier in the day I had gone into the same McDonalds and had purchased a hot chocolate. However, my ‘McBioHazardHotChocolate’ was put on one end of a tray which was then smoothly turned around and slid towards me, at arm’s length, by a masked McDonalds employee. It was a well rehearsed and slick movement. To her it was the most natural thing in the world. I was indignant and looked at the assistant in disbelief and contempt. I now know how Typhoid Mary may have felt. I would later in the early evening just beat the deadline and consume my final Big Mac in the car before McDonald’s closed all of their restaurants.

McDonald’s, closed? Serious then!

Now the world is on lockdown. Environmental prisons, within personal prisons, within mental prisons.

Growing up as a wee grunt, the only Corona we ever knew about was that delicious soft drink/rocket fuel loved by so many a child. It was this carbonated drink that was packed to the brim of sugar, had every ‘E’ number that had ever been made and came in about eight different flavours. It was absolutely no good at all for you, but that was not the point. Boy, they were just so tasty he says closing his eyes.

Pops lockdown, in the states, had begun a few weeks earlier when the rehab facility that he had been receiving dialysis from imposed a lockdown. Corona had just reached general vocabulary. Or should I say politicians over there actually started to take it seriously. The rehab facility were terrified of introducing the virus to a facility that had so many vulnerable people in, so they stopped all visitors altogether. In fact, they had a list of the aliments that identified who was vulnerable. Pops not to do anything in short measures, of course actually has ALL of them. I have still been unable to get hold of him since the beginning of the year. Every time I try to call him on his mobile it just rings until it rings off.

Of course, Mr Corona had other ideas.

Not only did pops catch the virus while on lockdown he also had a stroke. They would have no idea how the stroke affected him until the virus had passed. Fast forward another couple of weeks and while still on lockdown, his wife would report that she had just had the best conversation with him for ages. She said he was clear, very coherent and seemed to understand what was happening all around him. Lucky her, I am still waiting on an answer as to the best time to call him. But hey, being stubborn and cantankerous can certainly have its uses.

I heard from Mark, he is the guy that I met a few weeks ago with his partner and I told him of my experiences having the radical surgery. He said that the operation went well and he said that they managed to save one set of his nerves. The main problem he was facing was a leaking catheter. I nodded and smiled slightly, while I reminded myself of what I went through regarding exactly the same problem. It was bad enough for him that at one stage he considered going to A&E to see if it had just been fitted incorrectly. He didn’t in the end but the hospital has extended the time that he must continue to have it attached as he has not healed sufficiently. He is very fortunate in another sense as his operation was one of the last before all ‘non essential’ operations were stopped.

Even now, a week later, a news report that I saw on the TV still bothers me.

It was about a man that was scheduled to have the radical operation and just days beforehand he was told that it had been cancelled due to the Coronavirus. He didn’t know when it was going to be rescheduled. As anyone with this particular condition knows timing is what makes all the difference. That’s not just between life and death but that bit in the middle that depicts how much is saved of your sexual function.

At the same time, not to ignore the obvious. This Coronavirus is killing people.

Another piece of sad news that I got since the last posting was that one of the great people that I was fortunate to meet at Prostate Cancer UK is moving on. Jolynne has been the manager for the Men at Risk Programme for the last twelve years. The programme focusses on delivering targeted awareness campaigns for black men specifically.

After all, we are only the most affected but least engaged. But don’t get me started, after a couple of months of not delivering any Awareness talks, I am chomping at the bit. In fact, I have even thought of posting something online but it’s nothing more than a distant thought. You just cannot beat the real thing, the real denials, real arguments and the real excuses that are thrown at you.

Anyway, let me stop digressing. Not only has Jolynne been a fantastic ambassador for Prostate Cancer UK, she has also been so very supportive of what I have been trying to do with this blog. You are really going to be missed and the next Men at Risk Programme Manager has some very big shoes to fill.

The final piece of Coronavirus related news that I have is that I have found myself a new job.

The personnel reached out to me and we had a chat over the telephone followed by a couple of face to face interviews and I got the job. On my first day I was just warming up my seat and trying to remember names when the whole company was told to make sure that they had all the equipment that they needed as we would all be working from home tomorrow until further notice.

Through the use of MS Teams and Zoom everyone is keeping in touch and I am currently in training. It’s a surreal situation in a surreal world. At least everyone is really nice and the company has a very homely feeling, where everybody seems to know everyone else. It makes a very different change from the two very large companies that I have recently come from.

Then I got furloughed.

On the same day I found out the reason why I have been unable to contact my dad since the beginning of the year. I have been repeatedly saying how I cannot get through to him. His number has changed or he has a new phone. Of course, no-one actually thought to tell me.

“Oh, you cannot get through? Try this number!”

Ffs.

Cannot make this up.

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