Reading today an article from the BBC about the use of low-dose aspirin in those with either cancer predisposition or risk of heart attacks, and thinking how it might relate to me. Both my father and mother had cancers – my mother dying of breast cancer – and one GP mentioned to me that that same type of aggressive breast cancer causes bowel cancers as well. So I guess I am in line for it! Hard to tell really and this is where some guess-work comes in.
My family doesn’t seem to be particularly affected by heart attacks nor coronary diseases such as angina; my wife’s family does but we’re not related, at least I hope not! The weight of evidence would come down on the preventive effects against cancers of all sorts. Crohn’s disease has been a family problem as are a variety of allergies such as milk and gluten – although these types may be affected by the patient’s perception my daughter’s strong anaphylactic shock from peanut allergy is no joke. My guess is that aspirin would help so I’m beginning a course of low dosage (75mg) from now until … 75! That plus more exercise, loving the wife, being more diligent, losing weight – the list is endless. Oh, and letting my GP know of course.
All of us are consigned to death. Just yesterday there was an old man on the news enthusiastic about the internet and speaking of the changes he’d seen in a long lifetime. as I get older I appreciate the core difference between the young and old: when you are young every one who dies is older than you. When you’re older then the reality settles in that actually your own days are numbered.
So that’s okay – we all die.
But between now and then what should we do? How should we spent these days, hours, and minutes while we still have them? Travelling home from London today by train I was amazed by the brief glimpses of life out my window. Wonderful green fields and houses sped by and I gloried in the feast of senses flashed at me. How can we be anything but moved by such amazing things? Then I looked back at the weary commuters on the train with me and remembered that life is lived in the here and now and that wonder is mixed with sadness, grief with joy, and happiness with normality. Back to that Linzer biscuit … nom nom nom.
My son and I have been travelling around this part of England looking at colleges.
Now: some worlds of explanation. Neither my wife nor I were born or raised in the UK, so we experienced schooling which was 30 years old and 3,000 miles different – or thereabouts. Education in the UK appears to be – as most things British – a strange mixture of haphazard happen-stance, clever design, and politics. From a distance the Scots system (no, they’re not English…) appears slightly more rational – by which I mean straightforward – but no doubt there are mums and dads north of the border gnashing their teeth at the local elementary (or kindergarten, reception, nursery, primary) school and gazing with longing at the system in use down here.
There are four main levels of schooling in the local system: primary, secondary, college, and university. Actually I lie.
There are seven types of school if you count all the stages such as nursery, infants, junior, secondary, six form (with lower sixth and upper sixth making the first and second years) or college, and then university. No wonder students emerge from all this schooling with a wonderfully complex view of the world. Parents, of course, never emerge. Most are last seen selling kidneys to pay for the endless fees once free schooling ends. I shouldn’t complain: most schooling world-wide isn’t free and having a government pay for excellent teaching until my child is 18 is, well, ridiculous.
For a long time I’ve struggled to understand how to make conversations work on the telephone with my British colleagues. At first I was a little taken aback by their seeming abruptness and speed with which they ‘got down to business’ (now there’s an idiom which doesn’t translate well!). So I tried to ape this and simply stated my name, then asked them the questions. Most took it well however some seemed taken aback (another idiom). Finally I’ve noticed that they ask each other very briefly ‘how are you’ (another idiom) then almost in the same breath state the reason for the call. I’ve now started following suit – when I remember – and conversations are flowing better now. Then, of course, I spoke to my south African relatives and the whole rigmarole started again…
This afternoon we’re going off to the New Forest to celebrate my birthday. It may be a little odd and hermit-like, but I felt it was best to do something different (I wanted to go off by myself and take a long walk!) while still including parts of the ‘family’. We hope to enjoy bike riding, swimming, pizzas and lots of actively exploring and doing lazily nothing in particular!