A view backstage at Beverley Minster

Life after knife

Neil Pickford experiences eternity.

Excuse me if I’m a little bit short of the old giggle-juice this week but I’m writing this as I wait to be attacked by a sharp knife.

It’ll not be the first blade wound I’ve suffered: on my back is a long scar which dates back some 57 years to when a rather clumsy medical person nicked me while trying to coax me to into the real world. With that looming over me in the womb it’s no wonder I didn’t want to come.

This latest slice into my beloved skin is also courtesy of the NHS, but this time it is entirely deliberate. I’m about to have a bit of plastic and a couple of wires inserted adjacent to my heart (which is my second-favourite organ, as a matter of fact).

The plan is to try and correct a bit of laziness in my fourth chamber which made my heartbeat resemble those scenes from ‘Dad’s Army’ when the platoon stands smartly to attention – except for Corporal Jones who was always a half-beat late.

Assuming that you’re actually reading this then it shows that the procedure was a success and I am now once more in the land of the living – taking it easy for several weeks while the various insertions cleave themselves ever more firmly to my living flesh. Until that’s completed my normal chair-lifting daily exercises have been put on hold.

However, while writing this a successful conclusion is still in the future so I’m sitting in a plain but comfortable waiting area, watching the clock crawling its slow way towards the moment when I shall start being late.

I’m not worried – it’s a routine procedure which the consultant (who I shall not name at this point to protect the innocent/guilty) has described as: “a bit of fun” (for him, I assume, not me). The consequences should be that I end up full of energy and, ultimately, able to stack two piles of chairs simultaneously while sprinting a mile in ten seconds – or something like that.

However… .and I know that’s the second time I’ve written that, but it’s the one nasty little word that keeps resurfacing whenever I allow my mind to stop being distracted…. However, what happens if?

I know, I know, it’s ridiculous to even think that, but you can’t help yourself. It’s the ever-present word you have plenty of time to regurgitate while you’re waiting.

Waiting is the killer – waiting eats away at you and allows the dark side of the mind to pop up in even the most cheerful individual. Waiting wastes your time as you contemplate the unpleasant possibilities at the far end of the Bell Curve instead of getting on with the household chores. Waiting means you can’t concentrate on the programme you’re all watching together as a family to distract you from the forthcoming operation. Waiting….

The hands on the clock have just reached the configuration which shows that every single second from now on is one second later than I was told to be here. Things are going on around me but none of them seem to be associated with me. It’s like the sort of long, endless, unvarying Sunday afternoons of my youth when, after a comedy lunch hour on The Light Programme (please God, don’t let it be The Clitheroe Kid this week) it was grey tedium until I started getting ready for school the next day. Mediaeval Catholicism described something very similar to this as ‘Purgatory’ – the immeasurable period between dying and finally being admitted into Heaven.  I know what they meant by it.

Hooray! At last! Movement! Hopefully (and that’s a useful word to counterbalance: ‘however’) hopefully I’ll see you on the other side. ‘Til then.


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