Breaking the news

Last night I slept like a baby. In fact it was a lovely evening all round.

I can barely see any of the real world from my hospital bed, but the tiny corner of sky was clear, bright blue, a Californian day in Stockport.

The lunatic who has spent the last 3 days calling for a cup of tea every 20 minutes, day and night, has died. Yay. The whole ward celebrated.

And I re-read a big chunk of Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, which I hadn’t read for about 10 years. I’d forgotten how brilliant it is: insightful, touching, clever and with big things to say about big important subjects. But more than all of that, it’s probably the funniest book ever written. I remembered many of the jokes, but not all of them – there are many – and even the familiar ones are so beautifully rich and unexpected that there’s a little delight in appreciating the art of the writer. The skill. The craft.

I’d have pissed myself laughing if my cock wasn’t full of tubes and having 300 litres of saline sluiced thought it every day.

So in spite of the cancer diagnosis, I felt good yesterday, and had a very nice evening. Now for the tough part – telling everyone. Honestly, I’m not being a tough guy: finding out I had cancer didn’t bother me one bit. I already kinda figured it out before they told me, although I didn’t know where or how big. So none of it has bothered me.

In fact the only surprising thing is how unsurpised I’ve been. I thought I might be in shock about it, so I took myself into a little room in my mind, sat myself down, and had a long serious talk about it.

Scene: Interior, day, Mole Rat’s brain. Mole Rat’s Ego and Id sit around a table with a swinging lightbulb above it. His Id has an erection, the sick puppy.

Id: You’ve got that fucking cancer, mate.

Ego: Yes, I know. Will you put that way, or think of something else at least?

Id: And it’s massive.

Ego: It’s not THAT big. Oh, the cancer. Yes, I know. Please hide your erection, it’s disturbing me that I find my own penis attractive.

Id: I always knew you were gay.

Ego: I’m not gay, that’s just my Id running wild inside my subconscious. My SuperEgo knows I’m not gay.

SuperEgo: Don’t bring me in on this, I’m not even in this scene. And anyway, I’m not a Freudian; I’m more into Jung.

Id: Paedophile!

SuperEgo: Jung! With a J. You animal.

Ego: Can we all just put away our cocks and have a serious conversation, for once?

Id: I don’t think so, I’m your Id, My cock is always visible and always hard.

Ego: I’m closing my eyes in case I accidentally discover I AM gay, and have to tell SuperEgo.

SuperEgo: Not listening!

Id: Aren’t you frightened? Cancer could kill you. Leave you disabled. Unable to work. Scarred, bald and dying in a chemo-chair in Christies.

Ego: Everything you say is true, but what can I do about it? Nothing. So why worry?

Id: Well, you’re a bigger man than I am.

Ego: Oh, that’s very nice of you. Although I can’t help but notice your penis is actually much bigger than the real thing, in which case I’m actually a smaller man than you are.

Id: Will you stop thinking about sex?! You big gay freak.

End of scene.

Maybe I’d come to grips with cancer a bit more if I wasn’t thinking about sex all the time.


Telling my mum? Phew, that’s hard. The conversation in my brain was too scary, and I didn’t want my Id turning up with an erection while mum was in the room. So I made my brother tell her.

Chickening out

Mum has Parkinson’s and can barely make it across the living room, so she’s not going to be able to get to the hospital to see me. I can’t go home to see her, I’m still having my bladder sluiced out and am tied to a drip by my poor, shrivelled, suffering tallywacker (can’t they make these tubes any more confortable?).

So I called my brother; he can go and visit mum and tell her in person. She’s bound to have a cry and need an arm around her, and my dad is too busy being dead, so brother will have to do it.

Brother is a busy man, a senior exec at a huge, market-dominating company. In other words, a he’s a bastard. But he always has time to answer the phone to me with a few kind words.

Brother: Fuck off, you scrotum.

Mole Rat: You feckless cunt.

Brother: What do you want now? Can’t you leave me in peace?

Mole Rat: I’m in hospital.

Brother: Nothing trivial, I hope?

Mole Rat: Are you sat down?

Brother: Oh… OK. Now I am.

Mole Rat: They’ve found a large mass on my right kidney. I asked to see it but Windows Vista wouldn’t let me. So their poet in residence desribed it for me as “Big. Very big”.

Brother [talking in his unrealistically deep “I’m being serious” voice]: OK. I’m on my way.

Mole Rat: No, just go and tell mum, will you? And fuck off too. Go on. Off you fuck.

He fucked off.

And then I made a virtually identical call to my girlfiend’s parents, but with less profanity (at least on my part). So brother is driving over to tell mum, and girlfriend’s dad is driving over to tell girlfriend.

One less thing to do. Now, back to Catch-22…


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