Death matters and so does Surrey doing well

Earlier today I had a really serious phone conversation with my Designated Best Friend about palliative care, being kept alive with scary electric shock machines (which my DBF said actually work very rarely and are far more likely to inflict painful and permanent damage like a busted rib). In short, it was a conversation about my death. And I entirely saw the point of this conversation and was very grateful to my DBF for having it with me. I need to say what sort of death I would like, before it actually starts seriously happening and I become incapable of saying anything coherent about what I want. So, important stuff.

Problem was, I had been keeping half an eye on the county cricket, and in particular on this game between Hampshire and Surrey. Surrey have had a wretched season so far, and Hampshire have been doing really well, so that was going to start badly for Surrey and get worse and worse as the next few days went by. But I was paying attention anyway, because, you know, you never know.

So, Surrey had won the toss and had put Hampshire in to bat. But then, after nearly an hour of further Surrey underachievement, and for the first time this season after three dud games, Surrey suddenly started doing really, really well. Right in the middle of the serious phone conversation, this is what I observed, on Cricinfo, being done by two Surrey bowlers called Clark and Clarke to the hitherto formidable Hampshire middle order:

For non-cricket people, that is very successful bowling by Surrey and very unsuccessful batting by Hampshire, who, in the space of thirteen deliveries, went from 44 for 2 to 44 for 6. Until this exact moment, Surrey had not been taking nearly enough wickets or taking them nearly soon enough. Then, in a blink, all that completely changed.

I want to insist that I never lost the thread of the serious conversation I was having with DBF: No please don’t resuscitate me if I have a heart attack in a hospital, but yes indeed, I’d rather die at home but how much might that end up costing, given that professional care will surely be needed?, and no you’re right it’s important to discuss all this beforehand so thanks for doing this. But also, strictly inside my head you understand, I was screaming to myself: Hey look, Surrey are doing really well!!! Look at that!!! Four wickets for no runs!!! On the first morning!!! Wow!!! Yeah yeah, I’m going to be dying soon and I know I have to get that sorted, but … wow!!! I even managed to do the above screen capture, without at any time failing to be conversationally coherent and serious with DBF about my death.

This is what I love about following sport, especially the way I have done for the last decade and a half, at a distance, via The Internet. Great moments in sport, like this moment when Surrey Actually Started Doing Well in 2021, intersect with how your life was at the time. I still remember that 1981 miracle Ashes test match fondly, and listening to it on the radio in a van with which I was (very happily) delivering number plates, a radio which only worked when the van’s engine was not running, which complicated things in a delightful way that I’ll never forget for as long as I live. Well, now, here’s another of these classic sport-meets-real-life moments. Life doesn’t get much more real than when you’ve been told that “for as long as I live” isn’t actually going to be that long, and sport doesn’t get much better than when your team has been firing blanks for a month and then suddenly does something like what’s in the picture above.

By the end of the day Surrey were totally on top. Surrey’s bowlers, particularly Clark and Clarke (there were even three Hampshire batters who got out caught Clarke bowled Clark), were unstoppable, and Hampshire’s first innings total came to a mere 92. Hampshire’s much feared foreign pace men, Abbot and Abbas, then had to bowl in quite different conditions after lunch and achieved only the one Surrey wicket in the whole of the rest of the day. Surrey are already ahead on first innings and should – should -now win comfortably. Even Hashim Amla, who got 0 and 0 in the previous game, got some runs, along with Burns, and both could make more tomorrow.

All my life people have been telling me stories of old men dying with smiles on their faces, merely because their sports team was doing well when they died. Would I still feel that way about sport when death stared me in the face? So far: yes.

An exercise lesson on Zoom

I can remember when e-mail became a necessity for me. I got a phone call from someone who asked: “What’s your email?” and I said “I don’t do email”. It was the way she then said “Oh” that made me realise that something had happened.

There hasn’t been a single moment like this for me with Zoom, but it has become made clear to me that making easy and regular use of Zoom has now become part of everyday life for all civilised people. Stage 4 lung cancer means you get cut some slack on these sorts of things, or you do by the people who are treating you. Nevertheless, I got, and get, the message.

And today I got an exercise lesson on Zoom from an exercise coach at the Royal Marsden. For some reason or other, the audio aspect wasn’t perfect, there being a slight delay, like the Royal Marsden was in India. But the job got done very satisfactorily nevertheless, and it’s hard to see how this could have been done by any other means than me being at the Marsden in person. Like all good teachers, he wasn’t content with showing me what he wanted me to do. He wanted also to see me doing it. Not only did Zoom enable him to show me what exercises he wanted me to do, he was also able to see that I was doing them the way I should be doing them.

All of which will be very old news to almost everyone reading this. I am well aware that when it comes to Zoom I am the ultimate late adopter, just as I was with email. Nevertheless, this posting is definite Zoom information for you, even if you’ve been using Zoom for the last two years minimum. And the information is that everyone is now using Zoom, the proof of this being that I am now using it.

Pfaith

Seen recently at a Facebook Friend’s page:

While searching for more about this, I came upon this recent story:

A single pill home cure for Covid could be available by the end of the year, according to reports.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, whose coronavirus vaccine has been successfully rolled out around the world, has begun human trials of the first pill specifically designed to stop the virus at its buildings in the United States and the European manufacturers’ base in Belgium.

The company, which brought the first US-approved Covid-19 vaccine to market, is conducting the stage one clinical trial on an oral antiviral therapy that a patient could take when they first develop symptoms, which would make it the first oral antiviral treatment of its kind in the world for coronavirus.

My take on Covid as of now (guess (reserve the right to change mind without embarrassment)) is: Lockdown CROSS, Treatment TICK, Vaccines TICK. Most of “They” were wrong to obsess about Lockdown, wrong that treatment wouldn’t work, and right about vaccines being something worth throwing a ton of money at. Good that the treatment error seems now to be being corrected.

Alas, Lockdown, is something that many now love, for quasi-religious reasons, and want to continue with.

Vincent House with tree shadows – Vincent Square with cricketers

Today I forced myself out, to post a letter which had to be posted, something I don’t think I’ve done in years.

My guess as to where there was a posting box, or whatever they are called, took me to the nearest post office that I am aware of, via Vincent Square, which I hoped would be looking good in the sunshine. It was:

That building is Vincent House, which sounds and looks like it might be important, but it’s just a block of flats.

And this is the middle of Vincent Square:

In earlier times, on a day like this, I would have gone a-wandering and a-photoing, but now, I’m afraid I feel the cold, and although delightfully sunny it was still cold. Also, all walks now take twice as long. So I posted that letter, and also did some shopping and then went straight back home. Shopping being another thing that has had to change recently. Big and occasionally has had to be replaced by less but more frequently, because there are limits to how much stuff I can now carry in anything resembling comfort, especially up my stairs.

Just before I went on this expedition, I got a phone call from one of the Marsden exercise experts. Apparently exercise is good for you. But he would say that, wouldn’t he?

Life goes on.

The front of an electric scooter gets attached to the front of a wheelchair – turning it into an electric tricycle

My habit of opening too many windows at once, and also the rather intrusive vagaries of my back-up system, mean that Twitter, for me, comes and goes. So it’s been a while since I took a look at the Steve Stewart-Williams Twitter feed. Earlier today, I picked out lots of stuff to link to this coming Friday, involving creatures of various kinds doing various amusing and surprising things things. However I was particularly impressed by this bit of video showing … well, see above.

The electric “scooter” (inverted commas because that words seems to include lots of very different contraptions) market is a classic emergent market which has yet to discover exactly what its big products are going to be, rather like cars in about 1900. Maybe this idea of attaching the front of a “foldable scooter” to the seating or standing arrangement of your choice may end up being part of the product range that finally emerges.

A view from The Rooftop

Dined last night at this place. I photoed lots of photos, the four below showing the view that I later zoomed in on:

The day was warm, what with it being cloudless. But the evening got cold, ditto. Which, I fear, has somewhat prolonged the process of me recovering from my second Covid jab last week. Now have headache. So that will have to be it for today.

An unnatural looking tree near the Marsden

This morning I was at the Marsden, getting my second Covid jab, and the time after I left was the best weather for photoing of the day, by which I mean the sunniest. I photoed over a hundred photos, which is not something I have recently done. Not since February, during that little warm spell we had, I think.

However, this was not a real old-school photo-walk like I used to do, like the one remembered in the previous posting. All I did was walk from the Marsden to South Kensington tube, photoing whatever took my fancy, but basically going back home, via Sainsbury’s where I did some shopping. So, I’m still not the photoer I was, and I rather suspect that I never will be again. I’ll still do photoing, but only while basically engaged in doing other things that matter more to me, like not dying immediately of lung cancer, and meeting up with friends and family.

I will probably be showing other photos I photoed this morning, but for now, consider this photo:

It’s those branches doing right angle turns, right in the middle there, that really got my attention.

The more I look at the trees of London, the more artificial they seem to me to be, the more they look like the products of human design and the less they seem like the “natural” products of their mere DNA. Most London trees, of which the above tree (the other side of the Fulham Road from the Marsden) is a particularly striking example, are no more “natural” than the dogs that you see on television prancing about in competitions.

I seem to be becoming a treespotter.

Dutch Quality Flowers lorry with antique locomotive

This afternoon, while I was on my way yet again to the Royal Marsden to score my next month’s supply of Osimertinib, a huge lorry drove past me along the Fulham Road, with a painting of a steam locomotive on the side of it:

I display all of these three hastily grabbed and decidedly mediocre photos simply to make it clear that this was indeed a lorry, as well as a picture of a locomotive.

Later, I found myself musing on how the ubiquity of digital photography and of the social media must have transformed advertising. Just as graffiti has become more individual and elaborate, in the age of digital photoing, so too has advertising.

Because, if you can persuade a decent proportion of the digital photoers you drive past to photo their photos, of your unique lorry with its unique and as likely as not hand-done painting on the side, and then get the photoers to stick their photos up on the www, there’s every chance you can save a ton of money on the distribution of your advertising message. Throw in that any word can be searched for on that same www, and you don’t need to bother with big lettering, the way you used to have to to get your message spread around, and you can concentrate on making the image look as great as you can contrive. Use little letters and let the photoers look it up and link to your website and generally spread your word for you. All you need is a sufficiently striking and appealing image, to grab all that attention.

So, by way of emphasising my point, here is the DQF Flower Shuttle website. Go there, and learn that there is a whole fleet of flower delivery lorries, each one flaunting this or that elaborately artistic type picture of an antique form of transport, most of them ships, but one being of another locomotive. I assume that all of these lorries are each of them adorned with unique images, and I further assume that photos of these images are all over the social media. Judging by what happens when you do this, my assumptions are right. Although, I can find no photos of the particular photo I photoed of a DQF lorry this afternoon. This must be a rather new image.

Backstage architecture

A big part of my life now is my visits to the Royal Marsden Hospital on the Fulham Road. I’m talking about this building:

I show the above photo of the Marsden here. again, because I want now to draw your attention to the big square gap in the middle of this building, behind the main entrance at the front. This used to be an open square, not unlike other London Squares, although admittedly not nearly as spacious. But now it’s all been filled in, with a biggledy-piggledy huddle of small and mostly just rather functional buildings, which they put in the square because these buildings had to go somewhere and this was the only place they could fit them in. Like this:

I’m not going for artistic effect there, just trying to show you the sort of place I’m talking about.

The reason I was in the square was that I was visiting this place …:

… to have my heart scanned. (At the end of the scan, the guy said it seemed to be working fine, which was nice.) And this Markus Centre would appear to be one of the early square-violating buildings, erected as you can see in 1904. It is trying to look architecturally nice, in what now looks rather ancientist but which no doubt looked modern when first built. Nevertheless, this air of architectural show is undermined by the much more functional look of lots of other buildings which have since been inserted into the square, with lots of pipes and ducts showing, because why not? These buildings are here to do important jobs, not to look pretty. See also, the entire design of more recent hospitals.

The front of the Marsden is the usual piece of grandiose Victoriana, and I love it. But these photos I photoed today were of what you might call backstage architecture. Not basically there for show. There to get stuff done.

As with so much recent and especially “modern” architecture, it is very easy to get lost trying to find your way to the bit you want. Luckily the staff at the Marsden are unfailingly helpful when you ask the way. If they weren’t, and if there were not signs everywhere, the entire building would be a Kafkaesque nightmare. And especially this random clutch of buildings stuck down in the middle.

LATER: Actually, I think I may have been in the smaller square, off to the right. Which just shows you how easy it is to lose your bearings in this place.

Another SF movie gadget at the Marsden

Yes, yet another big gadget in the Royal Marsden (see also this amazing piece of kit) that makes you think you are in a science fiction movie:

I photoed this photo quite a while back now. What, I wondered at the time, is that for? I chalked it up as yet another mystery I would never fathom, but then I realised there might be some words on it that I could then ask the Internet about. So it proved:

And here it is. Siemens again. Very big in cancer machines, it would seem.

Here is my favourite bit of verbiage at the other end of that link:

Counterbalanced, isocentric design helps saving time and dose und supersedes readjustments by virtually unlimited projection possibilities with 190° orbital rotation.

It’s the “und” that I especially like. They got the first and right, but fluffed the second one. If you don’t believe me, go there und see it for yourself.