Unless you live in a cave or only watch Love Island on ITV2, you’ll be fully aware that the Football World Cup is on. As I sat in the pub last night watching England labour to a 2-1 victory over Tunisia, and marvelling over the fact that someone has finally put Gareth Southgate into a decent suit, I though back to my most memorable world cup 20 years ago.
You may have your own favourite year, or hate the whole overblown thing entirely, but my heart will forever be in France ‘98. This is mainly due to where I was watching it, the chemo ward of Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth hospital. Now this is isn’t the shiny new glass construction made famous for keeping nobel prize winner Malala Yousafzai alive. Oh no this was the aging old brick hospital next door. It had no air conditioning, paint peeling from the walls and felt every year of it’s victorian construction. To take away the grimness of the place, each bed got a 14” CRT telly. As I’ve stated before chemo is both horrendous and deeply boring all at the same time. So any distraction is welcome relief. So as I was in probably my 4th round of poisoning by the 10th June when the competition started, I was fully up for the cup.
I had my wallchart cribbed from one of the Sunday supplements, and I’d watch anything and everything. Out of the 64 games played I think I managed to watch at least 58 of them. No team was too dull (Austria) or too hyped (Brazil) that I wouldn’t tune in. For the big games like England v Argentina my bed became the centre of the action and the nurses and doctors would come and watch at the bedside. Endless football when you are half out of your mind of very powerful drugs is quite a good combination. When Des Lynam said “Third game of the day then?” I loudly shouted back “Yes Des, yes!” When France beat Brazil in the final, I was genuinely happy for them and the party on the Champs Elysees looked amazing. That summer I’ll always be thankful for the blessed relief of that tournament.
Fast forward twenty years and it’s still a fun spectacle although one I’m not so obsessive about. It’s harder to be able to look past the abject cronyism and corruption of FIFA, or the human rights abuses of the quasi dictatorship of the hosts Russia. The games can still bring joy and drama but as i’m not hooked up to a drip this year I can find other distractions (I did try to watch Love Island, but dear lord they’re a tedious bunch).
I’m writing this straight after seeing my consultant and in great relief at not being hauled in for more treatment. My latest CT scan showed no new growth and the immunosuppressant drug Sirolimus is slowly bringing down my tumour markers (still at 140, which is about 135 more than i’d like). Apart from a sore mouth from time to time it’s allowing me to have some of my life back. I’ve been able to travel, see friends and go to gigs again. I’ve even managed to get back out on a bike and do some good days out on the trails. I’m still nowhere near fit (as shown in Fort William when a bunch of pros, glided past me as I wheezed up a hill) but it was fun being outside nonetheless.
So I continue in this weird limbo of not being ill enough to just be ill, but not well enough to be able to go and get back to work. So I’ve done what any sensible person would do and I’ve bought a house (eek!) I’ll be now spending the summer looking for inspiration in Homes and Garden and architecture blogs (After which I’ll just paint the whole place white and stick a load of pictures up).
So this rickety ship will keep on sailing for the time being. After a difficult few months I hope to be writing more on here and starting on a few other projects. Oh and I’m going to get a dog, that’s the most important thing.