Let’s Dance – put on your green shoes and dance with me!

I have never been a Bowie fan – let’s face it i am ‘lite’ where UK music scene is concerned having been passionately attached to South American and world music  sounds since the 1970s. Still in the 1980s I adored the video set in a bar in the Australian outback  for ‘Let’s Dance’ and the song itself. So yesterday – when i had the ‘big’ mid-cyle scan at WGH (Western General Hospital) and i persuaded the team there to let me wear my clothes for it (including my red leather gloves and lime  green shoes, stripey socks, t shirt, trousers and sky blue jumper – these days i am using colourful clothes as a physical statement to offset my grey, drawn face and ‘anxious’ look), to avoid the ‘pins and needle’ side effects wearing a thin gown and letting my body temperature drop would induce – I sang it to myself in my head  with my hands above my head , the scanner moving up and down, red dye pumping into my body through a canula. Thanks  Bowie!

I went to the Maggie Centre afterwards  and sat in the sun on their lovely garden while i waited for my mate Therese who kindly took me there and back despite cooking for the staff and children of the Nursery she and her family run (Forbes Nurseries, Edinburgh). Therese is  a long time a friend who for years has tolerated all my eccentricities and passionate outbursts about everything from the world bank to Murdoch (!!!): one could get a taxi to the hospital  but it helps emotionally to have  a welcome face to take you there and back. These things are manageable and mere procedures really, yet they take such a  lot of emotional energy. Goodness knows what ‘mind talk’ one’s head gets into. The staff are helpful but not forthcoming with help  until you ask: i had several  pints of cold aniseed liquid to drink before the scan, never mind the pint i had been instructed to drink at home beforehand, yet in this week of my 3rd cycle of life infusing chemo (LIC) cold liquids make ones throat and lips go into spasm and give one electric shocks along the jaw for the first 20 seconds or so. I asked if the aniesed  could have it hot – no kettle available and no permission to use water out of the hot tap… could I  add the ginger and lemon tea i had brought in a flask? –  the nurse helper was not sure  – one could add cold squash.  He checked and it was OK – of course!! Likewise the clothes thing- they checked when i asked if i could keep some warm clothes on  and yes finally it was OK as long as i had no metal on me. Yet if you did not ask i’d have ended  up naked save for a skimpy cotton covering  with an  extra dressing of  pins and needles all over.

Having been up in the night (the bowels move even when  is asleep but hey i made it to the loo)  and had my breakfast and pills at 6am i was knackered when i got home and  sat in my beautiful blue  garden hut all afternoon (thank you Mum for paying for it and  Filiberto Mora for building it for me).  The garden looks amazing full of birds and flowers and veggies – although my potatoes are growing too leggy like apple trees

My longtime Chilean friend Pattie Cammack came on a day trip from Manchester,  bringing her sweet self, a huge bunch of deep purple gladioli and a great book she loved reading: Tahmima Anam’s The Good Muslim. Pattie has been a friend since 1972 when I was teaching in Temuco, Chile. She married my colleague and friend Paul Cammack in Bolivia soon after the Chilean 11  September 1973 coup d’état. Later we all lived near each other at Summertown Hosue,  Oxford when I was doing my MPhil in Latin American Studies at Linacre/St Antony’s and Paul was doing his PhD.

Seeing old friends with whom you have deep, common experience is fantastic – they are like ‘family’ in the true sense of feeling utterly familair, and having shared memories many of which cannot be put into words ever – memories that run the gamut from joy to  being shocked, sacred, outraged. Another Chilean friend Inés Enriquez is here for a few days from Mexico.   I think it has been harder for her coping with me in my first tricky week of treatment when one is extra sensitive not to say neurotic in intensity about  everything including questions. Let’s face it maybe i have been too tired for visitors staying.

This afternoon with my daughter Fran back from a break in Budapest we will take Inés to the stunning Jupiter Artland sculpture park just outside Edinburgh for a few hours to blow her mind before she returns to London tomorrow! Maybe we will go and see the French film Potiche tonight  at Edinburgh’s  Cameo Cinema – i have a  box of masks to wear in public places.


About Jan Fairley

I am an experienced and passionate ethnomusicologist working as an arts and music journalist and broadcaster, writer and editor as well as researcher, lecturer, radio presenter and producer. I have a breadth of organising experience at home and abroad. I am a fluent Spanish speaker. I love travelling and have worked abroad (notably Chile 1971-3 and again in 1994) and researched in Cuba, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Finland.
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