There was an old Countess of Bray
And you may think it odd when I say
That despite her high rank and education
She always spelled c*nt with a ‘K’
King George VI, The Crown (2016, Netflix)
Despite beginning this week’s sojourn into my twisted mind with wild profanities, I must assure you that there is context to my crudeness, and in my miserable attempt at comedy. But before I deliver said context, get yourselves comfy and ‘hyggelig’, and prepare yourselves for some Grade A bollocks, because you’re about to be lectured on how to live your lives, which is, by anyone’s measure, complete bullshit. Why? Because I’m twenty-five years old, which is to some of you only a few years out from wetting the bed. However, in case some of you haven’t noticed – and this point being the premise of this entire blog – I’m dying, I am legally obliged to play that card and as such, I will lecture you all as much as I please. Happy Thursday crazy cats.
The realisation that, at such a relatively young age, you are mortal (contrary to what drugs and alcohol tell us) is a sobering one. No one wants to be struck down in the prime of their lives, where health, lack of inhibition and loose morals are supposed to be taken for granted. The lingering lack of civic and personal responsibility, carried through from university, allows us to take advantage of said health and relative wealth at this point in our lives. We travel (or would like to travel) around the world, we spend (or think we should spend) extortionate amounts on absinthe and G&T’s (just me? OK then) at the weekend, we see window shopping as the weak man’s game. We make (or strive to make) generally poor financial choices that end with us moaning about the rent we would have been able to afford had we not made those poor financial choices. But that is the essence of living at our age, and so it should be. For me, the situation is amplified. Death defines the condition of living. At least for me, anyway.
But sometimes, oftentimes, we find ourselves on a different path. We find ourselves staying late at work, or working on weekends, clamouring for that promotion that may or may not come. We convince ourselves that our work and the social standing that comes with the title on our business cards defines our worth in life. We assure ourselves that it is the true source of our happiness; the reason our girlfriends or boyfriends are with us; the reason we can afford that new Zegna suit; the reason we are, fundamentally, here at all. What we seem to be engaging in is a millions-strong game of peacocking, without anyone telling us of the futility of it all. No one man or woman can be the richest person in the graveyard. Social standing and perception isn’t valid currency when you’re dead. As creatures of habit, we don’t like to engage in self-reflection, because subliminally we know that there’s a good chance that that will prove that we’re going wrong, and no one likes to be wrong. We see everyone else around us doing the exact same thing, and if they’re doing it, then by any logic, that must be the right thing to do. There’s safety in numbers, we say to ourselves. But there’s a very real danger that we will end up dragging ourselves through life not appreciating the things that make us fundamentally happy, and all that is hollow that we prioritised will reveal itself to be so, sooner or later. The very act of living our lives passes us by unless we take a good look at what we’re doing, and reassess whether, deep down, it’s worth it. Will our forty year-old selves look back and say that all those late hours at work were worth it over spending time with the ones we love? Was this career worth spending twenty years of my life in, when in my heart, I really wanted to be a chef, a scuba instructor, a palaeontologist (I'm still livid Dippy the Diplodocus has been removed from the Natural History Museum - what sort of cruel world do we live in)? Should I have gone backpacking around Japan (I’m so cultured, I know…) when I had the health and time to do so? If you take away just one thing from my verbal diarrhoea, then please for the love of baby Jesus make it this; you were not born to work and pay bills. You were born to run across savannahs with spears and slings, wrapped in lion-skins, hunting sabretooth tigers. You have a duty to yourself to do what makes you happy, because otherwise, life will pass you by. And if that doesn’t sound spectacularly, oh-so-enticingly camp and full of life, then I don’t know what does.
The onrushing march of your own death is far from a pleasant experience. But that said, there’s quite literally nothing better to help you realise what makes you happy, and why you have every reason to appreciate the luxuries we have in comparison to many millions of others around the world. Travel, sports and my family and friends have been mainstays of happiness in my life, and they will continue to be so. Who doesn’t love long walks on a tropical beach at sunset (with that in your Tinder bio, you’ll never run short of Tinderella’s, I guarantee you), going to the Monaco Grand Prix (suits you, sir) and mother’s home-cooked meals (that said, if you’re reading this April, up your game, we’ve had a below-par month). I intend to fill the rest of my life with that holy trinity of goodness because they make life worth any measly level of suffering, and if you’re able to do so too, in whatever triumvirate of tastiness you can find for yourself, then from one brother to another, go out and do it.
Despite the Countess of Bray’s public school upbringing, intellect and sophistication, she probably knew that c*nt was spelled with a ‘C’. Everyone else was probably spelling c*nt with a ‘C’. She was probably the proverbial, grammatical black sheep. Therefore, we’re left with no other logical conclusion than to believe that she spelled c*nt with a ‘K’ because she wanted to, and it made her happy. How’s that for a tenuous, speculative ending to an otherwise deep and profound insight into the human condition of living.
As a number of you thoughtful bastards have been asking, I’m going to try and provide a wee treatment update at the end of every post, so that you’ll know whether I’m dead or not (although that should, hopefully, be evident should I stop posting).
I’m three rounds in to a six-cycle course of chemotherapy, consisting of the drugs Ifosfomide and Doxorubicin. I’m more often than not four days in hospital with IVy (who I seem to be losing, as she’s been slutting herself out to all the other patients on the ward as of late), and then another four days flat out in bed recovering, and miserably failing to tame the vom dragon that comes to visit, day in, day out. But it does provide an excuse for my family to wait hand and foot on me, and novel flashbacks of Freshers’ Week. The next blog post will delve deeper into treatment, the options therein going forward, the side effects, as well as 'alternative therapies' recommended by various people. Stay frosty boys and girls.