Somewhere towards the end of Matthew Hollis’ book “Now All Roads Lead to France”, the author tries to explain how the poet Edward Thomas might have felt as he left to join an artillery batallion in WW1.

In a sense he didn’t have to fight. There would have been ways to evade the call-up, not least his age. He chose to volunteer. It was probably down to a financial decision – his work as a book reviewer was devastated by the war and he wasn’t yet earning as a poet. He was torn between the need to ‘get on with it’ and the desire not to die.

The title of this post is a line from Thomas’ poem ‘As the Team’s Head- Brass’ and it’s about an innocuous conversation with a ploughman, but one in which the everyday terms take on an extra meaning. Not least this line. It’s deliberate non-use of a comma gives it a breathlessness and the repitition of “all” gives it a sort of see-saw effect, where the outcome could be good or it could be bad. We’re hurtling forward towards a volatile and uncertain outcome.

It turned out bad for Edward Thomas. He wasn’t actually shot, but a shell passed so close to him it stopped his breath. And he was dead.

I get the dilemma, for I must now decide what to do with my health this summer. The nodes on my lungs are still there, and the last scan done two weeks ago has been reported back – the nodes are slightly larger. I’ve already told them that my strong preference is for surgery to remove these lumps from my lungs, if that is possible and it is operable.

On the other hand, I’m making headway with work and opportunities keep arising. I’ve turned down an offer already only for another to arrive in its place, and those are both in addition to the day job which too has prospects. I’m torn with trying to nurture these faint flickers of flame. I know that if you were here you’d say that there will be other opportunities, but I’ve worked hard to get these ones.

But the decision won’t wait.

Today my consultant told me it was operable and I told the consultant that it was my #1 priority to have that operation. So it now looks like we will cut open the left lung at the end of May. There will be around 4 weeks’ recuperation, and then we’ll cut the right lung. I say “we” but you know what I mean. I’ll take a more passive role. He could ‘cut a corner’ and do keyhole surgery, but the open wound gives him a chance to feel for other lumps that might be too small to see on a CT scan. It seems pointless to have the operation and not take that extra option. It sounds like the post-op could be a bit painful, but I’m not sure how it compares to the last time, when to either sit or to lie meant resting on a recent wound.

If it follows that plan it will be hospital for a week sometime around the last days of May, recover in June, then back to hospital in early July for another week. Finally a month of recovery in July. At the moment I’m supposed to be travelling in August. Not supposed to drive for six weeks apparently, but we shall see.

Oh well, there goes the Summer.