In my last post we were riffing on the First World War poets and Edward Thomas in particular.

In this one we’ll quote a better known one – Wilfred Owen – mainly because I want to use the word “Futility” and that’s the title of one of his best and my most favourite poem ever.

Move him into the sun –
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.

But I’ll tell you what’s truly futile, my young chum.

Futile is when you have a stroke of genius that this year you won’t end up queuing for an hour to get into the Cambridge Beer Festival to be held on the Jesus Green in the merry month of May. Starting on Monday 21st, to be precise. So, you decide to join CAMRA and take out a year’s membership.

Futile is when you see that James Yorkston is playing Cambridge in the same week (Weds 23) and you think “how many times am I going to want to go to the beer anyway and surely one night off will be good for me”. And so you buy a ticket for that. Well, two tickets actually.

Futile is when you then pop along to the hospital for a pre-admission clinic thinking it will be all very routine and they’ll tell you stuff you already know just so you’ll be ready for when you go in at the end of May or early June.

Futile is when they tell you that, actually, they have you down for a provisional entry date on Sunday May 13th for an operation on Monday May 14th.

That’s what yer feckin’ beer membership card and yer feckin’ gig ticket is good for now, clever boyo. You get to lie in a hospital bed lookin’ at the feckin’ futile yokes.

They say I’ll probably be in hospital for a week so technically speaking I might be out in time. But I can’t see really myself drinking pints of beer in a tent with big slits in me and maybe a tube or two hanging out. Them weird beardy fellas that you always find there would be standing behind me waiting for the great beer dispenser on two legs to replenish their tankards. They always bring their own pewter tankards, in my experience.


In hospital I will be having a Metastatectomy which is the removal (resection) of the lumps (metastases). There is one lump on the left side which is now grown up to 1.2cm, and it’s located in the centre of the lung. The surgeon will do a Thoracotomy which is a cut from under the shoulderblade on my back, around the side and to just under the breast. They then spread apart the ribs with a retractor, also known as “rib spreaders”. This is as wonderfully manual as it sounds. If I were them I’d bring some BBQ sloppin’ sauce for the ultimate rib experience. The surgeon then apparently has an excellent view of the inside of the chest. Because of the location of the lump. I’ll lose a portion of my left lung when they cut out the tumour.

There are also two nodules on my right lung, but these are smaller and located on the outside edge of the lung. In this case they do a wedge cut which is like a V shape slice from the side of the lung. I will need a similar cut for this but on the other side naturally. Mmm, ribs and wedges. It’s like a night out at the greasy spoon diner.

The lungs (unlike the liver) won’t grow back but I’m told they are like wet sponges and so they expand to fill the space.

Originally I thought they might do the two on the same operation but there are sound reasons why that is a really dumb idea so I will it done in two operations – first the Left and six or so weeks later, the Right.

Today I’ve been telling people connected with work that I won’t be able to keep my comittments this summer. All have been very good about it.

Yesterday I planted out the tomato plants for the summer. It’s a bit early to do it as the nights are still cool but time is marching on now and soon I won’t be able to bend or lift things again, at least for a few months. I will instead have to sit in the garden with a carafe of chilled white wine or a gin and tonic. You are obliged to feel sorry for me. I’m a cancer victim after all 😉