Q. So, still in the hermitage?
A. Indeed.
Q. How long has it been?
A. Forever, approximately.
Q. When will you be allowed out?
A. With a bit of luck, some time in the next decade.
Q. Do I detect a little impatience?
A. I prefer ‘frustration’.
Q. Any new accessories to help pass the time?
A. Oh yes. Scalextric! Everybody’s favourite trigger-controlled racing toy. A joy and a delight. It is truly wonderful.
Q. Having such little space, where do you put it?
A. The track leads under the armchair, past the scales, under the end of the bed, past the bathroom door, under the head of the bed and narrowly skirts the bedside table. Think Micro Machines…
Q. Is it a danger to people entering the hermitage?
A. Certainly not, as nobody ever comes in in the dark, and some of the track is currently removed to make it even harder to pretend it is in the way.
Q. Does it not prevent the cleaners from giving the floor a good wipe?
A. Apparently so. This is difficult to argue against. Unfortunately it ought to be packed up at the end of each day.
Q. Is that a problem?
A. Well, it takes a while to put it together or take it apart, particularly as the course weaves around the furniture. I guess I’ll have to try, though…
Q. How else are you filling your hours?
A. By watching season 3 of ’24’ with Harriet, and by reading my book (‘The Accidental’ by Ali Smith, though I’ve just finished that).
Q. So life is full?
A. In a sense, yes, as I have plenty to do. I cannot complain of boredom, as I have more books, films and toys than I could ever tire of. And there are so many other ways to fill my time: by writing letters, for example.
Q. But…?
A. It’s all a little shapeless. I have many ways to kill time (though of course reading, writing etc are certainly not a waste of time), but at the moment that’s all I seem able to do. It feels very unproductive. It doesn’t lead anywhere. When I finish a book, I start another. But nothing has really been achieved. And that’s frustrating.
Q. But presumably it’s only like that until you go home?
A. As much as I’m looking forward to going home, it is still likely to be the same story, as I will not be there for long enough to get my teeth into anything.
Q. What sort of thing do you mean?
A. I really want to take up my position as Secretary of the OMV again, for example. In that position, I would have lots to focus on, to work towards and to achieve.
Q. So why don’t you do it?
A. A major part of the role is communication, which is also vital to enable the other parts of the job to be done. Without the internet, I am powerless to communicate in the ways necessary.
Q. What about when you’re at home?
A. Then I have the internet, but I would need to have regular online access, to send emails to volunteers when needed, for example. Not being able to do so for several weeks when in hospital makes the job of Secretary currently impossible.
Q. So you wish you had some sort of project?
A. I suppose so. Something to give my days a focus. At the moment the only thing I’m working towards is the end of treatment, which is not only a fair way off, but is also passive.
Q. Passive?
A. I don’t do anything in my treatment. I get given drugs in a variety of ways, but there’s nothing I can actively do (except make sure I drink enough) to help.Q. Have you had any other ideas for what you could do?
A. The problem with finding some kind of useful project is that most ideas I’ve had are impossible for someone unable to leave their room and/or lacking an internet connection.
Q. But isn’t it all about making sure you’re happy each individual day?
A. Yes, I still believe that. But that doesn’t exclude the possibility of taking other days into consideration. Having something to do with purpose makes each day better, and that purpose will often be in the future. It also helps to have something to look forward to.
Q. Like your birthday?
A. Indeed. But now that’s passed, there’s nothing of similar excitement in the near-ish future. There are a few little exciting things, such as seeing certain people, and getting home to a bacon sandwich, but the calendar currently looks like a long phase of treatment punctuated by occasional brief periods out.
Q. Is there anything to do about that?
A. Unfortunately I don’t think so. Because of low blood counts, the importance of getting on with treatment and the unpredictability of when it will occur, it’s nigh-on impossible to organise anything at all.
Q. So how will you shake off this frustration?
A. The best way would be if the hospital would allow the internet on the ward, and I could do things like the OMV Secretaryship.
Q. Any chance?
A. We’re working on it.
Q. And if not?
A. I’ll have to stop being silly, remember how good it is just to be alive, get back to appreciating small pleasures, learn a bit more patience and be grateful for everyone’s generosity and support.
Q. Isn’t that what you’ve been trying to do all along?
A. Yes. I guess that in the past I’ve often not felt up to much more than lying in bed, whereas this time particularly I’ve felt physically and mentally fine and alert, so not being able to do anything worthwhile has been frustrating. Especially as since my ITU trip I’ve been keen to make the most of every day.
Q. Any other problems?
A. My self-motivation’s not great. Maybe that’s why the OMV thing is a good idea – I’m motivated by many others.
Q. Why are you talking to yourself?
A. I’ve no idea. But I blame Ali Smith.

23 thoughts on “Who interviews the interviewers?

  1. Hi George!

    Great interview style!
    The race car game sounds fun!

    Maybe you could start on the great 21st century novel they say everyone has inside them (the old fashioned pen & paper way)? Or, being you, can you have someone bring you some stave paper & try some music? It’s something you could do as & when feeling less than fun allows.

    How about a piece for your barber’s shop quartet? No interuments to worry about keeping clean, after all!

    As for something to look forward to, set yourself a date, say a date to do with the unit maybe & perform (or have the piece performed) for everyone in the unit?

    Just an idea to kick around.

    Take Care,

  2. Haven’t written before, but I’ve been reading since almost the beginning, having been interested in your professional progress at first (I did a Ph.D. in English at the University of Toronto, and have had to make most of my living as a proofreader, since I didn’t want to teach, though I do some freelance editorial work). I’ve since been caught up in the events of your A.L.L. diagnosis and treatment, and I have two things to say, both prompted by today’s post: 1. This is excellent fodder for a novel, and that’s what you should be doing with your time (see Howard Engel’s Memory Book for the best example I know of how one makes a novel out of the materials of one’s illness); and 2. As for talking to yourself, the great Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem was once spied by a friend walking down the street and talking to himself. When the friend confronted him, he responded, “So now that I’ve finally found someone intelligent to talk to, do you have to interrupt?”

  3. e’una delle interviste più interessanti che abbia letto negli ultimi mesi…(abituata a leggere le cazzate che diceva S.B.quando intervistato….;-))

    banale da dire….e poco utile probabilmente, ma DAI TEMPO AL TEMPO…è così che diciamo noi…:-)fammi sapere se posso fare qualcosa per te, ok?

    ti abbraccio forte


  4. I may be in the minority but the answer to your Q: But…? seems to sum up employed work in general. I can certainly understand from where I am sitting.

  5. George

    If you come to my BBQ on the 16th, i will give you all the answers to your project-based queries. And I will introduce you to some interesting people too*

    Ali xxx

    *some of whom may be civil servants.

  6. Novel-tastic. Get writing!
    Arrived back in Edinburgh 3am…now back at work..bore!
    miss you! xx
    PS Will Chase’s hand ever work again?

  7. Love the interview! I think you’d write an excellent book – half of it is already written on this blog! You just need to work on pulling it all together & then writing to lots of publishers to get it printed so you can make your fortune & become a booker prize winner!!

    Another idea… Why not do a remote learning course (subject obviously of your choice, either wacky or career progressing!).

    Keep smiling anyway & hopefully you’ll be home soon!
    lots of love
    Tora x

  8. or what about learning zulu… you can buy “pick the language you are least likely to use then learn it” kits from most good bookshops…

  9. that last message was Robyn… full of suggestions as ever!

    Or how about blogging in iambic pentameter/ rhyming couplets?!


  10. Embrace Open University darling – learn someting fantastic and make your brain bigger. Learning another language is a fantastic idea as well…don’t want your brain cells getting sleepy (you have seemed rather dopey recently…) How about writing rediculous childens stories; I’ll illustrate them for you. Learn to juggle, or knit, or paint. I’ve always wanted to learn sign language, but never had time (I can say blue green thank you sun, which i doubt will get me far, but I’m very proud) Set up a secret society secretly and tell NO ONE. secret hand shakes and all (oh PLEASE can we do that…) dedicate your time to perfecting at least three accents/dialects so if needs be, you can become a fantastic spy and possible even lead a double life in Wales/Newcastle/Australia umm…. maybe you could come up with the meaning of life – i believe people have been wondering about that for a while…
    Love that you’ve gone insane and started interviewing yourself – awsome.
    MMMMWAH jo x

  11. Elephant suckling.
    Now not many people do that these days.
    A very useful skill, and much appreciated by the elephants (so I believe) though it could play absolute havoc with your Scalextric track. On the other hand it could provide the cleaners with something more interesting to mop up.

    Or how about inviting Jo to a party.
    Then she would go back to London and leave us all alone down yer in Zumerzet . . .
    The fridge is already empty . . .
    Of course we miss her when she’s away – such a nice feeling . . .

  12. I was going to send you a yoga book, but then I thought if your floor’s full of Scalextric you won’t have room to do yoga. Granpa and Grandma used to bemoan the pointlessness of their days. Now Granpa seems to filling his with medical appointments, so not that unlike you really …

    If you do proofreading by distance learning I could tute you, but I wouldn’t really recommend it as a career – not at your age. Or of course you could adapt one of Robyn’s suggestions and teach yourself Norwegian.



  13. design and make a boardgame?! you get to make up lots of crazy rules, design the pretty aesthetics, the random questions and whatever else takes your fancy plus you have the incentive of something good to play when you finish… 🙂

  14. That’s what I told George last time I was there.. He should publish his memoirs. It would be a great read.. DO IT DO IT.. Grab the bull by the horns..

  15. Considering the fab poem you wrote on my bebo page I think the time has come for you to write either a novel or poetry,maybe even both.With your brains and newly acquired talent for philosophising(is that even the right word?)sure would be an wonderful read.Your blog itself is an inspiration to us all.love you xxx

  16. Go George…. write, write, write again! You are so good at it! Please keep us amused!
    Thinking of motivating things for you to do… will come back with them soon!
    Loads of love, Ellie xxx

  17. Heh..whilst George is deciding between teaching himself russian or norwegian, let’s see if we can get his comments up to 100 before the next blog!
    (Georgey you’d never guess we are all hanging out for the next installment?!)
    Lots love wee bro xx

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