Tuesday, 21 June 2011

A Brazilian.

Forgive me, dear reader, for not writing a lengthy post this week. Truth is I’ve been up to my eyes in baby wipes, Super Noodles and bacon (read: packing for Glastonbury). But, actually, it’s given me the perfect opportunity to show you something I’ve been doing excited little jigs about for the last week or so: the cover of the Brazilian Portuguese edition of The C-Word.

Ain’t it great? I'm beyond chuffed with it – not least because even Sgt Pepper makes an appearance. The direct translation of the title is ‘Things To Do Before You’re 30’ which, frankly, I’m kicking myself for not thinking of for the UK version. But hey. 

Cooler even than seeing my daft little tome published in a country I’ve long wanted to visit, however, is seeing how someone else has interpreted The C-Word. And this, I like to think, really ‘gets’ it. There’s the cat; a heart; the shoes; the bra; the eyelashes; the tattoo... But also, it’s simple, and optimistic, and happy. Which, despite the subject matter, has always been my aim. 

‘How’s the TV thing going?’ asked Other Always-Right Breast Nurse at Smiley Surgeon’s clinic this week, for my three-years-past-diagnosis check-up. (*bows* Thank you; thank you very much.) 
‘Ooh, it’s all kicking off again,’ I said. ‘It’s very much in the works.’
‘Blimey, Lisa, you’ve had a crazy three years.’
‘I know, it’s ridiculous, isn’t it?’ I said. ‘Pure daft.’
‘Amazing though,’ she said, ‘that a drama is being made that’s all about you.’
‘Oh nonono, I dont think of it like that,’ I said. ‘I mean, it’s not about me, is it? It’s just a story.’
‘Well, it’s a story that it'll be good for people to see,’ she asserted. ‘Provided they get the message right.’
‘Oh?’ I said, hoping she was thinking what I was thinking. ‘So what would you say the message is?’
‘Well… this!’ she said, pointing two open palms in my direction. ‘You, standing here, three years on. The message is: however traumatic your experience might have been, there’s life beyond it.’
‘Yes! That’s EXACTLY the message,’ I said, with a big daft grin plastered across my face.

That ‘message’ is something I’d worried about earlier in the week, after being – very flatteringly – asked to speak at the Women At One charity lunch in Guernsey. It’s always difficult to know what part of my story to tell (do I go down the cancer line, the blog line, the book line, the luck line…?) especially when, in whatever room you find yourself speaking, with something like The Bullshit, there’s bound to be someone with some kind of experience. Indeed, in Guernsey I met wonderful women with all kinds of relationships with cancer: someone whose Mum had been diagnosed that same week; someone who’d recently gone into remission; someone whose Dad had breast cancer; someone who was patiently seeing her husband through treatment.

It’s much the same whenever I walk into Smiley Surgeon’s clinic. Yes, I’m a picture of smiling, boisterous goonishness whenever I’m in the waiting room, but what about the other women in there? Because, just as they were at the Women At One lunch, some of them will be dealing with cancer; some will be unsure whether they have cancer; some will be nursing someone through cancer; and some will have absolutely no contact with cancer at all. But the thing is, that smiling, boisterous, goonish idiot is just me; it’s just how I am. And I’m darned if I’m going to hide it. Because, as far as I’m concerned, that back-to-normal stuff is what’s most important… not the stuff that came before it.

I’ll never get my head around finding myself in a position where folk are seemingly interested in what I have to say – it’s as weird to me as the initial diagnosis. And so it might not be everyone’s idea of responsible reporting but, to my mind, the most significant thing I can ever say (and want to say to anyone who may have Googled breast cancer in a panic and happened upon this blog) is this: please remember that there is an afterwards. And, if its anything like my afterwards, it’ll be everything you’d hope it could be: simple, and optimistic, and happy. 

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The rhythm of life.

My morning routine is thus: wake up to the sound of P’s alarm, hide under the sheets while he gets a shower (always sneaking a look over the top when he comes back in the bedroom and drops his towel), tell him he looks handsome in a suit, kiss him goodbye on his way to work, roll over to his still-warm side for a 20-minute snooze, wake up again to the sound of my own alarm, sit up, tell Sgt Pepper she looks pretty all curled up at the foot of the bed, give her a little cuddle, get up, have a wee (the first is always the best of the day, don’t you think?), stumble into the kitchen, fire up the coffee machine, turn on BBC 6Music.

I love 6Music. In a time of my life where I suspect I’m too old for Radio 1, too stupid for Radio 4 and too impatient for commercial radio, it makes me feel at home. So much, in fact, that a few weeks ago, when a call went out for listeners’ ‘biorhythms’ tracks (one song that makes them feel, one song that makes them think, and one song that makes them dance), I got stuck right in, tweeted in my selections, and found myself on the radio introducing them.

The sum total of what I said while live on air was ‘errrr um I like this song because it’s sort of, well y’know, yeah’. And thus, ever since, it’s been one of those situations that I’ve been reliving in my head, wishing that I’d said something more than the indecipherable drawl that actually left my mouth. The issue wasn’t so much that I’d made a tit of myself on national radio (heck, I’m perfectly au fait with making a tit of myself), but more that my choices were, if I do say so myself, blinding tracks that I hadn’t done justice.

Of course, my blogging about said tracks may not do them any justice either, but in light of me being an infinitely better communicator in prose than in person (which says terrifyingly little about my ability to hold a conversation), I figured I’d give it a shot. So here, dear reader, are my biorhythms.

To feel: Beautiful Child, Rufus Wainwright

It’s eleven years this autumn since I moved to London, but passing a decade in the place I now call home hasn’t stopped me missing Derby. My family are the main reason, of course, but there’s also the other stuff: being called ‘duck’, Birds cakes, my football team, the sarnie shop in Littleover village that advertises ‘cobs and pop’. Sometimes, even, I think I miss my home city enough to move back there – until, of course, I get back down south and realise that, alas, I love London even more than I miss Derby. I suspect, however, that I’ll never stop getting nostalgic about the place (even if I end up living there again one day); nor will I stop playing this record on my way into the city. I’ll preface this by saying that this is a personal pleasure I reserve for the times when I’m driving alone (one of P’s few faults is his inability to appreciate Rufus Wainwright. Or South Park), but every time I leave the M1 and hit the A50, I cue up this record, turn the stereo up to a volume that could easily get me arrested, and belt this baby out at the top of my lungs, often with joyous tears streaming down my daft little cheeks. Because, to me at least, this glorious song is about coming home. It’s only recently that I discovered that, in fact, Rufus Wainwright actually wrote these lyrics about the way he felt when coming out of rehab. But, speaking as someone who’s never been addicted to anything more than Tunnocks Teacakes, I expect that leaving rehab is also a feeling much like coming home; that regained ability to see things through innocent eyes. Perhaps I’m overanalysing it. And it doesn’t matter if I am. Because, frankly, even if Rufus were singing about the increase in his gas bill, the alphebetising of his DVD collection, or how much he likes Dairylea, this unashamedly inspiring piece of music could still say everything the lyrics didn’t. (For the record, though, I could probably buy into a song about Dairylea equally as much.)

To think: Best Imitation of Myself, Ben Folds Five

I’m sure many 6Music listeners would see this option as a chance to flaunt their intelligence with a song by Yes or Pink Floyd or Kraftwerk or Emerson, Lake & Palmer or somesuch. And I don’t doubt that those same people would have scoffed at this silly little ditty being my ‘thinking’ choice. But the truth of the matter is, that stuff’s just not my taste. I’m just a simple lass who appreciates simple tunes. I don’t want to spend hours rifling through snippy messageboards to understand a lyric; I’m of the opinion that pop music should be just that, with its arms open to all, and that songwriters should just come the fuck out with it. But anyway, less about The World According To Lisa Lynch, and more about this record. The reason I chose this as a song that makes me think, then, is that it reminds me of the kind of thinking I did as a 16 year old. I discovered Ben Folds at one of those awkward teenage times when you suddenly question why your mates are your mates, why your life is seemingly hanging in the balance of a GCSE grade, and why your boyfriend is the kind of daft Derby dickhead who stares at himself in the mirror while you’re shagging. Hence, to the self-conscious teenage me, Ben Folds was a king of introspection who, in this song in particular, spoke my language. I know, right? Dawsons Creek, eat your heart out. Silly a sentiment as that is, though, Best Imitation of Myself speaks of a crime we’re all guilty of, and me more than most. Take this blog, for example. Or indeed any blog. Little corners of t’internet like this allow us an opportunity we’re not usually afforded: the chance to create an online version of ourselves that’s perhaps more interesting, or more funny, or more confident than the one we might actually be. I’m certainly guilty of it, even to a point where I continually worry when meeting people in person – people who’ve only previously ‘met’ the me on the blog – that they’ll be horribly disappointed when they realise I’m just an ordinary, self-conscious shitkicker made interesting only by a cancer diagnosis. Right now, in fact, I’m worrying about being found out over the next couple of days, when I head to Guernsey to give a talk to a roomful of expectant women. But that’s a story for another post…

To dance: Pride and Joy, Marvin Gaye

On the run-up to our wedding, there was a fair bit of speculation about what our first dance would be. I mean, obviously, it was going to be a Beatles record, given that me and P were – are – bordering on Beatles obsessives, and had fallen in love to the soundtrack of Abbey Road. What our family and friends failed to remember, however, was that as well as Beatles fans, we’re also crafty bastards, hence the first dance at our wedding wasn’t a Beatles record at all: it was Marvin Gaye’s Pride and Joy. In actual fact, there was a sneaky Beatles reference in our choice, given that, on the band’s first trip to the US, they were so sick of hearing their own records on the radio that they’d phone in to request this instead, but, as gut decisions go, that wasn’t the reason we picked this. As I remember it (P may, of course, tell you different), it was a pretty natural choice: we’d always loved the track and, as much as we each loathe the term ‘our song’, this was as close to gaining that sickly status as any other. Having found it an unnervingly easy choice to make, however, I remember us spending an evening rifling through iTunes in the tiny living room of our old flat, me hitting play on a dizzying number of tunes while making my notoriously uncomfortable dancer of a future husband shuffle about to each one. But in the end, it really was as easy a decision as it had initially seemed. Because, if you’ll forgive the soppy sentiment, Pride and Joy embodies everything our relationship was, and still is: uncomplicated, sweet, cheeky and, most importantly, happy. Plus it didn’t hurt that, at a mere 2:08, P wouldn’t have to spend too long on the dancefloor…

I don’t normally specifically request comments on my blog (and please don’t take from it that I’m not interested in what you have to say; I’m ALWAYS interested in what you have to say… in an insomnia-inducing manner that’d make your head spin) but, today, I’m breaking the habit of a lifetime and ending on a question. So, if you will, tell me: what are your biorhythms tracks…?

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The run-up.

It’s a non-negotiable that on every Take That tour, Mum and I will go together. It doesn’t matter if I’ve already bought a ticket to see them at Wembley with one of my London mates, or if a different mate further north asks me to be her plus-one to another venue (yes, yes, three different dates on one tour), me and Mum will still make sure we get to a show together.

At the risk of incurring the wrath of TT die-hards, it’s more out of nostalgia than present-day fandom that we continue to watch ‘our boys’ – though, of course, we’ve done our fair share of the fanatical stuff, too. Okay, so ‘we’ might be stretching the truth a bit (obviously I mean ‘me’) but none of my T-shirt-buying, letter-writing, banner-making, face-painting antics would have been possible without Mum’s help. (Ah, correcting the grammar in her daughter’s letter to Gary Barlow. She must be so proud.)

While up in Derby over the weekend in preparation for the Manchester date (the one where it all got a bit Spinal Tap), Mum and I indulged ourselves in a bit of reminiscence, recalling memories of the hours spent on the receiving end of engaged tones while trying to buy tickets; the packed lunches in the car on journeys between the school gates and the NEC Arena; the nights on the floor at my cousin’s place in London after shows at Earl’s Court; the careful execution of buying all formats of new singles on the hour of release, and the practice that went into getting the moves to Pray just right. Half the fun of being a dedicated ’Thatter, it quickly became clear, was in the planning.

My reason for bringing this up is that, as I type this post, I’m involved in two separate email conversations, each about live music – but each seemingly as far removed as the other. The first is with the mate with whom I’m going to see The ’That at Wembley. Despite it being a month ahead of the date, we’re already working out how much – or, more to the point, how little – we need to drink that day in order to get within touching distance of Howard Donald’s bum without either of us ruining our prime position by needing a piss. The other conversation is between myself, P and our mates Jess and Matt, with whom we’re going to Glastonbury, and has covered not only the merits of windbreak-aided pitch demarcation and the quantity of Supernoodles it takes to cure a hangover, but a fully functional spreadsheet of the number of cans required to load into a campervan to avoid buying any booze on site.

Now, I expect I’m not exactly hitting wide of the mark by saying that this isn’t exactly regular behaviour, right? I mean, I’m definitely an advocate of the half-the-fun-is-in-the-planning stuff (arranging mine and P’s wedding, for instance, was one of the happiest times of my life), but is it really normal to find yourself looking so far ahead that you’re already thinking about your July bladder activity, or rearranging the furniture in your living room to make way for a portable toilet, a double sleeping bag and a giant bucket of Maoams? (And that’s quite aside from the giant contradiction of being a Take-That-loving Glasto-goer.)

The thing is, though, I love living like this: filling my calendar with things to look forward to, then getting childishly excited in the run-up to each one. It’s not exactly cool, granted, but getting my goon on is one of the things I do best. (Mind you, if you think I’m bad, you should have seen the fifteen-page bound and laminated dossier that Jamie handed out before he, Leanne, P and I went on holiday to Florida. The mere thought of it still terrifies me to my very core.)

As much of a kick as I get out of the anticipation of fun, it’s not without its drawbacks. Dad once (quite rightly) warned me that it could be a dangerous tactic, and as much a downfall as it is a charm: building things up in your mind, after all, always carries with it the danger of setting yourself up for a disappointment. And it’s a fair point. This time last year, for example, I was lying broken-backed in a hospital bed in Mexico, cursing not just the prospect of a missed Glasto but the idiot in me who chose to squeal ‘this is going to be the best June EVER!’ nanoseconds before finding herself arse over tit on a marble floor. (See also: the time I spent an entire school term boasting to my mates about going to see Michael Jackson, only to get to Wembley Stadium, sit through support acts by Kris Kross and Rozalla, then be informed just before MJ was due to take the stage that the show had, inexplicably, been cancelled... and I’d be on holiday for the rescheduled date.)

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the virtues of living in the moment – heck, the last few years have pretty much granted me a Living For The Day diploma – it’s just that, well, what if I don’t want to? I know the accepted way of living when coming out the other side of a massive curveball is taking each day as it comes, living each day like it’s your last and all that sky-diving, bucket-listing palaver. But what if I’d rather savour my time? Is that okay too?

As regular readers of this blog will know, it’s a rare occasion when I don’t heed Yoda’s Dad’s advice. But if the last week of Take-That-tactics and Glasto-gooning have taught me anything, it’s that taking life one step at a time is all well and good, but even sweeter is knowing that absolutely nothing can undo all of mine and Mum’s hard work on the fun-forecasting front.

I’m not daft enough to finish this post with another fate-tempting ‘this is going to be the best June EVER!’ …but I’m not afraid to confidently predict that it’ll be pretty plan-tastic.