Monday, June 29, 2009

To the grave

A little while ago, not long after my operation, my girlfriend and I found ourselves perusing the headstones in a local graveyard. We’re not Goths or Satanists or anything like that, but graveyards are a very much like ice cream vans in that you don’t deliberately go out to find them, but if you do see one they somehow draw you in. As we respectfully moved amongst the graves, reading the ones that took our interest, I happened to casually observe that people in the olden days didn’t generally live that long. I’d noticed there were quite a few headstones for people who died in their 40’s and 50’s. I was just leaning in to read the time-worn lettering on the headstone of one Henrietta Lucking, who died in 1845, when my girlfriend said, “Well if you’d lived in those days you’d probably be dead by now too.” Now there’s a cheery thought. Slowly I twist my head and fix my girlfriend with a long hard look. Eventually she realises I’m staring at her, “I’m just saying,” she pleads, “Without your tablets and operation and stuff your UC would probably have killed you.” She said it again! She said it again! I straighten, smarting from all her incessant talk of me dying young, but before I can respond she’s moved on. Now you wouldn’t know it to look at her as she sashays gracefully through the churchyard trailing her fingers in the long grass, but my girlfriend was born with her hips slightly skewiff and spent the first couple of months of her life in some sort of brace to realign them. Remembering this, I mutter under my breath, “Yeah, and if you’d have been alive back then, my dearest, you’d have been a cripple!” “Hmm?” “Oh, I was just saying there was a fella back there called Dibble.” I lie. Following my girlfriend out of the churchyard I concede that she’s probably right. If I’d lived in the 19th century, in a time before asacol, azathioprine, prednisolone, colonoscopies and colostomies, life would have been very different. And significantly shorter.