Topic (sic) of Cancer

Cancer.  The Big C.  A tumour… and it’s malignant.  And probably many other euphemisms.

Mrs Grasshopper was diagnosed  with stage 4 terminal pancreatic cancer on 25 October last year.

Der Tod ist sicher.

Prognosis – how long before you die – twelve (12) months from diagnosis.  As at today, Mrs Grasshopper is still alive (but not alive and well).  Every day is a bonus.  Guesstimate now as to how long she has got is now 6-8 weeks, maybe a a few days later so she gets to see Christmas Day.  But who can tell?

Anyway this article is not about Mrs Grasshopper per se.  Death, sad to say, is certain.  That’s a brutal fact.  But what about Grasshopper, my classmate from the mid-70’s, hard-nosed riot squad policeman?

Ever since diagnosis, Grasshopper and I have kept the communication lines open.  He calls me “Padre Ginge.”  I send him and Mrs Grasshopper a pastoral card.

In the last two months, Mrs Grasshopper has been suffering new symptoms on a weekly basis.  Grasshopper has been dealing in a businesslike manner, being a trained medic, logging her symptoms and monitoring her slow downhill journey.

Mrs Grasshopper is in denial.  She truly believes she will be alive in two years to see her son’s graduation.  It’s unlikely that she’ll still be around in two months.  That’s a brutal fact.

To be honest, cold, callous and clinical, Mrs Grasshopper is not my main concern.  My main concern is to make sure that Grasshopper does not end up having a nervous breakdown while looking after his wife.  Today he admitted to me that he had had a meltdown this morning and had spent almost all day in bed.  That is out of character for Grasshopper, who is normally a very positive, matter-of-fact person.  We had a good long chat via Whatsapp while I was taking the tram into the city centre this afternoon.  He sound weary.  His voice was starting to crack a bit.  First time I’ve heard him like that.  Big boys do cry, or at least allow their voices to wobble a bit.

I mainly listened.  Grasshopper needed to let off steam.  I told him I was here 24/7 if he ever need a good rant.  I don’t want him having a nervous breakdown or “doing something stupid.”

Yesterday Grasshopper found this pastoral card from me landing on his doormat.

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Who cares for the carers?

Have a caring day, won’t you!

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Your Friday Joke

The Reverend Doctor Ian Paisley was a real firebrand preacher and politician in the 1970’s.  However he later calmed down and was part of the peace process in Northern Ireland.

He even became a doting grandfather.  One Christmas he even bought his pet dog a wee rubber ball.  Every time it bounced off the ground, it went:

Boyne!  Boyne!  Boyne!

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Have a bouncy day, won’t you!

A fool thinks himself to be wise…

The full saying goes:

A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.

– William Shakespeare

I guess the world is divided into thinkers and doers.  I’m a thinker.  I can analyse why the syntactical structure of a Old Church Slavonic till the cows come home.  On the other hand, I can’t erect a marquee or drive a Saracen armoured personnel carrier, like Sunray could.

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This a Saracen.

The problem arises when you have a half-baked doer or thinking intervening.  Billy No-Mates is a recidivist offender in that respect.

A little learning is a dangerous thing.

– Alexander Pope

Doers, when sitting with intellectuals, generally:

  • Sit and listen in, enjoy the brainboxes discussing Napoleon’s approach to Prussian authoritarianism relating to Bakunin
  • Just pop off and read the paper instead
  • Express admiration and say they wished they’d worked harder at school

(Meantime the thinkers are all expressing admiration at the fact that the doers can repair a bike chain in five minutes flat.)

Executive summary: mutual respect.

Not Billy No-Mates.  Having invited himself to the latest free-lunch event, he’ll go through the following procedure:

  1. Sit there, struggling to follow the thread of the conversation.
  2. Butt in with prejudiced views that he has picked up from some pseudo-Wikipedia-esque voodoo theology internet article matching his preconceptions he picked up from a flyer he once picked up at some random train station.
  3. Find himself being slapped down for not having done fact-checking before opening his mouth. (No, Billy.  Dihydrogen monoxide does kill people if they breathe it in, but that’s because it’s plain and simple water.)
  4. Goad [DE: stacheln] the “so-called intellectuals” gathered around him.
  5. Sulks for the rest of the discussion, scowling, his lips pursed like a cat’s anus.
  6. Depart with a pseudo-theological catchphrase along the lines of “live long and prosper”.

Bless Billy’s cotton socks.  He’s always trying.  Just very trying…

Have a wise-foolish day, won’t you!

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It is right to give thanks and praise

It is meet and right so to do.  It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, that we should.

Unless you’re a regular church-goer, the start of this article will probably go over your head…

What does a church need to function?  Think of a duck seemingly floating casually above the water.  The priest is the body of the duck.  The volunteers are the webbed feet, paddling frantically under the water.  The backroom boys and girls include:

  • Cleaners
  • Coffee, tea, cakes and refreshments makers
  • House group leaders
  • Pastoral people, sharing a cup of coffee and shoulder to support
  • Audio-visual/sound desk people
  • Treasurer
  • Handyman
  • etc etc etc

Our church has a shortage of cheerful givers (not so much of money-givers, but of time-givers).  On Monday this week “The Management” have a discussion about time-giving in church.  I say we, “The Management”, should thank everyone for their contributions.

But who will bell the cat?

At Tuesday lunchtime I arrive at church on my trusty bike and proceed to the church office.  I then open up our stationery cupboard and take out a big pile of cards and envelopes.

Back to the church office.  Fountain pen out.  Ink bottle out.  Bestest handwriting needed.  (Schatz says I have lovely handwriting.  She’s a doctor.)  Church address list out.

Three hours later, a pile of thank you cards written in neat handwriting is sitting on the office table.  (A few cards ripped up and thrown into the recycling bin.)  Three more cups of tea supped.  Back onto bike and off to local post office, where the cheerful Polish lady greets me.  I buy several sets of stamps.  Round to adjacent cafe.  Time for coffee.  All envelopes now stamped.  Coffee slurped.  Off to post box in time for the last post of the day.  Five minutes to spare.

Chaplain happy.  Ginge in Germany happy.  Job done.  (Thankfully the 70¢ stamps are self-adhesive.)

Have a thankful day, won’t you!

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Long live BFBS!

I have sore feet.  I am shattered.  I have just come back from an evening service in the wonderful city of Essen.  I am happy.

Tonight on the S-Bahn (slow-Bahn) train, I had this Boney M earworm ringing in my ears.  It takes me back to the mid-70s, the school disco at Wolfenbüttel Primary School and yet another hit that BFBS Germany was always playing.  It’s based on Psalm 137.

Have a boney day, won’t you.