The Mother phoned up today, as she does regularly, to tell us all the latest exciting goings-on in her social circle. Her friend George, who she knew from church, has died aged 85, after a long illness. “Of course, he’d been ill for years,” she said, “and he was in great pain. By the end he was screaming. ‘Take me, Lord, take me!’ It was a blessing when he died.”
When it comes to religion, The Mother is a great fan of this sort of logic. If The Family Car Crash Of 1988 ever comes up in conversation, The Mother will no doubt say something along the lines of “You had such a narrow escape! It just proves that God was looking down on us.” Now, it’s true that I almost lost a) my life b) an eyeball;* but I’m not sure God deserves much in the way of credit. It is fair to argue, though, that the Family Car Crash Of 1988 was a Good Thing: the insurance windfall paid for a piano and a university education.
You can’t really argue, though, that taking the life of an old man after he’s had a long and painful illness, so bad he begs you to kill him, is a good way for any deity to behave. If God really wanted to bless a man who had been a devout churchgoer all his life, a churchwarden and church committee member for many years, someone who every Sunday had been up at the altar receiving the body and blood of Christ devoutly believing that the said God had personally told us all to do this every week,** if He had really wanted to grant him a boon, wouldn’t he have saved him the several years of pain and suffering?*** But, no, in The Mother’s religious logic, bringing the death after George had been calling out for it loudly for a while is the kindly Godly way to behave, not letting him die after a short illness a few years ago. It leaves me thinking: just what does count as compassion, for the religious?
* Strangely, although my life was saved by a pretty narrow margin, I never realised until many many years later just how close I’d come to being killed. Instead, I concentrated on the irony that my eyeball was probably saved by my poor sight, as the thick plastic lens in front of it absorbed the impact of the shards of glass that hit me. With extra irony, the sight in my other eye is almost perfect.
** Although of course, Jesus didn’t
want me for a sunbeam do it on a Sunday morning.
*** Let’s not get into the tragic story of George’s wife, either.
It was Scarborough that did it.
We had a lovely day, walking up and down the prom, eating candy floss in the car,* going up and down the cliff lift, avoiding the waves that were splashing up over the edge of the prom and over the road: the sea looked like an over-full bathtub. But it was the cold, biting wind, that left me feeling half-asleep and jammed up for the past couple of days, left me wishing I could stay tucked up in bed asleep for a week.
* so it didn’t blow away. The candy floss, not the car.
My throat feels like someone has been rubbing it with sandpaper. I’m sure that hasn’t actually happened. I’d remember.
Nevertheless, I have dragged myself into the office. Given that it’s Monday, everyone would get somewhat suspicious if I stayed at home and croaked down the phone at the office secretary. I’ve come in, and I’m medicating myself by sucking on jelly babies.* They’re definitely soothing my throat more than cough sweets would.
* the secret sort that are actually made from real babies, of course
Note to self: be more careful with the leftovers in future. Two day old Chinese food with prawns in isn’t good for my stomach, clearly. That was at least part of the reason for my absence over the past couple of days. There were other reasons, too, of course – when I wasn’t in bed or throwing up, I was travelling round half of Yorkshire, escorting kissograms and delivering cats. Despite my illness, despite still spending most of the weekend in bed, I didn’t get much sleep.
Today’s top news story: Ian Gibson, a Norwich MP and former scientist has announced that a cluster of child diabetes cases in Norfolk may be caused by inbreeding. Cue, of course, all the usual jokes about Norfolk stereotypes: country yokels marrying their sister, and so on. Dr Gibson, interviewed on Today,* seemed rather affronted by any suggestion that he was being insulting. His response: he was using “inbreeding” in a purely technical manner which us laughing yokels don’t understand. I see.
Much as Dr Gibson has been criticised for “not understanding genetics” and so on, he may well have a point. As I’ve mentioned before, people don’t move around very much. In years gone by, people moved around even less; migration is hard work. It’s not too surprising, in other words, to find that illnesses with a strong genetic factor may have strong regional variations too.** It might be simplistic to say “diabetes may be regionally concentrated because of inbreeding,” because there are lots of other causative factors involved. You can’t pretend, though, that regional variations are unlikely to exist.
* only a few minutes ago! Damn, this blog can be up-to-the-minute occasionally.
** My psychotic aunt – clinically diagnosed, I’m not just being rude about her – is from Norfolk too. I wonder if anyone has looked to see if there are similar clusters of mental illnesses with a strong hereditary component.
In today’s news, top scientists have discovered that being a bit chilly does indeed help you catch colds. For me, it’s a timely discovery; on Saturday I started to feel a bit wobbly at the edges, and I spent most of Sunday in bed, sneezing, sinuses blocked, hoping my fuzzy headache would clear itself. I’m blaming the rather ill-planned heating arrangements in my office. It does have a radiator, but at the far end of the room to my desk, which may as well be 1,000 miles further north as far as I can tell. Every ten minutes I have to walk to the far end of the room to warm my numb fingers, so I can keep typing.
The Mother was pleased by the news: “Look! See! Mothers are right when they tell you things!” I tried to point out that she had always said the exact opposite when I was small. If I looked at all sniffly on the day of a PE lesson, I’d be told: “getting out there on the field will do you good – the cold will kill all the bugs off.”