under the knife

surgery room

Last September I had to have some surgery on my face, which meant I had to be out in Elk Grove at 7am. It left a massive scar in the middle of my forehead, which is thankfully a lot less noticeable than it first was. I had to be bandaged up for ages. The whole thing took a few hours, a couple of different rounds, but they got it all (hooray) and the surgeons were really nice. They talked to me about things like To Kill A Mocking Bird while cutting into my face, to keep my mind off of it probably. The worst bit was the waiting in between rounds, when I had to sit in the little room waiting to see if it was going to be all good. It wasn’t the waiting – I can draw while I wait (see above), play Carcassonne on my iPad, I’m usually a good waiter. It wasn’t even the waiting for good or less good news, because I knew the surgeons knew what they were doing. It was the music being played in the little room, it wasn’t loud, but it was mostly Phil Collins, I and I can’t stand Phil Collins. And Simply Red, and I can’t stand Simply Red. I had enough of that in the 80s as a kid. My uncle Billy and I used to loathe Phil Collins’s music together. It was always on the bloody radio. I don’t need to explain or justify; I told people here after the surgery that the worst bit was all the Phil Collins being played, and they were like, I don’t understand. I told my family back in England the same thing, and they were all like, oh god that sounds unbearable, they understood. I was given anesthetic so I wouldn’t feel any pain in the surgery, but unfortunately it didn’t block out my hearing. “I can feel it caaaalllling in the aiiiir toniiiight...” oh gawd. I nearly called the surgeon to come and put it back in, I’ve changed my mind! And Simply Red, and others like that, it was like listening to a footballer’s car stereo in 1990. It was eventually over, and back to the (infinitely more enjoyable than the music) surgery. They did a great job. I felt pretty knocked out for a few days after (having fever dreams of Phil Collins singing me lullabies) and the scare was pretty dramatic when the bandages finally came off, but it’s alright now. The area above the scar was numb for a very long time, and even now the feeling is not fully back. It’s not the first big scar on my forehead, I have one over my left eye that looks a bit, well, lightning-shaped, which I got after an altercation with an evil wizard on the Camden Road in Holloway twenty-odd years ago. That one took a bit longer to heal, but I still notice it. I remember not long after it bumping into an old mate of mine on the bus, Gary, and I’ll never forget he said “who gave you that Mars Bar on your Car Chase?” For those who don’t know, in Cockney slang a Mars Bar is a scar (I actually didn’t know that at the time, and had to ask my brother afterwards), while Car Chase is another term for your face, though Boat Race (or just ‘Boat’) is still used. I always think of that phrase, and now I have a new Mars Bar on my Car Chase. This new one is at least in line with my increasingly furrowed brow.

I had to go in a few weeks later to have the stitches taken out and the scarring all looked at, but it was in a different hospital. I was just hoping that they would not play Phil Collins. I don’t recall the doctor’s name, but the nurses told me and for some reason I thought it sounded like a cowboy from the Old West. Dr. Tex Buffalo or something. It wasn’t that but I have an active imagination when I’m in a doctor’s office. My eyes had to be covered up while it was all looked at so I never actually saw him, but it was the strangest thing. Before the Doc came in, the nurses turned on the radio – here we go, with the Phil Collins again, I thought. But it was all country music, Garth Brooks or someone, and I thought, maybe he is a cowboy? I never saw him, he only spoke to me for a couple of minutes, but I couldn’t help imagining him in a big Stetson with rattlesnake-skin boots and a big Colt 45 in his holster. Did he say “howdy pardner?” Surely not. Maybe it just was the local anesthetic talking.

a mind can blow those clouds away

view from MSB 110922 sm

This here is the view from my office. Well I say that, but this sketch is a little bit unreliable, because I have missed out a bunch of windows in the building opposite. I could have drawn them, but for some reason I didn’t, I was so excited about drawing the different autumnal colours. November moves fast. It’s going to be March tomorrow. There are moments when the speed of time just scares me. I have this constant urge to fill it with drawings, as if the time didn’t happen unless I’ve got some sort of drawing to go with it. I think it’s something that I wrestle with, not having the time to draw, versus needing the time to enjoy other things, balanced with the fact I need to draw because it does relax me. If I go somewhere and get what I consider to be a good drawing in, I’m in a pretty good mood afterwards, usually, like I’ve achieved something.