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Happy New Year 2017 - The loves of my life

User
Posted 31 December 2016 00:10:23(UTC)
Sitting down during a recent rare dry spell in my garden on a cold, frost kissed morning, I took a few moments out from my slumberous pose half reclined on the swing arbour and away from the mug of steaming tea precariously held in the one remaining hand I had any control over to ponder at the beauty of the world we live in and what gave me most pleasure about it. Both the moment and my thoughts may well have been embellished with the particularly strong tea I was quaffing but the thoughts and images were genuine all the same. It was a reflection of the past and, as we move forward into a new year, all the joy we, the ill in varying degrees, can take.

There is a lot we take for granted in our lives including constancy, routine and indeed the everyday humdrum existence most people experience daily; commuting, colleagues, work, leisure, children, holidays, walks in the park, meals out, theatres, etc – but even the routine and the ordinary can be extraordinarily sublime – for complacency is always altered by the unexpected – can be snatched away in a instant, making time previously spent in pleasure all the more precious. I felt therefore, considering my precarious position that this blog post should not be maudlin at all but a purely personal reflection on those things, some simple, some many probably unless they were in the same situation wouldn’t even be able to comprehend, not so. They are the things that give me pleasure and make me thankful for the life that I have and that I have left (long may that hopefully be.)

If you ever get the chance yourself to actually take time out from your life – from what you currently think is important in it, to actually appreciate what really is important, I said really – I would suggest this as a salutary exercise. It really is surprisingly cathartic to list all that what really turns you on and what makes your world actually rock. When it boils down to it, it has little to do with money, material possessions, a successful career or a meaningless job title. Pure bliss domiciles a much higher plane that the vacuous pretensions society has made us believe are the be all and end all in a life that is all too short; one that “begins to end before it has really begun,” as I once poignantly wrote when I was just sixteen.

It is also a stark reminder that what we love can so easily be taken away too – so let your list serve two purposes; one, to remind you what should be truly treasured about your life, in other words what it is really about and two, that you will do from now on to resolve to make those pleasures your priority. For it is the reality of your kindred soul, not the mask you wore during your life that will eventually define you when you’re gone. Very few except the great and the good of history get remembered for what they were really like as people, just what they achieved in their jobs, positions of power etc. Mere mortals are soon forgotten after the last guests leave the wake.

So here it is, a brief, unexpurgated list of what makes my world a happier place. I hope for the sake of a calmer soul you can empathise with at least some of them in your own lives. True joy is about inner peace, acceptance of your lot however s***e your hand, the beauty of the planet etc. Indeed, it is about the simple joys that bring the type of pleasure that money’s instant gratification just cannot buy. How many rich or famously wealthy people do we read of whose lives are either tragic, cut tragically short such a George Michael's or are so empty and devoid of love because the very wealth they possessed clouded the actuality?

My list:

I have come to love the now. In my case, it is the first flush of spring when the bushes and trees are just out in bud, their expectant young growth full of vigour and the optimism of the summer to come. It is when the mornings start with an ever so slightly warmer hum heralding the changing of the guard from winter to warmer weather and of the beauty of the changing of the seasons. Our planet was, before man took it over, perfect. It will be perfect again one day long after we have destroyed it but will eventually be consumed by an ever expanding sun.

I love the crisp, fresh burst of a bite into a firm dark Turkish cherry – opening and pouring the first glass of cold rosé wine on a hot summer’s day and consuming hot grilled meat in heat. I love setting up the barbecue and getting all the food prepared before friends and family come round – and I revel in the glory of the inevitable praise when all the talent learnt from my Nan ensures that it all comes off. I love it when the garden begins to start to take shape, when all the decks are stained, the fences too – and planning my seed sowing for the coming summer season.

I love the thrill of planning a short winter break to Eastern Europe, the buzz of driving to the airport and the discovery of a new city for the first time. Checking in with Easyjet or Ryanair may be a tedium nightmare for some but I get an almost child-like buzz of excitement as the airport approaches, after check-in and as the plane taxis for take-off. Travel is freedom from my own particular reality and that will do for me for as long as I am able to travel relatively pain free.

I love the smell of our scented garden so carefully planted and tended to by my skilful and beautiful wife; a garden rich with the wonderful, heady scent of jasmine, phlox and sweet peas. It calms my soul when my soul is hurt by worrying thoughts.

I love it when I see the council’s grass cutters mowing school fields and parks and the smell of fresh cut grass in my own back garden. For me, it is the waft of instant joy which heralds the start of another cricket season.

I love the heat of summer sun on my face. The unrelenting warm glow as it tinges your cheeks from pink to red to brown. One that is not momentarily halted by cloud cover but pure, unabated sunshine. Rain has its place but its the sun for me, drugs or no drugs.

I love the hum of Lords cricket ground on a test match Saturday. Nothing can beat the social camaraderie of 25,000 like-minded souls eagerly awaiting play at the home of cricket. Talking of my favourite sport, I love visiting village cricket matches and since having to give up the sport in 2003, enjoy watching old and young alike revel in an eight hour war of attrition that seems so important at the time on the field of play but dissolves into friendly banter over a few pints of real ale at the end of a hard fought match outside of the boundary line.

I love nostalgic TV programmes that take me back to my childhood. The ones that remind me that, although in industrial chaos at the time and some say backward looking, from a child’s viewpoint at least, what a clean, unsullied, almost perfect country ours was with far less trouble, less hang ups about irrelevancies and far less adherence to political correctness and stupid rules and bureaucracy, CCTV cameras, Jobsworths etc, that spoil so much of life’s enjoyment today. A time when people reached for conversation instead of a tablet or smartphone. A time that, okay, may not have been as halcyon as I am making out but with many fewer pressures on one’s life, was very much more pleasurable. A time when I was fit, well, athletic and unadulterated by medicines.

I love looking back at photographs of years gone by, of my children when much younger and of myself as a younger man – wishing I could turn back time to relive those happy days again. A moment in time is a priceless commodity that once enjoyed can never be experienced again so I am glad that I did it my way and spent more time with my family than wedded to any job. When my children look down at my grave, it will be because they are desolate of a father and dear friend lost, not just going through the machinations of a funeral for a person they never really knew or got to know because he prioritised work over them. My advice to any budding young parents is yes, do try your best to provide for your family but not at the expense of total absence. Take all that you can from your time with them and build a memory bank to be proud of for all the right reasons. Regret lasts more than your own lifetime.

I love discovering long haul flights and the thrill of arriving in the USA, my favourite country on God’s great earth. I love the USA’s bold brashness, sheer size and scale and the accent of the Texan people. Above all, I love its cholesterol-laden, delicious diner food and relaxed manner, wide freeways, music, hotels, shopping and soul.

I love getting justice for a genuine wrongdoing, writing to a company and taking them to task using my legal and consumer law skills to get the company to admit its failings. I love doing that for myself, my family and friends and also others less able to do it themselves.

I get a thrill at the sight of a delicious display of fresh produce on a market stall, whether fish, meat, vegetables or spices. It doesn’t have to be in England, it invariably isn’t because we are so s***e at selling the finest produce for anything less than a King’s ransom, but when the thrill does happen, whether at home or abroad, the beauty of nature’s produce displayed in all its glory is a sight to behold. It brings a tear to the eye and a yearning that all food sellers should be able to do the same here in the UK. If children were excited by the display of delicious and juicy fruit and vegetables, they would not have to be force fed on a diet of junk food and our nation would be all the more healthier for it.

I love my parents. Believe it or not I do – and despite the fact that ours has not always been the easiest of relationships over the years, I rejoice that at the time of writing they are still alive and I am able to talk to them when I want to. This simple pleasure is one denied to many who have sadly lost theirs. To have my parents around makes me truly thankful, more so since my illness, as I realise more than most that we are all frail, fallible and, above all, mortal, not guaranteed that four score years and ten. Their hearts break with guilt that they are in their eighties in rude health yet I, their son, face the prospect of dying before I am 60.

I love nostalgia, then and now pictures, comparing the past with the present and seeing how things have changed over the years. The concept of anachronism and time in such constructed photographs has a timeless quality that I find fascinating.

I love the unexpected success of an underdog and revel in watching a team destined to lose a game, win it against all the odds. I love seeing smug smirks wiped off dirty faces and the joy of unanticipated victory for the apparently weaker team. It is true victory in its purest form.

I love breaking with convention, not conforming to strict social codes and dictats. It started from an early age when I wanted to look, sound, talk and dress differently to my peers in school. I like being different and being noticed, mostly for my strident views but often just because of my unconventional dress style. Perhaps I missed my vocation and really should have been an actor instead of a writer but, nevertheless, have fully enjoyed my own particular 15 minutes of fame, a pleasure which, despite huge efforts, many do not get the chance to enjoy. As some have said, I have the perfect face for radio. How true. My face never looked that great in magazines.

I love great cooking. I also love fantastic flavours and the experimental tastes of foods and spices from around the world. I do not like indigenous British food per se, but exciting flavours from other continents. Spices and richness excite me. Blandness and banality bore me. Saying that, a simple roast with two veg and gravy or fresh fish and chips or even pie, mash and liquor is sometimes ambrosial perfection.

I love the feel of holding a brand new cricket ball. The thrill of a match yet to start, an object for me that begs to be hit as hard and as far as possible or, conversely, one to be caught skilfully and deftly in the palm of one’s hand showing one’s absolute dexterity and hand/eye co-ordination. The smell, texture and gloss of a red lacquered leather cricket ball is nothing other than a thing of manufactured genius and beauty.

I love the wonder of tropical fish; their majesty, colour, fluorescence and shimmer as they glide effortlessly through semi tepid water in search of, well we do not really know the answer to that one. Freedom perhaps.

I love the beauty of foreign languages. The sultry ‘roll off of the tongue’ of spoken Italian, the harshness yet rhythmic genius of fluent Turkish, the twang of a Texan accent and the mystery and coldness of the inscrutable Japanese. All these things amaze me.

I love the smell of a brand new car. That new, never before touched feel of a driver’s cockpit and the lustre of unsullied, un-weathered paintwork is a glory to behold. Nothing beats the look and feel of a brand new car. It doesn't have to be flash, just showroom new.

I love exciting, well stocked and inventive food stores such as Central Market in San Antonio, Texas. The quality, freshness and variety of food that one just doesn’t get in the UK. It makes me sick that we cannot or will not produce the same – but when I get inside one of those stores, I’m like a kid inside a sweet shop.

I love the memory of Christmastime especially when I was at school; the impending holidays to come, the hymns and carols sung in the morning, the fairs and fetes, how the teachers’ moods were always slightly more relaxed as Christmas approached. The smell of the school hall parquet flooring and the wind-down to the evening of the famous (or infamous) Christmas concert. Move forward six months in the school calendar and another love of mine were school sports days, all of which I participated in with alacrity and some degree of skill and accomplishment I might add: cricket, athletics, football, tennis. I was very good at them all. Thank you Dad. The camaraderie of teammates and the demolition of other school opponents in solo sport events is a memory I still feel the feint warmth of all these many years later when I close my eyes and think back. For me, it has never been about the taking part but always the winning. There is no joy or absolution in failure - yet my ultimate demise from this disease spells failure at a cellular level at least.

Despite my earlier comments about a time when life was more simpler, I am slightly duplicitous when I say that I also love the progress of technology and how it has changed our lives, mostly for the better, sometimes for the worst. For good or for ill, the geniuses that have invented such technology should be applauded for their innovation and insight. They have made huge differences to people’s lives.

When in the mood, I love a good film, especially one involving time travel. The concept of being able to step forward or back in time is something magical to me and is always a thing of wonder. Two gifts for a day would be the power of complete invisibility and the ability to go back to any chosen date, place and time in history to see how the world around you looked back then.

I love the skill of a great chef in being able to craft beauty on a plate from a pile of humble, fresh ingredients. It is a skill and mastery that I am jealous of.

I love and miss the wisdom of my grandfather. The happy days spent talking with him about his life, his generation and his values set the tone for my own life and gave some influence and focus to my own moral compass. I look forward to these chats again in the not too distant future.

I love the feel of being in the middle of a cricket match. For me, it is a long distant pleasure I have had to give up, but the strategy, drama and camaraderie of being with ten other teammates on the field of battle on a hot summer’s day is an unforgettable memory that is very much in the forefront of my list of loves.

I love the fact that, abroad, elderly folk still embrace life and can be seen sitting and chatting and playing backgammon around a table under the shade of a Eucalyptus tree when here, old people have gnarled faces of despair – a life perhaps unfulfilled and scowls of misery or pain to show for their life’s work, mostly under cover of a bus shelter gossiping or in the common room of an old people’s home dribbling. In the UK, many elderly people seem to die either in misery, in solitude or in penury. The end of one’s life surely should not be suffered in such misery and we as a society should value and treasure their life’s experience much more than we currently do. And it isn’t just about money or health either. Poverty isn’t just about how much money you don’t have in the bank. It’s about a paucity of the soul too, about how much love you left have in your heart after a lifetime of hard knocks and how you choose to embrace that life. Most elderly Mediterranean don’t have much money and neither have they enjoyed many riches, but the happiness they derive from just embracing is something the British elderly should try to emulate. Perhaps it has a lot to do with the weather. I think it must do. The sun has always equalled optimism for me whilst clouds, doom.

I love discovering a Christian or American rock band on an Internet radio station then researching them and building a playlist on Spotify. Some of my best music has been found this way. Isn’t it funny how genius and hours of music pleasure can be discovered under the rock of a previously undiscovered internet radio station? Years ago, choice was so limited and we had to wait weeks for released records to be available in shops.

I love a traditional quiet, peaceful English village with a single pub. We have a magical country to live in bar our climate and an influx of others over the decades that has taken away to a large degree (despite the good some say it has done) our independence as a nation, our identity, tradition and values. There are still a few sacrosanct English villages which hark back to halcyon days of true Englishness and I love discovering those. The people who live in them are often half mad, fully mad or just eccentric/wild but that is England and I love it. I would rather have been born in rural Italy in the 1950s but hey, you can’t have everything your own way in this life.

Talking of villages, I love village fairs and fetes and the hustle, bustle and drama of a Women’s Institute baking competition. Green canvas tents, sometimes blue, full of perfectly formed (sometimes imperfectly) Victoria sponges, home-made jams and tombola stalls; these bring a flush of nostalgia as I fondly remember childhood weekends spent during the summer holidays spent at fetes with my Nan.

In fact, there is a lot about life, about this mad, crazy, beautiful, picturesque, sometimes tranquil, often tragic world of ours that I love – far too long to list in one simple entry – so I will end with the thing I love the most apart from my children. In fact, this thing is a person. A woman so special to me she makes my heart flutter now more than she used to when we met 34 years ago almost to the day. A girl I love beyond measure – and who I would miss the most were complacency or the hand I have been dealt ever to strike, my beautiful wife. A person I am devoted to and have been devoted to since around 10pm on April 29th 1983. To you Amanda, the greatest love of my life. I love you with all my heart. No-one else ever came close. I will fight for many more happy New Years. We must all do that for those people and things we love too.

HAPPY & HEALTHY 2017.
I am Spartacus - with the strength of iron, a will of steel and the fight to give this disease a real run for its money.
Thanked 8 times
User
Posted 31 December 2016 00:10:23(UTC)
Sitting down during a recent rare dry spell in my garden on a cold, frost kissed morning, I took a few moments out from my slumberous pose half reclined on the swing arbour and away from the mug of steaming tea precariously held in the one remaining hand I had any control over to ponder at the beauty of the world we live in and what gave me most pleasure about it. Both the moment and my thoughts may well have been embellished with the particularly strong tea I was quaffing but the thoughts and images were genuine all the same. It was a reflection of the past and, as we move forward into a new year, all the joy we, the ill in varying degrees, can take.

There is a lot we take for granted in our lives including constancy, routine and indeed the everyday humdrum existence most people experience daily; commuting, colleagues, work, leisure, children, holidays, walks in the park, meals out, theatres, etc – but even the routine and the ordinary can be extraordinarily sublime – for complacency is always altered by the unexpected – can be snatched away in a instant, making time previously spent in pleasure all the more precious. I felt therefore, considering my precarious position that this blog post should not be maudlin at all but a purely personal reflection on those things, some simple, some many probably unless they were in the same situation wouldn’t even be able to comprehend, not so. They are the things that give me pleasure and make me thankful for the life that I have and that I have left (long may that hopefully be.)

If you ever get the chance yourself to actually take time out from your life – from what you currently think is important in it, to actually appreciate what really is important, I said really – I would suggest this as a salutary exercise. It really is surprisingly cathartic to list all that what really turns you on and what makes your world actually rock. When it boils down to it, it has little to do with money, material possessions, a successful career or a meaningless job title. Pure bliss domiciles a much higher plane that the vacuous pretensions society has made us believe are the be all and end all in a life that is all too short; one that “begins to end before it has really begun,” as I once poignantly wrote when I was just sixteen.

It is also a stark reminder that what we love can so easily be taken away too – so let your list serve two purposes; one, to remind you what should be truly treasured about your life, in other words what it is really about and two, that you will do from now on to resolve to make those pleasures your priority. For it is the reality of your kindred soul, not the mask you wore during your life that will eventually define you when you’re gone. Very few except the great and the good of history get remembered for what they were really like as people, just what they achieved in their jobs, positions of power etc. Mere mortals are soon forgotten after the last guests leave the wake.

So here it is, a brief, unexpurgated list of what makes my world a happier place. I hope for the sake of a calmer soul you can empathise with at least some of them in your own lives. True joy is about inner peace, acceptance of your lot however s***e your hand, the beauty of the planet etc. Indeed, it is about the simple joys that bring the type of pleasure that money’s instant gratification just cannot buy. How many rich or famously wealthy people do we read of whose lives are either tragic, cut tragically short such a George Michael's or are so empty and devoid of love because the very wealth they possessed clouded the actuality?

My list:

I have come to love the now. In my case, it is the first flush of spring when the bushes and trees are just out in bud, their expectant young growth full of vigour and the optimism of the summer to come. It is when the mornings start with an ever so slightly warmer hum heralding the changing of the guard from winter to warmer weather and of the beauty of the changing of the seasons. Our planet was, before man took it over, perfect. It will be perfect again one day long after we have destroyed it but will eventually be consumed by an ever expanding sun.

I love the crisp, fresh burst of a bite into a firm dark Turkish cherry – opening and pouring the first glass of cold rosé wine on a hot summer’s day and consuming hot grilled meat in heat. I love setting up the barbecue and getting all the food prepared before friends and family come round – and I revel in the glory of the inevitable praise when all the talent learnt from my Nan ensures that it all comes off. I love it when the garden begins to start to take shape, when all the decks are stained, the fences too – and planning my seed sowing for the coming summer season.

I love the thrill of planning a short winter break to Eastern Europe, the buzz of driving to the airport and the discovery of a new city for the first time. Checking in with Easyjet or Ryanair may be a tedium nightmare for some but I get an almost child-like buzz of excitement as the airport approaches, after check-in and as the plane taxis for take-off. Travel is freedom from my own particular reality and that will do for me for as long as I am able to travel relatively pain free.

I love the smell of our scented garden so carefully planted and tended to by my skilful and beautiful wife; a garden rich with the wonderful, heady scent of jasmine, phlox and sweet peas. It calms my soul when my soul is hurt by worrying thoughts.

I love it when I see the council’s grass cutters mowing school fields and parks and the smell of fresh cut grass in my own back garden. For me, it is the waft of instant joy which heralds the start of another cricket season.

I love the heat of summer sun on my face. The unrelenting warm glow as it tinges your cheeks from pink to red to brown. One that is not momentarily halted by cloud cover but pure, unabated sunshine. Rain has its place but its the sun for me, drugs or no drugs.

I love the hum of Lords cricket ground on a test match Saturday. Nothing can beat the social camaraderie of 25,000 like-minded souls eagerly awaiting play at the home of cricket. Talking of my favourite sport, I love visiting village cricket matches and since having to give up the sport in 2003, enjoy watching old and young alike revel in an eight hour war of attrition that seems so important at the time on the field of play but dissolves into friendly banter over a few pints of real ale at the end of a hard fought match outside of the boundary line.

I love nostalgic TV programmes that take me back to my childhood. The ones that remind me that, although in industrial chaos at the time and some say backward looking, from a child’s viewpoint at least, what a clean, unsullied, almost perfect country ours was with far less trouble, less hang ups about irrelevancies and far less adherence to political correctness and stupid rules and bureaucracy, CCTV cameras, Jobsworths etc, that spoil so much of life’s enjoyment today. A time when people reached for conversation instead of a tablet or smartphone. A time that, okay, may not have been as halcyon as I am making out but with many fewer pressures on one’s life, was very much more pleasurable. A time when I was fit, well, athletic and unadulterated by medicines.

I love looking back at photographs of years gone by, of my children when much younger and of myself as a younger man – wishing I could turn back time to relive those happy days again. A moment in time is a priceless commodity that once enjoyed can never be experienced again so I am glad that I did it my way and spent more time with my family than wedded to any job. When my children look down at my grave, it will be because they are desolate of a father and dear friend lost, not just going through the machinations of a funeral for a person they never really knew or got to know because he prioritised work over them. My advice to any budding young parents is yes, do try your best to provide for your family but not at the expense of total absence. Take all that you can from your time with them and build a memory bank to be proud of for all the right reasons. Regret lasts more than your own lifetime.

I love discovering long haul flights and the thrill of arriving in the USA, my favourite country on God’s great earth. I love the USA’s bold brashness, sheer size and scale and the accent of the Texan people. Above all, I love its cholesterol-laden, delicious diner food and relaxed manner, wide freeways, music, hotels, shopping and soul.

I love getting justice for a genuine wrongdoing, writing to a company and taking them to task using my legal and consumer law skills to get the company to admit its failings. I love doing that for myself, my family and friends and also others less able to do it themselves.

I get a thrill at the sight of a delicious display of fresh produce on a market stall, whether fish, meat, vegetables or spices. It doesn’t have to be in England, it invariably isn’t because we are so s***e at selling the finest produce for anything less than a King’s ransom, but when the thrill does happen, whether at home or abroad, the beauty of nature’s produce displayed in all its glory is a sight to behold. It brings a tear to the eye and a yearning that all food sellers should be able to do the same here in the UK. If children were excited by the display of delicious and juicy fruit and vegetables, they would not have to be force fed on a diet of junk food and our nation would be all the more healthier for it.

I love my parents. Believe it or not I do – and despite the fact that ours has not always been the easiest of relationships over the years, I rejoice that at the time of writing they are still alive and I am able to talk to them when I want to. This simple pleasure is one denied to many who have sadly lost theirs. To have my parents around makes me truly thankful, more so since my illness, as I realise more than most that we are all frail, fallible and, above all, mortal, not guaranteed that four score years and ten. Their hearts break with guilt that they are in their eighties in rude health yet I, their son, face the prospect of dying before I am 60.

I love nostalgia, then and now pictures, comparing the past with the present and seeing how things have changed over the years. The concept of anachronism and time in such constructed photographs has a timeless quality that I find fascinating.

I love the unexpected success of an underdog and revel in watching a team destined to lose a game, win it against all the odds. I love seeing smug smirks wiped off dirty faces and the joy of unanticipated victory for the apparently weaker team. It is true victory in its purest form.

I love breaking with convention, not conforming to strict social codes and dictats. It started from an early age when I wanted to look, sound, talk and dress differently to my peers in school. I like being different and being noticed, mostly for my strident views but often just because of my unconventional dress style. Perhaps I missed my vocation and really should have been an actor instead of a writer but, nevertheless, have fully enjoyed my own particular 15 minutes of fame, a pleasure which, despite huge efforts, many do not get the chance to enjoy. As some have said, I have the perfect face for radio. How true. My face never looked that great in magazines.

I love great cooking. I also love fantastic flavours and the experimental tastes of foods and spices from around the world. I do not like indigenous British food per se, but exciting flavours from other continents. Spices and richness excite me. Blandness and banality bore me. Saying that, a simple roast with two veg and gravy or fresh fish and chips or even pie, mash and liquor is sometimes ambrosial perfection.

I love the feel of holding a brand new cricket ball. The thrill of a match yet to start, an object for me that begs to be hit as hard and as far as possible or, conversely, one to be caught skilfully and deftly in the palm of one’s hand showing one’s absolute dexterity and hand/eye co-ordination. The smell, texture and gloss of a red lacquered leather cricket ball is nothing other than a thing of manufactured genius and beauty.

I love the wonder of tropical fish; their majesty, colour, fluorescence and shimmer as they glide effortlessly through semi tepid water in search of, well we do not really know the answer to that one. Freedom perhaps.

I love the beauty of foreign languages. The sultry ‘roll off of the tongue’ of spoken Italian, the harshness yet rhythmic genius of fluent Turkish, the twang of a Texan accent and the mystery and coldness of the inscrutable Japanese. All these things amaze me.

I love the smell of a brand new car. That new, never before touched feel of a driver’s cockpit and the lustre of unsullied, un-weathered paintwork is a glory to behold. Nothing beats the look and feel of a brand new car. It doesn't have to be flash, just showroom new.

I love exciting, well stocked and inventive food stores such as Central Market in San Antonio, Texas. The quality, freshness and variety of food that one just doesn’t get in the UK. It makes me sick that we cannot or will not produce the same – but when I get inside one of those stores, I’m like a kid inside a sweet shop.

I love the memory of Christmastime especially when I was at school; the impending holidays to come, the hymns and carols sung in the morning, the fairs and fetes, how the teachers’ moods were always slightly more relaxed as Christmas approached. The smell of the school hall parquet flooring and the wind-down to the evening of the famous (or infamous) Christmas concert. Move forward six months in the school calendar and another love of mine were school sports days, all of which I participated in with alacrity and some degree of skill and accomplishment I might add: cricket, athletics, football, tennis. I was very good at them all. Thank you Dad. The camaraderie of teammates and the demolition of other school opponents in solo sport events is a memory I still feel the feint warmth of all these many years later when I close my eyes and think back. For me, it has never been about the taking part but always the winning. There is no joy or absolution in failure - yet my ultimate demise from this disease spells failure at a cellular level at least.

Despite my earlier comments about a time when life was more simpler, I am slightly duplicitous when I say that I also love the progress of technology and how it has changed our lives, mostly for the better, sometimes for the worst. For good or for ill, the geniuses that have invented such technology should be applauded for their innovation and insight. They have made huge differences to people’s lives.

When in the mood, I love a good film, especially one involving time travel. The concept of being able to step forward or back in time is something magical to me and is always a thing of wonder. Two gifts for a day would be the power of complete invisibility and the ability to go back to any chosen date, place and time in history to see how the world around you looked back then.

I love the skill of a great chef in being able to craft beauty on a plate from a pile of humble, fresh ingredients. It is a skill and mastery that I am jealous of.

I love and miss the wisdom of my grandfather. The happy days spent talking with him about his life, his generation and his values set the tone for my own life and gave some influence and focus to my own moral compass. I look forward to these chats again in the not too distant future.

I love the feel of being in the middle of a cricket match. For me, it is a long distant pleasure I have had to give up, but the strategy, drama and camaraderie of being with ten other teammates on the field of battle on a hot summer’s day is an unforgettable memory that is very much in the forefront of my list of loves.

I love the fact that, abroad, elderly folk still embrace life and can be seen sitting and chatting and playing backgammon around a table under the shade of a Eucalyptus tree when here, old people have gnarled faces of despair – a life perhaps unfulfilled and scowls of misery or pain to show for their life’s work, mostly under cover of a bus shelter gossiping or in the common room of an old people’s home dribbling. In the UK, many elderly people seem to die either in misery, in solitude or in penury. The end of one’s life surely should not be suffered in such misery and we as a society should value and treasure their life’s experience much more than we currently do. And it isn’t just about money or health either. Poverty isn’t just about how much money you don’t have in the bank. It’s about a paucity of the soul too, about how much love you left have in your heart after a lifetime of hard knocks and how you choose to embrace that life. Most elderly Mediterranean don’t have much money and neither have they enjoyed many riches, but the happiness they derive from just embracing is something the British elderly should try to emulate. Perhaps it has a lot to do with the weather. I think it must do. The sun has always equalled optimism for me whilst clouds, doom.

I love discovering a Christian or American rock band on an Internet radio station then researching them and building a playlist on Spotify. Some of my best music has been found this way. Isn’t it funny how genius and hours of music pleasure can be discovered under the rock of a previously undiscovered internet radio station? Years ago, choice was so limited and we had to wait weeks for released records to be available in shops.

I love a traditional quiet, peaceful English village with a single pub. We have a magical country to live in bar our climate and an influx of others over the decades that has taken away to a large degree (despite the good some say it has done) our independence as a nation, our identity, tradition and values. There are still a few sacrosanct English villages which hark back to halcyon days of true Englishness and I love discovering those. The people who live in them are often half mad, fully mad or just eccentric/wild but that is England and I love it. I would rather have been born in rural Italy in the 1950s but hey, you can’t have everything your own way in this life.

Talking of villages, I love village fairs and fetes and the hustle, bustle and drama of a Women’s Institute baking competition. Green canvas tents, sometimes blue, full of perfectly formed (sometimes imperfectly) Victoria sponges, home-made jams and tombola stalls; these bring a flush of nostalgia as I fondly remember childhood weekends spent during the summer holidays spent at fetes with my Nan.

In fact, there is a lot about life, about this mad, crazy, beautiful, picturesque, sometimes tranquil, often tragic world of ours that I love – far too long to list in one simple entry – so I will end with the thing I love the most apart from my children. In fact, this thing is a person. A woman so special to me she makes my heart flutter now more than she used to when we met 34 years ago almost to the day. A girl I love beyond measure – and who I would miss the most were complacency or the hand I have been dealt ever to strike, my beautiful wife. A person I am devoted to and have been devoted to since around 10pm on April 29th 1983. To you Amanda, the greatest love of my life. I love you with all my heart. No-one else ever came close. I will fight for many more happy New Years. We must all do that for those people and things we love too.

HAPPY & HEALTHY 2017.
I am Spartacus - with the strength of iron, a will of steel and the fight to give this disease a real run for its money.
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Posted 03 January 2017 18:57:33(UTC)

Hi Barry,

Another brilliant post, I can empathise with must of your list, with maybe the exception of your love for cricket, not my game. I have had the privilege to work and live in Italy for the past 25 years, which I absolutely love. However that magic Mediterranean diet doesn't seem to have done much to help me. The one great miss about the UK is the village pub. A couple of loves that I'd add to my list is watching shooting stars and fireflies in June. We both love travelling, having done almost all of Europe and many more far away places.

Our PCa paths are pretty similar, except I'm now 11 years down the road, and looking forward to many more.

I have to agree completely with your last love on your list being the greatest in ones life. I could not have managed this arduous journey without the love and support from my wife Catherine, she is my rock, just love her to bits.

Happy New Year,

Cheers,
Stu

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Posted 31 December 2016 11:38:09(UTC)

Ah Barry, I love your post and actually you've covered so much you've practically written mine for me !

(With the exception of airports and cricket, although I love the sight of a village green when cricket is being played - it's almost a living jigsaw puzzle picture)

Your declaration of love for Amanda is beautiful and I am sure she knows how valued she is.

A Happy New Year to you

******

We can't control the winds - but we can adjust our sails
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Posted 31 December 2016 11:38:09(UTC)

Ah Barry, I love your post and actually you've covered so much you've practically written mine for me !

(With the exception of airports and cricket, although I love the sight of a village green when cricket is being played - it's almost a living jigsaw puzzle picture)

Your declaration of love for Amanda is beautiful and I am sure she knows how valued she is.

A Happy New Year to you

******

We can't control the winds - but we can adjust our sails
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Posted 31 December 2016 11:40:19(UTC)

And a Happy New Year to you too Barry.

What a wonderful post.


Chris.

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Posted 31 December 2016 13:33:25(UTC)
Originally Posted by: Online Community Member

And a Happy New Year to you too Barry.

What a wonderful post.


Chris.



Thanks Chris for your wishes and all the the good work you do.

Barry
I am Spartacus - with the strength of iron, a will of steel and the fight to give this disease a real run for its money.
User
Posted 31 December 2016 13:35:51(UTC)
Originally Posted by: Online Community Member
Ah Barry, I love your post and actually you've covered so much you've practically written mine for me !


(With the exception of airports and cricket, although I love the sight of a village green when cricket is being played - it's almost a living jigsaw puzzle picture)


Your declaration of love for Amanda is beautiful and I am sure she knows how valued she is.


A Happy New Year to you


******



Thank you Sandra
I am Spartacus - with the strength of iron, a will of steel and the fight to give this disease a real run for its money.
User
Posted 31 December 2016 15:27:23(UTC)

Beautiful.  Brought a smile to my face and a tear to my eye.

Happy New Year

Walter

User
Posted 01 January 2017 04:01:35(UTC)
Originally Posted by: Online Community Member
Beautiful. Brought a smile to my face and a tear to my eye.


Happy New Year


Walter



Cheers Walter
I am Spartacus - with the strength of iron, a will of steel and the fight to give this disease a real run for its money.
User
Posted 01 January 2017 14:12:40(UTC)

beautiful,
Wishing you all the best.
Happy New Year.

User
Posted 03 January 2017 18:16:06(UTC)

We haven't had many posts like that in recent years - you and Yorkhull do much to evoke the kind of sage musing we used to get from Andy Ripley, Nimeniton, Spurspark.

Not sure about the paucity of soul though my friend - it isn't to be ascribed to all old people (as you point out, your parents are not sour-faced by life)

"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards." Soren Kierkegaard


User
Posted 03 January 2017 18:57:33(UTC)

Hi Barry,

Another brilliant post, I can empathise with must of your list, with maybe the exception of your love for cricket, not my game. I have had the privilege to work and live in Italy for the past 25 years, which I absolutely love. However that magic Mediterranean diet doesn't seem to have done much to help me. The one great miss about the UK is the village pub. A couple of loves that I'd add to my list is watching shooting stars and fireflies in June. We both love travelling, having done almost all of Europe and many more far away places.

Our PCa paths are pretty similar, except I'm now 11 years down the road, and looking forward to many more.

I have to agree completely with your last love on your list being the greatest in ones life. I could not have managed this arduous journey without the love and support from my wife Catherine, she is my rock, just love her to bits.

Happy New Year,

Cheers,
Stu

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Posted 04 January 2017 08:53:40(UTC)
Originally Posted by: Online Community Member

We haven't had many posts like that in recent years - you and Yorkhull do much to evoke the kind of sage musing we used to get from Andy Ripley, Nimeniton, Spurspark.

Not sure about the paucity of soul though my friend - it isn't to be ascribed to all old people (as you point out, your parents are not sour-faced by life)



Hi Lyn

My parents were sour-faced from birth, alas. Haven't spoken to them in years. My father told me I was a coward when I couldn't make my mind up after diagnosis about which treatment to have. My mother blamed my having cancer, not on some genetic twist of fate but on my wife, my daughter's and their teenage stresses and of course, the diet my wife "forced" on me. I learned everything that is good in life from my grandparents and everything that is bad, would you believe from my parents.

Baz
x
I am Spartacus - with the strength of iron, a will of steel and the fight to give this disease a real run for its money.
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Posted 04 January 2017 13:14:04(UTC)

My mistake Bazza - I thought I recalled some concern you had about your parents coping with the prospect of outliving their child and intimated from it that you were close. I do now recall you posting about your father's harsh words - and seem to remember that our responses at the time were a mixed bag of shock and sadness for you.

I recognise the situation though; for all Stan and my dad's positivity and love of life, my mother-in-law blamed me for John's diagnosis among many of my perceived failings :-/

"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards." Soren Kierkegaard


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Posted 04 January 2017 19:27:40(UTC)

Hendricks, Fever Tree and Enzalutamide. Wooah Man!

I am Spartacus - with the strength of iron, a will of steel and the fight to give this disease a real run for its money.
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Posted 05 January 2017 10:49:22(UTC)
What a wonderful inspirational post, it must join the ranks of the finest on here.

Happy New Year, Janet
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