This weekend we had another scan to wait upon, so we decided to travel into the deepest darkest low countries for some trippy medieval torture porn. The press for this very special Hieronymous Bosch exhibition has been slightly disingenuous about the supposed tiny village from which he came, putting on his work for the 500th anniversary of his death; we found Hertogenbosch to be far larger, more modern and metropolitan than anything we’d been prepared for, and in The Record Hustler, they have the best stocked vinyl store I’ve been to in months. Five versions of David Bowie’s Heroes, including a German version, and that was just for starters! As for Hertogenbosch, you imagine it’s rather well to do thanks to centuries of diamond trading in its colonies, but I could be wrong.
The exhibition itself was stunning, only slightly spoiled by the fact we were impeded by people wherever we went in the museum. It’s a sellout, so there’s not much you can do about that. Most thrilling of all, the whole town has entered into the spirit, and figures from Bosch’s paintings can be seen wherever you go. You sense this is boom time for Hertogenbosch, and the likelihood of this many people turning up in the next 500 years is remote. It’s quite a trek to get there, and on the way back we stopped off in Antwerp, which I’m sorry to say wasn’t tremendously inspiring, although it houses a fine version of Wagamama.
Today the scan results were revealed. Each time it’s like a miniature sword of Damocles hanging over your head, although the fact this one comes off the back of four months chemo made it more a penknife of Damocles or the Swiss Army knife of Damocles. I cleared it anyway, which is the best news I could have been delivered this morning. We went to celebrate in Breakfast in America, only slightly ruined by the fact they don’t serve baked beans. There’s always got to be a python in the Garden of Earthly Delights huh (although in the Bosch painting it’s an owl)? You’ll probably have noticed that I have my appetite back at least.
The results arriving today felt particularly monumental, as it’s three years since I moved to Paris, and three years since I began this blog. That probably bears little significance to anyone else, but I built it up in my head as the start of something, or indeed the end of something, depending on how the results flew, although rarely is it ever that black or white in the real world. It’s interesting to look back at the About section on this site, and see how guileless I was when I wrote about my “mission” here in Paris, not knowing where life would take me. I was living in the fantasy and had no idea reality was going to bosh (or indeed Bosch) me around the head just around the corner. None of us can know what’s coming, although I thought the dream of living in the city of light might last a little longer. The honeymoon period lasted about a year, though there were warning signs that my health was deteriorating throughout that time (which at first I ignored and then could ignore no longer.)
The reality has been tough – there’s no glossing over that one – but we’ve surprised ourselves at our own resilience. Indeed, I couldn’t be prouder of Claire, who I’ve seen become someone so strong and steely over the last couple of years. Where I had to be strong for her in the beginning, I’ve seen her become almost formidable in her resolve, and she’s there for me now rather than the other way round. Well hell, we’re there for each other. I have little doubt she’ll complete the Paris Marathon with energy to spare when she competes in it in just under two weeks. Speaking of which, feel free to donate here if you feel obliged. All that’s missing here is the piano part from Coldplay’s ‘Sorrow’ cranked up in the background.
Thanks friends, readers etc… you’ve helped no end over the last three years with kindness and constant messages of support. This reprieve is only for three months, and then the worrying starts again, but that’s not what’s on my mind today. The last four months of chemo have been debilitating, but I can feel my old self re-emerging. It’s time to crack on. It’s certainly not yet time to be munched by a bird or get knifed in the ears in the bowels of hell just yet anyway.Follow @jeres