Shooting the shit on social media

“Share how your day went…” Facebook sometimes beseeches now in the ‘create a post’ box, and it got me thinking how tedious that would be if everybody took it literally everyday. There probably are some people who do just that, but don’t worry, you hid them ages ago. On the other hand, I’m doing some serious procrastinating from work today so I’m going to have a go here and now. So here is how my day went, and prepare yourself for some oversharing. Up to you whether you want to tag along or not…

I woke up at 9am and thought, “excellent, I’m up early today”, and then proceeded to fall back to sleep for two hours. I was roused again by WhatsApp – Claire had sent a picture of Jeanie smiling which was a lovely way to wake up properly, although I wish I was there in person to see his beautiful smiling little face.

At around 11.30am I resolved to head for H&M to pick up some shorts. I’ve not worn shorts other than at the beach – well not since the grunge era anyway – and I usually stomp huffily onto the beach in my jeans like a goth pillock now I come to think of it. Last night I was sweating my socks off and had the following epiphany: Jeremy, you’re 44. It’s really fucking hot and you’re not Jim Morrison. Buy some shorts. In the end I bought two pairs.

On the way to H&M I popped into the Grappe d’or where I like to pick up a late morning coffee and chat in my terrible French with Gwen who works there behind the counter. I don’t know if you spell his name like that – but that’s how you say it phonetically. Gwen laughs at my abysmal French, and it makes me feel a bit like an English version of the stupid policeman in Allo Allo.

I often sing “stay away from that Grappe d’or” as I wander past, but you wouldn’t want to stay away really as they’re a lovely bunch. Just the other day the chef stopped me for an impromptu chat – the first time we’d spoken. He told me that although kitchens are supposed to be hot, his is actually cold. I couldn’t work out why because of, you’ve guessed it, my lousy French, but it had something to do with him being on the bottom floor and air blowing in through a vent, although I did understand the part he was explaining about how the building gets hotter the further up you live, even if I didn’t exactly understand it. He confounded in two minutes not only stereotypes about the French, but also chefs.

This afternoon I dawdled some more. I scored one article and delayed writing another for a well-known travel organ. I’m also meant to be doing some copywriting on the microsite of a hotel in the South Pacific, but I’m already confused about what the SEOs are all about, so I sent an email as a delaying tactic. I decided to walk the mean streets in one of the two pairs of shorts I bought – to see if I felt okay, or like a weird middle-aged man in shorts, which is what I am. I thought it might be an excuse to knock off to the Palais de Tokyo for a couple of hours, which I am now a member of (60€ for a whole year and you can take a friend whenever you like, although I was going on my Jack Jones). I set off in the baking sun and sang “I’m walking in sunshine” to myself, because Walking On Sunshine is stupid right? Then I changed it to Sous le soleil exactement because it’s far more scientific about the whole experience of being under the tropic of cancer or whatever. At least I think so, although my French is rubbish which I might have mentioned (my science is pretty ropey too).

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On the way to the museum I suddenly needed the toilet. “Why’s he telling me that?” you’re probably saying to yourself, and I’m thinking to myself, “why am I telling you that?” too, but I did promise to share how my day went. The knock on effect from needing the loo meant I didn’t actually make it to the Palais de Tokyo after all (doesn’t matter, I can go whenever I want being a member and everything).

We are in the age of oversharing so I’m going to go for it. Just a year ago if the warning signs from my brain had alerted me to the fact my bowels were ready to release the faeces, then it would have been touch and go from there whether I would make it to a toilet or whether I would touch cloth. In fact I went to Center Parcs with the outlaws at Christmas and spent most of my time in the chalet near a lavatory. While that was a precarious state to be in, and it went on like that for a while, it was far preferable to the time when – for three months – I had to physically stick a bag to my stomach every day and hope it wouldn’t fall off, and when I went for a shower I would watch helplessly as excrement pumped out of a small hole in the side of my stomach while I screamed like Shelley Duvall in The Shining (in all honesty I’ve pretty much suppressed that memory). Now I just have to go quickly sometimes – it’s uncomfortable, but it’s unlikely to result in a-soiling. In fact, if I avoid fried and spicy foods altogether then I can pretty much lead a normal life now – but what’s life without fried or spicy foods?

The mornings can still be tricky, but I’m thankful that things have improved so much. Perhaps not thankful enough sometimes, because the brain has this incredible way of forgetting. When they reattached me and got rid of the bag on my (happy) birthday in January 2015, it felt for a long time like I’d been given somebody else’s arse. It was a nightmare, but so much preferable to the alternative. Then there was that time when I had fluid pumped into my body for a scan. I left the hospital, got on and off the metro, then suddenly the fluid ended up shooting out of me, uncontrollably, gushing down my leg and firing out of my right trouser leg onto the pavement as I wearily traversed Rue Oberkampf in the middle of the afternoon praying I didn’t bump into anyone I knew. These sorts of things happened a lot, and sometimes I’d grin and bare it, and sometimes I’d cry my eyes out about it, but I resolved never to feel sorry for myself while I was still alive.

This evening, after circling around Paris a while trying to find a cafe, I finally located one, pulled a card out of my wallet issued by the NHS and showed it to the barman, and went about my business. As easy as that. I didn’t think about it much at the time, but to be able to do that and then continue my evening like a normal person, well it’s something I didn’t think was going to happen much again at one point not so long ago. I would be racked with shame despite it not being my fault. I’d have to plan journeys and hope nothing would happen, and sometimes I would even laugh about having to dash off a bus and then shit in a park behind a tree like a dog. It was my torrid little secret and only my close friends and family knew. I think it’s important to share the shame now, when life is easier, because this is something people have to go through in silence all the time and it can be incredibly embarrassing. And obviously nobody really talks about it.

After being stopped in my tracks, I decided to go to my favourite restaurant and eat my favourite tea instead of going the museum (which I’m a member of ), again on my Jack Jones. Claire and Jeanie are in England at the moment and I miss them terribly. As you can probably imagine, having that beautiful little boy in our lives now is the most wonderful thing that’s ever happened, and I use hyperbole sparingly. Life has been so full of light after much darkness. It doesn’t mean I’ve stopped looking over my shoulder, but I try not to too much. I hope night is a long way off now, because I’m already sure watching him grow up will be the best adventure yet.

So then finally I came back here, sated, had a shower and dithered some more. I decided to write this blog instead of getting on with work. Tomorrow’s another day, and so is Sunday. So that’s how my day went, and it’s made me realise that Facebook is on dodgy territory asking people to share their quotidian experiences in such a way. One minute you’re talking about buying shorts and the next it’s cancer, shitting and the inexactitude of Katrina and the Waves. Still, it’s a good thing to write about it sometimes – the big C I mean – because some people assume you go into hospital, you have an operation, you’re cured or you die, and that’s it. I don’t know what side effects or scars or medical problems others have to endure, but I suspect it’s never that neat and tidy and then they go home and forget all about it. The reason people don’t talk about it is because it’s mortifying (if it’s not fatal), and I certainly wasn’t brave enough to ‘fess up when I was really going through the wringer. But perhaps washing our dirty linen in public everyday isn’t advisable. We all have our crosses to bear, and sometimes that bear has to go and shit discreetly in the woods hoping nobody’s watching. I’m sticking with Facebook for now, but if it starts asking about dreams then I’m off.

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