Smile Through It II: The Next Chapter

Chasing dreams, because I can

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Posted by Oli on Tuesday 25th March, 2008

Around September/October last year we – as a family – decided that we’d grace my Godfather and his family in Ipswich with our presence at Christmas. They did invite us, it must be pointed out, we didn’t just decide we were going to descend on them and then inform them of their newly arranged festive plans. We were all looking forward to it – Mum because it meant she didn’t have to cook, me because getting away anywhere was a bit of a treat at the time, epic as it was to shift all my kit from place to place, K was positively brimming at the prospect of swimming on Christmas day.

We all know how that turned out, of course (or if you’re that much in the dark, check out the blog entry for Tuesday 20 November to get abreast of my detour), much to everyone’s consternation, not least Mum’s as it meant she not only had to cook, but subsequently take me to hospital while hurling my insides up on Boxing Day, lucky lady.

I jest, of course, being as we were all delighted to have the world’s greatest Christmas present thanks to the generosity of one family and their amazing loved one who took the time to sign the ODR. That being said, my lovely “Auntie” Norma has not stopped chiding me since my op for abandoning them over Christmas.

As wonderful a Godson as I am and as much as they berated me, it’s taken me until the end of March to find the time to take out and go to see them all. Mostly, that’s down to the hospital visits being way too regular to get over to Ipswich and back across to Harefield and enjoy anything of a stay there. In the end, once the docs decided they were sick of the sight of me and told me to go away, I managed to phone Norma and let her know we would be imposing ourselves for the week this week.

Best laid plans and all that, the week turned into 3 days after I planned a CBT on the Monday, which was (as you may have read) snowed off and switched to Friday, meaning we’d need to return from the East on Thursday night for me to make the 8.30am start.

Still, 3 days is better than nothing at all and it was a wonderful opportunity not only to see them all for the first time post-op, but also to get some good gym work done in their fantastically appointed gym and swimming pool, which has recently been complimented with a gob-smacking spa complex to boot.

So after a mad morning of rushing around trying to get a prescription done last-minute (because I’m a womble and I forgot), we set off and headed down/across/up/whichever way Ipswich is and found our way there after only going wrong once (quite an achievement considering the tiny, twisty, back-country lane they live down) – and that was on the main road, too.

After chilling out a little, it wasn’t long before my Godfather, ex-Army man that he is, had me bashing the treadmill to show him what my new lungs could do. They held up admirably to the strain, I have to say, Graeme working me harder than I’ve ever worked on these lungs and although I felt like I was just about to be flung full-force backwards across the gym by a treadmill turning way too fast for my ever-weakening legs, there was actually an amazing sense of accomplishment afterwards.

It wouldn’t have been a visit to G&N’s without a quick dip and K had me in the pool no sooner had we finished in the gym, K proudly sporting her new swimming leggings and imploring me to teach her how to swim, completely over-looking the fact that the last time I’d been in a pool was quite possible over half a decade ago and the last time I’d had anything approaching a lesson I’d still been shy of single digits.

We swam all the same, and took advantage of the gorgeously relaxing rainfall shower in the spa before drying off and heading in for dinner.

Best part of the day, though: hands down the after-dinner retirement to the top floor cinema room, with drop down screen and Blu-Ray projector with U-shaped super-comfy sofa on which we settled with tea, cake and biscuits to watch Atonement, an amazing flick which is one of the few adaptations I’ve seen in recent time to do their literary counterpart justice. James McAvoy is remarkable and Keira Knightley very good, but it’s director Joe Wright’s grasp of the subtlety of emotion and deft handling of the varied viewpoints and tricky time-lapses which give he film its weight. Some of the choices on dialogue delivery weren’t my cup of tea, but I could acknowledge them as a strong stylistic choice and as such not something to do the man down for, nor was it anything which would spoil the film as a whole.

Suitably buoyed up by the happy-go-lucky flick* we all stumbled off the sofa in the direction of our beds, with another day of activity – not least another gym session – ahead of us.

*not an accurate reflection of the film. It’s more down-beat that something incredibly down-beat with strong undertones of “somber” and a slight edge of “depressing”. But still very good. And surprisingly warm.


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