Friday 1st November 2013

STEVE O’BRIEN – REST IN PEACE
Those of you who came to the Random Patrols gig at North Bridge House in Camden last November, will have without doubt been blown away by the virtuosity of our lead guitarist. He was a superb musician. I’m not too sure how the band will cope with the loss of such a key figure, but I know that Steve would be devastated to think that we might give up. We won’t.
However, the loss of Steve is greater than a loss of beautiful music. Steve was a good, good man. A great father, a loving husband and a close and caring friend. His passing makes all of the lives of the people who knew him a little emptier today. His calm, humorous and generous demeanour is a loss to us all. I will miss him enormously… As will Jez, Keith and Dave from RP.
Please pray for Steve, for his two beautiful daughters and for his loving wife, Jennie. Our thoughts are with them now.
God bless.
David

Saturday 26th October 2013

Lovely few days just passed. Half term for Eric meant that we could spend some time together…I took him and his friend, Harri, to Aqua-splash in Hemel Hempstead and then on to the cinema in Harrow. A lovely time. Harri is such a great lad, and they get on so well.
Nicola and I had supper with Philip and Jo, and we both thoroughly enjoyed a fabulous evening. Such good company, with Philip, Jo, Paul, Rebecca and Sam. The meal was cooked for us by Ben…thank you!
Saturday has been fun….fairly lazy, but great. We had a surprise and very welcome visitor with Andy Brough popping in. Great to see him.
Tomorrow, following Grace Church, George and I are off to see Wigan at Charlton … I really hope we perform well.
Must go, run out of time and energy.
God bless and keep you.
David

Tuesday 22nd October 2013

Had another terrific couple of days. Church on Sunday was uplifting, with Philip doing a God-inspired talk concerning the work of the church, and of each of us as Christians. I love the Grace Church acronym (G2 C3) = Going out to witness for Christ & Growing as Christians in our love for God and for others…..Confidence to speak out, Compassion to serve others with God’s love and finally to be Creative in reaching people for Christ by the Spirit.
Yesterday, I went to see my musical hero, Peter Gabriel, at the O2. It was simply fabulous. The very best concert I believe I have ever witnessed. The whole event was stunning, and I am so grateful to Jez in managing to get the two tickets….it is something that I will never forget. Magical. My favourite? ‘In Your Eyes’…but there were so many, old and new. He played for two and a half hours non-stop. Let’s hear it for all the old baldies out there. We still have it!
21/10/13
I did say that I might share with you a snippet of my story…well, scary though this is, here goes:
The piece that I’ve chosen here needs some background info. It is based on a true account, when I consoled my beautiful daughter, Evangeline, when she needed it. I told her a story that I made up from somewhere deep down inside…I have seriously embellished in the rewriting, so that the initial telling certainly wasn’t as accomplished or detailed….but you’ll get the idea. Anyway, the whole story will be based on the accounts of real people, real characters from my own experiences, and from history interweaved to create the finished product…eventually. I hope you like this bit at least.
Evangeline: God in Dirty Water.

He’s lost all his hair, and he spends a lot of his time in bed or on the sofa. He’s also lost that ruddy, healthy colour, replaced by a lifeless grey. But, would you believe it, he is otherwise upbeat. I mean positive, and he does seem more interested in what we are doing.

He encourages us all to pray, to go to church. He often says grace before meals now, and has spoken to us about his love for God and for Jesus. But I just can’t accept it myself. Dad’s strong confidence in his faith, his trust in his God, his conviction that he is part of a big plan, is all just too much. I cannot accept that God is testing us, or even allowing dreadful things to happen all over the world. How can anyone say that God is almighty, and praise him for the world and all the blessings, yet never question the curses and the suffering? It seems really naïve to say the least.

But I’m pleased for Dad that he has some hope. Even if it is just a placebo, I am genuinely happy that he is not letting the illness drag him to the floor. He still messes about, still sings and even dances around. He is either a brave man or a great actor. Or both.

Dad spoke to me today. Just me. It was beautiful, and his words made me cry tears of understanding. This is what he said.

‘One day a young boy was given a gift by his Father in a beautiful golden box.
“You must only open this box in the time of your greatest need” smiled Papa, “promise me”
The young boy promised and thanked his Father before tiptoeing up to his room. He laid the gift at his bedside and tried so very hard to forget it was there, so great was his curiosity. He tossed and turned that night, but did not give in to his temptation, though it threatened to overwhelm his promise to his beloved Father.
And so it was for the next day, and the next. Until a day came when the young man did not feel the need to overcome his temptation. He had forgotten about the gift by the time he reached his seventeenth birthday.
The young man’s Mother had died when he was in his infancy, and being the only child, he and his Father had become very close. He trusted his Father, and tried to please him at all times. There was a mutual respect, too, as the Father spent a great deal of time with his beloved son, teaching him the ways of carpentry, which was his trade and his passion. In short, they loved one another deeply and hardly ever had a cross word for each other. The young man would sit by the fire after the Long days and share his plans and dreams with the old man.
As always, the time came when the Father became old and weak, and though the young man fussed around, looking after the old man’s needs, he could not prevent the inevitable. The Father passed away in the company of his greatest friend and dearest son, in peace and in silence. His exit from the world was as dignified as his life had been. The old man joined his wife in heaven, who had not aged one day in the sixteen years since her passing.
The young man was distraught. He had not allowed himself the pain of thinking of this day, preferring to believe that his Father would live forever on earth with his son. Now that the day had arrived, the young man was alone, and did not know what to do.
After the funeral, attended by many friends and customers from the village, the pain intensified, and the young man sat by the unmade fire in the evenings wondering what he was to do. His heart was broken, and he could not imagine his life without Papa. His tears were flowing, as he stared into despair.
These were surely the worst days of his young life, and he felt so sad that he thought he could die.
It was on one of these nights that he remembered his Father’s gift of so many years ago. Well, he thought, things couldn’t be worse. If this isn’t the time of my greatest need, then nothing is.
The young man found the golden box, fondly recognising Papa’s delicate handiwork in it’s making. With a deep breath, wracked with sobs, the boy opened the box and peered inside. It was empty.
Bewilderment. Anger. Frustration. A tinge of amusement, before an overwhelming feeling of a deeper despair. How could Papa have done something as cruel as this?
“Papa”. The word escaped him before he realised what he was now experiencing. That smell. The wonderfully warm scent of planed wood, of sawdust, of the scorched pine as Papa cut and smoothed it’s surface. Now the smell of linseed and then varnish. Paint. Papa’s own body odour. Not unpleasant at all, just honest. Next the smells of the embers of the fire in the front room. The harvest, the flowers in bloom. And the experience was uplifting.
Then the Son heard music. Papa’s favourites on the gramophone. His Father humming in the workshop. The sound of the larks and songbirds that even Papa used to stop work for. “God’s Music” he used to say.
The boy heard his Father’s voice in the yard. The feelings of security and satisfaction that the sounds created for the the young man all through the years came flooding back and brought him some peace now.
The boy could taste the vegetable broth and the bread that Papa used to make, and then the chocolate he had when they visited the city many years earlier.
He felt his Father’s arms around him as they sat in the cold room. The warmth that was more than warmth, but reached into his soul, returned then. He felt Papa’s strong arms lift him high and swing him round, and the silly dances that they used to enjoy, until they both fell to the wooden floor crying with exhaustion and joy, in fits of loving laughter.
Then he felt a much lighter touch. Gentle hands, smooth and unlike Papa’s rough, work-hardened and calloused fingers. A soft hand stroking his face, now running fingers across his scalp, now rocking him slowly. Another voice. A beautiful voice. Singing a song that he recognised. A song that he loved. A woman’s voice, gentle and loving. Loving him. He could feel it.
Then he saw her. She was beautiful beyond compare. His Mother. She was smiling down at him, and he again felt such warmth and comfort. His Mother. She was still here for him.
Then Papa appeared at her side, and the two of them emanated togetherness. The vision, if that’s what this was, mesmerised the young man, and tears of happiness displaced any pain that he had experienced. This was pure, good, almost holy. Certainly his spirit soared.
As he drank in the features of his young mother and Father, the room started to spin, and their faces – though still filled with joy – became indistinct, gradually fading until all was gone, and the son found himself alone once again in front of the grate.
He looked down at the box, longing for more gifts to escape, but there were none. But there was something. Something he hadn’t noticed. A note.
The young man unfolded the note and recognised Papa’s careful handwriting.
‘Memories, our beautiful son, are a blessing for all of us. The strength you now seek is already within you. What you are, and what you are to be, has already been shaped by your experiences. You can use these memories, take great power from them, and fashion your future. Or you can wallow in them, live a life of regret. But please consider this: a man does not go forward by looking back. Remember your dreams, my son? I do, and my dying wish is that you live them. Don’t look back with sadness and regret but look forward with hope and confidence. Our greatest hope is that you know love, which knows not past, present or future. May God bless you always’.
The son put down the note and sat in silence. Once again he relived the past few moments. Papa was right. How could he be so sad when he had such happy memories, and enjoyed such love? Love like theirs did not die, nor would it ever disappear. These memories were the story of his life, and that story was not yet told in full.
The man, as that is what he was, stood erect, smiled to himself and strode forward purposefully to live his life, his hopes and his dreams.’

Dad’s voice hung in the air long after he had gone from my room. I just closed my eyes and relived the last few moments. I love him, and the time I spend with him holds some of the greatest memories I will have.

Saturday 19th October 2013

Well, well, well. I’m still here…and so are you! Who would have thought it? It was early April when I last blogged, and much has happened since…I’ll try to keep you up to date.
It’s been quite hectic, really.
I had a beautiful summer, and made it across France and into Italy to spend some time with Nigel and Ashleigh over on the Tuscan borders in the mountains. Gorgeous. In-between there has been lots of activity and great news for the family.
First of all, George started on his Arsenal Gap Programme and I have never seen him so happy. His Coaching career has well-and-truly begun. January will see him flying off to somewhere quite exotic…possibly Indonesia or Bermuda or Cyprus. Lucky boy. He did well, passing all of his A levels (PE, Biology and Drama)
Evangeline excelled in her GCSEs gaining 12 top scores, including 5 A* (she scored maximum marks in Art and English Literature). She has made a great start at St. Marylebone sixth form and, again, she has settled in well and is enjoying the time there. I have attached the final art piece she did in the school studio. I think it is simply wonderful. The work of a mature and imaginative artist.

PAIN

Evangeline scored full marks for this 10 hour GCSE studio piece


Eric, too, has had a new beginning. He started in September at North Bridge House School. He is really happy there. His form teacher is amazing, and his head teacher is fabulous. He, too, is a very fortunate young man.
Nicola is even more beautiful than six months ago…well, she is to me..and is making a real name for herself as an outstanding Pilates Teacher. She’s amazing.
Which leaves me. I am thoroughly enjoying my new role as Maths Coordinator across two schools. One in Hampstead and one in Notting Hill. I love it, actually, and the staff are enthusiastic and supportive.
All in all, as you can probably tell, we Baldwins are on top form, and doing far more than cope. We are flourishing.
And it’s not finished there…we all have so many planes on the runway. I have started to write a story. It started off as a children’s tale (which I could illustrate) and has developed into an adult ‘novel’ of sorts. I’m quite excited about it. I’m up to over 20,000 words, and I presume I’ll be looking at around 80 – 100,000 words for completion. We’ll see how I get on, but it’s coming along quite well, I think.
I’ve also got a couple of people writing stories, and they have asked me if I’d be keen to illustrate them. You bet! Always wanted to try that!
I am planning a few outings in the coming few months, too. One or two of these were on my original bucket list, but one or two have recently come into my view…we’ll see how I do on those. But very exciting times round here.
Spare a thought and a prayer for Steve O’Brien, who is a close friend and fellow Random Patroller (many of you came to our benefit gig last November and will instantly know him as the brilliant lead guitarist) Steve is really very poorly at the moment, and is now in The North London Hospice. Jez and I went to see him on Thursday, and he really does need your intercessions. I know first hand that your prayers are so powerful and comforting. Please direct them to him, too.
Of course, since I last blogged, Wigan Athletic have scaled dizzy and hitherto undreamt-of heights. We are FA Cup winners (sorry Brendan, Dave, Alex, Lynne and any other Man City fans) and have even ventured – quite successfully as it happens – into Europe. I’m going to see them with George at Charlton next Sunday. Yes, I do know they lost at Blackpool today, thank you. Got to take the lows with the highs!
Must go. I’ll try to blog again tomorrow, and I might even venture to copy a snippet of my story into the text to see what you think. Who knows, I might even add ‘get a book written and illustrated by myself’ from my bucket list onto my achievements over the next year or so?
God bless you all. Thank you for sticking with me!

Wednesday 3rd April 2013

Again, apologies for not blogging for ages. Not felt fantastic, but stronger in mind and spirit today. Feeling good.

Thanks, Adrian, for the loan of the car. I feel free at last (as Martin Luther King would say)

George and Evangeline are working hard towards their respective targets in A levels and GCSEs respectively. Eric, too, in his mass of holiday homework. They are all quite well and looking forward to some rest and freedom.

Nicola is possibly working harder than anyone, which both worries me and makes me feel terrifically guilty. I wish I could help her more, and treat her at present, but that might have to wait a while.

Mum is well, up in Lancashire. The weather up there has been grim, but she is amazing….she’s still making it sunny inside. The old relic is going strong, and I love her, and I’m proud to be called her youngest son. I am, of course, the most handsome and intelligent one of the bunch.

So, we are officially on holiday. Eric and Evangeline are going with Uncle Sunil and Auntie Tania on Friday to see Lichtenstein at the Tate, and I am actually quite jealous. George is missing his football, but he has so much to look forward to soon. He’ll have football every day at Arsenal from 4th August onwards.

So, don’t worry. Keep praying. May The Lord God be with you all bringing you His joy, His peace and His comfort throughout your days. I appreciate your friendship and support. Nicola and I thank you all.

One last thing. I do not have everyone’s mobile phone numbers. I lost them all when my mobile went kaput! Please please please text me so that I can store them all again. Don’t need to send a message (unless you’d like to) Just put your name and press send to my number. Thanks!

David

Monday 25th March 2013

A quick entry today. All is very well indeed here in the Baldwin household. Evangeline’s exams went well today and George has also had a good day in terms of revision. Eric said he’s had a really good day at Clifton, too. Nicola is still teaching (amid much groaning from Rachel, which is hysterical) and my Mum is in great spirit too (I’ve just come off the phone with her) Grannies and Liz are arriving late tonight to help with everything. They are so gracious and caring.

I’ve just returned from Philip’s after chatting to him about Colossians chapters 2 and 3 which was wonderful, and linking that to Pilgrim’s Progress’ a little further. So, I’m also in very high spirits after this. Much food for thought over this Holy Week.

Clifton Lodge finish this week and I continue to miss everyone there, but I do know everyone is well and developing in mind, body and spirit. It is a great little school, and I’m tremendously proud of what has been achieved there, and what is going on. The introduction of the new Pre-School class in September is so exciting for everyone.

Must go. Much love, God’s peace and blessings to each of you.

David

ps I must add the following statement to yesterday’s blog:

Travelling well IS important, but the real REASON for travelling well on this journey is BECAUSE of the destination, the ultimate goal. As Bunyan says, the celestial City. The WAY we journey will not mean that we earn the right to eternity, because Christ’s death and resurrection has ALREADY – through grace – saved me and everyone who believes in Him.

Sunday 24th March 2013

Having just returned from Grace Church, I just wanted to very quickly blog to tell you that the sermon from Philip today was just wonderful. He is linking Colossians with JohnBunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ A strange combination you might think, but the tale and the letter of Saint Paul do correlate well, and give much food for thought. Philip linked Christian from PP being initially overwhelmed with the burden of his sins and his worries about dying and being judged with the message of Saint Paul who is stressing the message of Christ’s death and the fact that it has unburdened us of sin and has made you alive with Him.

I love the correlation too of the stressing of the worries and burdens and in particular the rules of the world, which may be a constant threat and distraction to the spiritual ‘journey’ of the Christian. Jeremiah said that ‘why do you worship things that are not gods at all?’ It is so true, isn’t it? That we all get so wound up, so entwined, so bogged down and so focused on worldly pressures and expectations, that we ‘forget’ what is true and pure, and even what is right.

There is a wonderful moment when Christian from PP travels with the huge burden of sin and worry on his back to an incline with a cross atop. As he looks up and approaches, the wonder of this cross unburdens him so that he can ‘run’ in freedom and in great joy. It is like that, isn’t it? As we approach Good Friday and especially Easter Sunday, the days that Christ died for our sins to be forgiven, and when Christ conquered death so that we may also rise, we should try harder to remember the things that really matter in our life.

I hope that the journeys that each of us are undertaking will be holy and pure, and that each of us will try so hard to focus on the ultimate goal. When I die (which I’m certain will not be for quite a while yet) I want to be ready to face the toughest of all questions from The Lord. I want live well and, for those who don’t believe as I do about Christ, I still want to look back at a life with some degree of satisfaction and pride. A legacy, if you like…but one that is spiritually and emotional, rather than particularly material and worldly.

Reading back through this, it probably sounds pious and arrogant. I’m honestly not either of those things (I do have many faults and vices) I’m just expressing my greatest wishes for myself and for each of you. This life is a journey, and I want us to travel well.

I’m feeling good. Getting stronger by the day, and riding high on your loving messages and prayers. I thank you all for that.

I can’t wait to see Wigan at Wembley, playing Millwall in the FA cup semi-final. I am still feeling great about that, and I’m full of hope still that we will climb out of relegation worries. I’m so grateful to Carole for her gift of the tickets. I’m excited about the day…win or lose. But I’ll obviously be happiest with a result that takes us through to the cup final! What an occasion that would be!

This has been a week of ‘hope’. We even watched ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ yesterday. What a fantastic movie. What a wonderful character Tim Robbins plays, and what a focused and pure life he led in the most difficult and depraved of all settings. It’s an inspirational film, and I would highly recommend it to all (although it is extremely hard-hitting and gruelling in parts, so not really suitable for under 15s) it was all about hope. Against all odds, he focused on his dreams. He hoped, and that hope saw him through very difficult and traumatic times, when others around ridiculed and abused him, because they were without hope at all.

I’m going to have a great Sunday…just about to have Sunday lunch with my gorgeous family. I will take Eric to Costa and I’ll start reading Pilgrim’s Progress later on.

God’s peace be with you all in this Holy Week. Love.

David

Thursday 21st March 2013

Boy by Evie

Failed with paintings. I’ll ask Eric…

Wednesday 20th March 2013

Thought I’d quickly blog tonight to let you know my good news. My appointment with the Prof yesterday went well…..strange, but good. It appears that my tumour marker is continuing to fall quite dramatically and the team are still confused as to what is happening and why. I believe I already know the reasons. The bad news (but not so bad at all) is that I am still anaemic and quickly need another transfusion. I’ve asked for Usain Bolt as my donor, but I’m not sure that’s available.

George and Evangeline are still working very hard every day. I am so proud of their commitment and energy, and sincerely hope that their efforts are rewarded. Evangeline went to an interview at Dame Henrietta Barnett School in Hampstead Garden Suburb and they were very impressed with her. She was delighted. George produced a ‘Life Plan’ for his PE, and I read it in absolute awe. He has it all planned out. If someone had asked me to do this when I was eighteen, then I would have produced a work of fiction…I wouldn’t have had a clue…Yes, I’m a proud Dad.

Eric is also working hard, and …yes, of course…I’m proud of him too. Very much so.

Nicola is working far too hard, and continues to take on the worries of the world, and especially of me and the family. She needs a break. I’ll see what we can do.

That’s more or less it from me. Before I go, I’ll see if I can work out how to add a couple of drawings to this blog entry.

God bless you.

David

Monday 18th March 2013

Apologies again if you have been worried about me at all due to my blog silence over the week. I’m absolutely fine, and I am actually feeling so much better today than I have felt in quite a while, though I am still feeling very tired indeed.

I am in the Doctor’s waiting room (again) awaiting my blood to be taken before Professor Smith can analyse it at my meeting with him tomorrow. I do hope it’s okay and shows that I have made progress with my immune system and my general energy. I have been feeling ‘lousy’ for a week or so to be honest, but yesterday seemed a bit of a turning point for me…I somehow felt more in control. I wrote myself a list of ‘to dos’ and did quite well with that. I was up at 6.30am feeling fairly awake and enthusiastic for the day’s events.

I’ve written myself another list for today so I am keen to get back and get on with it. One of the jobs is to sort out my overflowing (literally) CD collection…it has expanded to the second big drawer now, so I’ve got to do it before it all takes over the living room, the ground floor, the whole house…there are so many I suppose that I never listen to, so I will take these to the charity shop to recycle pretty ancient music! This is not me being morbid, thinking I’ll never get round to listening to them before I die or anything like that…on the contrary, I expect to live and love my music (my art, my literature, my sport, my family, my work, etc, etc) for many years to come yet.

It is Grannie’s birthday today. Happy Birthday, Mary. She has also just come out of hospital having had her other eye operated upon to correct her vision and to ease her discomfort. It will mean no specs for a while, and she has already recovered enough to make another visit it to the Baldwin household later this week. Liz, her wonderful sister, is also joining us to help with driving (we are still carless) and as Nicola is working so much at the Pilates studios. I cannot begin to thank Liz, Grannie and everyone who has helped out in tremendously practical ways and in inspiringly enthusiastic spirit.

Two such people (I know I should stay in the same paragraph!) are Louisa and Rachel, who put together the amazingly uplifting ‘Concert for David’ last month. Totally superb and embarrassingly personally comforting. I loved it, and I must thank all of the children and the adults who helped to organise and support this event. Thank you, all…especially to Louisa and Rachel. I can’ t wait to see the video of those performances, too. What terrific talent on display! I must also thank Rebecca Stewart and Claire Flower for their wondrous work in making it all happen. Amazing stuff.

Must go, finished my bloods now and need to get home again…to do my jobs. Love you all…oh, guess who just walked in. It’s Sunna, with her wonderfully sunny smile and big hugs. She looks so well, and – as usual – is just a bundle of joy. She is – just to remind you all – a stand up comedian, and I am dying to go to see her on stage. I’ll ask her when and where she is preforming next…

ps Keep Evangeline and George in your thoughts (and prayers) as they work hard through another tough week ahead, full of tests and revision tasks.

God bless and keep you all,

David

Monday 11th March 2013

Well, I’m still here. Still on suction (confined to my room) but happy and well. It seems an age again since I was ‘free’ . I suppose this is a little glimpse of what it must feel like being institutionalised. When someone is looked after for long periods, I imagine you get used to it. Meals at strict times (no preparation, no clearing away, no washing up) and generally being dependent on a system of an institution like a hospital or a prison, or whatever, can induce some feelings of safety. I’m dying to get home, to be frank. I miss Nicola and my children a bit too much. I’ll keep fingers crossed that I will be ‘released’ from my soft prison tomorrow after the surgeon has seen me on his rounds later this afternoon. I am grateful to the doctors and nurses here.

I believe I’m doing well. The drainage from my lung has virtually stopped and the juniors seemed very happy with my progress. I feel fine. Tired, yes, but mentally and physically fine. My breathing has improved and my cycling seems a bit easier every time I mount the bike. I have done another drawing, which I will scan for you to see when I’m eventually home. I have no means here. I’ll do that as some of you said that the first one made you laugh, and you’d like to see more. If you want see the work of a super artist, then I’ll scan one or two of Evangeline’s pieces. Considering she is just 15 years old, the creativity and maturity and sheer skill of her work is breathtaking, and I’m very proud of her. Can you tell?

I’m so excited about Wigan. They played so well at Everton, didn’t they? I had a message from Carole Pomfret asking if I wanted two tickets for the semi final at Wembley. How about that, then? I am stunned and grateful. Yes, please, Carole. It will be great to shout my beloved team to a cup final showdown. I’m in heaven, obviously. Kim says that Wigan played like that for me. I don’t know about that, but certainly it has given me such a boost of spirit. Thank you, The Latics….and thank you, Carole. She also sent me a photo of Helena and Nick. They are stunningly good looking, and look really happy in the pic. I’m proud of both of them.

I miss school very much. I hear that all is going very well, and that the open day on Saturday was a terrific success. All that is great to hear, and it fills me with joy and confidence, but I still want to be there contributing in my own small way. I miss events like the World Book Day, where it gives me an opportunity to see all the children and staff in a different light. I wonder who I would have gone as this time? Still, it will not be all that long before I’m well enough to return, I think. The children sent me a box of hands, all cut out of card, decorated, and containing hand-written personal messages from everyone. How wonderful that was (and still is…) It gave me such joy again. Some of the messages were hysterical.

I completed the two crosswords (Times and Telegraph) and will send these off in the hope of winning a fountain pen or an atlas. The gifts don’t matter, but winning does! The sheer fact that I could do them at all is rewarding. Haven’t done any in a while.

The biggest and greatest news of the weekend was the wedding of Gil and Dave. Eric surreptitiously took iPhone clips of the church service and sent them to me as they were happening, which was just tremendous. I felt like I was present. He even sent me some clips of the evening reception/party and some photos, which were of really good standard and quality. Well done, Eric. Thank you. Gil has just sent me a message too, and it was great to get to chat to her at the evening party on Saturday. She sounded so happy. She deserves nothing but joy…she is a wonderful, loving young lady filled with nothing but energetic kindness. I love her so very much. She is a big part of our family life.

I had visits from Mary and Marion on Saturday, which was another wonderful surprise. They were both in good form, and made me laugh. And then yesterday, I was even more surprised to get a visit from none other than my family. Yes, Nicola, George, Evangeline, Eric and Grandpa all tumbled in on the way back home from the wedding. All in great spirits…how wonderful.

Anyway, must go. Don’t want to bore you too much. It’s now coming up to midday on Monday, and I’m expecting the doctor’s visit at around 4pm. I should know a little more after that. I’m hopeful of an exit very soon.

God bless you all.

David

Friday 8th March 2013

A few things to tell you about the past few days before I do anything else…

I went into the Royal Brompton Hospital on Monday for tests and scans, etc. The Doctors put another lung drain in on Tuesday and drained a further 2.3 litres off before having the procedure to stick the walls of the pleura and the lung together. That happened on Wednesday at 5pm, and all has gone well since, I am told. Certainly, my breathing and general sense of well-being has been given a boost over the last couple of days. The lung drain is still in and the seepage has dramatically slowed down - which is very good news. They will monitor me over the next three days or so, and then hopefully I might be able to come home to Nicola and the children.

Whilst in here, I have had several visitors…loveliest and most exciting of which is, of course, Nicola…but I must confess to gaining the greatest of boosts from two visitors who I have not seen in nigh-on 22 years apiece.

Roger turned up as a surprise on Tuesday night, and I was blown away. We sat and swapped stories and histories and it was honestly as though I had seen him just last week. We picked up where we had left off…as best of mates. He made me laugh so much, and I realise just how much I had missed him, and what a gap he had left. Roger is a remarkable man, a gentleman with a quiet and wicked sense of humour. We recounted many stories from all those years ago with great fondness. I was SO VERY happy that we met up, and genuinely shocked when he turned up at the door. Brilliant. We must never lose touch again. Such friendship is uplifting and wholesome. We have agreed to do a few things together when I’m on my feet again. Roger is so proud of his lovely wife Leo, of his son Alfie, and of his two daughters Coco and Tinks. I’m really looking forward to seeing them all in the near future.

If that wasn’t enough (I was still on a great high on Wednesday), I had another surprise visitor on Wednesday evening. Kate Gilbert popped in. Kate and I were great mates and colleagues also at St Anthony’s (We taught both Year 4 classes back then) and I hadn’t seen her in even longer…we think 24 years, but we were uncertain…and once again the years just melted away as we chatted and giggled our way through recollections and catch-ups. Kate told me that Jamie and Jonny still recall many of our lessons, and that I had a big influence on them both. They both had a big influence on me, too. Lovely, witty, gentle lads they were. I think Jonny particularly liked the new Delbert cartoons…I will send you (Well, I hope hand personally to you) an original drawing from the first books in 1998. I’d be thrilled if you had it. Better still, you could choose the one you like from the folder, Jonny. Jamie, that goes for you too. After all, it was with you at St Anthony’s that Delbert (Then called Dilbert) was ‘born’, remember? Out of a lesson on ‘shapes’. It was so good to see your Mum (Incidentally, neither Kate nor Roger had changed at all) and to make some plans about getting together again. I can’t wait to see you all. It is all so wonderful.

After the procedure I was again rather ‘high’ and silly, joking and suffering from an acute case of verbal diarrhoea as usual after the drugs. I was so happy to see both Roger and Kate…I can’t begin to tell you what it meant to me. Bless you both, and your loving families.

So, I won’t be out tomorrow in time for Gil and Dave’s wedding. Fat Poo. I love Gil very much and I love weddings. (If I get a chance, I’ll have another one….with Nicola again, of course) Still, Nicola must go, along with the three children. But I wanted to be there so much. Gil was a little bridesmaid at our wedding nearly 27 years ago. So cute then, so beautiful in every way now. She deserves a perfect day. Gil is such a whirlwind of a lady, always so upbeat and encouraging and loving. She has been a big part of our lives, and a close companion to all of our children, especially Evangeline. God bless Gil and Dave’s union with loads of babies!

Thanks for all your messages over the past week or two. It’s not been fab, but I’m now well over the worst, and I’m just itching to get back home and into Clifton. I know that tings are going very well there, and I must thank Joanna Hockley, Jane Anderson and the whole team for doing such a great job whilst I’m recuperating. I really don’t know when the Doctors will allow me to return, but I don’t think it will be long now. I LOVED the box of ‘helping hands’ with coloured patters and hand-written messages on them from all the children. I’ve been reading them all with a great sense of love from you at school. Bless you all.

Eric was so excited about going into school with Auntie Liz today. It is World Book Day, and everyone needs to dress up as a book character (I miss that…I went as Dumbledore last year) and Eric has gone as a very good looking James Bond this morning. I was sent his picture on my phone this morning, so I will attempt to put him onto the blog now. apologies if it doesn’t work. I’m sure Paul can sort it out.

So, now it’s Friday. I’m on ‘suction’ so I can’t even get out of my room whilst I’m attached to the wall. I have clots, so I can’t cycle or exercise yet! I’m not going doolally, though…(Well, not that I’m aware of…) as I have so much to do here. Reading, crosswords, planning and – later today – sketching too. All is well in Room 1.

Spare a thought for Wigan Athletic (my beloved home team) who travel to Goodison Park to play the in-form Everton side in the quarter finals of the FA cup. Now that would truly cap off what – strangely – has been the most rewarding and refreshing of weeks. Kick off is 12.45pm tomorrow. Just send the boys some white light and a message of good luck.

Can’t think of anything else for the minute. I will try to blog sometime over the weekend too. All my love and best wishes to all. God bless you.

David

Friday 1st March 2013

Nearly forgot to remind you all that there is a special event being held tomorrow afternoon.  It is the:

 

CHILDREN’S CONCERT

(A concert for David)

at 5pm on Saturday 2nd March at the EAST FINCHLEY BAPTIST CHURCH at the top of CREIGHTON AVENUE, East Finchley. N2 BD

 

Come and enjoy a variety of musical performances by young friends of David Baldwin. Admission Free – Refreshments provided. There will be a collection for the David Baldwin Appeal.

 

 

Friday 1st March 2013

Happy St David’s Day. To my Welsh family and all my Welsh connections. Have a great day.

I don’t know where to start to be honest. I last wrote on the blog on the 17th February, when I was still in Mexico. A great deal has happened since…I’ll try to fill you in a little. Before I do, I am sorry for worrying many of you.

On that Sunday I got a little worse. I was quite ill.  The Doctors gave me oxygen and took further x-rays. On Monday morning, Dr Contreras and Dr Cecena suspected I had pneumonia and prescribed some antibiotics.  We flew back on Tuesday.

We got a taxi home to Finchley, and I went immediately to bed.  I was admitted into the Royal Marsden first thing on the Wednesday morning, and had my right lung drained. Just the same as my left lung back in June ’12. Scans and x-rays galore and the prognosis is that the cancer has spread to my right lung and to my kidney.  I know all this isn’t good news, but the prognosis is good and you can’t get rid of me that easily.

I will still go back to Mexico for the final treatment in April.

So, what’s next? On Monday, I go back into hospital to have a repeat of the successful operation to drain the lung and to stop it from filling with liquid again by undergoing surgery.  I will be in hospital for about a week or so. After that? Well, I will return to Clifton of course.  All is going well there under the expert guidance of Joanna, Sue, Dorothy, Cath and the team. Eric is still getting there and back (Thanks to Auntie Liz) and is today representing the school at a hockey tournament over in Croydon. I hope they enjoy it and do themselves justice. That Year 6 lot especially have worked hard in training with Marc Raffray and Jane. I appreciate this very much.

When I returned to Heathrow last week, my mobile phone would not work. It ‘locked out’ and wouldn’t let me have access even with the correct password. That has been difficult, especially given that the computers at school have been ‘down’ for some updating. So, no emails and no texts, and no phone calls in or out. I now have a brand new phone,  but I still do not have access to contacts, so if you do text or ring, be sure to let me know who you are. I’ll build up my contacts list once more.

Must go now. I am tired.   I’ll be better with TWO working lungs next week.

Liz is going back to Horsham tonight. We will miss her very much, and I am eternally grateful for all that she has done for us. From washing, to cooking, from ironing to taxiing all the children everywhere. Lizzie, you’ve been amazing and we love you very much. Thank you….and thank you to Uncle David too, who has done without his lovely wife for all of this time! That is also appreciated.

Sorry I’m still out of action, but only for a while. I really miss school, the staff, the parents, but mostly the fantastic children. I will be back.

Please look after yourselves well; play hard, work hard and be gentle with each other at all times. May God’s peace settle over you all, and may His love support you through any difficulties, and uplift you further in times of celebration.

God bless you,

David

Sunday 17th February 2013

Just been to the most inspiring church service here. Dr Contreras himself gave the ‘sermon’ which was terrific. Its theme was attitude, and he spoke with great compassion and common sense. We do not have a choice as to when we are born, or even when we die…but in between there are a whole host of choices to make. The choices we make will determine the quality of our lives. Attitude is learned, which obviously means that we can control it, and change it whenever and however we wish. He gave the examples of the stories of Caleb and Joshua who, when returning from spying in the promised land for 40 days with the representatives of the 10 other tribes of Israel, gave the same account of what they saw. All of them saw a land that was beautiful yet was inhabited by ‘giants’ (tall strong people who were good at war) and yet the attitude of Caleb and Joshua differed from the others. They saw what could be theirs, and they saw ways to plot the invasion and conquest. The others saw only death. Dr Contreras gave other examples, including David and Goliath, which made me laugh out loud (quite embarrassingly) when all those who saw Goliath said: ‘He’s enormous. A giant. No one could beat him’ But David’s attitude was ‘He’s a giant. I couldn’t possibly miss’

He gave other examples from his own experiences (which, after all, spans over 30 years here) including his own Aunt who he treated with lung cancer. She was entirely cured, and yet she came to him a year or so later looking awful. Thin with black rings under her eyes and a dreadful look in her eyes. When he saw her he said, ‘what is wrong? you have been cured. It is your personal miracle’. ‘Yes,’ she said ‘but I am so worried that it is going to come back’ This woman was cancer-free in body, but not in mind. Attitude. Compare that story to the man who came to the Oasis of Hope Hospital riddled with tumours throughout his body. Outwardly the signs were not good. Dr Contreras was trying to cheer him up on their initial meeting, when the patient stopped him. ‘It’s okay. I’m happy. This cancer is a blessing. My biggest blessing. I’ve worked solidly throughout my married life and the truth is I’ve ignored my wife, and I barely even know my three children. This blessing means that I now understand my gifts from God. I sit every day, hand in hand with my beautiful wife and watch the sun set. I spend each evening with my children, sharing fun and stories. They are wonderful. I wouldn’t have understood any of that without this event.’ Dr Contreras was stunned and inspired. This man had already beaten cancer. It was not his master. Needless to say, this man is still alive, presumably still happy, twenty years later. Attitude.

My attitude has not always been good. I know that some of you might think otherwise, but I do suffer from doubt and anxiety. This cancer is a message from God, and I not only intend to overcome the symptoms, but I am not going to let it rule my life. It is not my master, nor will it ever be. I fully intend to live a life that is fun-filled and purposeful. Whatever God plans for me, whenever my time is up is not negotiable, but I have the choices from now till then. I intend to make the most of it all, with all the beautiful people in my life already. It is good to plan, isn’t it? I still have a (growing) bucket list…

Life is good. I keep stating it because I often completely forget. I get bogged down with situations and conditions that take my positive energy away and replace it with other people’s negativity. I mustn’t let that happen. I have so much. I want for nothing, really. But material things do not create well-being and happiness. Some of the very happiest people have come from underprivileged backgrounds, or from families with serious issues. Some of the saddest, loneliest and negative people have come from an incredibly privileged situations and positions. Why is that? Attitude again? I must focus on all good things, and discount all irrelevance and diversities.

I’m good. Health-wise I’ve been better, and certainly fitter and stronger, but I have a positive outlook again, and I still intend to spread a little happiness. I appreciate life and all its richness more than ever…I implore you to do the same. You don’t have to be ill to understand and implement. Okay? Get to it. Enjoy life MORE, be the blessing you want to be for others.

As Gandhi said : ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’ There is no other way.

God bless your life as he has mine. Good night all.

David

 

Friday 15th February 2013

Some Valentine’s Day yesterday turned out to be. I spent all day (more or less) in bed with pains in my abdomen and kidney. Today, the doctors have taken some X-rays to find out what is going on. It is much better today, and manageable. I haven’t found out yet about the X-rays, but I suppose if it was bed news….oh, wow. Dr Cecenia has just been to visit. The X-rays showed no major abnormalities, and he discounted appendicitis and gall-stones, and any really bad types of ulcerated colon…it looks likely it is colitis and will eventually mend itself. It has already started that process. I admit to thinking the worse….So, that is good news. It has also given me a day without treatments, so I’ve really relaxed today. I haven’t even read anything, apart from the San Diego Times, and haven’t drawn or painted. I must do that tomorrow…

Medhi has invited us both to watch a movie in the treatment room later. That sounds like fun, so we will pootle along there. Both Medhi and his Mum, Mahin, are such gentle and loving people. I hope we stay in touch in the coming weeks, months and years, God willing. I watched ‘Taken 2′ on the plane, and really enjoyed it. A little silly at times, and really thrilling at others. It’s a little bit like Bourne, I suppose…which I loved. I must watch ‘Taken’ (the original) when I have an opportunity. I do like Liam Neeson. Oh, btw, the junior nurse here looks just like Matt Damon (Jason Bourne) which – in itself is exciting. He is only pretending to be a medic, of course. I know that. Several crack Mexican drug smugglers are going to crash through the balcony window with AK49′s (or whatever they’re called) and both Jason and I will take them apart with our bare hands. Chop chop. Yes, ignore the weakness and the pain…No problems for me with JB by my side. Remember, form is temporary, class is permanent. Funny, too. I had a dream earlier about swimming out to sea and encountering a big shark – not Jaws size. About 6 or seven foot long (That’s 2 metres) and I fought it really well, in the end grabbing it around its middle, swimming so that I could stand up, and throwing it ashore. Ha. Wonder what all that means…?

So, there you are. All is well here, really. I’m in capable hands, with a great medical support team. Ernesto is being so good, too, and Nicola and I get much strength and guidance from him spiritually. I’ll clock off now, as Nicola wants to do some Pilates course work on this computer. Pray for us both. It helps, I’m certain.

The three children are fine. Auntie Liz has been a marvel, as has Grannie. Eric is now in Bulgaria (skiing with the school) and Evangeline is at Nigel’s place with her close friend and cousin, Megan…we’ve Facetimed tonight and she seems so happy. George is at home on his own at the moment, but will join Nigel (I think) on Sunday. All is well. Cats are being looked after this time by Sue and Geoff. The school is now on half term, and all appears to be going swimmingly well there. Joanna (Hockley) is just so dependable and thorough…I shouldn’t worry at all. Jane Anderson, Sue Ward, Cath Johnson, Dorothy Trill, Sue Keating and so many others are amazing and put all into their work. They provide such comfort and assurance for me. (Only one more trip after this, everyone…)

I’ll try to blog again tomorrow. I’m fine. All is well. Keep praying for us both. It helps. Good night and God bless you and your loved ones.

David

Wednesday 13th February 2013

Evangeline made up a joke on Sunday, and I would like to share it with you now:

‘Have you heard about the schizophrenic who wanted to be a parrot and a pirate? He spent the whole day trying to sit on his own shoulder’

I think that is pretty darn funny, don’t you? Got me giggling anyway.

I’ve had an interesting day. Still not feeling good, but managed all the treatments, all the support programme’s events and even went for a long walk along the sea front. Nicola and I had a great deal to talk about, and I think we both found that refreshing. I don’t really know what to put in her Valentine Day Card (Yes, I did bring one!) to express myself properly. I’ll think of something…

We met a few super people today at the hospital. John and Kim have a remarkable story to tell, and they are devout and devoted Christians who have total faith in the power of this programme. John is an entrepreneur and shared some video footage with us this evening that is pretty convincing material to support that faith. His lovely wife, Kim, is undergoing treatment here. She, too, has a website (I’ll share that with you all tomorrow, as I don’t know where Nicola has put it) which is great.

Ross and Deedy are from Florida and we have felt very much at ease with them, as though we’ve known them from some other time. And Marina, who is from Northern Italy originally, who is very funny and upbeat. All in all, a good bunch.

We had a talk from Dr Contreras earlier today, which was really very interesting and revealing. All that he says is common sense and totally convincing. He explained the treatments, and why they work. He spoke for an hour to all of us patients and companions, which was great.

A really weird thing happened to me earlier today. I had just taken all my breakfast tablets in one go (all 18 of them) and was walking across the room here when I involuntarily burped. Now that isn’t so bad. Only Nicola was in the room with me, and she’s heard worse…but I literally burped smoke. Seriously. I burped and a huge plume of smoke shot out of my gaping mouth. This, understandably shocked me. It made Nicola laugh so much, after a second’s stunned silence. All I can put this down to is that one of the capsules I took a minute earlier had yielded its treasure of powder and I had ‘blown it out’ as ‘smoke’

I must go. Nicola has just emerged from the shower. A wonderful sight, which I really shouldn’t share with you….but well, I just need to go now. Good night and God bless.

David

Tuesday 12th February 2013

I’m sitting here in the relative calm and peace of The Oasis of Hope Hospital in Tijuana, Mexico…I’ve frustratingly failed to log on successfully to the school computer again, but I will try again tomorrow. I can still speak to Joanna, Sue or Cath – or anyone else there – if I desperately needed to, but it is past 1.30am for you lot now. (We are 8 hours behind you) So, I thought I’d do a bit of blogging with you. I’ll try to be honest in everything I’m just about to type…

I am not feeling too well today and I can – I think – put this down to over-tiredness. I didn’t sleep at all well over the past three nights, and I now feel completely drained physically and mentally. I will take the opportunity (enforced as it may be) to have some blessed quiet time and peace in this little oasis. It is good to get going again with this regime, and I am now literally half way through the programme. It was super to see Mahin and Medhi again today (They’re really lovely people, even though they’re from Australia!*), along with Ernesto and all the team. Everyone is just so positive and supportive, and I now feel a little ashamed that I didn’t want to return. I will immerse myself over the next 6 days, and beyond.

Thank you to everyone who has contacted me to ask if I am alright. I alarmed one or two of you with my honest feelings about Christine and the search for some sort of meaning to our meeting, the illness and the frailty and vulnerability I feel. I apologise if I worried anyone, but I do want to share this if I’m going to be authentic and if this is going to be both cathartic and inspiring. I’m going through a bit of a dark tunnel, but – Hey, don’t we all? – and I can always see a light in front. A guide perhaps. This week will challenge me, but it will also hopefully refresh me in spirit and body. I need to embrace this again. With all your support and prayers, I can’t fail, can I? You lot should be more than inspiring enough for anyone…you have been truly amazing. Thank you.

Nicola is a remarkable lady. Solid, yet soft. She has stuck with me through all of this rubbish, and I can’t possibly describe what it is I feel about her. She is my greatest blessing in life, I think. I cannot – even for one minute – ever imagine being without her. She challenges me and she urges me on, but she does so without ever losing the essence of our relationship. A relationship grown purely out of love and trust. She is here now in the room, reading another book (‘Crazy, sexy cancer survivor’ by Kris Carr) that she believes will help me to fully understand how to overcome, to master this illness…or at least make this terminal illness into a chronic one. Nicola is selfless. Beautiful, adoring and fiercely loyal. I adore her.

I am a proud Dad, too. I have often spouted forth about my three ‘babies’ but never before have I felt so blessed by my family. Eric is so loving, and such a ray of sunshine. He made us laugh on FaceTime earlier. Evangeline is such a talent. Her artwork is stunning again today (again, we saw what she had done tonight in her sketchbook) and she is gorgeous, innocent yet wise, loving and supportive. George has turned into a wonderful young gentleman. He is so happy about the Arsenal Gap programme, and is currently walking on air…as he should. He has really helped me, without realising it. I am really proud of how he has turned out.

Coming back to Nicola for a minute…switch off if I’m boring you with my accolades…She often quotes lines from inspirational readings to give me a boost. Most of these are from books or on the Internet, and some from our friends.

‘Be a survivor. Survivors (of terminal illnesses) seem to squeeze every drop of delicious juice from this extraordinary life’

‘Don’t wait until the icy patch thaws before celebrating life’

‘When I put cancer behind me and started smiling again, the disease lost its grip on me. Isn’t that what the ‘cure’ is..?’

‘Our spunky attitude is the key to our freedom. So what are YOU going to do? Wither and die on the vine or bloom, beautiful, bloom?’

‘During the time of the darkest night, act as if the morning has already come’ (The Talmud)

‘Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re probably right’ (Henry Ford)

‘I will write more tomorrow. I’m so tired now that my right eye keeps getting stuck closed when I blink’ (David Baldwin)

I’m missing you all….especially at school. It is a beautiful school, and I’m proud to be Head there. It has improved and continues to grow, and all is well. Don’t worry about me at all. I’ll be back after half term raring to go again.

I’m fine out here. Thanks for sending me here, and thank you for all of your prayers. God bless.

David

*I love Aussies. Really do. Great people.

Sunday 3rd February 2013

Happy Birthdays to my marvellous Mum, to Megan our beautiful cousin/niece, and to Katie my lovely little friend.

I’ve been an oaf. No, worse than an oaf. A selfish and whinging hypocrite. Christine’s death hit us hard, and I lost heart, I admit. If such a beautiful soul as Christine loses her battle so quickly after we promise each other lifelong (and long life friendship) then it’s just not worth fighting at all, is it? I have lost heart. I’ve lost some of the spirit that came to me so abundantly in Mexico with Matt, Christine, Ernesto, Rick and others. I now know this…and I want to do something to restore my trust in God, and my fighting spirit. The people who die, says Evangeline, are quite often the people who give up because they can’t see that their lives are worth saving. She is so right – as always – and so wise….my ‘life is good‘ she told me. ‘You have a family that adores you, and so many friends who love you. Surely you must know that? Surely you must realise that after it took so little time to raise the money to send you to Mexico?’

Nicola goes further. She says ‘Stinking thinking, verbal self-abuse are amputating my angel’s wings’ This is a wake up call, and I need to wake up from a slumber that I have self-induced as a defence. Yes, Christine’s death was/is a huge knock…but her death and my life mean something…our meeting was not coincidence. Christine wrote to us: ‘How blessed we feel to have you in our lives. May your Angels guide you to your highest purpose’ Yes, Christine. I am a willing adventurer, and I want to follow that Angel wherever he/she leads me. I need that purpose I keep talking about…but I don’t just want it to be talk any more. I need action. Action that only I can start.

I’ve been feeling sorry for myself. I’ve been feeling guilty, too….about surviving on both counts. My life is good, as Evangeline says. I have everything. I have a close family, with a beautiful, sexy, adoring wife. I have hundreds (Yes, hundreds) of close friends. I live in a beautiful city, in a lovely family home. I have food and clothing, warmth and security. I have a career which has spanned 34 years as a teacher, 25 as a Head. I am happy with everything God has granted. I am Head of a wonderful school in Ealing, and I am thrilled that it is being blessed in terms of a close-knit and growing, thriving community. I love it. I do, so I should be ecstatic about plans that I have for the place, and the purposes I have there and elsewhere. Plans that are aligned to higher purposes. I can do much. I should do much. I will do much. God has not abandoned me, nor has he stopped believing in me. That was just me, right?

What verbal diarrhoea. I do hope you got my message.

My bucket list needs resurrecting, I feel. George was given ‘An Idiot Abroad’ at Christmas, and I saw a clip where Karl Pilkington was given choices by Ricky Gervais as to where he wants to go, and what he wants to do. It’s not like that with mine…and it has altered quite a bit in the past few weeks. I’ll discuss these with you soon, because it is now 1am, and I need to get some sleep…

God bless you all. Good night.

David

Sunday 27th January 2013

Happy Birthday, Nigel. 29 again.

Did I tell you about the day that I first set eyes upon Nicola? Well, I will..

I was teaching a Year 7 class at the end of the day. I was – for reasons I can’t quite remember now – teaching Geography (I taught Maths, Games and RS at Nower Lodge) The school was my first…an odd little place, with so much going for it. A happy place, full of happy children and somewhat eccentric teachers and families. I wonder where Fergus Mussel is now. I do know where Rupert Wingfield-Hayes is reporter as he is with the Beeb.

Anyhow, I was strolling around the desks when a mustard-coloured volvo estate came kangaroo hopping up the little drive. As this car eventually, hesitantly pulled up alongside the school, I looked in at the driver. An incredible, unbelievably beautiful young lady was in the driver’s seat. She was perfect in every way and, if there is such a thing, I fell head over heals in love there and then. No, I’m serious. I didn’t realise but a cry of “wow!” must have escaped my gaping mouth…greeted with a response of: “Sir! That’s my sister!” uttered – of course – by Nigel. Yes, he was one of my pupils in that class. How embarrassing. The rest is history…Nigel gleefully announced to Nicola (yes, yes, that’s obviously who the driver was) as well as to the family that ‘I fancied her’ and my complete infatuation with her was eventually rewarded with our first date. Fishing. Best catch I’ve ever made, you know.

There’s another story about when I visited the Roberts’ house for the first time. maybe I’ll leave that till another time.

I’ve been awful this weekend, to be frank. Really angry and morose. I’ve said some horrible things to Nicola, my love, and she has just taken it all. I’m such an idiot sometimes. We adore each other so much, but I do get frustrated and I need some escape. Nicola gets it all. I am so sorry…

Les Miserables was magnificent. It must be one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen and heard. A great achievement. Victor Hugo’s book is an absolute classic. I have read it three times (my memory is so poor that it is a surprise each time…) and it is probably my favourite ever. The musical on the West End is similarly my favourite ever show…even better than The Lion King! So I was sceptical about the film, but I was so impressed. Hugh Jackman made a brilliant Jean Valjean, and Anne Hathaway was stunning as Fantine. I thought Eddie Redmayne was super as a very sensitive Marius, too. Go see it for yourselves.

Must go again. I always start these too late, don’t I? I need my beauty sleep. If you’ve seen me recently, you’ll know what I mean.

Good night and God bless you all.

David

Saturday 26th January 2013

Funny few days…not all good, not all bad. Today, I had a colonic and watched Les Miserables (Not at the same time, you’ll be pleased to hear) Went to the Audi showroom, and was a little disappointed with the choices and prices…

Church and Evangeline’s drama tomorrow. I’ll be up for tennis, too, if the boys are going ahead…all depends on the weather. Nicola says I’ve got to tell you that I’ve been a grumpy old man for a week, and she is fed up. I suppose she’s right, of course.

Les Mis = Fantastique. A remarkable achievement. Watch it.

Must go. Mary O’Leary will tell me off if I’m still blogging at the witching hour. Ooops.

Good night and God bless.

David

Wednesday 23rd January 2013

You know, it is worth starting off (again) with the poem that most of you (us) seemed to like the last time I posted it on the blog…

Our Greatest Fear —Marianne Williamson

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

 

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking

so that other
people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

 

And as we let our own light shine,

we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,

Our presence automatically liberates others.

It is powerful, I think. When I apply this to myself, I see the truth in it. I see myself ‘hiding away’ often so that I can promote others. I consciously look after everyone else’s well-being before my own…and I am proud of that, and do so without complaint or hesitation. It somehow promotes me and my own purpose. Nothing much wrong with that is there? Except when you are wittingly hiding away God’s own talents and purposes in ourselves in that same process. God has supplied me with certain gifts that I have failed to use for His glory. As the poem says, I should do so knowing that I am liberating others from their own inhibitions and fears. Christine understood this. Nicola understands this, and I am slowly realising that I need to bear witness to God’s blessings by using my art especially.

I’ve not had a great week, to be honest. I’ve been rather flat. Christine’s passing has meant that I have again been alerted to the precariousness of my situation. I have been ‘robbed’ of another fellow-cancer sufferer (Why am I the survivor?) I have lost another opportunity to explore joint ventures with her and Matt in the USA. I have been given another sharp reminder that I could follow sooner than I imagine. These are all human responses, which inevitably means that they are also selfish. Much of the feelings I had/have about the loss of Christine are exactly that: my loss. But I must now look at this differently.

Christine came into our lives at a perfect point. She was perfect in that she brought a sense of beauty and purpose into what is a difficult situation. She believed 100% in me. She was certain that God has a great plan for me, and that I had to follow my creative instincts to the fruition of those plans. She cared for Nicola and me. She encouraged and inspired me, and I must see this juncture as a turning point for me. A catalyst for the rest of my life….otherwise, what is the point? Christine believed in Angels, and destiny, and that there was no such thing as a coincidence. She was amazing, and I was truly blessed that the Lord brought her into our lives. If she is an Angel already, I’m pretty sure she’ll be smiling at me right now, knowing that I’ll be doing God’s work soon.

I was inspired today. Shamim spoke to me and gave me such a wonderful message, that I should be walking on cloud nine for the rest of my year. She is fabulous, too…and I am lucky to have her with us in Ealing. So calm, loyal and loving. A great lady. She may overestimate me, but I am thrilled with what she said to me!

I want, again, to write more…but I have just been justifiably told off by a frozen-footed Nicola who needs warming up. Better do exactly that. I will blog again very soon.

God bless you all…I feel a lot better, thank you. Night Night.

David

Sunday 20th January 2013

Just to let you all know that Christine died on Thursday. I am less angry (It’s not about me) and just a little non-plussed, numbed by the news. She was there, as large and as beautiful as life. Full of life and light, love and energy. Hard to take. Really hard. Please pray for her, and for her adoring husband and lifelong friend Matt, plus their four children. They are a tight-knit Christian, loving family…but they will need divine guidance and support.

Only seeming to venture out of my spiritual, virtual hideaway slowly. I build a wall around me when bad things happen. I hope that is common. But it makes it difficult to emerge again, because the time is never right. I’m still hurting from the news. Not only, I suppose, because Christine was so special, a close friend who was suffering the same ‘fate’, and an ally who would club together to beat this thing. It has knocked me off-track quite a lot. If she has succumbed, with what I saw as incredible strength and positive energy, then why and how can I withstand the same inevitability? My heart aches for Matt. They are so close, as I am to Nicola and I cannot imagine how he is feeling. I hope he can build a wall pretty thick.

Looking forward to school tomorrow. I will make a final decision at 7.15am tomorrow, but for the moment I am aiming to open as normal. The children will be fine in school, and the only reason I hesitate opening in adverse weather, is safety. How safe is it to travel? I hope that anyone who feels uncomfortable about their travel, should err on the side of caution. I would happily authorise their absences.

Want some great news? George went for an interview (New suit, shoes and tie and all) at the Arsenal Emirates Stadium, and has just been accepted onto the prestigious Arsenal Gap Year Programme. Amazing. Totally brilliant. Hundreds of 17 – 19 year olds apply, and fewer than 30 per year are successfully enrolled. George is one! This is so exciting for him (and us) and could lead onto great things in his chosen career. I do hope he aspires to his dream…he is certainly determined enough.We’re proud parents. Evangeline and Eric likewise.

Must go. Please don’t forget to pray for Christine, Matt and the children.

God bless you all. Good night.

David

Wednesday 16th January 2013

Not actually going to type much again, but I wanted to share a couple of things with you….and perhaps at the same time pose a question?

I’m angry as hell tonight. A number of issues have combined to create this emotion (which is unusual) in me. I will not share them all, but they are are work-based, domestic, practical issues and spiritual issues all combined. The latter pressing hardest of all at my core. One of the children at my lovely little school has lost his close relative (Auntie) on Monday, and her husband (His Uncle who he adored) today. That’s hard. Really hard to cope with, and I can’t really help. I feel helpless. I received an email when I got back home, from Matt saying just how very ill Christine had become. That tipped me over the edge, and I am angry with God, I admit it.

I wrote back to Matt saying obviously that we are so sorry to hear this news, and to offer prayers and positive energy to wing across the Atlantic. I also stated that Christine is:

‘one of those brightest of stars you see on a cloudless night. When all around looks overwhelming, chaotic and confusing, her sheer brilliance gives purpose and guidance to those who look to her. That’s what I feel.’

I do not ever pretend to know the reasons, the purposes and even the grace of the Lord in situations like this. When someone so special is threatened in such a way, and the lives of young, saintly people are ‘allowed’ to suffer like this, creating pain in all those close to them…or even to depart from us….it creates a void. Not only in the loving family’s lives, but in the lives of friends…the whole world changes forever, and I cannot see that it is for the better. It is so hard to accept. Why Her? Why not me? Would you all do me a big favour? Would you all pray hard for Christine Healy? Please. Several times with real gusto. I think it is important. Something, surely, can be done.

Oh, ignore my rantings, though. I’m just on a downer again…I’ll be fine when I am with the children tomorrow morning. The little ones especially always make me feel good. You can’t really NOT be happy around them. Keep me young, too. When I think to today, there were several highlights. For me, the art lesson with Year 7 was great….I love to teach.

Thank you to the three friends who have offered some help with wheels (cars) after our crash but I might now have sorted it out with the insurance, as the man who drove into us has admitted liability and there looks like no issue with a hire car. I really appreciated the offers from some fabulous friends. Graham, Janie and David, thank you. I was tempted by the offer of the 2009 Porsche GT Turbo, though….

God bless you all.

David

 

Tuesday 15th January 2013

Again, quite a few days have flown past with no word from me. I don’t know why you put up with me! Apologies once more, but there are two main reasons for neglecting my blog duties…1. I’ve been busy/tired (That’s sort of two reasons, I suppose, but they’re individually only half true) 2. I’ve been laid a little low. I’ve lost my mojo as they say, and feeling disinclined to do ..well,…very much of anything actually.

It remains tough to go through the new diet regime. I’m bored and losing interest in looking at different recipes…I know that makes no sense, but that is the truth. Nicola says I’ve lost my sparkle…but I do think this is temporary, and that I will be in fighting, laughing and dancing spirits before long.  I do hope so, as I really don’t like me like this.

Had a car crash last night. All is okay, but our car is seemingly a write off. Eric was in the car, and the crash happened on his side. He was great, and even managed to steer the Mitsubishi to the side of the road when I pushed it. So, we are carless, and have taken taxis today (and tomorrow) – don’t really know what to do in the short term, but longer term we will look at new and used car options…Maybe I’ll get my Porsche GT Turbo after all (sigh)

The tumour markers were up today. Disappointing. A little depressing, actually. I start to expect miracles…

Sorry for being a bit depressing in this little blog entry…I’ll do better next time.

God bless. Sleep soundly.

David

Thursday 10th January 2013

This is going to be a quick hello from North London…Yes, we made it back and we are fine and dandy. I have been totally out of it though, today. Headaches, lethargy etc, but Nicola has been incredibly strong, putting me to shame. Getting up at 6.30am to wash, prepare, unpack, get Eric ready for school, get to Waitrose, etc. I’ve been near to useless through the day. Yes, I’ve done one or two things to help, but I got up late and have felt pretty poor. Hopefully, I’ll be better tomorrow. I was hoping to pop into school tomorrow, but maybe it is better if I just try to catch up…

Grandpa picked us up from Heathrow and as a surprise, both Evangeline and Eric were there waiting with the hugest of squeezes for us both. Wonderful. Got home about 7.30pm, and then squeezed George too. It is great to be back with them. It seemed ages. It’s only a week next time we go to Tijuana, which is reassuring to us both.

My thanks must go to Grannie and Grandpa who have looked after and ferried the three of them around in our absence. That has been a huge weight off our minds. Nigel, as ever has been a rock. George adores him, as does Evangeline and Eric…well, we all do. Ashleigh, Siena and Beau have been sweet too and George enjoyed their company very much. Tania, Sunil, Tim, Winston, Suzi and Gil, Lesley and Matthew have all been tremendous, and we couldn’t have asked for more. Thanks, Guys. You all okay for February and March? Hee hee.

Great news on our return. Evangeline has done terrifically well with her mock results, and is proud of herself. She is such a star, when all this rubbish has been affecting her. The epitome of sweetness, innocence and strength all in one. George has received an invitation to go for an interview next week to join the Arsenal Gap Year programme, which trains around 20 – 30 young men on the Football coaching fast-track courses, where he – if chosen – could take a year under their top class coaches and systems, and have secondments often out of this country…to South Africa, other parts of Europe and even to the States. We’re so excited for him, and really pray that he comes through his interview next Thursday showing just how good and knowledgeable he is about his beloved sport, and also how passionate he is about his dreams. Both George and Evie are right in the middle of exams again. George has his Biology module (A2) tomorrow, and Drama on Monday, so please pray for him to do well in both. His PE seems to be going well now too.

Everything at school in Ealing is apparently good, which is also reassuring. The children are in high spirits, as are the teachers and other staff. I will be back in for sure – as normal – on Monday. I have blood tests and appointments on Monday and Tuesday, and the results will be quite interesting, don’t you think?

Missing Matt and Christine, but happy that we are seeing them again in 5 weeks. I hope that their last day, which is tomorrow, is filled with peace and comfort, and that their passage back to San Fransisco is easy and faultless. I do hope Christ will protect them both, and that Christine is improving all the time, and restored to full health in a short while.

Rosa Contreras, Rick Hill and Christine herself warned me that it would be hard sticking to the nutritional regime. Oh, my Giddy Aunt, I’ll tell you. We hadn’t even taken the flight when I was confronted with some of these issues. There was precious little that I could eat or drink in the airport lounge. It was even more difficult on the flight. All treats and sugary goodies. I’m not complaining. I just need to accustom myself to these daily battles with the public food everywhere around us. Why is everything that seems ‘tasty’ literally packed with sugar? It is NOT GOOD FOR YOU…and certainly not for me, either. It is a legalised drug as far as I am concerned…with an incredible addictive quality to its make up. We can’t seem to do without it. It is almost as bad with SALT, ADDITIVES, DAIRY PRODUCE, and ALCOHOL. What are we doing to ourselves? Who thought it was a great idea to ruin the taste of nature, because that is what we have done over the last couple of centuries. Eat natural, organic, free of additives (and that includes sugar and salt) and you’ll be guarding yourself from possible illness and preventing disease. Again, lecture over. So tough, though.

Must go…I will try to blog properly tomorrow to let you know how things are here. I’m well. Spiritually and emotionally great…just physically not on top form, that’s all. I have missed you all, and hope to catch up soon.

God bless you.

David

Sunday 6th January 2013

Happy Epiphany. You know, down here in Mexico, as in many parts of the world including Eastern Europe they celebrate this day as their Christmas morning…giving presents to each other, just as the magi did 2000 years ago. Isn’t that great? Here they call it ‘Kings’ Day’ in memory of that special occasion when the wider world acknowledged Christ as God’s chosen saviour, His son. So, Happy Epiphany. Christ is born…Oh, and don’t forget to take down your Christmas decorations today. Don’t want to attract any bad luck, do we?

Slept badly, woke with a headache and queasiness, but everything steadily recovered and finished having such a great day again. Ernesto held a moving service in Christine and Matt’s room, and spoke and sang with God’s wisdom and grace. The prayers he led were apt and inspiring. I had my treatments again, which finished at around 3pm, which was followed by a talk by Rick Hill about how to get the most from our stay at the hospital, and especially about ongoing self-help and home regimes. You know, it is going to be tough to eat what I am supposed to eat, and especially to NOT eat what I’m NOT supposed to eat and drink…but I’m all in for this. I have to subscribe to this diet, and to have little or nothing to do with the junk that creates some serious problems for me and to so many people in society. (Lecture over) Nicola and I then joined Christine and Matt for a stroll to the local restaurant for a wonderful dinner. Whilst there we met Ernesto and his beautiful family. That was really special to us, and I was greeted so warmly by all five of them…I miss my children so much, so it was exciting to have some time with all three of these lovely ones. Nathan, Valerie and Naomi were just really loving, as their parents are, too. I must draw them a cartoon tomorrow to say how much I appreciated their kindness. When we all returned ‘home’ we four met together again in our room to share some prayers, thoughts and laughter in a spirit of honest love and friendship.

Ernie has had a rough time over the past three days, and we have missed his jollity and presence at the meal table. I have also missed him during the early evenings, as I desperately wanted to deprive him of $5 in a bet whilst watching the cage-fighting. Never mind…It’ll have to wait till February when we all return for the second bout (ooops, did I say bout? I meant round…err, no, I mean programme of treatments) Ernie is much better now, and we visited him in his room earlier to say ‘Hi and Bye’, and give them a drawing too. He and Linda leave tomorrow, but they promised to stay in touch.

As for us, we need to pack tomorrow, I suppose, for our departure late on Tuesday night. We will be touching down late afternoon on Wednesday at Heathrow (Tom, Ella…it’s flight BA 272 from San Diego, so look out for us above Ealing on the flight path) I have tomorrow’s full day of treatments, plus a couple of lectures to attend at last. I am happy to complete the first round, and looking forward more than you can realise to seeing my three, and all of my friends and family…and the Ealing family (Yes, I’ve missed you lots). I realise I will be very tired on the first day or two back in England’s bosom, but I promise to take it easy and to catch up slowly.

I had so much to share, but – I hope you don’t mind – I am very tired now and I am going to climb into bed with this gorgeous lady in my room. Don’t tell Nicola.

Good night and God bless.

David

Saturday 5th January 2013

It is far too early to write anything of any chronological worth in my blog today. I haven’t ‘done’ anything yet, apart from have a bit of breakfast and my treatments (I’m typing this one-handed as I enjoy the delights of a vitamin c infusion…oh, no. Just changed to a B17 infusion)

So, this shouldn’t be a long blog entry, you may be pleased to note.

Spoke to Jane a few minutes ago. She is such a great friend, and I am so pleased that she has been nominated as our new Education Officer at the school. The staff, parents and children will remember her from a visit last July to our Speech Day at Ealing Town Hall. She is going to pop in to say hello on our inset day – probably on the Tuesday.

I was delighted to see that Eric had an opportunity to fly his kite on Brighton beach yesterday. Suzi sent me the photographs, and he seemed to be flying well like a pro. I miss his little face, which brightens up any moment for me, even the gloomiest of days. I can’t wait to see my three…each one of them holds a very special place in my heart and my life.

Rick Hill said that he survived and thrived through the illness as a direct result of his healthy spirit. He loved to laugh, to be entertained, to be entertaining, to see the funny side of things others may see as serious or sombre or even gory; to laugh out loud until your sides hurt, to be spontaneous and surprising. I don’t think that this is everything…but I do believe that living life to the full is an excellent way to want more and more of it. If I love my life, then surely my focus is going to be positive and healthier. It is important to me that I have my purposes as well as a great outlook on my journey, I do not just want to be a blackberry-picker. He is right. Moreover, Rick is now 64 years old and looks about 44. Now, that’s impressive. Again, the medical institution had collectively given up on Rick…the only one who hadn’t was Rick himself and God. That’s quite a story.

I have a story to tell too, and I want/need to tell it. I am going to be fine. I am fine. My focus is not on getting cured. My focus is on living…particularly living a life that I hope will be pleasing to the Lord. Not because I want to be saved…I already am with Jesus’s sacrifice and Grace…but because it is fulfilling and ultimately rewarding both now and when I answer to it. I am in a better place. I am not a better person, as I had said earlier last year…I am more sharply focused and aware of grace, beauty and delight surrounding me in the world. Not just through sights and senses, but mainly through people. You are amazing.

Life is good. Don’t miss out.

Buenos Nochas. Adios, Dios te guarde.

David

Friday 4th January 2013

Sorry to Dawn, Shaun, Tom and Ella for not telling you the flight details last week. I gather you wanted to wave us adios. Your thoughts and prayers have more than waved; they will have carried us all the way to Mexico and back again, three times over. I’ll let you know for the next bout, though. I know how low and loud the flights over Ealing are, so I will look down on you next month on the second leg. You are in my thoughts now. It has been a really tough year for your family, and I am full of respect and admiration for how you’ve coped and grown individually and as a family unit. God bless you. Love to Nan, too, please.

Another good day, but I must admit to feeling a little unwell. Especially last night when I had literally just completed the blog and closed up the lid. I felt the world spinning so quickly, I had to grab the bedstead to stop myself from flying off…or so I thought. Light-headedness, I think. Perhaps I’ll not go for a run tomorrow morning. I did find it tough this morning.

Ernesto, Nicola and I worshipped together at 8.45am, followed by all my treatments up to around 2.45pm. We then had another walk along the beach on this unseasonably lovely day. We met our happy, friendly fisherman again. His name is Willie, and we all chatted merrily for ages. His English was excellent, having lived in the States for a number of years. He lives on the sea front and now seems to just fish for a living. He catches white perch and grills them for his family. He also uses driftwood and sea-junk (is it flotsam or jetsam?) to make ornaments and he is going to put the finishing touches to something he has put together for his new North London friends. We’ll see him tomorrow again, all being well. He also was ‘certain’ that I would get better, because his prayer was now added to all the others, so there.

We sat with Christina and Matt and spoke for ages about our plans together and prayed and shared our dreams. It is wonderful to have two such people who honestly connect so perfectly. I know that Christina will be well again, even though the going is presently tough for her. She’s got far too much to do here to leave for quite a long time yet. She oozes energy and positivity even when she is feeling so low. Matt, similarly, is strong and loving. He is important in this battle, and holds the key to Christina’s victory too. I shared my ideas about what I desire, and what I dream about…and they did not laugh, or ridicule or raise their eyes…They encouraged. No, they did more than that. They have perfect faith in me, and can visualise the success. A success that we four will all share with our families in the near future.

I finished reading ‘The Shack’. A book by Wm Paul Young. It is incredible, and I would encourage anyone to read it. It is – in so many ways – a very simple story, but so deep at the same time, full of profound truths and challenges for our lives and our understanding of God and His role in tragedy, illness and despair. It opened my eyes and heart and brought me to a newer, deeper level of understanding of key issues, especially involving judgement and forgiveness….but it is so much more than that. Listen to this:

(The Holy Spirit spoke) ‘…if anything matters, then everything matters. Because you are important, everything you do is important. Every time you forgive, the universe changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes; with every kindness and service, seen or unseen, my purposes are accomplished and nothing will ever be the same again’

Isn’t that so beautiful and, at the same time, so powerful? Touching lives affects the whole world. Making it a better place. God’s work. It has had a profound influence on my day. I begin to comprehend more, and to plan a few things to forgive those who had wronged me in the past, hard though that may be for me and for them.

After a light dinner (I wasn’t hungry) I sat with Medhi to watch some UCF (Ultimate Cage Fighting) Sounds really at complete odds with the messages of love and peace weaving in and out my day. But, hey. I never claimed to be perfect. I thoroughly enjoyed the brutality of the sport, though I really didn’t want that Brazilian’s arm torn off like that. Too bad. Messy.

Nicola has been suffering today with a bad headache, poor sausage. I wish I could prevent these, as she does suffer quite a bit with them. She was great, though…it didn’t stop her being so attentive to me, and coming for a long walk this afternoon. I really love and admire her strength and resilience. She is incredible, and sheer perfection. Yes, my perfect woman…but don’t tell her, she’ll get so big-headed.

Can I finish with a direct quote from Elizabeth Barrett Browning (Wife of Robert)?

Earth’s crammed with Heaven,

And every common bush afire with God,

But only he who sees takes off his shoes;

The rest sit round it and pick blackberries.

Good night and God Bless you all.

David

ps I was joking about the Brazilian’s arm.

pps It was his head.

Thursday 3rd January 2013

Just a quick catch up tonight…Nicola is forbidding me to write as much as I have done over the past couple of days. People bore easily, she insists…short is sweet, less is more. Here goes:

Fabulous day. 7.30am run along beach (solo, obviously) 8am breakfast (I’m sort of getting used to water-porridge and cactus) 8.45am Devotionals/songs/talk…brilliant. Wept (Wuss, I am) with joy and understanding about how much God loves me and approves of me (9.30am – 1.30pm infusions/ treatments) 2pm After-lunch long walk along beach (with Nicola, obviously!) which was inspirational. Paddling in the mighty Pacific ocean. 5pm Prayer session/talk with Christina and Matt…again, pressing the ‘God really does love you’ buttons repeatedly. I’m beginning to get it, right? 6.30pm Dinner. 7.30pm chat with best friend, songs, study, reading. 9.30pm shower. final check on blood pressure, temperature and climb into bed at 10pm.

I have loved this day probably more than any other since starting the IRT treatment here in Mexico. I am settled and I am totally convinced that life really does begin here. Today started well with the run, and got better and better. When I ran this morning (only for 25 minutes) I had to stop. Not to pause for breath. To take in God’s fabulous scenery. What a brilliant artist, eh? Amazing. Let’s pause – just occasionally – to look at life and its incredible blessings and benefits. Be grounded in the present. It’s a gift.

How’s that? All done in less than 250 words!

God bless you all.

David

Wednesday 2nd January 2013

A memorable day in so many ways. My trust in the treatment I am receiving has grown immeasurably, and there are incidents that have been responsible. I met with the Pastor, Ernesto, earlier today and he chatted and sang two hymns to Nicola and then me. One song was called ‘Breakthrough’ and I will share the very simple and poignant words with you when I remember them all. Beautiful.

I also met again with Matt and Christina. she has been very ill yesterday and today, but still had the inner strength to take part in a prayer and meditation session in her room. Nicola and I feel honoured to call them close friends now, and we both feel a strong and binding emotional and spiritual connection with them. I find them both inspirational, and Christina stated some home truths that had me in tears again. She asked me to embrace and describe the love I feel for my own children, and then try to feel and accept the perfect love that God has for me. It is the purest form of that paternal love, and – just as I would NEVER think any of my children unworthy of my love – so I cannot possibly believe that I am unworthy of love, be it God’s or Nicola’s, or the children’s, or my Mum’s or my friends. She also made me visualise my future, which I could do….and that was so powerful. SO POWERFUL.

At lunchtime, Nicola and I met Rick Hill here in the dining room. He is the author of ‘The Cancer Conundrum: Stop dying – start living’ and he was absolutely fascinating. He talked about food, nutrition, life-style, politics, The Queen, British and American History, The 2nd Amendment, Gun Laws and collectivism. Amazing man. He asked me to place my focus not on the cancer, not even on getting well again…but on getting excited about ‘projects’ that I have in the future…or now. Rick ‘recovered’ from stage 4 cancer whilst a patient at the Oasis of Hope Hospital when everyone told him that he did not have hope or a future…just a few months. Here he is 38 years later, a terrifically successful man, more excited than ever about his future plans at the age of 63. He was a revelation to me and to Nicola.

When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in early 2006, I was depressed. I hate to admit it, but it is true. I was. I went through all the treatments without a moment’s hesitation or regard for the consequences, in truth. I would miss my beautiful wife and family and friends when I died, that is true, but I did not for one minute believe that my life was worth the biggest effort of all. I hated to see the pain I was causing. I couldn’t save myself, because I didn’t think I was worth saving. That is what depression does for you. I came through the treatment, and – by all accounts – I was in full remission for several years. It was a small miracle. I just didn’t know it.

I remember thinking (and often crying) about some of the people I had befriended at the Royal Marsden over that few months/years, several of whom are no longer around because of their illness or fatal weaknesses caused by the treatment itself. Why didn’t they live? A 32 year old beautiful mother of two very young girls, with a doting husband. Dead. Gone. I also recall with vivid detail sitting at Sally’s (my beautiful cousin) funeral with my family, and I just could not understand or forgive God for taking her (at the age of 29, with such wonderful plans for her future) and not me. Again I wept and wept and got angrier with the uncaring God we were praising at her service. I saw it almost as much as a punishment for surviving rather than a joy and a gift (a miracle, as Dr Contreras said earlier) from Him. I was as angry with myself for being well again, as much as I was angry at the Lord, I think.

This is not easy for me to admit. Everyone that knows me would probably never have known about my issues around that time, as I hardly ever acknowledged them to anyone, even Nicola. Especially Nicola sometimes. I want to be loved, and I seek approval in most scenarios, but I could never really accept it either. You see, I’ve often thought myself as a bit of a disappointment to her, to my family and friends, and to myself…and therefore to God.

Gracechurch has worked a small miracle in me, for God. I now begin to realise that God works through people, and not (at least not often) through obvious and miraculous incidents. I have been waiting for those for so long, ignoring the real signs from Him all my life. I am worth saving. You taught me that, through your love, your care and support, through your messages, through your gentleness with my wife and family, and by your faith in me and your generosity in getting me here. That is the biggest thing I have discovered. I am worth the life that God has granted, and I fully intend to use it to the full…I’m not that battered old banger that I don’t mind being scratched or bumped. No, I’m a new Porsche GT Turbo…worth a great deal to me (I hope you know what I mean)

I can do things. I can draw well, I have a good way with children, and I’m a very good teacher. I love what I do at Clifton, and I have great plans for our future there. I am a good father, and will make a super Grandfather, and I am going to make a wonderful speech at Evangeline’s wedding (which I will pay for, and will be the best wedding day ever….apart from the 23rd August 1986, perhaps) I will be there in a physical sense at all the major landmarks of my children’s lives. Exam results, Christenings, College presentations, George’s first match as a professional football coach, Eric’s first opening event for his new IT company, Evie’s first major Art Exhibition….I have time. I have purpose. I have a great life ahead.

Rick Hill said that ‘I have time. Have you ever wondered why you are sat at work with your shoulders hunched up around your ears, worrying? When you are at work, you feel guilty about not spending time with the family, and when you’re at home you are worried about the piles of work mounting in your absence? We are never really anywhere in this state of mind.’ Things are changing for me. They have changed overnight, really. I want to take everything in. I choose life. God’s plans for me must involve being here, and I embrace it all.

‘Yesterday is history. Tomorrow a mystery. Today is a gift; that is why it is called the present.’ (Eleanor Roosevelt) Isn’t that beautiful? Look around, enjoy. Use it, live it.

‘Life is our most precious gift from God, and we must do our best to make it abundant and productive.’ (Dr Ernesto Contreras) I intend to do exactly that.

I’m going to get through this. And do you know what? I am going to confound those Doctors who gave up on me. I’m not giving up on me, just as you have shown that you never gave up on me either. I owe it to you. I owe it to my children. I owe it to myself. I owe it to Nicola, of course. I want to grow up and old in her wonderfully long arms. I owe it to my God, who will not, shall not, and cannot give up on me either.

God bless you all. Good night. Buenos Nochas.

David

Tuesday 1st January 2013

Happy New Year to you all. I am having a refreshing, relaxing and invigorating time down here in Mexico. I do not have treatment today, so I’m making the most of the free slots I have by blogging, reading, drawing and walking with my Angel.

Life is God’s most precious gift to us all, and I fully intend to make the most of it, filled with energy, purpose and enjoyment. There is surely no point in waking up knowing that the world will throw us some curves of challenge and being distraught or defeatist about these, at the same time being ignorant of the many blessings surrounding us. Am I making sense here? It is a realisation I have again been shown recently, and I’ve just told Nicola a short story to try and illustrate what I mean by ‘living my future life to the full’

‘David awoke in his canoe. He was, as always, drifting slowly backwards downstream. The other conoeists and sailors were on the whole similarly drifting back. Some slowly, others slightly more rapidly. One or two didn’t seem to be moving at all, sleeping or gazing unblinkingly around them. On the rare occasion, David saw a solitary canoeist moving the wrong way. Upstream. How odd it looked.

David heard a crashing noise and looked around to see the source of the commotion. He looked to his left and then to his right without noticing anything of any worth. Nothing. He heard the sound again and strained to see what it was. It was then that he noticed.

To his left and to his right, he saw land. For the first time, David was beginning to realise the world he was in. Strange though it may seem, David was unaware that he was on a river, and that on either side of him was the most beautiful of scenery…scenery that he had scarcely imagined and never seen. Or rather, perhaps seen yet never fully understood or appreciated. As if for the first time, he was aware. Alive to the fact that his world was wonderful. He simply sat – this time without drifting backwards – and admired with an artist’s sense of awe and wonder the majesty and craftsmanship of the greatest creator of all.

“The world is wonderful. This is remarkable. A miracle. I must never again drift like this without thanking God for His glories surrounding each of us. How on earth could I have missed all this?”

After hours and hours of glorious exchange of wondrous input and grateful extol, David again craved for something more, yet again he didn’t know what. He loved the world now, it was true, and he started to love what God had shown of His great beauty. Yet he started to realise that there was something more that he needed.

The answer came in another moment involving something surprising. A shock.

The skies darkened. The rains came first. Then the terrible winds. David no longer gazed at the scenery. He couldn’t even see the banks of the great river as the air was suddenly so dark, so murky and dreadful. The river became unbearably rocky, making David sick to his stomach, in danger of capsize and the unknown.

It is strange, isn’t it, that at the times of greatest danger and challenge a moment of heroism or a sign of genuine human strength and purpose seems to awaken in us something spiritually uplifting? It is at the times of greatest trauma that we find our inner source of strength and hope.

David was aware of movement to his right. It was a young lady who was moving quickly upstream in her own bright red kayak. Her hair flowed freely behind her as she careered through the water without a sound. David watched her disappear into the murky distance with only one backward glance. In that look and in that instant, David’s life changed for the second time.

The girl was beautiful. She smiled with mirth and grace, as her body effortlessly carved patterns in the air with oars, piercing the water with amazing skill and smoothness, and cutting through the storm with efficiency and a sense of calmness beyond his imagination.

But David drifted backwards in the face of the ravaging weather.

He gripped the sides of his canoe as it tossed uncontrollably in the night. David silently prayed to God, but God wasn’t there. It was hopeless.

As he looked down at his craft, David checked if his belt was securely fastened around his lifejacket. His hand reached down to connect with the buckle and felt instead the roundness of a wooden pole. He tugged it free from below the parapet to find an oar. David stared at the instrument, knowing and not knowing what it was, or what its use was. He remembered finally, the girl, cutting forward through the storm with the aid of the oar in the water. David inwardly smiled and set to work.

Such hard work David had never done. It was tough, and it stretched David’s strength and resilience to the limits, but he found the inner spirit to battle slowly forward in the water. He went forwards, he drifted disappointingly backwards on occasion, yet he managed through what seemed like days to creep forward in his canoe. The storm abated, and eventually the waters calmed. The sun rose and the beauty of God’s countryside delighted his eyes and fed his spirit. He relaxed at last and looked around with a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. This is life, he thought.

The girl never left his thoughts, either.’

I enjoyed that. I hope you liked it. Perhaps I should write it and illustrate it?

Good night and God bless you.

David

Monday 31st December 2012

I realise it is already 2013 for all of you lot in Blighty, but it is still 8.30pm on 31st December 2012 here. So, I’m messaging you from last year, it seems. I’m a time-traveller. Aren’t we all.

I’ve just returned to my room after a wonderful supper, laid on for all the patients and companions (that’s how the chaperones are referred to here) which consisted of a wonderful ‘proper’ Christmas meal of turkey, potatoes, vegetables and sauces, followed by salads and a dessert of apple fruit salad and finishing with a sort of fried tortilla (the name escapes me) All of this was ‘accompanied’ by three-amigo style mexican guitarist/singers. They were great, and the atmosphere was touching and uplifting. Nicola and I danced – as did Matt and Christina – and the whole evening was enjoyable. Matt and Christina arrived here yesterday, and we already feel a great affinity towards them both. Christina has a story to tell of her battle with cancer, which is truly remarkable. She also has a blog, but I haven’t read this as yet. I have a feeling that we are going to have some further stories to tell, her and me, and the friendship we have with them will – I hope and pray – last for many years to come. She is one of those people who is inspiring when you meet her.

Talking of inspiration, we happened to meet up with Dr Contreras earlier today, and he spent quite some time explaining the programme and speaking about my situation and prognosis. He is so upbeat about my chances of survival and longevity. I am totally convinced, after my talk with him, that I will be around to see my children grow to adulthood, being there at their weddings (especially to give Evangeline away down that aisle) and being a doting and brilliant Grandfather (I want to be called Pop, after Nicola’s Grandfather, who was such a wonderful man) I really do feel that good here. I can feel that this programme is going to work in me, and that it is God’s will that it does so….and that He has real purpose for me in the remainder of my time here on earth. I wish I knew exactly what that purpose is, but I do feel sure that I need to do something to witness God’s message whilst I’m here. Maybe that is – as it is now, but with greater clarity and purpose – as a Head Teacher in Ealing. Maybe it is through the blog and beyond. Maybe God has something completely different planned for me…I simply don’t know. But I will. Somehow. And I still have all my Bucket list items….

So, here I am sitting in my hospital room in Tijuana, Northern Mexico, writing to an audience who (I hope) are fast asleep by now (It is 5.30am for you right now) and wishing you all a very happy and peaceful new year, full of grace and promise. I do hope that things go well for each and every one of you, my friends. Stay positive, and keep yourselves safe and loved at all times. Do you know, it is a Mexican tradition to hug twelve people to welcome in the new year. I wish I could do that right now with you all…especially my three children and my Mum (who I miss dearly, too) I did it anyway here tonight. You’ll be glad to know that Nicola was one of them – the first and biggest hug, actually – so I have done so in spirit and in virtual reality across the pond.

I’m happy. I know that 2013 will bring challenges, issues and situations rather than problems. I know, too, that there may be some setbacks. But I also know that this year will continue in the way 2012 has ended. With great optimism and promise and hope. I am hopeful of change in many senses of the word. Changes for me, for my family, for my friends. Changes in the way I see things in everyday life. With greater clarity and deeper understanding and a degree of thankfulness for the many, many blessings in my life. Something I have taken for granted (some of them even ignored, or even treated as curses) that I no longer see as anything other than boons and benefits from God. I will cherish moments and occasions…especially with my children and Nicola. My relationships with others will improve, I’m certain, as I enjoy the clarity and purpose of my life. I fully intend to grow old with Nicola and to work for many years to come. Mexico has already shown that to me. Your belief and support in me has been revealed in such a physical, tangible and overwhelming way. I still cannot believe it, guys. It is amazing, isn’t it? Whether you know it or not, God Himself has worked through you all to get to reveal these truths to me. I will not waste the chance you have given to me in this way.

I was sent a message from Phil and Jo the day before I left from Heathrow. It quoted some bible verses and these were apt and relevant. The words that they used were from the heart and spirits of real friends in Christ:  God is our refuge and strength., an ever-present help in trouble. I was also sent some words from Kim and Angie (The gorgeous twins) that I penned for one of our Random Patrol songs (‘Home’): ‘You’ll never fall down and not have hands to pick you up’ I do feel that. Your hearts, spirits and prayers brought me here, yet I can still feel your presence with me. I feel so loved. I didn’t know or believe it. It is wonderful.

I want to say so much more. I want to tell you what else has happened to me since we last blogged, but the truth is I can’t remember everything. All is well, and my treatments are painless and strangely uplifting. I have infusions of Ozone (re-oxygenated blood), enormous doses of vitamins C and B17 (The banned one, remember) which altogether takes about 5 hours of the day, but the rest is our own, really. This is – apparently – not a great area for a long walk (You know what I mean) and the district is hardly packed with possibilities for touring. However, there is a supermarket within 5 minutes, and the beach (Pacific) is only a 10 – 15 minute stroll away. We’ve been down there once so far, and it was refreshing. Neither of us has seen the Pacific before. We will try to go back tomorrow, as I have a day free of infusion treatments, leaving a few hours to kill. We went to the next door church yesterday, too. (Sunday service here) which was stimulating even though we couldn’t follow the Spanish sermon at all. The Pastor was animated and made everyone laugh, and kept quoting 1 Corinthians 9. I’m reading it tonight to see at least what it was he was so animated about…

We have face-timed the children several times, and have celebrated the New Year with both Evangeline and Eric (both staying with Tania, Sunil and Grannie) which was great fun. It was lovely making up a story for them at bedtime (called ‘Flippy-Floppy Man’), and Nicola even sang GG’s song to Eric to settle him. Sweet.

I’m getting a little tired now, so I will go. I hope all of my friends, relations and my colleagues over in Ealing (along with the fabulous children and parents) can take heart from the fact that I am well and happy, and will be in top, top form on my return. In the meantime – once again – may the peace and joy that only comes from God – reach you all through your homes, friends and families to bring you the happiest of new years. God bless you all.

Good morning. Adios, todos. Buenos

David

 

 

Saturday 29th December 2012

At least I think it is Saturday….I am really quite happily disorientated as to where, what, when and why I am. Mmmm?

Well, we made it. We have reached the £40,000 and we are now sitting in our little (cosy) room in Tijuana, Mexico. Nicola is – as always – sitting by my side (physically and spiritually) as I wait for the Doctor to arrive to begin my treatments. Today, I’m having Ozone treatment, B17, and Vitamin C infusions…can’t wait to get it started. Thank you, all, for giving me the chance of a lifetime (literally)

The farewell on Thursday afternoon was tough. The children were sad to see us go, but positive at the same time. Evangeline, especially, let her emotions show and the tears flowed. The boys were outwardly fine, but I know that they will miss us this New Year week…It’s the first time we’ve both ever been away from them for more than two days, so this does feel weird. I miss them enormously, and I think of them most of the time. We face timed them yesterday, lunchtime for us, but evening for you. That was amazing, and uplifting for both of us.

The flight was fabulous. Due to my blood clot, and my susceptibility to further clotting, you sent me club class so that my legs would be raised, and I thoroughly enjoyed all the benefits. Check in was a doddle, and the lounge facility at Heathrow was frankly embarrassingly indulgent and yet so enjoyable. I’ve never felt so spoilt and privileged in my life. I had a massage and free food and drinks (when I say drinks, I mean tea or apple juice, you’ll be pleased to hear). The flight itself was super, and I admit to not having even a wink of sleep. I read, I watched two films hitherto unseen (MIB3 and Total Recall), and listened to a selection of music via their BA system (ranging from Mike Oldfield’s classic to Maria Callas) and roved around the sleeping passengers like some naughty school boarder or sinister stalker…I was wearing my sexiest elasticated stockings for the whole flight and beyond as ordered by doctors and guardian angels alike. It was beautiful looking out of the windows at 30,000 feet on a full moon and a myriad stars. I felt God’s presence and enormity. I’m not even a dot. No, not even a dot upon a dot. Insignificant in the face of such expanse and sheer power and beauty. And yet here I was being flown as on the wings of eagles by your love to hope and a future. Why? Hard to answer, but there is a reason. There must be a reason, and I am not going to waste this chance. Thank you so very much.  God is working through you, I know it.

When I think back now with Nicola when I was told that I had secondary cancer and that there was no cure, only treatment for trying to keep me alive for as long as possible, this journey was not even a vague possibility. Nicola has been instrumental, of course, with her inability to accept the blatantly obvious, and her passion for me and her faith to find a way to save me (again). But even when she tried to convince me that there was a way, and that many people had made recoveries after being told they had no chances at all of survival, I still could not accept or even dream that I would be given this possibility. When I was told the prices of the ‘alternative’ treatments and the cost of flights etc, it was simply ‘pie in the sky’. I should never have doubted the tenacity and resolve of Nicola, and of Sharon and Jules…and God Himself working miracles behind the lives of others. When I look back it is nothing short of miraculous. £40,000? A ridiculous amount, and one that should surely been out of sight for us. I am loved, and I know it. I have to accept that. I am blessed. I know that too. Oh, I’m being called for my initial treatment…back later.

I’m back. The hospital itself is lovely. Calm. Quiet. Relaxed. Peaceful and spiritual. We were made to feel very welcome here. The room that Nicola and I have is sweet. Not luxurious, but comfortable and spacious. It has a double bed and a ‘hospital’ bed, so that I can still cuddle up to Nicola at night. I have jet lag, of course, but I am happily tired and hopeful. I have had treatments today consisting of ‘ozone’ and vitamin C and B17 infusions. Easy!

Must go…I’ll have plenty of time to type more very soon. I just wanted you to know I’m fine. Here and Happy and Hopeful. Bless you all.

David

ps We are eight hours behind you, so it is now 4pm, not midnight.

 

Monday 24th December 2012

I know. Some of you have contacted Nicola and others to ask if I am alright, as I haven’t written a blog entry in quite a few days, following my scan. I should have thought to put you in the picture, and I am sorry for worrying any of you. My scan was fine. It showed no significant growth of the tumours on my lungs, chest and spine, except that there are many of them, which is a little annoying. I’d prefer to be attacked by a Bengal tiger rather than a thousand rats.

Still, I’m no worse than before really, and what I was anxious about was that the scan may reveal another infection that jeopardised my trip to Mexico. That is still happening in just three days from now. Thanks to you, of course. If a cure is found there to be effective with me, just think of all the brownie points you would be receiving from me.

When I now think back to the last four months, I can scarcely believe it and I definitely cannot understand it. It is like a dream. A good one, not in any way a nightmare before Christmas. It has been simply wonderful. Embarrassing as it is, it has been wonderful in so many ways. I don’t know why, but it has been the best of times for me.

It’s been the best of times of my life, I suppose, because I never realised that I was loved by people other than my wife and children (even that has been questionable on occasions) and close family. I am nothing special at all. I’m just a teacher (my vocation, yes, but just a teacher) with just a legacy of good teaching, I hope…but that’s it. Why have you raised this money for little old me? I’m overwhelmed and tremendously grateful for the opportunity you have given me to save myself out in Mexico. I’m going to give it my best shot. Thank you, all.

Am I ready? I don’t know. Nicola will – as always – pack for us both, but I am insisting on taking my kindle with some forty books on there (including a free bible), my art stuff (consisting of pastels and pens, etc) and my laptop so that I can still communicate with school, especially and do my blog I hope. I’m looking forward to spending twelve days and nights with Nicola and, though I will miss George, Evangeline and Eric, I can hopefully relax and sleep as much as possible to recoup. Not exactly the holiday I was hoping for in 2013, but I can’t complain at all…It’s going to be good, and we feel positive about the opportunity.

I said last blog that I wasn’t straight with you all. What I mean is this…I feel weary and exhausted. I hate to admit that I feel old, getting completely out of breath by simply walking and stair-climbing. I’ve always been strong and fit, and that upsets me. I know it happens to us all anyway, but I know that reason for my weariness, and I don’t like not being in control. It’s those thousand rats, and I can’t seem to shake them off. I haven’t always (ever?) been honest about how I am, and even though I do not enjoy being quizzed about it, I can tell you that “I’m fantastic” isn’t always (ever?) the truth, really. I’ve been better. I hate to bother anyone, and I think it weak and wimpy to admit anything other than strength and optimism. Nicola has taught me many things, including humility. Real humility. I thought I was invincible, right? That is hardly being truly humble. It is arrogance and stupidity (a dangerous mix) and I am guilty of both weaknesses. Real strength always grows from truth, I now realise. I’ve always been an optimist, and I don’t want to change, but I need to be honest. Honest with myself and honest with you, too.

It’s been the best few months of my life as you have all visited me, prayed for me, sent me messages of love and hope, and have supported the cause to send me away! I will always cherish your friendship and love, no matter what happens as a result of going to Mexico…I mean it. It has been life-affirming and inspiring. Amazing. I have had some incredible experiences of grace and love. To see Bernie and Karen, and Brendan too…Margaret, Sandy, Mary, Joe and Annie…and so many close and beloved friends from all stages of my life is just so precious and memorable for me.  

To see and hug so many old friends from Dorking, from Berkhamsted, from St Anthony’s, from Duncombe, from Hendon, from Ealing…..and even from my fairly murky past… has been truly remarkable and indescribably uplifting for me. I do love it all. I have found that my faith has grown and that I am closer to God. The fellowship of Grace Church, of Philip especially, and of the school community over in Ealing have been like being wrapped in a familiar blanket, keeping me safe and protected. Oh, yes. I have had a terrific few months. My life is made clearer and more meaningful because of the possibility of death in the near future. I can’t really describe that fully, but it is true. I’m calmer, more sensitive and gentler, more appreciative of each minute of the day. I’m a better person because of cancer, and I am grateful to God for my blessings…including that one.

Thank you all for the help and support, in whatever form. It has been because of you that I now set off with some hope in my heart. Thank you. Thank you.

Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year. Don’t you dare worry about me now. I am totally blessed and happy to the core. I know I am going to love every minute of this blessed and holy time, and I thoroughly hope that each one of you does likewise.

God bless you all with the peace and love of the baby Jesus. Happy Christmas.

David

Wednesday 19th November 2012

Hi, long time no hear. The Beautiful Hertford twins sent me a text asking if I was okay, and that they had been worried about me because I hadn’t blogged for quite a while. Well, I am fine – sort of – and I will blog properly tomorrow at some point (now I’ve finished school for a couple of weeks) in between preparing a few things for Nicola’s birthday on Saturday (she is 29, I believe…my maths was never too hot), Christmas itself and for the forthcoming trip to the land of Tequilas and ponchos on the 27th. I will, obviously, have more time to blog, read, write, plan and draw whilst out there.

I have much to tell you, and perhaps I should be more open with you about recent events, etc…but I will get to that soon.

Please pray for me as I go for more scans tomorrow at 8.30am at the Marsden. I’m a little apprehensive about the results.

Have a wonderful night. God bless you.

David

Monday 10th December 2012

Again, I can’t really believe that all this is happening to/for me. I’m still reeling from last night’s Auction at the Clissold Arms (home of The Kinks) and all of the friends who turned up and made the evening so incredibly memorable and exciting.

I’m really not special. Far from it. I’m just a bloke from Wigan who is confused and overwhelmed by the response to my cancer. I am a father and a husband who cherishes time as both. I have close friends and a terrific family who obviously care for me and want the best for me and my close family. I find it difficult to understand why you do care for me so much…and I cannot grasp at all what it is when you say that I have made such a difference to people. Have I? What have I ever done but teach? A noble profession, of course, and I’m proud of what I have always done in that respect, but there are so many teachers out there much greater than I. You overestimate me and, though I am so grateful to you all, I can’t recognise who you are talking about. I find that confusing and embarrassing…

Having said all of that, I am also thoroughly enjoying these events. I don’t want those to stop in a strange way…I do feel the love, as someone said last night. I feel it deeply and constantly, and I am buoyed by your positive and compassionate energy.

Thank you so much to Jai and to Kelly for all of the immense preparation that a major event like last night must have taken. It truly was remarkable, and it is something I will never forget as long as I live….(no pun intended)

Thank you, too, to Crispin and to my good friend Mark, who acted as Auctioneers for the evening, making the time go with a giggle. Thanks to our very own Von Trapp family…the Montanaros…and the gorgeous Frankie on lead vocals. I’m already a big fan of hers. You sing beautifully…keep it up. I loved the whole night. Wow. It was so great to see you all, scrubbed up and highlighted, as my Mum might say. Andy, Frank, Mike, Veronica, Nick, Christine, Michael, Siobhan, Martin, Noella, Ali and the pilates gang, and everyone there…thank you so very much. I love you.

God bless you all. I am blessed with God’s love and yours too. I do not deserve either, but I am happy and strengthened by both.

Good night,

David

Tuesday 4th December 2012

This is my 100th blog entry apparently, so I’d better make it a good one.

I have enjoyed a wonderful few days with the family. The Friday night gig was just terrific fun, and I do hope that the audience loved the music as much as the band loved performing it all. It was just so uplifting to see so many friends old and new, and so many colleagues, ex-colleagues and family all bopping away to the songs. Even my father in law was dancing, so it must have been okay. The words from Nicola, my soul mate and from Nigel, my fabulous brother in law were emotional and heartfelt, and I appreciated them very much. Nicola said she was in awe of me, didn’t she? Or did I dream that? I am totally in awe of her, how she has coped and soldiered on in the face of adversity and challenge. I adore her. My gifts from my ‘second family’ Wigan Athletic through Nigel, were just amazing. They will take pride of place in the house, and at school in my office. I was also proud of my three…George, Evangeline and Eric. They are strong and beautiful.

Saturday was Eric’s 11th Birthday and he celebrated it with his family and was absolutely overjoyed (and a bit Hyper all day) with his presents from one and all. We had also booked 5 tickets for the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studios tour on Sunday, so that – again – was tremendous fun for us all. So Eric, really had a three day Birthday, and he loved it all.

Nicola went to the passport office in Victoria today to get passports for herself and Eric, so that’s a relief. Eric doesn’t need one yet, but Nicola does, as we have booked our tickets to fly to Mexico on the 27th December, returning on 9th January. I am pleased at this, and I am so very grateful to the friends and relatives who have made this journey possible. I will do everything I can to be better, and – if God wills it – I will succeed and eventually be fighting fit once more.

Evangeline had a great feedback from all of her teachers in the parents’ meeting earlier. Nicola and I feel proud and privileged that she is so clever and hardworking in her studies, and so creative and able.

Philip came round tonight, too, and we read Genesis 12, where God makes a promise to Abram (later to become Abraham) that he would be the father of a great nation, that he would have a home in the promised land, and that he would bless the people of all nations. The last promise here made the greatest impression on me, but all three are pertinent to the life I (we) lead. I trust in God, I hope, just as Abraham did, but with the benefit of greater knowledge of God’s plan. Abraham knew nothing of God’s purpose in his life, and – as an old man – could not have expected a great deal in terms of a future. Cetainly not an inheritance as improbable as God’s promise. I sincerely hope that God’s plans for me and my family are beneficial as I can understand them, but who am I to fathom the depths of His plans and His delivery of them. It may not be in any way that I expect (or want) but it is in God that I trust. I hope that my faith will not wane and that I can convince many of you that I am profoundly of the belief that my God is caring and compassionate, and that He shows it to us through His son, Jesus. Certainly, Philip led me through God’s promises to Abraham, David and Jeremiah, that Jesus’ resurrection from death was foretold and the fulfilment of these promises through the Old Testament.

Andy, I am sorry that this last bit was so ‘Goddy’ (as you put it) but that is what I wanted to say! So there.

I am blessed with your care and support and I am carried through many times of doubt and difficulties by your messages of love and encouragement. I truly am. Thank you all so much.

Good night and God bless,

David

Wednesday 28th November 2012

I’ve had a bit of a roller-coaster week so far. Up and down and around the bends, as Peter Gabriel might say…I admit to feeling low at times again, and I also admit to feeling exhausted right now. I want to do everything as I’ve always done, but I feel older and weaker.

However, there were (and are) real highlights. I went to see ‘Elbow’ at Wembley Arena last night. I know I shouldn’t, as I only got back at midnight. But it was absolutely fabulous. Ben and Jess were there, and we had positioned ourselves right next to the end of the walkway where Guy Garvey patrolled during songs like ‘Grounds for Divorce’ and ‘One Day Like This’ The evening was so much fun, and it was obvious that the band – particularly Garvey – were thoroughly enjoying themselves, too. I’ve seen the band before, and I honestly think they’re the best I’ve probably seen in all my years. Perhaps even better than Gabriel himself, I don’t know.

A tough day today, but it turned out quite well at the end. My ‘flatness’ transcends into school life sometimes, so that the atmosphere is affected…but that just might be my own perceptions. I am upbeat again now, though needing sleep to recharge.

I have been told that there have been another few anonymous contributors to the fund for Mexico. Thank you, whoever you are…’Hampstead’ and ‘Southall’ especially…you know, so that is good. I am so grateful.

And to Viney, especially, for raising nearly £2000 from the Diwali night at school. I am overwhelmed once more, and I want to give you all a massive hug. I know how much time and energy went into the organisation of the event.

We have booked our tickets to fly to Mexico for the first of three cycles of treatments. It still sounds alien to say that, but it is a fact now. We fly from Heathrow on 27th December landing in San Diego some eleven and a half hours later. Nicola and I feel so excited, and more than a little hopeful.

Looking forward to the gig on Friday. We are totally sold out. It will be ace. Some surprises too, to entertain you all. Hope the voice holds up.

The day after that (1st December) it is Eric’s 11th birthday….and we have got him some fabulous gifts. He deserves them, as he has been so lovely and supportive. You’ll see him if you’re coming on Friday, as he is going to help as a ‘waiter’ serving food and drinks, apparently.

Funny, isn’t it, that upsetting news comes in ‘batches’? It can drag you down. I need to keep praying for help and guidance and strength and wisdom, remembering that the real goals and the noble paths to contentment do not really lie in worldly stuff. A member of staff talked to me about satisfaction coming from peace of mind, and a clear conscience. How wise. Mum used to say ‘If someone has a problem with you, lad, then keep it that way’it took me a while to understand that properly. I needn’t make other people’s problems with me into mine…as long as I do things that are right, then I should only fear God’s opinion, not the world’s.

God bless you all, wherever you are and whatever you’re up to.

Good night all.

David

Saturday 24th November 2012

Well, we now have two men living under the Baldwin roof. George turned eighteen yesterday, and celebrated the fact with some extraordinary gifts and surprises. He received a signed original Liverpool football shirt from none other than the number 23 himself, Jamie Carragher. On the shirt Jamie Carragher had written our own message to George: ‘Stay focussed, live your dream and you’ll never walk alone’ On top of this, George was taken out to a fabulous restaurant with Nigel, Grannie, Tania and ‘us lot’ We had a great time, full of laughter and good cheer. We only got to bed around 2am. Eighteen. I feel quite the ancient one now. George had a great week, and a successful day. Thanks to everyone who sent inspiring messages to him. He loved it all.

George had a fantastic time last week at Liverpool FC, at Anfield. Thanks to Andy, we travelled up (in style, actually, with Nigel driving us up there in the Chrysler) to Merseyside with two free tickets. When we approached we were met by Ed Jones, the Wigan press manager and marketing man – and a lifelong Wigan fan like me – who took us into the press box with three seats and a simply unbelievable day watching the match from the most privileged of positions. Ed sat with us, too. In short, we were all treated like royalty and I have never enjoyed myself as much. George was so excited. He was overwhelmed meeting John Aldridge, but Ed had secretly spoken to both managers who made a point of speaking to George separately and this made his day, his week and his year. It was pure joy to see George so embarrassed by the meeting with his heroes. And me? Well, I did fulfil one of my dreams, too. A bucket list item. I met and chatted to Roberto Martinez, who is seriously a magnificent talent in football, and the greatest manager Wigan have been blessed to have. I was honoured to meet him, and even more so to realise what a gentleman he really is. He was fantastic with George and even offered to give him some advice with George’s dream of becoming a successful coach and manager. I have some great shots of the day, and I will get these on the blog at some stage soon.  Thanks to everyone involved with our dream day. Nigel – who has proved himself over and over as a fabulously caring and loving Brother, Brother-in-Law and Uncle. Thank you. Andy who managed to get us the tickets in the first place…thanks. Geoff, who managed to get hold of Ed Jones (who is one of my very best friends now, I’ll tell you!) and arrange this special event. To Ed Jones himself, who was simply amazing. He cared for us during the afternoon as though we were VIPs. I am eternally grateful. Thank you.

I have so much more to tell you all, but you will have to wait. I’ve not been particularly well today, but I feel a little better now (and seeing Wigan win again) after letting you know about last weekend and yesterday. Eric’s birthday next weekend.

I am performing with the band tomorrow at Hertford Corn Exchange at 4.30pm. I hope my throat holds up…I couldn’t even talk this morning…No, It’ll be fine. I’ve decided to be on top form.

May God bless you all with His riches. Good night, all, and sleep well.

David

Monday 19th November 2012

Well, I had better fill you in with the last four or five days’ events and emotions, hadn’t I? Many of you have been asking whether my visit to Duncombe on Friday night was rewarding or not, or whether George’s 18th birthday treat (part 1) was successful, and how the band rehearsals are coming along. Well, here goes:
Nicola and I travelled along the A1000 and the B158 to Bengeo on Friday night to attend the Duncombe Quiz night. I was quite nervous – don’t know why – and completely oblivious to what kind of attendance there was and what kind of reception we were going to get. Let me try to tell you how it went…It was like going back in time. Precious times. The hall was full and we were greeted like royalty…so many familiar faces and voices. It was stunning and I was totally overwhelmed by the love I felt in that room. Kim, Angie, Lauren, Alison, Claire, Lucy, Chris, Sean, Ian, Carl, my beautiful Olivia and the charming young man Harry, Jack, the Stirling family, the Beasleys, the rowdy staff tables with Katherine, Carolyn, Andrea, Jane, Vanessa, the lovely Sally….oh, so many great memories and so many people ‘old’ and slightly less old. Golden years. It honestly made me so happy to see you all together. I wish the circumstances were different in many ways, but I couldn’t be happier, more content. More blessed to have been at the school for ten happy years. I left too early in hindsight. I would have been cared for so well seven years ago, rather than going back to North London to a place where I felt isolated and vulnerable. But never mind all that. I love Duncombe still, and the many children and parents and staff there have made such an impression on me. Blessed indeed. ‘David’ means Beloved and I felt so saturated and safe with the love freely displayed on Friday night. It was wonderful. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. It is something I will always cherish.
Can I tell you about the great Saturday we enjoyed? Do you mind if I do so tomorrow? It is now 12.35am, and my eyes are telling me to stop now. I’m exhausted – happily so.
Good night and God bless, all.
David

Wednesday 14th November 2012

 

Thank you for all your messages of love and support. I do not know how to say it to express my gratitude to each of you. It is your positive energy that helps me to keep upbeat and enthusiastic for the future, whatever it holds for me and my family.

I’m feeling strong today, though very tired. The reason I’m doing this now is so that I can get to bed early…perhaps even 9pm, which would just be great. I went to visit a school this afternoon, and I was trying to engage, but my brain had other ideas. Like shutting down. I’m possibly overdoing it, but I rather think I’m just not managing my time efficiently.

Why is it that we revert to speaking rubbish when we feel it necessary to fill a void with noise? I was at the school visit being shown around by two very polite and charming young sixth formers, but I couldn’t help but be baffled by one of them who repeated the word ‘like’ literally dozens of times. ‘Sort of’ wasn’t that far behind, either. It would have cut her little speeches down by around 50% if she learned how to delete these two nonsensical words from her vocabulary. I never thought I would be in a position to criticise someone’s speech or vocabulary, given my Northern roots. When I went from Lancashire to Surrey, all those years ago, I was teased for my speech which was – as I was told many times – barely intelligible to those soft southern ears. Some weeks later, going back to Lancashire to visit my Mum and my family, I was teased for being ‘right posh’ and a softie-southerner. I’ve never tried to change my accent, as I am very proud indeed of my Lancastrian roots, but I guess (some 30 years later) that you softie-southerners have softened me up quite a bit. I suppose I am a bit posh now! (Ha)

I had a lovely message again from Kim, and I am hoping to pop into the Duncombe School Quiz Night on Friday if I can. It looks incredible, and I would be honoured indeed to be there (and mightily embarrassed) to see you all.  Kim and Angie are both amazing friends, and I am blessed with their companionship.  They are coming to the gig at Hertford AND the gig at North Bridge House School on the 30th November, so I’ll give them both such a big squeeze. Whether they like it or not!

Talking of the 30th gig, I am a bit worried that some of you might miss out, as the tickets are selling so quickly. We must be fairly close to capacity, so ring Sharon or Jules to guarantee your ticket. The details are on the blog, but their numbers are 07775628432 and 07973757553 respectively.

God bless you all. Keep happy (content) You know how, and so do I. I was listening to Radio 4 (snore) this morning on the way into school, and there was an interview with an American man who had studied ‘happiness’ in Harvard students from 1940 to today. He concluded that true happiness came with companionship and having close relationships. I am blessed, as I keep telling you. I have everything. A loving, beautiful wife – who happens to be my closest friend – a wonderful, supportive family, and hundreds of people who I can honestly call close friends. I have a strong faith in Lord Jesus. I have a home in a great area in a great city in a fabulous country. I have certain gifts from on high that I hopefully use to good purpose, and I have the best job ever. I was born to teach and to help children, I realise that now…and I am as happy as a lark in my career. I have finished up in a loving environment at Clifton, and I will not leave. How could I be anything but deliriously happy?

Well, I suppose I’ll just have to try and get to Mexico to get better, so that I can carry on with all of God’s gifts and purposes, eh?

Good night. God Bless,

David

Tuesday 13th November 2012

A quick blog tonight. It is far too late for any literal gymnastics…I can’t even really think straight at the moment. Suffice to say that I have had a great couple of days. Sunday was fabulous, with Ruth 1 being the bible study on Remembrance Sunday morning at GraceChurch. Tennis was great, too. Adrian was on fire that night, which is most unusual…he is normally dreadful (hee hee) We all had such a laugh in the pub afterwards. I was crying with laughter, in fact. Mum was upset that she hadn’t been told the full story of my tumour zones in the chest, lung and spine. I felt awful about that…how would I feel if this was happening to my youngest son? I’d be heartbroken. She loves me in the same way that I love Eric, my youngest, or Evangeline or George.

Monday was super. Photos at the school and several matters being resolved and much admin (yeuch) being tackled. Assembly was enjoyable, and several children’s achievemnets were celebrated.

My visit to the RMH was earlier today and, to cut a long story very short, I had some very good news confirmed. My clot has seemingly disappeared, which surprised Professor Smith. I was delighted, as was Nicola. The tumours have grown slightly, but it makes Mexico a reality, and we can start thinking about booking flights, etc. I’ll let you all know, of course.

I also bumped into Sunna again, which was just lovely. She is such a warm and loving lady, and she always makes me feel great. I’ve not seen her yet without a smile. Sunna is a stand-up comedian, and is doing a few gigs coming up. Look for her events. Sunna Jarman. Remember the name!

Must go. Rehearsals tonight went fab. I am so excited….just tired. God bless you all, and good night.

David

ps THANK YOU SO MUCH to Andy Brough for the Liverpool v Wigan Athletic tickets at the coming weekend. George and I will love the day together. He’s a massive Liverpool fan (where did I go wrong?) Seriously, Andy…we really appreciate what you have done for George’s 18th Birthday next week. You’re a true friend.

Friday 9th November 2012

 

What a wonderful day I’ve just had. No, really. That is not sarcasm. It is true.

Started off a little stressfully with the UCAS form needing to be with George’s school today, so I went through it at 7am with a very tired and grumpy George. Got that done by 7.30am and he went back to bed and I went to school – a little later than usual. Got in okay and I thought I was faced with the pressure of getting all of the Remembrance Day Assembly material together. But, no…the fabulous Mrs Hockley had literally printed off all of the readings (creatively adding a storyline to the programme and had backed everything onto red card…brilliant) so there was only the prayer and the bible reading to print off for the readers. I was so grateful. And apparently it all went really well at The Church. Lots of comments heard about how well the children behaved and the respect they showed for the special, solemn occasion. I love that.

I then went off to the Royal Marsden for my bloods and my scans (CT and Ultrasound) at 8.45am. Quite interestingly, I gave blood and I didn’t feel the needle enter the vein. When I had the catheter in, I bled and bled, eventually having my dressings removed and we started again. I feel like a dartboard. That hasn’t happened to me before, and I suppose it is an effect of the blood-thinning injections I give twice a day. When I was eventually ultra-sounded, I could not believe what I was told. It appears that the clot has departed from my leg. I asked the Doctor to repeat what he said. He replied: “You have no clot. You can fly”

I’ll tell you what…I felt like flying there and then…with or without an aeroplane! That is the best medical news I have had in ages and ages, and I am delighted. It is a result of prayers and dedications…from you. I am very hopeful now of booking flights soon, so that the first leg of the Mexico programme can become a reality. However, I mustn’t jump the gun…I will wait until all the results are analysed by Prof Smith on Tuesday morning.  Now don’t go getting the idea that I am cured! It means that I am free of the constraints of the clot, and that I could potentially fly off within weeks, rather than months. I still have terminal cancer, but I can now see a way of having a shot at going to battle at the Oasis of Hope Hospital.

I bought myself ‘The Complete History of The British Isles’ in paperback as a celebration. It looks great, and I will read much of it over Christmas, I expect.

Tonight was incredible. George, Eric and I went off to join the swimmers over at Oakleigh Park for the sponsored event, raising funds for Mexico. I don’t know how many were there, but I’d guess at 40, all for me…and I was again overwhelmed with the kindness and generosity of spirit in abundance at the pool and poolside. Jonathan, Sue and all the team were present and participating and I am lost for words. I do not know how to tell you what it means to me and my family. Thank you all for this. You’re true friends.

So, what is next? The Duncombe quiz night. If you look under events on the blog, it will describe what Kim and Angie (and their team over in Hertford) have put together. It is all so professional. They’ve even brought an old Governor and good friend, Carl Goldie, out of retirement to be compere for the evening. I might turn up just to heckle him! It looks such good fun, and I am delighted that my old beloved school is happy to join in with the efforts to raise funds whilst promoting great team spirits. Thank you all, too.

Viney and Sam and the team at Clifton have also put together a Diwali night (20th November) at the school itself. Again, it sounds like a great night…though it clashes with an RP music rehearsal. I’ll sort something out! Thank you, all.

And then there’s the gig on the 30th. About 100 tickets have been allocated so far, so there are still tickets to sell if you’re interested and quick about it. You will be entertained on the night with some great music (Pity about the singer), some great food and a fabulous atmosphere. I am genuinely excited.

And finally the Muswell Hill auction held at the Clissold Arms. Details again on the blog…and again this looks terrific. Thank you to Jay and her team for all of that, too. Guys, you are all so generous and loyal…and I can never really thank you enough. Bless you.

I’m reading ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne at the moment, and I will again leave you all with a quote from the writing. Good night and God bless you and whatever you do and say.

‘The earth turns on its orbit for You. The oceans ebb and flow for You. The birds sing for You. The sun rises and sets for You. The stars come out for You. Every beautiful thing you see, every wonderful thing you experience, is all there for You. Take a look around. None of it can exist without You. No matter who you thought you were, now you know the Truth of Who You Really Are.’

 

David

BTW: Yesterday’s poem was actually one of Shakespeare’s Sonnets.

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday 8th November 2012

I am sorry that I’ve not felt sprightly enough for a blog over the last three or four days…I’m back in the land of the living, and raring to get on with stuff again.

I had a rehearsal last night with Random Patrols (RP) and everything went very well indeed. It looks like the 30th November may be a success after all! You will be treated to two sets. The first of which is original RP material, which is just great fun to perform, so I hope that you will like the songs. The second set is covers of old and new material, including the Stones and The Beatles, but also The Killers and Coldplay….and many, many more that you will find familiar and entertaining. The first set starts soon after 7.30pm, and we have an abundance of songs, so please come along and join in the party.  

Lanre came to pray with me earlier today, and I was uplifted by her words and sincerity. God’s hand is surely in mine as I go forward. I also received a card from Marcus which also lifted my spirits. It says: Your courage; your cheerfulness; your resolution gives us the victory. I loved that.

I popped in to see everyone at Hendon earlier with Eric. It was good to see Jane, Renata, Caroline, Suzie and all the rest of the team there, and I felt welcome. The rotters came to my school this afternoon and beat us quite convincingly at 5-a-side football. Poo…we’ll get them back! Our cross-country team will be strong, I think….and I can’t wait to do the tennis and the hockey, as we have some talented players in those disciplines.

I’ve had a good day today, and I had an even better evening when I visited Graham for a bit of a rehearsal for the gig. He is such a talented musician, and you’ll be able to see for yourself on the gig. We had a blast as they seem to say in musical circles, and I am excited about performing with him on the night.

Swimming tomorrow night at the Oakleigh Park School of swimming in Whetstone. I am honoured that Sue and Jonathan there have organised a sponsored swim with all funds raised through sponsorship going to the Mexico treatment. I am grateful beyong expression, and will take part with relish…if you promise not to laugh and point at my skinny, battered and bruised torso. As I have said in the past (to a group of children who were a little traumatised by my scars) I was mauled by a Great White Shark, and have lived to tell the tale. They seemed impressed and strangely reassured by my lie. Eric and Evangeline along with George will be joining me in support. Should be good fun as well. Oakleigh Park Swimming have always been good to my family, starting with George when he was very small, so our association with them goes back well over a decade. I enjoy my Tuesday nights there with Eric still…I enjoy watching the Littleman improving his strokes and I also see Caroline and Joe there each week to have a natter.

On Saturday I’m going to see Athlete in concert doing an acoustic set in Deptford with Jez. Again, that’ll be great.

Tomorrow I have been asked to go for two scans to assess my situation and condition. I am hoping to discover that my clot has calmed down so that I will eventually be given the medical all-clear to travel within a couple of months. Nicola is worried about it, but I am not. It is in God’s capable hands.

Tomorrow’s hospital appointments sadly mean that I will miss the morning’s Remembrance Assembly at The Church of Christ the Saviour. I am more than a little disappointed at this clash, but little I can do. The programme is short for the solemn service and I hope it will be meaningful and beautiful.

Right…Getting tired. Must pop off to sleep. I was told last night that my blog was too ‘churchy’  Ha ha. I’m refusing to apologise for THAT! God is still my saviour and my guide. Whether I live through this or die because of it, He will still be my God and Saviour. I will leave you with a poem. Guess who?

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,
And weep afresh love’s long since cancelled woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanished sight.
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er
The sad account of fore-bemoanèd moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored and sorrows end

Good night and God bless you all.

David

Sunday 4th November 2012

A great weekend, again. We went to Brockham Bonfire yesterday with Beth and her friend Justine, and – along with thousands of others – saw the most wonderful firework display happening right above our heads. Mary and Clive had 112 visitors through the cottage. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing all family,  as well as old and new friends. It was fabulous, and the weather could not have been better.

This morning’s sermon from Philip was pertinent and relevant to me, as I am sure it is to everyone. It was the ending passage of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, and it spoke about contentment…that it is never going to work if you/me rely upon material riches or worldly satisfaction to gain it. The only true contentment comes from the following of God’s way through Jesus. As Paul says:

‘I can do anything through Him who gives me strength’

Nothing else really matters all that much. Paul had experienced great wealth and repute, but he had also experienced extreme poverty, persecution, illness, incarceration and had even been beaten and stoned to within an inch of his life. If he felt content, then what is that he had? God’s peace. He left all things behind to follow the only path to peace and contentment. So can we. So must I.

I had a lovely, relaxing afternoon with Nicola, and I again give thanks to God for my life and my blessings, which I do not deserve. I count my blessings each day, which includes my many friends out there (yes, you) who continue to help me spiritually, practically and mentally. I am the happiest and most content when all things in my life are good, right, pure and true. The God of peace is with me, even when I feel low and unworthy, even when I forget or ignore Him……as I hope He will always be with you.

Have a great Monday. When the sun rises, I really hope that your spirit will be lifted likewise. I’m really looking forward to going into school tomorrow.

God bless you all. Good night and sleep well.

David

Friday 2nd November 2012

A really busy day today. Teaching, cleaning, juicing, feeding two sets of cats, clearing up cat sick and poo, washing and putting out the clothes for drying, helping Evangeline with her school work, being a taxi service x 4, filling up with petrol, buying a newspaper (more about that later), cooking and washing and drying dishes and then clearing the kitchen up again. Right now, at 8.45pm, I’m going to sit down after putting Eric to bed with a bedtime story, and have a cup of tea (no biscuits) and write this blog. I might even watch an episode of ‘Have I got News for You’ if it is still showing on Friday nights. Who knows? I’ll be back in twenty minutes…

Actually it is now 10pm, so I was a little off with the time prediction! ‘Have I got News for You’ was on tonight with the horrid Jeremy Clarkson, but it was still fun. Nicola was reading to Eric already when I went up, so I had an early cup of tea! It has all worked out quite well.

So, here I am. In the kitchen, and Nicola has just joined me having had a bath (Why on earth am I telling you all this?) so I’ll tell you a little about our past couple of days.

Nicola and I pootled off to Cowley near Cheltenham on Wednesday morning, and had a wonderful two days away. Idyllic and relaxing for us both. A beautiful hotel (an old Manor) and we slept in an exceptional room in the old (converted, thankfully!) stables. We went for a long walk in the grounds, and took some super photos. We then used all the facilities, including an indulgent teatime treat of fish-finger sandwiches (still making my mouth water at the thought), swimming indoors and outdoors, using the gym, Nicola had a facial, we had a delicious and romantic dinner in the house, and watched a soppy movie in a massive bed . The bath was enormous, so we hopped in together in the copious amount of bubbles. As I said, it was romantic and we felt like newlyweds… actually, we felt like (as Dode says) first-daters, and being with my Love for so long was incredibly uplifting…I loved it so much, and we both promised ourselves that we would do this again next year, God willing. Honestly, it was Heaven. If I died tonight, I’d die happier after this wonderful experience. Thank you to those of you who persuaded us to go, and a special thank you to Nigel and Ashleigh for their help in the booking of this mini-holiday. I must also say a huge thank you to the staff at Cowley Manor, especially to Eva who made this such a special occasion for us both. It was exactly what we both needed. I adore my gorgeous wife (have I mentioned that before?) but I think I somehow love her even more deeply now. I will post a photo or two very soon.

I’ve told you what I’ve done today, so no need to repeat. Tomorrow is such an exciting one, too. It is Brockham Bonfire day. I’d better explain…

Brockham is 2 miles from Dorking in Surrey, and it is the home village of Nicola. Her Mum and Dad live on the Green itself, in a seventeenth century cottage (It is gorgeous, as is the village) Every year, the Bonfire Committee run the Brockham Bonfire and Fireworks night on the Saturday closest to the 5th November. I started to go to this event exactly 32 years ago, and I haven’t missed one since. I went there because I was a newly-qualified teacher and had heard about it from my children at school (I taught in Dorking) I went on my own, and was totally captivated by the whole evening. It was like stepping back in time, and it still is. There is a thousand-strong procession around the entire village with people like me and you carrying torches above their heads. The front of the procession is led by the Guy itself, which is locally made and stands around 3 metres in height. He is filled with Bangers, and is transported up to the very top of the 10 metre-high bonfire (which has been built over the past 5 weeks or so) and the processioners then are lined up to light the bottom of this gigantic bonfire with their torches. It is magical and mystical. What follows is simply amazing. Because Clive and Mary (my Mother and Father-in-Law) live on the Green, we are all invited into their home to have home-made soup and bread in the back garden which, incidentally, is some twenty metres form the fireworks display in the bottom field. So, we are all treated to a private showing of the most amazing fireworks display that I have ever seen. If you get a chance to go, you will not be disappointed at all.

We’re in the Hampstead and Highgate Express this week, on page nine. It’s a good, accurate article and even the photograph isn’t bad. It promotes B17, and mentions the gig, the auction and the blog itself. Really happy about that…I just hope it doesn’t sadden people in my old haunt of Hampstead with the news.

Must go to sleep.

Good night and God bless.

David

Tuesday 30th October 2012

No, I won’t give up. Of course not. Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel told me that many years ago…and so has Sharon, and many others recently. So I can’t. I’ll keep focused on getting better, with God’s grace, and ‘when times get rough, you can fall back on us. Don’t Give up, please don’t give up.’

Gil told us not to be shy about promoting the gig of the century on the 30th. A hyperbole if ever, but I appreciate the advice. I’m excited about this gig. Trying a few musical experiments out on you on the evening, so I hope you’ll be there to see it all. Details on the ‘Events’ section on this blog.

I’m so very excited, too, about tomorrow. Nicola and I have confirmed the booking. It is the first time we have spent time just on our own in ages. Brilliant. I will not be doing the blog until Friday night, so don’t check and don’t worry!

I’m going to attempt something I should have years ago. I am determined to contact several people who have – for whatever reason, but mainly down to me – lost touch with us/me. I’m going to get hold of people like Roger, Leo, Kate and Roland. So there!

I’m getting off to bed very soon, so if you’ll excuse me! Have a great night. God bless you all.

David

Monday 29th October 2012

 

I do apologise again. Apparently, some of you get a little worried about me when I don’t blog for a day, and when it’s two…oh, dear. Don’t worry, all. I’m still alive…and kicking. Haven’t popped my clogs just yet.

I’m a little up and down emotionally and spiritually at present, but I am not going to let the blues get me down for long. I’m determined to have some real quality time this week with my family and friends. Again, I am sorry if I worried you…I am destined to be a bit fragile at this time, I suppose. I can’t always be bouncing and chirpy, can I? What it is, I’m sure, is the thought that I am torturing those people closest of all to me, and there is nothing at all I can do to make it go away, or improve. I see the trouble and stress that Nicola is under, and the same could be said of Evangeline especially, George and Eric, and my Mum. I want to fix things, to help others, but I am helpless…and to quote Coldplay’s Chris Martin: ‘Am I part of the cure, or am I part of the disease?’ Answers on a post card, but I need to remain strong for them and for all my children at school too, I know that much.

My blessings are overwhelming. I mean it. I know I sound trite or clichéd often, but I try to express what I genuinely feel about myself in this situation, surrounded by love and support at all times. Sometimes, just sometimes, I want to run away. To hide. Am I strange to feel that way, when I have nothing but love and riches beyond measure engulfing me? Is it because I’m ill? I find the support I am receiving (and so is Nicola, I mustn’t forget) all too much. Now, please don’t misinterpret that, I am so grateful to everyone for your care and efforts to get me out of the country. But I have to come back to the fact that I don’t really deserve this much attention, when there are thousands of worthier people and causes out there in the community. Why me? I love you all for it, and – yes – it does make me realise that I am loved by many…it reminds me of that scene (I’ve already said this in an early blog) in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ when all the townspeople club together to save the affable George Bailey from financial ruin. His family adore him, and his colleagues and friends feel such affection for this pillar of their community that they feel compelled to help….George (Played by the magnificent James Stewart) accepts the gifts gracefully – not just for himself – but for his family and friends. I must do the same as George Bailey – not that I am comparing myself to this wonderful man, but there are similarities in the story here – and do so graciously. Thank you so much, however you are helping. It is also so great to hear from people I have lost touch with over the years. I am so excited about the gig on the 30th, because several friends from years gone by are coming along. Kate Gilbert for one, who worked alongside me at St Anthony’s nearly 20 years ago…a lovely lady, and a close colleague (and a great teacher) I am so happy to see her name on the list tonight. Can’t wait to see her and many, many others. Tickets are selling well, I hear.

It was great to see Sharon, and Diana and Ian over in Berkhamsted on Saturday. I feel bad that I haven’t even told many of my oldest friends that I have cancer. I haven’t been in touch with Roland Miller and Jenni and Natalie up in Hertford, nor Roger and Leo Allingham who were such close friends in Hampstead. So many people who I loved who have just seemed to drift away in our busy lives. I am sad about that, but should put it right before long.

I loved church on Sunday morning. Philippians Chapter 4 this week, and Paul’s insistence that we should change our ways to ‘swap’ earthly thoughts for heavenly ones, which is where the Christian’s eventual citizenship lies. Read the chapter to see what I mean. It is a powerful passage, full of truth and right thinking. I am trying hard to live up to Paul’s (and ultimately Christ’s) model, and fail dismally mostly. But the words in the Bible are a real help, a guide and a comfort often.

Had a private Pilates session today with Ali (The founder and owner of the ‘Pilates Nation’ studio in Church Lane, East Finchley) and it was tough, but incredibly rewarding and informative. Ali is a superb teacher, and really challenged me according to my own strengths and weaknesses. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone, young or old, fit or less so. We also had a good old chat and solved all the world’s woes, of course.

I had a surprise visit from a lovely young lady called Denise from the Hampstead and Highgate Express (Ham and High) newspaper this evening. It seems she wanted to run an article on my journey with the cancer…we’ll see when that comes out. As I said, the thing has gone mad.

I have managed to persuade Nicola to take a couple of days off to accompany me to the Cotswolds for a two day treat. We drive off to a sweet hotel that we visited many years ago. It is special for us. We are both hopeless romantics, and I am very excited about having Nicola to myself for this period. I promise to spoil her. She deserves much more than anything I could give her, but I’ll have great fun trying my best.

I was asked yesterday how I coped. It isn’t a question I knew how to answer, to be frank. Everyone has conditions and situations to cope with – many far greater in depth and immediacy than those I am facing. I repeat that I am blessed, and I know it. If I died tomorrow, I would be happy to have had such a fabulous life, such wonderful blessings. I’m not at all worried about the future. It is in my God’s hands, and He has always looked after me pretty well. It’ a wonderful life I lead. I’m happy all of the time (I just forget it sometimes) and I do not think about my disease. Of course I don’t want to leave my wife a widow, and being without her is impossible to imagine. Of course I don’t want to leave my children fatherless. They are everything to me. But things like this happen don’t they? People die without living, and that IS sad. That’s not me. I have everything. I have really lived, and I will continue to do so until it is my time. I suggest you might do the same.

God bless you all. Good night.

 

David

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 26th October 2012

Not really in the mood to type anything tonight, but Nicola wants me to try. Angie sent me a lovely message earlier saying that I shouldn’t be too hard on myself for feeling a little low sometimes, and that it was natural and human of me. I am low today, and I feel so weak and lethargic. It is unlike me, and I have been hard work for Nicola again…which makes me sad too. I don’t know. Life is good…I have everything anyone could want (and only one thing that nobody wants) so why am I down? I refuse to be down for long, as it is cowardly to stay down right?

Threw myself into tasks today to try and shake off the blues. I enjoyed painting. I enjoyed filling in UCAS forms and Gap Year applications, and testing Eric on his spellings and his Latin (full marks on the latter) I spent time with Nicola trying to plan a quick getaway next week with her. And we are determined to watch ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’ (remember? With Richard Gere?) right now. So, I am basically a fulfilled man.

Pray for Nicola…she has a lot to put up with, and I don’t want her suffering any more.

Love to you all. God bless you. Good night.

David

Thursday 25th October 2012

Couldn’t get up this morning. I was feeling particularly low. Don’t really know why at all, seriously. I just wanted to turn over and get back to sleep. Nicola was working all morning and I also felt guilty languishing there, so I did eventually get up. Both George and Evangeline were at school, and Eric was doing his English homework. See, Cathy? He’ll work for you! I had a hearty breakfast, but even the food didn’t disperse the cloud above my head. I kept giving myself a good talking to. What on earth have I got to be down about?

Last night’s rehearsals went okay, but the band have quashed a couple of my ideas. I do suppose they’re right but I did want to surprise people with some ‘different’ arrangements of oldies. Still, there are going to be plenty of surprises. I hope my voice is up to the battering it’s going to have on the 30th. Can’t wait.

No, what really cheered me up again today was two things: First, Evangeline’s Spanish exam went fairly well (In Evie-talk, translate to ’fantastic’) and second, Eric and I went into Muswell Hill for a mooch and a trip to Costa (our favourite coffee shop…not that either of us drink coffee) This was uplifting, and I suppose little Eric sensed my less-than-normal enthusiasm for the day. He was lovely, and we had a great time in second-hand shops and bookshops, and even briefly the toyshop and the Carphone warehouse. Precious times, which brought me back to the present, and those moments of awe and wonder that only children can give.

I spent some time too with George, mainly watching his beloved Liverpool win their latest encounter in the Europa Cup. They seemed to play quite well, even with the desperately overrated Suarez…and deserved the result. George is on top form at present. He too did a test this week. Biology A level modular ‘mock’ and he seems pleased with his performance. I’m proud of him, too. He really did know his stuff, and worked well to try and produce it all in written terms.

Nicola continues to work too hard with her Pilates. She adores it, and is obviously really good at it. Again, I cannot really express how proud I am of her. She is amazing. I’ve never met anyone quite like her. I pinch myself often when I think she chose me to live my life with hers. I love her very much, you know. I’m trying to persuade her to spend a couple of days away with just me…she’s thinking about it. Perhaps she’s worried about being alone again with me, as we haven’t done that for years. We’ll probably spend the first day talking about the children ‘I hope they’re okay without us’ and all that. 

Nicola, Sharon and Jules just want me to stress the importance of ordering your tickets for the Camden Gig on the 30th November to avoid disappointment. This is going to be great, I promise…and you will be thoroughly entertained. And very well-fed, with fabulous food provided by a terrific chef from Thomas Franks (Thank you, Lawrence). The only way to get tickets is by ringing either Sharon or Jules as soon as you can, and they will provide you with instructions and will supply you with as many tickets as you can get hold of. Their details are:

SHARON: 07775 628432

JULES: 07973 757553

God bless you all. I really am lucky, but I sometimes forget. So much love is being freely given to me, and I often feel overwhelmed. Thank you.

Good night and God bless,

David

Tuesday 23rd October 2012

Happy Birthday, Grandpa. He popped in tonight to say Hi. Great.

It is far too late to do an epistle, so I will keep it really brief.

I’ve had a great day, which I suppose is odd when I look back to the bad news regarding the tumour marker this morning. Another rise, I’m afraid. Nicola was rather distressed about it, but I really meant what I said yesterday…I’m not placing my trust in the medical profession, but on the Lord’s will. Whether I get to Mexico and find a spiritual and physical cure, I don’t know…but I do know my God is there for me and my family, and if I do live, I will praise Him from here. If I don’t then I can praise Him in person.

No, I’ve had a great day because I’ve done so much in school. I don’t care much for pure admin, but I’ve managed to get on top of it today. It is a cathartic exercise, working down a list…

Nigel and Ashleigh found the quote I was wanting last night. They apparently spent ages trying to find it. Thank you both. I will leave you with it and wish you all a beautiful night, and a wonderful day tomorrow. I am so excited about the band rehearsals tomorrow evening. Don’t worry about me, I’m on top of the world. Good night and God bless you all.

David

This widely acclaimed poem is actually not a poem at all, but an excerpt from A Return To Love, a book by motivational speaker and author Marianne Williamson. The passage has such inspirational power that it is now a stand-alone mantra for a generation of exceptional individuals who wish to motivate themselves and others to live up to their fullest potential.

Our Deepest Fear

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.

And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give
other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

Monday 22nd October 2012

I really did have a quieter day today. I haven’t felt brilliantly well, though. So tired! I fell asleep at 3.30pm for an hour on the sofa. Still, I do feel a little better now…

It was great to have Nicola around me today, as she is a warm blanket in an otherwise cold climate. You know what I mean…I feel safe, good with her around.

Philip came earlier and we read Ruth from the Old Testament together. He just makes it all make perfect sense to me, and his input to my spiritual journey cannot be understated. I feel empowered by our Bible study times together. Ruth is a great story in its own right, but there are so many connections with the chronology, the thread, the journey to Christ’s birth, death and resurrection so many years later. I love it all. It’s totally absorbing.

It looks very like the fund has reached £27K, and I am amazed again, and deeply humbled. I am a simple and unworthy man who just finds this level of love and commitment unbelievable. I am going to get to Mexico, of that I feel sure now, and when I do get there, it is down to you all that I have a chance of survival, and I will do everything I can (as I owe to you all) to do my best to keep strong and well for many years to come. The God that I love will remain by my side throughout, and whether I ultimately live or die is up to Him. If I live or if I die, He is still my God and my Lord. But I do think that He is working through you, so I am really full of hope. Thank you.

I thought of my Grandma today. I don’t know especially why, but I did love her so. She was central to my young life. She was such a character. Funny, scatty, disorganised, loving and very intelligent. We loved each other’s company, even when we had little to utter, and I felt comfortable and valued in her little house in Sovereign Road, in Wigan. She was made to move into a high rise flat (Floor 12, I think) and her life changed dramatically. She was intensely independent and suddenly here she was, totally isolated form her friends and relatives, as her house (the whole street) was bulldozed for more flats. What a shame. What price progress? Anyway, I was remembering her little phrases and stories, and it still makes me feel that same comfort and value. She lives on in me. She certainly lives on in Evangeline. and I do see similarities. Evangeline’s middle names are Mary Agnes. That was Grandma’s name.

The other night I said that life sneaks up and slaps you sometimes. Reality does affect our emotional status, of course, but we must try to live right no matter what the effects might be. I never meant that we should try to change our ways to suit the norm. No, often the norm is plain wrong…being a Godly, a good person surely means that we will often be considered odd, sometimes weak, often different. It is not always easy, is it? Our citizenship on earth is important, but the ultimate aim is to please God, not man. Often the two aims clash.

I didn’t much care for the film ‘Rocky II’ but I did get a few lines sent to me from the script, and it is incredibly meaningful and inspiring. This is spiritual. Here’s a large chunk when Rocky is talking to his protege.

“Let me tell you something you already know. Life is not all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You are a nobody who is going to hit hard…but it doesn’t matter how hard you can hit. It’s about how hard you can hit and still move forward. How much you can take and still keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.”

…and again from the same movie:

“So, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you’re going to have to take all those hits and not point the finger saying: ‘I didn’t get to where I wanted because of him or her or anybody’ Cowards do that. You’re better than that”

There is another quote and I do not know where it comes from, but I love it. Here it is:

“We were all meant to shine like children. It’s not just some, it’s in everyone. And when our own light shines we unconsciously give permission for others to do the same. And when we are liberated from our own fears, our presence automatically liberates others from theirs.”

Here’s a quote from one of Random Patrols’ song list. See if you can hear it when we do our gig on the 30th November. Tickets are selling fast, I’m honoured to say. We’ll make it a great night.

“And when your faith is doubt, and hope is turned to stone,

Then you can turn to face the truth and all its might

and I will hold your hand and I can hurt for you

Ill find a way to take you home

 

Never believe that you are facing fear alone

you won’t fall down and never have hands to pick you up

Then you can carry on and I will walk with you

Together we’ll find a way back home”

We are also doing several covers on that night, so there is something for everyone. The food is amazing, too. The school is literally 4 minute’s walk from Camden Town Underground station, so it could not be much easier. There is also free parking, I believe, after 6.30pm. Some 200 people will be there in the hall, so it promises to be a super atmosphere. We also have a few guest musicians…

My results are in tomorrow. Think of me at around 10.15am. Not as though I am overly concerned. My hope is not in medicine (No disrespect, Jez, and all other Doctors and Nurses that I know…) nor in man…it is in the hope that I place in God. Nicola wants the tumour markers to shrink, but it is Mexico and God’s plan that all faith lies for me.

Good night, all, and God bless you.

David

 

 


Sunday 21st October 2012

I didn’t go to tennis tonight. It is pouring and I mustn’t get a cold, I’m told, as my immune system isn’t what it is supposed to be. A little wimpy, but I suppose sensible. I miss my tennis and the fun we lads have together.

Philip’s sermon was stunning. He read from Philippians Chapter 3…Paul’s insistence that we should focus on the ultimate goal. That ‘we should press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus…Let us live up to what we have already attained.’

How many of us want to spend our time glorifying the moment, living for ourselves and what good things, pleasures, riches and status we can claim? Who looks to our own achievements over the years and feels proud and satisfied? I am as guilty as anyone, I feel. But these are rubbish compared to the ultimate glory. The earthly pleasures that we store up for ourselves can be seen as shameful in God’s eyes. It’s so true…a tough message…but the truth sometimes hurts.

Philip was speaking to FIX tonight, with the theme being finding spiritual messages for song titles. I thought of ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’. Since then I should be thinking of more…Philip said ‘Everybody Hurts’ and ‘Losing My Religion’ by REM. Can you think of any? I’ll try.

Mum has gone on a short break to Scotland with her lovely sister (my Aunt) Dorothy and Roy her husband. I do hope they are all having a great time, and I hope that the weather is being kinder than it is here.

I must go now. I’m going to watch Downton Abbey with Nicola and Evangeline. No, you’re right, I don’t care much for it but just sometimes I like to be with my girls. Now, that is worth doing and I am certain that my Lord would approve.

Good night and God bless.

David

Saturday 20th October 2012

I need to believe in myself more…We were watching ‘Merlin’ tonight after our Saturday night curry, and Merlin told Arthur that he had made a difference to the whole kingdom; that the people respected him; that the realm was better and stronger now because of him; that he always followed his heart; that listening to others and showing compassion is a sign of strength not weakness and – and this did hit home – that ‘…everyone believes in you, but it comes to nothing if you don’t believe in yourself.’ Quite deep and powerful script-writing, I’d say. Wouldn’t you? Your belief in me and the faith you show in these fundraising activities is inspiring. I need to believe as you do.

You have all raised so much money for me, and I still find it so hard to believe that I am worth your care…Nicola asked me tonight if I ever really thought I would get to Mexico. My answer was ‘no, of course not’ It is true. There is no way that I believed that I would be going, as I had no financial means of doing so, and when Nicola said that she was going to get the ball rolling with donations, then I honestly thought she was mad. Why would anyone raise cash for that, for me, or for the faint possibility of finding a cure? And now here we are at well over £26,000, and four or more events to come, and it has become a reality. I really do not know what to say to you all to make you understand what I feel at the moment. Apart from being shocked, I am touched deeply by these gestures. No, not gestures, they are gifts of faith, my blessings. God is working through you and telling me, I think, to get on with it. Thank you.

Wigan lost again, this time at Swansea. Not good. Only a game, I suppose.

I’m going to sleep again. Could I just leave you all with a bible quote? It comes from Philippians again:

‘for it is God who works in you to will and to act out His holy purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky, as you hold firmly on to the word of life.’

Good night and God bless each of you. You’re stars.

David

 

Friday 19th October 2012

I had a much improved day, thank you very much. It was Richard’s last day and we sent him off with words of gratitude and blessings. He is a real gentleman, and I will forever remember his industry and flexibility covering for illnesses (including my own) over the past 9 months or so. As a new Head of Department in Suffolk, I feel more than confident that he will make a huge impression. He is a team player, putting the needs of the school and the staff before his own. We will miss him sorely.

It is, at the same time, wonderful to welcome back Katie whose calmness we have all missed in that same period. On top of that she is a fabulous teacher, organised and supportive. The work she demands from the children is top drawer stuff.

I gave my bloods this morning, so I was out for an hour and a half. The follow-up appointment is Tuesday morning, so if you don’t mind praying for me?

Evangeline seems in high spirits and I am happy for her. She has found several new friends at school and is actually on a sleepover tonight with two of them. She also loves going to prayer group with Steph and the girls. It is so rewarding to a father to know that his children are happy and safe.

I am stunned by the donations coming in. Daisy, Simran, Noah…what can I say? That is beyond kindness, it is pure and priceless and I accept your gifts with great humility and appreciation. Thank you all so very much. We are currently £26, 500 or so.

Must get to sleep now. Lots to do tomorrow. Nicola is asleep breathing softly on the adjacent pillow, so once more I’ll drop off with the rhythm like white noise to a baby.

Good night, all, and God bless.

David

Thursday 18th October 2012

Life has a wicked way of creeping up on you and slapping the self-satisfaction right off your face, don’t you think? Perhaps it’s just me. I felt smug I admit after last night’s parents’ meeting and everything else that has been going so swimmingly well at the school and in my little world.  Today was like waking up to smell the coffee (as they purportedly say in the USA) with some issues and challenges – conditions and situations – to keep me real. I like the challenges, I suppose, yet I feel somewhat helpless when I lose control of situations…it throws me. I am a bit of a control freak, and I do suffer from an obsessive nature as well. I am a perfectionist, I’m told, and I probably have all sorts of educational psychologist labels. Who cares?

Not much idea where all of that came from. A bit of a ramble, really, so I suppose I got it off my chest. Thank you for ‘listening’ anyway, even if you have no idea what all that was about. I feel better already.

I’m still very positive, buoyed on by your messages and practical support. I still can’t believe the fund-raising going on all around me. I am so very grateful, but I still honestly wonder why. I do know that you must love me, as I love you, and I do suffer again with low-self esteem. But you more than make up for my shortcomings by your palpable belief in me. Thank you, all, I will get to Mexico because of you and my faith leads me to believe this is God’s work, so I am accepting of this. If you get me to Mexico, then I wonder why God would aid me in that quest only to let me die there or soon afterwards. I think that He is telling me to live. The point for me is the biggest question of all: What does He want me to live for? What purpose will I need to fulfil when I’m cured? I profoundly believe that I need to achieve something of God’s purpose. I know I’m saved, but I must strive to attain that which I already have.

Philip came round and we started to read ‘Ruth’ from the Old Testament. I ‘knew’ the story, but Philip prises through the words to reveal divine messages, truths and overarching themes. It really is wonderful to study the Bible with Philip, and I appreciate the time he spends with me on these sessions. It is incredibly fulfilling and enriching…I love it. I’ll never know enough, and Philip is perfect in that he is a spiritual guide.

I’m falling asleep again. I do get tired, but so was everyone else today. We all need a little time off to refresh and recover. I’ll sign off now, even though I know I’ve not said half of the stuff I have in my weird old head. I hope to do so in the next blog or two.

I am really excited about the band’s gig on the 30th November. We have some good ideas, and I’m eager to try these out on you all. We also have three other gigs around Christmas, but this is sure to be the best and biggest.

God bless you all. Have a restful night’s sleep. Good night.

David

Tuesday 16th October 2012

Apologies for not writing sooner, and for not writing more tonight. I have so much to share, I’m bursting with ‘stuff’ of an inspiring and exhilarating nature.

What I will share in the few minutes I have before Nicola imposes her curfew (Lights out, no more working or blogging) is this: I was amazed and honoured to be at the Pilates Nation studio on Sunday to participate in the ‘Pilates for Good’ day. The whole team of teachers were incredible, giving up their Sunday for little old me…many of them, including Alison (the boss and lead teacher), Deborah, Dawn, Rachel, Gil, Vic, Chrissey, Nikki, Julie, Tonja and – of course – my Angel Nicola were just phenomenal.  Also David for being on the desk all day and taking money from you all.  I cannot thank them enough for their commitment and energy (How did they teach for 12 hours?) and a wonderful total of £4,800 was raised for the fund. The atmosphere was electric. Seeing so many (some 160) of you being taught right out of your comfort zone was simply fabulous. Thank you, all. Can I also thank my children and my super Mum-in-Law Mary (what delicious cakes and biscuits, being sold on such a cold day!) for their help and support, too? To see Eric on the apparatus was great, and seeing my beautiful Evangeline in her tower class was special to me. I love them so much, and I count my blessings every day that God has brought me such joy. And again, Nicola my constant source of strength. You are amazing. Quite simply my best mate, and my greatest ally. There were so many highlights, and all will stay with me forever. Sharing a tower class with Adrian, Paul, Philip, Roger, Michael, Adrian and Geoff was hilarious. Ali basically beat us up! The camaraderie is so strong (and loud!) A great, great day. Special moments. I have some good photographs that I’ll somehow transfer onto the blog in the next few days.

An incredible Monday, too…and I will share that with you later this week. So much to tell you all. I went with Eric to Oakleigh Park swimming and the team there have organised a swimming relay race evening (for both adults and children) on Friday, 9th November. I am again, overwhelmed.

The next major event, I think, will be the Band’s gig at North Bridge House School in Camden on Friday 30th November. Buy your tickets from Nicola, Jules or Sharon soon. The £15 will get you delicious food supplied by Thomas Franks, and an evening of entertainment from Random Patrols, a terrific group of youngish musicians (well, we are far younger than the Rolling Stones), plus a vocalist who you may know, who shouts in tune. Our music is sometimes delicate and subtle, often boppy, and always fun. There are some special guests, too…come along. You won’t be disappointed. Check the website for all events, including the ‘sold out’ Duncombe School quiz night.

Must go. Nicola is now softly snoring. Attractive. I’ll just join in.

I’ve not really done justice here about how inspired and humbled I feel about what is happening around me in terms of fundraising. I will never be able to fully describe how grateful I am to each of you. I am certain that your love will send me to Mexico to receive treatment. I feel so positive now that I will get there, when I never thought it possible. With God’s grace I will be cured. If not, I am still so positive about the future. He is still my loving God, you are still so special to me, and my life is so much richer for knowing you, and for beginning to realise that you love me too. That is worth more to me than you will ever realise.

Good night, all, and God bless.

David

 

Friday 12th October 2012

I’ve enjoyed the last three or four days. Sorry I’ve not been online….did you miss me? I didn’t even get to tell you about having a visit from Gil on Monday night, did I? Well, I did, and it was fab! She is so bubbly…and she loved the drawing I did for the wedding invitation…thank goodness.

Anyway, on Wednesday and Thursday I attended the Leadership conference (formerly named Heads’ Days) It was Geraint’s first as Director of Education and he didn’t disappoint. His speech on Wednesday was rousing and inspiring…full of straight-talk and honesty. Chris, of course, spoke freely and with rapier-like words that cut right through all misconception or vagary. He is the brightest man I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing, and I have learnt so much from him…but I could never match his eloquent honesty and incisiveness. It was good to chat to them both afterwards, and to share some laughter and news. I have some great ideas, too, from the two days, which I will bespoke into our school for our community benefit.

I also went to see Geraint again today to go through how the school is doing…he and Dave said that it was unbelievable what has been achieved in such a short space of time. The parent feedback was simply wonderful, the inspection feedback was dramatically improved, the numbers have grown incredibly, and the T&L, culture, music, drama, sports and behaviour have all been noted as ‘outstanding progress’  I am a very proud Headteacher, indeed.

Of course, I couldn’t walk past my old and treasured St Anthony’s without popping in to see Sandra, and Dana, Sarah and Margaret. It was uplifting to see them again, and good to see how well the school is doing.

I also met up with Ruth when I got back to school. She is full of energy and great ideas for fundraising for the PTA. We spoke at length about her vision, about charitable status, etc. and we agreed on everything we touched upon. I’m so excited to be working with her and the team this year.

Today is Steve’s birthday. I didn’t ring my big brother, nor did I remember to send a card…I’ll send him one tomorrow…from the late David Baldwin. Sorry, Steve. Hope your 39th birthday went well. Hee hee…I’m useless, I know.

It was also the anniversary of Jill’s departure today, and that is something I will never forget. Dode sent me a super message this morning, which was again inspirational. I was walking through the beautiful Hampstead in the bright sunlight whilst reading it, the setting providing an apt and sympathetic background. I had to stop and smile. We all tend to rush, yes? Let’s try to enjoy God’s world and blessings. Jill was most definitely a blessing to me, a gift from above. I learnt much from her, I grew as a person, I enjoyed her close presence and I still miss her.  I know that she is happy now, in God’s glory, and I am happy for her. As Dode says, she’s probably looking after the Angels’ Library. Yes, I’m certain there is one. The best one, I hope. Well, it wouldn’t be Heaven otherwise, right? Oh, and there’d better be a few music shops, too. All free gifts, obviously. As Evangeline has said before; ‘who invented money? It couldn’t be God, as it is all rubbish.’

I am overwhelmed (I often use the word I know, to describe how unbelievable I find all this) by the gifts being bestowed upon us from all friends and colleagues. I do not know how to thank you all. The total is approaching £20,000. Incredible. It looks more likely than ever that I will be flying off to Mexico for the treatment to cure me of this condition (or is it a situation?) I had better get better, I suppose.

Nicola has missed me this week, and I her. In case I haven’t shared this with you already…I love her so much. She works too hard, she worries too much, she is hurting too much. I wish I could just make everything all right just for her. I want to grow old with her and spend some quality time together enjoying walking hand in hand…going nowhere, doing nothing except being as one, peaceful and in high spirits.

On that thought, I shall end and fall asleep.

God bless the whole lot of you. I’ve never felt better. I’ll see many of you at the Pilates studio on Sunday.

Good night, sleep tight.

David

Monday 8th October 2012

A good day again, all in all. The assembly was great, and I read out a couple of passages and talked about why it is important to be ourselves, but we must strive to be our best selves…not just for the reputation and sake of the school, or family, or friends, but for God and for ourselves. It defines us as decent human beings – or otherwise – in the way that we act, or speak, or respect and interact with others. The children were great, as always, expressing their thoughts. We then went on to talk about Columbus Day, about America, and moved on in discussion to India, trade, Civil war, wealth etc…it was like a history session. Brilliant.

It struck me what I wanted to say in the Harvest Festival. I wanted to speak about how we can and do make a difference in the world. It is an oft-quoted statement from Mahatma Gandhi that: You must be the change you wish to see in the world.’ I can see the difference that people do make. I could tell you the difference that Elizabeth makes, that Beth makes, that Rohan or Jacob make in and out of the school. What difference do you make? What difference do I make? It is a question worth asking ourselves. It is no use grumbling about how the world is cruel, or that the community is broken. Be a small difference to others and to yourself and then the world is a better place because of you.

I had a wonderful letter from Christina who wrote: ‘…you were there for me. You made a cup of tea and sat with me, and promised me that the two most precious things in my world, my children, would be looked after by you’ I loved that so much, and it made me feel that I’m doing the best job in the whole world….I do love the children, and I am making a small difference in the world. If I do nothing else (Don’t misinterpret that, as I mean to do lots more) then I will be satisfied that I’ve not wasted my time here on earth.

The football teams did well today, though they both lost their matches. I’m not that bothered – well, maybe a little – because they enjoyed themselves so much. We scored four goals, too. A massive improvement all round, and much to celebrate. The children were congratulated on their behaviour and sportsmanship, and the opposition coach and the coach driver both said that they were a terrific group. That pleases me even more than the performance on the pitch. I am thrilled with the children’s enthusiasm, too. Eric was in one of the teams, and was excited when he returned to tell me about his contribution to the team. That’s what it’s all about. Making yourself and others feel good, valued and supported. 

So, what started off as a poor day for me ended up a really good one with highlights dotted throughout. I praise God for making me see the beauty of friendship, of the gifts given to me through the meetings with others, of the real blessings I take for granted somewhat. Just look back at your day, pick out one or two highlights and you will see what I mean. The world is beautiful; people we meet are blessings everyday.   

God bless you all. Good night, everyone.

David

Sunday 7th October 2012

Apologies to those of you who may have thought that they had skipped a month by dropping into a coma, or by time-transportation….but it was just my silly error on the blog entry on Friday 5th OCTOBER, not November! Hee hee…I’ll go back to edit it later on tonight.

Tonight’s entry is dedicated to my beautiful daughter Evangeline who organised 5 friends to enter and run in the Hyde Park 3KM earlier today to raise funds for her Dad. I cannot begin to tell you, my Angel, what you mean to me, and what this run demonstrates so clearly. God has made me the luckiest and richest Dad on earth, by placing you in my care. I adore you. Thank you so much to you, to Rosie, Hannah, Katie, and Orla. You are all so very kind.

 I don’t know any more how to write with so varied an audience. I don’t know if I should be absolutely and blatantly honest about my journey or whether to water it down or even convince myself (by trying to prove to you) that all is well, and that every day is perfection. It isn’t of course. I’ve not had a good weekend, to be frank. I’ve been a little under the weather and a little down in the mouth…not as though anyone but my best friend Nicola would ever guess, I think. But it has been wearing to fix that silly grin on my face on occasion. I’m still looking forward to school tomorrow, as it really makes me feel alive, and I’m seriously hoping that I will feel positive and excited about this new and busy week. When children are around I can’t feel anything else but constructive and actively paternal.

Why did I feel lower this weekend? No firm response to that. I have felt weary lately, which is unusual for me, and that might be the answer. Never before have I been falling asleep during the daytime, and recently that has happened to me three or four times. I suppose that is okay. I played good tennis tonight for about 20 minutes, but I then felt as weak as a lamb…and I suppose I started to play like one from that moment. It was upsetting. Ah, well…never mind, eh?

A big week ahead for us. I’m away at Cognita’s Heads’ conference on Wednesday and Thursday, and have my appraisal on Friday, too. I hope that these events go well. I do think it’s been a terrific year for the school, and I should be keen to extol our growth, our developments, and our growing quality. I am so proud of our achievements and our sense of community spirit and positivity. We are strong.

I am so embarrassed still that so many of you are showing your care, love and practical support in all forms. Whether you pray for me or my family at this time, or read this blog, or join in with the events listed here…I just cannot believe it! I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart. Without you, it would all be without hope or sense. God has blessed me with a great family, super friends and loving colleagues. I hope that He blesses you all as much.

Good night, all.

David

Friday 5th October 2012

loved the Harvest Festival today. All of the children were just great, with their singing, their plays and their readings. I am again proud of Rohan, our Head Boy, who gave a stirring speech about what the Harvest collection and message means to him personally…..and how proud he is of the school with the generosity and community spirit so obvious. 

Georgina came to visit, which is always a pleasure, and she stayed on after the festival to spend some time with us.

I have received so many messages of support through the week, for which I am so very grateful. I just wish I could personally thank each of you, but many messages and donations have been anonymous.  Whatever, whoever, you are wonderfully generous and loving. Bless you.

It has been a tough week, in all honesty, and I do not mind admitting that I am exhausted right now…I hope you don’t mind, therefore, that I sign off now to settle down for the night. I wanted to say so much, but the words are reluctant to get in a straight line. Thank you, all…I will type again tomorrow,

God bless.

David

Tuesday 2nd October 2012

“All men die, but not all men live” said a very emotional Jose-Maria Olazabal at the post-Ryder Cup presentation party. He was, of course, referring to his great friend and mentor Seve Ballesteros. During their partnership in the doubles in the Ryder Cup matches these two lost only two matches in ten years, winning twelve and halving one. A phenomenal record in the game. The inspiration that was personified in Ballesteros himself transcended time and death to play a significant part in this victory and in each of the Europeans performances. His presence was palpably felt. It wasn’t just because of Seve’s extraordinary golfing talent, nor was it – I would argue – his famous tenacity and fighting competitive spirit that will always be remembered. His death was marked with dignity and humility, he fought on, yes, yet he showed faith and love to the end, being a true gentleman in the way he conducted himself knowing his imminent end. No, Seve was a huge presence. Charismatic and caring. His larger than life love of all things and all people was his lasting legacy. He really knew what it was to live, and he showed the same character in death. Laughing to the last call.

That is what made the Ryder Cup this year so special.

The results of my scans shared today were disappointing. My tumours have grown in all areas, and not surprisingly Nicola was upset. But I will share this with you now, as I have already shared with her: I’m not bothered. Seriously. The Doctors and the Professors have previously and repeatedly told me that I am incurable, that the tumours might take a few years to pop me off, but that the end is inevitable. Terminal. Well, if that is the case, then let it try. I’m ready. If you think that sounds flippant, you are wrong…I’m simply not concerned about whether the cancer has grown or even shrunk if the conventional medical route is a dead end (no pun intended) I pin all my hopes on God’s Grace, and if that means helping myself by going to Mexico (with the help of so many people, thank you) to undergo alternative medical and spiritual treatment, then that is what I must do. The perfectly named ‘Oasis of Hope’ hospital in Mexico is my only hope, and I now believe it. God’s hand is in this, I trust, and He is somehow telling me – through each of you – to travel across the pond and to get it sorted. What a story I will have when it is done.

I have felt so tired over the last two days. Weary, which is one of the results of my medication, I’m sure. But that’s okay, too. I am going to get to sleep now and do some catch up. Big day again tomorrow, with HARVEST Festival rehearsals, a couple of important meetings, followed by band rehearsals in the evening. Brilliant. I’m going to really enjoy whatever tomorrow brings. Nothing is bringing me down…I will live.

God bless you all. Thank you for your continuing support and financial help. Thank you especially today to Ruth S and to Rachel for their wonderful contributions to the fund. Amazing. Nicola tells me we are up to fifteen thousand pounds …I am humbled and inspired by your hopes for me. I’m not going to let you all down.

Good night.

David

Sunday 30th September 2012

They’re calling it the greatest comeback since….since…well, ever. The European Ryder Cup team came back from 10v6 down to retain the trophy in the USA on the very last green. An amazing achievement made all the more rewarding because of the team’s dedication of their performances to Seve Ballesteros – one of the greatest golfers the world has ever seen – who died earlier this year from cancer. Brilliant stuff!

I’ve enjoyed a great Sunday, with so many highlights and very few lowlights. I really cannot say the same for Saturday, as Nicola and I were a little stressed and upset with a few things. It was a struggle, to be frank. The church service today was terrific, again reading from Philippians. Nicola and I read the chapter again and spoke to each other about what the words mean to us both. I found that particularly stimulating. It was all about suffering and what it can do for our spiritual growth. Mark spoke in the sermon about the Christian life being illustrated by the Nike tick. Humility followed by suffering, but followed by glory. Get it? Imagery like that helps us all.  I would urge each of you to read Philippians all the way through too.

I’m looking forward to this week at school and at home. I have two band practices and two big assemblies, culminating in the Harvest Festival service at Christ the Saviour church in Ealing on Friday at 9.30am. Yes, I know I have the blood and CT scan results and Oncology appointment on Tuesday, but I am not at all worried about that…though I have eaten several biscuits this weekend, which is not part of my diet. I have strayed and I seek your forgiveness! Anyway, it all promises to be a great week.

I want to say lots but it is already past midnight…oh, pinch-punch first day of the month.

God bless you. Good night and sleep tight.

David

Friday 28th September 2012

I believe in children. I adore their innocence, their passion, their zest and their energy, their inquisitiveness, and their sense of awe and wonder. Yet I sometimes worry for them.

As I walked to the station yesterday, three young girls were waddling towards me. As they drew near, one of the girls nearest to me spat at my feet. The other two laughed. As I came back from the station a young lad aged around fifteen, backed out of a shop with his mother and bumped into me. He turned and humphed, giving me the foulest of looks as he walked away. 

For some reason, which I suppose might become apparent as I ramble on for a few moments here, I thought of my Head Boy at the school, Rohan. His manners are impeccable. In this he is not alone at the school, and I take great pride in the behaviour and the caring attitudes that our students have for others, whether Headmaster or Cleaner or stranger in the street. They are taught the difference between right and wrong and how to conduct themselves in this harsh and confusing world of ours. Rohan would never consider doing anything to hurt or offend others, certainly he would be appalled by either of the little events I have described.

Unfortunately, these types of ‘anti-social behaviours’ are common, or is it simply that I am getting older and more conservative moaning about standards falling in every walk of life. I don’t really think so. Young people are my business. I just wish society could be more like one of the four schools I have been privileged to lead as Head. The world could and should be a little more like Clifton, or Duncombe, or St Anthony’s or Hendon. What a wonderful World it would be then.

My own three children (I can hardly call George a child now, he’s just 10 weeks away from his 18th birthday and already taller than his Dad) have great manners and respect others. I am very proud of them. We influence our children as much as we can and we all hope that this confusing world with poor role models and immorality and bad manners generally doesn’t influence them to a greater extent.

Don’t know where all that came from…sorry if I’ve bored you again.

The gig looks set for Friday, 30th November in Camden. Keep it free in your diary. Evangeline, my Little Angel, is running in a 3K event to raise funds, and is doing a cake sale tomorrow with several friends, too. I told you I was blessed.

Dropping off to sleep again…must go. Good night and God bless.

David

Thursday 27th September 2012

This is going to be a very short blog entry tonight. I just wanted to set the record straight again. I am really well. Those of you who have the distinct privilege of not seeing me recently may be imagining the worse, but that’s not the case at all. I look fine and I feel great. I have lots of energy, enthusiasm and fighting spirit. Seriously!

I also want to say this: I will be going to Mexico to get the treatment, and I am equally optimistic about getting a cure to this illness. So, those of you who have asked Nicola if I really want to go, I say this: Yes.

I wish to go because I owe it to everyone who believes that I should, and I owe it to Nicola, George, Evangeline and Eric to stick around…I owe it to my friends and colleagues, and I also owe it to my children at school, and those who are yet to start. God is strengthening me through all of you. Your actions are an inspiration.

Good night, and God bless you all.

David

Wednesday 26th September 2012

I want to say so much tonight, but the words do not come easily at all. I want to tell you about my last two days, about the emotional roller-coaster ride, the frank talks, the tears and the laughter, the messages from old and new friends, and today’s visit to the hospital. But I’m lost and cannot express my gratitude and my feelings of sheer joy hearing and seeing and feeling such love for little old me. I am not special. I am ordinary, with extraordinary support from you all. Thank you so very much.

As I have said previously, I love my life, my God, my beautiful wife and three adorable children, my family, my friends, the children and parents at the school. I do not want pity, I am hoping that you can see and sense my happiness at all times. I am extraordinarily blessed with my lot, and I would wish to continue like this for many, many years. My work is love made visible, and my work is thoroughly enjoyable. I adore teaching; I adore the interaction with staff, parents and especially children. I feel alive, exhilarated by school life…and I have found a school that has made me feel part of its own being, wrapped its warm community arms around me, and I believe I will stay here indefinitely. All is well. I am so happy.

People are raising money to send me to Mexico, and for many reasons I have tried to express before, I am deeply embarrassed and discomfited by the whole thing. It is like a steam-roller, and it is driven by you, not by me. I find that hard, but – as so many of you have already said to me over the last four months – it now doesn’t matter what I think. People love me for some reason, and I will eventually go to Mexico on the crest of your love shown practically, and I will conquer this illness and come back whole and alive and desperate to be worthy of your support. I will live for quite some time without your help. I will outlive you all with it! Thank you. I wish I could hug you all right now.

I visited RMH (The Royal Marsden) in my lunchtime today to have my CT scan and my bloods taken in preparation of next Tuesday’s meeting with the oncologist. That was actually quite relaxing and easy. On my way back, I treated myself to a gadget that converts old tapes into mp3 (music files for the computer). So now I can computerise all my old Kate Bush (I was in love with her when I was 17), Peter Gabriel, Yes, David Bowie and Paul Simon tapes bought thousands of years ago so I can listen to them through my IPod. I’m so excited. I never spend money on myself (only £35) and I do feel a little guilty…naughty but nice. Hee hee.

Last night’s meetings went well, I think. I enjoy the gatherings with parents. I am one, remember. Shame that George wasn’t there…he always makes me smile. The PTA elected a new Chairperson along with some new members, which is good news. It broadens and refreshes things. Not as though the old crew did a poor job. Thank you all. I do think that the new Chairperson will do really well through the year. She has many ideas for fundraising and will – I’m sure – generate lots of funds for the school. She will certainly get a great deal of support from all of us.

Getting late and I am rather tired after another busy day. Must go.

God bless you and keep you safe and well. Good night.

David

Monday 24th September 2012

When I first was diagnosed with cancer in 2006, I received over 200 cards from my friends and family…most of them from Hertford, my beautiful Duncombe School…and I was overwhelmed and shocked. Nicola said she wasn’t at all surprised. She said the only person who doesn’t love me is me. I don’t fully agree. I’ve made some enemies along the way (mostly unintentionally, it’s true) All those sentiments. It was as though it was happening to someone else. Poor David.

I didn’t smoke. I didn’t drink. I never touched drugs. I had always played sports and been keen on keeping very fit. It didn’t seem fair then, but it makes more sense to me now, I believe. Nicola said then that each day was the first day of the rest of our lives together. It hit me hard that statement. I am glad I’ve got cancer if it makes me a better person, if it makes me realise what is important, what is real and what is precious in my days. I accept this as a truth. I am closer to my family. I am closer to God. I am closer to life. All because of this disease…I begin to think it is a blessing. A chance to share my newfound love, my faith and my experiences.

I love my life more than anyone deserves. Way too much. I look forward to the time when I am in the presence of God…but I also know that somehow I’ve still got to do something here! Oh, that sounds tremendously dramatic and far-fetched. But that is exactly what I’m feeling at present.

Anyway, I can’t go for ages yet. I promised Evangeline I’d proudly walk down the aisle with her when she gets married. I promised to see Eric to University and to see George walk out as a coach/manager of his first team. I promised to grow old with Nicola. I promised to make Clifton the best school in all of West London. How good would all that feel? I also still have a bucket list to get through, don’t forget.

Talking of bucket lists, one thing on my list was to ride a camel (as well as an elephant) and today, our friends Elizabeth and Daniel brought me a camel from Dubai. Okay, okay…it was a small toy camel, but it was quite significant and humorous for me. I suppose I don’t have to go to UAE for this privilege. I could book a ride in London Zoo, couldn’t I?

Daniel has just called and we prayed together on a conference call. Superb. Those two are just filled with God’s spirit and power. I love talking to them.

I must be getting tired. I’m rambling. I’ve been tired today, but I have loved teaching maths to the older boys and girls…a great day all in all.

Before I bore you (or me) to sleep, I’ll log off for now.

God bless you. Have a peaceful night’s sleep.

David

Sunday 23rd September 2012

What a fabulous day. The service at Grace Ghurch this morning was inspirational. Philippians chapters 1 and 2. Be fixed on the goal. Be a team. Stick together. Live like Christ. Be humble, as Jesus humbled himself to live with us and die for us. Love others more than yourself. To suffer for your faith is blessed and rewarding. Brilliant. Powerful.

What can I say about this afternoon? The heavens opened at about midday and by the time of the first starters for the fun run were on their way, it was simply torrential. But I’ll tell you what…we had a super time, and thank goodness for those wonderful cakes and cookies, many of which are being sold at two schools tomorrow. It was great to see so many children and parents (all friends) taking the time to have a go. It was a great atmosphere, and I am shocked, embarrassed, humbled and delighted that you supported the fund in the way that you did. Thank you. Thank you must go especially to Sharon and Jules who organised the whole thing. At 12.45 when I walked into the park there was not one dog-walker, jogger, cyclist or child in sight…just Sharon and Jules having already set up the pavillion, the running track and all the equipment. You two are simply wonderful, and I can’t tell you how much all of that meant to me today.

Thanks must also go to Grannie, Nora and Lovely Lesley for the mountains of gorgeous cakes and goodies. To Dominic for helping out on the course. To Chris who ferried, star-jumped and supported Sharon brilliantly. To everyone who helped inside and outside the pavillion, especially to Danny our USA friend who inspired the runners with his enthusiasm and practical skills.

Around £640 was raised on the day. I’m amazed. With a day like today, I would not have been surprised if no one had shown up at all.

Dorothy (my super-Aunt in Wigan) has been very busy making cards for sale to add to the fund. She puts her husband Roy’s photographs onto card and prints beautiful poems and texts on the inside, selling them in packs of three (I think) and – with Mum’s help at the church in Marsh Green – has raised another £88. Again, I am so grateful. Thank you.

I have a few photographs to put on the blog in the next couple of days; of Chris’s amazing cycle-ride in the French alps, and of today’s fun run. Watch out for that, too.

Must go. God bless you. Good night and sleep tight.

David

Saturday 23rd September 2012

This is the first blog entry not composed in my bed. (Not as though I’m in anyone else’s obviously) This time it is 6.30pm and I have just completed my work for the day, and I know that our family night tonight is destined to be special (as always) I picked up the new DVD of ‘Avengers Assembly’ and we will get a curry in to eat and enjoy. The curry is lovely, and is from the local Indian restaurant ‘Cochin’ but I must say that it will be a come-down from Smita’s curry last week. Maybe I should put a weekly order in to Smita instead! So, here I am, with an hour or so before the family night (we do this every Saturday night) and I thought I might just spend 15 Minutes chatting to the blog.

I was really tired yesterday following what I suppose was a long and challenging week. It was a busy day, and not always as productive as I would have liked, but pretty decent all told. I am still buzzing about the week’s events, with the curry, the sponsored football organised by Luke and Harry, the letters from my fabulous Japanese Mums and the hugs and words of love from friends and colleagues. I still feel a bit of a fake, as here I am feeling good, happy and generally healthy. And all this fuss for me…

Today I was stunned to see how many beautiful cakes and cookies have been baked by my good friend Lesley, for tomorrow’s FUN RUN at 2pm at Priory Park. She must have made around 200 or more cakes, and they smell fabulous in our bedroom. I sincerely hope that people turn up for the fun run/cake sale tomorrow. Please do if you have an hour to spare or if you can ask someone else…it would be such a pity to see everyone’s efforts go to waste (Jules and Sharon the organisers, Lesley of course, and Grannie…who has also made cakes for tomorrow) I also hope it isn’t pouring or freezing! It promises to be a great afternoon, whatever.

Oh, Lesley also told me not to mention her gargantuan effort on the blog, so I’d better not do that.

I’m a little worried about going back into school on Monday. There is an avid Fulham fan on the staff, and we have just been beaten at home by them, with the winner being scored by our ex-striker, Hugo Rodellega. I’ll hide from him.

I spoke to Joanna yesterday about the school, and how well we appear to be doing. She was saying that it was all down to me. That is stretching things, as it is a huge team effort, and I know and appreciate how everyone has stepped up to the mark. But I really do believe that I was asked to be at Clifton for a reason. God’s reason. It was virtually impossible to imagine that I would go to the school, as it is quite a trek for me and Eric, was small (and getting smaller by the week to a very dangerous level) and would/should not have been attractive to me in the slightest. But it somehow was attractive, and I knew quite soon that I was ‘destined’ to be here. The atmosphere was negative and often vitriolic. And now look at us. Numbers have grown (not far off doubled in 16 months) we have new resources and equipment and redesigned areas and further building plans with a huge investment from Cognita. The atmosphere in and out of the school could not be friendlier, and is simply wonderful. Yes, I was placed here for a reason, I feel, and God’s plans are coming to fruition each day. It is not me at all…it is Him. I am weak, but He is strong.

Must go…we need to order the curry now. Exciting stuff!

God bless you. Have a really restful evening.

David

Thursday 20th September 2012

Just a short one tonight, but a sincere and deeply heartfelt one. I have had the most extraordinary day…let me explain.

I arrived at school and had several hugs and warm messages of support from parents who have realised that all is not well with their Headmaster. Moving, but even more heart-rending was the encounter I had with Tami (One of my most supportive and genuinely lovely mums) who gave me a donation to the Mexico fund, along with the most emotional words to explain how she feels about me and the school. I was profoundly motivated by her, and all I can say is Thank you so much.

I toured with a fabulous family who want a place immediately, and another family who have very recently moved here from Tokyo who will be starting with their terrific daughter in Year 4 tomorrow. All this before lunch-time and I still managed to teach three maths lessons. A great morning.

At lunch-time I had an impromptu visit from Lexi. He just popped his head around my door to say “I’m really sorry I can’t come to your fun run on Sunday. I know that it is to go towards curing your cancer” It brought a little tear to my eye, I admit.

The afternoon was memorable, too. I toured with another family who are also very keen to sign up for 2013. At 3pm I had another visit from the mum of the twins. She has written me a letter which is simply gorgeous. It is worth framing, and I will keep it forever. She must have spent all morning on it, as her written English is not brilliant, but the message from her is crystal clear. It is beautiful and I am extremely stirred again by the sentiments expressed so magnificently on paper. She also donated to the fund, so now the total has surpassed £11,000. I am honoured by your love expressed in this way, and I am indebted to you all for as long as I live.

It was a late one, with me finishing the day with a meeting with more supportive parents at 6 – 7pm. Poor Eric did well to wait so patiently. He’s so good.

I bought Two Door Cinema Club’s new album ‘Beacon’ too, which I listened to in the car with the little man himself. We both agreed it is a brilliant album. I would heartily recommend it to those who like music such as Bombay Bicycle Club, Coldplay, Keane or The Killers, etc. It’s fab. As is the new Keane album ‘Strangelands’ Am I the only Elbow fan that thinks the new album ‘Dead in the Boot’ is disappointing? A shame really…that’s the album I was most looking forward to. Perhaps it is a grower. I hope so. Elbow remains the best live band I’ve seen for many years. I love all their previous CDs.

Thank you, all. Good night and God Bless,

David

Wednesday 19th September 2012

Do you know just how blessed I am? Only today I receive two massive surprises which have quite honestly blown me away. To be the recipient of such care, warmth and generosity is simply breathtaking.

Smita at school planned, prepared and cooked curry dishes to sell to school staff today. People such as Lawrence helped, too…but the incredible total of £354 was raised to add to the Mexico fund. For once, I am lost for words.

Later in the day, I learned that Luke and Harry (very good friends of George) organised a football tournament for their friends at Power-League and all the young men playing on that day paid an amount, and bought cakes and goodies made by the young ladies. A completely shocking £724 was raised from that event.

Thank you so much to everyone for helping out (There’s no turning back now, is there?) Thank you especially to staff in Ealing, to George and all his friends, but especially to Smita and to Luke and Harry for their skills and friendship.

I was also handed some pots of the curry cooked by Smita, and I have to say that I do not think I have ever tasted a better meal in my life. Nicola and I were delighted with our dinner tonight.

A happy day, too. I got to teach Art to Year 7, and Maths to years 6 and 8. I loved every minute of the day, even though I managed to avoid so much work stacking up on my untidy office desk. So what? I’m a teacher through and through, and I love being with the children. I think they enjoyed the lessons, too.

Hopefully I’ll have a great day tomorrow. Three tours and more teaching periods, so little headway on the admin front, I suspect.

Yesterday was good, too. I took Eric swimming last night and met up with Caroline to say thank you for their donation, too. As I said, I am so blessed with friends and family that really care for me.

Had my photo taken with Nicola for the next edition of our local rag, The Archer. All go, isn’t it?

I will pop off to bed now. Good night and God bless.

David

Please remember the FUN RUN this Sunday. A great deal of work has gone into the preparation of the day. it will be brilliant. Loads of cakes made by Grannie and we even have Nora’s famous bakes. Starts at 2pm from Priory Park.
Also remember the PILATES FOR GOOD DAY on Sunday, 14th October. Ring the studio this week to get your place.
These events are all on my blog, under EVENTS. Keep checking events for regular updates.

Tuesday 18th September 2012

It is fascinating to watch the world go by in either fast-forward or slo-mo. I have been driving (or should I say creeping forward through West London, being passed by little old ladies in pavement crawlers, toddlers on trikes, and the like) and watching those children and parents and grandparents going to school, past shopkeepers setting up, joggers, cyclists and those power-walking to the tubes and stations trance-like and not quite ready for their working days. Lots of images to take in, and what struck me this morning was the sheer vastness of our own ‘little’ world. There are so many people, all with their own situations and conditions; each with their own ways, rituals, beliefs, priorities, worries, thoughts and ambitions. I saw children laughing and skipping, fathers and mothers holding hands with proud smiles, shopkeepers calling out in greeting to passers-by. I know that there are some bad influences and evil-natured individuals out there, but I was struck with the positivity of the world at 8.15am in London. Apart from the flaming traffic (I spent around 3 hours in the car today going about 30 miles in total) I love London. Yes, it’s busy. Yes, it’s noisy and fast, but it is exciting and fascinating. I sometimes long for peace and quiet, it’s true, but after the resentment of the fast and the furious nature of the place, I realise that this is wonderful, and that I am so happy that we are here in such a cosmopolitan and relatively tolerant city, country, and nation.

Does anyone else here experience mood-changes coming from nowhere, settling like dust on what might have been a perfectly happy disposition? This week, I’ve been angry, and I have nothing really to feel angry about…well, not that I can think of. Is that odd? I think so. Almost all of the time I am happy, being chatty and flippant, cheery and enthusiastic, but sometimes (not at all often) that cloud descends like an invisible Dementor, sucking the joy out of the air. Maybe I am unwise to share that with you, as it could be that I’m a little mad, or suffering from some rare and dangerous character-defect causing you to shun me forever! Could it be the drugs? I don’t think so…I think, maybe, that somewhere deep down I’m still asking that stupid question: why me? I know I should be asking why Not me?

Strange week. Lots of ups and downs at school and at home. Nothing major, and nothing I can’t handle. As I’ve said, they’re only situations or conditions. And that means they have solutions and resolutions. But some of these are time-consuming, and I haven’t spent as much time on the important people in my life because of these. I need to get on top, and to prioritise.

By the way, I think I have finally become a list person, crossing out jobs when completed, with cringing satisfaction.

A few people have told me that would like to see some more pictures on the blog. I will – again – try my best to draw a couple to make you smile.

Good night, all, and God bless.

David

Sunday 16th September 2012

I’ve not been on top form today, I must say. I don’t mean physically, but in terms of mood especially. I’ve been angry, falling out with Nicola and Eric especially through the afternoon. Shame really, as we have had such a busy and potentially exciting day. Church…which was actually inspiring with Philip’s superb sermon concentrating on Philippians again. “To live is Christ, to die is gain” and then the amazing fellowship of all of our Grace Church friends, with Simon’s leaving BBQ. Eric went Horse-riding again with his friend Matthew, which he again loved. George went to play football (watched by our two US boys, Danny and Brandon) and won 9v1. And then we went on to Shaun’s 50th Birthday party over in North Harrow. And then I played tennis with Jez, Ben and Paul…which was fabulous fun.

So why was I angry? I really don’t know. I picked a fight with Nicola and then Eric wound me up…but my reaction in both cases was completely out of character and the red mist descended somewhat, I’m ashamed to admit. I am a gentle-natured man usually, but not at those flash-points. It was hardly a Christian way to behave, and totally unforgiving. I’m sorry. There, I’ve told you all…I’m certainly no saint, but confessing is quite cathartic.

I don’t know how to use my blog sometimes. I know that there are quite a few readers now, as Nicola especially gets a lot of comments such as: “I can’t get to sleep before I read his blog” or “When is the Gig for Random patrols?” or “I didn’t realise that your feet were so cold” or “How are Danny and Brandon?” or even “I’m so thrilled that George and Evangeline did well in their exams”  It’s quite a pressure and responsibility knowing that 100 people are waiting for me to write something profound and meaningful….but most times I am not profound and certainly not complex or sophisticated. I’m really just a normal simple bloke with all the same hang-ups and issues to deal with…oh, and don’t call me brave. I’m not that either. I know so many brave people who deal head-on with all sorts of situations and conditions. I’m quite weak and, well…I don’t often think deeply about things at all. Do you know what I mean? I heard Sandy Tostvig (Is that how you spell it?) talking about her encounters with men over the decades…she said that men just think less, and differently, to women. I think she must be right…Nicola sometimes says to me “What are you thinking about?” when I’m off in a trance, staring into nothing. I want to say “Nothing whatsoever” but I sometimes make up some excuse like “School” or “What I plan to do at the weekend” when I seriously am thinking nothing at all. I presume women are completely different, as certainly Nicola doesn’t seem to have time and space to think of nothing. She even fills in voids in conversation because she often seems to be uneasy about silence.

Coming back to today’s sermon from Philip, though, I was moved by his insistence that all suffering can be a blessing, a life-enhancing experience. A chance to talk to people about experiences, about life and death, and especially about faith in God. I have a deep faith, though I often falter, and I hope to grow as a Christian in understanding and wisdom (even though I am correctly identified as virtually having no common-sense) I would want to inspire and encourage people to understand the power of the word of God. Read Philippians. It’s only two pages long, but is packed with God’s power and wisdom. That He loves me and you, even when we don’t deserve His love, and that Paul - though in prison chains and condemned – was still ministering the message of the Gospel. Brilliant stuff.

Grace Church also has a blog, and the sermons can also be found on there. The address is http://gracech.posterous.com/ and the password is eph2v8. Listen to Philip’s talk. It takes about 25 – 20 minutes, and he introduces the Philippian Church and Paul’s love and interest in them.

Don’t forget next Sunday’s fun run in Priory Park. Jules and Sharon will be there, and I hope that the weather will be kind to us for the afternoon. I’ll copy the post I did on Friday:
The FUN RUN will take place on SUNDAY 23rd SEPTEMBER IN PRIORY PARK. It is more of a fun run/sport challenge like an assault course and short run…more fun than athletic prowess, so it is suitable for all. Please support this event, as much planning has already gone into this. The more, the merrier!

It all depends upon how many entrants there are. Ages from 6+ to 12+. There is also a separate mini fun run for under 5′s. This event is being organised by Sharon and Jules, and to get an entry form and sponsorship form please email (as soon as Possible) davidbfundraising@gmail.com. It costs £5 to enter. Just fill in the entry form and send back to the address shown on the form itself, along with a cheque.

Please be happy. Be good and kind to each other and to yourselves. Have a terrific week full of grace, peace and love. My Mum has always said “It doesn’t matter what it’s like outside, David. Just as long as you keep it sunny inside”

I was asked by Simon today at church this morning whether I had been born with the beatific smile on my face or whether I had to work at it over the years. I liked that comment very much. It made me feel great. I have had the comment phrased differently in the past as “Stupid grin” or “Gormless grin” I much prefer beatific smile. Thank you, Simon.

Have a good night’s sleep. This entry has helped me enormously. I feel better. Thank you for reading it.

Good night and God bless.

David

Saturday 15th September 2012

I doubt if I’ll come out with anything profound or even lucid tonight. I’ve just clambered into bed at 12.10am (I should be doing a Sunday blog, really) after a fairly hard week.

Eric went to Legoland with Adam and others today, and had a great time there. Thanks to Adam-and to Mum and Dad- for the invitation and the sleepover last night. Eric fell asleep after dinner tonight, so he was happily shattered.

George and Evangeline are thoroughly enjoying the company of our student lodgers, Danny and Brandon. We were joined by Jenny (Danny’s girlfriend) and we had dinner (curry) and then had our normal movie night…watching Prince of Persia. The students are from California and are such good fun, and feel almost part of the family. It’s super to hear so much laughter in the house again.

Thank you very much indeed to Luke and several of George’s friends for hiring a 5-a-side pitch and raising lots of money for the fund. I am so grateful, fellas.

Must go…dropping off again. Good night to you all and God bless.

David

Friday 14th September 2012

Rough day. Wasn’t feeling too good around lunchtime. Went and sat in the park opposite and actually fell asleep on one of the benches! I wonder if people thought I was a tramp or a drunkard or something. Somone could have pickpocketed me, I suppose. I taught in the afternoon, so I roused a little.

I did struggle a little through the week, and my spirits weren’t quite as high as usual. Nicola has again been amazing, even though she is struggling much more…she has thrown herself into her Pilates (Loving that) and the fundraising for Mexico. Speaking of which, there is another event on the immediate horizon. It’s a FUN RUN.

The FUN RUN will take place on SUNDAY 23rd SEPTEMBER IN PRIORY PARK. It is more of a fun run/sport challenge like an assault course and short run…more fun than athletic prowess, so it is suitable for all.

It all depends upon how many entrants there are. Ages from 6+ to adults. There is also a separate mini fun run for under 5′s. This event is being organised by Sharon and Jules, and to get an entry form and sponsorship form please email (ASAP) davibfundraising@gmail.com. It costs £5 to enter. Just fill in the entry form and send back to the address shown on the form itself, along with a cheque.

Thank you so much to Sharon and Jules for all your practical help. When I come back to England from Mexico (cured) I will make it all up to you.

Had an email from Dode and Dave that just was stunning and brought a guilty tear or two to my eyes. I accept that my ailing self-esteem is unattractive and somehow belittles the love being shown to me, and I will try to overcome my natural desire to put myself down. I do find it hard to receive love, but I give it all too easily as well. It is easier to give than to receive. It is true. I am surrounded by wisdom and by wise friends, who seem able to point out truths; thruths that I would never notice without their guidance and advice. I am so much more because of God’s grace and through the help of my friends and family.

I told Evangeline tonight that I only ever want her to be happy. That’s all I want for each of my lot, but I am hurting them through this flaming illness. I reminded her of all the people in the world who are really suffering through conflict, famine or/and injustice and persecution. It’s not easy, though, is it? Hurting is hurting whoever you are, and wherever the situation and whatever the conditions. I said that I would get better, and I want to believe it, too. If it is God’s will then I will be cured.

I need deeper faith in God and in myself. Martin Luther King once said:

Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the staircase

Good night and God Bless.

David

Thursday 13th September 2012

Another productive day with a couple of glitches. One of the Year One girls fell over whilst I was doing a tour with two prospective parents (not that this really matters) and cut her forehead really quite badly. An ambulance (and Mum) was called and all was eventually sorted with glue. Poor thing, she is such a lovely girl, and she was hurt yet brave. One other glitch was having an argument with someone in public…something I’m not usually known for. Again, it was all sorted…well, sort of.

Teaching, interview practice for Year 8, tours and a couple of meetings….not exactly a day of adventures, but a necessary one. Loads of admin done, and I thank both Sue’s in the office for their help and support for their admin-phobic and disorganised boss. I value their input very much.

Well done, Dawn! Huge congratulations on passing the test out in the Pilates studio. I knew you’d do it, and I am thrilled for you and proud of you.

Thank you once again to Lesley who supplied me with some goodies. Cookies made with agarve (Natural sugar replacement) which are beautiful. In fact, there’s only one left….shows you how much I liked them.

I am thinking and praying for Nigel and especially Ashleigh for this coming week, which may be a little stressful. I pray that she will be strong and wise, knowing that the outcome is just around the corner.

Hey. I don’t know for sure anymore who might win the sports personality 2012. Can you let me know what you think? Who could win from this list:

Wiggins, Farah, Ennis, Hoy, Murray, Rutherford, Cockcroft, Weir, Simmonds, Pendleton, Peacock….I might even watch it this year. Sounds exciting. Beats the heck out of other years when hardly-known jockeys, even horses, boring footballers and whole teams have been recipients of the honours.

I love Nicola and the family. You might have guessed that by now, I suppose. Did you know how much I love and appreciate them? They do so much for me in terms of help, support and love. I feel so blessed by God with my lot. Evangeline is adorable. She has organised a 3K run to raise money for her Dad. A very proud Dad. Thank you. …and ’ditto’ to Nicola for tirelessly working for my benefit. That’s from ‘Ghost’ if you remember.

Must go. Brain is slowing, and eyes are heavy. Nicola has already dropped off with her icy feet on my thighs, Coldplay is on the CD player, the fan is on, the light is off and so am I.

Good night and God bless,

David

Wednesday 12th September 2012

The day has been wonderful, though somewhat challenging at times. I have welcomed in the two most fabulous Japanese twins to our school today. Not only are they both so lovable, but they are both so bright. They have picked the English up extraordinarily quickly. They are just five years old. Mum, too, is fantastic.

The school goes from strength  to strength. I love the place very much. It has grown in numbers (40% in just 14 months) and in quality and reputation. I am blessed with a great team, with a strong and palpable spirit of optimism. It is no surprise that the word of mouth marketing going on is bringing more and more enquiries each day.

 Had an email from Dode and Dave today telling me off for thinking myself unworthy of everyone’s attention and financial support. I am duly chastised. I will put it on the messages on this blog soon. I am so grateful for all the love and help that you give to me…in fact, it is like a roller-coaster at full-tilt; I am unable to stop the help I’m receiving anyway….but if and when I get to Mexico and receive treatment AND recover 100%, then I am convinced that I have a task, a goal to achieve in the world and the community. I promise to serve, and to gratefully accept the life you would be extending through God’s grace for many years to come.

I went to band rehearsals tonight. The boys were on top form, and the set we’ll be doing in public soon looks pretty decent. The sound was great, and the thrill of performing live again is strong in us all. I’m excited about that. It looks like the ‘benefit’ gig, with all money raised getting me closer to Mexico, may happen on Friday night, the 9th November, to be confirmed in the next 48 hours. The three extra new songs we have practiced so far are particularly pleasing, as I let the real musicians get on with their overwhelming wall of sound, over which I shout in tune. The full set looks like it could be over two hours long, or possibly even longer – if you, the audience, want that. It’ll be a great night.

Thank you for everything, everyone. Thank you to Lesley who brought round a dish of the most incredible Thai-style quorn ginger curry. Absolutely delicious.  Thank you to Dode, for making me see sense. Thank you to the amazing Maddie for her selfless and moving gift to my appeal. Thank you to those who support and inspire me on a daily basis. I feel blessed beyond measure.

Good night and God bless.

David

Monday 10th September 2012

Sorry about the rambling last night. I think I must have made so many mistakes. I fell asleep after a couple of sentences and awoke at around 1.15pm with a stiff neck and gluey eyes, so I possibly made no sense at all…Not that I always do, anyway.

Loved the closing ceremony last night, though I didn’t see that much. What an inspiration. I am proud to be British with the way in which we have shown the best of ourselves in all that we have done over the past seven or eight weeks. I hope that the world looked in on us with admiration and respect.  And the athletes? Wow. God’s graciuos gifts bestowed on the few, taken to the limits by determination and commitment. Inspirational.

I let the parents know about the illness in the newsletter today, so I wonder if anyone will raise the issue with me at school tomorrow. It is such a great and close community that I know I will receive their prayers and support.

We have taken in two students from the USA for 10 weeks. Danny and Brandon have joined the family so easily, fitting in with our routines, and even playing pool, table-tennis and doing work-outs with George in our back garden. It is no problem to have them here at all…in fact, they are both a joy to have around.

Hey, listen…I’m falling asleep again, so before I drop off or start to write some gobbledegook, I’m going to wish you all a very good night, and may God bless you.
David

Sunday 9th September 2012

A wonderful Grace Church service this morning, with a super sermon from Philip, as we delve into Paul’s letter to the Philippians. It is terrific to see how Philip – through the grace of God – unpicks and lays bare the essential messages of the scriptures, and I love it because it really lives and speaks to me each time. Great music and great company too. The sense of camaraderie is palpable in the Church and afterwards in the hall.

I don’t know what to say to Maddie. I felt quite emotional when she handed over money that she had been saving…I am blown away by her generosity and care for me. She is a great friend of Evangeline’s and gave me £500 for the Mexico fund. Totally, totally amazing, and I am more than grateful to her for this. Maddie, you are an angel. Thank you so much. I’d better survive after all this.

Went to the Parliament Hill Athletics Track with Eric and George (George was fed up because his football match had been cancelled) but there was some children’s sports initiatives taking place, and the whole area was swarming with toddlers, young children and parents. It was virtually impossible to run and train. Still, George and Eric still ran two or three very quick times for the 100 metres. I would be thrilled if they were to become regular members of the Highgate Harriers, who train at this track every week.

After tea I went to play tennis with the lads, which was fun.

Must go…very late indeed again. Good Night God Bless.

David

Saturday 8th September 2012

Happy Birthday, Alan. My big brother is 29 today…hope it all went well, and you had a great day. Sorry I never had a chance to call this morning.

My results were from Hospital were good on Friday. The tumour marker has once again decreased by 14 points, so all appears to be okay. I certainly feel okay, if just a little tired. Thank you all for your thoughts, messages and – best of all – prayers.

Evangeline secured two A* grades for her GCSE Mandarin and English modules, so I am a pretty proud Dad this weekend.

Sunday 14th October is a date for your diaries, with the Pilates Nation team opening up for sessions for all levels and ages. Nicola is going to tell us more about that event soon, but the team at the studio are doing this (They don’t usually open on Sundays at all) to raise money for little old me to get to Mexico.

Must get to sleep. Good night, and God bless.

David

Wednesday 5th September 2012

A fantastic first day at school. The atmosphere was electric…I just adored the day, especially the initial couple of hours when parents and children were returning or pitching up for the first time. It was buzzing, busy yet remarkably friendly. One parent remarked that “If you could bottle this atmosphere, it would be a best seller”

I taught Art to Year Seven today, and I was blown away by the children. Brilliant. The parents especially ‘ooohed’ and ‘aaaahed’ at the Library and the EY building, which was satisfying to both me and to Sue, who witnessed their reactions.

Nicola forgot to pick up my suits again, leaving me to wear my nearly-jeans-chinos again tomorrow. See, she’s not perfect, Rachel.

Learned a great deal again today, from people who just ooze wisdom, and from others who are expressing themselves and baring their feelings which humility and honesty. I’m never going to disclose what sorts of discussions I have as a Head, but I am blessed and honoured to have people trust me enough to open up as they do.  

I forgot to mention that Grace came to stay with Nicola, George and Evangeline yesterday when Eric went to the Paralympics. She is so cute, and the three of them had a brilliant time with her. She is beautiful and cheeky all in one.

Must go now. Bless you all.

David

Tuesday 4th September 2012

I got back at 10pm after school…a long yet productive day. The staff meeting was long and necessarily quite dull yet informative, as there were so many items to chug through. I wanted to be more dynamic and (hopefully) inspiring, quoting famous Olympians, and stepping in with relevant anecdotes. Still, I have more opportunities in the coming weeks and months (Poor staff!)

The school looks great. A few things to tidy up in the morning, but all pretty decent around the old place, and I am delighted to be starting off in such a positive atmosphere and environment. I can’t wait to see the children’s and parents’ faces when they see the library, the science room and the Early Years rooms….they’re all impressive.

Went to the Hospital this morning to give ‘bloods’ which was fine and dandy. I get the results, my consultation, and have my treatments on Friday.

Eric has had a ball on his last day of the holidays. He was taken Horse-riding (for the first time) by Matthew and Claire, and he loved it. He then was taken to the Paralympics by his Auntie Tania and Uncle Sunil to see Goal ball at the Olympic Park, and then went to the Orbit. He only got back at 10.40pm, so he’s going to be so tired come the morning.  It’s all worth it.

Managed to do the changes on the timetable and duty lists yesterday, but I still need to double check these in the morning. Nothing like leaving it to the last minute, eh?

Can I be REALLY self-indulgent for a moment, before I leave you to get some sleep? I feel a little hyperactive, so we’ll see if I can actually drop off…I wrote a poem for Nicola last year. It’s entitled ‘Flossie’ (That’s what I’ve always called her for thirty years)…Nicola just got it out of the drawer, and read it to me, and I thought, Hey…that’s not too bad. See what you think (I’ve left off the last part, as it gets really romantic, soppy and slushy).

FLOSSIE

Too often our thoughts are dominated and waylaid

By matters seldom in our control

And mountainous worries and constant fears

Blight even our most glorious moments

 

Yet I am here for you, and I know that you are there for me

And those worries, those fears and those matters

Should never shadow, must never suppress

What we truly share, and what we have grown to be

 

We need to look back and smile with pride

Look forward with hope, assurance and warmth

Whilst taking each second, every moment

With joy and gratitude, honesty and clarity

 

You are the centre of my life, my love

My significant past

My greatest present

And my brightest future

I love you, I love you, I love you.

Mmm. I suppose that is rather private and soppy, isn’t it? Never mind…

Good night. God bless.

David

Monday 3rd September 2012

I shouldn’t really be writing today’s blog. I’ve still got so much to do tonight, and it is already 12.30 but I thought I could quickly tell you that it has been a good day in many ways, and that the frankly annoying and frustrating bits have not ‘got to me’ I remain calm.

The timetable doesn’t work in several places, so I’m going to have to redo some of that tonight before the INSET tomorrow. The calendar is okay, but several dates have yet to be finalised. I have not done the break duty rota, because of some changes that I have agreed already. All in all, you’d think this was disastrous, right? But it’s fine…I’ll get it all done.

Going to give my bloods tomorrow morning, so it’s all a little busy, what with displays and Inset and new staff, etc…The results and consultation, as well as my ‘bones injection’, will all take place this Friday, so – if you are going to pray for me at all – pray for me then!

I would like to write more, but duty calls. Have a restful night, and a beautiful day tomorrow. Good night and Go bless.

David

Sunday 2nd September 2012

Saturday night was a party for Sarah, our good friend and neighbour. She was 29 (at least that’s what she told me) and the evening went wonderfully well. I was introduced to lots of people as well as a couple of vegetarian sausages, which I devoured greedily…so that’s something else for my culinary repertoire. Yeehar.


This morning brought a super service at Grace Church from Andrew, studying Luke 18 and 19. He told us of God’s wish for each of us to grow, to take risks and to work the gospel in our lives. The reading told of the parable of the King who gave one Dina each to three servants, and he rewarded the two servants who made the Dina multiply (by ten, and by five). He punished the one servant who wrapped his coin up in a cloth and hid it away. Andrew said that God wants each of us Christians to live the word daily, rather than just keeping it for ourselves. I found it challenging and inspiring. I must do more to live God’s word through my actions, rather than just empty language which is lip-service and hypocritical.


We all went to Birdingbury (near Rugby) to celebrate Lucy’s 18th birthday in the afternoon/evening. Lucy is the daughter of really good friends of ours; John and Katie. Lucy is Nicola’s Goddaughter, and we haven’t seen the family in years…it was fantastic to see them all again. Lucy is a beautiful young lady now, and I hardly recognised her big sister Anna, and her little brother (my Godson) Simon. We must visit again soon.


Finally, I wanted to let you know that Nicola turns into an ogre at midnight. Well, you know that is untrue, but I wanted to stress that Nicola is not perfect. She has faults, so please stop pestering your husbands, and using my blog to mentally beat them up with my stories of how wonderful my wife is. She is, but I’m sure your husbands and partners think equally highly of you, but don’t know exactly how to express that love.


Staff in school tomorrow…I wonder what they’ll think about the building work we’ve had done.


Will try to blog again tomorrow. For now, have a good night. God bless,


David 


 

Friday 31st August 2012

Such a frustrating day.  I’ve spent most of it in the car travelling to and from school, and then Milton Keynes. 6 hours when I have so much to do. Ah, well. I’m fine now, tucked up in bed whilst Nicola talks to Mum, to Mary and to Nigel (one after another!)

Nicola tells me about one of her Pilates clients. He is 92 years young on Monday, exercises twice a week at the studio, is studying philosophy and has just celebrated his 70th wedding anniversary. He is inspirational…and Nicola loves teaching him. What a wonderful advert for the human spirit.

I said that I would let you have the ‘risk’ poem from George’s book. Here it is:

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool,

To cry is to risk appearing sentimental and soft,

To reach out to another is to risk involvement,

To show your feelings is to risk exposing your inherent self,

To place your ideas, your dreams, your desires before people is to risk their loss,

To love is to risk not being loved in return,

To show strength is to risk showing weakness,

To do is to risk failure.

The greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing,

The person who risks nothing, gets nothing, has nothing, is nothing.

He may avoid suffering, pain, sorrow, but he does not live, he does not love.

He has sold, forfeited freedom, integrity,

He is a slave, chained by safety, locked away by fear.

Because, only a person who is willing to risk not knowing the result is truly free.

Looking again at the Paralympics (I saw Hannah Cockcroft win the 100m…amazing) I see bravery in the face of great adversary. These people are real heroes, and they are inspirational to all of us who may fear risk of any kind. They have obviously faced ridicule, bigotry, ignorance, persecution and ‘failure’ They must have had their hopes questioned at every juncture, and most of us would have given up on any ‘stupid’ dreams long beforehand….but these athletes just carried on, risked everything and worked and dreamt on, and worked some more to realise their dreams. I applaud them and admire them beyond measure. What lessons can we learn? For me it is manifold: To dream on, to work harder, to dedicate myself to achieve my hopes and those of my little family and my school, to celebrate more and to praise God for my privileges. These paralympians are world class athletes in their own right, despite their difficulties and impairments. So, what’s my excuse? I have nothing to stop me, have I?   

Just like Nicola’s 92 year old, I want to start afresh with a relentless positivity and a never say die attitude.  

Good night and God bless to you all,

David

Thursday 30th August 2012

Good day again. I realise that I shouldn’t be feeling this great, but I am. So there. I also fear that the bubble will burst, and all my blessings will disappear along with my smiles. Why me? Why should I feel so good, when I have no more right to do so than anyone else? Why has God chosen me to bestow such gifts in my life? I do not deserve it all, no matter what you say, but I am on such a high at present…

Eric has had another great day. He spent the day with Luc, and it sounds like they had an absolute whale of a time together. Good for him. The family are so lovely.

Evangeline’s artwork improves every time she spends time on another piece. Her work is stunning, and I just wonder what she will be capable of in a few years. Perhaps I’ll scan in a drawing or painting of hers for you to judge for yourselves.

George is so funny. He is really growing up and a comfort to his Mum especially. He is in demand with baby-sitting (as is Evie) and is a capable saver. I do hope he can forge ahead and keep his focus on his dream of becoming a first class football coach. He would be brilliant, I’m sure.

Nicola is working hard each day at the Pilates studios. She is one determined and dedicated person, and my inspiration.

Ali and the team at ‘Pilates Nation’ in East Finchley have decided to open up on Sunday 14th October (They’re not usually open on Sundays) and will be donating all of their takings on that day to the fund to get me to Mexico. I am totally gobsmacked…thank you so much. If you’d like a Pilates session then contact the studio directly for details.

I’ve had several messages again today, which is uplifting as always. I love it…thank you all again.

Tired again now after my beautiful day…Good night, God bless.

David 

There was an old geezer named Hector

An experienced Ofsted Inspector

Whilst grading some Art

He let off a fart

Which set off the school’s smoke detector

Wednesday 29th August 2012

It is a constant source of embarrassment to me every day that I seem to be in others’ thoughts and prayers. I am encouraged by the support, however, and I am also grateful for all that you do, say and pray. Thank you.

I wanted to thank John, our good friend in Muswell Hill, who heard about my situation through George as they met in the Broadway. John was upset and took it upon himself to go from shop to shop asking for donations. He raised £100 and brought it immediately round to the house…and I don’t know how to thank you properly. You are a true friend, John.  By the way, John is a passionate and brilliant History tutor…

The other thing that struck me today was how much more other people can suffer alone. I am not alone, and I am lucky. I know I am, but just sometimes I forget and fall into a rut (or a valley) of self-pity. I was speaking to someone who has a very difficult life, and nobody would ever know. That is real bravery, and I am humbled by stories I hear about and from those who suffer. I’m lucky. I’m not suffering, really. I have everything. Many people have nothing but a dark and dismal future.

Great news today from other parts. Loved watching a bit of the Paralympics opening ceremony, but I just didn’t get it at times. Can someone explain the Stephen Hawking universe-come-umbrella-come-apple-eye-acrobats in the air-come-wheelchair suspended, etc? I felt like I often do standing in front of an abstract piece of artwork, trying and desperately failing to grasp its meaning or see its relevance and workmanship. Still, it was great to see the Paralympians seemingly having a ball in the stadium.

Beth and Kingsley came to dinner tonight. Loved seeing my girl again…and Kingsley is such a great guy, so I’m thrilled for them both. They seem close and very happy together.

Julia popped in too, and brought me a daily readings book which is super. She starts her new job as a qualified teacher in a couple of days, and I am so proud of her achievements…she is going to be an outstanding teacher, with a bright future.

Had a lovely chat to the fabulous Dawn tonight, which is always a joy. Keep your spirits up, girl, and you will set the world on fire very soon. You are a special young lady…don’t forget that.

We have, apparently, already raised over £8600 in the Mexico fund. Amazing.

Am falling asleep. So tired. Must sign off for tonight.

David

Monday 27th August 2012

Life has no problems. There are just conditions and situations. Some situations are challenging to us physically and mentally, and some spiritually. Most situations are a positive encounter with the world, with others and with oneself. They make us feel alive and energised, and we grow because of them. To lead safe and comfortable lives can often be stifling and inhibiting, causing lethargy and inertia.

George reminded me of a truth today as he read a poem to me called ‘Risk’ I will share it with you this week, as I do believe it encompasses what I hope our children will grasp and exhibit in their lives far more than I have. The fear of failure is such a powerful concept, and it is driving education at the moment. If you doubt that, you ask any 14 – 20 year old, and especially those who are stressing after their grades at AS, A2 and GCSE recently. But failure itself is such an odd concept, and it is one that literally turns children and adults alike away from the self-development we crave for each other. My own subject – maths – is like that at classroom level often with its high-risk, low-ambiguity reputation. It’s either right or wrong, meaning either success or failure. I can’t stand that, can you? No child should ever feel a failure because of any system that we build…they should be given constant encouragement to try and try and try, with a smile upon their face and understand that to get something ‘wrong’ is simply a rehearsal to getting it right…which is success. And I hope I’ve always valued the children I’ve taught, and shown them that I appreciate and celebrate efforts even more than achievements.

I’ve had a great weekend, really. Lots of DIY again (Nicola and I are nesting…) and lots of last-minute special time spent with each other and the children before I go back to school full-time tomorrow (I admit to switching off emails and phones so that I haven’t even thought much about school)

Kylie, Simon, Libby and Connor came to visit today, which was fabulous. I really appreciated the effort they made (travelling for over four hours to get here, and likewise back home) Kylie is my God-Daughter and I love her very much. Simon is such a lovely, gentle guy, and the two children are just a joy. It was great to spend some quality time with them, and I miss them now already.

I’m taking Eric into school tomorrow so that he can do some more of his maths and English homework, and then on to Highgate Harriers to – hopefully – join the Young Athletes Club. He has got the bug after the Olympics, and I really want to encourage him to follow his ambitions. He’s a good runner (as are George and Evangeline) and he enjoys the thrill of a race.

I must go, I suppose. I don’t think I said enough about Nan the other day. She was a huge influence on us all. She was a positive and energetic lady, who never complained, always had time for you and always made you feel special. Wouldn’t the world be a wonderful place if everyone had a Nan like that? We were/are so blessed to have her in our lives.

Bless you all. Night, and God bless.

David

Friday 24th August 2012

I’m not going to write too much tonight. I’m dead beat. But I just wanted to let some of you know that I’ve had the most brilliant two days.

Our wedding anniversary was super. The whole day was good, including the module GCSE results for Evangeline, (We’re proud as punch) but the crowning glory of it was at the Piccadilly Theatre in the evening to see Ghost. I managed to get five tickets, side by side, on the front row right slap bang in the middle. Best seats. The show was terrific. Beautiful songs and singers, good choreography and effects that were stunning. A great night…and we all loved it.

Today was a DIY day for me, which always makes me happy. It started off at 8.30am with a breakfast in bed, provided by Eric. I taught for an hour before putting up a new clock,  a chat board, a lamplight in the living room, doing some gardening, hacking back the ivy and evergreens, and fixing the kitchen drawers. I also cooked lunch, and took Nicola into IKEA to buy the blinds for the spare room the sofa for the kitchen. The money for that was left to us by Nan, who died last September. She was a special Grandmother and Great Grandmother.

Now it is 11.35pm, and I am going to get to bed with my Angel of a wife. Her anniversary card to me was very emotionally-charged…but that’s between me and her.

Good night and God Bless, from a smug and smiling David.

Wednesday 22nd August 2012

Spoken to so many people today, which makes me feel very much alive. Jane’s birthday today…sang to her (forgot her card), phoned Julia and Lucie, along with Mum, several parents and prospective parents of children coming to visit school. Finished the timetable, and it is being checked for accuracy tomorrow by Joanna…she, in turn, will play around with the Early Years’ one, adjusting it to perfection. Wrote several letters, too…

Listen to me. How boring was that? As though you’re interested. The real highlights of my day were probably reading Eric’s chapters one and two in his English homework from Cath. I think it is wonderful, and I’m proud of the fact that he is switched onto creative writing, and can put sentences together so well now…so much improvement in such a short space of time. Thank you, Cath.  The second highlight was spending the evening with Evangeline as she made a tiramisu for our anniversary tomorrow. She showed me a sketch she did today which is so good. Again, I’m proud of her skills and creativity.

So, it is now eleven minutes past midnight, making this our twenty-sixth wedding anniversary. I love Nicola now more than ever, and I could not imagine anything without her. I have the card, but I find it tough to gather my thoughts into written expression of that love. I’ll have to try again in the morning. I’m probably too verbose anyway…should I keep it simple? How about “I love you, my Angel”?

George and Eric are back home tomorrow, and I am pleased about that. I do miss all their banter and activity around the house. I know that they have both had a great time away. Eric spent today on Brighton Beach with all the Gossains, with Jackie, Gordon and our lovely Suzi. Eric adored flying kites, playing frisbee and building sandcastles. How brilliant! Suzi is so special to us, and we all adore her.

Gil sent me photographs of her and Dave. They’re getting married soon and they would like me to draw the cartoon/charicature of them to go on the cover of the wedding invite. I’m honoured. Gil, too, is adored by us all (Suzi and Gil are sisters) and it really doesn’t seem twenty-six years ago that Mum was making their bridemaids outfits for our wedding day. Wow…I’m so old, although I was obviously a child-bridegroom. I was barely out of primary school when I was cruelly snatched up to be married off into the Roberts aristocracy by Clive and Mary. Mind you, when I did meet Nicola for the first time, I was delighted. It made up for being taken out of Lancashire. (You can take the lad out of Lancashire, but you can’t take Lancashire out of the lad, right?)

Read the ‘Gag of the year’ in the newspaper yesterday. It goes like this:

‘You know who gives children a bad name nowadays?’

‘Posh and Becks’

I will not get an opportunity to write my blog tomorrow (23rd) for obvious reasons (Sorry, Dawn) I must speak to Mum, though…it’s my Dad’s tenth anniversary of his passing away. He was a loving and gentle man. I still miss him.

God bless. Night night!

David

Tuesday 21st August 2012

Spent all day in school yesterday, but took a day off today to take Evangeline to The Royal Academy and The National Portrait Gallery. We spent much of the day sketching in the galleries, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I can pretend I’m a student again when we do this. I’d like to go again with Evie so that she can really get to grips with her studies in art GCSE (and – possibly – A levels next year) Lots of people were praising Evangeline on her efforts, but she is never satisfied with her own artwork. Sounds like someone I know quite well.

It was comforting for me to spend some time with my Little Angel (She’ll tell me off for being soppy and embarrassing) and supporting her with her art.

Spent yesterday evening with Jez. He’s back from Devon though his family are still on holiday there. He’s as brown as a berry. We went through four of his songs, and I am so excited about performing them with the band at our next gig, which is in the planning stage…Jez and the boys suggested that we have a ‘benefit gig’ with all proceeds going towards the Mexico trips. If you are interested, I’ll fill you in with details when I have sorted it out more.

Nicola and I celebrate our 26th Wedding anniversary this coming Thursday (23rd)  We hope to go to see ‘Ghost’ in the Picadilly Theatre with the children.

Anyway, must go again. Didn’t sleep at all well last night…so I’m getting to bed right now. You all take care, okay?

Night and God bless,

David

Sunday 19th August 2012

Got up, got ready and went to GraceChurch. Super to see everyone there, and the message from Mark was firm and resonant, fromLuke 18. Washed sheets, ironed a couple of shirts, fed the cats, fed the neighbours’ cats, unpacked the dishwasher, hoovered the kitchen floor, shaved and clipped my hair and had breakfast. Packed the car and drove for two and a half hours to Horsham to see Charlie and her children (along with loads of Nicola’s relatives) at Liz and David’s home. It was good to see Charlie after all these years (she lives in Canada) and I kid you not…she hasn’t changed a bit. Unlike her children, two of whom have become lovely young adults. Had a good old chat with Steph, too, which was uplifting as always.

It was a hot, beautiful day and we stayed until 6.30pm before getting in the car again to drive down to Little Thakeham to drop George off (He’s staying with Nigel and Ashleigh for three days). It is the first time I’ve met Ashleigh and she is everything Nigel said she was…beautiful and genuinely lovely. My three couldn’t resist jumping into the pool, though, so we stayed for a while. We drove back to Brockham to drop off Eric (Yes, he’s staying there for three days too) and eventually drove home…I arrived here just an hour ago…at around 11.20.

A fabulous day.

I’m going back into school tomorrow to see if I can get my timetabling completed, and to see the progress of the builders on the library and the EY extension.

I’m finally looking forward to spending some quality time with my Angel Evangeline. We plan to go to two galleries on Tuesday, so I’ve got her to myself for the whole day. Should be grand.

Really tired now. I know I promised something deep today, but I honestly can’t bring myself to delve deeper than this recollection of the past 24 hours. Apart from this: I read through Philippians again (It is a very short letter from Paul) and I thoroughly recommend it to you. Paul inspires his new Church to be Christ-like, and the following words are just beautiful. I have used them before (a few times) for when Year Six and Year Eights have been leaving us on Speech days (especially at Duncombe):

‘Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice. Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Lord Jesus.

Brothers and Sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable…if anything is excellent or praiseworthy…think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you’

Good night and God bless,

David

Saturday 18th August 2012

What a great couple of days we’ve had. George collected his AS results and he is happy with them. A great relief. We are very proud of him, as he has had quite a few turbulent months, so these good results are great to us.

I had the very great pleasure of showing a family round the school on Thursday afternoon – who, incidentally, signed up for an immediate start – and I was blown away by their positive attitude in the face of great difficulty. A gentle and close-knit family, and I was honoured to meet them.  

Eric and I went down to Dorking to do some camping and fishing. We had a great day at Bury Hill Lake, and we caught some lovely fish. Eric has to name them all, so actually we caught Freda, Bertie, Beccy and…well…I’ve forgotten all the names. At 6.30pm, just as Eric and I were about to pack away I heard Eric shout “DAD!” and I turned to see my float, line, reel and rod being dragged into the water. In my desperate attempt to reach the rod before it disappeared into the murky water, I tripped and fell head-first into the depths. Apparently, according to one other angler who saw it all, he thought it was Tom Daleyesque, and he gave it a 9.5 score. I was under and I emerged from the water (and hit my head on the platform, so I have scars on my forehead to prove it) like a drowned rat. I was literally soaked, so I decided to swim out and retrieve my tackle. Believe it or not, the fish (which was really quite a specimen) was still on the hook. So I pulled it towards me and unhooked it to let it go. Yes, I did hesitate, as I called to the other anglers about being certain this was a pike-free lake; and yes, I did consider trying to tow it back to the platform…there was no chance of that happening. I was in fish territory now…a fish out of water, so to speak.

Eric was brilliant when I eventually climbed back onto solid ground. He immediately searched my pockets and found my Blackberry. It wasn’t working now, so quick as a flash he took it apart to ‘dry it off’.  To my amazement, he got it working again. There’s another fishing trip to remember…

Today was so hot here. Evangeline and Eric played ‘crazy daisy’ in Granny’s garden, and I caught up with some sleep (I wasn’t sleeping well in the tent) and we three came back home. Tonight we have enjoyed a curry and the film ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ which was really sweet. Special family moments.

So, there you are! Nothing deep again tonight….just a diary. I’ll get back to ‘deep’ some other time.

God bless. Night God bless.

David

Wednesday 15th August 2012

Okay, okay Alan.  So you’re only seven years older than me…and yes, I do remember now that it was a Lambretta Li 150. And, no, of course you weren’t a bad influence.

I’ll wait for Steve’s response tomorrow, I suppose.  Sibling rivalry, eh? Never goes away.  I love them both very much.

Went into school today, and I achieved a great deal. Back in there tomorrow to do a tour with Sue. It is truly remarkable what has happened at the school in just fourteen months.  I do believe that God is smiling down upon us. 

Eric tried to get some more of his homework done up in the Geog/Latin room and did very well. He has been invited to several friends houses recently. He’s not with us tonight for example; he’s doing a sleepover at his good friend Matthew’s house.

Evangeline is having a whale of a time at Grannie’s with Tim and Win (her Uncles) which is just what she needs. Tim and Win (and Oscar) are such great fun, and a great positive force for her. She’ll come back refreshed and wiser from their company.

George’s results tomorrow (AS level) which is a big day for him…I’ll pray for him. He deserves some success. He has worked hard for this moment.

Must go. I want to read through Philippians tonight before I meet up with Philip tomorrow morning.

Good night and God bless,

David

Tuesday 14th August 2012

A huge relief. The Tumour marker has decreased in size, so that is great news. It doesn’t mean that the cancer has gone, nor does it mean that the tumours have shrunk (though that is the aim) but it probably does mean that the spread of the cancer cells in my body has diminished, and that a combination of the prayers, the drugs, the new diet and the exercise is actually making a difference.

It gives me hope. Thank you to everyone for praying for me so forcefully and for all your encouraging messages yesterday and today.

Nicola and I ‘celebrated’ by going out for a pizza after the hospital visit. That was perfection.

I did say that I would tell you a little about my Brothers and my Auntie. I am the youngest of three boys (and obviously the most handsome, most intelligent and talented) Alan is the eldest, with Stephen in the middle. Alan is eight years older than me, Steve just three years my senior. In some ways, they are typical northerners…blunt, no-nonsense and gritty. Alan lives in Holland now with Jacky his partner, and he is doing well for himself over there. He is a fisherman…not like me…I mean a seriously good angler. He taught me. (I’m a poor student) He was telling me yesterday of his haul. A 12lb carp, four good-sized tench, and several other decent-sized fish including bream.

When growing up I wanted to be Alan. I adored him, even though he was sometimes a bad influence! He was a mod, and went everywhere on his Lambretta 125, which had about fourteen mirrors on the front. (For seeing up the skirts of the passengers he always seemed to have in abundance, he admitted) Alan always looked out for me in Marsh Green, and was - I think – proud of his little brothers. A strong footballer and rugby player, representing Wigan Schoolboys in both sports. He was certainly well-known in Wigan, and I admit to sometimes using his name for effect in intimidating company.

Steve is great. He would do anything for anyone, but especially for me and for his family. Steve drove all the 200 miles from Yorkshire (where he lives) to spend a couple of hours with me in the hospital following my surgery…and then back again, as though it was just a normal afternoon. He was always a gentler soul than his big brother, but forged an amazing career in the army, rising to the heights of Regimental Sergeant Major in his first years in The Royal Signals. A talented sportsman, he represented the Army at centre-forward at football. He was and is really clever, and has a superb memory (again, most unlike his little brother!) If I need some information – especially on films,  entertainment and especially music, then he invariably has the answers. His wife Elaine is a joy (even if she is a Yorkshire lass), and they make a truly close team. They adore each other. Steve is a self-confessed Techie and works at the Ministry of Justice (ooops, am I allowed to say that, Steve?)

My Aunt Dorothy (Dot) is my Mother’s little sister, and also her very closest friend. She has been truly remarkable with our family and has looked after Mum on so many occasions when she has needed support. She is always there for Mum, and they are often seen visiting, shopping, holidaying together and generally enjoying each other’s company. Dot was always as close to our micro-family as anyone could possibly be

I wanted to let you know that these three have transferred £1000 each into the fund for me to get to Mexico. Funds that I know they cannot really afford. I am flabbergasted…so humbled by their gifts, and honoured to call them my family. Thank you so much.

If all of that was nostalgic and mushy, then I’m not apologising. This blog is for me to express myself, right?

Into school tomorrow. I’m quite excited about seeing all the building work done in my absence. I’ll blog tomorrow.

Night, night. God bless.

David

Tuesday 14th August 2012

I’ve had a wonderful time with Mum and the family over the past few days. We went everywhere in London. Eric and I went on two enormous rides on the Southbank, one of which spun us round at around 200 feet in the air (Have I told you this?)

Mum went back yesterday afternoon and I was a little deflated, so Nicola asked me if we wanted to see ‘The Bourne Legacy’ at the cinema, which was great. Stopped me sulking, I suppose.

Didn’t sleep at all well, thinking about today’s appointments at the Royal Marsden. In fact, it was about 4am before I dropped off. Please say a little prayer for me if you have a moment, as I am anxious about the results coming in from my tests. I don’t know what I’ll do if  the tumours have grown…still, I’ve got to be positive.

I want to tell you about my own family from Wigan (well, they’re spread around a bit now) but I haven’t got time this morning…so, if it’s okay with you I will tell you about my Brothers and Auntie this evening when I have some time to myself.

love ya!

David

Saturday 11th August 2012

A rest day today. Mum and I spent some time together lounging in the garden, and watching the Olympics on TV. We had a curry tonight and watched ‘Man on a Ledge’ DVD. Went to bed.

Evangeline is back! Hurray…so it’s a great day. I’ve missed her like crazy, but I know she had a super time.

Feeling good but tired. Not sleeping well, so if you’ll excuse me I’m switching off (mind and lights) Love you all. The End.

David

Friday 10th August 2012

Where do I start? Yesterday (Thursday) began with a trip to The Houses of Parliament. We had a private guided tour. Mum, Eric and I felt like royalty being shown the House of Lords, the House of Commons and all the other wonderful historical rooms, corridors and artefacts in this magnificent building. I will post a couple of photos onto the blog in the next couple of days. That’s one down on my Bucket List. Fantastic stuff. I have to thank Mike Frere, our Finchley and Golders Green MP, and his team (Caroline, who was very helpful and enabled the tour to go ahead, and Nick who took time out of his schedule to actually give us the tour) I am so grateful.

Following this memorable tour, we walked along the embankment over to the Southbank to take in the atmosphere of what I feel is a super place. Eric spotted a fairground and Mum paid for the two rides we went on. One was ‘Cyclone’ an exciting big dipper, and the other ride was called ‘skyrider’ (which was, basically, a set of swing seats that went up to 200feet before spinning round and round in the sky above the Thames) We thoroughly enjoyed both rides, and I would not have missed these for the world with my boy. To see his laughing face on both rides was worth £20,000…never mind the £20 Mum paid.

What a wonderful day we had.

Friday brought ups and downs. I went to the hospital with Mum and Eric again (Evangeline is still at Grannie’s….and I still miss her terribly) to have my treatment and bloods taken. We waited far too long, and I did feel really quite guilty about having to bring the two of them along. We went to the Science Museum, which was super. We then headed up to Hyde Park (Serpentine) to see if we could catch any Olympic action there, but we were too late. We made our way over to the BT centre (where they have erected large screens and marquees and a stage for all the events planned throughout the duration of the Olympics and the Paralympics) Cor! It took us an age to trek there, and I again felt guilty because I wore Mum out. She is amazing, though. When I thought she might be fit to drop, she started to imitate the speed-walker who had just passed us! Not bad for eighty two and a half!

I intend to have a much quieter day tomorrow (Saturday) so that Mum can spend some time with the family, perhaps in the garden. That would be great.

One other item of news is that very good friends of ours were burgled yesterday. I was the first one on the scene as the family are away on holiday. I must admit that I wanted the burglars to still be on site. I was livid. So angry…it is just as well the robbers weren’t there, or the pent-up fury I have stored may just have got me into trouble. It’s just so unfair, and I feel for our friends who deserve their holiday and now have to live with this on their one family time together.  

Loads of other news, but it will have to wait until tomorrow or Sunday. I’m tired after my injections today, and all the excitement over the past forty-eight hours.

God bless you all. Good night and God bless.

David

Wednesday 8th August 2012

A real quickie tonight. I’m exhausted. I didn’t sleep well again last night and I’m feeling the effects right now.

Mum arrived safe and sound. She looks great. We had lunch in Pret and made our way over to the British Museum, but we were barred from entering because of the suitcase. Silly me. Came home, had homemade chicken pie and salad (surprise, surprise) and watched ‘InkHeart’ with the children. Mia is over to stay with Eric for the night, so he is happy.

Going back into central London tomorrow with Mum and Eric (Nicola is teaching, and Evangeline is still at Grannie’s. George is out with friends) to do some sightseeing. Should be lots of fun.

Anyone know how to beg, steal or purchase Olympic tickets? Poor Eric has been trying all day again, to no avail.

Lovely messages sent today, from Dode, Frances and from Jok…so heartfelt and moving. Thank you again. They’ll be on the messages page tomorrow or Friday, so you can see what I mean.

Good night, all and God bless.

Tuesday 7th August 2012

Am I unusual? I suppose I am a little…I suppose I want to be slightly weird. Nothing worse than being normal. I ask the question because I seem to be loved by lots of people and I still can’t seem to fully accept the fact. What’s wrong with me? Is it because I constantly feel unworthy of the respect and love I receive? Is it down to the fact that I just feel embarrassed about the attention? Or perhaps it’s because I secretly need people to constantly show me, so as to receive more and more approval?

Sue told me today that I should pray for the acceptance of people’s love towards me. That made sense to me, and I thank her for her spiritual wisdom. It is much easier to give than to receive. That is absolutely true. At least I think so. Love is only something if you give it away.

I deeply love my life, and I should thank God every minute of every day for all my richness of blessings from Him. I still take things for granted too much, although (as I said before) things are in sharper focus than ever before. It is amazing that anyone has the grace and consideration to think and pray for me, and I thank you for this outpouring of love. I still don’t deserve it!

But the fact is that the donations from you have been steadily rolling in. The total is somewhere in the region of £5000, which is simply stunning. It is a roller-coaster, and I can’t stop it – even if I tried (and I have) – even if I got past Nicola. The amount will be openly displayed somehow/somewhere on this blog (don’t ask me how) so that you can all see how the donations are accumulating. There are several donations from ‘anonymous’ but several from people I know – or recognise – and I think it better to thank individuals personally rather than ‘in public’ for obvious reasons. Whether you give 50p or £100 I thank you so much. On behalf of my family, I thank you…and on behalf of what the future possibilities hold for me – if the Lord wills it so – I thank you wholeheartedly.

Rachel asked me to somehow tell the followers (that’s you) of some of the events being planned for raising money for the treatment in Mexico. I’ll do that somehow on the blog in the next few weeks.

She also wondered if I could write a cookery book…that is hysterical. I’m not a good cook at all. I’m like a fish out of water in the kitchen. Up to the last few months, in fact, I would have been as much use as a chocolate teapot a la cuisine. Anyway, I get my salads, dips and curries etc from two other recipe books…so they’re not even mine. I could illustrate one though! Rachel also planted the seed of an idea with a ‘gig’ (That’s a concert to you oldies) by Random Patrols. Now that’s something we could organise. I’ll chat to Jez and the boys. Would that be of some interest to you?

She also asked me to write something about Nicola that shows that she is not perfect, as many of you have been feeling inadequate in comparison to this superwoman. Well, I can tell you some stories about my Love that might help you with that…but I wouldn’t dare. Watch this space.

Finally, what fantastic news from the Olympics. 200,000 people in Hyde Park to watch the Brownlee brothers bring home Gold and Bronze. Amazing. And to see Laura Trott, Sir Chris Hoy and the Dressage team getting top honours…wow. I was upset for one of our favourite stars though…Victoria Pendleton winning a silver medal in the sprint felt like a big disappointment. But she is a legend, a leader and champion and role-model in cycling and in sport in general. She deserves to be remembered in the same category at Sir Chris Hoy and Steve Redgrave, Daley Thompson and (Sir) Bradley Wiggins.

I still think Jess Ennis will pip Chris Hoy to the Sports Personality 2012, with Bradley Wiggins a close third. Want to bet?

Looking forward to seeing Mum tomorrow. Oh, by the way, my hospital appointment is next Tuesday. I’m sorry to have misled some of you with my blog on Sunday.

Sleep tight, all. God bless.

David

Monday 6th August 2012

Strange day today. Went into school early on with Eric, with a great deal to do and a positive attitude to try and get through all the paperwork and chores…not very successfully at all, I’m afraid. Never mind…I must crack on tomorrow.

Had a dental appointment this afternoon (again, in the company of Eric) with Malcolm, and we are both fine orally. Well, not bad.

Cooked a different dish, called Coconut and Split Pea Curry. Wasn’t my favourite, even though I adore coconut, but it really smelled delicious. The kitchen still does, actually. Nicola enjoyed it, but it was definitely a thumbs down from the boys.

I took Nicola, George and Eric to see the new Batman movie ‘A Dark Knight Rises’ tonight which was really quite gripping. Again, I would recommend it for the family, though not for very young children. It is a little violent in parts.

I received two beautiful letters today from Kate and Zaz. They really cheered me no end, so thank you very much for those uplifting messages of support.

Another great day at the Olympics for Team GB. Isn’t it all just fantastic? Our boxers had an amazingly successful day, and it is looking pretty decent for a handful of medals from their efforts…it all depends on their next fights to determine which colours. Aren’t the cyclists brilliant? Kenny, Pendleton and Trott…wonderful stuff again.

Evangeline has gone down to Grannie’s again to help her with Grace and Rohan, our niece and nephew. She is so good with little ones. I miss her, though.

Must go. Sorry it’s so banal tonight. I’m tired. Too tired for profound statements!

Good night and God bless you all.

David

Sunday 5th August 2012

If this is a diary, then today has consisted of Church, breakfast with Nicola, washing, making beds, Waitrose shopping, making (and eating) lunch, watching Murray thrash Federer, phone calls, and tennis…so there you are.

If this is not just a diary (and I don’t think it is) then I should add my thoughts about life in general and in particular my emotions about my condition. I bought a book entitled ‘When I Die: Lessons from the Death Zone’ by Philip Gould. It is written in the three years after Philip Gould (The strategist and political advisor to Tony Blair) was diagnosed with cancer of the Oesophagus, and is filled with insights into this brilliant man’s mind and emotions during his fight and ultimate acceptance of his condition and imminent death. It says that he appreciated and made sense of his life, his work and his relationships in ways that he never thought possible. I understand that, and hope that I can somehow articulate what I am thinking and feeling so that I can – hopefully – explain myself, and make sense of my own situation. I hope that it can inspire someone out there, or at least make it possible for someone who may be unfortunate enough to fall ill to take some heart from my little story. So I’ll continue.

Philip Gould also stated that the best and most intense time of his life was in the ‘Death Zone’ (meaning when the Doctors couldn’t do anymore to help him, and he was accepting of his own imminent death) I understand that, too. It is intense – although I don’t consider myself in my own death zone -.and I am incredibly positive at present, as all the good things in my life are somehow made more significant and powerful. I love every moment of my days, and I look at my beautiful wife and children and feel deeply fortunate. It’s like someone has cleaned my glasses and I can see clearly at last…and I love what I’m seeing.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I know there are ups and downs, and some dark times ahead. But I’m prepared, I think, and I know I can pull through.

I go back to the hospital on Tuesday. Pray that the tumour marker has reduced.

Love you all. God bless. Good night. Sleep tight.

David

Saturday 4th August 2012

I will get back to writing every day (more or less) it’s just that things are so much ‘hectic fun’ at present. I’m too busy enjoying my life to write about it constantly. I came back from Tom Barrett’s two day convention with many phrases, anecdotes, quotes, jokes and life-enhancing exchanges all still ringing loud and clear in my head and I am determined – more than ever – to spend these precious moments with family and friends, especially Nicola and my three ‘babies’ on top form.

I also intend to live out some dreams. If I am to live long, then I still want to accomplish some of these things before I get too old to be able to, and too befuddled to appreciate them. If I am to live a shorter life than that, then there is more urgency anyway, isn’t there? I said I might share some of my bucket list with you…and I will, but only when I tick one at a time off.

I’m excited about my Mum coming down to stay with us soon. She is free next week, I think, so I’ll see if she is free to spend a few days here. I hope to be able to tick off one of the bucket list items with her if she can make it. Mum is a special lady. Wigan born and bred, she still lives in the house I grew up in, and that is the place she intends to stay. Good on her. She is 82 years young. She still dances; she still travels and she still plays an active role in her local church, where I first found Christ all those many years ago. Some would say she’s had a tough life, but the one person who would never say that is herself. She is optimistic and positive. I’m proud of her. She is very proud of her three boys. I’m the youngest, the smartest, the best looking and the best behaved of the three; Of course.

I’ll briefly mention the Olympics. What and amazing day. Six gold medals in one day. Three gold medals in the athletics tonight alone. Jessica Ennis encapsulates the spirit of the games by her determined, positive and wondrous performances – and that smile – the face of the games? Yes from me. Sports personality 2012? Another yes. It was a great day watching some of these great Olympians perform…I was so excited, and very loud and emotional. I love my country, and I love my city.

Evangeline and Eric returned this afternoon from their respective Christian camps. They had super times, and they’re exhausted!  It’s great to have them back.

Must go. Have a beautiful evening/morning/day*

God bless.

David

ps Happy Birthday, Sammi….You’re a lovely God daughter.

*Delete as appropriate

Thursday 2nd August 2012

So sorry (No, I’m not Louisa) that I was unable again to do the blog yesterday. I tried to but I couldn’t get a connection at Grannie’s last night. Never mind. Here I am now.

I did go fishing, but only caught one fish (Not even a carp) but I thoroughly enjoyed my day at the lake in New Barnet. Except I very nearly did die (Would have saved everyone a great deal of trouble!) cycling back from there laden with all my fishing stuff. Yes, Bradley, I was wearing my cycle helmet.

The biggest and best news we have had for many months or years is that NICOLA PASSED HER TEST-OUT AND IS NOW A FULLY CERTIFIED CLASSICAL POWER PILATES TEACHER. I couldn’t tell you how proud I am of my angel. She worked so very hard for this, and deserves tremendous credit for this phenomenal achievement. If you consider that she had to put in over 600 hours of practical preparation and all the hundreds of hours studying to pass; when you consider that she is a full-time Mum (and a bloomin’ great one at that), the fact that she is an amazing wife, who has supported me through thick and (mainly) thin with my cancer over the years, and especially since my latest diagnosis and treatments; when you also consider that her two oldest children are going through GCSE and AS exams, and – finally – when you consider that she holds down a very important job as a Pilates Teacher….then it makes this achievement all the more significant and momentous. I wish I could convince her of my total sense of wonder and awe of this event in the middle of all this crap. Nicola…VERY WELL DONE. Hopefully, you can catch up with some sleep and energy over the next couple of weeks.

Went down to Brockham on the train last night. We were both so tired…but happy.

Went to Bracknell to attend Dr Tom Barrett’s Leadership event (Today and Tomorrow) and was blown away by the positivity and welcoming nature of the audience, and the wisdom and
power of Tom’s talks. He is an inspirational character and I have – so far – taken many quotes, stories and thought-provoking questions back into my life. I intend to use a few for the INSET at school in September. I’m not sure I can deliver the messages as expertly as Tom, but I intend to try.

Anyway, Tom is looking at my blog, too, so I think I’d better say “Hi! I hope you find something worthwhile in my crazy ramblings” I was also shocked to hear that others were also reading my blog…Hi, Julie. Hi, Christine. Hi, Helen…which is frankly terrifying, disconcerting and humbling all at the same time. I also hope I don’t type anything that will offend.

Can anyone else let me know what might be on their own Bucket lists? I’ve just added one more after today…To tour the Houses of Parliament. Tom’s idea, but a great one. We need to see and experience the grandness and greatness of our Parliament and our history. As he said “Your history and your parliament earn the deepest respect from other countries” Sometimes it takes someone from the outside to point out what you need to be proud of on the inside. Thank you, Tom.

Anyway, I will leave it there. I’ll type some slightly more coherent and stimulating material tomorrow following another inspiring day with Tom Barrett.

Good Night and God bless.

David

 

Tuesday 31st July 2012

I’ve had another heartening day (and yesterday was pleasing too) I’ll start with today though as old chemo-brain needs to do the more recent events first…

Got up, juiced (sounds a bit kinky, that doesn’t it?) had a quick breakfast as Nicola had already gone to the studio to teach and to practise – more about that later – and then I set off on my bike to have a bit of an adventure (and to do some shopping) I spent all day on the bike, more or less, and I feel elated that I was able to cycle for so long without stopping, wheezing or dying. Really, it was exhilarating. I cycled through Cockfosters and beyond New Barnet (to have a look at the fishing lake) so I don’t know how far I went, but it must have been quite a way even at my snail’s pace (Yes, I’m not exactly Bradley Wiggins) I came back, did a DB salad and made some avocado dip for Nicola and myself (The dip was awful)

Whilst I was in Muswell Hill, I went into Planet Organic and had soup and roll for late lunch, which was also fun. I spent a while looking in Bookstores and charity shops, too.

Yesterday was similarly rewarding. I went to spend some time with Philip and we prayed together and studied parts of the Bible, particularly Philippians, which is powerful and inspiring. Listen to this:

‘For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.’

I then met Tony for lunch at the Maid of Muswell, which was also great fun. He’s such a good guy, and I am so pleased that he seems settled in Madrid.

One annoying thing that did spoil my day a bit was the news about the car…yes, it’s going to be a bigger job than we had hoped (Isn’t it always?) and it will need to be ‘off the road’ for a few more days whilst the parts arrive. Still, worse things happen at sea, I suppose.

Nicola is taking a very important (final) exam and test-out tomorrow. She will be a classically trained Power Pilates teacher if she were to pass. I will pray for her now, and feel confident that she will pass, which is cause for legendary celebrations. Think of her at about 12 noon…I will be so proud of her. No, I AM so proud of her, whatever. I adore her, as you may be aware. She works very hard to accomplish her goals. She deserves to pass.

Happy August, by the way. In 40 minutes.

Still missing my babies, who are all on camp this week. I hope they’re all having fun, and come back at the weekend safe and refreshed. Evangeline has called me twice and sent three texts to let me know that she is having a ball: The two boys have been incommunicado.

I am going fishing tomorrow…Nicola is getting up very early to get to the test centre in Battersea, so I will get up too to be ready to cycle off. I’ll let you know if I catch any carp. Excited about that.

In fact, I’m quite excited about many things at present…I’ve got so much to look forward to, and I’m enjoying the moment. Long may it last…?

I was sad to have to pull out of the band rehearsals tomorrow night. It was because Nicola needs me at home following her test, but also that she has booked us on an emotional and mental enhancement programme on Thursday and Friday and – now that we are carless – we need to travel down to Surrey on Wednesday night to stay at Grannie’s. Jez, Steve, Keith and Dave…I hope you can forgive me!

…and you know what? I’ve not actually given cancer a second’s thought today.

Good night and God bless, all.

David

Sunday 29th July 2012

Again, I will not bore you with a great deal of text. It is now 12.30 having just returned with George from Wembley Stadium. We saw two fabulous Olympics matches: Senegal beating Uruguay 2v0, and then Team GB beating UAE 3v1. George and I loved every second of the time we spent together…brilliant stuff. George knows so much about football, the team stats and individual players. It’s like watching with John Motson.

Didn’t get a chance to blog yesterday. Eric is now at Blandford Christian camp, and Evangeline is at Bamford Christian camp…I’ll miss them both, but I feel sure they’ll both have a great time. George is going to Haslemere camp tomorrow morning, and he is excited about that, too. It was busy yesterday, and I did not get to bed till quite late again…and I was too tired.

Today has been a very ‘up’ day. It started with GraceChurch, which was inspiring and uplifting. We joined the community afterwards in Philip’s garden for tea and cakes, and Tony was there, over from Spain. I’m having lunch with him tomorrow. Nicola and I then watched a DVD called ‘Curing Cancer Now’ which was enlightening and – again – uplifting. I can get better. I can certainly BE better, and maybe this cancer is going to turn out to be the best thing that has happened to me. I’m already a better person, because of it. I’ve loved today, and I loved every minute of last week, because I believe I appreciate everything much more. I hope to make the most of each day, however long the future is for me. I made juices, and another DB salad. And though I missed tennis tonight (Which I love, too) I’ve had a fabulous day.

One final note…and it is important…is that Samuel had a toy sale over at his home yesterday morning (I teach Samuel) He made £58 and donated all of the money lovingly raised to help me to get to Mexico. I am so grateful, Samuel (and Mum and Dad, and little Oliver) for your care and support. I will get to Mexico, and I am feeling more positive every day about my chances of being cured altogether. It is overwhelming to be the humble recipient of so many people’s love and commitment. I really don’t deserve all your love, affection and support like this, honestly, but I cannot tell you what it all means to me. Thank you all, so much.

I was sent a photo of the start of Samuel’s toy sale. Here it is, and I’ll leave you with it. Good night, God bless.

David

Friday 27th July 2012

Went round to Jez and Ally’s tonight to welcome in the Olympics with a party. It was great to share the moment with such good friends.

I’m really only going to say one thing tonight (It is 1.15am) and that is this: I have always been patriotic, but I cannot tell you how proud I am to be British after seeing and hearing the Opening Ceremony. Fantastic, wasn’t it?

Oh, I know you could say we missed so many historical people and events from our past, but come on. It was just pure joy and theatre and I take my hat off to Danny Boyle and the whole team for that performance.

Night, Night…sleep tight. God bless,

David

Thursday 26th July 2012

Just got back from Sussex after a bit of a nightmarish drive. Our trusty car is making groaning noises, and it scared us all. George said he’s never getting in the car again. Other than the anxiety over whether we would actually get home at all, it was a pleasant journey on a beautiful night. It’s now 12.30am, and I’m not going to spend long here on the blog…I’m up early to go and have a prayer meeting/Bible study session with Philip.

Actually, it’s a busy day tomorrow. I am doing lots, and the day finishes on a high as we walk round to Jez and Ally’s to watch the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics…along with a curry and a few (non-alcoholic) drinks with all the children.

I do hope the weather stays decent for this event…it was so wonderfully bright and beautiful over the past four days, wasn’t it?

I am so grateful to Nigel for providing such a lovely opportunity for a short break like this, and – of course – to Ashleigh for the loan of her beautiful home and gardens. We had an amazing time. A real break for all of us.

Must go…the sandman beckons again.

God bless,

David

Tuesday 24th July 2012

I never had an opportunity to blog yesterday. I did try, but there was no internet connection (Well, there was, but…well, it’s too long a story) here in Sussex.  Yes, we did get away on holiday, and it has been a super couple of days.

Monday started with Daniel and Elizabeth praying with us. They are such close Christian friends, and their enthusiasm and commitment  is only matched by their genuine love and strength for God and His word. They brought me a book about God’s Healing Words, and some anointing oil which has been prayed over and blessed by elders of the church. Whilst here they both spoke in tongues and held a powerful prayer meeting both with and without our three children. It was truly inspiring and remarkable and I feel strengthened by their visit and their care for me and the family.

We then (almost immediately) had a call from Nigel, my Brother-in-Law, who asked us if we wanted to go down to Sussex earlier than suggested, as he was free to meet us and take us down there. So we did, and arrived in Thakeham in the early evening. And what a fabulous place! The children were so excited, and raced around the gardens, played football and swam in the pool in the three hours left available to them before night descended like a thick black velvet cloak. Megan came over to stay as well, which is wonderful for Evangeline. Those two have always been very close friends, which is great to see in cousins.

The house itself is stunning. Nicola and I slept in a four-poster bed (Our first ever) but I must admit that I did not sleep at all…not because of the bed (or indeed Nicola) but my mind was racing and I was hot…not only that, but it was pitch black. Not just dark (as in Wigan or London, which I suppose has so much light pollution…I’m a Townie) but inky black, almost touchable darkness that doesn’t change whether your eyes are open or closed. I’ve never experienced that before. And not only that, either…it was silent. Again, not London silent. This was literally no noise at all, the only thing I can hear is my only breathing and heartbeat silent. I eventually got up at about 1.45am after failing to fall asleep, and groped my blind way down into the kitchen to make myself a cuppa and to listen to music. I welcomed in the daylight, before dropping off at around 6am. Still, no reason much to worry…I’m on holiday for three days. Yeehar.

Today has been an absolute joy. The whole family, including all my five, Nigel, Megan, Mother and Leilani (Megan’s little sister, and such a lovely girl) have spent the whole day in and around the pool, laughing and playing, water-fighting and bombing each other. Mother brought round some pies, and we will have that accompanied by peas and one of my salads tonight. The children are all so happy, and I am uplifted by their spirits and joy.

So, I’ll get back to the fun and I hope to blog again tomorrow at some point. If not, tough. I won’t lose any more sleep over that!

Happy holidays. God bless.

David

Sunday 22nd July 2012

Went to Church this morning with the family, which was good. The sermon was amazing, and it was as though the address was directed at me personally. The theme came from Romans 8, and focused on suffering. ‘It is easy to fall into the trap of blaming God for our own pain and misery. It is easy too to think that God doesn’t love us when we are hurting, but God is promising those who love Him that they will ultimately share in His glory’ The Minister spoke forcefully and convincingly about how suffering is part of a journey, and that we should accept it with patience knowing about this promise. He went on to compare this truth to childbirth. What greater pain than that, but what greater joy at the finish?

It was good to see so many of my Christian friends again. They’re a super bunch.

Did lunch today. A Japanese Blackened Salmon, with sesame seeds and spring onion, along with a cous cous salad with vegetables, and baby potatoes. Lovely again. I used the cook book that Jok and Oriel gave me, which has some delicious and healthy recipes inside…

Going down to stay with Nigel tomorrow till Thursday, so I’m not sure I’ll be keeping up with the blog for those three days. We’ll see. Really looking forward to the rest, and the swimming with the children.

Watched the golf and the tour de France (well, some of it) I’m thrilled for Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish. A magnificent achievement. I’m pleased for Ernie Els, though I felt for Adam Scott. No pleasure in seeing a collapse, is there?

I have to write the annual newsletter over the next two or three days, too…and then there’s the new timetable.

Mum is in hospital herself tomorrow for a minor operation. I’ll be praying for her tonight. She’s a toughie, though. I’ll also be praying for John, Gemma, Frances, Lizzie and Matthew tomorrow at John’s funeral in Cardiff. May he rest in peace.

Tennis tonight was great fun again. I played a little better. Not so limp-wristed at least.

Thank you, all. God bless.

David

Saturday 21st July 2012

Ever watch ‘It’s a wonderful life’? It is my favourite movie of all time – probably. It stars James Stewart (who incidentally, is my favourite all-time actor) as George Bailey a family man and bank manager in a small town. He is known and respected by everyone, and he has helped everyone in their businesses, family homes and on personal levels. But he falls on hard times, and cannot makes ends meet. He is sacked by his bosses, and cannot see an end to his plight. He is desperate. He realises that he is worth more to his family if he were dead…the financial problems they were experiencing would be wiped out by the insurances after his death. He goes to the bridge over the fast flowing river and prepares to end his life by throwing himself over the railings.

However, an angel (second class, wingless) arrives in the form of Clarence, a portly elderly and jovial man who throws himself off the bridge in George’s place. George then dives into the river – not to end his life but to save another. What happens next is that the angel shows George what life in the town would have been like if he had not been born at all. This did a lot to convince George of his own worth, his relevance and importance, and he decides to plead for things to be back as they were, and for him to face his responsibilities with his adoring wife and children.

When he arrives back in his home, he is confronted by the bailiffs who are pricing the goods and the house for repossession. In the final scene, George’s friends, colleagues and neighbours flood in one by one to offer financial help and actually bring in money in bucketsful to enable George to escape from his predicament. It is a tearful and inspirational finale to a perfectly wonderful story. The fact that it was all set on Christmas Eve just goes to makes Frank Capra’s 1946 B&W film such a classic.  

When people tell me to accept the donations to get me out of my predicament, I am reminded of George Bailey. I am convinced that I have done very little to deserve the help I’m receiving from so many people, nor do I have any more of a right to ask anyone for help than any one of the other thousands of sufferers. When I have – as you say – helped many others in my line of duty I have done so with great joy, willingly and without any thought of reward, apart from the obvious incentive of seeing my work coming to fruition in others. I just love teaching and I love children, and I am proud of what I do. That’s all.

Nor do I have a right to ask to be saved. If it is God’s will, then great. I want to live for a long time yet, as I cannot imagine being without Nicola, or George, Evangeline and Eric….or my dearest friends and family. But I hate this. I can feel, see and hear the pain that my illness is causing. My Mum was in tears over the phone, which is hard to cope with when she is over 200 miles away. I just want to forget it and carry on as normal. I want everyone to forget it and carry on.

I think it was Proust who stated that we are made who and what we are by the suffering we endure, and that nobody grows when they’re being happy. Am I going to come through this stronger and bigger? Will I be closer to God, to my family and to you all? Will I have a ‘job’ to do if I do live for a reasonable time? Answers on a post card, please.

Jok and Oriel gave me another cookery book today (thank you!) which has some fab recipes inside. I am going to try the Japanese Blackened Salmon tomorrow. It has lots of mirin in it!

Can anyone recommend a brilliantly funny movie? When I was in hospital a few weeks ago, I watched ‘There’s Something about Mary’ with Ben Stiller and the beautiful Cameron Diaz. I had countless tubes sticking out of my sides, a few litres of fluid on my lung, and a dozen or so stitches in my sides. It was a terrific ordeal watching the film, as it made me laugh so much I very nearly literally popped. I didn’t want to split my sides, but I darn nearly did. Brilliant. Loved it. Anything similar?

God bless, and good night.

David

Friday 20th July 2012

Making it short and sweet tonight. I’m shattered.

Had a fine day, all in all. Super to see Daisy and Sharon, and lovely to have had lunch with Graham. It was refreshing to have had a chat with him, and to share a few stories and laughs. Thank you for the lunch, Graham. My shout next time.

Dawn came round, too, and she was such a giggle. What a lovely lady (I’m not just saying that because you read my blog every night, by the way!) and a breath of fresh air for Nicola as well.

Cooked, shopped, washed and spent some quality time with the family tonight watching ‘Percy Jackson, the Lightning Thief’.  I‘d recommend that for the younger family, it was good fun.

Philip called this morning, and we agreed to meet up next Friday to study the Bible and to pray. I’m looking forward to that very much.

Will you all excuse me tonight? I’m struggling to stay awake, although earlier I thought of so much to say. No wise words are coming…perhaps tomorrow.

Bless you all. Night night!

David

Thursday 19th July 2012

I was told off today – twice, actually – for the way I apologise so much on the blog. I didn’t realise I did that. I am terribly sorry. I won’t do it again…

For those who are fascinated by my hitherto heavily veiled culinary skills, I prepared a vegetable stir fry tonight, which was – excuse the boastful next bit – exquisite, delicious and moreish. I’ve never even heard of MIRIN before, but I think I might add it to all my dishes from now on. I’m enjoying the challenge of the kitchen…

Interviewed a terrific young lady today, and I do think she may be exactly what we are looking for at the school…also think I’ve sorted out the Classroom Assistant position, but we still have some way to go on that. Joanna needs to approve of the right applicant, obviously. So, a good day for the school, I believe. The works are rolling along, though I am a little worried about the lack of manpower in the Early Years rooms. One architect arrived today, and he wasn’t sure about the programme. The Library looks great so far, and the new science room is splendid. I think John will be thrilled with the result.

I want to thank lots of people for ‘loads of stuff’ from words of encouragement, to practical support to me and my family. Catherine is a close friend of ours, who has been planning a way to get the best out of the pages on this blog. Her expertise is obvious and I thank her for her support and wisdom. You will notice some changes to the site in a couple of weeks. Paul is remarkable, and this blog was set up entirely by him. We didn’t even know Paul before we spoke to him about the blog idea, and he has put all of this together for me, and has been so generous with his time as administrator without charging a fee at all. “It’s my donation” he said to Nicola.  I am so grateful, Paul. Thank you.

Loved the messages today, thanks. Will try to put them on the blog tomorrow.

Waiting up for George at the moment. He didn’t take his keys, the numptie, so I hope he’s not too late.

My pain in the neck is going. (She’s gone to make a cup of tea…No, no, I take that back. Nicola scolds me for being so flippant and ‘unfunny’ in moments that need gravity and sobriety, such as consultations with Oncologists…) In all seriousness, my neck is almost back to normal, just a slight twinge…so that’s great.

Going to pray now, and carry on waiting for George…

God bless,

David

Wednesday 18th July 2012

My daughter Evangeline…Isn’t she beautiful?

I made a lovely cheesecake and another salad today. The highlight of my day was walking – in the rain – to the shops and sheltering in Costa from the downpour with Eric. We played ‘ching chang chong’, ‘I spy’ and another game involving movements of ‘loading, shielding and shooting’ Needles to say, Eric won all games.

I did some DIY in the house, some washing and some cleaning. Whoopee for me.

I enjoyed tonight, though. Jez has written a song that I think is brilliant. We recorded a version tonight on his gizmo, and we will play it to the rest of the band on 1st August. It’s called ‘Home’ and the words are great too…but you’ll have to come and see the band if you want to hear it. I’ll let you know when we next play a few gigs.

Thank you again – everyone – for your words of encouragement. I admit to feeling rather low today, and Nicola too has found it tough. The bad news yesterday is only a little setback, I’m sure. I’ll be alright. I just wish that the world would stop spinning for a bit. I want to get off.

Jez tried to cheer me up this morning with a little poem (again) Here it is:

David was a wiry lad,

Wigan born and bred

With a wristy, flicky forehand

But no hair upon his head.

Football was his passion

The ‘Latics were his team

All of which just goes to show

Even fools can dream!

Good night and God bless,

David

ps Suzi, be careful with your dangerous pursuits, though. Your bucket list sounds just fab, but I wouldn’t have wanted anyone reading my words yesterday to go out today and do something foolhardy or dangerous. I love you, too.

Tuesday 17th July 2012

Not good news from the hospital today. The tumour marker is up again. Not that this necessarily means that my cancer is growing, as apparently the marker can be a little erratic, and it is not an exact science. But  I wanted that score down, after all the treatment and all the dietary changes I’ve made over the past few weeks. Never mind…the good news is that I feel good. Positive and stronger today.

I’m back on the chemo tablets though, which is fine (better than the intravenous type) and the injections will continue. I do not go back to the Royal Marsden for three more weeks. Yippee. The best thing about the visit was that I spent the majority of the day with Nicola.

Eric had a great time with his friend Matthew today. At least he is having a decent break. Evangeline and George will finish their terms on Friday, so they will get some time off, too. George is on work experience at his old school…he says the noise in the classroom is unbelievable. 

Made a beautiful prawn salad today…I’m quite enjoying being the cook around here. The children enjoyed it too which is a huge bonus.

Tania came round tonight with Mia, Rohan and Grace. It was good to see them all. I also had a surprise and welcome visit from Louisa who always makes me smile. She is a genuinely warm and positive character, and her family is so gorgeous…I miss Lydia. The flowers are pretty, thank you.

John’s funeral is on Monday, so I don’t expect I’ll get much of an opportunity to do my blog then. It’s a long way to Cardiff and back.

Apparently, I have nearly 100 ‘followers’. How scary is that?

I read an article today in The Metro by Richard Herring. I thought it was poignant and well-written. He states that he feels awkward about writing about himself and his opinions for the public domain. Mmmm. I do understand. He went on to say that he had always played it safe, but often regretted his own conservatism as he has missed out on so much in his life. There was a charming recollection of his secondary school days when he avoided a rain storm by scooting indoors, but his schoolmates all stayed out in it, and loved it all, singing, dancing and generally revelling in the soaking. Richard stood watching them all, thinking that they’ll catch their death like that. Now he realises that they were catching life, not death. When they all came in, laughing and joking and soaking, Richard was the only one who felt alone and wet.

That’s so true, isn’t it? A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my ‘Bucket List’ – not to be morbid, but to prioritise certain events and plans I want to accomplish before I shift this mortal coil. The point is I should want to do them whatever, whenever…to choose life, not death. Don’t know if all this makes sense…it’s late and I’m going to sleep.

Night God bless.

David

Monday 16th July 2012

Strange how you can feel that a day has not been very good for you, but at the close of play you look back and you have actually achieved quite a bit. Today was one of those for me. I started out by falling out with Nicola, I’m ashamed to say. Mainly my fault, I admit. I’m not usually an argumentative type at all but whether it’s my treatment making me grumpy or whether it’s just me being…well…grumpy. Don’t know.

But when I look back, I realise that I did quite a few things…I did the shopping, did some washing, made two lovely meals (salads) for lunch and dinner, did some juicing, did some smoothies, went to the charity shop and drew four cartoons for Sharon and Jules. On top of that, I managed to read to Eric, help him with his homework, and answer work emails. So, not that bad, all in all. The cartoons are for the Christmas Cards that Jules and Sharon want to do, and I’m quite pleased with the drawings. They have a ‘cute factor’ as Eric says.

Ooops. I did forget to ring Graham back, and Jane. Apologies…it’s far too late now.

A hospital day tomorrow…I’ll find out if my treatment is making a difference. Think of me…I need the tumour marker to show a decline (or at least no growth)

I played tennis last night. It was exhilarating. Thoroughly enjoyed it, though I played quite poorly, as I felt as weak as a kitten in my arms. The lads were fantastic with me, and I went to the pub afterwards which was a laugh. No, I didn’t drink before you ask. I love the company of women, I really do and I love the banter and all the giggles. But there is nothing like a good laugh along with other blokes. And the group (Jez, Ben, Paul and Adrian) are just so positive and upbeat….it is impossible not to be happy in their presence.

Must go. Nicola has just placed her frozen feet on my belly and it is agony.  How can anyone be so cold?

Pray for me!

David

Sunday 15th July 2012

Tired this morning. Meant to get up for church, but was dead to the world. I managed to rouse myself at 10.45am…I’m such a lazy bones. Worked-out for the first time in ages, and let Jez know that I want to try and play tennis tonight. We’ll see how that goes!

Also meant to do lots today, but failed to spur myself into much action. Managed to do a couple of drawings for the Christmas cards that Jules and Sharon are wanting to print and sell, so that’s something at least.

I have been really grungy today, especially with Nicola. I don’t know why. I suppose I’m a bit fed up, and irritable about the cancer…I don’t know. Perhaps I’m a bit annoyed that the two days I’ve had so far as ‘holiday’ have passed with me feeling less than 100%. Whatever, it isn’t Nicola’s fault and I’m sorry that I barked at her. She seems to understand me better than me.

So, I’ll pop off to tennis now to see if a few backhands can cheer me up…if that doesn’t work, I’m sure Jez, Ben, Adrian and Paul will do the trick.

God bless,

David

Saturday 14th July 2012

What a lovely message from Eric. His words are moving and if I needed any further incentive to get myself well then those should do it. Thank you, Little Man. I love you very much, too. I hope your life wouldn’t seem pointless without me, though. You have so many special people and many happy events in your life, you know. All of our children are from God…we’ve just got to nurture and cherish you whilst we can.

Another fine day. Took the whole family to see Spiderman tonight…thoroughly enjoyed it, and so did the children and Nicola.

The injection I had yesterday has had an effect. I’m nauseous again, and my bubbly mood has rather evaporated with it. I’ll be all right with some sleep now.

As I lie here looking (like I often do) at Nicola sleeping, I worry. I worry because she is suffering far more than I am. She is so tired and anxious almost all the time…she is taking all this on herself, and I hate myself for being like this. She just started crying tonight and when I asked why, she said “I’m so worried about you dying”. It tears me up.

The news from Wales upset her of course. John died yesterday. He had been ill with brain cancer for quite a while, and passed away quietly with Gemma, Frances, Lizzie and Matthew all there by his side. That is so sad, and we feel for them, and share their pain and grief. I hope that Gemma has all the support she needs in the coming months.

There is so much I want to say, but I suppose it should wait. I’m sorry if I sound miserable tonight. I don’t want to be down, and I will hope to be really chirpy again in the morning.

Sleep well. God bless,

David

Friday 13th July 2012

Lately, it has been painful these past few weeks for me and my family, especially for Dad, but it has also made me think of how much I love Dad and how life would be pointless without him.

It has also made me feel is it my fault?  Maybe it’s because I haven’t helped him or loved him enough that Dad has cancer.  But then I think God would not do that to us.

All I can think about is if he can go to Mexico and get rid of his cancer –  it would be as if God was smiling down upon us.

I have also been doing some research about the hospital in Mexico ‘Oasis of Hope’,  and how important it is to have strong faith and to eat organic foods.

Love you Dad, hope you get better soon.

Love, Eric  xxx

 

 

 

 

Thursday 12th July 2012

Another good day. Although it was a ‘boring’ admin day for me, I felt I achieved quite a bit. Eric had a great day with his good friend Riley and the family, allowing me time to get on. Tammy is so lovely with us, as is Andy and the Ozzies.

So there you go. Thank you.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TIM!

More hospital bloods tomorrow (Urrr..Friday 13th!) but tonight all is very well.

Now I’m off to bed with the best looking lady in the world. What a fortunate man.

Night, night. God bless. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.

David

Wednesday 11th July 2012

Hiya. I’m feeling positive about everything today. It’s been another successful day, and I’ve got so much done and out of the way. I’m just off the chemo tablets now, so I’m simply on the injections with one accompanying teeny weeny tablet until next Tuesday, so I’ll not be rattling as much.

Eric says that he wants to put a message onto the blog, so I can’t wait for that. George doesn’t really want to read it, which is fine (I’d be the same) but he has been terrific with the younger ones, me and his Mum. He’s a good lad, and quite grown up now.

I’d like to thank Sharon and Jules for all their support and hard work. They are thinking of ideas to raise some more money (Chris the cyclist is Jules’ husband) including me drawing a Christmas card…and loads more. Thank you so much.

Jez has written some little poems. They’re funny, and I think I might illustrate them. Here’s one of them…it’s called DOUG.

 Trevor, the slug,

Had a brother called Doug

Who liked to drink lager and lime.

And you always knew, when he’d had one or two,

‘Cos the glass was all covered in slime.

I’ll leave that with you all.  Night, night. God bless.

David

Tuesday 10th July 2012

I’m going to be less wordy tonight…you’ll be pleased to know.

Thank you, Nigel and Dode for your comments. I love you both, and I appreciate your love and support at all times, as I do with everyone who is ‘just there’ for me and the family.

Thank you, too, to Chris for your amazing feat. Just to let you all know that Chris did a large section of the Alps (The Tour de France section) on his bike to raise some sponsorship money for my medical programme in Mexico. Two or three of his group of five did not finish the gruelling course in awful conditions, but Chris did because he was spurred on by the thought that he couldn’t let me down. I don’t know what to say, Chris. I am so very grateful and awestruck by your commitment and strength of mind and body. Thank you. Chris has raised in the region of £2000, which is just incredible. (I’ll try to get a photo of Chris onto this blog at some point soon)

Went to see a Doctor today who was just brilliant. He told us about the importance of diet and supplements, and is writing a report that will enable us to get all the right stuff into our bodies…it made a lot of sense. He also said that he thought Mexico was the right thing to do, and that the results from there have been terrific over the years. That was great to hear.

Had a great night with Jez. Lots of chat and fun. We never managed to come up with our final definitive top ten albums of all time. Can anyone help? My favourite album of all time is probably ‘There Goes Rhymin’ Simon’ by Paul Simon. Or is it ‘So’ by Peter Gabriel? Or perhaps ‘O’ by Damian Rice? Or ‘Fragile’ by Yes? Yours?

Good night. God bless.

David

Monday 9th July 2012

Part of me wants to feel really unwell. So that I could feel a little less guilty when I am lavished with the well-wishing attention I seem to be getting. I love you all for it, but I sometimes hate this…part of me just wants to pretend I’m fine. For goodness sake, I feel okay most of the time. Just a bit of a pain in the neck (Mum always said I was) and a touch queasy on occasion, but nothing to write home about.

I am not worth the fuss. I really think that I might last years and years, so please don’t ask me how I feel…I feel fine. Oh, yes of course, I do think about it on occasion, and I wonder just how much time I have, and how I’d miss my family, and how my family would cope without me. I suppose that’s natural, right? But I love my job, I’m happy to throw myself into that, and to spend time with the people I love. Life is good.

I worry about Nicola. She is almost obsessed with the illness, and I worry for her state.  She is an amazing woman, stronger and more confident than ever before, but she carries this disease around with her more than I do. Really. I have always been able to block things out. A great pretender….which is why my soul mate thought it would be a great idea to do this blog in the first place. But Nicola lives with this on her sleeve, and I am worried that she is going to end up ill herself. Now I really couldn’t cope with that. I already feel so guilty.

Really deep stuff? Not really…I’m not deep, in fact I’m rather superficial almost all of the time.  I’m popping out for a curry with Jez tomorrow night, and I know that we’ll spend almost all evening laughing and joking, talking about football, families and – especially – music. That’s me, honestly. Looking forward to that very much. And it’s not as though he doesn’t care. I know he does. It’s just that he doesn’t need to tell me or ask me anything. That’s men (boys) for you, I suppose.

Great day. Great weekend…Tim and Winston came and stayed along with Oscar. It was fun, and we had a good laugh on Saturday evening, and even watched a ‘boys’ night in’ film (Men in Black) The boys are great, loving and thoughtful and I appreciated their presence and care.

We also went round to Dave and Rachel’s on Sunday for a tennis barbecue which was lovely and – again – their care was obvious, and that’s all I need.

The teachers at school have somehow found out about my cancer. That’s okay. In fact it is a bit of a relief. I will be sending them all a letter to explain (and apologise) the situation. I’m not leaving, I’m not going to die soon, and I fully intend to be there for many years.

Cor…verbose tonight. Sorry.

God bless.

David

Btw, I was asked again today if I really wanted to go to Mexico, or was it just something that Nicola wants to do. I’ll answer like this: I have a wonderful life, and I want to live it longer. I want to do stuff yet. I want to see Evangeline get married, and have children, likewise George and Eric. I want to retire (eventually) and look back on a life that meant something to me, to my wife and children, to other children and especially to God. Would I go to Mexico if I was on my own, without dependents? Yes, I would. The problem I have had is the same problem I have now: I’d rather not ask for help in any way, especially not financially. I’m just not worth that sort of outlay…I wish I had a very rich aunt or something. But I also understand (or I’m starting to understand, I think) that people want to help me to live, and that I must try to accept the love being shown towards me and my family. Thank you, thank you, thank you. (As long as you forgive me if Mexico doesn’t cure me)

Sunday 8th July 2012

How on earth do I follow those entries from Nicola and Evangeline? Apart from saying, “Oy! Get out of there! This is my blog!”

Seriously, though, I am touched by their words. They are both hurting, I know, and I hate myself sometimes for that. It is the last thing I wanted to do.

Evangeline, more than anything I want you to be happy, my Little Angel…and you will be. I just thank God that you came into my life, bringing the brightest ray of sunshine into each of my days. I also thank God that your faith is strong, and will see you through…whatever happens. I adore you.

But now I’m a little fed up being all smushy and soppy about my family and friends. I think everyone now knows what a close and loving family I have, and they must now know what George, Evangeline and Eric mean to me. You can see and feel the deep love I have for Nicola (my soul mate) and what a fabulous group of very close friends and colleagues I am blessed with…so I will talk about other stuff.

I was given a poetry book yesterday by Jok and Oriel (Thank you) and there are some inspiring words in there, and I’d love to share one poem to finish off…

‘Sometimes’ by Sheenagh Pugh

 Sometimes things don’t go, after all,

from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel

faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail,

sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war;

elect an honest man; decide they care

enough, that they can’t leave some stranger poor.

Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go

amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.

The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow

That seemed hard-frozen; may it happen for you.

I love that…it’s simple, yet moving. Miracles can and do happen.

God bless,

David

Saturday 7th July 2012

This blog is working for David.  It is proving to be his therapy and his words are beautiful and heartfelt.

George, Evangeline and Eric have been amazing, they are all so special.  We are blessed.  Their courage and faith remains strong.  Evangeline’s blog is a true testimony to that fact.

I am proud of David and his ability to carry on with strength and determination.  I love him so much.  This is not what I pictured our journey together to be like.  This road is tough, but I still feel blessed.  Blessed that we should have met one another and blessed to have three beautiful children.  We have had 25 married years together and we still love one another – in fact I love him more now than ever before.  Our love for one another continues to grow.  He is my soul mate.

With God’s grace I hope we can have many more years together.  This time round my faith is much stronger.  Six years ago when David was diagnosed with breast cancer I felt angry and rejected by God.  Now, I feel God’s outstretched arms carrying all of us.

Family and friends have been really supportive – thank you.  I get my strength knowing others are thinking of us.

Thank you particularly to my Mum, for her continued patience in listening to me – I really need to talk – our conversations on the phone can last hours.  I thank Nigel, my brother, who has been a shoulder to cry on, very early in the morning and very late at night – I don’t think he ever sleeps!  Nigel, thank you for being there when we told the children and for your wise words to them.  I have a strong and supportive family and please forgive me for not mentioning you all.  In fact I am lucky to have so many people to help me at this time.  For the prayer group at Grace Church, and for friends I have not spoken to in ages for dropping everything and just coming to give me a hug.  For those I hardly know who have been inspirational in their fund raising activities.  God willing, David will get to Mexico.  It would take too long to thank everyone, but know I appreciate you all and need all of you.

I have bought two Jane Plant’s books “Your Life in Your Hands” – she cured herself from breast cancer with diet – and “The Plant Programme” – recipes for fighting breast cancer.  I know nutrition plays an important role and we need to embrace this as a family.  David the other day said he felt like a rabbit eating raw spinach!  I hope to get better and this book will allow me to make delicious, but healthy meals.  I have also bought a juicer!  It helps to continue to do something positive and active.

Thank you to everyone for always being there for us.  With everyone’s prayers and support we will be able to keep going.

Love, Nicola xxx

 

 

 

Saturday 7th July 2012

Now, I realise this is my dad’s blog, and that I am not David Baldwin. But I thought it might be good to write in my perspective too.

I understand these times are dark for both my family and for me and maybe a bit depressing, but I know that these times help us to realise the most important things in life, and the most important thing in my life at the moment is my Dad, he is my rock.

When I first found out that Dad was diagnosed with cancer I was shocked, so many questions were racing in my mind, why me? Not again? I thought it was over?

But most of all, does God hate me?

I realise now that God did not bring this upon me, for God is full of love, and, as I quote 1 Corinthians chapter 13 ‘Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth’—now I may not understand how or why this happened but I understand that God is leading us every step of the way.

I realise that I was being selfish; these times that I spend with my Dad just make them even more special, more defined. I should not think of the future but only of the past, all the incredible things he has done for me and who he has made me to be, without him I would be a mess, well… more of a mess than I am now.

I like to think back to all those times we spent together, and all the times that we will spend together in the future, and I smile, for those times I will cherish, those are the times that I will think back to and hold close to my heart. I love you Dad.

Love, Evangeline xxxxxxx

 

Friday 6th July 2012

Seriously tired now. It’s midnight; I didn’t sleep well last night, and today has been a roller-coaster from start to finish. Reports all done, speech day went well, and all parents seem very happy. Just admin and finishing off from now over the next three weeks or so, and I can take some time off.

Nicola came to speech day at the town hall. She looked wonderful. She cried lots when the choir sang ‘Fix You’ by Coldplay. It’s our song, you see? I thanked her publicly for her many years of love and support. Something I should have done years ago. She was moved by that, too.

Evangeline was in a state when we came back home. She loves me and I am very close to her, and her to me. We’re so similar. And seeing her heartache just tears me up. We spoke at length and she said she wanted to add to the blog, so that may come on soon.

We just hugged and hugged. She is going to Gil’s (Aunt) for the weekend, and I know that she will have great fun…

Anyway, forgive me but I’m going to settle to sleep. Thanks for your palpable love and support.

Good night, God bless.

David

Thursday 5th July 2012

I could get used to all this. Is that a danger? When people think you’re ill, the maternal (especially) instincts kick in and before I know it I’m being patted and stroked (well, figuratively speaking) and cared for by a host of loving nurses. I’m feeling reasonably well and good at the moment, but I’m not going to tell anyone (oops, I think I just did) just in case the pampering stops. I’ve always been fiercely independent but I quite like this a little too much. Mmm…worrying.

A good day. Masses done at school, and my colleagues were once again industrious and proactive. As I say, I am blessed. I’m happy at work. Very happy, and I seem to have found a community that I have grown to love (and want to nurture) like I did so joyously at Duncombe. I want to stay here in Ealing until I’m carted off screaming and kicking or until I’m discovered one frosty morning lying quite peacefully at the foot of the main stairs before being wheeled away in a black van. The children are simply delightful, as are the vast majority of the parents. We’ve made such progress in the year, and I have to thank God for all the blessings bestowed on us.

That’s it. Massive day tomorrow, with the biggest occasion in our calendar…the speech day. What? Of course I haven’t thought about my speech. I’ll think about it in the morning.

Just had a week without visiting the hospital at all. Again, I think that may have something to do with this sense of purpose and focus.

Have a great day tomorrow. I fully intend to.

God bless,

David

Wednesday 4th July

I’ll take Cath’s advice and I will not take too long with tonight’s blog entry. I am tired, and I’ve got to try to go through the reports tonight, as time is running out. Cath, what a great message, full of typical wit and wisdom…you wouldn’t be a wordsmith by any chance? Seriously, thank you for these words as they make me genuinely and deeply reflect and consider (remarkable for me at the best of times)

Good stuff at school today, and only one or two issues to deal with, though I hardly got down to clearing the backlog of admin…I’ve got next week to complete the less pressing items.

So excited about the works taking place over the summer at the school. A new library, a refurbished science lab, updated toilets, and a couple of refurbished classrooms in the youngest years, and several new items of IT equipment and hardware will bring us a far greater range of activities and possibilities.  We’ll be an even better school, and the children will love the changes.

There are so many of you I’d like to spiritually hug and thank. You are overwhelming me with your warmth and care. At home, in my family, at school (thanks, Cath, for the incredible help with the RS and History; Joanna, Beth and the rest for all you do and for all you don’t need to say) and in my considerably larger close circle of intimate friends than I had realised or hoped for: You spoil me, you overestimate me, but I now realise that you love me, and I am strengthened and uplifted by that knowledge.

If this illness is meant to strengthen me and give me clarity, then great…I’ve learnt some lessons here already.

Night, God bless.

David

3rd July 2012

 

So there…I’ve been told. I realise that people love me, and I am humbled by all these messages. I’m still struggling with the acceptance though, and I can’t help that. Thank you, nonetheless. I’m so blessed and surrounded with loyal and caring family and friends.  

A testing day at school, but all in all another successful one. Our Summer Fayre was fun, and well-attended. The atmosphere was positive and the community spirit is strong. It is a great school, and getting better and better…it is quite remarkable what developments have taken place in the year.

Anyway, thank you for all the comments. I don’t deserve them, but it does make me feel good. Night God bless, all.

David

Monday 2nd July 2012

Struggling today again….sorry about that….but I have had some uplifting moments, too. Daniel called tonight to urge me forward and prayed with me which was inspiring. Sharon told me off (very agreeably) for saying that I didn’t want people to help me, as did Nicola and Joanna. All these people are special. I’m not.

Nicola tells me the well-known story of the man who refuses to take help from a dinghy, then a lifeboat, and finally a helicopter as he is caught in a rising flood shouting each time, “No, No. God will save me” He eventually drowns and at the pearly gates asked the Lord why he hadn’t saved him. The Lord – of course – replies…”Well, I sent a dinghy, a lifeboat and a helicopter for you…”  The message she wants me to understand is to accept help from people who genuinely want to rally round, as it is probably God’s way of saving me.

I’m not sure at all. I watch the TV screen in the hospital waiting room and see an advert for saving the life of children in Africa for £20 a year and tears roll down my face…because here am I possibly getting a cure for my cancer in another distant country for masses of money….I am not worth it. I’m certainly no more worthy than anyone else, and far less so than the lives of children, which areprecious. I am really struggling with it all. I’d rather just pretend the whole thing isn’t happening.

I want to say ‘thank you’ for caring so much, but I also want to say don’t treat me like a charity. Please pray for me. And Dode… thank you for ‘nagging’ the Lord. I appreciate that, and I appreciate your daily fabulous messages of support for Nicola nd myself.

The new parents and children for Reception were in today for induction day. They were delightful…life is good, really. I often forget.

God bless you all,

David

Sunday 1st July 2012

Hi, all. Hope the weekend was good for you. It was certainly eventful, wasn’t it? I’ve just watched the Euro final and the incredible performance that Spain gave…what a team. Different class.

My neck hurts. I told you I’m falling apart. The radiotherapy apparently can give you these aches and pains in the bones where there were no aches and pains before treatment. It’ll go away, I think. Won’t stop me doing stuff.

Big week this week, what with summer fayre, reports, special assemblies and our speech day. I’m praying that God will smile again on us and be with us for all of these events. The beautiful school deserves lots of blessings.

God bless you as well,
David

Friday 29th June 2012

Mostly my days are ‘up days’ but I’ve found today a bit difficult at times. Is that okay to share? I have this silly idea that I have to be happy in order to make everyone else happy too. That it is weak to be anything else. Nicola, interestingly, has been sad and tearful today. We are so connected, so I could blame her for my mood, I suppose. Hee!

Still looking forward to a bit of a break.  I love school, and I adore the children, but I could do with some quiet time. Fishing over near Dorking as soon as I can sounds good. I’m a poor angler, really, but I do enjoy it. Whilst there, Grannie will spoil me as usual…I love that, too. She is wonderful, and has been a rock for Nicola, and a loving and supportive Mother-in-Law to me.

Good night, God bless. Pray for my little family.

David

Thursday 28th June 2012

I’m thrilled that my little drawing made some of you giggle.

I’m fairly tired, truth be known. It’s been a very long and busy day…but a fabulous one.  It was our Sports Day today, and not only was the weather very kind to us, but it has all gone well with everyone seemingly happy during the afternoon. The biggest thrill of all for me was watching with tremendous pride as Eric romped home to claim three gold medals. He won the sack race, the 400 metres, and finally the senior 100 metres (in an U11 school record time of 14.22 seconds)

I’ve spoken to lots of you today, and I am grateful for all the messages of support. Really I’m fine. No, well you know that’s not quite true. What I mean is I feel strong mentally and spiritually. I am blessed, as I said yesterday, with a wonderful life which isn’t over yet by a long way.

I need to get a bit fitter, though. I get tired too easily nowadays. Perhaps that is the treatment too. I am taking more B17 and wheatgrass now, which helps.

Think of Nicola as she prepares for the advanced (Pilates) test-out.  She is nearing completion and is hoping to attempt the two tests (theory and practical) in the next three weeks or so. I don’t know how she copes with everything, honestly. I’ve been like a fourth child all along, and I know that I’m a constant worry and burden, but she is so tough. I adore her, and one thing I do know (but don’t understand) is that she adores me too.

God bless you all.

David

27th June

When I was in hospital following my lung operation, the physiotherapist asked me to exercise on the bike up to three times a day.  This I did, and just to amuse myself I drew a picture of me somehow magically escaping from my confines.  I drew about twelve cartoons for the brilliant nurses with the theme of me escaping in different ways. I’m sorry if this is a bit gory, but at least I’ve missed off the catheter. Hope it makes you smile.

 

(Click on the image to enlarge it)

Wednesday 27th June 2012

Just returned from hospital after another x-ray on my lungs. Really pleased, actually. They said I had enormous lung capacity, which made me feel pretty good. Best news I’ve had in a while! Lungs clear of fluid now, and no chance for that to come back at least. I can start to exercise on the bike, and by walking lots. Freedom.

The clot did go onto my lung after all, but I’m injecting myself twice a day and it will apparently disperse over the next few months, as will the big clot in my leg. I’m still having to don these sexy white stockings, which fall down regularly…anyone got a spare suspender belt?

The clots mean that I will not be able to fly anywhere (an eleven hour flight to Mexico is not exactly ideal) for approximately 4 or 5 more months, but I will go there with Nicola, God willing.

My diet has changed dramatically over the past few weeks. I am eating far more nutritiously, with lots of greens (the green smoothies are tasty, but they do look rather too like baby poo) and I have cut out so much sugar for one. I’m taking wheatgrass, and vitamin B17 in the form of ground apricot kernels. I’m on chemo in the form of tablets this time round, and I’m seemingly not too nauseous (if you see what I mean) Nicola is eating whole apricot kernels, bless her cotton socks.

My little family are great. The way they’ve coped and supported one another makes me proud as a Dad. And as for Nicola, my Guardian Angel, I’m constantly amazed at her strength and resolve. I’m blessed, indeed.

When she persuaded me to do this blog, I was reluctant. I am not worthy, important or interesting enough to be ‘read’ like this. It might turn out to be cathartic, though, and I’ll see how it goes….perhaps I’ll really get into it.

Can I sign out like this (or does it sound soppy, insincere or crass?): I love my life, my wife, my family, my job, my art, my music…and I’m determined – now that I know that life is so precarious – to make the best of whatever time God grants me.

Ever see ‘The Bucket List’ with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman? We watched it as a family last week. What timing! It’s about two guys who have been given up to 12 months to live, due to cancer…a bit traumatic and awkward, but a funny and inspiring film no matter. I’m going to do a bucket list of my own (Things to do before you ‘kick the bucket, see?) not to be morbid….far from it, just to focus and prioritise. Perhaps I’ll share a few of these things with you over the next few weeks.

God bless you all. He has blessed me, too.

David

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