Productivity, fuelled by medicine

Productive month, despite a back injury and being dosed with Zapain, Naproxen and Omeprazole. The drugs are ultimately as bad as the injury. When the pain recedes because of the painkillers and then its failure to return is coincident with the sickness the painkillers create, you know you’re getting better. But this is the third ‘episode’ of lumbar injury, as the GP puts it; episode suggests a scenario yet to be fully played out. So I’m awaiting the results of X-rays, which, I’m told, are old hat and only reveal ossuary conditions: they tell you nothing about soft-tissue and its abnormalities. I need to be scanned and will ask for same. I don’t want this to happen again when I’m on some Cumbrian fell or about to board an aircraft, or in the middle of a concert. The medical profession – and who can blame that hard-pressed tribe? – regards back pain as inevitable, age-related (or related to lack of exercise and sudden jerky movements), and treatable only by the prescription of painkillers and the willingness of the patient to wait for the injury to mend itself. Natural remedists, however, probe deeper, sometimes painfully, in the certain knowledge that pain has different causes and each has to be located if the condition is to be avoided. That said, I know where my GP got his medical degree but not where my chiropracter studied for his B.Sc. Does it matter? I assume the application of natural remedies is not illegal.

Anyway, back to the productivity. The first review of Slowly Burning is imminent. I’ve placed work in The Fictive Dream, Slightly Foxed, and Wales Arts Review, the last being a contribution to its Flash Fiction Month (June, 2016) called Ziggurat. AH gave me his subscription back copies of Slightly Foxed, a quarterly magazine dedicated to the enthusiastic endorsement of a particular book, old or new. Mine’s about The Elements of Style, the slim manual on grammar and composition written by Professor William Strunk Jr for his English course at Cornell University just after the war, and famously revised and revived by the New Yorker writer E B White, author of Charlotte’s Web and other books for children and adults with Peter Pan tendencies. White took Strunk’s university course and was thereafter forever grateful to him and his little book.

Just re-read Julian Barnes’s The Sense of An Ending. The ending is twist-in-tale stuff, pretty much comprehensible when first read but possibly capable of a variety of explanations. Thus, a lot of (typically prolix) online commentary about what it actually means. I think it means exactly what it says – that the narrator’s friend, Adrian, fathered a son not with the narrator’s former girlfriend but with her mother, and therefore late in the mother’s life: hence the health ‘issues’ of Adrian fils. What might be called The Shock of the Ending comes to read like a sensational apostrophe to what is otherwise a profound meditation on ageing, memory and regret. Which is what the better reviewers thought, the more fanciful online ones locating sub-texts that don’t exist. Have now ordered Barnes’s Nothing To Be Frightened Of, a factual survey of some of the issues dealt with imaginatively in the novel.

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