Ripples ( not raspberry )

“I think today is the best day of my life
Saw a billboard, it said something like
Everything, everything is gonna be alright
I think today is the best day of my life
My girlfriend looked worried and asked me why
But I don’t know, I don’t know, so I didn’t reply”

  • Tom Odell ‘The Best Day Of My Life’

I only realised this week that I’ve changed dramatically in two regards.

I’ve stopped following the news, and I’ve stopped buying lottery tickets.

I have previously been an avid newshound. Every day I’d start with RTE 1 radio Morning News from 7.00 am to 9.00 am, switch then to BBC Radio 5 Live until 10, before switching again to LBC’s James O’Brien until 1pm when I’d switch back to RTE. In the evenings I’d watch RTE news and then Channel 4 at 7pm and catch up with BBC’s Newsnight at 10.30 pm…whilst keeping abreast of ongoing developments throughout the day on Twitter.

I was well informed.

It was my democratic duty to be concerned.

I was a bad news junkie.

I was anxious.

I was angry.

I was simply helping news programmes’ ratings.

I stopped.

I didn’t stop deliberately. I’ve only realised that I’ve stopped this week, but I stopped at least a month ago. I’m reading books a lot more, and listening to podcasts instead of the radio, ‘The Rest Is History ‘ is my daily fix.

I’ve more time to think.

I love a good think, me.

My brother Stephen is an avid collector of vintage ephemera and he sometimes tells the story of ‘Trigger’s Broom’ when it comes to ‘restoring’ or ‘repairing’ antiques. In the BBC sitcom, ‘Only Fools & Horses’ the character ‘Trigger’ receives an award from his employer, the local council, for saving them money over the previous 20 years because he’d used the same broom to sweep up in the market.

“This old broom has had 17 new heads and 14 new handles.”

Trigger’s Broom conundrum itself is based on Plutarch’s ‘Ship Of Theseus’. Theseus was the founder of Athens and an all round good Greek egg, beloved by all. They kept his ship preserved in Athens and parded it through the city at festivals. Over the years when pieces got rotten, they replaced them, until eventually every piece had been replaced.

So was it still Theseus’ ship ?

We’re like that too. On average all of our human cells are replaced every 7 years. Some skin cells only last two weeks, liver cells last 12 months….or 10 months if you drink really nice Rioja. The only cells in our bodies that last our lifetimes are the neurons in our brains, and cells in our eye lens.

Are we the same person we were 7 years ago, or 7 years before that ?

If we’re largely like Trigger’s broom, what actually makes us, us ?

These are the sort of thoughts I was having when the post arrived this week. I received a parcel from my friend Jarett in Ohio. Jarett had sent me a packet of beeswax lip balm, some incredibly groovy Beastmode socks, a packet of Tummy Pops to help with nausea and good wishes for my cancer treatment.

Since the day I walked out of the consultant’s office , got into the car and told my SoulMate that I have cancer, I haven’t been as emotional as the moment I opened that parcel from Jarett.

Jarett and I know each other because my friend Carol Dublin runs a lovely group called ‘I Run 4 Michael’ where she matches runners with children who are ill, and you run for them. It is a simple and extraordinarily beautiful idea. Each time you run, you take a photo and post it in our private Facebook group, tagging your buddy’s parents and telling them where you ran, things you saw.

Ten years or so ago Carol matched me with Jarett and I ran, or waddled, around every track in Rossmore Park, every 5k in the county , and a few Marathons for him. I sent him my medals and race tees. At Christmas we would exchange cards, and I’d send him a Monaghan GAA jersey if we won the Ulster final…I sent him two. As he got older, and better, I ran for another wee girl, Hailey from Missouri, but we would still send cards.

And this week , when he found out I was poorly, he reached out.

NO I AM NOT CRYING ! It’s the pollen…….

And then it hit me.

That’s what we are, ripples.

Ripples across time, each other, cause and effect.

I got a new lawnmower on Tuesday. I mowed my lawn, and then I mowed my neighbour Molly’s lawn. Molly’s owner , Christopher is a busy man. I am not a busy man. I have time to mow Christopher’s lawn and throw sticks for Molly.

When we moved to this house , 18 years ago, there was no lawn. Christopher’s Dad, my great friend Kieran, asked what was I intending to do with the huge pile of rubble that was sitting where our lawn was going to be…someday. I said we’ll just level it and out in a lawn.

A few month’s later my SoulMate was over visiting her sister in Wales and I took Jake and Robyn for a walk over to my Mum’s house, where we spent the day. Walking back that evening, I could hear tractors spinning about, but passed no remarks. But as we got closer to home I saw that the tractors were in our garden. Kieran , and a 10 year old Christopher had spent the day setting a lawn in our garden.

My fellow Sanctuary Runner, Brenda, mentioned at last Saturday’s Parkrun that she was looking for a bike for a young Ukranian chap who had just arrived in Monaghan and was starting school and she was trying to source a bike to give him some independence.

When I bought the lawnmower there’d been an error on the trade in value of my old one. I messaged Ciaran , the lawnmower man, and said that rather than giving me a credit note could he allow something off a bike for the Ukranian boy.

“Leave that with me. Great idea.” Ciaran said.

He messaged me back 10 minutes later. “We’ll give Brenda two bikes of her choice.”

I told Brenda. The Ukranian boy has a younger sister, and now thanks to Brenda and Ciaran, they get to pick out brand new bikes.

I AM NOT CRYING ! It’s the pollen.


My Soulmate took me to Dublin on Wednesday for my treatment. Because of Covid restrictions she has to wait outside. I get looked after , and well fed, she has to wait.

We keep in touch via What’s App.

I send her a picture of my lunch, vegetable soup, roast beef, jelly and ice cream.

“Fantastic ! Has treatment started ?”

Nope. Did meet the doctor though, all good.

“That’s great !”

They’ve switched on the TV…Home & Away…

“Don’t tell me what’s happening ! Has treatment started ?”

I’m sorry Karen , I’m with Deane on this one…

“You’re going on mute now !”

If you like Brett so much, you marry him !


I asked them to wait until this is over…I’m on tenterhooks !

Still waiting.

Room half full now.


Neighbours is about to start. Roxy’s taking a pregnancy test !

“I know !”

Something’s up with Harlow. The drama !

This is sheer poetry “My boobs are more tender than an Ed Sheeran ballad.”

I’ve got a blue chair ! Treatment started.

“Brilliant ! Let me know when you’re leaving, I’ll come to meet you.”

As I’m making my way through the hospital I have a craving for a banana, so I pop into the hospital shop. As I leave the hospital, I’m trying to carry my rucksack on my right shoulder , to keep it away from my nephrostomy bandage on my left side, this feels completely unnatural, and causes me to walk as if I have a limp. I’m also a bit sore. IMPORTANT NOTE – do not ask an incredibly brilliant , but busy nurse to change your nephrostomy bandage at the last moment.

I’m peeling my banana one handed and trying to eat it hunched over. People approaching the hospital are looking at me with great pity.

Someone laughs out loud.

It is my Soulmate.

Who needs lottery tickets ?

I’m the luckiest man I know.

Ripple on………


P.S. The song quoted above, ‘Best Day Of My Life’,  was released as a single on Wednesday, and was written especially for me by the wonderful Tom Odell. Thanks Tom.

Tom Odell is unaware of this.

I’ll let him know when I catch him in Dublin next time….when he’s playing support to Rachel Mae Hannon.

Author: paul

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