I really do believe this, and not just because every day I am serenaded with muzak renditions of Disney’s A Whole New World and Billy Joel’s Just The Way You Are ( alongside Richard Clayderman’s shimmering Ballade Pour Adeline at 11.30 am.)
I think I may have misguidedly given the impression that I have been locked away in some grim institution led by severe, unsmiling Japanese staff who forcefeed me fish. This is not the case, even if I feel that I have eaten enough fish to feed the five thousand. I just sometimes wish there had been those nice loaves to go with them as well.
But seriously. People are good; well meaning; kind-hearted and compassionate with the right intentions: and I am not only talking about the staff in this hospital or all the friends that have visited me or all the well-wishers on here or the support I have had from people I know from around the world, but about human beings in general. I believed it before, and I believe it even more so now.
Sometimes I meet people : care-worn adults; cynical, reticent students, who have decided that no one can be trusted and that all unknown people in their lives must be treated with suspicion: but to me this is closing yourself off from life and all kinds of possibilities. I don’t mean to suggest that there aren’t any malicious and twisted people around: there are. For whatever reasons- innate, circumstantial, or both, these people have turned fully towards the dark and the negative, but my instincts, very strong, are piqued immediately with such people in any case: the warning antennae know.


I really feel that mort people are basically good, even if far from perfect, innately. We human beings do of course have inherent, seemingly inbuilt vital flaws: greed, cruelty, lust for power, violence, fear of The Other; and many other unpleasant traits that essentially stem from insecurity and a terror of being left behind or failing in some way. It isn’t easy for a person to feel secure and truly happy in their own skin, hence our snobbery, one-upmanship, shallow, meaningless materialism,the pretentious vagaries of fashion, and any other aspect of the weaknesses of human culture that serve to make us feel, temporarily at least – because it never lasts – that we are ok, better, superior.
No. Human beings are very far from perfect ( which is why I have never been able to take the Garden Of Eden mythology seriously. It is just too illogical:
if these creatures, swanning about innocently in this primordial paradise had been created ‘perfect’, by the Supreme Being, to begin with : flawless, immaculate, sinless, surely they wouldn’t have ever ‘sinned’, or even been capable of it to begin with,because of their divine, harmonious, and faultless construction. To then punish them both ( for using the bodies that they had been bestowed with, that they had no hand in; for following their instincts that were presumably part of their design from the beginning ) seems ridiculous and ludicrous- sick, even – and don’t tell me it was the fault of some hissing, egg-laying tree snake.


All that guilt and misogyny and ‘honour’ , all that deeply ingrained shame and unseeing judgement and penitence, the desire to be perfect when it was always impossible from the start…God what a lot we have inherited!
But the atrocities and horrors of the world aside, going on since time immemorial but continuing even now ( do you think that the killing and hatred will ever stop?) I still feel inside myself that despite all of the unthinking insanity and deep hatred of difference – because most people are so susceptible to simplistic, button-pushing influence – I believe, ultimately, that people are essentially good. In here I have felt it very keenly.




17. I really am completely, and utterly, obsessed by smell


The entire time I have been here, every hour, minute and second of each day I am conscious of smell. Hyperconscious, really, almost problematically so. I feel that I have breathed in every atom of the hospital, from its foulness to its over familiar, quotidian hum.
At night, I wheel slowly round the ward and can’t stop myself assessing the odours emanating from the shared rooms. Inhale the air analytically, as I pass.
The patients lie there, encircled by tent curtains under bright lights: silent: but aware of each other; you can tell. Some rooms smell foetid; others merely warm with breath, but I pass each one then pass my own and try to see how bad it seems to smell, from the outside ( even if in many ways I will be immune ); my own body smell and the traces of perfumes, and the weeks that I have spent here, commingling.






Apologies for the length, the incoherence, the rambling, the ponderous bullshit ( which has turned out even worse than I imagined it would as my phone – oh thank the lord I will be able to write on a proper computer with immediate internet access: this phone has mangled up all of the spacing and pictures, and again, won’t let me correct anything properly).

Usually I wouldn’t put something up that is so shoddy. But I just need to expurgate everything tonight. I don’t want any of this lingering about me tomorrow.
This all started out as a piece about Japanese food. I spent a whole day writing about it and then deleted it all by mistake, which made me so angry I could hardly contain myself ( that was the day I had that huge problem with the flirtatious nurse and blew up in the x-ray room. In the end, by the way, we just kind of learned to live with each other and ‘made up’- though she never again really looked me in the eye……)
A few days after that, to just pleasantly while away time in other parts of the hospital, I decided to just write about some aspects of my experience here, and it somehow just turned into this sprawling mess that I didn’t quite know what to do with ( and the whole thing tapped out letter by letter on my iPhone….)
Really, of course, it needs to be massively edited and reordered. Possibly posted in small segments. With proper spacing, and everything the way I like it.

And some readers may possibly stop reading, because of today’s manic bombardment, but if that is the case then I am sorry, but so be it.

Ideally it would have turned into a proper account of my time in here, but time has caught up with me. I am leaving tomorrow. And I instinctively feel that I just have to put this up now, to leave these feelings here in the hospital, like a magnitude of combined sensations pressed into one.

From here I will be writing things differently.

Tomorrow, at 10 am, I am going home.


Filed under Flowers


  1. I love your blog and look forward to reading it. You are a wonderful writer and describe your feelings in a true, honest and human way. I am happy that you are being released from the hospital today and hope that you will have a successful rehab.

  2. emmawoolf

    It goes without saying that I have greatly enjoyed this. No 18: you have many good friends who love you dearly (but you knew this already).

  3. Renee Stout

    Loved your comments about religion and the innate, yet flawed goodness of human beings, I agree wholeheartedly. This idea that human perfection ever was, or is even attainable is ironically what perpetuates the evil, greed and lack of compassion in the world.

  4. MrsDalloway

    Enjoyed reading! All the very best for your homecoming.

  5. CONGRATULATIONS….I hope your are filled with good health after this long but evidently learning haul you have been through at the hospital. How fortunate you are to spell it out, spread it out, share it and hold up there in your hands to look it. Giving us a glimpse inside your world is always
    fascinating to me but this experience was particularly touching, moving,

  6. Hurray for going home!! And I agree with you — get the thoughts out now. You can revise later if you wish, but get ’em out and go home with a clean slate. P.S. I really enjoyed these musings. What a journey you have had! And now, safe travels home.

    • Thankyou very much.

      I might not be able to tolerate them in this state and do some revisions, or I might think to hell with it and get on with the next thing.

      In the middle of trying to pack up all my room…..

  7. I thought I was being punked by multiples of the same post notification and was utterly delighted that they were part of a serial! Congratulations on graduating back to home with a new set of knees. May you continue on your journey to full recovery.

    Do you have more regular rehab to go through when you get ho,e?

    Does your cat smell like the incense you mentioned in your first post? In a blindfold test, would you be able to tell which is yours in a line-up of say 5 cats?

    • Actually the cat spends most of her time outside and always just smells furry and fresh.

      Somehow though I think I probably would be able to identify her in a smell blind test!

  8. Somehow your writing is every bit as good when it’s like this – a pure stream of consciousness, delivered with passion, wit and perspicacity. I’ve lurked silently these past few weeks but I’ve been thinking of you and following your recovery. Wishing you a safe homecoming. S xx

  9. The perfectly composed picture of you waiting with your belongings is poignant and could be an illustration for any number of books!

    • More poignant because it is actually a picture I took of Duncan as he patiently waited for me, carrying yet more things for me that had lugged all the way from home. I thought the moment captured his love and forbearance.

      • Ha! I realized it after I left the comment that it may not be you given the crossed legs and flip flops – not sure you could do that yet!

  10. Great posts, good luck with your continuing recovery, it must have been amazing to return home to all those familiar smells x

  11. Brie

    Excellent series….glad that you are home.
    Watched “Dancer” last night and thought of you.
    Be well, N.

    PS Still categorized as “porno” so I can only pop in from my home computer.

  12. I have been re-reading this series of musings over and over to really soak up every bit of your thoughts. I have to say, I am so blown away by the quality of all these writings, that I can’t help but exclaim ” You have outdone yourself Neil!”
    I definitely feel you have a novel in you, ready to be written and shared with the world.
    I am sure by this point you are doing much better and recuperating even better at home.
    Wishing you all the best.

    • So glad you liked this series, B. X

      Yes, at home now recovering slowly, frustrated at my ‘progress’.

      Nice to be out of the hospital, though. I hope your mother is feeling much better and that your own visits are more infrequent now.

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