Monday 1 July 2013


I don't normally do book reviews because I've always trusted that books find us and even a passionate book recommendation cannot save it from poor timing. So this isn't a review, just an About A Book I Liked. It's called The Yellow World and it is a very neat, concise memoir by a man who once was a boy who had cancer. I know. I'm really selling this to you :)

I felt quite jealous reading it because in the book, Albert Espinosa recounts how the cancer kids (the Eggheads) were part of a tight, intimate clique. They shared their lives, experiences, journeys, losses and banded together against and with the different shades of the disease. I've never had anything like this. Mine has been a desperately lonely road in the hospital, especially when I was a teenager and even in my twenties. My friendships have always been with the staff, especially house cleaning and nurses.

On Thursday, during my infusion, I met a young man who could easily have been Albert Espinosa in disguise. He was freshly graduated and didn't mind letting everyone know he was now part of The First Class With Honours brigade. 'Me too, me too!' I wanted to boast. He was very cool in a Cool Patienty sort of way - showing off the expensive diabetes contraption attached to his flesh. We discussed the possibility of subcutaneous infusions which might be in my near future (the prospect of self injecting does not appeal), and he had some good advice about it. He talked a mile a dozen, but what I envied was his life in his usual hospital, on his usual ward. 'Everyone knows each other. We've all been coming there for years. We have the same three nurses. It's brilliant!' And then he dropped the real gem - they're allowed to manage their Own Drips! That's unheard of. I've never been allowed to manage my own medication on the infusion bay. How green I felt, how green with envy... I doubt we will see each other again. As the record stands, I don't think I've ever met the same patient twice and I've been at this gig for almost seventeen years now. I did meet a lady, once, for a second time - she recognised me because the last time we'd met, I'd inflicted a leaf on her with a poem inscribed on it...

So I was scrabbling around trying to find a nice yellow image to go with my yellow post when I came across this bench... derived from the concept of Random Acts of Kindness, the purpose of the yellow bench is to invite strangers to share a moment, a chat. The business concept, of yellow benches everywhere, struggled to survive red tape and city councils, but one day a woman volunteered to carry the mission forward and put a Yellow Bench in Dublin. Isn't my love of Ireland justified again and again? (I can imagine some of my Irish friends thinking less than salubrious thoughts about the TYPE of person that might want to 'chat', but then again, you never know... you might meet someone extraordinary...)

Images of The Yellow Bench taken from All About Ideas


annell4 said...

I love your yellow post.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

What a COOL idea - that Conversation Bench. I well imagine your path has been a lonely one and I so relate to you striking up conversations and friendships with the housekeeping staff - when I was housekeeping staff, we had more time than the nurses did to listen, encourage and support - though the nurses are very good too. I wish you a brilliant gentleman caller worthy of your inner and outer radiance, to sit with you and hold your hand. Where is he? Are men blind? Meanwhile, I walk with you on this side of the screen every time you post, kiddo.

Mary Helen-Art Saves Lives said...

This is a very beautiful affirmation for all who pause for a moment of friendship. Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

Cait O'Connor said...

A wonderful idea, a wonderful post.

A Cuban In London said...

I love that idea, the yellow bench. Loved your post, too. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Jeanne-ming Brantingham said...

This is great post! Leaves me speechless
Seems like I should think of something clever to write, to affirm how transparent you are. How your poetry, your blog, YOU are a yellow bench.


Click to leave a comment