I’ve been sighing a lot this week, although my biggest ever sigh (of relief) came two years ago. I’d had an ultrasound scan on my heart and left the hospital with a resounding ‘all-clear’ ringing in my ears. The Doc had told me that, with regular exercise, assuming nothing else got me first, there was only a 5% chance of my NOT making it to 80.
Body scans are remarkable things; thirty years ago, I was privileged to witness a few pregnancy ultrasounds, although I couldn’t say that what I observed on screen was what the nurse claimed she could see! The image quality was terrible, like a blizzard on a ’60s TV with a broken indoor aerial. However hard we tried, we had no idea what sex the child would be; we just had to wait and see. To be frank, I didn’t attend the ultrasound for all my children. In the ’80s, fathers may have been welcome at the birth, but few bothered with antenatal classes. Hearing afterwards that everything was fine was a great relief, but few men took time off work for such frivolities. If the pictures had been clearer, perhaps we’d have made more effort!
Anyway, after my successful heart scan, I took a taxi to the Red Jet, and came back to the Island, floating on air. Before you ask, I could have walked back from Southampton Hospital to the ferry without getting breathless, but having been given the all-clear on the ticker, immediate exercise felt unnecessary. My wonderful life would go on, although it meant confronting the reality that I had more years behind me than lay ahead. Once you turn 40, those nagging aches and pains become a part of everyday life and even sleep is problematic. One has to stay active, but you just have to accept that you’ll never feel 100% again.
Which brings me to yet another sigh, this time exasperation, at last week’s events at a Yorkshire school. As you will have seen, an RE teacher attempted to enlighten his pupils on the subject of blasphemy, ending up in fear of his life. You might believe that challenging young people to think is an important part of a teacher’s job, but apparently not if the subject is religion and could cause offence. It will come as a huge relief to my loved ones (and me! – Ed) that for obvious reasons, I won’t say too much more on this subject, other than I agree with comedian Ricky Gervais. He says about faith, everyone has a right to believe whatever they wish, but the rest of us have the right to find it ridiculous. Our government needs to urgently address the issue of offence, because yet again the law seems farcical.
More relief came when I learned that Apophis, the most dangerous asteroid ever to threaten life on earth, wouldn’t strike the planet as previously feared. NASA had estimated that it would catastrophically collide with us in 2029. Now they say we’ll be fine until at least 2068, by which time (according to my cardiologist) I won’t be here. Even further relief came when the Suez Canal was unstuck.
Who knew 12 months ago that a virus could kill so many people? To avoid the endless cycle of feeling anxious, threatened, then relieved, it’s probably best we don’t know exactly how many things imperil our existence, although (depressingly) all discussion and sketching of religious figures is definitely still one of them.