ADRIENNE'S HIV BLOG – Hivine's Weblog

HIVINE is written by HIV positive women but still with a sense of humour

Cornish Respite



Shhhh – cannot make a sound. Have to be as quiet as mouse as others are already asleep and is only eleven o’clock – am used to tapping away on lap top till early hours but instead am banished to bed at ten thirty, therefore forced to write by torchlight under unfamiliar duvet. Have escaped to Land’s End on very toe nail of Cornwall, as far as is possible to go without ending up in sea with two positive friends for week of respite, which think in HIV terms means holiday, though not really sure what respite entails, or if indeed am getting it. But apparently people with HIV need it at regular intervals (talking about respite here) and some institutions such as GHT even provide it free of charge, but unfortunately in order to qualify you have to be a gay man.


We do have gay man in midst as it happens, of quiet and gentile nature who from ordered behavioural habits displayed up to now, not to mention retiring early to bed habits, would probably prefer to remain anonymous, so for purpose of rest of blog will call him Jack Nicholson, like in film, ‘As good as it gets’, which if you have seen it you will know exactly what I mean.


The three of us are residing in upper part of tiny grey stone cottage split into two and now nicknamed ‘the barracks’ as has SS 679 scrawled in big letters over door and can only be entered by surmounting permanently damp salty wooden staircase, which according to brochure is supposed to be festooned with fishing buoys, but disappointingly since we arrived, not a fishing boy in sight, although plenty to be seen festooned in bright orange waders at local pub.


Sleeping arrangements in barracks in order of rank are Cath and boxer (as in dog opposed to Henry Cooper) in only bedroom, Jack Nicholson on bed settee which when unfurled takes up whole of tiny lounge and me on mattress on floor under exposed rafters in roof, which have christened the ‘toblerzone’ as feels like and is same shape as a toblerone packet. Rafters are so low have to get down on knees at side of mattress like fervent religious person to get undressed then slide myself into bed. Can see tip of Jack Nicholson’s balding and recently sunburnt head through slatted staircase. So unnaturally peaceful can hear a pin drop and every intake and outtake of breath or other bodily emissions. First night wind howled so much (wind as in gale) feared roof would blow off and swirl mattress away like magic carpet. Luckily Jack Nicholson doesn’t snore but Boxer does. 


Smoking prohibited in barracks of course so have to loiter around on staircase in pyjamas and raincoat, so good job really aren’t any fishing boys hanging around to witness me. At dawn’s early light crawl out of bed and across floor like army manoeuvres then stagger down rickety stairs with bent back looking like Julie Walters in her part as Mrs Overall in Acorn Antiques – no pinny but sporting two pairs of thick woollen socks as very cold in cottage without luxury of central heating.


Respite then in this instance means lots of healthy fresh air, apart from smoking breaks of course and the intake of many wholesome not to mention fattening Cornish pasties. Respite also includes the taking of afternoon naps, too much napping for my liking as barracks have to undergo strict rule of silence. Unaccustomed to silence during the day, however through course of week have caught up on lots of sleep.


Highlight of trip was visiting the lovely Veritee who has recently started an HIV support group for Cornwall, but seems to be fighting losing battle because people down here are refusing to come out. Mind you can’t really blame them in this weather. Veritee and hubby reside in glorious higgledy piggeldy house in heart of Cornish countryside crammed full of colour, art and hospitality and the best roast beef and Yorkshire pudding have ever tasted – although think cow had a name, but best not to go there, which is what Cath and Jack Nicholson said when I offered in my role as Mrs Overall to cook boiled eggs again for breakfast as overcooked last lot.  


When we got back to barracks found note pushed under barrack door from Nazi cleaning woman in number 14 about dog poo and fag ends. Paranoid now about taking boxer out for last starlight fag in pyjamas as can’t see through creeping sea mist where poo is landing.


On final respite night Cath disappeared into creeping sea mist in car with boxer to visit interesting sounding friends, leaving me with Jack Nicholson who refused point blank to accompany me to local pub for last pasty, preferring beans on toast in barracks and a programme about euthanasia on postage stamp sized telly and lights out for ten o’clock. Did briefly consider going to pub by self, but wary of appearing to be likely looking catch to fishermen. Decided instead to stay in barracks and pretend was at health spa, but night was long and stomach accustomed now to regular ingestion of pasties not fulfilled, so crept down to kitchen to make some toast.  Stabbed around with finger in semi darkness to light ring on hob for kettle which has stupid electric cooker with no knobs and have to press barely visible signs with finger to put kettle on. Meanwhile toast starts to burn and sets off smoke alarm, never heard such a racket in life – must have woken entire hamlet if not whole of Cornwall. Tried to waft smoke out of door with tee towel over Jumping Jack Nicholson’s head. Ear splitting racket finally stopped, but every time ventured back down corridor, set off again. Nothing for it but to put coat over pyjamas and stand out in creeping sea mist for a calming camel, but in low visibility kicked over ash bucket. Light immediately flicked on in Nazi cleaning woman’s house and net curtains twitched. Another curt note to follow probably.


All in all, aside from staggering beauty of Cornwall and its magnificent coastline and rugged pasties was quite glad to get home, but when walked through door found brown envelope lurking on table from hospital – results of mammogram no doubt. Heart sank, stomach turned over, was not in mood for being recipient of bad news. Would not open till next day decided, but could not get it out of mind. Spent restless night dreaming of Kylie Minogue and wigs. Was convinced would have to have bosoms lopped off at earliest opportunity.


Next day arose and clutching envelope to palpitating bosom tore it open with trembling hands. But for once good news, “You’ll be pleased to hear,” the letter read – hurray.


Feeling unaccustomedly fond of bosoms now – have been very loyal it seems and stood by me, unlike other parts of my body and have not let me down apart from gravity wise. Will be kind to them from now on – might even buy them a new bra, perhaps take them out for a cream tea, although will have to be in M&S in Blackburn town centre as is a bit far to go back to Cornwall, but convenient nevertheless for purchasing of new bra.

1 Comment»

  John B wrote @

Boxers are truelly amazing.

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