ADRIENNE'S HIV BLOG – Hivine's Weblog

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

Radioactivists – Viv Lives 2

Viv Lives 2

Radio Therapy in the kitchen and my I Pod

Adrienne made a joke recently about the fact that radio therapy was not about lying on the sofa, listening to ‘The Archers’. Well I beg to differ because for me, that ‘Everyday Story of Country Folk’ is one of the highlights of my week and could very well be considered as therapy although it’s not on the sofa. There’s nothing I enjoy more than the omnibus edition on a Sunday morning as I potter in the kitchen, putting together a roast Sunday lunch for my family. Take this morning for example, I’ve roasted beef and potatoes, prepared vegetables, made a rhubarb crumble and set the table as I’ve listened to the antics in Ambridge. (Will Usha and Shula ever make friends? Are Ed and Emma getting back together ? How could Will possibly cope with that on top of all his recent troubles? As for the bio-digester project – it seems to be doomed I think). Compelling stuff!

The other good think about this kind of radio therapy on a Sunday morning, is that it’s followed by another national treasure – ‘Desert Island Discs’. As I cook I listen to the guests talking about their lives as the context for choosing the music they would most like to take with them to a desert island. (Perhaps Cliff Richard was a significant exception as he unbelievably, chose all his own recordings). What music would you choose? I’ve often thought about this as I’ve peeled spuds or made a cheese sauce to pour on my cauliflower.

I wander down Nostalgia Road and remember lying in bed with my Mum and sister on a Saturday morning listening to Uncle Mac’s ‘Children’s Favourites’ . ‘The Laughing Policeman’ would send us into hysterics, we would join Burl Ives singing ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain’ and hoot along to ‘The Runaway Train’ . My Grandad had a treasured gramophone on which he played his precious, fragile reords. Each disc would be brushed lovingly with a special soft brush before being played. He reduced me to tears by telling me that the people singing on one of his favourites were Hebrew slaves and I could not understand how such sad, captive people in chains could have been made to sing so beautifully. It was years later that I realised they were professional singers in the chorus of Verdi’s ‘Nabucco’. It still moves me to tears though. Sometimes on a Sunday we have roast lamb and I like to push slivers of garlic and sprigs of rosemary into the skin before popping it into the oven and I remember Sunday afternoons at Granny and Grandad’s. After lunch, my sister and I were allowed to sit in the back room watching black and white films on an early black and white telly whilst the grownups played cards in the front room. ‘Old Mother Riley’ films were our favourites but I also remember Gracie Fields – she had a broad Lancashire accent and could whistle brilliantly and I think I would have to include one of her songs on my desert island list – as an acknowledgement of my Lancashire roots. ‘Wish me luck as I go on my way!!!!’

Sunday pudding for us is sometimes rice pudding made according to my Nanna’s own recipe with a special secret ingredient which makes it a pinky colour. When it comes out right, the skin on the top is a lovely burnt black and is to be squabbled over. I had a lovely headteacher at my primary school who was called Mr Cunliffe. He so desperately wished he could play the piano and indeed, he had mastered the first few bars of ‘Rachmaninov’s Variations on a theme by Paganini’ which he played over and over. The result? Another piece of music that I dearly love and which makes me cry and would certainly be on my list.

Somewhere in North Wales is a rat fink called Paul Howard who some years ago borrowed my Bobby Vee Album and he never returned it even though he knew it was a prize possession. Bobby Vee came to King George’s Hall in Blackburn in the1960s and my friends and I occupied the whole of the third row from the front (everyone sat down at concerts in those days) and we screamed and we screamed and we screamed. I notice that Bobby’s on the come-back trail and his ‘Greatest Hits’ have been re released on CD so I think I’ll invest in it. Up yours Paul Howard!

Earlier this year, after a routine smear test, I was diagnosed with cancer of the uterus. One of my ordeals was spending about an hour in an MRI scanner. They’d said I could take a favourite CD which they would play to me through headphones whilst I was in the scanner. I deliberately chose classical music that I could concentrate on and it worked. I kept my eyes shut tight, concentrated on breathing calmly and listening to beautiful opera compilation album. Puccini was especially wonderful that day. MRI scanners are noisy clunky machines and there were times when it drowned out my music but it was always there in the background and always there when the machine had its quiet spells.

Last December my husband bought me, for my birthday, my very own , beautiful I Pod. I loved it’s silvery smallness, slimness and neatness. It never occurred to me however, what a special and important present it would turn out to be. It’s full of my favourite music which I can listen to as loudly as I like. When I was waiting to go to theatre for my hysterectomy, I lay on my bed in the ward listening to my lovely I -Pod. Now I have a problem with Sarah Brightman because she actually was once married to the Lloyd Webber creature. How could she? However, I have to say, that her recording of ‘La Luna’ carried me through those stressful moments. It is such a pretty tune and the last note! Well it just makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I was wheeled off for my operation feeling calm and tranquil.

In a week’s time I begin a four week course of daily radiotherapy (in the medical sense of the word) but I doubt I will be needing my I Pod as each session will only last ten minutes. Afterwards, however, I have to have have some ‘Brachytherapy’ which will involve me being completely isolated for up to 14 hours whilst a radioactive thingy does its work. I know my I- Pod is going to be absolutely essential and being a renowned Knitting Nancy, I’m probably going to take some knitting with me too. I think somebody else might be cooking Sunday lunch that week.



  Barb wrote @

Hi Viv – have just read, and really enjoyed, first two instalments of your blog. First thing, please can I come for Sunday lunch? Your description of it made my mouth water and I promise I won’t fight anybody for the rice pudding skin – yuck! Is the secret ingredient jam?
Secondly, I can’t believe that Sir Cliff wanted to take all his own records on that island, especially when the majority are Xmas albums, strategically released to make money from losers over the festive season!!
Thirdly, and by no means least, I think that your accounts of your experiences of going through radiotherapy are incredibly candid and inspiring.
All the best and take care
Barb XX
PS I also think that Sir Andrew is a bit squirmy and funny-looking, and you’re right, what did Sarah Brightman see in him? Did she get a west end lead shortly after courting him?!! Could you imagine eating opposite him-eugh!! Please don’t invite him for Sunday lunch on the day I’m coming!!!!

  hivine wrote @

Can I come for lunch too? How come she doesn’t know the secret ingredient for the rice pud is syrup?

  Barb wrote @

How come she doesn’t know that the only syrup that could make rice pudding red is cough syrup!!


Barb XX

  Kay wrote @

Sarah Brightman getting a West End lead after dating ‘The Worm’ puts me in mind of Mrs Merton’s opening line to Debbie McGee – “What first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?”

Kay x

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