Mid-morning in London. Sun at last pushing aside the drab grey cloud-cover that’s subdued the spirits this past week.
Two years ago today, I was losing consciousness in the body repair shop at Bart’s Hospital. When, four and a half hours later, a kind anaesthetist returned me to the world, I had two new devices inside me. No longer could I say I was made entirely by Mr and Mrs Palin. I was now made by Mr and Mrs Palin and Edwards Lifesciences of Irvine, California, whose valve and annuloplasty ring I now sported.
I became a little emotional when I was told this news. I wanted to fly out to Irvine California and grasp the hand of whoever it was made the bits that were keeping me alive.
But convalescence and Covid put paid to all that, and I have not yet taken myself and my new attachments anywhere at all.
Though touted on television as the Great Traveller, the furthest I’ve been in the two years since my surgery is just south of Cambridge.
It’s nothing physical. Thanks to my transformed ticker, I have never felt better or stronger. It’s that travelling anywhere further than just south of Cambridge has overnight become not only less easy, but way less appealing. There was a time when jumping on a train or even an aeroplane was to be plucked from the everyday mundane world and taken somewhere magical. Now there’s far more process to go through. There are rules about travelling. Forms and jabs and internal debates about masking or not masking and flying or not flying. And as soon as the rules are relaxed at all, everyone makes for the exit.
I found myself wanting to get away from people who were trying to get away.
So I’ve stayed at home. Working on a new book about my Great-Uncle Harry, re-visiting and relishing old journeys, walking over Parliament Hill, reading, taking pleasure in the change of seasons, enjoying the company of my family and realising how blessed we are to have Archie and Wilbur and Albert and Rose growing up around us.
I know my feet will itch again sometime, but for now, taking things slowly means enjoying them more.