I'm sometimes told that I have good skin for my age. What people mean by that is that I'm relatively unlined and unwrinkled. But that's just an accident of facial geography - the placement of bones, features, etc, hasn't created any deep lines.
But beneath the surface - and increasingly on the surface - my skin isn't 'good'. It's damaged, from a typical sunburnt Australian childhood of the 1960s-70s (and typical unaware early adulthood in the sun). And this week I was diagnosed with my first skin cancer. I'm sure it won't be my last.
Neil Aspinall, the real “fifth Beatle” has died at 66 - of lung cancer. Aspinall rarely spoke publicly about the four Beatles, but he did tell this story of how he met George Harrison:
My first encounter with George,” Aspinall remembered, “was behind the school air-raid shelters. This great mass of shaggy hair loomed up and an out-of-breath voice requested a quick drag of my Woodbine. It was one of the first cigarettes either of us had smoked. We spluttered our way through it bravely but gleefully.
George also died of lung cancer, at 58.
A friend of mine’s brother recently died of lung cancer, aged 60. Another friend of a friend is dying of the same disease.
I can’t help but think that as I move up in my fifties, these stories will get closer and closer. I have friends who have smoked for 30 or more years now. When we were younger, we could postpone the idea of the threat of lung cancer. I suspect it’s going to get increasingly more difficult to do that.
There's good news and there's bad news on the root canal front - but the good only makes sense if I fill you in on what happened after the first treatment: which is that my tooth continued to react strongly to cold (one of the main symptoms which had brought me to the endodontist's chair in the first place).
I was walking fast up Ox Street last night (slightly late for a meeting) when a man popped out of a pub and immediately began to talk as he strode along beside me.
"You know they say grey is the new black," he said. It took me half a second to realise he was talking about hair. "It's considered to be very sexy but I'm 47 and can't seem to do anything to hasten the grey". He laughed.
A music critic lost the hearing in one ear - and writes about the disorientation and flatness he now experiences when he hears music.
But what really struck a nerve for me was his description of losing his 'ear' - it was uncannily similar to my experience of developing BPV, which I've had twice now. Both times I've felt mildly unwell and then suddennly developed vertigo when I attempted to sit up in bed. I also had a seperate incident which was incredibly scary where I developed very loud tinnitus on evening, seemingly out of the blue. I went to bed in an effort to suppress my rising panic about the roaring sound in my ear. Acupuncture the next day brought it back to a tolerable level and within a week it had gone. But these days I take gingko, which is reputed to have a good effect on the microvascular system.
I don't wear make-up and don't use many 'personal-care' products. Our bathroom is full of potions and creams that people give us as presents and which largely sit unused.
I do, however, use Body Shop carrot moisture cream on my face and have for about the past 25 years. It suits my skin to perfection. It feels totally right. It makes me feel good. And they've stopped making it.