In which August is wiped out by an emergency appendectomy
So, towards the beginning of August I started experiencing abdominal pains, and after a few trips to the GP I ended up being sent off to A&E and then being admitted to hospital with suspected appendicitis. And then I had a major operation because it turned out that my appendix had basically died a while ago and then icky things had happened around it and they had to take out a chunk of my bowel in order to get it out. And then I spent nearly 10 days in hospital basically dozing and trying not to vomit while my insides got themselves back together again. And all of that basically wiped out my consumption of arts and entertainment in August.
(1) Things which I have read and enjoyed
The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead. This new novel arrived at the start of the month, and went straight to the top of the pile. It’s massively good, and I hugely recommend it. It’s quite short and very tightly written; it doesn’t pull its punches in its descriptions, but isn’t gratuitous with its account of the violence inflicted on the boys in the story. I probably don’t love it as much as I did The Underground Railroad, but that is probably because that book’s speculative fiction is very very much my jam, and not because it’s objectively much better.
Then I basically didn’t read anything else until the end of the month because I just didn’t have the mental energy. When I did have the energy to read, I mostly read Diana Wynne Jones’ Chrestomanci books, which are delightful, and I wish I’d had them as a kid.
(2) Things I have watched and enjoyed
I made it to Animals at the cinema, which I liked but did not love. It was nice to see a small film with a story about women, rather than a mega-blockbuster, for once, and it was smart and insightful and funny and sad, and both Holliday Grainger and Alia Shawkat were great, but it also felt a little too long and I did not need quite so many arty shots of foxes to get the point.
I also managed to make it to the British Museum to see the Manga exhibition, which I really enjoyed and found really helpful in understanding manga a lot more than I did. I’m also so glad I made it the weekend I did, because otherwise I would have missed it!
And then I missed four Proms that I had tickets for, which I am very grumpy about. Fortunately other people took my tickets for me and got to see Sheku Kanneh-Mason play Elgar’s cello concerto while I lay in my hospital bed and listened to it on Radio 3 and had a little weep. I’m most cross about missing the Lost Words Prom which sounds WONDERFUL on the radio and which I was so looking forward to actually seeing because it came with LIVE DRAWING and they didn’t film it for TV.
(3) A recommendation of some kind
Don’t get appendicitis. If you feel something you think might be an appendix twinging GO TO CHECK IT OUT.
Also don’t be in hospital on a Bank Holiday weekend. Especially not one with no air conditioning during a heat wave.
Do make sure you have Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter on your phone in case of emergencies.
Weekend upgrades to first class on Great Western Railway trains from London to Cornwall are totally worth it.
(4) In the pile for September
I’m officially signed off for September for recuperation, which means I’m basically going to be pottering around the neighbourhood building up my strength and then retreating to the sofa with a book or film. I have plans to rewatch Lord of the Rings, and also a number of other things I love but haven’t seen for ages (MASTER AND COMMANDER!) and also do some re-reading, especially when I’m tired. I’m also working through N.K. Jamison’s Broken Earth series, and I have Hilary Mantel’s Bring up the Bodies to read. Oh, and obviously, Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments is coming out so I will be reading that.
(5) A photo from the month gone by
Just one from the British Museum’s Manga exhibition.