I am at Euston Station, sitting on a bench next to Fiona. My eyes itch, and I'm definitely still filled with cold, but I'm not yet dead, and have decided to take that as a great positive!
We've just been to a concert; a fundraising do for a mutual friend whose brother was recently diagnosed with cancer and has a whopping hospital bill from where he was misdiagnosed and treated for TB in South Africa. It's a ghastly story which reminds us all how lucky we are to still have the National Health Service in this country.
The concert was wonderful. Nitin Shawney and Natascha Atlas were headlining, and most of the acts were performing cross-genre world music. There was a wonderful Kora recital by Sona Jobarteh. A kora, for the record, is an ancient Gambian harp which, tradition dictates, should only be played by men. Sona is pretty much the first ever woman to play it. That's a pretty major claim to fame!
There was jazz music from a virtuoso pianist, which was brilliant, but absolutely not my bag. It was all splashy chords and lack of structure, the sort of thing someone might noodle away at in a cocktail bar. At one point I turned to Fiona and said "this makes me want to chow down on a pizza." It seemed to go on forever, and really started to get under my skin so I rushed off to the loo for a bit of silence. Sadly, when I got there, it became all too clear that the dreadful noise was being piped in through speakers. It was louder and even more intense and it made me laugh so much that I lost the ability to control my pee!
For the rest of that particular act I hid behind a pillar, shaking with laughter. Sadly I find that sort of jazz music nothing but a string of terrible cliches. I feel the same about people performing Shakespeare. There are always performers who believe they have a new take on it, and furthermore, there are always people in the audience who believe they're witnessing something supremely magical. Well they're welcome to it. Just don't expect me applaud!
The jazz was followed by a man who got up to sing a couple of Baby Jesus songs, which he couldn't help but preface with a lengthy and bizarrely passionately speech about the love of Jesus, and how prayer would help Steve's brother through his cancer... Prayer had apparently helped him when he was "suffering from double pneumonia and in a coma," which the doctors apparently thought he'd never wake up from. The doctors also mistakenly believed he was HIV positive had "syphilis of the lung." Frankly when doctors are that bad at diagnosing, perhaps Jesus is your only chance! The one thing I find almost intolerable in some born again Christians is the great delight they find in doctoring stories to justify their conversions. The lack of logic in this man's story made me actually believe he was lying.
His lengthy speech was met with a typically British sense of bewilderment with the odd polite whoop from someone at the back of the audience. Of course in America, that crap would have generated masses of applause. Sometimes I feel very proud to be English. In the end, he felt so silly, he, quite rightly apologised.
When someone is seriously ill, and their loved ones have gathered to try and raise money for his medical treatment, the one thing it's inexcusable to say is that all we need is Jesus. No! He needs a good doctor.