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OMG Our book is on sale

Yes, it has happened, but not in the way we expected. Our expectation was that after the publisher handed over control of our account to us, we would order author copies and send them out to our selected targets: our list is sitting ready and waiting. However, Judith and I had resigned ourselves to the fact that our book was not going to be available until after Christmas and even if by some miracle the files did get uploaded and it was available online before then, no one would know. We actually thought this would be a good thing as we could have a few weeks less stress, try and enjoy the festive season, keep the social media ticking over and ‘hit it hard’ (the marketing and promotion) in the New Year. Plan Z was in operation, but Plan Z only lasted until Thursday morning when Antony, Judith’s youngest lad, sent her a ‘WhatsApp’. It showed our book on Amazon with a confirmation delivery of Friday. “This is not possible” I said to Judith, “our project manager has not yet confirmed that the files have been uploaded (to Ingram sparks)” and my understanding from research and guidance material from our publisher was that after the ‘files’ had been uploaded it could take several weeks for the full information to appear correctly on Amazon and even then it would probably show as ‘out of stock’ or ‘available in 1-2 months’ or something similar. We would need to encourage traffic to the site and a few orders placed for Amazons algorithms to work out that there was demand for the book and so they would then order in supplies. There was no way Antony was getting a copy on Friday. Or was there? Plan Z was now in the bin and Plan AA was in the making.

Friday loomed and with it another ‘WhatsApp’; this one a video showing an Amazon package being opened and lo and behold, a copy of our book inside. Not any copy mind, but the very first printed one. I did not understand what was going on and an email was sent to our publisher asking for clarification and pointing out that the authors names i.e. our names, were showing on Amazon the wrong way round. No reply was received until Monday in which our project manager stated she was still waiting for confirmation of the file upload completion and had requested an amendment to the names. By this time Plan AA had announced to the world that the book was available and friends, plus some strangers who follow us on Instagram, had ordered copies. It was becoming both exciting and scary at the same time. The upshot was that everyone and their dog had a copy of our book, but we were yet to set eyes on it.

We had the perfect opportunity on Friday night, with the gig in Wigan, to go out and celebrate the publication of the book, but although my covid test returned a negative result, I still felt like shit and was coughing and spluttering all over the place. The last thing I felt like doing was leaving my nice warm home to face the freezing weather and crowds of people. Regrettably, I had not improved by Sunday, if anything, I felt worse, so we also failed to make the Wolverhampton gig on Sunday evening. We had stopped booking hotels (for gigs) on saver rates because since the pandemic the risk of gigs getting cancelled is high; we still try to purchase tickets in advance (this is a catch-22 situation for venues and bands because if enough advance tickets are not sold venues will cancel gigs because they cannot afford to operate at a loss), but now we realise there is another problem and it is us and our age. The cost of living is biting (especially when you have a gas boiler located in your very cold garage and whenever the temperature goes below freezing – every night for the past 10 days – the boiler fires up even if the central heating controller is turned off. We have a new bedtime routine i.e. turn off all the radiators individually) and going forward it is likely that we will resume paying at the door (for gigs) because this weekend has shown that it might be us who cannot make events due to illness. Morbid thought: what’s that song about “knock, knock, knocking on heavens door?”

Do I mention the footy? Of course when it comes to football, we are all experts. With regard to the England France game I believe the better team won but we find it disappointing that the England team do not start games with more passion and play with more freedom. We think the manager has to take responsibility for this. Modern men's football seems to be played in a certain manner these days and it is not entertaining to watch, unlike the exciting Man City v Man Utd women's super league game that was televised on Sunday.

For my final tale this week I shall regale you with story of my blood test for prostrate cancer. One might say it is another story of failed communication. For several years I have been pestering my surgery about a test but have always got fobbed off by the receptionists stating “Doctor will only agree to a test if you are showing other symptoms”. Well this year, because of my age, I got called in for my annual health check review (which occurs after having first gone for blood tests) – in previous years it has taken place over the phone. I am a poor eater and know my cholesterol is higher than it should be - I have taken steps to improve my diet but it all takes time – and there will always be a discussion (battle) between the nurses and me with regard to taking statins. Absolutely not. At the end of review I asked again about the PSA test, partly because one of the BBC breakfast presenters had recently died from prostate cancer and the BBC had several men appear on the show who had shown no symptoms whatsoever but having got tested had proved to be positive. The early diagnosis proving to be life saving. The message was clear and simple: get tested. Easier said than done was my immediate thought. However, the nurse was aware of the campaign and agreed for me to have a test. All well and good.

Last Tuesday morning my phone rang, it was the nurse attempting to make a telephone appointment for the doctor to ring me to discuss my results. I had only just got out of bed and felt terrible, yes I could handle a telephone consultation, but then she apologised and said there was a note that said the doctor wanted a face to face consultation and could I come in that afternoon. No was the answer as I was positive for covid. She offered me an appointment Friday but with my fuddled brain all I could thing of was that we would be at the gig and said I couldn’t make that one. She had no more appointments to offer me and said that when I felt better I would have to ring up first thing on any day and try to book one of the daily emergency appointments. So let me get this straight; I have had a blood test for prostate cancer and the doctor wants to see me face to face – that sets alarm bells ringing, but because they only book two weeks in advance they cannot offer a future appointment. Anyhow, yesterday I rang up, later than I meant because I had slept in, and was told there were no appointments and that I would have to ring first thing each day to try and get one. Being still unwell I did not control my anger very well, especially when I challenged her version of event from the previous week; she was not listening to what I was saying which wound me up even more. I ended the call by saying the situation was disgusting. Within an hour I had an administrator call me back trying to reiterate what the call handler had told me and she too, at first, was not for listening to my side of the story; in fact she was intent on trying to tell me how bad the situation at the surgery was and that everyone was all burnt out. I got close to asking her to hold the line whilst I got my violin out, but managed to behave my self and show some sympathy. At the end of the day I needed to know what the results were – Judith was convinced it was bad.

So for today, I set an alarm and was ringing the surgery from 0755hrs – they don’t open until 0800hrs. I eventually joined the queue at 0813hrs and got put through to a call taker at 0816hrs. Whilst looking for an appointment for me she suddenly stated that she would have to put me on hold. I looked at Judith, who was sat next to me, and said I’m guessing she’s just read something on my notes. After a couple of minutes she came back on the line and offered me a face to face appointment for 1000hrs. That was fine, time to get showered and defrost the car. At 0925hrs I came back into the kitchen having completed the car defrost and my phone rang. It was the doctor, ringing to give me the results of my recent PSA blood test. WTF? He was all jolly and the results were fine, just slightly higher than normal but this can be down to old age and the prostate just naturally getting larger, rather than the cause being cancer. If he was aware of the 1000hrs appointment, he kept it well hidden when I pointed it out and asked him to ensure it got cancelled. We arranged for a follow up test to be done in 6 weeks time. If still high, a referral to a specialist would likely follow, but there is no need for panic. What a relief.

And on that happy note, it’s bye from me, see you next week.


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