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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

I wonder how many cups of coffee I've had today, and if I remembered to put my book in to my bag or if I left it on the table by my bed. And I have to pick up my medical certs soon, I wonder what date it is. Is my phone on silent? My phone should be on silent. Otherwise the ringtone will be too loud, and remember when Rosie changed the tone on my phone and it was ringing in my pocket for ages before I realised it was mine, and when we used to bring her swimming she'd always make us buy her chocolate afterwards from the machine. I wonder if I've got any money, and when the buses stop running. Or I might just walk back home if it's not raining, if they don't want me to stay. Have I got my hat? How many cigarettes have I smoked today? Is my phone on silent? My phone should be on silent...

These are the kind of stupid things that run around your head when you're sitting in a smoke filled kitchen, surrounded by people all braced to hear the worst possible kind of news you can receive in your lifetime.

We're sitting around the round table, balanced on all the chairs available in the house. In front of everyone sits half drunk cups of now cold coffee; each of us has a different brand of cigarettes or rolling tobacco in front of us, and each of us chain-smokes, lighting up a new one almost as soon as the old one is put out. The ashtrays are emptied frequently, but continue to fill at an alarming rate. The tissue box, placed strategically in the centre of the table, is slowly emptied of its contents. Each of us has a mobile phone in front or beside us, and we all futilely check our phones every 10 seconds, even though all eyes and ears are trained on one phone in particular: the phone through which the worst imaginable news from the hospital will eventually be communicated.

What do you talk about when you're waiting for the horrificly inevitable? Anything. Stupid things. Childhood games. Each other's clothes. Embarrassing stories. Stories of when you were flashed at by dirty old men when you were a kid. Complaints about mobile networks and promises of giving up smoking. Occasionally what we're all thinking about comes up in conversation, and that is briefly mentioned, before we all dry up and return to staring silently at the table, smoking, and someone offers to make another round of coffee.

I'm not directly involved in this situation, I am there to offer silent and useless support, and the horror that I feel when that mobile, the mobile, rings, fills me with a dread that can only be a faint echo of the dread felt by everyone else around the room.


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