On Tuesday 18th November 2008, I collapsed and it was unexpected because for the first time in ages I had woken up and felt better than I had for a long time. Feeling energised I'd had breakfast followed by a long soak in a very hot bath. This hadn't been a good idea with hindsight. Anyway, after the bath I had then got dressed and feeling motivated had then commenced on giving the flat, and in particular the kitchen, a bloody good clean. In between cleaning I was also drinking quite a lot of tea and also playing the financials on Ladbrokes.com which involved predicting share and commodity prices. I hasten to add that if one kept cool and wasn't too greedy or took too many risks then money could be made - I had once made a £100 in a week and had wondered at the time if I should become a 'professional gambler'.
But, I have digressed.
Anyway, it was as I was sat down placing a bet that I experienced this strange sensation of the flat, with me in it, being picked up as though by a giant and then being spun round in his hand. I was also aware of objects falling to the floor. I then found myself lying under the table with a load of pens and pencils beside me along with the pot I kept them in. I realised immediately that I had collapsed. The strange thing was that apart from a very slight 'pulsating' of my vision and breaking out into a cold sweat I'd felt physically okay. Psychologically though I was extremely scared. I'd immediately speculated as to whether I'd suffered a stroke or a minor heart attack and decided that the best course of action was to stay where I was for a while as I didn't want to provoke another and more serious attack of what had precipitated my initial collapse. As I lay there keeping as still as possible I speculated reaching up to the table and phoning for an ambulance but decided not to as they would have to break down two doors to get to me. Also, I wasn't that convinced that they could actually do something for me since I had been complaining to my GP for some time that I had been suffering from intermittent dizziness, nausea, clamminess and a strange visual disturbance in which my vision when I turned my head quickly took a second to catch up only for him to tell me that the symptoms were either due to Meniere's Disease or stress. I had once put it to him that it was perhaps the recurrent dizzy spells that were making me stressed, but he ignored that. To be fair he had arranged a CT scan which revealed nothing and subsequently a MRI scan which picked up a very small scar in my brain which at the time they had diagnosed as a 'pinhead' stroke. But after later analysis by a neurologist they decided it was most likely a natural and not uncommon 'fold' in the brain. After these rather unsatisfactory consultations with the GP I had unhappily concluded that either they didn't know what was wrong with me or that the doctor did know what was wrong and that he was protecting me from the knowledge that I was suffering from something serious that nothing could be done about. Either way I had lost faith in the medical profession.
So, I had lain under the table for quite a while and after a short bit I had begun to feel perfectly okay. I had then got up and dragged myself to the sofa where I had lain down and eventually drifted off to sleep. About twenty minutes later now feeling totally recovered I had got up but thinking constantly about what had happened. I soon resigned myself to the depressing fact that I was probably going to die soon and to make the most of life whilst I could.
In the evening I watched a programme, narrated by Ian Hislop, about the large scale closures of railways in Britain and the end of steam. The programme had evoked a strong feeling of melancholy in me not just about the end of the 'golden age' of railways but about my own life. I'd also realised that I was only four days away from the twentieth anniversary of my mother's death and had speculated morbidly that maybe I would die on that particular day.
That night I had gone to bed wondering whether I'd wake up to see the morning light...