It’s that time of the year again when you reflect back on the past twelve months and, after saying, ‘I can’t believe it’s Christmas already’, you start to compartmentalise the good, the bad and the ugly events that have happened to you. For me, this year - more than any I can remember since 1995 - it has been a real rollercoaster.
Also this year I met one of my writing heroes for the first time – Ramsey Campbell. He did a booksigning, highly entertaining talk, and Q and A at my local bookshop, Write Blend in Waterloo, north of Liverpool. I then ran into him again (by design, not accident!) at the Liverpool Horror Festival in August – a thoroughly enjoyable event.
So, yes, there have been some ‘highs’ but, sadly, on the whole, I shall not be sorry to see the back of 2015. It has been a year which came in with serious health issues and is going out the same way. This year, I found out I had an extremely rare form of cancer. It eluded discovery for some time but at least it was still at the microscopic (as opposed to macroscopic) stage and was therefore removed – along with a number of internal bits and pieces I would rather have retained. But there have been complications. 2016 will arrive with another major operation on January 12th, followed by Radiotherapy. With any luck, I may make our planned holiday to Orkney in early June. I certainly hope so as it is a special one. My husband’s grandfather was on the HMS Hampshire in 1916 when it was sunk. Only 12 crewmen survived. 737 lives were lost. Lord Kitchener was one of the casualties, along with my husband’s grandfather. A special 100 year commemoration is to be held, together with the unveiling of a memorial wall and restored Kitchener Memorial, and that is where we are headed.
I must pause for a moment now to pay tribute and give thanks to the amazing team at the Liverpool Women's Hospital. This is truly an example of Britain’s National Health Service working at its best. From the incredibly talented surgeons (and three of them operated on me!), through to the hardworking, friendly and professional nurses and support staff, I was treated with understanding, dignity and the best of care. For some reason which completely baffles me, this hospital is under threat of closure. It’s all to do with money of course. Such high levels of care come at a price, but surely we – the patients – are worth it? Thank you LWH. Long may you continue to provide your excellent service.
Of course, I’m not the only one who has been hospitalized this year. So many people I know have had a traumatic time over the past twelve months, with serious health issues affecting them or someone close to them. In fact, as I write this, I am struggling to think of one person I know who has had a straightforward year! Is it something in the stars? Has a curse been put on us? Not that I would attempt to compare our problems with those in the wider world. Globally, this has been a terrible year for many thousands of displaced people. I’m sure all our hearts go out to them, along with our profound hopes that 2016 will see at least some kind of improvement – whether it be a cessation of hostilities, or some kind of workable solution to the crises that are causing so much misery, hardship and death.
So now my thoughts turn to the impending new year. What will 2016 bring for us all? This time next year, will we be looking back with happiness and reflecting on some brilliant highlights? I don’t make New Year resolutions but, if I did, I would resolve to beat my health issues into submission once and for all and get on with my life. I’d resolve to return to writing scary stories instead of living one!