There is not a visit to the Macmillan Cancer Centre or it’s mother, UCH, that I do not talk myself through my sheer hatred of Tottenham Court Road and its neighbour, Euston Road. In this, I am really including the entire area, and the surrounding streets of University Street, Huntley Street, Grafton Way and Gower Street. Sure, some of the roads display some interesting architecture, but to me, this area of London Town represents my myeloma prison, which is monotonous and ugly and grey.
Image 1: Macmillan Motel
It has not always been this way, I think perhaps, until my transplant, I saw Tottenham Court Road in a similar way to the way I see a certain area of Victoria. I saw it like a workplace and I think I almost enjoyed the familiarity of it. I do not recall being bored of it or associating it with great misery and sadness. July came, when I was not allowed to leave Tottenham Court Road and with that small rule and neutropenia, came loathing, unadulterated loathing.
I do not care that Tottenham Court Road has a Gregg’s Bakery that stocks the Gregsnut, nor do I care that there is a cafe that makes Mamma Jones’ favourite banana and orange drink and I almost do not care that it has one of the greatest homeware shops to have walked the planet since Woolworths. I am in no way a fan of any of the dozen pubs I have frequented in my lifetime.
Five days during a heat wave limiting myself to a 0.5 mile radius followed by 12 days looking at the same scene out of a window was enough to ruin it for me. Nothing in this area of London will ever truly be enjoyable now, even if I were in Stringfellows objectifying men. I travel there for treatment and that is it.
I have visited the prison twice this week; yesterday for treatment and on Monday, I had counselling. Both inward journeys were accompanied by my usual thoughts of abhorrence, as was yesterday’s outward journey until I reached Kings Cross Station when more positive connotations, like the best hot pork roll this side of the Mississippi crept into my mind. My outward journey on Monday however, broke from my norm.
If truth be told, which is quite possibly the most annoying phrase to feature in the modern English language, I surprised myself. I am hardly a beacon of positivity and smiles when it comes to My Myeloma these days, something which was touched upon during my appointment that day. As I left the hospital, I was annoyed because my bus did not stop at the bus stop on Tottenham Court Road because TFL decided the best place for a multi bus stop was at a busy main junction preventing buses from stopping, so I had to walk up to the next stop on Euston Road. Trust me, if you are not familiar with the area, the bus stop in question l, is uglier than the one on Tottenham Court Road, looking out at the natural beauty that is an underpass. I would like you to imagine the face I had on, full of evil thoughts and two chins. As I waited however for the 73, I looked up and I had an epiphany. Looking straight ahead gave me an underpass, whilst looking up gave me an epiphany. Deep.
This is what I saw:
It might mean nothing to you, but that building is also know as University College Hospital.
After having spent an hour talking about ways I can combat the negative, I saw a positive in UCH’s tower. I saw the window I looked out of for the worst 11 days of my life, longing to be standing on the street waiting for a bus heading to Dalston, and I realised, I was actually standing on the street waiting for a bus to Dalston. And there it was in that moment, I accepted that I have come a long way and that I am doing well. People tell me this, but looking up at that window on the road I hate, I felt well off. It is a brittle feeling, because I fear the bad, but in that moment, I was relieved to be in remission and it was kind of nice. I was probably listening to something rousing.
Seriously though, so deep.
I still bloody hate that area though. It is way gross.
P.S. I am am aware that I have also referred to my flat as a prison. I thought I need to acknowledge that fact. I have been doing a lot of time.