Saturday, 31 May 2014

Black Dogs… and White Cats

Winston Churchill famously referred to his depressed or darker moods as his ‘black dogs’ and it’s true enough that I have a few canines of a murky hue wandering around these days.

There again, there are plenty of people who would no doubt attest to the fact that this is not a post-MS attribute of mine, but one I have always tended towards. In fact, they would probably refer to both the old and new me (pre- and post-) as a miserable git at times.

I haven’t really noticed much of a difference in the things that will annoy me enough to bring me close to, or right into, black dog moments.

For example, I have for years and years marvelled at how people can spend hundreds of pounds on mobile phones and yet appear to use headphones (or ear-pods, or whatever the latest phrase is) that can’t cost more than a few pence. Well not if the echoing racket that they treat us to on trains and buses is anything to judge by. The tinny din will see smoke billowing gently from my nostrils as my fur turns a dark shade and I start to bark.

Perennial ‘job-seekers’ who seem to be at the bar of my local pub whenever I walk (wobble) in are another. And they never offer to buy me a drink. Advertising slogans that promise ‘up to 100%’ of anything (i.e. promising nothing since 0% is ‘up to 100%’), running shoes that cost the lifetime wages (or possibly, life) of the person who stitched them, political parties who refuse to name themselves most accurately as BNP-Lite (you know who your are, or more accurately, UKIP who you are), train ‘departure boards’ that become ‘hopeful arrivals’ boards, first week or month magazine offers that fail to mention the few thousand pounds that will be wanted in coming editions for completion of the model/collection/inflatable doll, the lack of protective gloves which should come with every bottle of cat pills, missing warnings about potential financial losses on wedding certificates, estate agents in general, Christmas carols before several pints of Christmas cheer, paedophiles no matter how long ago they committed their crimes (so what if the victim is 50 now, that just means they’ve had 30-odd years to suffer), estate agents in general (I know, but they really do p*$& me off), boy racers (or girl racers, if they exist), middle-lane motorway hogs of any gender and breed (especially male porcines), the British Summer (it might be mythical, but it still rankles), lying in the Sun all day (journalism standards suck now), politicians’ promises (and the use of the word ‘promise’ instead of ‘blatant, deliberate lie’)…

Well, okay, perhaps there are quite a few things that push me towards both apoplexy and a darkly canine mood. But my point is that all of those things listed above would have done just the same, just as effectively, before the MS was diagnosed (where they existed back then).

On the other hand, though, if those are black dog causes then some opposites – I guess we should call them ‘white cats’ – must also be present.

How about someone saying ‘after you’ instead of pushing past, or when someone is holding a door open until you are safely inside (or outside, of course)? Maybe you will hear ‘how are you today?’ from someone who actually gives a shit about the answer, or ‘don’t worry about putting out your rubbish, I’ll do that for you’. Perhaps a concerned voice might offer to carry one of your shopping bags, or pick up a dropped coin for you without pocketing it themselves (the coin, not the bag).

These might well have produced white cat moments before the MS but I simply didn’t hear them often enough to be able to really say (and in one case, never). And yet now I do.

Looking at things in that light, it’s clear that the white cat is kicking the black mutt’s tail, but only since the MS was diagnosed. And there was me thinking that life had become a real female canine.

Now there’s a black animal that can only be considered in the ‘post-MS’ pile. Life's a bitch and then you're diagnosed...

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