Simply Red

Simply Red are going on tour for the very last time, I have got four tickets to see them at the O2. This will be on the last date of the final tour.

I was pleased to be able to get the ticket. They are a part of my past.

The last time I saw them was in May 2003 at Wembley Arena. The Home tour.

I stood in the queue with my wife, watching the world go past. I turned around and thought “where are all these old people going”.

And then the realisation, they were joining the end of the line. I was part of it.

We were all that bit older than when Simply Red were last on the road. In fact Mick mentioned the age thing and how the press had given him a hard time for not being a slim and young and beautiful creature. We didn’t care; we had grown up together and his voice…

So that was Simply Red and it was simply very good.

The next day I got up for work. Normal routine.

I went for a pee and that was when my life changed.

Simply Red…that was the colour of my pee.

I had, at one point in my life, worked in a hospital (or two) and with my great depth of experience I knew that having the toilet look like I had tipped a bottle of Chianti down it was not right.

I said nothing and did nothing. Off to work and later on I went to the toilet.


The clearest freshest pee you ever did see, it could have been Evian.

So, I rationalised and googled and thought well, although I had not run a marathon exercise and exertion could be the answer, I had been pretty well down with it at Wembley and I did shuffle my feet a bit and stand up almost the whole time.

No that was not really likely to be the cause.

A stone, I had renal colic once, it must be a stone that is a common cause. Oh, but no pain. A little one then, chips, that will be it.

Of course it happened again and the pattern repeated. Blood, clear, blood, clear.

I went to Coop and got a tea strainer. Yes really. I started to pee through it to see if there was a clue or two. Looking for that chip, awaiting the stone I knew was not really there. Caught a clot or two, they were tiny but I caught them.

I don’t really remember how long that went on for, not long. I drank a lake full of water to “flush out my system”. That failed as well.

I went to the doctor and explained it all, he was not too concerned and whilst some fast track was available if a nasty thing was suspected I was just routine as far as he was concerned so I awaited an appointment at the man clinic.

The day arrived and I trotted off by myself. First a chat with a doctor and then much to my surprise a cystoscopy (a look into my bladder). Now I was surprised because when I was a hospital worker this was a day case with a rigid metal tube thing and a general anaesthetic.

Oh no, not know.

A bit of local gel up the ever shrinking old chap and a flexible telescope affair. You get to see your insides on telly, so that’s OK then!

Nothing. They found nothing wrong. Back to the ancient magazines and a go with the ultra sound lady. Now these lovely and experienced professionals are not allowed to interpret or comment on what they see but the clues were there. A quick scan both kidneys and then, “can you roll onto your right side”,” just having a problem seeing the left properly”, “OK, just a little longer”.

And the capture of a still image or two.

The clues were there.

The clues are always there.

Then the wait to see the doctor again. Called into a room, too many people in here. Sit down please.

“You have a tumour on your left kidney”. “You will need an urgent CT scan”. “You will have to have the kidney removed”.

“I’ve got what? I’ve got cancer”.

“Yes” he said.

“But I’m only 42″

“This won’t kill” said a kind faced nurse.

“How do you know” I replied.

“Is there anyone with you” someone asks.


“Would you like to sit here a while” The kind faced nurse asks.

“Will it make a difference?” There was no reply.

I sat a bit, trying to take it all in. It was burnt on my brain at that moment never to be erased. Not capable of erasure.

I drove home; I had been out of the house a few hours. In those days, with young kids around my wife had a great job which she could do from home so she was there, waiting for me.

“Hello, how did you get on?” she called down the stairs from the home office set up in the spare bedroom.

“Not too good…”

And so it started, it was not just about me and sorting this out, it touches so many people around you. Like telling the kids the holiday is cancelled because I have to have an operation and telling my Mum the news. We lost my Dad to cancer some 8 years before this.

Then there was the NHS who had a very different idea as to what urgent meant to my idea. There is too much to say on that subject, perhaps for another time. Suffice to say I was able to choose to be treated in the private system as a self pay patient. No insurance but we could find the cash.

I became a cancer patient. I went for some tests. I checked out my worth dead, but it was too late to change that. Life insurance is still a problem; thankfully I was in a good pension scheme with death benefits and had insurance already in place.

Surgery came and went; the day of the operation I had not had a single symptom for three weeks. I had never had any pain or discomfort.

I am so please I went to the GP. Had I waited it would have gone away and by the time any sign or symptom returned it could have been a very different story. It would have been very easy not to go, be a bloke about it all, but I think I always knew this was something pretty wrong. I do not exaggerate the colour of my pee.

I got back to work 10 weeks later and entered the system for routine checks, a cycle of fear and despair followed by relief.

And then after 5 years they don’t want to see you any more. Now that is full of mixed feelings. Nice to be free of the checks but what if…? How will I know?

At my last scan it was pointed out that my remaining kidney was some 30% bigger than it had been before it was all alone. So now I realise I don’t have a beer gut but an enlarged kidney pushing all my insides forward!

I get a weird cramp every so often, where you should not get cramp, just to remind me of it all. But I don’t really need reminding.

I do loads of stuff I may not have done before, a bit of the yes man syndrome. But in so many ways despite it all I have reverted to type, getting annoyed or frustrated about stuff that really does not matter.

So Simply Red at the O2 in December. I am sure it will be a great night out.

I will try not to dance about too much, just in case.

Posted under General, Peppers

This post was written by Peppers on April 7, 2010