An extract from my latest tinyletter: ‘On Sickness and On Health’

‘I understood the potential of the sick/well binary to define one’s experience of the outside world during illness. But I didn’t reckon with the way in which, after recovering, the two kingdoms would compete within my own body for control of the experience, a physiological colonial spat for my memories of that sad time (a poor treasure indeed). We understand now that memories are not objective records, but shift and sail with the winds of emotion. As I have progressed further and further along the passage between my own sickness and health, I have indeed felt my memories of illness the hostage of these two warring nations. And now, for now, I have been liberated from the sick, carried well away from its lands. I live under the flag of the well, have been glutted on its histories. And – of this I am certain – my writing bears the stamp of its domination.


I’m not sure I’m fully healed – if I accept, as Ann Oakley does, the idea that the definition of health is a lack of preoccupation with one’s body, then I cannot call myself well (indeed – am I still not thinking about my sickness?) But every day I row my boat a little further from its kingdom, far enough now to turn, clearer-eyed, and survey the view without becoming seduced by false nostalgia, or blinded by the glittering of my new land. I consider this letter an exorcism of sorts – a ceremony I have performed to cast out a demon I’d prefer to be rid of, without granting it power over me by speaking its name. Maybe one day I’ll master the art of post-illness description, able to write in true detail of the bone-numbing aches and fears and the deathly soul-murdering repetitiveness of it all. But for now – a circuitous silence, a playful squirming at the end of this glorious July day.’

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