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No jinx is going to trip me up; The Cancer Diaries.

Byline: Reg McKay

JINXES are best avoided. Even weans know that. So how come I'm taking so many risks?

You know where something has gone so well, you just can't stop telling some pal out loud? That's when the She Bitch grins her grin and makes it all go belly-up. You've jinxed it, in other words.

It's not that I'm superstitious - well, not much - though my mother's family, with their rural north-east roots, carried mumbo-jumbo that would choke a big cat.

In thunderstorms, they'd open windows at the front and back of the house to let the spirits pass through.

If they entered a house by the back door, that's the only door they'd leave by. And don't ask me what they did if spotting a shooting star - you might question my sanity, never mind theirs.

Yet ask them if they were superstitious. Not them, no way.

There were benefits to this, of course, like my auntie Meg. When my Mam was cleaning for toffs who wouldn't allow this four-year old in their homes, Meg kindly babysat.

Every morning, she'd do her own housework then pour us both a cup of tinker's tea, open the biscuit barrel and the fun would start. The deal was I told her a story,then she told me one.

Some of the happiest memories of my childhood.

The stories I loved were gothic horrors. Not that Meg saw that. They were just tales of world folklore, superstitions by any other name.

So, like my Mam's family, I'm not superstitious. Aye, right. Cancer is the best truth drug I know.

My first full week in the Beatson had special protection I didn't even know about.

Two days after Gerry was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was desperately trying to do some Christmas shopping before going into hospital for surgery.

On a packed Argyle Street pavement, a woman stood in her way, refusing to budge. "The cancer will go," she said slipping a stone into Gerry's hand.

Hardly anyone knew top about her cancer. How could a stranger? That stone went with my wife on every step of her treatment. She slipped it into my bedside cabinet from day one of mine, passing me her luck and her love.

It has been with me ever since. Now I find myself playing all sorts of superstitious games, like saluting and greeting those bloody magpies.

One day at a smokers' corner at the Beatson, a solitary magpie turned up.

Before going through my rigmarole, I glanced at my company. Everyone's mouth was moving in silent salutation, their eyes on the black and white bird. This superstition lark must be catching.

So now I worry about jinxing. Last year, during Breast Cancer Awareness month, Gerry and I wrote for the Record on surviving her cancer. As part of that, we warned about some finance-protection policies.

A cancer sufferer qualifies under these policies but, time after time, we discovered in the tiny print it was only if they were the first named.

As a married couple, without ask-ing, they always put the bloke's name first. Sexist maybe - but worse, it made those policies useless to us.

In Scotland's favourite family newspaper, I declared this would never happen to us again. damn well has.

My name is first. All premiums are paid. Then you get a bunch of faceless wasters who make life difficult.

Stalling, refusing to speak to my wife despite me being unable to hold a phone, not receiving letters, they claim.

Then parts of letters "disappearing", like proof I've been working for the last few years.

Among firms saintly in their assistance, this mob stick out like a bad smell stuck to the sole of your shoe.

Frustrated, exasperated, close to furious tears, Gerry asked them that as well as coping with a terminally ill man with three tumours, had she to solve their internal problems too?

The umpteenth uncaring voice on the phone said: "Yes." If I could travel to him, I'd belt him, tumours or no'.

Did I jinx myself? Maybe but then finance friends of mine tell me that some insurance companies are now paying staff bonuses to delay payments, even to the terminally ill.

A credit crunch issue? Nah, a question of morality. They don't have any.

Then Tony Higgins invited me to the PFA Player of the Year Awards last week.

I'm an Aberdeen you see, being and bred there. things you can't change - regardless of results. The Dons' great team of the 1980s were being honoured. I don't do heroes but that mob come close.

Suited and booted in my penguin gear, I was ready.

Without my Gerry to lean on, I went equipped with a walking stick. Black, of course, with silver handle. These standards of mine cost a fortune.

Struggling back into the event after a visit for a pee, surrounded by the cream of Scotland's football talent, I felt it - a foot tripping my good leg.

Thank God I didn't hit the deck but, for one second, I considered turning.

My tripper had made no mistake and I wanted to lift my stick and poke him in the nuts.

Unthinking cruelty isn't unusual but not my man. I was leaning heav-ilon a walking stick. What was he? A blind footballer? But never mind.

I wish him a long, successful career, dripping in gold and blonde floozies.

And I hope I've just jinxed him.
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 9, 2009
Previous Article:FUNERAL FOR KIDS KILLED 98 YRS AGO; Brothers' remains cremated.

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