Magazine article The Spectator

Low Life: Jeremy Clarke

Magazine article The Spectator

Low Life: Jeremy Clarke

Article excerpt

The day after the American people applied a very welcome touch on the brakes to the Enlightenment juggernaut, I went for a walk with my brother, who the day before had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Which is a crying shame because three years ago, after I had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, he had conscientiously toddled down to the doctor to have himself checked out with a PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) blood test, in case it ran in the family. But the doctor had thought the precaution unnecessary for a man of his comparatively young age (47) and vetoed it.

A fortnight ago he couldn't pee and went again to the same doctor. This time the doctor agreed to a PSA blood test. When the result came back, his PSA score was 112. For most doctors, 'normal' is four and below. My brother's score was off the scale, in other words. It wasn't a question of whether he had cancer, but how far it had spread. The morning after Trump's victory he had received the results of the biopsy on his prostate gland. We'd of course hoped that his ridiculously high PSA score was a ghastly mistake, or that the decimal point was in the wrong place. It was neither. His prostate was diseased; the cancer highly aggressive.

When my cancer was first diagnosed, my brother had invited me out for a long walk. So now it was my turn to invite him out for a post-prostate cancer diagnosis walk. Our walk took us and his three Border terriers, Roxy, Ruby and Taz, across coastal moorland and down to a steep and remote cove. To give the walk a purpose, no matter how spurious, I brought a supermarket 'bag for life' and scissors for collecting edible seaweed. Iodine kills cancer cells, reputedly. We could dry and powder the seaweed and sprinkle it on our cornflakes every morning, I thought. Not for one moment do I believe that it would cure us. It was merely a bow in the homeopathic House of Rimmon. I reasoned, however, that snipping at seaweed with kitchen scissors might make us laugh and take our minds off things.

My brother has spent his entire working life as a big, incorruptible Devon and Cornwall policeman. Nowadays he specialises in training other police officers in the art and science of containing public disorder. Sometimes he spends entire days throwing petrol bombs at other policemen or having them thrown at him. …

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