6/ Walking Sticks

Quite rapidly I’ve regained lost weight and my face has lost its yellowish pallor.

I look a paragon of health, fiddle fit from strictly adhering to all this carefully researched dieting and studying the beginner’s guide to mindfulness.

I feel almost I should lean on my walking stick as I get about just to evidence infirmity. 

It would be upholding a long and honorable tradition to use a walking stick to make a statement. Admittedly my functional piece of bent cane conveys none of the impressive pomp of a Pharoah’s possessions.  It has none of the overwrought swagger of the artefacts that became fashionable among nobility in the 16th century.  Certainly none of the ingenuity of the intricately crafted items that were developed through the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries: sticks with concealed swords, gadgets and hidden compartments for tools of a trade, or recreational, or medicinal purposes.  Laying my hands on any one of these collectibles would feed satisfyingly into my Robinson-Crusoe-esque-Swiss-Army-knife fantasies of rugged survival. 

During my next visit to the consultant oncologist although I cast my eyes about extremely carefully the physician’s walking stick, the staff of Asclepius - with a single snake carved coiled round the length of the shaft - is nowhere to be seen. 

He beams at the improvement I’m making cautioning that in the war zone of my body a battle royale is being waged between the medication and the mutant genes. The pills he’s prescribed are engaging in combat with honour and bravery.  Makes it sound as exciting as a block-busting movie.  He speaks with energy and command.  There’s a glint in his eye.  The light of the campaigner.  Bloody, bold and resolute.  Such a man would never be caught standing dithering in uffish thought while a Jabberwock crept up on him.  

I’m convinced there must be a swordstick somewhere close to hand.

© Benóg Brady Bates


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