Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Surprise Party Flu

Well, we are a barrel of laughs around here.

Remember that surprise birthday party we went to on Saturday, where the guest of honor was sick? Well, I think I've come down with whatever she had.

I felt OK when I first got up yesterday morning, but then, while walking the dog, I felt my stomach do a little flip that definitely didn't seem right. I ate breakfast and walked to work as usual, but by the time I got there, I was feeling tingly and achy, and it just got worse and worse. Finally, at the demand of my co-workers, I went home just before lunchtime. I spent yesterday afternoon inert on the couch with a fever that reached almost 102ยบ F.

Of course, I have no way of knowing whether this is due to the surprise party. It might be something totally unrelated. Maybe I would have gotten sick anyway.

To make things even more interesting, Dave started feeling ill on Sunday night -- more of his Crohn's-related intestinal complaints, or so we think. So we're both flat-out on our backs and staying home from work.

Even Olga is sick! I think she ate sticks on her walk yesterday. Her belly is gurgling away. We're a mess!

In other news, as I was walking along Abbey Road yesterday morning, I passed a trash bin outside an apartment complex that was smoking. It looked to me like a cardboard box in the bin was doing a slow burn. No one was around, so I wasn't sure what to do. It looked like a very minor fire, but I didn't want to leave it entirely unchecked. So I called the Fire Department and reported it. The dispatcher said they'd check it out, and I didn't wait around to see what happened.

I was shocked to learn that John, the guy who sells books outside the Thameslink train station in West Hampstead, apparently died on Sunday morning. There's an article in the paper about him -- no cause was specified but it's not thought to have been suspicious.

It must have happened very suddenly -- his stall is still set up, where people have left flowers and candles in memoriam.

I photographed John a couple of times and he was always a friendly guy. Now, at least, he has joined his beloved three-legged dog Sugar, who died last year and who has her own memorial plaque above his book stall.

John was a nice guy, but he'd obviously lived a rough life. I usually waved to him across the street while walking to the tube, and I sometimes stopped and bought a book or gave him a bit of money. (He'd ask if he was really broke.) I confess I also avoided looking his way occasionally, because I didn't want to give him something every time. Which was probably a shitty thing to do. After Sugar died, he gave me her leash and collar for Olga.

Once he passed me on the street and called out "Monsieur! Monsieur!" I thought, "Does John think I'm French?!" Maybe my American accent was as bewildering to him as his Glaswegian was to me. Anyway, West Hampstead won't seem the same without John, a true local character.

(Top photo: A quiet square in Mayfair.)


  1. Feeling unwell Monsieur? I hope that you have made a will. The presence of a will makes it easier for bereaved loved ones to tie up the loose ends after the inevitable has happened... Seriously though, I hope that you are all feeling better soon.

  2. Oh no! You've been laid low by the whatever-it-is virus that's stalking the airways of London Town. You'll recover, only the good die young :).
    When street identities like John die, it leaves an empty space for people who might have seen him on a regular basis. The Johns of this world add colour and diversity to sometimes dull, ordinary days.

  3. Oh, Steve! This is such a sad post. I'm so sorry that you and Dave are sick and that Olga is under the weather too.
    And John! I wonder what happened there. Did he have any family, do you think? His dog, Sugar, looked a great deal like our old boxer, Pearl. Just so sad.
    Well, rest up and recover. Go to the doctor if you need to! 102 degree fever is quite high for an adult.
    And thank you for looking up that beetle for me. Triceratops! Indeed!

  4. well, doesn't sound like any fun is being had at your house. everybody get well quick.

  5. Oh, I'm sorry to hear of so many things upside-down! Fire, illness, death...

    I liked this line from the article about John:
    "He made me realise that you should never judge people. We are what we are because of luck and misfortune."

    Feel better soon.

  6. Life is better for us because of some of the characters we meet. Do you have a photo of John?

  7. Not a very cheerful post here. I'm so sorry that you and Dave are not feeling well. Hope it all resolves very quickly and you're both back to your good healthy vibrant selves soon. Sad news about John. It's really quite kind and thoughtful that people have left flowers where he sat.

  8. I remember you writing about him. You gave him a large audience in his life. Fame across the seas. May he rest in peace.

  9. Condolences to you and Dave and Olga in your poor health and for the loss of that gentle bookman, John. Sad times.

  10. So sorry to hear you and Dave and Olga have come down with a bug. I hope you get better quickly. And, I'm also sorry to hear about John. I remember those posts about him. It sounds like he will be missed by many people in the area.

  11. It seems from the memoriam for John that he touched a good many lives.

    So sorry you're all sick there. I hate that feeling of dread just when I realize I'm getting sick - you described it well. Hopefully Olga will stay calm so you can both rest. Get well soon.

  12. I'm so sorry all in your little family are under the weather, and very sorry for John Henderson. I hope your charming dog doesn't need the vet for her tummy problem.

  13. I'm sorry to find that you are both ill, let's hope you soon get better. On the subject of crohn's disease, I'm not sure if I have mentioned that my Daughter-in-law has it and so I know a lot about it. I have recently read that coconut oil is good for this ailment. We use it for everything from cooking to hair to feet. I always buy the organic stuff online, a big tub.
    Tom was able to tolerate this when he had Gallstones.
    You may already be aware, but there's a lot online about it.
    Poor John, I wonder if drugs were to blame, whatever it's so sad.
    We have loads of people like John here in Brighton, it should never be in this country should it?

  14. I hope you'll all be better soon, sounds nasty. Take care and rest.

  15. Sorry to read that you are all under the weather if your temperature is still high tomorrow you would be wise to go to the doctor. Sad to read about John so many people who live on the side lines become part of our life and deserve our acknowledgement and time for a chat and share a laugh or two when they are gone we remember that they made an impact on our lives.
    Hope you all get better soon.

  16. YP: Coincidentally, Dave and I have been talking about our need for a will! We've really got to get that done.

    Alphie: It DOES leave an empty space. I'm surprised by how much I miss seeing John in his usual spot.

    Ms Moon: John did have a female friend who often sat with him at his book stall. (Hence the two chairs.) I don't know about family. If I hear any more about the cause I'll let you know. Fortunately Olga seems fine now!

    Ellen: Yeah, we had a real slump, but at least it hit everyone all at once! Maybe now we're getting past it!

    Frex: I saw that quote too. I wish I knew more about John's past, and the "luck and misfortune" that apparently put him where he was.

    Red: There are photos earlier on the blog. Just click the links (highlighted words) where I mention in the post how I photographed him in the past.

    Robin: Clearly people really miss him. He'd been there a long time and knew lots of folks.

    37P: I have a feeling I'm not the only one! I bet others wrote about him too.

    Catalyst: Well, fortunately I'm better and Dave is due for a treatment boost soon, so hopefully he'll be better then too.

    Sharon: I wish I had better pictures of him, actually. I never felt like I got a really good one. I love the one in the newspaper article I linked to.

    Jenny-O: Well, I think we're on the mend. Yeah, that getting sick feeling is terrible!

    E: She didn't need the vet! Olga has a cast-iron stomach. She eats sticks, and they upset her stomach for a day or two, and then they pass and she's much better. This is routine!

    Briony: You have mentioned your daughter-in-law, and it's funny you mention the coconut oil. Dave has been cooking with coconut oil and I had no idea why he made that change. Now I understand! I don't think John was homeless, but he definitely seemed to be living on the margins. Then again, I saw him using at ATM once, so I guess he had a bank account!

    Sabine: Thank you! We did rest a lot!

    Comox: I will definitely miss seeing John at his stall. Losing him just makes West Hampstead a little less interesting.