Preparing to Die

The trouble with blogging and generally writing and producing artwork on the internet (or anywhere else for that matter) it that time runs away with itself and 5, 6, or more hours can disappear in an eyeblink…

Last Thursday night was to be a ‘reading’ night, where I would catch up on what my blogging friends were up to.  So off I started at around 11pm…

Rainforest Robin was in the middle of a hot valley, with lizards under her partners trainers (go there) and Angie had managed to get another episode of “Laura” posted up (It’s like Desperate Housewives without the censorship)…Angie has four blogs in total, another one of which “Time and Oft” is a really interesting missive about vintage postcards – tonights postcard was about a world war one soldier on a short leave in a country house, before he returned to the front line…

A rumble from my stomach heralded the start of the midnight hunger pangs, so in the middle of Janet’s blog,  I thought I’d get something from the fridge. I remembered that I had bought a beef roll the previous night and hadn’t got around to eating it, so I picked up the still-wrapped roll,  made a cup of coffee and pottered back to my laptop and went back to Janet and her natural mix of spirituality and humour.

I was just finishing Janet’s post, when I thought that the taste of my spicy roll tasted a bit sweet/pungent…but I dismissed the thought and when onto Tamera’s latest post. Tammy (bet she hate’s that handle) was in an usually humorous mode. Tamera was the first blogger to read any of my posts and is a mine of good sense and strong opinions.

(This beef roll tastes great. Really pungent musty spices)

Munching away, I went onto Brainteaser who mixes spirituality with meaningful poetry. Sherma’s writing is beautiful….and then onto Ravenscawl who I have neglected lately, amongst other great writers, due to my theatre-work going into overdrive. (between us we’ve produced a great translator for “, complete with little country flags – see the sidebar.

By now it was around 1.30am and my eyelids were drooping a little, so I  left my darkened middle-room and headed for the brightness of the kitchen (and yet another caffeen shot)…I like to work in the dark. It runs in the family; Christina used to spend all her evenings in the dark – the light of the street-lamps was enough for her and gave a bit of a romantic glow to her front room. It’s gentle in the dark, or half-light.

Returning to the fray, I next looked at timethief, who writes a very authoratitive technical blog – and who is also very spiritual….and…on… to…Sue (sdk 1988) great rock star drawings, good sense and great videos… is really worth having a look.

I have always been partial to rolls and pasties and this particular culinary delight was really unusual. It was marketed as a ‘beef’ roll, but it could have been any sort of meat, as the taste was quite unique.

I was begining to feel rather ‘coffeed-out’, so I entered the kitchen once again and made a mug of ‘Rosy-Lee’.

I returned with my hot tea and to Lilly of Lilly’s life that most formidable (but not forbidding!) writer, who always makes me feel that I could never write with the fluidity she possesses…and she’s so..well ‘Charismatic’ (so go there)….a good read…and then onto another cup of coffee (2.30am).

It’s partly my fault and also partly because of the erratic schedule of ‘touring’ that I suffer from diverticulitus – anyone else who spends a week or so feeling grotty every few months will understand. It’s mostly my fault though – I’m a ‘none-reconstructed-male’ or in other words a ‘lazy old git’ who has never learnt to cook and who really needs a diet of boiled vegetables and steamed fish (and boredom).  My normal intake of Burger King, Tandoori Night(mares), Oriental fillings, Mexican Tacho’s and all,  has stupidly left me with a strong exterior, but with an interior with the paint flaking-off a bit.

It was around 3am when I reached ChrissyMarie (to whom I have dedicated a widget on the sidebar – go and have a look for Card Craft.) and finished the beef roll – well almost – around 11 twelfths of the way through the foot-long torpedo, I decided that I’d had enough and that to further taunt divertic….



You see, I had switched on the light and in my hand, festered the remaining 12th of the rotten, rancid, one month old, green and black nightmare I had been intermittently munching on for the past  hour – I had picked the wrong roll from the ‘fridge.




(do not read on if you are of a sensitive disposition – I hold no responsibility for your fate, if you continue further)

It took a timeless moment for me to rationalise the situation:


P7240626 I knew I had to be sick. I didn’t want to vomit – and I hate that word…’vomit’. I have played at two theatres in England which perform ‘in the round’ and the entrance their stage or arena area, is via two entrance chutes or ‘Vometories’ –  I have never made an entrance at either of the two venues, when I didn’t feel a little queasy.

I could feel the saliva rushing to my mouth (I told you not to read on!) but I decided, as I stumbled to the loo, that it was for the best.

Only that I wasn’t sick.

No matter what I tried, the rotten roll stayed down.



I returned to the kitchen, seriously worried. I tried to work out the best time to phone Tim, our company manager. Would I be too ill to phone at around 9am – should I phone earlier? It was already 3.30am and I had to be up by nine.


Somewhere out of the distant recesses of my mind,  the memory regurgitated, of the time I choreographed and performed in a show in Margate. I had rented a flat for the season and had decided to domesticate myself (I’ve grown up now and accepted reality) and cook myself an omelette. It looked very appetising when it was ready, but I had added far, far too much salt and I was subsequently violently ill.       

So I took a half-pint tumbler and stirred as much salt into it as it would take. When the mixture had reached well beyond saturation-point, like a small silver sand-storm-twister at the bottom of the glass, I downed it in one gulp.


not even a burp





I remembered Liz telling me that people sometimes died from food  poisoning. But to snuff it from a rancid roll? 

What an utterly stupid way to depart this life



“Please God, don’t let me be remembered with a snigger!”

I remembered my mother’s words, in case of an unexpected hospital visit: so I showered and changed my clothes, tidied up the front room so that the paramedics wouldn’t be shocked at the state of the house and then, as the early grey light of dawn slowly illuminated my garden (for the last time?) I laid down on the bed fully clothed to wait for the inevitable onset of terminal stomach-pains…

The last chapter of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” finds
Scrooge in a state of delight upon waking and finding that he is still alive…

…I awoke suddenly at 9am. I was lying in exactly the same position, on top of the bedclothes, with my cellphone by my side. I got up slowly and made my way to the kichen.  There on the table lay the remainder of the beef roll. It was disgusting. I made a cup of tea and sipped it carefully – would the hot tea activate the poisonous snack? Half an hour later, it became apparent that I had escaped unharmed – I had not the slightest symptom of digestive upset and although it was to be several hours before I could bring myself to eat, I felt completely well.

Had I survived because of an iron constitution? Had the salt-water cocktail saved me from digestive demise?  Or had God indeed listened to my prayer and with celestial good humour, decided to spare me the epitaph of being “done in by a spicy beef roll”.

Upon finding that he is still alive, Scrooge changes his ways and uses his hoarded money to help all he meets, especially Tiny Tim.

So was I hoarding something – something that I could share with others, to give thanks for being spared food poisoning – or worse?

Then it came to me – I very seldom respond to all the kind comments on my posts, unlike Robin, Lilly or Tamera (and all) and furthermore. I had been given two awards, which I had not passed on or shared in any way…


Arte y Pico Award

                  Scrooge makes amends…


The “Arte y Pico” Given to me by Lilly of Lilly’s Life – Thank you so much Lilly, I really couldn’t believe it when you gave me this award. 

I had been blogging away (it seemed) to no-one (noone) and suddenly there I had a recognition that made me very happy and also tad shy…


Upon winning this award you are tasked with the following rules…

  1. You have to pick 5 blogs that you consider deserve this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also for contributing to the blogging community, no matter what language
  2. Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.
  3. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself.
  4. Award-winner and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of β€œArte y Pico” blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award.


So my “Arte y Pico” people are: (Scrooge smiles and doffs his stovepipe hat)

Janet of

Chrissy of

Tamera of

Angie of Time and Oft (Okay Angie ~ Laura can have some of the glory as well)

…and Scott Sheperd of Don’t Manage Your Stress – Rekindle Your Spirit, who has a couple of blogs which are really, really excellent and who is also a great guy.

So guys…You’d better not be lazy like me, but get to work with your own awards (or watch what you eat!)


brillante Then Janet of Dolly’s Daily Diary gave me the “Brillante” Award, which I have also been hoarding and which has been gathering dust on my cyber sideboard…

I now bestow the award to the following nine bloggers…


…”Ahem”… (clears old parched throat)…  My “Brillante” Awards are to: (Scrooge smiles, his features cracking into an unaccustomed grin)…

Robin Easton of “Rainforest Robin” ~she got her Arte y Pico from Lilly at the same time as old Scrooge here…so dry off my dear and collect your award –  you wonderful writer: 

Sherma of BrainTeaser – A great writer and poet… (and truly, truly scrumptious) πŸ™‚

Lilly of Lilly’s Life ~ Just the best (she already has the Arte y Pico on her mantlepiece)

Truebird of The Birds in the Meadow ~ A real nature person, a self-confessed biophiliac  and an excellent photographer – so go and see her work – her writing and photography and eat your heart out…

Eric S of Ruminations of a Small Town Mountain Boy ~ I’ve only just “met” Eric. He has a really classy blog and I’m looking forward to reading him each week. (He’s also very caring)

Ravenscawl –  As he says “Mental Cannon-Fodder. Kem Shahol cares a lot and probably hurts a lot. He makes me realise how easy it is to go through life, blindfolded to the injustice all around.

Sue Kleiner of Pencil Sketches and Art – great vid’s and rock stars, artwork  and humanity.

Liara Covert (Liara5) of Dreambuilders Australia – A daily blog on what I could term spiritual human behavior. Liara has great insight and experience ~ she is another great writer I have neglected recently.

timethief of …This Time This Space – timethief is a strange mixture of spirituality and technical expertise. Again…another great blogger I have neglected recently.


So “Brillante” guys…put your award on your blogs and smile.

“Brillante” rules are…

1. Put the logo on your blog.

2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.

3. Nominate at least seven other blogs.

4. Add links to those blogs on your blog.

5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blog. Picks I have made are under no obligation to do a post in this award. But enjoy it…

...Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely 
more;and to Tiny Tim, who did NOT die, he was a second father. 
He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man 
as the good old City knew, or any other good old city, town, 
or borough in the good old world. Some people laughed to see 
the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded
 them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened 
on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their 
fill of laughter in the outset; and, knowing that such as these 
would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they
should wrinkle up their eyes in grins as have the malady in less
attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite 
enough for him.
  (Charles Dickens ~ A Christmas Carol)


Finally, we are now in Lugnasadh and it is probably nearer the real birthday of Jesus, as opposed to his official one ~ well even Queen Elizabeth has two birthdays…

And so, as
Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One! 

soulMerlin  ‘h’


As for me…I am so chuffed at receiving the awards, I’m going to put them on the sidebar of Flowers and Scorpions for a good long while, even though they both relate to this blog. It’s just that I can’t put them on a wordpress sidebar (I’m stupid) but I will put a link back to this blog.

Stop Press! Ravenscawl has just emailed me the code to put the awards on the sidebar (he’s just “Brill” – Thanks Kem)

I’m so happy about them….THANKS. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

PS: Anyone fancy a Spicy Beef Roll?




~ by soulmerlin on August 8, 2008.

20 Responses to “Preparing to Die”

  1. Henry
    That was THE BEST blog post I have ever read. First, I have to confess I sniggered (ok, I laughed out loud) at your dilemma because I think we all have been there at one time or another. I just love the way you wrote this – very clever and witty. Although in all seriousness that could have been a lot worse but for your iron clad stomach (you must be way healthier than you may think)! Your work sounds really exhausting -travelling does that I think. Take it easy and get some sleep and all our blogs will still be there when you have time to catch up. Also, thank you so much for such kind words – it means a lot coming from you Henry! Now about that spicy ‘deadly’ roll – I think I will pass but if I was closer I would cook you something! Get plenty of rest on your time off and catch up soon. I need to email you aobut the other past lives stuff too!!

  2. Thanks Lilly – (see I’ve responded straight away!!!) – Scrooge has made amends. I’m still up and awake – when I finish a blog post, I’m so fired up, I don’t sleep for several hours…totally MAD! πŸ™‚

    Don’t worry about Past Lives. I’m on to it now. We have three shows tomorrow and I’m already composing it in my tiny brain. I’m prioritising…the past lives thing will be finished by the end of Sunday and It will be great fun for me to do it….and then I’m going to catch up on your blog entries and all those whom I have neglected recently.

    Thanks for spotting my entry and being the first to call into my undomesticated blogospatch.


    ps: Wish you could rustle up a meal for me.


  3. Soul Merlin, You have such a way with a story. I was following along thinking to myself “yea I’ve done that, and that, and Oh my god never that”. I have a very strong stomach, but I do not think I could handle that beef log. Not even in the farthest stretch of the imagination.

    I can picture your thoughts as you laid down to sleep, the impossible sleep of potential resurrection. And was right there with you when you woke, relieved and thankful. I can just imagine the dreams you had that night!

    Thank you so much for your kind award, I am flattered and honored to be a recipient. Especially from a soul of your talent and obvious style. I hope only to live up to your expectations. You leave me in a state of unfamiliar feelings, thank you.

    P.S. I’m waiting patiently for your PLR on flower and scorpions.

  4. Hi Eric ~ It’s around 10 to 3am and I’m just about calming down to go to by by’s. Great to hear from you ~ I mean it…your blog is Classy and once I get the past lives episode done, I’m going to do a weeks reading of your blog and all the others I’ve neglected.

    Even now I don’t know why I escaped food poisoning. Truly I ate it all and I was terrified when I saw what had gone down (and what refused to come up) Still I can laugh about it now. When Tim the company manager heard my story the next day, he laughed till the tears ran down his face.

    So….give me a couple of days and I’m visiting your patch to have a reading-fest.

    all the best


  5. Well, thank you kind Sir! As for the beef roll, I have to admit that I would have freaked out, and prepared for the worst as yourself! While reading this I didn’t know if I wanted to giggle or have an anxiety attack at the sight of that thing! I’m thrilled that you are still with us!

  6. Henry – your words are captivating and can bring a person right there to wile away the hours with you!

    I must remark on this..

    It runs in the family; Christina used to spend all her evenings in the dark – the light of the street-lamps was enough for her and gave a bit of a romantic glow to her front room. It’s gentle in the dark, or half-light.

    Such beautiful words! I love the glow of soft light, candle light, night moons, and I wish for the soft glow of light to continue to beam through your soul to share with all of us!

    Thank you for such an honor!

  7. Henry, Thank you very much for the award, I feel very honoured!
    I have to say I howled with laughter at your post….I am bad it looks truly disgusting and I am so glad you weren’t ill….it has probably provided you with so many bugs, you will be resistant to colds and flu all winter πŸ˜‰
    I love that passage from a Christmas Carol. They did a version of it based in Shrewsbury and it remains my favourite because I recognise all the places..but it is also a book I have read so many times. I couldn’t begin to count.
    I shall have to keep returning now and check out some of these blogs you have recommended. Well the ones I haven’t read at least, I do check out Timethiefs and Robins, both are beautifully written.
    Well time to go and get something to eat, somehow I think I might pass on “beef”…hahaha

  8. Yeah! Yeah! YEEEEEAAAAAH!!! Yippeeeee! Thank you SO MUCH! I am tickled pink over this from you. I’m sending you a huge hug.

    I am also laughing my face off over this post. I think it is truly the best post you’ve ever done, and you’ve done some seriously good posts I think that disgusting, putrid, moldy meat roll did something to you! LOL ……And I LIKE it. I LIKE this new spicy, frank , living-on-the-edge, henry. He kicks butt and takes no prisoners. He’s pretty hot and spicy…ain’t no mold growing behind his ears!!! LOL LOL Okay I couldn’t resist, but it’s true; this post is delightful and encourages me to post my “QUIRKY” post lined up for next week. Henry you truly are a riot. No one could ever accuse of being boring…that’s for sure.

    I have been in this situation and it is not fun. You don’t reach my age without eating a bit of mold. Oh that’s right, you didn’t know how old I am do you? You’d be surprised how long I’ve kicked around this old planet. LOL

    The fact that you survived does not surprise me at all. You are such a character and live wire that those nasties took one look at you and said, “I’ll pass.” LOL Okay I couldn’t resist the pun, but it’s true. I also cannot believe the hours you are running with your tour schedule. Make sure you get some rest and maybe some food that is only 2 weeks old…..just a thought. πŸ™‚ LOL Although in your case I don’t think it really matters. I think you are just connected to higher forces that are watching over you…..that and the fact that you are all grit and gristle, and big heart……just like me!!!! πŸ™‚

    Seriously, I am SO glad that you are okay henry. Me and many others have grown very fond of you. Seriously? You would be deeply missed by many my good friend. So I am blessed that you are here to tell this wild wacky hysterical story. Just wonderful. You made me day. And thank you so much for thinking of ME. Henry it mean more than you know, especially coming from you. I know how Lilly feels.

    Hugs and love,

  9. PS How do I get this award or the Pico y Arte award Lilly gave us onto our wordpress sidebar? I’d love to know. Care to share the “secret” with me? (She waggles her eyebrows.) πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Hugs, R

  10. Hi Robin ~ Ravenscawl did the trick for me with a little bit of html code, which he emailed me and which I then put in a text widget.

    Just in case I get it wrong, I’m going to leave Ravenscawl a message and I think he’ll be back to you soon….If he’s caught up in something, then I’ll have a try to adapt the code he sent to me…but I might get it wrong as I’m stupid, so let’s try Ravenscawl (Kem Shahol) first πŸ™‚

    I’m on the last show of our 3 show Saturday and then I drive back to Coventry (’bout 3 hrs ) So I’ll send off a quick email to Kem and check how things are when I get home ~ Love henry

  11. Hi Henry,
    I just got back from vacation and I am truly grateful for this award. Your writings have inspired me in many ways. Your views on spirituality have enlightened me. When I read your postings in your blog I don’t feel like I am just reading, I feel like I am living the experience. I feel I should give this award right back to you. You are one of the tops in the blogsphere. I must say I was really intrigued when you said you were cooking something up for me!!!! I got alot of laughs out of this post, I have been there myself. I also love to write in the dark of night. A rainy, stormy night to me is even better. I think it brings us to a deeper place in ourselves. I agree with rainforestrobin that you would surely be missed by many. Thanks again, It means more than I’ll ever be able to express.
    Talk to you soon,
    Take Care,
    Janet πŸ™‚

  12. Thanks! Really interesting. Big ups!

  13. Oh Henry! Being weak of stomach I have to admit I read the above with a morbid fascination, but I have a theory about why that roll didn’t kill you. It was probably absolutely PACKED with penicillin and other mould borne antibiotic goodies as yet unknown to humankind, I bet it’s actually made you stronger! Are you feeling especially well these days? You should donate your blood to medical science! That story beats the hairy strawberries I recently ate watching tv in a darkened room (it was the faintly salty taste that gave them away) Also, *blush blush* you have just given me the only blog award I’ve ever received, so just to let you know I absolutely treasure it although it may take a while to figure out putting it up for all to see πŸ™‚ Thank you SO much, the only reason it’s taken a while to reply is that I’ve been away. I am so touched! Thank you!

  14. Yup, I think Bird nailed it, Penicillin indeed, or its beef-roll-cozy cousin anyway ~ LOL. I’ve a story of me own, similar to this, set in French Provence, having to do with a sinfully exquisite home-crafted, green-veined goat cheese back in the last millenium (featuring a stereo-typically rude French doctor).

    You know, I read your post before there were any other comments here, and I’m a combination of shy, new to blog swimming, and (being American Mid-Western) naturally, significantly, reticent about asserting an opinion (’tain’t polite t’impose, don’t cha know). I hope you are wallowing in self-satisfaction upon reading your audience’s reactions. You deserve it.

    First, the tag line . . . . my goodness, but you are a wicked boy; “Preparing to Die” . . . what 20th-century-sound-bite-addicted-baby-boomer wouldn’t set her/his glass of wine/micro brew beer down, and in a self-absorbed-sigh-of-immanent-emotional-release satifaction TUNE IN to your story ?!?!?!?

    I was . . . . at first, gently swept into your story (did I say yet that I think you are a wicked boy?). You’ve a lovely natural rythym (sp?) to your writing. Then, subtly, as with the very best of mystery story’s, I began to be drawn in — my focus slowly, but surely being seduced by the wealth of intriguing (completely extraneous) detai of your evening, and home, and mood lightening (etc.) — when SUDDENLY (Arrrrggghhh) I was grabbed by the throat, grimacing as I drew back . . . . initially horrified, and then inexorably drug (struggling to resist) back into the dark, ghastly, absolutely f*cking hilarious resolution of the story.

    Talk about catharsis! Holy toledo!

    Whew. I don’t know, but being a former theatre person myself . . . I think you have the makings here of a top-notch one-man, one act.

    I’m thinking the Edinborough Fringe Award? I can see it!!!!!

    Kel (Eric S’s West Coast Sister)

    P.S. I know I abuse the elipsis. F*ck it. I like the way it plays, visually, on the page. So there. As my son would say, “whatever”!

  15. Hello Henry! How did you manage to write something like this? It’s funny, serious, fascinating and …. dunno the word… but I was worrying one moment and then laughing the next. Hahahaha!

    Whatever it was that made you survive the rancid roll… I am glad that it spared you.

    It seems you still have a lot of things to do on earth… blogs and plays and a lot more. Hahahaa!

    As to your epitaph that will not be β€” done in by a spicy beef roll β€” LOL! Hahahaha.

    You oughtta think of another one. Apparently, that ain’t good enough! Hahahaha! Perhaps that’s why you survived. The gods must have thought you deserved a better one. πŸ˜‰

    Anyway… I want you to know I absolutely love this post… but then, I love all your posts that I’ve read. Like Robin, you share a lot about yourself… and give us insights into so many things in this life. I feel so blessed reading you both.

    Thank you, Henry, for your kind words, for the award, and for the friendship. God bless you.


  16. I’ve truly enjoyed reading this post. You project a different aspect of your personality here. You’re outgoing, charming, and witty. I smiled reading at your mishap with the rotten beef roll.

  17. When I moved to Australia, I was astounded to discover that restaurants do not typically permit clients to take home leftovers. The reason, I was told, was because of law suits for food poisoning which had been on an increasing trend. Certain restaurants had been found liable and fined for food poisoning of clients who had a) taken food of their own accord off the premises and, b) chosen to ingest it in their own home. This appears to resonate a stream of thought that keeps lawyers in business in the USA. The classic example was the woman from McDonald’s drive through who got third degree burns from her coffee. She went on to win a law suit and 2 million from McDonalds because the company’s coffee was served too hot. (Notice the warning written on each cup about temperature now…)

  18. Henry, In the context of the title of this blog post, Preparing to Die,” I thought you and blog readers would appreciate a fabulous book full of reasons to reflect on this subject. The title is, “Dying was the best thing that ever happened to me” (stories of healing and wisdom along life’s journey) by William E. Habitzel, M.D.

  19. Henry, I have something for you over at my blog πŸ™‚

  20. Since you are still around and excelling in your creative craft well into 2009, then this food episode taught you a lot about your resilience. Energy beings forget they have staying power. The photos added wonderful layers of mystery to this story. Imagine what happened to the rest of the beef role in the stomach.

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