The start of this year heralded what I have come to think of as The Cancer Months, now happily behind me. Life has settled into a slower steadier pace; my body won’t accept any more or less and I listen to its quiet messages whilst watching everything get better.
Work didn’t exactly stop during the C interlude, but an inevitable return to the office proper began in June with a three-day week and a relaxed fifteen minute walk there and back. On leaving the house each morning my first encounter was often with V, the man charged with the task of keeping our streets clean, who does the job with a smile come rain or shine. Inevitably our hellos have grown into longer exchanges.
V likes Beautiful Boyfriend’s camper, which sits proudly outside our home. Eric (for it is he) could do with some TLC and we discuss what improvements each of us would make were money no object. We are pretty much in agreement about most detail except colour schemes and anyway, V would like to send Eric to Africa where he says he would be far more appreciated. That may be so, I said, but with TLC complete next year, we plan to appreciate long weekends away. Sadly, Africa will have to manage without Eric.
Passing through our streets I encounter neighbours and local shop owners, with cheery hellos called across the road here and there. Upon entering the Chambord Estate, I send vibes of congratulation to the Tower Hamlets Garden Department, for someone there has taken time and trouble to turn patches of urban scrub into meadows, big and small.
For the summer months islands of long grasses, buttercups, daisies, poppies and cornflowers line my route from home to Arnold Circus. Daily I stop and stare, mesmerised by the simplicity and grace of these tiny flowers, colours super-bright in the sun, bringing a smile to anyone passing by.
Further afield, the traffic on Shoreditch High Street provides a clue about the day; before crossing to Rivington I check to see whether drivers are calm or calamitous, for somehow this colours the complexion of the hours ahead. Slow and steady is good; but bumper-to-bumper, blasting horns and belching fumes set everything on edge.
Rivington Street is busy at this time of day; people rush blindly to work, plugged into phones and pods. I wonder how they and their cycling counterparts get by, so locked into their worlds? Solitary automata they hear and notice nothing, haphazardly traversing pavement and street bumping into things and into each other – but not me, for I am alert. I see and dodge them every time.
Closer to the office my occasional morning coffee at the Rivington has become impossible, for it seems they now open only at midday. The informal breakfast club that gathered there has been displaced; were it not for the Bottega opposite, our corner of Shoreditch would be bereft of that idyllic interlude before work. Happily, seeing a ripe opportunity popular Bottega now opens at 8am and a morning table is a matter of good luck.
Four months on and my working week has extended; life may be busy again but things have had to change a little. When my body tells me to slow down, I slow down (a little). Having contemplated death as I did during those dark months, I know that nothing matters more than how we feel in ourselves. One cannot do one’s best unless one is at one’s best; a happy life-work balance is paramount.
And what of the business? With a calmer outlook and lower stress levels my little company is doing better, far better than before. Indeed, I have a hunch that Forte Medical may not stay little for too much longer; slowly but surely orders for Peezy are growing, all our customers are repeat customers and new ones become so too. Eight years’ hard graft is coming to fruition.
My time away from the coalface brought with it clarity of thought and the realisation that our mission was less the introduction of a product than the implementation of a whole new way of thinking. For urine is the unsung hero of basic diagnostics; low-tech, perfectly targeted medicine, its accurate analysis can bring huge improvements to healthcare the world over. Our wonderful device was simply ahead of its time.
Chiming with our improved fortunes came an upscale office move unexpectedly brought about by the management of the company’s old home of seven years. Forte Medical now finds itself installed in a larger, more prestigious space at the other end of the same street.
After a discomfiting start to the year, everything has settled at last. Life has most unexpectedly come up buttercups and daisies.
© Giovanna Forte