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Under the knife of Damocles - Trinidad and Tobago Newsday



TOMORROW I undergo surgery to remove my oesophageal tumour, and thank goodness in general and FIFA badness in particular for this year's World Cup, which should never have been awarded to a human-rights disaster area like Qatar, but which has been even better than the Russian World Cup (that other disastrous, dictator-pleasing, human rights-degrading FIFA award).

The 90 minutes twice a day I've spent watching the World Cup in the last fortnight has been the only time I've thought about anything else but my surgery.

Trying not to think about your upcoming potentially life-saving operation is like trying not to think of having to pee, but worse, because 1. It makes up with longevity for whatever it might lack in urgency and; 2. The worst thing you can do with a hot pee is wet your pants.

So thank goodness for Messi and Mbappe and Son with his Batman mask, and the irony of the first female referee at the male World Cup making history in a country with a firetrucking prehistoric attitude to women, the LGBT and workers.

At least I wasn't thinking about my adenocarcinoma for those moments when I was wondering how some of my Afro-countrymen, the descendants of slaves, could be glorifying 'a Middle Eastern World Cup' so purposefully as to miss the connection between dead Africans in the New World in the 16th century and dead Bengalis in Qatar in the 21st.

Perhaps they need a little mental stimulation, like cancer surgery (although, as my cancer-ward pardner Dane Jah Ras said on Monday in Trini to the Bone, I wouldn't wish cancer on my worst enemy). Nothing, said Samuel Johnson, concentrates a man's mind as powerfully as the prospect of being hanged at dawn.

And shortly after sunrise on Saturday, I'll be possessed of an intense mental focus. For this is the thing about life-saving surgery: it is, by its very definition, also life-threatening.

Damocles himself might have called it a two-edged sword. (In the probably apocryphal story, in 45BC, Damocles so envied King Dionysius II that, to teach him that a monarch's life wasn't really about an excessive and indulgent lifestyle, Dionysius set Damocles up on a pile of cushions, being served exotic food and fine wine by beautiful, half-naked women, an experience Damocles loved - until he looked up to see a sharp, heavy sword hanging over his head by a single horsehair.)

Back when I was a law student, the uncertainty of any serious surgery was caught by a med-student friend - either Stu or Freddie, I'd think - who said, 'You've got 35 feet of small intestine inside you. You really think we can take that out, rest it on the operating table, play with your kidneys, and then pack it back right?'

Earlier this year, Liverpool lost its greatest Trinidadian supporter when he went in for what was a routine operation and an extraordinary proof that the human condition needed an adjustment to the song lyric the Kop claims as its own: you always walk alone. Such is the risk in the repacking of the intestines and the r

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