As a kid, I used to run around the legs of pylons trailing a piece of rope. I imagined they were giant robots and I could trip them up like in Star Wars. A few years later one of my friends climbed past the barbed wire trying to touch the birds that stood happily on the buzzing wires. His end wasn’t like the cartoons we watched. No zap, no bolt, no moment where he hovered, thrashing around, full of electricity. Just a loud snap, like a party popper, a smell of burning and he fell like a plank of wood. Even when he landed he remained perfectly posed as he had been just before touching the wire – head up, arm outstretched, forever frozen in the form of a curious human.
These days I run across those same fields with my arms out, hoping my small actions will kill your cancer. I doubt if it works, but I’m desperate and stupid. So every Friday, after work, I change out of my smart shoes and put on a pair of boots. I hide the car in an old garage and it’s a short jog down a footpath and into the fields. I run past the spot where my friend fell – the grass has grown long and his monument is a plastic red rose faded white by the sun, strapped to a nearby fence. I still run around the pylons but I keep my eye on them. I know they want me next.