“The sun has just popped out, after a heavy shower; the washing line a string of pearls.
It’s time to live.”
On Valentine’s Day, 2006, Anthony Wilson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. He was 42. In this journal of the days that followed he contemplates love, family and mortality alongside celebrations of Peter Osgood, Ivor Cutler and ‘cooking chicken while listening to funk’.
March 19th is, whether you agree with it or not, International Men’s Day. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this, especially in light of the University of York planning to ‘cancel’ the day.
However, one of the main talking points is the increasing focus in the media on hyper-masculinity and the seemingly impervious nature of contemporary men. A quick look at magazines on the shelves are more likely to show you the faces (and bodies) of Hugh Jackman or Chris Hemsworth than Michael McIntyre or Peter Kay.
Such a focus on the physicality of these men highlights the need to be a finely-tuned, muscular Adonis to be remarkable, or even acceptable. But this external attention misses that which is going on beneath the surface. Men’s health, both mental and physical, is of primary concern and November 19th has become a day to discuss these often swept-aside topics.
Rather than being told to ‘man up’, something that occurs worryingly often, today is a day for men to speak about the issues that they face, regardless of whether it is gender specific or not. For that reason, we thought we would take today to highlight Anthony Wilson’s Love for Now, an endearing, compassionate and, most importantly, humane memoir of his battle with cancer.
Antony is not a body-builder, an action hero, a spy or (sadly) a dinosaur trainer but he is a father and a family man. Additionally, he is a poet, a writer and an academic: not professions one might immediately associate with manhood. In Love for Now, he offers a frank telling of the extreme emotional ordeal he underwent and how it impacted he and his family personally. It is a story that isn’t heard often enough, unless wrapped up in a meth-laced package a la Breaking Bad.
So regardless of if you think International Men’s Day is important or a load of old codswallop, I think we can agree that it is of vital importance to talk about those issues which affect us the most.