The placename ‘Broadgreen’ has an attractive ring to it – perhaps denoting a wide common of some kind. These days Liverpool’s Broadgreen is home to the hospital where, at the end of this month, I will be spending a few days having a cardiac bypass. A pilgrimage along re-routed arteries; a mashup heart created to get me back on the road. Culmination of six weeks since being diagnosed: an experience probably less stressful than a tour of duty in a warzone; probably more stressful than a season in a pantomime, with some characteristics of both. Maybe more like unexpectedly finding oneself in the cast of a Mystery Play, in which the devils and angels keep changing places, the story seems familiar but doesn’t make sense, and the stage maroons are armed with live ammo. Snowdrops and snowflakes delivering body blows in a winter that won’t quit. Venous sabbatical.
I am happy enough to be booked in to Broadgreen. It is an excellent hospital by all accounts and an outpatient visit yesterday was as pleasant as such a thing could be. And the location interests me. It is at the western end of the M62, and in a sense Walking the M62 begat Walking Home to 50. In fact, way back in 2008 on the third leg of the walk (Maghull to Liverpool) I walked right past the hospital, on the Liverpool Loop, a deep disused railway cutting. So this pitstop is right next to the track itself. Comforting, like being wired up to my own personal leyline, connected to places and people that matter, north and south, past and future. Of course, back then I had no idea. At the time, I may not even have glanced in its direction. So all you ramblers, bear in mind: when you look into the darkness of the trees lining your route, dreadful, marvellous things may lurk there. A future that will alter your heart.
So I’ll spend Holy Week in Broadgreen. This Lent I have given up many things, including ‘peace of mind’, though I’m not complaining. During this process I seem to have found my way back to reality – being here and doing things, rather than rushing on to next thing and worrying about the thing after that. There will be more to give up: the equipage for this trip is slim indeed. Eventually, having parted with clothes, body-hair and consciousness (everything but my name tag), I’ll be in the hands of the experts, fully surrendered…
Nothing left to do now but go through with it. And hope: that it works, that soon I’ll be buoyed on a spring blood-tide, walking home.