The very stiffest of upper lips

Crispian Jago is dying of renal cancer, and he’s been writing an account of the progression of the disease. It’s a grim read, except that Jago is resolutely stolid throughout, determined to make the best of his remaining months. It’s just so British.

I’m an American. If I were in a similar situation, the story would be full of whining, wailing, caterwauling, hot tears, and angry denunciations of the universe. At some point I’d probably lash out, launching a cruise missile at some blameless smaller country that had said something that annoyed me. So it’s an interesting contrast.

He does have a bit of anger in him, but he reserves it for those who deserve it. Read the illustrated chapter, the Book of Extremely Tedious Oncological Platitudes, in which he takes on all the people who have been giving him advice on how to cope with cancer.


  1. latsot says

    Crispian is the best. Funny, brilliant, thoughtful.

    Don’t not read his stuff.

  2. says

    I thought Barbara Ehrenreich had a great read on this as well in ‘Bright-Sided’, when she discusses the “good vibes” cult that pervades so much of oncology. “You’ve just got to be positive” is even seen as having a therapeutic effect (conversely, failing to be positive is you failing to beat cancer).

    “You just have to keep positive.”
    “Oh, go fuck a bag of glass. I have cancer.

  3. flange says

    A wonderful read. Great, funny writing style. Not at all depressing.
    I hope when the time comes, I can handle it that elegantly,

  4. says

    I am following his posts on facebook as well, and they are quite inspiring – he is certainly trying to get as much out of life as possible.