I think I should begin by offering a full and formal apology to the members of the Turriff readers' group, Liz from Turriff library, Richard, Dawn and everyone involved in BBC Radio Scotland's Cover Stories programme. Honestly -- I didn't expect things to get as messy as they did...
It started an hour before I was due to be there: a nosebleed. OK, so as you know, blood coming from my nose has been kind of a feature since my sinus surgery on Tuesday, but this was something special, even for me. Just a steady drip, drip, drip to start with, swiftly escalating to a trickle and then a full-on flood. Spwooooosh! An hour to go, and I'm loitering about the house with a tea towel full of ice clamped to the bridge of my nose and a wad of toilet paper trying to block the twin scarlet jets. We phone the Otolaryngologist responsible for the current state of my head, but he's not in, so we'll have to cope with Niagara Falls ourselves.
Of course, it's too late to cancel: Richard and Dawn will already be in Aberdeen, having got the train up from Edinburgh. The readers' group will be all ready too, sharpening their knives hungry for a slice of write-ist to devour. Hope they like it underdone, because that's the only option on the menu today: extra bloody. Everyone else made the effort and I'm damned if I'll let them down. Stupid? Yea, probably, but as I've said before: I'm none too bright.
She Who Must Remain Calm In A Crisis is given the enviable job of getting me into my patented David Hasselhoff Impersonator's Outfit, because I can't see anything over my triage tent of bogroll and tea towel. Takes a while, but eventually we're ready to roll, She Who Must driving while I continue to apply pressure in the faint hope it'll have stopped bleeding by the time we get to Turriff.
Fat bloody chance, but at least it's slowed to an intermittent trickle and drip. Now there's a large black plug of clotted blood sticking out my right nostril, like a playful slug. And I know that at some point during the proceedings it's going to go 'POP!' and everyone will be washed away in a tsunami of haemoglobin.
They're setting up when we arrive, handing round nice biscuits and cups of tea, then someone notices the big beardy bloke with the red-stained toilet paper clamped to his hooter. We do some introductions and I tell them about my surgical 'mishap' but that it'll be OK, as long as no one minds me bleeding quietly throughout the interview / talk. I get some wary looks, but they're up for it.
And it goes well, if you ignore the hairy bloke at the edge of the table, oozing red into a growing pile of bog roll, drinking warm water from a yellow duckie thermos -- God, how noir am I? -- because it's the only thing I can stand to take with my throat being the way it is. Remember I said it was sore, but I'd been given extra pills to cope with it? It's still bloody sore. I've not been able to eat anything the whole weekend, it just hurts too much to swallow. So I'm here on an empty stomach and wadges of medication. But it's not enough. I'm aware of being below par. It's difficult to sparkle when you're slowly bleeding to death through your nose.
But the book group are on good form, ask lots of questions (some of which are damn hard, but all interesting) and Richard keeps the whole thing going smoothly. The whole thing lasts about an hour and a bit, but it'll be broadcast at just under thirty minutes long once it's been edited down. Fingers crossed they'll be taking out all my burbling and dripping noises.
Afterwards I can't wait to get home, not because there's anything wrong with the group, or the library, but because I can feel the volcanic slug-plug starting to strain. My sinuses are beginning to fill up with blood, making my eyes feel like they're about to burst. I need to get back to the house and dig said clot out so the blood can escape, rather than back up and drown what little brain I have left.
And it's a doozy when it comes out too: same size as a ping pong ball, only dark red and gelatinous. The floodgates open. The sink goes from porcelain-white to bright scarlet. I spend the rest of the night feeling very, very strange between the ears. Still can't eat, but need to take more medication.
Worst of all is the fact that I've left it too late -- the blood filling my sinuses has clotted, leaving me clogged and bunged up and sore. Looking forward to another night spent sleeping sat up on the study couch (doctor's orders), and feeling more than a little sorry for myself.
Yes I am a bearded whinge monster, but fingers crossed tomorrow will see a miracle of medical science and I'll feel fine again. Or I'll go on the rampage with a fish slice and a jar of mayonnaise. That'll teach them.