30 Mar 2008

Post number 33: Helena Christiansen and a 'concrete result'

My favourite bit in Alex James autobiography is the bit where he comes face to face with Helena Christiansen in the Groucho club. If my memory serves me correctly, the line goes, running into the most beautiful woman in the world,at least in my opinion, was an absolute concrete result. A great turn of phrase there. I, myself would have described the moment as a four engined touch, a phrase that only my friends Simon and Ian fully understand. It basically originated a few years back in my back yard. It was a beautiful sunny day one summer weekend and Simon and I were sharing a cold Stella. It was perfectly quiet and still (odd for Brixton and my flat!), there was no loud music emanating from my Kitchen, Hildegard (the 70 year old German lady from upstairs) wasn’t sticking her head out of the window and shouting ‘nein, nein, turn it down’. It was idyllic, not to hot, not too cold, what I used to enjoy about Sundays, Suddenly , the small patch of blue sky was filled with a noiseless, seemingly floating jumbo jet. It seemed to drift effortlessly overhead. I was mesmerised, transfixed and said to Simon ,’what a f**king touch that was. I must have got a bit carried away because Simon (who obviously told Ian about this incident, the two of them have never let me live the incident down and quite frequently start conversations with me by saying ‘seen any four engined touches lately? Bastards. Anyway as Mr James autobiography rumbles on I was particularly taken by how his love for a girl named Justine ( his first true love) never falters despite his philandering and rockstar excesses. I can draw plenty of obvious Parralels between this and my 20s, wher it’s easy for me to now see what a stupid, young,immature fool I was in my 20s more interested in having a good time than appreciating what I really had.

29 Mar 2008

Post number 32: A bit of a blur’,the autobiography of Blur’s bass guitarist Alex James

I have been thinking a lot about the subject matter of this next post and I’m a little worried about it. I’ve just finished listening to the excellent ‘A bit of a blur’,the autobiography of Blur’s bass guitarist Alex James, what a headcase? He claims at one point to ‘have spent a million quid on Champagne and Cocaine and being ‘Cash Rich and morally bankrupt’. This, he claims not to regret at all, Obviously I’m a little envious that it’s me rotting in this hellhole in a wheelchair but I do believe that the world would be a much poorer place without the benefit of his unique combination of talent, attitude and above all intellect (which repeatedly shines through particularly in his speech to the Oxford Union about music being the highest form of art) but what really bit me was the bit about how the hardest tasks, seem easier with the magic ingredient of pretty girls. Call me a misogynist but I’d have to say that that is precisely true. I only have to remember my physio sessions with Sam at the Frank Cooksey. Does this make me ‘morally Bankrupt’? I don’t think so, because other male patients (Some of whom are happilly married) always seem to request help from the prettier rehab assistants/Therapists and for some reason I find this bloody frustrating. I feel rubbish for feeling like this because it feels so shallow of me but this is what I feel my life has become.
The other thing that struck a clear melodic chord was the sort of friends that Alex spent his time with, the double act that was Damien Hirst (of Turner Prize fame and Keith Allen (of Football song ‘Vindaloo’ fame. I can directly superimpose a couple of my friends onto their personas and the reasons why we got on so well. I see Damien Hirsts character as being similar to my friend Ian Betts, Ian is a comic genius and a damn fine DJ. Ian has this Djing gift of always playing to the crowd whilst also playing exactly what he wants to play. Bad DJs either play exactly what they want to play or worse fill their sets with anthems that everybody knows. I used to listen to Bettsy to hear what he’d play next. Tash and I were seldom happier than when listening to him play regardless of the insalubrious nature of our surroundings. Anyway Ian doesn’t need anyone, let alone me blowing sunshine up his arse! So moving on to Keith Allen, who Alex describes as ‘someone who knew everyone and they either loved him or hated him’… well I’m not sure if anyone hates him(if they did he probably wouldn’t care) but my friend Shaun fits a lot of the anecdotes that Alex tells about Keith. The thing that is special about Shaun is that he has an opinion about everything and he is not afraid to voice it, usually in a hysterical and (usually) offensive way. I think I’ve probably got him and his lovely wife Renae or maybe another friend of mine, Dee… ooops sorry I’ve forgotten ,for giving me this wonderful audiobook in the first place for my 31st birthday. It has certainly inspired a reaction.

I just want to tag on something that has bee bothering me since the fascinating Shackelton lecture on Thursday. The guy giving the lecture claimed to have been on the expedition in 1914. I think I’d challenge the veracity of this claim. Conservatively estimating he was 18 in 1914.That would make him 112 (I think) and he was far too sprightly for that. Apologies for randomness but like I said it’s been bothering me!

28 Mar 2008

Post number 31: Bad vs Good things for the first time

There have been all sorts of things that have depressed me since being at the TLU, losing Tash, my awful feelings of inadequacy and helplessness, the patheticness of my walking, How exhausting I’m finding physiotherapy despite getting on fine with the therapists, the appallingness of my physical condition, the robotic sound of my voice, the fact that I seem to be getting more tired and not less, endless tedious sessions with what I consider to be largely ineffective staff, stupid agency staff and residents that I often have little in common with. On the flipside there have been plenty of things that have cheered me up: Finding Carlie; the improvement of my relationship with Sonja (the TLU boss and head psychologist), rehab assisstants that I’ve really liked (Particularly pretty, caring and intelligent Nicole, Toni and Felicity. Good lads Patrick, Derek, Paul and Niall), The incredible loyalty of friends and family, the becomeone that just about raised £2k for the trust, seeing the Oxshot option take shape, going to see Bill Bailey, Occasional kind and lovely messages via email and facebook, facebook ,eating a Nandos, Rupert Everetts autobiography on audiobook;Last night was one of the things that really cheered me up. Many of you will know (or at least of heard of) Jackie Kennard. If you haven’t she was until her retirement last year, my old bosses (the wonderful Helen KC) secretary at John Lewis, She took me under her wing while I was there and(for some reason) treated me like a bit of an errant son! Thank god she did because without her influence, I would undoubtedly made more of a pigs ear of things than I did! Since my stroke Jackie managed to raise £14k for the two hospitals I spent the early days in ( Charing Cross hospital Neuro unit, and The Frank Cooksey rehab unit at Kings College Hospital. Not only did she organise the sale of samples that suppliers had sent John Lewis with military precision, She publicised it well enough to drum up the sort of interest that is required to raise that sort of sum in the first place. I also genuinely believe that it was that sample sale that first raised awareness to my plight at John Lewis who have been such an incredibly supportive former employer. Since her retirement this support has not waned, both because of Jackies continued activeness in John Lewis circles (it’s a wonder the company functions without her!) and through her passing the torch so effectively to great friends of mine in JL, Simon Dawes and Anna Micallef. Jackie was up to her old tricks last night:She had organised a fundraising lecture and auction going to the trust. Not only were the lectures (on Shackletons 1914 expedition to the South Pole and Charles Dickens female characters) interesting and informative (they managed to keep me awake despite the hour, the shortness of my attention span and the dreadful tiredness I now suffer from) Both lectures were beautifully delivered, the Shackleton one by a guy who had actually been on the expedition giving a slideshow illustrated account of the incredible hardships they faced. It really put my struggle in perspective, to realise the incredible strength of character these guys had to survive. It really was incredible how indomitable their spirit was. I was profoundly moved by this but was also profoundly moved by the generosity of the large crowd in the auction (about 100 people made up of allsorts rounded up by the indomitable Mrs Kennard). For a start the prizes were nothing short of sensational sourced through the extensive contacts of alround top man, Selwyn Kennard (Jackie’s husband and secretary of Tandridge Golf Club). I’m not sure how much the ensuing auction raised but early indication were £3.5k to which we obviously have Jackie and Selwyn to thank but also the super charismatic auctioneer Chris Evans (the Tandridge golf proffesional) for coaxing such high bids out of the crowd, and of course to the crowd itself for its generosity and for coming in the first place. The evening of course belongs to Jackie. Its success is all down to her skill in mobilising and motivating people. I am so lucky to have met the people I have and to be part of my family.I don’t think anyone could have hoped for a better response from the people that know them to the cataclysmic event that has befallen me.

26 Mar 2008

Post number 30: NHS Communication (or lack thereof)

There’s another morning of my life I’ll never get back,that’s because I’ve been stuck in the delightful non-functioning bureaucracy that is the NHS system. This morning (Wednesday) I had a hospital appointment for some super painful Botox shots in my neck (not to nip in the bud any premature wrinkles in my neck mind rather to weaken the muscles on the right of my neck so that my head stops being involuntarily dragged over to the right or in laymans terms to stop me looking like a demented freak who can’t keep his head in the middle). I have had these sorts of injections before but the fact they’re incredibly painful was just one of the reasons I wasn’t looking forward to it. The others were: Because of the appointment time, 9:30 at Charing Cross hospital (for some reason located nowhere near Charing Cross, but somewhat inexplicably in Hammersmith) meant waking up at 7:30 (early for me, my stroke has meant that getting out of bed is even harder than it used to be and my turning circle is about as long as that of an ocean going supertanker (it used to be about 5 minutes, it is now over an hour at best and usually a lot longer); secondly, having to sit in the waiting room and surprise, surprise, WAIT( anyone who has been in or around one of London’s hospitals will understand when I say that they have the feel of vast waiting rooms full of people waiting to die) if you’re already clinically depressed then they’re not your first choice of venue. Speaking of depression, I learnt a valuable lesson yesterday. My friend Carlie, whom I am growing fonder of by the day, invited me to share her mothers 49th birthday with her and her family at their house in Dulwich. In the ambulance on the way there she confessed to me that on her hospital bed in Lewisham hospital having discovered the extent of her ailment she had wanted to die. Like a shot it suddenly became clear to me why it is so much better to be alive despite the irritating/dreadful disabilities one may have. It is quite simply had she not been there then I would have been deprived of the enjoyment of spending that time with her and the same goes for me, If I were dead I would be depriving someone (God knows who, I don’t think it matters) of the enjoyment they get from spending time with me. In other words you always owe it to others to stay alive. This has probably been said a million times before and is probably verbatim what it says in psychology textbooks but it suddenly made sense to me in that moment between us yesterday. Anyway, I digress. The reason why this morning was such a stupendous waste of time was having gone through all sorts of Purdah (both mental and physical) to get to the appointment it was frustrating to find it had been cancelled and they had told precisely no-one! What a huge waste of everyones time and more importantly, energy (especially to those it is in short supply to!). I have been even more out of it than usual Today, I’m sure as a result, at least I hope so?!

23 Mar 2008

Post number 29: Extreme jealousy

I think today I want to talk about a theme that has often characterised my rehabilitation and was never really a problem before. It’s not a great character trait I’m afraid, it is of: Extreme jealousy.
Let me explain what I mean. OK, being on the TLU probably provides the best example. When I first came here I was the only person in a wheelchair, all the other residents had speech and cognitive problems apparently, although somewhat ashamedly, I was convinced some of them were only here because it was free food and the only way they could get any form of social contact. I was convinced my neighbour from Brixton (mad as she was ) had more reason to be here than a couple of the residents, but being the only soul in a wheelchair did me a lot of mental damage and did a lot to nurture my feelings of inadequacy and isolation a bit like when I’d been on Drapers and being the only patient who could talk, I had no-one to relate too and felt as though I was going slowly insane (The bloody forward- thinking RHN again.) Cognitive and speech problems are something that I’ve been told I now don’t have a problem with (I do still have speech problems) and that I’m ‘incredibly lucky’ not to have had seriously. Well excuse me for not feeling incredibly fortunate! My voice sounds terrible (at least I think it does).. it takes far too much energy to get anything out, and I feel so tired all the time – imagine the tiredest you’ve ever felt and double it, that’s how I feel all the time. Even repeating myself is too much effort and the jealousy, what’s that about? Simple, I superimpose myself onto other stroke sufferers (today I’m a sufferer, not a survivor) and think to myself – I wish I could walk like that, I wish I could talk like that, I wish I could use both hands like that, Why does no-one else look as tired as I do etc etc? I think the best/worst example of this Jealousy/anger/ frustration was a guy called Darren who has now gone home. Now this guy was a borderline simpleton, aided by a car crash (at least I hope it was the car crash) I think but by virtue of the fact that he could walk and use both hands,he could go home and see his girlfriend and child, cook, shop, take trains, eat normally, sit in normal chairs, sleep in normal beds, make love to his girlfriend etc etc. I am utterly jealous of his ability to do all of these things despite him being a borderline simpleton. Even Andrzej, the polish guy at the TLU whom I’d describe as a 6’ 30 year old baby. I think what has happened to him is terrible (He can’t speak, he can only shout or cry and dribble) but he can walk and use both arms. I am very glad I don’t have his deficiencies because there is no way people would bother to visit me but I’d gladly take his lack of self awareness (the thing that seems to keep me hating myself) His ability to walk and use both hands and his seemingly inexhaustible reserves of energy. This characteristic of virulent envy is one that I am not particularly proud of, one of a long list that appears to be getting ever longer the longer I stay in stroke rehab.

21 Mar 2008

Post number 28: Introducing inspirational Carlie

So, yesterday was my 31st birthday, and, as per usual there are a hell of a lot of people that I am grateful too for making yesterday a pretty good day in the grand scheme of things. So, I am extremely grateful to those who sent cards, wrote me messages, came to see me, gave me presents, baked, brought and ate cake with me but the person I’m most grateful too is a girl named Carlie. No-one, I doubt has met Carlie, in fact I only met her a few weeks ago myself in the back of an ambulance, that’s because she is another patient at the RHN, the reason I’m so grateful to her is because when she went shopping on Monday for a birthday present for her mum she thought of me and remembered my birthday and bought me a present. That sounds nice, I hear you say , why are you getting so worked up about it? Because, quite simply what has befallen her makes what has happened to me look like childs play and I almost died. The reason I think she is so wonderful is how well she is dealing with it. From what I gather, In her mid 20s, while watching TV one evening a blood vessel in her neck ruptured leaving her completely paralysed below the neck, she has a tracheotomy and ventilator not to mention a pacemaker. What has happened to her breaks my heart and makes me realise there is no justice in this world. I am too scared to ask her what her prognosis is for obvious reasons, at least with me I know I am going to slowly get better, it may take years but at least I know it will eventually happen, I just don’t know with her! Here is this young, beautiful girl that can’t come to lunch with me and my friends today because two (that’s right 2) carers aren’t available and she is still so positive and chatty! This I think, is why I think she is so wonderful because despite everything she remains so chipper. It’s small wonder I was so utterly moved by her getting me a present. She even gave me a card .To do that she had to call a member of staff to write it for her and specially apply for her some lipstick and then press the card to her face so she could leave a kiss, how sweet. I am virtually brought to tears by the huge effort she made for me and I am so moved by the frequent efforts that friends and family have made for me in the last two years. There are too many to name but you know who you are.

Ok, so its Saturday now and the weather is positively Glaswegian – as I probably said somewhere before the weather is the nemesis of the wheelchair user. At least able-bodied souls can run for cover when caught in a squal, not so in a wheelchair. You also feel the cold much more despite the fact that you’re wearing 15 more layers thsn the most wrapped up able person. I would like nothing more than to go up to the main hospital right now and go and watch ‘the mighty boosh 3’ with Carlie but it feels like the hatches are batonned down here as the arctic wind makes the doors,windows and walls creak like a cross channel ferry. Of course it doesn’t help that I feel I look dreadful and can barely keep my eyes open . I felt the same yesterday when my college matedbtook me outnto lunch . Even though it is gres=at to see everyone together.It is difficult not to feel self conscious when you feel that you sound terrible, can’t stop yourself from dribbling (a problem that has become more pronounced since my stroke!) can barely keep my head up or make eye contact. I’m 31 FFS, I am finding it so hard to accept these childish deficiencies! And I haven’t even described how humiliating I find eating.

Now, I have massively digressed from the intended subject which was to say thankyou to the group of people who made it to lunch yesterday and to specifically thank Vicky Denning for organising it and the Dennings for coming along to pick me up. I only wish I could have more energy to enjoy it more. Thanks allJ.

18 Mar 2008

Post number 27: 'Missing the Boat'

I have really been agonising over the subject matter of this next missive. For starters I think it might be a glimpse too far into how tortured my soul actually is and it might scare people off me but those are risks I’ll just have to bear because it is so important that this blog is as honest as possible. Sort of perverse integrity. The subject today is ’missing the boat’ and was brought on by an email I received last night from an ex telling me she had just got engaged. At this stage I want to point out that feelings of ‘missing the boat’ have been bubbling around near the surface for the last year. In my life, I have been in love four times (which I believe to be quite a few), I have basically lost touch with the first, the second is happily married, the third just got engaged and the fourth just met someone else. Now, it isn’t so much that I thought I might have another chance with number three it is just that I can’t ever imagine being in that position. Tash, who was a little older than me always used to complain about potentially ‘missing the boat’ because lots of both of our groups of friends are ‘sorted’ and even having kids. I used to say to try and make things better ‘it’s fine, you still look like you’re 25’. This may be true but it’s a very male way of looking at things. I should have realised what I had in my late 20s , now since my stroke and a few years down the line I know it’s a chance I’ll never get again, I feel like such a stupid fool now, perhaps a young naïve idiot. I now realise that there is nothing more important in life and the main reason I’m so sad now is that in future I don’t think I’ll ever be capable of finding that sort of love ever again because love isn’t something that just happens – you have to invest time and energy making it work, two things I feel I no longer have. My advice to blokes who think that they’ve found love, look long and hard at the person you’re with and try to imagine life without them, you never know what misfortune lurks around the next corner I apologise for the downbeat, introspective, serious and unhumerous nature of this post. I feel like crap today and I’m a little scared how this will be received. Hopefully things will look up when I move into my new house.

15 Mar 2008

Post number 26: Peter and Imogen Lee to the rescue

Good morning/afternoon/whenever everyone. First up I want to dedicate this post to my good friends the lees (Peter and Imogen) because when I finally managed to get on the computer this morning I immediately noticed that the mouse had broken. One quick panic phonecall to Peter and he rocks up 45minutes later with a new much better mouse. You can always rely on Peter. At his recent wedding to the lovelyImogen in Northern Ireland which for Obvious reasons I was sadly unable to make I made sure my message to them contained the words’reliable’ and ‘loyal’ to describe Pete. That’s exactly what I thought of when I dialled his number earlier. This sentiment has not changed. Imogen has chosen well.
Anyway, It’s the end of another tough week in the world of the stroke survivor. I am learning or rather have learnt that one of the greatest challenges is to try and keep occupied. Otherwise we start to question our value as humans which internal discussion leads to one thing, depression. I think it’s one of the key reasons we, as humans, work. I have no idea how some people can do nothing and live off handouts and benefits, maybe it’s just me but the thought of doing nothing with my time fills me with dread, it’s one of the reasons I write this blog, which is I’m sure the world over why blogs or even diaries get written, there’s also the therapy angle, despite not really knowing who reads this you do get this feeling that you are sharing things. That sounds a bit AA, m’kay… I’m desperately trying not to make this too self indulgent because I don’t want people to get (too) bored and switch off.
I feel awful getting help now from the state/my parents and my friends despite not being able to survive without them (and also feeling unbelievably grateful). Before my stroke I had spent the best part of 30 years getting independent (however chaotic my finances were!) and I finally felt that approaching my 30s I’d finally made it and suddenly, boom I’m back to square one. A lot of this feels a bit like starting again without the advantage of being a kid. Speaking of what it’s like to be a kid Someone (I think it was a friend of mine called Annabel actually) shared an interesting pearl of wisdom with me, Simply put, the reason why kids always appear happy is because they’re always thinking in the present. It suddenly struck me (it seems so obvious now) that every time I thought about the future is when I get depressed. Sure, thinking about the present for me is no picnic either! I had/still have lost count of the number of times people have told me to ‘take each day as it comes’. In fact it was getting to the stage where I was considering running over the toes of the next person who said it to me, probably the worst sanction I can muster! At least now I can appreciate why people say it rather than my initial internal reaction, which was that it was any old nonsense taken out of one of those bloody awful little booklets ’50 things to say to people in hospital’ that they flog on the counters of WHSmith next too ’50 of the greatest chat-up lines’ which funnily enough got given to me the other day. There really are some gems.
Back to the subject of work,I’m afraid. Not only do we work for the obvious things, money, intellectual stimulation, social interaction or that rarest of things that seems to go with work unless we’re extremely lucky, fun. Apart from money , most things to do with work are designed to give you the feeling of self-worth from turning up everyday and making an impact on something, which is why I hated working in the city because what impact was I actually making? (OK, so I may have 1 or 2 friends/even family who are wedded to the worlds biggest paper shredder but it’ll take an act of god to make me change my mind!) and I think it is the lack of this self-worth that has hit me hardest, it has been why the situation with Natasha has been so hard. What’s made it so hard for me is that she has done nothing wrong at all. She is perfectly within her rights to get on with her life, it has just left me feeling like I’m the type of guy that just isn’t suitable for anyone to get on with their life with if the one person who knew me best wasn’t prepared to do it, what chance do I have with anyone else? I had better stop this chat because it’s all a bit soap opera. Overacted melodrama (which I hate) a bit like Holyoaks. So, moving onwards and upwards that is why I am trying to meet people who have been in my situation and come through it. Today (Friday when I first wrote this, now Saturday)) I met a guy called Bobby who was sitting almost exactly in my position, his stroke on the right side of his brain had caused enough damage to knock out his left side but he said to me thank god he could speak and that he basically retained most of his cognitive functions (ie the ability to think and remember which I think is roughly what I retained), He now lives on his own at home in a power wheelchair and has daily visits from a carer. Like Lucy (another stroke survivor who I met afew weeks ago the message I’ve taken away from both of them is ‘it’s hard but not as bad as you think it’s going to be’.

13 Mar 2008

Post number 25: What to do for my 31st

This seems like a bit of a frivolous thing to be troubling myself about but I have no clue how best to do my 31st birthday. – There are just too many drcisions to be made and given the state of my head (not a reference too my hair!) I appear to be utterly useless at making decisions now! Perhaps they weren’t my favourite thing before but I don’t recall being this rubbish! My 31st is next Thursday (20th) so it’s already pretty late notice. As far as I can work out, the options are
1. Have my folks take me out for dinner on the 20th
2. Have a low key gathering of close friends and family at the TLU on Easter Monday at the TLU
3. Wait until I’ve moved to my new house and combine it with a housewarming in mid april
4. Sod having a birthday and just have a housewarming in mid may
5. Combine a birthday with a TLU leaving party sometime at the end of march
6. Some variation/combination of the above
7. Don’t bother with anything
8. Shut Up and just get on with it, fool!

Can you see why I’m confused?

10 Mar 2008

Post number24: Passing my driving test (again)

So, today is a Monday and I promised myself and anyone who reads this that I wouldn’t write anything on a Monday for all our sakes. This blog isn’t full of the most positive stuff in the world and there seems little sense dragging it down further but I’ve got a couple of things to share. Both (I think) interesting enough but I could be wrong. Firstly, I passed my driving test (of sorts) today. Not quite as exciting as the real one 13 years ago but it means I can now roam the RHN grounds without an escort. This means I’m going to get out of the TLU (where I feel I have been virtually incarcerated for 12 months) whenever I can (although not when it’s raining, get caught in the open in a wheelchair when there’s a cloudburst and you’re screwed!). The other thing is that on Saturday morning I went to check out my future residence which I should be moving into at the end of march. It has come on a hell of a long way from when I last saw it for which I have my brother and father to thank. When I last saw it in January sometime (I think). Back then, the inside was a building site and was rather hard to imagine living in! Now, it’s just a different kind of building site (a much tidier one) and maybe I’m having a lack of imagination at present but I still can’t imagine what it’s going to be like to live there. I blame Brixton because Oxshott is about as far removed from Brixton as you can imagine. For a start, I think it’s because Oxshott is nice! This lack of imagination has manifested itself in two ways, Terror and excitement. Terror, because we haven’t established flatmates and furniture yet or how any care package might work, let alone get paid for. Excitement because, it represents a change, I am desperate for a change, so desperate that I’ve done something stupid to my hair, I swore I’d never do that again after an incident involving a bottle of peroxide at university which some people reading this may remember, well the lesson learned back then was either ‘ always get it done by professionals’ or‘never again’. Until now, I had always assumed that the latter had stuck. Obviously not.These are not normal times though, so I’m going to have to wait for the next time I have a stroke (heaven forbid) to see what I do to my mop next time.
.I guess I’m hoping that castle Pardey Mk 2 will be a rather more chilled out place than Mk1 (it better bloody be!) It might not be as convenient to drop in on, but the intention is to have a proper guest bedroom so that people are encouraged to stay. All I can do now is wait.You would have thought that after two years of waiting for everything that a mere three odd weeks should be a piece of piss. Not so, every second seems like torture. I think the person who described the hospitalised as ‘patients’ was having a laugh because in the last 2 years I’ve yet to meet a patient patient and that includes yours truly. I have never been particularly good at waiting for stuff, my friends and family, my former girlfriends and in particular the people who used to work for me will testify to that. I’m not particularly bothered about it because it’s true of so many people including those who can jolly well wait! That’s what grinds my gears (shameless family Guy reference) People who for some reason think they shouldn’t have to wait because for some reason they’re [insert expletive] special. I’m trying so hard not to swear here. I’m not sure what to say here because despite decrying people who aren’t patient and pointing out the evils of impatience we still do it . Its that consummately british thing isn’t it? See a queue so why not join it. And hate ourselves for wanting to jump it. I’m pretty sure this will be the only time I’ll ever think this, for the last two years I’d wish I’d been a Frenchman, I’d have felt so much better about myself.

7 Mar 2008

Post 23: Sadness (cond) at losing Tash

Ok, so it’s now Friday and I’m not feeling a whole lot better, I’m not sure I can bear to feel this bad for seven years (the length of time that me and Tash were on and off together) 7 years because apparently that’s how long it takes, that’s probably bollocks but for some reason I remembered and believed it. Sounds symmetrical, must be true etc. etc… I particularly want to thank those who have sent me nice messages of suyport, particularly Steph Foster’s comforting and perceptive message, her fiancé is a lucky man. It is probably going to be one of the main things I am going to miss about Tash (here we go again). Aside from her beauty, I am really going to miss her intelligence and perception)From what I have heard about stroke, one of it’s major side effects appears to be the tragic demise of relationships. Despite the obvious (and multitudinous) problems our relationship faced (trust me there were plenty) I thought a strong enough foundation of love and care would see it weather the worst of storms (and believe me this is as bad as it gets!)…Enough Jackie Collins, I can’t wait to get to this house in Oxshott, or probably more accurately I can’t wait to get out of the TLU. For starters, this place is becoming less pleasant to live in every day, take this morning and don’t get me wrong I empathise and sympathise with the other patients but can’t help thinking that a transitional Living Unit is not the place for a Polish guy ( who can walk but can’t speak or swallow properly) There was I thinking that transitional living in rehab was about establishing normal social links with people before going out into the real world again. All Andrzes seems to do is shout (nonsense of course) and disrupt stuff. Just this morning two other inmates almost had a fight over breakfast – John, another non talker (it must be so frustrating for him! He has this habit of sneaking up behind people in his power wheelchair and then shouting in there ear to scare them. He did this to Richard (the guy who sounds like an Irish drunk) Richard failed to see the funny side and started to shout and swear at John, this started off one of Johns uncontrollable rages that (I hope) has been brought on by his brain injury and ended up with these two wheelchair bound guys shouting at each other across the breakfast table with John having to be restrained by the staff, It’s small wonder I am hating it here, I feel like some disabled extra trapped in a sick real-life (but much worse) version of ’one flew over the cuckoo’s nest’ and things seem to be getting worse. I always used to joke to myself whenever I drove into London up the A3 and would see this huge building on the right of the road with this big sign saying Royal Hospital for Neuro-Disability,”I hope I never end up in that Nuthouse” and here I am. Careful what you pray doesn’t happen to you This is absolutely true by the way,That is exactly what I used to think when driving past this place although it transpires it’s not a nuthouse. Could have fooled me! Being here is certainly driving me insane!

5 Mar 2008

Post number 22: The start of feeling distraught at losing Natasha

I am in bits and pieces today (and not in a good way), because not only did I get dragged out of bed at 6:30 by one of the nightstaff, a stupid as hell agency person, who offered to run the shower when I asked her to fasten my safety belt. Honestly, tons of people tell me my speech is pretty clear but to some (usually stupid people or those who don’t bother to listen properly) clearly think I’m speaking Klingon! Anyway 6:30 am felt like 4:30am which hasn’t helped matters. The main reason I’m so utterly distraught today is that Tash (remember my long term ex girlfriend) visited me yesterdsy and informed me that she had found someone else. What’s the problem I hear you say? Well, we split up because I could never give her what she wanted , which was to be someone to settle down with, support her, marry her and father her children, all things I was willing to do but due to my unfortunate circumstances, I can’t do. I feel so utterly inadequate now, I’ve never felt grief like it because despite the fact that I’ve been in touch with other girls, it’s so hard for them to measure up to the person I feel I owe everything too.I really am pathetically devastated, in a previous life I would have been able to pick myself up, brush myself down, sure, be sad, but I would have been able to pull myself together , have a bit of confidence in myself, and move on. Not in this life! Unfortunately I have little or no self confidence left, I may have amazing support from friends and family (for which I often feel thoroughly undeserving ), but I also feel like I’ve lost the most valuable thing in my life, the love,the care,the security and the affection that Tash used to give me is now gone. And it makes me feel terrible. It may have been complicated but life will never be the same again. Apologies for the downbeat nature of this post.

2 Mar 2008

Post Number 21: The first becomeone fundraiser

Hello everyone, well, it’s the morning after the big becomeone event and before I launch into details I have to say that I’m completely hoarse and knackered because I got back at an eye-watering 11:30 PM – That is pretty late for me!

I feel extremely lucky this morning because I feel that Simon and Shaun (who run becomeone) could quite easily have filled Inigo without (very kindly) donating anything to the Dom Pardey trust, I reckon the place would have been full had they dedicated the event to Satan simply because people have a special place in their hearts for becomeone and it has quite simply provided us with some of the best moments of our lives. I’m not usually the type to get sentimental but the people and memories of amazing times had at sublogic/annexo (usually the worse for wear) choke me up a (little) bit especially in my current situation Enough of all this, last night brought back a lot of good memories. OK, so I found it difficult to cope with the volume and the low light sometimes made it tricky to navigate my wheelchair, but thank god for my wheelchair! It allows me to raise it up so I am at peoples eye-level . Also, because I can recline it I am able to use the loo with comparable ease. 2 years of basically being in a hospital bed has done strange things to my plumbing! I’m sure that’s more than enough information on that subject! Anyway the thing that really blew me away last night was the people that made it.
I’d like to thank everyone personally but fear that I have neither the time or the energy, and anyone reading this probably doesn’t have the patience. So I’m going to make some general and specific thanks and as always I’m bound to forget someone. As I said earlier I was just lucky to be associated with this, most people I think came for the event. First people to thank are of course Simon, Shaun and Jonnie, the becomeone boys, not forgetting Shauns lovely wife of the ever changing hairstyle, Renae. Tireless logisticator Hannah, her fiancé Balt, who DJ’d first quite brilliantly and Dee who helped Renae and Hannah extract punters hard-earned on the door. After that clutch of miscreants – special thanks must go to Vicky,PJ and Tony (my very close uni mates) who brought me in the ambulance. Special thanks go to Vicky for taking on the responsibility of designated driver although she apparently had to be restrained from jumping onto the dancefloor at one point. I guess I’m just grateful for people like Vicky for putting up with me running out of steam when they want to get stuck in! I am also very grateful to my John Lewis mates, Anna and Paul ( who has escaped the green mothership now) and Simon Dawes, who has been incredible in his support for me as well as being a top bloke, brought his lovely wife,Yvonne and good mate Adam who I met over a haze of booze at the Oval when we stuck it to the Aussies many moons ago. I better not start getting too lairy about our antipodean brethren because there were a few there last night. I reckon I better thank a couple of them first before I lay into them. First is Richard Launch who played 2nd .I thought his choice of tunes was great and mixed with just the right amount of swagger! At one point even I was down the front using the standing feature on my wheelchair to show my appreciation (a feature I use sparingly because it makes me look freakishly tall and is exhausting!). My other thanks to antipodeans are reserved for the surprise entrance of Damo, a man who I think the word legend was specially invented for. And the unforgettable Kiwis,Space Ben, Daegel, Markus and Karl, all guys I’ve had many a drink with. So, where have I got to? I was also thrilled to see Dale (a man I never thought I’d see again after his leaving boat party eons ago and Dom (him of the amazing Poem in post number 11) Angear and Sara (Jenkins) and Steve (Hitch), who I hadn’t seen for yonks! Not forgetting Steve Williams and his beautiful wife Naomi (who had originally not been able to make it but luckily her friend in Birmingham cancelled on her). And there was also Phil Reynolds, who said some nice stuff before we moved to discussing silly haicuts;-) I also want to say a special thanks to my good friend mr Ian Betts who was due to play last. Ian and his wife Sharon have been a great source of support and inspiration over the last few years (even before my stroke). Not only is he an exceptionally good lad and his wife a top lass but it has been a pleasure to see his personal and professional life flourish, with his Djing for Cream at Amnesia in Ibiza (twice) and playing after Paul van Dyk in London, his production work going from strength to strength, I still remember the rather excited conversation we had after his track had just been played on radio1, and most Importantly, the birth of his first son, Olly. Not only is he a top lad, he is possibly the funniest guy you’re ever likely to meet, in the words of his best man, or as Ian calls him, ‘meolebruv’ Toby Tennant [sic] ‘Ian makes us laugh’. Anyway, I left before I even heard him play, but I’ve seen him play 100s of times before, I’m sure he was brilliant, business as usual, job done, seriously – so for once since my stroke , I can at least be cheerful. Thankyou one and all, this sort of happiness is hard to come by, even, when you’re not in my position, Also, I’d like to thank everyone who was complimentary and polite about my new hairstyle as opposed to one of the residents at the TLU who said ‘ I think it suits you but it is a little bit gay’
Hot off the press are a couple of things I'd like to add, firstly I neglected to mention how good it was of Ben Gilman and his lovely fiance Erryn for coming, I also neglected to say how nice it was to see Tiia, Aimsta and most importantly Fi (because she is the most important, right) and how kind it was for my great old friends Alice and Dom Icely to come along, Dom showing how long it had been since he'd been out by sporting a cyberdog t-shirt (sorry, but I couldn't resist). Anyhoo, I've just heard in the last couple of minutes that they managed to raise £1855 on the door which equates to~371 people which for a 200 capacity venue is nothing short of Jaw-dropping and will go such a long way for contributing towards the valuable therapy I need to help me(among other things) walk again.



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