29 Sep 2009

Post 158: An appointment with a Dalek (maybe pictures later)

After yesterday, I have renewed my dislike for/hatred of even - Hospital appointments, so much dislike in fact that this is my equivalent of 'writing a letter' and I wasn't going to include a mixed metaphor but my old mucker Ian has just sent me (literally just this second) a real beauty "And to teams like Bashley, the prospect of playing in the second round of the FA cup is like the carrot at the end of the tunnel."
BBC Solent commentator during the Bournemouth match, briefly updating the FA cup score at Bashley. e and
There was an additional little detail that made yesterday about as much fun as an injection in the eye, which was ironic because... Anyway, I have spouted forth about why I hate hospital appointments before in this blog largely because there's a lot of sitting around and that to me is fundamentally exhausting. Firstly, we had elected to use NHS transport, never again, but before I go on, I just want to say how grateful and lucky I am to have a father willing to give up a whole day to keep me company, doing these things by myself wouldn't be possible and they're probably as much fun for him as they are for me.
So yesterday was already a Monday (never a great start) but at least the NHS transport ambulance arrived on time at 11, I have known them to be up to 2 hours late. The appointment at Moorfields eye hospital in Old street was for 1pmwith a consultant who I had seen before (post 2) who I had described back then as having 'a worse bedside manner than a Dalek' (post 2) because back in 2006 he had told me that my 'eyesight would never improve' which directly contradicted what the neurologists at Kings had said, because this man was 'the authority' on eyes this thoroughly depressed me, this was the first indication that the stroke had done irreparable damage and that I am condemned to go through the rest of life dealing with bodily functions that will never work properly again. It is particularly hard having my sight so badly impaired because glasses/lenses will never help, instead my sight is just weird and wrong and I have learnt that I must have derived a lot of my co-ordination from my eyesight (which was pretty much 20/20 before), now I can't even catch a soft ball thrown gently in my general direction and I would never trust myself behind the wheel of a car ever again. This was the first of a series of devastating disclosures about my future. All I could see was my future getting harder and harder. Rather melodramatically, yesterdays appointment brought some of this back, practically the only good thing was having my eyes examined before I saw the Dalek by a gorgeous orthoptist who made me feel a little better by telling me my sight has improved a little since they last saw me in mid 2006. When I went to see the Dalek (half an hour late obviously) it was not all that surprising to find him just as unpleasant as I remembered him, Much more interested in making sure his proclamations were being heard by the many underlings that were around. I had been led to believe by the same Neurologist who helpfully prescribed me Ritalin (what a disaster that was) that my eyesight would benefit by immobilising one eye by means of a Retro Bulbar Botox injection and this chap was the expert. The Neurologist had also told me that the procedure was done under general anasthetic, so imagine my shock when he told me he could do it right there and then and that as a procedure it's 'sometimes helpful' and that it was really 'up to me' about whether I went ahead with it. An injection in my eye, not under anasthetic, now let me think... Now one of the things that has been growing in me since my stroke is a lack of respect for medical science. People get ill, they get better or people get ill, and they die. Now medical science appears to have put me in the latter camp by virtue of the fact that for as long as I can remember since this stroke no amount of hospital appointments, procedures or medications has ever made me feel better or made life easier. So, whenever I've had appointments, I dread them, because I'm convinced they're going to be able to do nothing or if they do suggest something it'll be ineffective or painful and this was bloody painful. Botox may take two and a half days to work but I'm finding it even harder than usual to open my right eye. Yet another blind alley (pun intended) methinks.

27 Sep 2009

Post 157: Trying to cheer myself up with some comedic distractions

Sadly, this weeks best mixed Metaphor submission was a little too similar to one that has already been used and a couple of others just weren't up to the sort of comedy gold that this blog delivers to its Tanganyican army of readers, needless to say it involved Omlettes, Eggs and chickens so although you're obviously devastated to do without it on a Monday morning or whenever you read this nonsense I thought I'd try and placate you by mining that rich seam of gold known as the internet and what a gem I found, yes,as Agatha Christie said, 'button your seat belts' and prepare to be as underwhelmed by this as I am when I wake up.
Firstly, I was overwhelmed and genuinely touched by some of the messages I got about that last walking video, I don't understand why it's an achievement, I do keep going because I know it's the right thing to do but all I see is failure: A 32 year old man who can't walk independently, doesn't have his freedom and independence and is pathetically reduced to exhaustion and loneliness on a daily basis.
To try and get over these dire feelings I went out twice this week to see two quite different, but nonetheless Brilliant comedians , Old favourite (who I have seen several times) Daniel Kitson, a man who to look at you'd expect to explain the proof of Pythagoras' theory but in actual fact flies fourth with a hilarious off the cuff sounding four letter word filled stream of conciousness, I said a few posts ago that I irrationally disliked beards, well I do, on people who don't look like they should have grown them, but even though it is physiologically impossible, Kitson looks like he might have been born with his. It was a small gig in the local arts centre in Aldershot, I prefer these smaller gigs because you really feel part of it, indeed when I took these photos Kitson chided me yes ME lightly because the flash threw him off his stride adding 'I'm not very professional and am easily put off but no-one gives a f*ck' His unflinching honesty and the heartfelt feeling he puts into his show makes him utterly unique and one of the most engaging speakers I've ever seen. Tracey (my neighbour) took me to this and she loved it, valuing as I do, listening to someone who can hold your undivided attention for two hours. The job of the stand up comedian has gotta be a hard one but if you're good at it, it must be amazing, words to the same effect said by Rich Hall, other stand-up comedian I went to see this week on friday evening. This gig couldn't have been more different, it may have been a sellout too, but this was the Hammersmith Apollo, a 3000 seater sprawling monolith compared to the 100 capacity 'big'' room at the Aldershot West End Arts Centre (one would imagine a hugely underutilised resource in a town full of squaddies alongside possibly a public library or an all male Sauna or an all-night discotheque although the army is a different place these days, apparently ;-)). As always, it is fiendishly difficult to remember any of the specifics of either performance, being unable to take notes (I still don't have the fine motor skills to write (another thing that shames me, I've lost count of the number of times someone on the other end of the phone has asked me to scrawl something down, on the rare occasions I've been on speaker phone when the other person hasn't given up on hearing my dysarthric stroke affected voice, I've had to weakly profer 'I can't write. That's right folks, a 32 year old who can't even write! God this is humiliating sometimes, not to mention, bloody hard.
Oh yes, the Rich Hall joke I did remember is that people always say to him 'Rich, how did you end up being a comedian, like it's a bad thing' 'like they expect you to say 'well I was the class clown', by that token 'do you say to a whore, were you the class slut?' or a 'hobo, were you the class failure?' but now I remember, Brits often ask him 'why do you do so much over here rather than perform in the States? Easy, if you're a comedian, you come to where all the misery is!' and I guess he's right, Britain is infused by constant misery, at least I have an excuse. That's what comedy does for people, it makes them sit up and pay attention, it's why everyone listened to my grandmothers Eulogy because my uncle is hilarious. He transformed a sad moment two years ago into an unforgettable tale of her eccentric and batty 98 year life. Dragging this back on course this is exactly what Daniel Kitson did on Thursday, in the first minute he explained that most of his show was about death or more particularly if you start every premise from the point of view we're all going to die eventually,'what is the point of anything? He then proceeded to argue his way out of this nihilistic blind alley by using a series of very personal, funny and moving examples. I may be guilty of saying quite a lot of things I go too are brilliant, but these two genuinely were, oh yes, and thanks to Jim Wild for taking me to the Apollo, we both really now know what a clever and Talented fella Rich Hall is, we'll both be buying the DVD they shot that night if only for some of his amazing improvised 2nd Half Country Songs he sang as his main alter ego 'Otis Lee Crenshaw' (a Tennessee Jailbait Hic with a penchant for Country and Western expertly taking the piss out of Southern Americans who think that the Ku Klux Clan is still a useful pressure group who don't just look stupid or his proof that every single Tom Cruise film has essentially the same plot where he's pretty good at whatever it is he does, has a crisis of confidence and then spends the rest of the movie re-exerting his expertise at whatever it is he does while getting the girl, think about it.
Changing the subject, but hopefully still keeping on the comedy tip. It's rare that I look forward to things on TV these days because watching TV is so tiring but back when I was in hospital I got addicted to the excrutiating comedy stylings of channel 4s Peep Show, it's now on series 6 and it often makes me cry with laughter. Marks inability to square his old-school values with modern political correctness often seems to have parallels with my parents often comedy struggle to understand that it's not the 1950s. It also strikes a chord between me having a bit of a posh boy ubringing with the independence I had living in London. Then there is Jeremy's ridiculous character that always refuses to take responsibility for anything, and would rather invent a ridiculous lie to further whatever situation he's in usually so he can pretend to the nearest girl that he's a proper person. Jeremy and Mark co-exist because they're so glad they're not each other, both are utterly disgusted by the other and their interplay is genius. If you've never watched it, you must! Be prepared to cry and cringe with laughter!

24 Sep 2009

Post 156: Some walking videos

I'll attempt to post some recent ones. Assuming they worked, I just want to explain, I get very disheartened doing walking practise, I do it because it's the right thing to do but it never gets any easier even if you can notice improvement, this is how far I've got in 4 years, it's fairly heartbreaking! Everything to me is obscured by the bloody fatigue. Post 113 has a walking vid (from March this year) which acts as a useful comparison, afraid I just see someone unable to walk independently.

20 Sep 2009

Post 155: A post about everything I've been up to and what's most on my mind in this purgatory

Just to follow on with the theme I started last week before the serious business of this week's post which I warn you now might not be the most original or uplifting in theme; so without further ado , let me present another example of the comedy genius of the intellectual stylings of Bernard, the PMs secretary, in 'Yes, Prime Minster': 'It's one of those irregular verbs. I have an independent mind, you are an eccentric, he is round the twist. But if mixed metaphors are your thing here's a couple that have made me laugh in casual conversation recently: 'It's all over it like a cheap rash' or the more recent 'He's a bit green behind the earsuttered accidentally by Mr Ian Betts a few weeks back. It's almost funnier when they're said accidentally and spontaneously, it makes them more absurd!
I have been debating whether to write about the following but it's been all I can think about, sadly, I discovered that despite its many advantages, facebook is a bit of a double edged sword because I stumbled upon pictures of my most recent ex girlfriend's wedding (who I was with for 7 years on and off). Now I am thankfully pretty much over her (which was one of the most difficult things I ever had to do in my life and being as physically and mentally pathetic as I am now made it a million times worse) but there was something about these pictures (she looks great and very happy with everything, her life, her husband blah di blah) and the fact that I was never told when the wedding would be exposed the wound again (I knew she was engaged which was a whole other world of pain) when she told me). Someone told me the other day: 'always look forwards, never back', this is good advice which I try and adhere to but I always fall into the trap of thinking 'what if?' I have many enemies and Demons surely this is the worst? I just don't understand this, but the facts are all there for everyone to see, but everything just feels so f*cking unfair, how someone you were closer to than anything in the universe is now out of reach forever - having no recourse and being powerless to do anything makes me feel so terrible, and I'm angry with myself for feeling like this because I don't feel I have any right to and that's because I am for the most part a logical thinker but I can't help the emotional response, it's the root of the human conditionThis is why if humans tried to replicate this they never could (christ,there have been books written, films made, even episodes of Doctor Who and Star Trek that have touched on this very problem) .
Anyway to try and take my mind off this fundamental science fiction bullsh*t I went to a couple of slightly unusual events this week and Coldplay at Wembley last night which wasn't unusual, it was just enjoyable, if not as life changing as I'd hoped but it did neatly illustrate how hard I find it to organise things. I had bought the tickets more than a year ago over the phone and I couldn't for the life of me remember which day it was on, after doing some web research I was convinced it was on the Friday, so I set about organising to go to a comedy event I had spotted online featuring a couple of excellent comedians I had seen before, Andrew Maxwell and Dan Antopolski at the grand re-opening of a place in Finsbury park called the Red Rose Comedy Club, more important than this I set towards assembling a posse of us (6 in total) to go to this. This is not easy to do, people have plans and emails and phonecalls are exhausting for me. Indeed, I have been communicating with the person in charge of the comedy club via email about tickets, parking and having to fit my wheelchair in through a side door because it won't fit through the front, and after all this the Coldplay tickets finally arrive this week and they're for Saturday. Angry and Incandescent doesn't even begin to describe it, it's more annoyance/fear at having to let people down and my fright at how much energy it'll take to undo. Is going to see Coldplay worth all this hassle? I had seen them live once before. At Crystal Palace in summer 2004 (I think) and I was blown away. Before this I only really knew about electronic music which had a time and a place but the reason Coldplay were so popular was because of a wealth of magic songs and beautiful tunes, Chris may be a knob in the same league as Bono, but he can sing amazingly. After the concert I was a convert. Some of my friends may take the piss out of my fondness for M.O.R Rock (Middle of the road rock) , but for some inexplicable reason Coldplay were being supported by Girls Aloud who did at the very least provide some visual stimulus if not musical talent, they have a couple of their own songs but the rest were covers that didn't really stand up in any way shape or form to the originals, and does anyone else see the irony in the one judging a singing contest (Cheryl Cole), being the worst singer!At least they're attractive unlike the Spice Girls, who are hell hounds by comparison! we missed the excellent White Lies with yet more MOR Rock who were on first because we figured it was going to be a long old afternoon, my friend, Alex who took me is six months pregnant and suffers from fatigue a bit like me. But thanks must go to her for taking me and her Knight in shining armour' husband Will who turned up in the Wembley Car Park afterwards to drive me home to save his wife getting over tired, This is how men should behave! For some unknown reason the awful Hip Hopster Jay Z who I'd happily chuck into a weighted burlap sack alongside 'the worst human in the world' 50 Cent and close 2nd P Diddy before pitching them into a canal. MOR rock may be nice to listen too, but hip hop is painful , a swaggering trillionaire, gotten rich off record sales to the poorest sections of American society, probably money they should have spent on food! Strutting around the stage, shouting complete nonsense into the microphone whilst telling people to 'make some noise', I don't get it, and the atmosphere becomes so aggressive, it's sh*t. I tend to let the music do the talking ie people like Keane because their music is nice to listen too. You can't get less Rock & Roll than naming your band after a prep school teacher! Last time I checked I don't care about the opinion of the Keane Haters who seem to care about this. Chris Martin and Bono may be ultra earnest tools who deserve to have their fingers snapped (Post 15) and take themselves far too seriously but they have some incredible songs, end of story. I have been guilty of playing the man and not the ball for years, eg it's human nature to hate Simply Red because of Mick Hucknall, what I'm saying is the minute Simply Red have a good song it'll be ok to like it in spite of him even though it will be hard.
The slightly unusual events I went to were a continuation of my fondness for going to the Albert hall and a continuation of my antipathy towards antipodeans! I had spied a night a long time ago that I knew my parents would like called 'The last night of the pOms', a night hosted by Sir Les Patterson and Dame Edna. Even though they've been trotting out the same material for years, older generations still find them funny. I just enjoy the way that both characters make fun of Australia. Ie by illustrating how backward (demonstrated ably by sir Les) and as a nation how pleased they are with themselves (demonstrated by Dame Edna), it was a night that we enjoyed, most importantly by my mum and her friend Aileen who happened to be visiting from America and came along instead of my dad. Dame Edna and sir Les did the kind of comedy that helps if you're over 50 and the music was certainly not a patch on some of the orchestral numbers in the proms, particularly the Australian version of 'Peter and the Wolf' - 'Peter and the Shark', guffaw,I think I managed to raise a smile, but rather like Australia, cutting-edge this was not, indeed when I was back there the next day for my next 'out of the usual' event one of the stewards told me that some of the audience had even asked for their money back. It may not have been a classic but that is an overreaction. Probably some disgruntled Australians upset that they're having a hard time this summer!
The 2nd slightly unusual thing I went to was to go and see American Folk/Blues artist Ray LaMontagne in concert at the Albert Hall the next day (Wednesday), I think when I bought the tickets for this I was just going on the fact that I'd seen his name on the bill and vaguely recognised it, it had probably helped that he'd done a collaboration with DJ hero of mine Sasha Sasha's latest album. I took my neighbour Tracey and my hilarious local friend (helpfully a LaMontagne fan), she really has been the find of moving to the sticks, because she makes everyone laugh, I call her the human antidepressant. Anyway this concert was unlike anything I'd ever been to, a totally darkened and silent Albert Hall first welcomed support acts that only had an amplified accoustic guitar and a microphone for company. We all enjoyed the 2nd support act, a guy called Josh Ritter who got everyone on side by saying that 'he had once been to the Hall when he was 10 and how standing on stage now was a dream come true' I think most people in the crowd warmed to this and his resulting set was pleasant to the ear. When Ray eventually got underway it was clear he had only a little more backing, a drummer and a guy on lead electric guitar and that was it. LaMontagne has an amazing earthy, soulful, haunting voice which is obviously his franchise, Sacha tells me his voice would melt female hearts, if that's true surely his beard there to re-solidify them, I am a bit of a pagonaphobe (someone who dislikes beards irrationally) probably because I couldn't grow one if I tried, I've been known recently to have an irrational envy to anyone who can walk so who cares what I think?
Moving on to the Coldplay gig, since I saw them 5 years ago it seems to be more about production than about amazing music. 5 years ago it was just before X&Y (a quite brilliant album) was released and so their concert was made up of the songs on X&Y which are brilliant. In my humble opinion their newer stuff is not even a patch on it. Indeed, the highlights of the concert were (like most concerts) when they played their older material (not even from X&Y, 'clocks', 'fix you' and 'Yellow' stand out. Even their heavily stage managed walk through the crowd left me a bit cold, normally I would see it as a sign of humanity, but the truth is Coldplay seem to be passed just making good music. They are more interested in putting on a spectacular, and it was spectacular, a concert of that size at the new Wembley (with a lot of the roof on) assures that but the fact that they had the physically talented but musically challenged Girls Aloud and the awful Jay Z as their support acts just didn't add up. Usually, apathy about this sort of thing rules the roost and I suspect it will again in a few minutes.
Anyway I have just come back from a lovely Sunday lunch with my ex colleagues and their significant others. Simon Dawes and his lovely wife Yvonne and their two little terrors, Joseph (6) and Isabel (4), sweet they may be but god knows how they cope, throughout the meal the noise level escalated aided by the group of randoms sitting at the table a few yards away whose 'wide-boy' credentials wouldn't have been out of place in Essex, just trying to speak was hard and would either be drowned out by Joseph or Isabelle reciting ads they'd heard on the TV or radio or the rioutous laughter emanating from Essex. Into the mix were Anna and Paul who we hadn't seen for months(Post 109). This is probably the last time Simon and I (who used to be their bosses) will see them before their wedding in December. It would be hard to find a better suited couple, they're always joking about something and Pauls deliberate bad jokes make us all laugh and roll our eyes at the same time. Todays cracker joke was 'what kind of bees make milk? Boo bees. Guffaw! :rolleyes:

13 Sep 2009

Post 154: Keeping busy this week

Unfortunately I completely forgot about the mixed metaphor this week. Instead I thought I'd include an irregular verb from Bernard, the 'Yes Prime Minister' Private Secretary,
they certainly brighten my world:
"That's another of those irregular verbs, isn't it?
I give confidential briefings,
you leak,
he is being prosecuted under section 2a of the official secrets act".
I do apologise if you don't find these as funny as me. Please bear with me. it seems summer is very definitely over, in the evenings this week it has started to feel decidedly autumnal
and on a couple of occasions, now I'm not living in the urban jungle I have heard the unmistakable honking of geese flying south for the winter in formation. Most ordinary folk would be a bit depressed about this, and I am distictly ordinary. To combat this I had the foresight (luck, surely) to have arranged to go to several things this week:
The first was the Greenwich comedy Festival
on Wedensday, live stand up comedy is my thing these days and midweek it's even better as it breaks up my week which in it's 5 day totality can feel overwhelming. I remember that feeling of impending doom when I was actually financially incentivised to get out of bed on a monday morning, and I used to actually quite like my job, imagine how it feels now. Anyway, the Greenwich Comedy festival seemed to be the answer to some question, a line-up with 3 recognisable names, I'd always wanted to see Russell Howard
live, I adore Lucy Porter
and Phil Kay
was someone I had seen on TV till his bizarre performance at the Union Chapel a couple of weeks ago, I won't be forgetting him shoving a beer bottle up his arse for some time!
Unfortunately my mate Simon Champ (onthe left)
got stuck in traffic and arrived an hour later than he planned, so we had 30 mins to get somewhere that was at least going to take us an hour and a half to get to and that includes the not exactly speedy loading me to/from the van. To his credit Champ moved bloody fast and we were standing (well Champ was) at the door of a marquee in Greenwich at 8pm, exactly an hour late. Luckily this was an event organised for Students by students whose adherence to time keeping was as good as ours and we'd only missed Lucy Porter, once I'd dried my tears at missing her because I just love her it was Phil Kays turn. Now, I have a new respect for this man because although he has one prepared song:(to the tune of Robin Hood) 'Ryanair,Ryanair,
something ain't right, how can a sandwich cost more than the flight?' etc etc..
he clearly makes the rest up, which is insanely brave when faced with a 2000+
person Crowd. He does rely on people laughing at his obvious insanity and bizarre antics, people often laughing at, rather than with has been a technique I've employed because a laughs a laugh, and I've always subscribed to the belief that making people laugh makes you and them feel good making life much better for both of you, that's why I have never been able to get on with people who take themselves too seriously and who can't laugh at themselves which has often been why I've found post-stroke life so hard because I'm not seeing as much or any humour in my situation. Russell Howard was up next.
He is a rare comedian, one who points out all the reasons to be glad to be alive. It is this relentless positiveness that gets on my nerves a bit and you find yourself thinking the only reason all these bizarre situations happen Russ is because of you which is a massive compliment to him. He has tremendous energy and enthusiasm for EVERYTHING which slightly annoys me these days where I have no energy and therefore little enthusiasm for much, it is devastating. I used to have my mums relentless energy and enthusiasm but sadly not anymore. Which brings me to my second point. The other thing that Howard pointed out was the other thing that made life worth living apart from laughter, and that is love, which is why friends and family will be top of the pecking order until by some miracle the right girl comes along. I hope this hasn't been too vomit-inducing but I sometimes can't help it. It's a simple maxim to describe the three most important things,the three Ls, life, love and laughter. It's better than the answer 42.
The other things I wanted to write about seem to have got swallowed up in all this philosophy, for yesterday (saturday) one of my old Uni housemates (Matt Hancock)
took me to the one day cricket at Lords.
Now we have already won the thing that counts (the ashes)
so I'm not quite sure if anyone cares about the one dayers but going to Lords with Matt as long as it's not cold and wet is a nice day out as the 'home of cricket'
has a unique atmosphere . The Atmosphere at sporting events is the main reason I go to them these days. My tiredness and eyesight pretty much mean I haven't got a hope of following the action. In fact yesterday I had no idea what the score even was and had to go by the crowd noise to just guess what was happening. The best bit of the whole day was England fans fuelled by booze taking the mick out of some nearby Aussies, The Aussies are lost without their usual 'lording it over the Poms attitude'. It does make me laugh! My friend Simon the Hat who emigrated to Sydney last year to be with his Aussie wife and start a family recently posted this up on Facebook
'It's great being a Pom in Australia right now FACT' Too right, I hate to sound unsporting, but they've been doing it to us for years.
The final thing if anyone's still reading is on friday night I went to a charity music gig at the Dome called Rockwell

with my physio Ian and my neighbour Tracey (who are now an item)
and it was rather enjoyable. A pretty Stellar line-up (including Lulu,
Robert Plant,
Ronan Keating (Yeugh),
Tom Jones,
Joss Stone,
Gabriela Cilme,
Beverly Knight
and a couple of the lads from Supergrass, Gaz
and Danny)
Highlights for me were Tom Jones who sang Sex Bomb and Its not Unusual, he looked so comfortable on stage even with his Grey hair. Razorlight were as usual awesome led by Jonny Borrell, known as an arrogant man. I'm afraid if I were him I'd be arrogant, he has a great voice and is clearly a talented musician and he's been linked to some fairly good looking women, it's time to shamelessly admit that I hate the b*stard. Jealously'll get me nowhere but I'm only human.
Ex Led Zepplin frontman Robert Plant was probably the highlight of the Night, he's still got an incredible voice and despite partying in the same style as Keith Richards he doesn't look like a mouldy scarecrow, he looks like he's growing old with some dignity. Lulu also started proceedings off with Shout! (what else). Basically a star-spangled night that we all enjoyed. The Dome is a great venue, even if it has in the past been let down by it's clientele (ie you're never more than 5 yards from an episode of Trisha) but thankfully a lot of chavs were probably put off by the quality of the lineup. I'm sure the Charity (Nordoff Robbins who fund music therapy did very well. Being a recipient of Music Therapy in hospital I would say it's a worthy cause.



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