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27 Apr 2009

Post 124: Being taken to dinner again by the Tonbridge guys

I know it's a bit bloody idle of me but what I want to say is exactly the same as in post 102, copy and paste this if you can't be arsed http://survivingastroke.blogspot.com/2009/02/post-102-being-treated-to-dinner-by.html.

Thanks, Gibbo, Jon (Maynard), Dave (Makey) and Jim (Pyemont) and congratulations Jim on your engagement. Fantastic news! I look forward to going down to Tonbridge in the summer to watch a cricket match and treating these guys to lunch.

26 Apr 2009

Post 123: Enrolling in a writing course and anticipating a visit

I bit the bullet yesterday and enrolled on a creative writing course which I can do from my computer. The course is modular and importantly should not put pressure on my rubbish timekeeping or shocking typing speed. There's also no form of exam at the end which is good news because I don't think I could handle any pressure. I also feel that during my lifetime I've done enough f*&^%!#*! exams, I point-blank refuse to do anymore. The aim of this is to try and give some solid foundations to this stream of effluent. Ultimately one day I'd hope to write a fiction or non-fiction book or perhaps be a freelance features writer or some other rubbish to do with writing. One thing that does get me though is the way that a lot of the first module materials talk about 'enjoying' writing. Let's be clear, I write my blog because there's nothing else I can do. I can't read books, magazines or newspapers, even watching the TV is a mission because of my fatigue. Every second I'm not in bed resting, I feel like I'm missing an opportunity to potentially feel better but I never do feel better. I don't know what I'm resting for? I feel like I'm spending the time in bed so I can feel dreadful later, it reminds me of the chorus from that Del Amitri song, no, I'm not a big Del Amitri fan.

'Nothing ever happens, nothing happens at all
The needle returns to the start of the song And we all sing along like before'

I feel like some sort of pathetic hamster perpetually going round in it's wheel, never getting anywhere, it's so demoralising for me but also (and this is the bit that really worries me) All those who deal with me or even read this. God, this blog probably reads like one long suicide note, which I'm very against (reasoning in post 76). This goes back to the co-dependence I mentioned in the last post. I always seem to need a shoulder to cry on these days, when I used to be the shoulder and I don't fully understand why I cry so much these days. OK, there's the obvious, that I've been reduced to a fraction of my former self but as stroke survivors go I'm fairly well off. Like I've said before this is great but can NEVER make-up for what I've lost. Sheesh being permanently stationed at the playboy mansion
being fellated by a queue of playboy bunnies, apologies for crudeness but some Muslims have been known to blow themselves up for less, but no matter, if I felt like this, it wouldn't be enough. Right now, I'm aware that I'm a hard man to please, and it's sadly not as easy as having a word with myself.
Anyway, I need to change the subject – doubtless something this writing course will do more subtedly compared to my usual sledgehammer approach.
I suppose what I am looking forward to this weekend is the visit from friends and legends 'Simon the Hat' and Ian Betts both of whom I have mentioned on this blog, seperately they have always been two of the funniest men I have had the privilege to know, together they are a classic case of 'the whole being greater than the sum of the parts'. Hat has now moved to Australia because his lovely wife Lorena is Australian. They are only over in the UK for a month ostensibly to introduce their new son Archie or 'the Arch' to us poms. I would imagine that becoming a Dad has rather mellowed 'the Hat', at least I'd hope so, being a father has certainly brought out the best in Betts but has not diminished his sense of humour, and some of the email exchanges I've had with 'the Hat' tell me that the same is true of him. Legends.

24 Apr 2009

Post 122: Trying to explain my own philosophy



I'm no psychologist (you might have noticed) but I have often tried to judge how life is going based on a method of my own devising, probably not a very revolutionary method but it used to give me a roughly objective measure of where I stood and more importantly it allowed me to know what I had to do to improve things. I'll try roughly to describe it and how it worked. Remember this came off the top of my head!
I used to divide my life into categories or buckets, so the input was totally subjective, and each bucket was a different weight, again selected totally subjectively, depending on what felt important to me at the time and in my head I could tot all these buckets up and it would spit out an overall positive or a minus, dependent on the relative contributions of each bucket towards this total, I would know what I needed to work on to improve my overall level of happiness or as J.S. Mill would say, my 'utility'. That's virtually all the Philosophy from my first year at Uni that I remember, oh and some nonsense uttered by Descartes like 'Cogito ergo sum' or something, all very relevant to the real world. I do remember that most philosophy texts seemed to be in double dutch. I soon ditched Philosophy as too much of a headf*ck, too esoteric and weird to be of any help to anyone.
Back to my own bucket method, the title of each bucket is stage two. It's important to note that there will be some constant titles but buckets can come and go depending on what is important and what you think affects your overall level of 'utility' or 'happiness'. My headings before my stroke were 'lovelife' which to me was the most important followed by 'finances', mainly because they were a constant source of stress,- can I afford my next mortgage payment? How much, no seriously, HOW much debt am in? Can I afford to go out this weekend?Am I allowed to go out? Can I afford to eat? In that order usually! The next bucket was 'how am I feeling in myself?' the 'health' bucket, The next was 'friends', how am I getting on with people,how is such and such etc?', followed by 'work','how's the latest project going?', 'how am I getting on with my boss and co-workers etc? 'how's my team doing etc?'
These were the main buckets then, Lovelife, Finances, Health, Friends,Job and then various smaller less important buckets that were usually very time specific like 'hows my DJing?' I've got an important gig in three weeks' etc, or 'how's my golf?' and totting up all these things would tell me how life was going and roughly the area to focus on to improve things. Usually each column/bucket has some sort of knock-on into other columns because the limiting factors were time and energy, with limitless time and energy, even after a stroke life might be easier. I'm sure that most people have some sort of internal rudder like this it's just that mine is rather more 'analytical. Well I was a career analyst. A word that you can't spell without the word 'anal' as I'm oft fond of pointing out. Or the words that have had most relevance since my stroke 'therapist' which you can't spell without the word 'rapist' or psychologist without 'psycho'. Well, these things make me chuckle anyway.
I think the reason why I broke this down so discretely and logically is so I could explain it and discuss it with other people and try and make them understand how I thought and how I made decisions on prioritizing some things over others. For as long as I can remember I have been the type of person who values getting someone else's opinion before doing something and in a conversation I had with Vicki my wonderful psychologist, she mentioned that I sounded a bit co-dependent, in other words, that I find it hard to function (on any level) – without a partner. To be clear before my stroke this wasn't so much an issue, I was very independent. I was very heavily in love because for as long as I can remember women have been the most important thing in my life. I have always been in need of affection so it's small wonder that since my stroke I've been such a misery, both my health and lovelife columns are heavily in negative territory. Even now I still don't know where either of these stand and what's worse is I feel powerless to do anything to quickly change either of these two. Finances are for once ok, I may have very low income, but I also have very low outgoings. The main ones being food, household bills and concert tickets. All therapy is (so kindly) handled by the Dom Pardey Trust who through the immense kindness of a network of donors raise enough money for my continued physiotherapy. This is such an enormous weight off my mind because there is no way I would be able to afford the current level of physical therapy I currently have on my own meagre income. I treat my physical therapy and any other appointments I have as my job. There is a slight problem with this, the work is relentless and there are no short term rewards, I don't even know what I'm working towards because even when I can walk independently it will be virtually unrecognizable. The only physio who has told me I have a chance of walking independently again is Ian (the guy I'm working with at the moment). All the others have ruled it out. Ian's approach is exercise,exercise and more exercise. So far I have done everything he's asked but it's not getting easier, quite the opposite, I just feel more exhausted and can never feel or see the improvement he and everyone else says they can see. This should be building up my health column but paradoxically it's depleting it . The health column used to get built up by going to the gym and that feeling of wellbeing you'd get afterwards or giving up drinking for a moth but even though I haven't drunk properly for more than three years I no longer get that feeling of sharpness/restedness, there's no longer that feeling of wellbeing after exercise.
The only positive that I can identify by my crude bucket psychology system is that the friend column has either increased or is much higher than I first thought, Basically I know what I have to do, I just don't feel capable of doing a lot of it and because I'm so co-dependent these days I feel the need to tell the world, this is my problem, I should be able to deal with it, but I don't feel tough enough anymore.

19 Apr 2009

Post 121: BBQ Season begins and a bit of Russell Brand

A few things to talk about today to describe this week, well, four to be precise, 2 good, 1 disappointing, and one not so good, one of the good things literally just happened too so on balance another mediocre week I'm afraid, no big changes in anything, which I ought to give up hoping for because stroke recovery is about gradual change and I guess life before was about big changes and incidents. Buying a house, changing your job, getting a girlfriend,taking an amazing holiday etc, these are all big events/changes. My life now seems to be characterized by perpetual nothingness and very gradual slow changes, you would have thought I'd be used to it by now but no siree Bob, I do try and inject as much excitement into my life as possible but it never works. So moving on to the things that have been front of mind this week, so as to finish on a high note, I'll start with the less good stuff. Firstly, my inability to travel independently has really upset me this week. One or two people I really want/need to see are just too busy for coming to see me to feature in their plans. There is nothing I can do at all about this. What I do try and do is send imploring e-mails. This makes me feel needy and pathetic, to be clear there is little I hate doing more. I frequently tell myself to 'toughen up' but why should I listen to myself, no-one listens to weak, pathetic people in the real world, why should I now. You're probably watching my descent into insanity with a mixture of concern,bewilderment,apathy and amusement, but apparently the key to good mental health according to John Lake (an inspirational friend of a friend who I recently met who had a brain tumour, mental health issues and has made an amazing recovery) is to listen to yourself and change your mindset to escape those downward cycles. I wish I could, I just can't seem to make it happen. The second thing that has knocked me a bit this week has been someone whose opinion I respect telling me that the content of a lot of this blog was shallow and unduly negative, well the reason I might come across as negative,any guesses?
Because I feel I've lost everything.
Sure, things could be even worse, but holding on to the theoretical positive this creates is not enough and just stupid and can't ever make up for what has happened. As for being shallow, so what? Who doesn't prefer at first glance pretty girls to ugly ones? This experience has taught me there are far more important things in the mid to long term and that you should never write people off based on external characteristics, this is not shallowness, this is prejudice and I really don't think I'm prejudiced, everyone deserves a chance before being written off as an oxygen-stealer, which paradoxically is often what I feel I've become. All there now is is breathing in and breathing out, oh, and feeling tired.
So that is how low I have felt this week, the mitigating things were going to see Russell Brand at the Dome

on friday. Say what you like about him but here is a man clearly enjoying life. The BBCR2/Jonathan Ross/Andrew Sachs scandal
has clearly made him even more famous, enough for him to base an entire show around it, call it 'Scandalous' and fill some of the biggest arena's up and down the country. This has swelled his already mahoosive (self-confessed thank god) ego to outlandish proportions and allows him to get away with wearing black womens leggings or as he calls them 'testosterousers' and say things like ' without fame, this hair just looks like mental illness' – and that is his gift, the ability to ridicule the things he says and does in front of vast audiences. He says he says and does the things that he does because of his personal 'mental illness' which as far as I can tell is to visualize the most ridiculously inappropriate thing in every situation and to occasionaly vocalize it but always giggle about it. e.g at the Royal Variety performance when standing in line to meet the queen. Having already been told the etiquette by the queens footmen 'it's ma'am as in arm not ma'am as in jam, don't curtsy, she won't find it funny, bow from the neck, not from the waist etc.. etc..', he said he had to take all this on board while somehow keeping a straight face whilst standing next to the lyrical car horn voiced moron that is James Blunt, a man who through when he was with the household cavalry 'had previous with the queen' and is never easy to stand next to at the best of times. Brand then said his mental illness took over and his mind started to wander to what would happen if he tipped the cup of tea he was holding all over the queen He didn't but he had 'considerable' trouble stopping himself. Once he had stopped himself doing that he began to fantasize about making a grab for her maj's breasts. He said he had less difficulty stopping himself doing that, how shallow!Big thanks go to my friend Sacha for doing a near flawless job of accompanying me despite it being her first time loading me in the van. I knew she'd do it fine and she really enjoyed the comedy because I remembered her saying ages ago that Brand was 'her type'. I guess that rules out anyone I or my friends know.
Despite going to see Russel Brand being a good night the week was virtually salvaged by the BBQ I've just had at my house to take advantage of the beautiful spring sunshine. The BBQ and my friends being lovely (well done Tony for organizing it and long may they continue etc....) I say virtually salvaged because I'm still exhausted by it and being honest I feel dreadful. It's a horrible dichotomy, I need my friends more than ever and seeing them gives me a lift but my fatigue is so acute that I don't feel I acquit myself anything like satisfactorily and I feel awful at the end. It's so hard . At times like this I get so mad at medical science being able to do nothing. What a load of useless bastards.

14 Apr 2009

Post 120: More Ranting about Easter and there not being a god and some other stuff

This post will very definitely appear in several parts for several reasons:
1.I've been busy. I only got back from the Easter weekend at my parents house with my family (including my sister and her monsters, er kids, they may look like butter wouldn't melt but don't be fooled.
The kids are quite funny really, the two boys, Charlie, 6 and Rory, 10 are very American, accents and all, but the girl Madelaine,8 is sometimes American, Sometimes sounding more like Hermione from Harry Potter, she has clearly worked out that she can get whatever she wants with that accent at that age in the states. She is the smart one after all, the inadvertent high point of the weekend was when my dad (obviously joking said to 'spawn of satan' Charlie 'if you ring that doorbell again, I'm going to rip your head off'. Way to go Dad!
2.I should be resting; I only got back at midday today,I was immediately taken out to lunch by Markus and Judy Buhmann. Back in the day, Markus was my Djing protege meaning he would occasionally nip around to my house for a mix. I think these days he would be a shedload better than I ever was, at least I hope so. Then as soon as I got home the lovely Vicki was waiting to give me my hour of counselling, she has really turned things round for me – it's amazing what someone nice to talk to regularly can achieve especially when you're as emotionally frail as I am.
3.I have already written quite a bit of it on my computer and it’s got one or two important things I need to say in it so here goes:
I can't work out the last week gone at all. There have been a hotch potch of things that have seen my mood yo-yo. On the good side my new housekeeper/housemate/carer has arrived which has taken a massive weight off my mind. Another 50ish year old south african lady. People would be forgiven for thinking that I and my family clearly think the world would stop turning without them. My grandmother before she died had a live in middle aged south african lady as her carer. They really are indispensable and Adrienne, the lady who has bravely agreed to put up with me ticks all the boxes and is honest, compared to a certain lady I'd love to name but she has already demanded that I apologise for bismirching her 'impeccable' character and this blog is not about me grinding axes, I can't be arsed and don't have the energy. In the negative column for this week, there have been one or two people I've really wanted/ no needed to see for my mental health to have been ok, but
The other thing is that I have been to one or two events I want to
talk about but seeing as it’s Easter weekend now seems as good a time
as any to continue my rant against religion that I started in post
111.  Firstly, I would like to apologise to my religious friends for
what they possibly could read if they don’t stop right here.
I was inspired to continue my rant by going to see my mother sing in
Handel’s Messiah in Tonbridge School chapel on saturday. My first
thought was that both this magnificent piece of music and this amazing
building both existed to pay tribute to something that was clearly
nonsense.  Even worse, Tonbridge Chapel burnt down in the 80s, the
magnificent structure that now exists (apparently the most expensive
building of it’s type built in 20th Century Britain. Thanks for that
colossal waste of time, effort and money God.  When I was a pupil at
Tonbridge from 90-95, the chapel lay in ruins and the whole school was
forcibly herded into a temporary wooden shed every morning to listen
to some claptrap about a bloke named Jesus who allowed himself to die
in the most horrific and painful way imaginable a couple of thousand
years ago.  Ah ha – suddenly it all makes sense, the last two thousand
years have been about revenge.  Even this interpretation gives
religion too much credit and acknowledges the presence of some sort of
Supreme Being which I think is arse gravy of the highest order.
Instead I feel ready to pronounce a new theory consistent with Bill
Bailey’s theory about the assassination of Diana, (i.e. that she was
killed by a shadowy cabal of mug manufacturers), given that some of the
most magnificent buildings in the world are religious edifices,
religion could be a conspiracy of a shadowy cabal of builders or for convenience sake let’s say the freemasons, as blaming them for things is fashionable, as a lapsed mason
myself, something I joined in my student days as another way of
getting pissed with my mates.  Thinking about it now I don’t agree
with any of the stuff they stood for, elitism, secrecy, bizarre
rituals and belief in a supreme being, they couldn’t even tell me off
now for potentially revealing the secrets of freemasonry, I couldn’t
if I wanted to because I’ve forgotten them – they’re that memorable,
sod it, you could probably google them.
Anyway, back to the concert, even though I struggled to think of
anything else bar ‘all this effort for a load of old nonsense’. Even
though that was my enduring thought, I also rather enjoyed it because
I tend to mostly enjoy things I can absorb through my eyelids.
  Even though I went to Tonbridge school over 15 years ago this was the
first time I’d ever been in the rebuilt chapel which has been restored
quite well. It’s easy to see where all that money went. There’s even a
handmade organ that was built in Denmark. No-one saw Tonbridge School
coming then! It’s definitely a school chapel rather than a public
venue though. Helpfully, both disabled loos are up large steps, clearly they had thought that through,
something that almost spoilt my night but luckily I was able to
squeeze my wheelchair into a womens toilet in the interval. As the
queue outside got longer and longer and the comments got louder the
thought did cross my mind that it may be almost preferable being
seriously disabled to being a woman, nah, they’ve got breasts I
childishly thought, swings and roundabouts I suppose. What also struck
me was to do with the 4 soloists, The soprano was a rather gorgeous
girl who also sang quite well, the Alto was a rubbish old woman, even
I could tell she wasn’t very good, the tenor had what I can only
describe as an ‘unforgivable’ haircut, we’re talking a cross between a
king Charles spaniel and Kevin Keegans permed Mullet. I was offended
and I’m speaking as the past owner of one or two ‘unforgivable’
haircuts. The bass had a great voice but kept reminding me of that
Bugs Bunny cartoon of the opera singer who causes the collapse of an
Opera House with a sustained note. If you haven’t seen this episode
it’s a Christmas classic! God my mind works in odd ways
  The other thing I wanted to talk about was what my friend Ric
Sanderson took me to on Thursday evening, an Easter comedy
extravaganza in aid of Sue Ryder care at the Pleasance Theatre in
Islington. Ric is only over from Chicago with his lovely wife Becky
and gorgeous 3 year old daughter Zoe (Post 118) for a few days and
Thursday was the only night he had free and this comedy night looked
promising. For starters Ric drove impeccably, for a man used to an
automatic and driving on the wrong side of the road. Once we had
realised that the sat nav had taken us to the wrong place because we
had put the postcode in wrong. An easy mistake to make (it was N7, not
N1!) we finally got there and the evening was rather good bearing in
mind that ‘charidee’ events can be a bit hit and miss with the
occasional act being dross! Luckily there were only a couple of these
on this particular night whose names I fortunately forget, one was a
take off of a chav shop assistant called Leanne, whilst there were two
lame ‘comedy’ magicians who did a trick that I probably would have
been quite impressed with if I could have actually seen it! (despite
being in the front row, my eyesight is really screwed!)
Highlights of the evening were the brilliant compere (a northern bloke
called Rob Rous) who told a hilarious story about his dog fellating
itself at Christmas in front of the whole family.  Then was the first
act, a guy called Dan Antopolski who was hilarious – particularly his
professor-bit about how he had googled and created a chart about the
past, present and future probability of laughing a particular part of
your anatomy off. This made way for the big surprise of the evening,
the appearance on stage of a girl that I find even more gorgeous than
Lily Allen, the incredibly cute and hilarious Lucy Porter (post 106).
Going to see her on her own would have been worth the ticket price
alone but I honestly hadn’t known she was on the bill. What a lovely
surprise. She rather adorably took the audience through a ’bunty’
comic from the early 80s where the pin-ups were caricatures of whoever
was the tank top wearing Dr Who of the day and rather shockingly
(including big hair), Noel Edmonds, she had also found a TV Times from
a similar age with a letter complaining about Jim Davidson’s racism.
Granada TV’s inadvertently hilarious reply started ‘we are sorry if he
caused offence, Jim Davidson is one of our least racial comedians.
Last on, the headliner whose name had caused me to go for these
tickets in the first place – Richard Herring.
  I had seen him on TV a couple of times and I’d found him pretty funny
but I wasn’t 100% sure I’d appreciate his unkempt, unhealthy
forty-something trying to recapture his long-lost youth by eating more
junk food, drinking heavily and getting rejected continually by every
girl he approached. I don’t need a comedian to do that for me. I may
be younger and have been forced to give up junk food and booze but my
life now seems to have parallel themes, and they’re no laughing
matter. He started well by apologising that because this was a charity
gig his normal material was too filthy to be appropriate, he then
proceeded to tell one of the funniest (and clever) jokes I have ever
heard. He said that he had recently decided to live his life by the
following motto ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’ but how this doesn’t
quite workout with someone ‘who is their own worst enemy’ and was even
worse with an enemy who had decided to live their life by the motto
‘you keep your friends close but your enemies closer. My favourite
kind of jokes those. Finally, I went out to lunch with a few of my
friends on Saturday organised by the legend that is Tony, with Dom
Ellis and his lovely wife Pam. He’s trying to decide whether to take a
job in Cape Town, obviously it will be sad to lose them overseas if he
says yes but Cape Town is in my opinion the best city on Earth having
been there a couple of times in the last ten years. Also in attendance
were Nick and Sally Walmsley and their awesome 14 month old son Oscar,
who has changed my mind about kids, He’s great. Sal told this great
story about the ecstatic rapture that crossed his face when he first
had Ice Cream! Like his Dad the mini-Walm is a big fan of food. Tony
(the git) went on to win ‘several hundreds’ of pounds by backing the
winner of the US masters golf. He always does something like that, Kate better at least get a decent candlelit dinner out of it!
 

5 Apr 2009

119: A difficult w/e and elaborating on last week

I briefly touched on what I wanted to ramble about in the last post. Namely, going to see Mark Watson on Wednesday and my trip to the Albert hall on Friday. I'll come to them in a minute. As someone with far too much time on his hands and worse still, time that I am unable to use because of what's happened to me, I spend far too much time thinking about the human condition. As a human (allegedly) , I believe there are three main things that make us unhappy/pissed off/angry even, and I suffer from all three in spades, I had issues with all of these before my stroke but being this way has served to sharpen them all, and worse still, let them intermingle and combine, these are of course LONELINESS, FEAR and UNCERTAINTY and they are heightened by a weekend alone. Sure, Ian my physio, was able to come round last night and cook me dinner at the last minute, Megan and Jon are coming to take me out for lunch at 2 today but that doesn't detract from that feeling of emptiness I had last night when I went to bed. It's all down to not being able to do what I want anymore. At weekends in the old days for starters I wouldn't be in constant fear, and what's worse is I'm not even sure what I'm afraid of! I think it's just fear of not being able to do exactly what I want when I think of it. It's rubbish and now I have to plan everything meticulously (never a particular strength), I also have to know where everything is because I can't look for things anymore. I have neither the physical or mental energy or physical ability. This shouldn't be a problem and it never used to be but things couldn't be more different now. I have been told by lots of different people not to dwell on the past but I can't help it, it's the only frame of reference I've got! It's compounded further by me leaving swathes of time free in my calendar on the off-chance that the people I really want to see are around this weekend. As it turns out they're not. Try persuading someone in my mental state that it's because they'd rather watch paint dry than see me, in the old world I was the type of person people wanted to spend time with, since my stroke I'm not anymore. It's as simple as that. Prove me wrong. Sorry about this, I feel particularly sh*t today, it feels a bit pointless trying to talk about those other things now, when I'm in this mood but I've just come back from taking Megan and fiance Jon for a lovely sunday lunch at the bear so I'll give it a go. First, on Wednesday night I took friends Steve and Naomi and Will and Chris (photos in previous post)to go and see one of my favourite comedians and frequent guest on BBC2's Mock the Week, Mark Watson. His style is that of motormouth vocalizer of his internal monologue, using continual reductio ad absurdum logic which makes the most mundane thing funny. His manner and look reminded Steve of our friend Simon W (picture at bottom of post 116 ) except with dark hair, a welsh accent and with a considerably cleaner sense of humour. At only 29, yet another one of these guys younger than me and I think how brave these guys are to make the decision that they can be consistently funny enough that they can stand up night in/night out and make people laugh. Clearly people have said things like this to Watson before because he thinks this kind of bravery is nothing compared to say, a nurse – I would just say it's different types of bravery – whereas the stand up comedian is always putting his self esteem on the line and seeking the satisfaction of making people laugh – a fine feeling indeed, a nurse is always putting their trust in themselves on the line (at least this is what I think). A nurse is selflessly projecting the trust they have in themselves into the implied trust that patients have for them. I wish this was the case having been at the thick end of this for the two years I was in hospital , I have a lot of respect for nurses because of some of the stuff they actually do but (particularly the agency ones) are just doing it to get paid and to get in and out of the hospital as fast as they can without killing anyone. One would expect nurses to be caring, kind people looking to help others. Sure, this was sometimes true, but was the exception .I found a lot of nurses to be cold, detached, self interested people who were keener on insulating themselves from what they had to deal with. Maybe that's just Stroke rehab nurses? Fed up with the daily grind of having to continually deal with disabled people whereas it's more go on a regular hospital ward Saving lives and doing different stuff more regularly.Anyway this shouldn't detract from the people I think are seriously brave. A&E Doctors and Nurses. The sort of Heroes that saved my life. I am in bewildered awe of them. We all should be.
The other thing I was taken too on Friday evening by Jackie & Selwyn, If you don't know they are they feature quite frequently in this blog, they are amazing friends . It's hard to imagine not knowing them, they have made such a difference. When they retire to Portugal soon we'll all be much worse off! Anyway, they took me to the Albert Hall on friday evening to see, 'Symphonic Rock' The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO
playing a selection of recognisable rock songs. I love going to the Royal Albert Hall, particularly to see musical things. It's unique Architecture and unparalleled accoustics truly make it one of the wonders of the world. If I am to have one criticism it is that it sometimes feels a bit twee as if you shouldn't touch anything .More like a library than a concert venue with the Ushers in their smart red coats always telling you what you can't do. All part of it's charm I suppose? The low point of the evening for me was sadly the compere, obviously a recognisable voice from Radio 2 88-91 called Ken Bruce. Seeing as I've never listened to Radio 2 his jokes were lost on me. After telling the audience he had been on R2 from 88-91, he hilariously quipped that this would probably be 'the age when Terry Wogan would retire'. I braced myself for a mother-in-law joke, thankfully, none was forthcoming and for the rest of the show he was more useful than 'humerous' and he clearly shared my opinion that the song of the night was the haunting awe inspiring 'Nights in White Satin' by 'The Moody Blues'. Bohemian Rhapsody', 'Walk like an Egyptian' and 'Bittersweet Symphony' were also worthy of an honourable mention. There's simply the extra sound that an Orchestra brings to these songs, particularly one as good as the RPO in the greatest venue in the world. Not something I'd normally go to but I loved it. Non Visual things are so much my kind of thing. Most things I have to watch (with my eyes) are cripplingly (pathetically) tiring for me.

4 Apr 2009

Post 118:A Slightly self indulgent look at the past



I wrote the bulk of this a few days back and since then I've been to a couple of brilliant things (symphonic Rock at the Royal Albert Hall courtesy of Selwyn and Jackie and to see one of my favourite comedians Mark Watson in a shed in Maidenhead I was taken by legendary friends, Steve and his lovely wife Naomi(known as Gnomes) and the Dugdale brothers (I know Will from University and used to play golf with him, His brother Chris is one of the worlds best Close Up magicians. People at my 32nd birthday will never forget his amazing tricks there, and seen lovely friends Rick and Becky Sanderson who are on a whistlestop visit from the states and to give you an idea how long its been I had never met their beautiful 3 year old Zoe. who rather sweetly gave me a Dandelion as a present. It was so good to see them. My friend Vicky Denning met her husband PJ at their amazing wedding in Maine in 2004,yes, this picture was taken from where we had the drinks afterwards on the actual evening, it's hard to imagine a more perfect setting, I was a miserable git for most of that trip because I had recently quit smoking! This got me looking back through some of my old photo's and somewhat self indulgently I might post a couple here.
Apologies to those with slow internet connections.
Well for a change I have some news to report. On the face of it it's good news but with my customary approach I have unfortunately had to let the bad news win the day. Typical. Starting with the good news. It has been a strugglathon without Av but I think I might have found someone to replace her. An early 50s South African Lady called Adrienne. She seems very nice and assures me she has no skeletons lurking in her closet. I don't think I'm a mug! Anyway she's starting on Wedensday 8th and I can't wait. In the meantime I've had some lovely visitors, Vicky Denning and her gorgeous 12 week old daughter Jemima. Now Vicky is like the sister my age I never had: She was my housemate in Oxford and then in London making me get my arse in gear to find and buy my flat when out of the blue she announced she was moving out because she had found herself a place to buy. This jolted me into action and I managed to pull my finger out with my Brixton place being the result. I had one too many parties and my clinically insane German neighbour Hildegard who oddly I miss, I don't think anyone in attendance will ever forget the time she stuck her head out of her window and shouted 'nein, nein, turn It down!'. I think we were probably each others nemesis! Mad as she was I was fond of the old girl. Despite the occasional loud party at silly times of the night, I became her blue eyed boy when I started at John Lewis because she had spent the best part of her career in the Oxford Street branch of John Lewis on the haberdashery stand. A bonkers coincidence because Haberdashery was one of the areas I was responsible for, you couldn't make this kind of coincidence up! I used to drop by and check she was ok from time to time and to mutter the odd apology or bribe her with a bottle of wine.. This approach worked far better than the nasty early confrontations we had. I hate to imagine what she initially thought of me! It doesn't bear thinking or caring about. To my knowledge she's still going strong (and loud and barking) and she was last heard of being the thorn in the side of my tenants! I loved living there despite it being in lovely Brixton. One of these days I hope to be independent enough to go back there but I don't imagine that'll be for years. Despite it being on the ground floor it is completely unsuitable for a wheelchair and Brixton is no place for anyone (I could just leave it at that) remotely disabled. I might as well get 'Easy Target' tatooed on my forehead, the local scum used to leave me well alone, It's funny how they give you a wide berth when you're 6'3”. I haven't seen anyone I'd describe as scum in Oxshott, apart from the odd Chelsea Footballer razzing it around in their latest Aston Martin! Apparently Oxshotts full of them because their training ground is just down the road in Cobham. This place literally couldn't be further removed from where I used to live, a contrast hilariously illustrated by my friend Jakes hilarious comment ' I was going through Oxshott station on the way to Guildford and stations with well watered hanging baskets and no vandalism always make me look up and take notice ( He's not gay BTW!) compare this to Brixton (where he also lived) where you're up to your eyeballs in used needles and crackpipes at the overground station, any hanging baskets would long ago have been nicked so that the local hoodlums could plant Marijuana in them (probably). So wheelchair use and serious disability may have got me more salubrious surroundings but it has come at an enormous physical price as well as being approximately ten years too early to trade in my dancing shoes for the metaphorical pipe & slippers. As you have probably guessed this quite upsets me during my many (and frequent) introspective moments. It's hard to imagine that my life is anything but over. I have very little left. I have lost everything, my job, my flat, the girl that I love, my independence, my Djing hobby, my golf handicap of 2,luckily, my friends have stayed loyal despite the fact that I often feel the stroke has taken most of me away. My aim in life now is to fall in love again and regain as much of my physical self as I can – I hope that's not asking too much. I really hope not.

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