31 Jul 2010

Post 223: My Welsh adventure for Julie and Luke's wedding: Not an ideal holiday but not a nightmare

What went through my mind for most of the 5 hour plus drive on the way there was: I used to go on great and fun holidays to places like south Africa, Ibiza, Bordeaux, Maine, or skiing in America and mostly with big groups of friends, and here I was going to (driving courtesy of dad) to the Pembrokeshire coast for a week with my family to the *rse end of nowhere for my first 'holiday' in four and a half years.
Firstly, I have always associated the extremities of the British Isles with wind, rain or drizzle and sure enough when I awoke last Saturday, the wedding day, drizzle! Thankfully this cleared and we didn't rely on the ever hopeful mantra that is normally b*llocks, 'it's brightening up'.
Secondly, age 33 – going on holiday with my mum and Dad, my brother, brother in law and sister plus her brood was not exactly my first choice of holiday companions! But needs must these days. I was terrified, both of the unknown terrain and of how exhausting I'd find it.
I had perhaps unkindly muttered the week before that it was a little self indulgent of a couple who live in Brixton to decamp for a ten hour round trip for what amounted to a party given that they had had a quickie registry office job in London the week before. I told myself to shut up when I saw the setting, a beautiful place called Upton House nr Carew Castle nr Cresselly. A place so in the middle of nowhere I daresay some of the locals get lost or don't even know they live there! I now understand why brides (it seems to be their prerogative to not give a toss about anyone else and quite rightly so!) sometimes choose these seemingly ridiculous places. It is the most important moment in their lives, they want their friends and family to show how much they care about them by making the effort to be there at what to them is the most beautiful and secluded place in the world where nothing else matters. The atmosphere was magical. A cliché it may be, but what a good one! I've said it before but I've been to the wedding of some good-looking couples but Julie and Luke surely take the prize for being the best-looking ever.
Julie has always been the type of girl all the boys want to know, indeed when I introduced her to some of my friends at school they suddenly became better friends, until of course her brother Danny, arrived at school two years later, here was a more direct connection to this babe!
Anyway, the Welsh connection is that my mothers brother Ian (still the funniest speech giver I have ever seen despite confessing to me before his speech that he was f*cking nervous')has got a rundown farmhouse that we've been going too since we were kids, I'd last been down this neck of the woods when Julies older sister Nicky(who sang so beautifully at Julies wedding it reminded me she had been a singer once)She had got married in a quaint old hotel called Druidstone which overlooked one of the many Welsh beaches (post 44). Mum had plumped for us all to stay in a centerparcs style place called Bluestone near nowhere or other that the Sat Nav had never even heard of. When we got there we could scarcely believe this place – my first comment was it felt like the kind of place they'd set Friday 13th crossed with Scary Movie, lots of chalets interconnected by more tarmac than I'd seen since the Farnborough airshow, we soon ascertained that this place was run by the Banks on the basis that the running costs of a place like this are manageable but paying off the initial loans aren't. I was sharing a chalet with Mum and Dad (joy) on the basis that it had a wetroom and a wheelchair accessible bedroom (in practice this means there is just enough space to park my wheelchair by the side of the bed) now at home I have strategically placed bars so I can get it and out of bed and move about virtually unaided. In Bluestone there were none of these so my dad had to help me in and out of bed. Luckily this is not a task that requires strength so in future a girlfriend/friend could do this ( this is my key positive takeaway from this). Bluestone also had a massive waterpark where I was able to be wheeled into the pool everyday, It gave me something to do during the mornings but it is difficult to describe how exhausted I felt afterwards and it was always a little unsettling always feeling like I was going to drown, in fact it is humilating struggling in such a public place! There was also an indoor adventure centre, how they had managed to borrow the money to build this place beggars belief? The lending officer must have been on drugs! 'it's where you say'? 'five hours from London, in the middle of nowhere.''and what's the average rainfall and temperature you say. I then have images of the ideas man slipping something in the Lending guys drink.
Anyway back to Bluestone, my sisters three kids (average age nine) were in heaven, They are sweet kids and in photographs look like butter wouldn't melt but (and there's always a but) chronic fatigue plus these three angels is not a soluble equation. It doesn't help they are three very American children and no doubt because their schoolmates get given everything they want I feel they are ludicrously overindulged apparently though this is fine because I was overindulged when I was their age. This, to me sounds like a ridiculous case of two wrongs making a right. I don't know what to say other than, that was then, this is now and I have to live with the fact that yes, my stroke might have made me less tolerant, what more can I say?
All in all though, it's a week I'm glad I did. I wish I could say I've come back feeling brand new. That is not going to happen. It is a week that has allowed me to clarify my thoughts (a bit) and try and iron out some projects and goals. I will also remember it for the conversations I had with lovely Karuna and the ever mad Alice and the fact that the string quartet violinist who I remembered because of his ultra-distinguished 'dads army' grey moustache totally unprompted came up to me and said 'I remember you from Nickys wedding two years ago, you look a hell of a lot better'

It was a hell of an effort but an effort worth making. Big thanks go to my whole extended family, especially my parents who have at times admitted to giving up trying to understand what it's like being like this. I can't say I blame them. I don't expect anyone to understand this because none of you have been in my position and hopefully you never will. I just hope people try and understand what this is like
I haven't quite finished, there was one picture which to me simply said 'you've failed with your f*cking life', Here it is:

24 Jul 2010

I'm in Wales: a proper post next monday; I'm still on email though

This assumes that anybody cares but it's my cousins wedding in 3 hours and then a week with my family. If I survive I'll write something next week.

18 Jul 2010

Post 222: Live aid: A Great thing but I've no truck for people who rely on luck

I am in a rare position this week, I know what I'm going to write about this week and next, this week is going to be about the rather remarkable TV program which I caught on iplayer about the making of and the putting on of Live Aid in July 1985. And in no way related to this I think I should probably address a subject with which I'm all too familiar, swearing, next week.
Anyway, I got an email about this Live aid program on Thursday 15th. I am fascinated by the power of humanity and live music and the associated peoplescapes and nothing was more about peoplescapes than Live aid. The 80s was a bit of a sh*t decade in the world's history (be honest with yourself), we were in the middle of the cold war, (which I don't remember because I was too young) which was terrifying to live in and made no sense but it was small wonder everyone was at each others throats.
Frightened, uncertain people are angry people. Thatcher and Reagan didn't give a toss about people just countries and geopolitics, they were both about trying to apply top-down solutions to bottom-up problems, ultimately government is about trying to create policy to make our lives better and easier and the way it's done is to try and work as many iterations of a policy into it suiting a particular individuals circumstances but there are always individuals and subsets of society that policy doesn't apply to. These people feel wronged and disenfranchised and in Thatchers Britain it was the poor, the unionised and ethnic minorities who fitted into this category. It was 'f*ck you jack I'm ok politics'. OK, apart from that last bit, this is beginning to sound like a sociology or politics essay and I doubt that can be good.
It was against this backdrop a pushy, Irish, foulmouthed, aggressive fading popstar decided, just decided -that he would put on an enormous global event in aid of Africa, particularly Ethiopia, which was in the middle of a famine. In my opinion the most powerful images ever were the post holocaust images and it was the power of the images of the famine in Ethiopia that had prompted Band Aid.
The 'feed the world' 'do they know it's christmas' effort written by Midge Ure.
I'm glad it happened this way round actually because had Geldof been responsible for the single and the diminutive Midge Ure been responsible for the concert, the single would have been sh*t and the concert wouldn't have happened..
Understandably, people (cynical people like me) thought the whole thing was just a publicity stunt to try and rekindle the careers of some ailing rockers. To his credit Geldof did everything he could possibly do to try and persuade people this wasn't the case, he refused to be gratuitously photographed with starving children when he visited Ethiopia, unlike say princess Di, who always grabbed whatever opportunity she could.
I took Bobs compassion as genuine until years later at Live eight when he shamelessly sang 'I don't like Mondays, I think it is undeniably top in any league of self indulgent moments that the world could have done without. Another reason I thought he was being genuine were his painful to watch impassioned pleas that frankly made him look a tit unless he judged that people would hang an 'at least he tried' tag around his neck. Maybe something else that lends weight to this theory was how ridiculously overambitious the whole thing was. In the programme someone said the announcement of the concert then was like announcing the same concert on the moon today. It was bonkers. Even though the technological hurdles were immense without even asking them first, he announced the one off reformation of Led Zeppelin and the Who, neither of whom were even on speaking terms with themselves, I am quite surprised that he didn't announce the 2nd coming of Jesus, or maybe he thought he didn't need to because he'd already be singing 'I don't like Mondays'. I get pissed off if someone alters my plans and who the f*ck is Dom Pardey? In announcing live aid in the way he did, Geldof was betting everything he had on red and I'm afraid we describe that as stupid, we just do. The fact that the resulting concert was a massive success has everything to do with Geldof being a 'jammy git'
the resulting concert was awesome despite Status Quo, Spandau Ballet, Elton John and Phil Collins performing. It featured some of the most unforgivable haircuts in music history and made Bono into the most earnest, worthy sanctinonious twat in human history. Queen, and Freddie Mercury stole the show
and a particular highlight for me was Led Zep blaming Phil Collins (playing the drums sans gorilla outfit) for the awfulness of their performance in Philadelphia.
There is no doubt in my mind that the world is a better place for Live Aid happening. It raised awareness about something happening which was gut wrentching and enough to make anyone cry. It is hard to not be cynical about it though especially when you consider the potency of having 1.5billion people watching, what lets it off the hook was that it was an exercise set in human falibility, ie, it could have been a disaster, but it wasn't. Geldof was a lucky man and as an unlucky man I don't respect gamblers (or at least gamblers who don't respect odds that are heavily stacked against you), Live 8 had more realistic ambitions but I am much more cynical about the motivations. I have too much time to think and not enough things I can do. As usual I am eternally grateful to my friends for suffering my company at something I've been going to for years but will never make any sense of: The Lambeth Country show. You can't get any more inner-city than Lambeth so how can it have a country show? It mixes falconry, jerk chicken, scrumpy and reggae music. It is mad and Becky and Harry Morrison took me yesterday. If the sun's out it's lovely and was an excuse for an afternoon out in a fair-like atmosphere where everyone just enjoys the sunshine in Brockwell Park juxtaposing the country and city at it's most invigorating
I am grateful to Becky and Harry for organising it and for friends Helen and James; and Karen and Toby for coming along, I had a long chat with Toby about finding a writing course that'll get me started because after all becoming a writer is all I can do. Also Helen and James who have always been great support and Harry and Beckys twins behaved impeccably
and more was to come, as when I arrived home~730 my old friend Guy who I hadn't seen for ages had come round to cook me dinner. I may have been pretty tired but when people go out of their way, you make an effort for them and if that meant eating Guy's cooking...

14 Jul 2010

post 221: Loves labours:worthwhile? But of course

I have just had the most godawful row with my dad after I interpreted an email he sent to me as an itemised bill for the suffering him and mum have had to deal with as a result of my stroke. The email made me feel so angry that I even said 'and by the way f*ck you' when I signed off. Apparently I got the wrong end of the stick and might have overreacted (me, surely not?), but as it helps a bit with the context of the rest of the post. Imagine (if you will) how you would feel if someone who was supposed to love you presented you with a bill for their time and travel. It was as bad as I've felt and after 4 and a half years of feeling terrible that's pretty bad – I thought things were supposed to improve.

I had a good go at writing this on Monday but maybe a monday morning was not a good time to discuss the most emotive of subjects, I then had a go at re-writing it on Tuesday but when I had some free time my mum showed up and anyone who's met her will know I can kiss goodbye to doing anything I want to do when she's here. I wasn't going to include these next two frankly sexist bits they have been making me giggle a little bit but f*ck it I'm going too. Maybe their inclusion on a post about love speaks volumes about why I'm finding it so elusive. I don't know РI do care but I don't really. Firstly, I caught comedian John Bishop on Live at the Apollo on TV the other night. He started off by telling a story about how he had recently bought a car. A diesel car and on it's maiden voyage he filled up and accidentally put petrol in it. He knew he'd done it and he said 'putting petrol in a diesel car is like pouring gin into a woman', it appears to be fine but you know sooner or later that she'll breakdown. Well it was funny when he said it plus there's something about his scouse accent, in fact THE scouse accent that you can't help feeling he's come down from Liverpool so he can case the carpark! The other slightly sexist thing was this great line uttered by Hollywood legend and lothario Jack Nicholson in 'As Good As It Gets' . In it he plays an OCD reclusive writer of Romantic trash but he is apparently the bestselling author in his field. In it a breathless female fan invades his personal space and blurts 'how do you get women so well' Jack has the briefest of thinks and says ' 'I think of a man and take away reason and accountability' РI don't care what anyone says, that's good scriptwriting! I only do bring up love as a topic because it's what I've been dreaming about over the weekend and as I seldom dream these days, I tend to take notice. Love, to me, is about giving yourself to another person. It's about forgoing your plans because it feels better being with that person. Love operates on a sliding scale. To Me the top rung will always be reserved for your partner, your other half Рthe person that you feel completes you and you complete them. Dizzying Clich̩s aside, we can (I think) only really be happy if you feel this highest rung is fulfilled, the other rungs, go in this order and are imperceptibly close Рfamily, then friends.It's a pretty small ladder frankly Your family are the rock-solid reliable people who are there when the going is tough and they don't ever make you feel guilty about taking up their time. Having this stroke is a case in point. It has been my mum and dad and brother, who have tirelessly helped me through this and in their 70s, it hasn't always been a picnic for my parents (yeah, they do pretty well). Having a son who was independent and good at most things he put his mind to one minute, the next a vegetable with a 1% survival chance and a life ahead filled with uncertainty. It's small wonder the relationship gets strained. Now friends are incredibly important, without friends and family life over the last 4 and a half years would have been impossible. I have spread my slender resources on trying to improve the quality of my life and literally everything else is invested in love, be it from trying to find a girlriend, meeting new friends, and making sure my existing friends and my family know how important they are. If I didn't care me and Dad would have just let this mornings incident go, it is precisely because of how much I care that I write this and spend far too much time sifting seeds on dating websites
If these different types of love were transmutable I'd be fine (one psychologist even suggested to me that the love you get from a partner wasn't that important when I consider how amazing my friends and family have been... Bullsh*t, I know how important they have been but I still feel this terrible emptiness..... I know I'm ready to give myself up for someone but the right person remains elusive. I had quite a lot to offer a few years ago. Now the only thing I can offer is more material and of considerably less value (In my opinion). I'm just not in the kind of situation where someone might find what I'm offering alluring at face value plus I'm sure my standards are too high, an unfortunate biproduct of having a decent life before. I do apologise if this is getting less and less readable. Life seems to be getting harder and harder at the moment. Write to me,come and see and laugh with/at me while it's still summer, being out of London does have some benefits, talking to and laughing with people has always cheered me up.

11 Jul 2010

Post 220: Being a teensy bit cynical

We're out of the world cup and it's almost over, maybe the world and some fairly intelligent people can start to get some f*cking perspective again and grow up for the next 4 years, hang on I think I've found a picture that sums up my feelings!

I think I've found out the answer to the
Why are you so Cynical ?– apart from the obvious answer -Because all of my hopes and dreams have been shattered.
I found the more likely answer during the brilliant, emotive, provocative, subversive, side splitting comedy of Steve Hughes
who I first saw at the end of June (post 218). This doesn't mean I'm into heavy metal! He is Reggie Hunters touring partner and the reason Steve isn't touring himself is that no-ones heard of the bugger, indeed Reg doffed his cap to Hughes saying that he had been a good friend and made him a better person (the affect I aspire to have on people). I don't think I'm anywhere near that yet. Reggie said he was only the headline act because his name was 'going a bit further at the moment.
I was lucky enough to see him twice in the last two weeks, once, a week last Monday and, on Tuesday night because by a strange twist of fate, Reggie happened to be on in Dorking on that Monday, yet months and months ago I happened to buy tickets for his show in Shepherds Bush for the Tuesday -that's the way it works these days, there is not a great deal of method to this madness.! Steve Hughes and Daniel Kitson are now the two men I hope reading this blog makes you want to see, and see live just to watch amazing minds at work. Mark my words names like Reginald D Hunter, Steve Hughes, Bill Bailey
and Daniel Kitson are the philosophers of our time, people listen to them because they are Charismatic, energetic, funny and uncommonly intelligent and people pay good money to see them, and occasionally they talk complete off the wall codsh*t.
Like Mr Hughes people are always asking me: 'Why are you so cynical?' The answer is simple. Because I'm not a moron. This implies that all non-cynical people are morons. Not so, people who believe everything they're told are morons and retards – cynical people just don't believe everything they're told and find it funny that the teller would ever think they'd believe them. There's probably a flaw there somewhere because I thought of that. I am sadly not an original thinker, instead I am just a thinker, a poor soul trapped with just an imperfect damaged brain for company. I try and amass all the best (and sometimes worst) bits of what I see and hear in this tome and I try and attribute as much as I can, Going to see all these shows is now what makes me original. I want to be remembered as having made an effort, as the cripple who did something different or something useful. I want people to be interested although getting into this blog does take a bit of a leap of respect because who the f*ck is Dom Pardey? Honestly, I only listen to people I respect and don't bore me but many has the time been that someone I do respect has bored me and I still don't listen because I can't stop my eyes glazing over, so it's quite simple (as my good friend Shaun Rowland often said) Don't be boring and don't be weird and don't be pathetic. You increase your chances of people listening to you. This has been my mission from age 7 -have some f*cking Charisma – it hasn't always worked, trying to have some Charisma, when you're a little sh*t .That is gonna get you killed and my schooldays were a litany of 'shut up you cocky little b*stard''s, it was only when I grew a foot between the ages of 16 and 20 did it become harder for people to call me 'a cocky little sh*t' not because I wanted to physically intimidate people 'christ, I was the least physically intimidating person ever' and the least likely person to ever pick a fight unless I knew someone needed help but in a ' fight or flight' situation, it was TAXI! Growing a foot helped me avoid ever being accused of SPS (short person syndrome) where a person overcompensates for their shortness by being over-exuberant, annoyingly so. Luckily my height caught up with my exuberance but I've always felt a bit sorry for short blokes. Not for Tom Cruise because he's fruit and nut! I find the joke about how Katie Holmes must have by now written 'GET HELP' in the peas bloody funny. I don't think she needs sympathy ,it was widely known he was into Scientology, believing in Scientology, it's enough to make me believe in god! I just can't not be cynical, I do buy into some of Hughes supposition that we're heading for an 'Orwellian Nightmare' but to believe in all that mumbo jumbo conspiracy crap you have to believe that companies care about anything other than their core businesses and their bottom lines. They don't have the time and they don't have the resources to build a secret underground lair and subsequently launch a plan to secretly takeover the world. Budgets don't stretch to fluffy white cats!
Now, having beyond all doubt proved that the world isn't about to be taken over by a super corporation who's logo looks suspiciously like HSBC, it's time to completely forego structure (as usual) and thank all those who have been kind enough to visit me or take me out, starting with my old college mate Marissa and her Mum who made time to pop in last Saturday. Now when you bear
in mind that Marissa is now a journalist in LA it is rather touching that someone with as many demands on her time when she is on her rare visits back to the UK makes time to come and see me . And Marissa's mum who has only met me once came all the way from Hackney. A rare treat and when I think how some people I know live considerably closer don't have the time – people who make this sort of effort make the difference. That's not it though. A big thankyou to Rachel who has taught me the value of having a good local mate – I took her out to lunch last Thursday and she's a great listener and she's ultra proficient at loading me in the van these days. I'm also grateful to the lads from Tonbridge who treated me to my old favourite of grilled fish and chips (not grilled!) at the bear on Tuesday evening. This was organised by my old rackets doubles partner James Pyemont who was actually nicknamed piggy before he became a policeman (oink!). He managed to drag a few of the school staff who I really got on with with him. Dave the rackets Pro, Gibbo, the master in charge of rackets and John Maynard, the master in charge of squash. It's very kind of them to do this, it reminds me that there was life before this and of a time when I was good at something. Everytime someone takes me out I feel as though I'm being let out of prison. Sadly as soon as anyone leaves it's straight back to my cell in solitary and more rest and boredom that counts for nothing. Someone who shall remain nameless called me lazy the other day because they think that me sitting in front of this computer is easy because I do this instead of my walking practice. It is easier but you can't just make someone with chronic fatigue do something. You can't just say 'come on mate – just this once'. I only understood this in the context that I once asked a mate with ME – come on mate – just this once to come to some event or other and they refused immovably. It's the same for me. Unless this fatigue improves,there's nowhere to dig deeper, it's not about being lazy, you just can't do it. Being lazy would be doing nothing, would be never seeing anyone, never looking for things to do, not bothering with this blog. To me, it would be a fate worse than death or the difference between being a retard and a cynic [ that's a call back as Daniel Kitson would say].



View My Stats