27 Sep 2010

Post 243: Busyness vs tiredness : A b*stard of a trade off

It's clearly a busy time of year for Concerts/Gigs etc because my diary is pretty busy and going to all these things gives me some quality of life but when you feel this exhausted all the time I'm finding it hard to drag my sorry self out of bed but I tell myself I have to do it.. On top of going to see Stephen Fry and Russell Peters (see last post), I went to see Dara O'Briaan at the Hammersmith Apollo with local mate and fellow red wine appreciator Rachel, and last night (Sunday) female Iranian Comedian Shappi Khorsandi at the Epsom playhouse with old friend Paul,
who we used to know as Tidy Paul because he somewhat unforgivably used to work for the Tidy Record Label! Aside from this blemish he's a good lad and a big fan of Miss Khorsandi. I am now too, because it turned out rather well, she was very chatty, very funny and quite interesting – it helps that Shappi is also rather cute which Dara O'Briian certainly isn't but he is a very funny man and I was laughing my arse off. It was also rather good to have met a couple of other disabled people, Frank, a man who is doing bloody well and had opted to leave his wheelchair behind because he's recently got back on his feet after a brain tumour had robbed him of his mobility earlier in the year, and Linda who was able to give some good advice on places to go to follow my love of live events. So even though I was bloody knackered after last night these things keep me going(ish) but equally as special, I was taken out for Sunday Roast at the Bear by my old friend Penny and her charming husband Barry who I'd run into a few weeks ago at Mernies wedding. When we knew each other years ago Penny and I were always bemoaning the respective dramas in each others relationship. It's nice that at least her hiccoughs resolved themselves and she got to marry 'the one' – anyway, changing the subject, it's hard to better Sunday Roast at the Bear!
In other news I've found a new counsellor who was recommended by the Old boss and neuropsychologist of the unit I used to be in when I was in hospital and hopefully getting my personal trainer to learn how to walk with me will kick-start my walking practice that was practically reducing me to tears. Any suggestions for ways to improve my sh*tty life are gratefully received! Getting out is one thing but it's not the solution. Finding someone to love and care about is my aim – I don't think I'm wrong about this!

24 Sep 2010

Post 242: Forcing some laughter

Not much more to write about today other than seeing the fascinating Stephen Fry at the Albert Hall on Mondayand the brilliant Russell Peters at the Dome last night (Thursday).
Fry is a national institution because he's one of those guys who's had an amazing life and whenever he opens his mouth people listen. I think Alan Davies said it best on QI:
'do you ever get the feeling you need a bigger weapon?',
of course he's talking about brain size because every QI when Alan thinks he's got the better of Fry, Alan (obviously a clever man) gets a metaphorical intellectual bitchslap. I love QI, it has taken up a disproportionate number of my convalescence hours. His live show felt like him talking off the cuff to the crowd (a sold-out Albert Hall) about his life and I thought there can't be too many people who could fill such a venue just to talk about themselves but he is such a likeable, compelling human who is quite happy to talk about his weaknesses and failures as about his fascinating life. He's a wonderful example of the human condition, he is a manic deppresive because he is dissatisfied with his physical self, it is plain that because of the Athletic nature of his mind, he thinks he should have the body of an Adonis but he laments looking in a mirror, something I think I can relate to a bit.How we sometimes think in the very short-term and we are selfish because we all get addicted to what feels good. Well, that was the sense of him I got from some of his anecdotes. There's also a snobbishness and pomposity about him that people seem to revere, which I'm not sure I fully understand but hey ho, these things are part of life's rich tapestry. I'm a bit lost at the moment, I'm not sure where life is going for me summed up by an email I wrote to another wheelchair user the other day called Max who I met at the Last Night of the Proms. He describes himself as a 'disability champion' His story fascinates me. He is a thoroughly nice man to put up with the barrel-load of questions I have been firing at him. Here's what I wrote:

'Thanks again Max. I will check out that site [for those curious he's recommended me a manual wheelchair]. The reason I'm asking all these bloody questions is because where you are at now is probably a stage I'd like to get too. My goals in life are pretty unclear, I'm pretty convinced that functional walking or working are not going to happen so my #1 goal is finding someone, getting rid of this fatigue is a close second, feeling like this for the rest of my life is not an option, otherwise the Dignitas clinic beckons! I'm pretty sure I can only do some creative writing so I'm gonna try whatever creative writing course I can manage. Other than that I eat healthily, do 6 physio sessions a week, and try and stay in touch with my friends and try and do an event (concert/gig) a week. Past that I haven't got a clue - what are your aims?
Sorry to ask so much. I hope you don't mind. This is all part of that 'feeling lost' thing.

When I wrote that I told myself I wouldn't reproduce it but it sums up things so well. My primary goal in life must be about finding love, again I turn to the brain of Stephen Fry -where in this video he talks about how he as a being is 'filled with love, whose only purpose in life is to achieve love and who feels love for so much of the world' – around the 3 minute mark, is really want I want to say, plus, his rant about how the catholic church is not a force for good is quite brilliant.
I have my friend the wonderful Amber
to thank for inspiring me to go to this event because she is such a passionate Stephen Fry fan, originally the plan had been for her to come with me but as a fellow stroke survivor, she was not well enough on the day to make it, the poor girl, even though her recovery is amazing she is still plagued by the occasional seizure. Her place was taken by Bec, my trainer Jose's girlfriend. Jose was always going to do the driving, I was just glad that I was able to share such a great event with someone in the end and the ticket didn't go to waste. I hope Amber is better though. It doesn't end there though because last night (Thursday) I went to the Dome to go and see Canadian Indian comedian Russell Peters

with an old friend from work, Will Stewart, Will, as well as always being a good man to laugh and joke with has always been a good campadre to chew the fat about whether you're doing the right thing with your life, given my frame of mind, my kind of mate.
Will is a buyer at John Lewis and consequently has to deal with suppliers all over the world so loves Russell Peters, a comedian capable of imitating any national stereotype, and then taking the piss something rotten, he gets away with it because he himself is a minority in the same way Chris Rock uses the 'n' word, I have been hauled over the coals a few times for 'lazy, predictable stereotypes' and was even told that 'I did Richard Littlejohn and Jeremy Clarkson very very well'. Well f*ck me!

19 Sep 2010

Post 241: A prisoners dilemma

This probably isn't going to be the happiest post because it's been a sh*t week characterised by sod all happening, mercifully it's likely to be a short post because the cupboard is bare, I've got nothing. These are definitely the hardest weeks because I just can't do boredom or long periods of alone time. I'm no creative genius (no sh*t) so I can't just sit and write. It just proves to me that we are reactionary beings, in need of input to get anything out of life, and unfortunately the more enquiring our mind is the more complex we need this input to be to avoid boredom. This is why watching TV during the day won't do. Listening to the radio's sh*t and all. Anything that has an outside chance of alluding to world news is too bloody depressing, so in truth I'm only able to cope when I have someone else to interact with, someone who realises that I'm in this weird dichotomy, that the only thing I want to do is talk to and see other people but I find talking and seeing exhausting. It's like going to events, it's gotta be done but it makes me so tired I feel like crying. Sometimes I ask myself the question, is it even worth it? 9 times out of 10 the answer is yes. When the answer is no, I haven't got the guts to do anything about it, I remember my friends and family, I try and remember why anyone gives a damn about me. I look at myself and struggle to see what anyone would like. I hope that even as a disabled person I have more than average to offer people. Conversation, laughter, love, warmth, comfort, safety, security. Well this is what I like to believe and some kind people back me up on this, the question I ask myself is: Am I out of order to get down like this? And there are some people who tell me off and make me feel guilty for being like this. I want these people to understand there's nothing I can do about this. I feel like a prisoner who has been wrongly imprisoned and I'm doing what I can to get released.
It hasn't all been doom and gloom this week, it was temporarily lifted onThursday evening when Rachel came to drink wine with me and we noted that women have it tough because they have to spend so much time and money on their bloody hair!

15 Sep 2010

Post 240: Magic!

Since the time I was at college years ago I have been good friends with some guys called the Dugdales, primarily through Will Dugdale who was in my college and I played university golf with him. Will has been a bit of a legend and taken me out a few times and raised money for the trust by running in a triathlon for me. I've also been keeping in touch with the Dugdale family as Wills dad, Ivor fights a brain tumour at the moment – all I can say is that he's a brave man and the way the Dugdale family have supported Ive is an example to us all. Hang in there Ive and family, I know it's sh*t at the moment but if anyone can get there, you can. Through Will, I was introduced to his brother Chris who is one of the best close-up magicians in the world and as a family, the Pardey's and a group went to go and see his live show at the Riverside studios in Hammersmith yesterday, along with my housekeeper Susan who had been so impressed by his youtube trailer. I have been lucky, Chris has mesmerised guests at my last two birthdays and the last time a good friend of mine's mum was so impressed she booked him for her birthday party in December. At least some of his goodwill has been returned. What was funny last night was I completely randomly ran into my old friend Tanya who had come to Chris' show because it was 'something different'. She declared in the interval that some of the tricks and mindreading were 'just like Derren Brown.'Yeah', I thought 'without the smug creepiness' for Chris is a brilliant performer, he is engaging, energetic, lighthearted and funny. The show is brilliant and doesn't take itself too seriously. Chris does some ridiculously amazing slight of hand, seemingly able to make a signed card (signed right there by a member of audience) appear at will from a deck of cards, jump into pockets – his mouth, a sealed box but my personal favourite trick was that having taken three separate rings off three totally random members of the audience, he made them interlock and the guy whose hand he made it happen in was so dumbfounded he simply said 'you wanker'. Brilliant entertainment! He then preceded to read half a dozen peoples minds of the number or word they were thinking of. Suggestion is clearly a powerful thing but wow! I was amazed, as was everyone there. Forget Derren Brown, Chris is a million times better and a bloody good bloke to boot. Go and see his show at the Hammersmith Riverside Studios now and be amazed! It was something completely different for me, next week I'm back on the comedy trail, seeing national treasure Stephen Fry at the Albert Hall on Monday, Russell Peters, a Canadian comic who apparently once outsold the Rolling Stones at the Dome on Thursday, and Dara O'Brian at the Apollo on Saturday, if that little lot doesn't cheer me up I'm a write-off! I need to inject something light after watching one of the grittiest and greatest films of all-time, Scarface yesterday. Oh my god, it is intense. Al Pacino is amazing, portraying the descent into madness of Tony Montana, a cuban refugee who becomes Miami's cocaine overlord. He is a proper Psychopath, drinking, snorting and killing his way through a rollercoaster ride that sees him hitting the top of what wealth can bring and the bottom of organised crime and drug addiction. I know it's just a film but it truly made me understand how valuable life is, and the stress that must come from always worrying you're going to die. It's a bloody long film but watching it in one go is advisable and I have my trainer Jose to thank for suggesting it. In America, first you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the women – I hope that's confined to America.
As a final non-sequitur, the kittens (Ham and Cheese) continue to grow up but they are adorable.

12 Sep 2010

Post 239: The last night of the Proms

Of late, there haven't been too many things that have made me proud to be British or indeed be human, you've probably noticed from the odd outburst on here! – I try and do things with my life that make it worth living and to be honest it's not easy when you've been dealt my hand but this weekend I went to a couple of things that helped. They're not the solution but they help me not think ghastly thoughts, at least temporarily, so before I return to thinking everything's a bit sh*t, I'll try and recall that Muse at Wembley was pretty cool on Friday (see last post) and that the last night of the Proms last night lifted my despair about some of the folk in this country. I've only seen the last night on TV or in photos. I'm not much of a flag waver, you can probably tell, so for me it was about the music and atmosphere, my first thought was that any live music creates something amazing in a crowd of people, even classical music – this is the reason I go to concerts and got involved with music in the past. I'm no afficionado. I don't appreciate it in some esoteric, spiritual or pretentious way, it's either good or bad with me – oh, and hip hop's sh*t. I like the Proms because of the Albert Hall, the atmosphere the place creates, and the talent of everyone involved in creating and staging the music, and the last night was as much about the spectacle as the music. I've never really appreciated the skill of conducters but whoever the bloke was last night was amazing. So creative and expressive. Even though he's not actually playing an instrument it was if his baton was plucking sounds from the orchestra. I could see him clearly too because I was in my favourite seats, on the wheelchair platform to the side of the stage. I've been to a lot of good things in the Albert Hall, from the comedy of Russell Brand to the genius of Ennio Moriccone but this was special. I'm not a massive fan of all the patriotic crap but I loved the Tchaikovsky in the first half and the Puccini sung by American Soprano Renae Fleming in the 2nd Half. You would have thought I'd taken one of my parents to this but instead I took a mate of mine from college, James Renshaw, I just figured that I take my parents to loads of things, I'd rather go with a friend – I'm not a child – even if I sometimes feel like one. Good old James loved it and despite us having taken steps to get there in loads of time, we got in with seconds to spare. Maybe it was where we were sitting but there seemed to be a lot of old ladies there and there seemed to be a strong smell of Lavender and mothballs, it will be hard to disassociate the last night from this in future. The Proms is unique, I love it. It is something that broadens my horizons and that will fill my diary every year – it is the post stroke discovery I cherish the most.

11 Sep 2010

post 238:Taking the rough with the Epic

I'm on a bit of a roll in terms of catching TV that makes me livid, the latest travesty exposing some of the most depressing stories in Britain was in 'Baby beauty queens' on BBC3 about how an 8 year old girl from Peterborough is obsessed with wearing make-up, fake tan and being a model – what made me really angry was that her idol is Jordan. FFS, what is this country coming too? I've told myself that writing about stuff like this is a bit negative but there is absolutely nothing remotely positive that can be said about this. Her mother claims not to encourage her but then in the next shot is filmed saying she won't leave the house without her make-up. I despair. People like her are beyond the pale. It's hard for me to file her under any other heading than 'Silly Cow', the same goes for some Guardian reading mother who took her kids out of school for a year so she could take her family to a remote part of the planet and live with tribal people untouched by the modern world. The kids almost get killed when the vehicle they were in rolled en route to see the Dalai Lama , a dangerous detour she had insisted on because there was a slender chance of meeting him in person and it was worth the risk because the Dalai Lama was her hero. Silly cow, worth risking your childrens and your lives to see some bald speccy twat!
Silly Cow!And the fact she was called Raffia, I'll bet she's a smug, worthy, organic only holistic guardian-reading nightmare of a person! I hope I have something to praise bloody soon, I'm sure you're getting fed up with the frustration and anger in this at the moment. All we need is snow, and I'll probably burst into flames!
Todays non-sequitur is to say thanks to two different lots of people for coming to see me. The first was a lad called James Neill, a bloke who I hadn't seen since college, aside from marrying his long term girlfriend and having twins, he was out in Northern Ireland with the Coldstream guards. Some folk may have described me as brave for the way I've handled this stroke, it's nothing compared to the bravery of people who put themselves in harms way. I just wish they were doing it for a country that doesn't contain the sort of morons they give airtime to nowadays. Muse tonight better restore my faith in the wonder of the world, and finally, mega thanks go to my three former colleagues Dave, Ed and Will for coming to see me on Thursday evening – it was textbook, they brought beer and good cheer, another reason to be alive!
I've now seen Muse and have to report they were incredible. I love these big set pieces and the new Wembley is as big as they get.I went with my mate Champ who first cottoned me onto Muse (post131) and the two girls who saved my bacon last time when Champ discovered at the last minute he couldn't come. Suze (left) is now my housemate and Sarah is a friend of Suze. They're both fantastic, I am bloody lucky to have them as friends. As usual, Champ was late, so he suggested we meet him at Wembley, which we just managed after negotiating appaling traffic to get there. Sadly we missed the support, that for once looked ok, with Lily Allen on from 7:30 to 8:30, but our journey from Oxshott took 2.5 hours with Suze showing the sort of roadrage that my dad would have been proud of and the sort of language that might have even made Gordon Ramsey weep. It was funny. Apparently it didn't matter we missed Lily Allen. Champ declared her to be 'sh*t' in his usual deadpan way, 'like a little canary, warbling away. The girls had pitch tickets so we sadly didn't see them till the end but they loved it, they had managed to get right to the front because at Muse concerts there isn't any of the moshing or fighting you get at a Green Day or Kasabian gig. From our vantage point the view was something else and the sound was great, Champ would often utter a 'brilliant' or 'incredible' which makes a huge amount of difference.
For once I could actually name most of the songs, if Coldplay sing hymns and Kasabian do chants, Muse do soaring anthems
It was the most amazing evening which the insane Wembley traffic couldn't spoil despite it's best efforts.

8 Sep 2010

Post 237: Come Dine with Me makes me boil over

I have long been offended by crass stupidity but it is an emotive topic. It seems that I am not allowed to make fun of the lions share of f*ckwits because I have had a privileged education, and it's not fair to take the piss because they can't help it. Ah, but when I went to Uni there were plenty of state educated people, who were sometimes a darn sight smarter than posh twats like me, which leads me to conclude of the people who were state educated, intelligence is distributed in the same way. Therefore someone like Prince Harry is fair game. To go to Eton and get one A-level pass in art, and even then have rumours that he only got this because a teacher did his coursework is some achievement, he is a classic example of the wheel is turning but the Hamster died a long time ago. What started me off on this topic was I was unlucky enough to catch some (thankfully not all) of the 'Come Dine with Me''Big Brother winner 'special', special as in 'special needs'.. I was actually offended by the stupidity and manners of some of these clowns – there were times when rather than just switching the telly off, I wanted to throw the remote control at the TV. Normally, I'm a fairly calm Sanguine person (honestly)but suddenly I felt as angry as Frankie Boyle and felt the same sort of animosity towards Brian Belo and Sophie Reade as I feel towards the guy in the Go Compare adverts, the advertising people who came up with him have got a lot to answer for! What really gets me is that that level of annoyance is probably what they were going for and they will count him a success. Did anyone choose to live in a world like this? No, I don't think we did?!
This is why I broadly agree with Bill Hicks sentiments on advertising (although my stance is less extreme than wanting all advertising and marketing people to kill themselves. I think that's a bit harsh, I know a few people in advertising and marketing who are perfectly nice but I can see why Hicks could get so angry. It happened to me when Sophie Reade asked if potatoes grow on trees and the way that Brian tries to pull Sophie despite what she says, in the past I might have been guilty of going with looks first, everyone does, but it's what a person says and does that makes a person attractive, no amount of breast implants and re-capped teeth hide the fact that Sophie Reade is to humanity what Jade Goody was to Mensa, and the same goes to Brian for liking Sophie. As far as I'm concerned those two f*ckwits deserve each other. I haven't finished there. A further disgrace to the Human Race is Nadia – who trades bad manners with Brian. I think I was in shock, maybe in the past, I've been guilty of interupting people but Nadia and Brian were in a different league! For me to be up in arms about this speaks volumes. What depresses me is that these people even get any airtime, it's a wonder Brian and Sophie even know how to breathe. It is a damning indictment on this country that the Big Brother watching public voted for these clowns. Bill Hicks would be terrifyingly angry if he were alive today. I know they say don't make fun of those less fortunate than yourselves, well as one of the lesser fortunate people in this world, I think these people are fair game, ok so this post has been a bit angry, I expect things to improve after seeing Muse at Wembley on Friday and the Last Night of the Proms on Saturday – I'm glad I go to these things, otherwise I'd go (more) insane.

5 Sep 2010

Post 236: Lost in Suburbia

This title could be a Metaphor for life in my thirties but:

'I think this is the most lost I've ever been',is what I found myself saying at about 1:30 yesterday to Anna (the ultra-kind person who'd agreed to drive me to the blessing of my great friends Mernie and Alasdair's marriage. Yup, that's right, I often muse about how when you get lost you always find where you're going in the end, but yesterday we almost turned round and gave up. I'm glad we didn't, because even though we'd left at 11:15 for a service that started at midday. I wondered out loud again how we used to find anything, for this time we had a Sat Nav and a postcode but the postcode didn't take us to anywhere in particular so we started simply asking random pedestrians if they knew where St Andrews church was. Therein lay the problem, all of Surbiton looks the same – just streets of pleasant, anonymous detached houses, the sort of boring suburbs we used to take the piss out of in our twenties, but actually a not unpleasant place to live if you've grown up a bit and still work in town. Christ, I'm virtually in the countryside where I live, just in reach of my friends which I appreciate massively because it's much more than just being able to drop in on me these days. But even though I can't complain, I do because I'm tired, bored and lonely and that's what you do when you tire of something, you complain about it.
So getting lost in Suburbia, at least Anna and I laughed about it. Eventually we knocked on the door of the original anonymous house the Sat Nav had taken us to. After we had driven around Suburbiton for what seemed like hours – we'd even driven to random churches -seen a wedding party that turned out to be for some bloke called Bob, and Anna seriously suggested we tag on because it was at least 'a wedding'. Anyway, luckily there were some random people in the anonymous house who gave us another postcode. We followed the Sat Nav to this postcode that turned out to be nowhere in particular, we then asked a pedestrian – 'here we go again' I thought after she had said 'left,left and left again' – we followed these instructions and by some miracle I glanced a group of people outside a hall, a few of whom I recognised -we may have missed the ceremony but we were in time for the reception, it was almost as if I'd planned this! I'm reminded of the line in 'four weddings and a funeral' -'when you've got a reputation for being an idiot...'. I was chuffed to bits to be there and pleased as punch that it'd been Anna and not my mother who'd driven. Had it been my mother, the stress levels would have been off the scale!
I saw a lot of my olld mates, including Tristan and Simon. Tristan now lives in Brazil with his Chilean wife Macarena – it was his original fundraising efforts that had set the ball rolling for the foundation of the trust three and a half years ago and I hadn't seen him for two odd years. Simon is a great friend of mine with one of the darkest senses of humour ever, I love it. Both Simon and Mernie (the bride) were my two closest drinking buddies/confidantes/shoulders to cry on during my twenties (probably the happiest time of my life outside of my four years at university. Bizarrely enough I hadn't known Mernie at University (even though she had been Tristan's girlfriend) and we only really became friends in London where I am entirely to blame for getting her into clubbing. I remember all too well taking my girlfriend and her best friend to some delightful den of iniquity in September 2001, and Mern was there. Tash's best friend took me aside and simply said 'who's the bombshell?' for that is what Mernie is -she is a blonde bombshell – I forget the exact words that Alasdair (the groom) used in his speech yesterday to describe first meeting her, I think it was 'this lovely blonde thing', well I think a cross between the two describes her perfectly.
I also enjoyed seeing some other familiar faces from some of the happier times in my life. Glorious Megan, lovely Leigh and Lizzie, Ingrid,
Sharon, Annabel and Dee, Hannah and Nessa as well as Penny with husband Barry and Hattie with other half Matt all of who had spent many a hard nights drinking in south London's less salubrious speakeasys when the century was younger and binge drinking used to be called drinking. Sadly, as is the way these days I couldn't stay long after the excellent tearjerking and rib-cracking speeches but it was great to see Ant, Tim and Friz and Anand again after all these years. I'm glad we didn't give up despite our lateness and I'm speechless with gratitude to Anna for driving me. These things may be hard for me these days but I will find it in myself to do 'em. When I got home I was lucky enough to see this, which on top of everything rather caught my imagination because it's more or less a description of how I feel:

That was yesterdays adventure. Today has been about a gorgeous old college mate coming to see me – during the week I had been emailed out of the blue by Gina who we'd nicknamed Gina G at college despite her surname resolutely beginning with a C, she had said that her and her husband had recently been on holiday with a friend of mine Matt Hancock , now scarily Matt Hancock M.P. Anyway Gina wanted to see if she and her daughter Tallia could visit. Well, I like to try and make it my business to be visited by beautiful old friends, and she showed up today just as I remember her. 13 month old Tallia is a cutie



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