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29 Apr 2010

Post 203: Living the dream: A dream?

I have had a couple of pretty poor nights sleep because I have been dream philosophising about life, the universe and everything' Not for the first time. I think I eventually came to the conclusion that 'living the dream' should be everyone's aim. 'living the dream' is basically earning your living from something you genuinely love doing. Where you can get out of bed when you want in the morning. I used to like, even love, my job but it was just that, a job. As far as I could tell, the people 'living the dream' were musicians, Djs and comedians.
I think it was because of the fun I had being an anonymous small-time London DJ that doing that full time would have been 'living the dream' but everyone else who'd ever been near a DJ Booth had figured that out which made it one of the most competitive markets on the planet, and as such it was about who you knew so gigs were acquired by getting to know people and getting on with them. Not really a meritocracy. To this day some of these sort of people are among my best mates. We used to look at the likes of Tiesto,
Paul van Dyk, Pete Tong and Sasha amongst others and think that was 'living the dream' but What used to wind me up and it does to this day are three things:
1.People who used to insist this was 'hard work'. No it wasn't,going around getting gigs and DJing, it was partying pure and simple. A lot of these people thought they could make a living from it which there's no way they could. What's important is that people acknowledge as soon as they can that it was just a hobby.
2.(usually part of 1)Delusional people who can't accept this is 'just a hobby' do the most damage to themselves or to those with the genuine talent to 'live the dream'
3.Lucky people who 'Live the dream' but have no discernible talent and are devoid of intelligence, people like N-Dubz, does anyone else think these people would be nicking mobile phones and would be hanging around corners on the streets of south London if for some reason tasteless people weren't buying their music. If I hear 'Dappy'
being asked about anything again again I will hurt myself, or if I hear Diana Vickers opinion on anything, so vacuous that despite being English she could barely speak it, she clearly is to contemporary pop what Wayne Rooney is to football. Speaking of which it's like asking a footballers view on anything. Pointless, insulting even. The list of people who don't deserve to be 'living the dream' but are is sadly almost endless. We could start with Mick Hucknall,
actually Peter Andre for alphabetical orders sake, I was going to use Aaliyah but she died, I could then work my way my way through to Jay Z but that much ranting isn't good for anyone, especially anyone brave enough to read this.
I like to think I didn't delude myself about making it for too long and that I realised I was a punter, not a player. I had fun, met lots of people who I'm sure I'll be friends for life with, but on the flipside I met some idiots, the kind of people I'd file under 'n'er do well'. What do I blame for the preponderance of people who appear to be 'living the dream' without having earned it? Celebrity culture and bloody reality TV,Shows like the x factor
or 'Britain exploits the mentally challenged'. Kids these days think that they can just flunk their education but everything'll be ok, because if you're a boy, you can become a footballer and earn 30 grand a week or if you're a girl you can be like Jordan and earn a fortune by having no shame with her 'dignity filleting' plastic surgery [such a great expression borrowed from fellow angry man Charlie Brooker].

Back to my old life, I used to wonder what a lot of these ne'r do wells' did in the 'real world'. What was really scary were that a lot of them were still seemingly at school, it's quite scary feeling old somewhere when you're 25. I am aware that this might have sounded like an angry rant. These particularly come out on days when I realise the difference between my new life and the old one. It's difficult to 'always look on the bright side of life...' but I sometimes manage. People who expect me to be fine are the ones who don't get it, I certainly can't aspire to 'living the dream' any more. It will always be a dream.

24 Apr 2010

Post 202: Parents manage to 'holiday' despite the cloud (which is me of course)

This has been the first time in a long time when I have felt a bit reluctant to put metaphorical pen to paper because I've felt too tired to do it. I can already hear my parents sighing(they're in America visiting my sister and the all important million decibel granchildren and the lovely new Golden retriever puppy Rosie who I already think of as 'poor Rosie'.Don't get me wrong I love my sisters kids but I also love peace and quiet. American kids (for that is what they are) don't know the meaning of the words 'please be quiet' best summed up for me by my sister telling me at Christmas 2009 (Post 174 ) 'They're children, you can't just switch them off'. She is right of course but shouting at them to shut up once in a while couldn't hurt? It's because of this blasted fatigue, usually I'd be more tolerant but peace and quiet is so restful, if I felt better, I'd almost say blissfull. Someone who doesn't seem to understand the concept of fatigue is my mother. Her current jaunt across the Atlantic ticks none of the boxes that to me would go to make up the definition of the word 'holiday'. For a start the stress and pent up energy that Mum needs to disperse exploded with a force equal to that bloody volcano in Iceland when she found out her flight might be delayed and like a smack addict needing her next fix and about to 'chase the dragon' the panic over possibly not seeing the grandchildren was pretty disturbing and made worse by whispers that airlines wouldn't reimburse or compensate passengers because it was a natural disaster or 'act of god', that'd be an interesting court case wouldn't it? How can it be 'an act of god' when god doesn't exist? My radical atheism and confused existentialism becomes more Dawkensian by the day despite the fact I can't stand the man's smugness. As it was, my parents plane took off as scheduled with them on board and thankfully they got to America free of incident. Mum has had her fix and Dad can now have some relative peace. I may take the p*ss but I am so grateful to them so I took them out to the Albert Hall to the event that had reignited my interest in Classical Music last year:Symphonic Rock, a concert that my great friends Jackie and Selwyn took me to this time last year (post 118) . It is a rather awesome concert actually, it is the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra playing things like 'Sgt Peppers' or 'living on a prayer' by Bon Jovi introduced by hairstyle for radio BBCRadio 2's Ken Bruce. From where I was sitting
he reminded me (bearing in mind my awful eyesight) of the Catherine Tate character Derek, so far in the closet he's in Narnia. You know 'me dear, gay dear, no dear' 'how very dare you!' Finished with 'I find you impertinent!' More catchphrases than Bruce Forsyth. His inadvertent best moment was when he forgot his microphone. He tried to make up for it when he got it back by telling one of his stock after dinner jokes. Saying that after forgetting his mike he'd just been to the bar and knocked back two quadruple scotches quipping hilariously to the barman 'I shouldn't be having these with what I've got' 'what's that?' says the barman. '50p'. Laugh? Neither did I. Showing his mid-morning radio 2 credentials there. What made the concert quite magical for my mother was all the orchestral percussion. She's always banging on about it.[the shame, sorry] In other news, my search for a female companion goes on, and on. My latest troubling thought is that modern girls are too embarrassed to be with a disabled guy. There are many reasons to be embarrassed by me, I sincerely hope being like I am physically is not the main one, that's sadly how each knockback feels though and it really stings. The other sad news is that this is Mariusz andIlona's last weekend here before moving to a bigger house that'll be more suitable for starting a family properly. I will miss them, they have been 100% reliable which is what I need and Mariusz' omelettes are sensational and his cooking in the evening has got better and better. They're not going back to Poland, yet, so hope we stay in touch. They have taught me how to exist as a semi-independent being. Just this morning, a local girl who I'd been in touch with through facebook said to me that she was thinking about nursing at Ashtead hospital, this is what I wrote back, I hope it helps her
'It's nice at Ashtead, I went there a couple of times for consultations. Nursing is not about doing 'ER' style trauma incidents, it's about looking after people who can't look after themselves, imagine looking after an adult Charlie [her baby] - It's about motivating people just by being nice to them. Being in hospital is horrible for most people, they're ill and away from their homes and a comforting smile is priceless. I was in hospital for two and a bit years, and even though the 2nd hospital I was in (in putney) had much better facilities and nicer buildings I hated it because of the staff, all it comes down to is the staff. If your impulse is to care for people and make their lives better then go for it or move in with me!

I suppose the thing I've managed to ignore, which is strange for someone with my background(ie a politics and economics degree) is this impending election. I'm rather ashamed to say that Apathy has won the day. I dislike Gordon Brown because he sounds like the sort of dour, humourless bore you'd cross the road to avoid. Cameron sounds as sincere as Kim Jong Il at a disarmament conference or the American Delegation at a conference about the environment or the Chinese at a conference about human rights, Mel Gibson promising to lay off the booze at a bar mitzvah etc, I could go on but you get my point and behind Nick Clegg is a party of beards and sandals which leaves me with a choice of noone! Also, I can never listen to what politicians say Рbecause frankly it's all words, and actions always speak louder than words. One clich̩ I can tolerate. At the end of the day all they do is talk a good game! I do agree with 'master of the dark arts' Alistair Campbell though when he says 'some of the best things have been achieved through politics' this may be true but I still believe my utterly unworkable rule should become law somehow
'anyone with political aspirations should be banned from ever becoming a politician' This obviously doesn't include my mate Matt who was treasurer of the trust till recently. He has been selected to be a Tory candidate in a comparatively safe Suffolk seat on May 6th. Matt may be a bit of a 'Tory Boy' but it doesn't make me one. Yes, I'm conservative with a small c but I have no idea who to vote for.

17 Apr 2010

Post 201: Something genuinely inspirational

I wrote most of this on Thursday, topping and tailing it Friday but didn't even finish it then, so it's Saturday.

Thursday was a day where my diary was empty,
I wish I could take this opportunity to go back to bed, but it doesn't work that way with chronic fatigue . If I went back to bed I wouldn't sleep, I would lie awake feeling tired, unwell, depressed and bored. It's like being too tired to go to sleep, I don't get it! At least if I'm sitting in front of my computer I feel like I'm achieving something and I'm not cut off from the world. Sadly the writing course I've been doing (sparingly I'm afraid but you'll see why) has turned out to be a bit of a turkey. The reading matter was a bunch of platitudes like 'to be a writer, you must write' and when I have sent work to them the comments they sent back were lightweight and unhelpful and haven't inspired me to get writing or motivated me to continue with the course, I get more helpful feedback from the comments on this blog or from the facebook discussions that come about because of this.
It's no secret that I have desperately been looking for a couple or a girl to replace the Polish Couple who live here and look after the house, the cat and me (in that order). Basically, I can't survive without them as I'm not independent enough to make myself an evening meal, keep the house clean or open tins of catfood. Mariusz and Ilona have been brilliant. Both have dayjobs, so we're out of each others hair during the day, so anything that I need help with, I save up till they're back in the afternoon or phone my brother who's often in the vicinity because he maintains a lot of the local houses or if it's an emergency I try my neighbours (who are sometimes in). All of this assumes that a phone is within reach. (Which it sometimes isn't) eg when I fell over in the bathroom there was no-one to hear my weak cries for help. I had to psyche myself up to reach one of the bars and despite tremenduos pain and weakness after sitting on the floor for an hour I was able to summon the strength to get myself up back into my chair, try getting off the floor using one arm and one leg boo hoo poor Dom.
When looking for a housekeeper, I did try and combine this role with trying to find a companion,
but it turned up some less than positive responses, in fact some darn right disgusted ones, obviously living for free while looking after me is a hideous proposition, honesty and putting your cards on the table is clearly not how people want to play it. Since my stroke, I was starting to think that absolute honesty was the way forward – it seems to be appreciated but gets you nowhere! My current living situation is a well worn rut, but I survive, well that's not bloody good enough! People who live on the streets Survive, I doubt it's a life they'd choose.
I long for company, because I can't do much and convalescence is a lonely existence. I try and fill my diary with ANYTHING. For example, I used to do occupational and speech therapy with the community therapists .ie they'd come and visit me here because it was something to do even if I thought occupational therapy was a pisspoor excuse for a real thing to do and the speech therapist made me feel physically sick. I guess I'm just fed up with filling my diary with things stroke-survivors are supposed to do but make no f*cking difference to how I f*cking feel. I feel strongly about this! I just want to talk to people I get on with who make me laugh. To be clear I liked spending time with some occupational or speech therapists when I was in hospital because they were good company or easy on the eye, sometimes, just sometimes stuff they said made a difference but human nature tells us not to continue whacking our head against an immovable brick wall which is why I have curtailed the walking. I no longer have that impending sense of dread that I used to get on my walking therapy days, by contrast I enjoy my personal training sessions and I've already had a couple of comments that my right arm and upperbody are looking stronger, you see, all I want is results, and although it's too soon to tell if the diet's helping my energy levels, I have given up caffeine, without serious withdrawal symptoms! I have also lost yet more weight, I'm now at 92.6kg and I'm not going hungry. I'm living by a simple Maxim:No pain, no gain but Pain for no gain is a f*cking waste of time.
Completely changing the subject as I'm prone to sometimes do I got an email on Thursday morning from a mate of mine,Andy Kocen, easily spotted in this picture by virtue of the fact he's the only bloke
who has just completed the Marathon des Sables, quite simply the most evil sounding race in the world, actually known as 'the toughest footrace in the world'.
Aside from it sounding like something Jeremy Clarkson might say, the fact remains it is running over 150 miles in 6 days in 50 degree temperatures on sand, it is literally 'going to hell in a handbasket' despite him raising over £10,000 for various things, he should be locked up in a loony bin, this madness is not without precedent,just over 10 years ago he unbelievably made it to the final 'I jest not' of the 'UK competitive eating' – both events required him to be an athlete in very different ways but I have boundless respect for the guy, particularly as at Uni he would often be seen with a pint in one hand and a fag in the other. Tell the truth I used to think of him as a bit of a fat b*stard. Andy Kocen, your feats make you a living legend, up there with Eddie Izzard. What Andy put himself through to complete this is an awe inspiring read herehttp://reluctant-runner-2009.blogspot.com/p/marathon-des-sables-2010.html: up there with when our friend Julian climbed Everest. In other good news; I've found a housekeeper. Step forward Miss Susan Pinkerton, someone I know and trust, she looked after the place, the cat, and me between Christmas and new year, it is a huge weight off my shoulders.
Changing the subject again, I know I often mention the cats around here but this place is starting to feel like the Serengeti. Pickle is killing something everyday and helpfully brings it into my room at between 4-6 in the morning. There is nothing I can do except totally shut her out of my room which I don't want to do. The last straw came the other day (I think). Fat Frank (next doors huge male tabby(neutered thankfully)) often sleeps in my room and he devoured the carcass of some poor bird with the bones crunching in his mouth sounding like he was eating maltesers. Hence the Serengeti analogy, Frank is the fat lazy lion and Pickle is his lioness. David Attenborough is thankfully nowhere to be seen. But given their willingness to eat basically anything it has reminded me of a joke told by self styled 'blackest man in comedy' the caucasian scottish miserable b*stard Frankie Boyle,
in fact his stand up DVD is being televised on channel 4 on Sunday (18th). If you're going to watch it brace yourself. I personally think he's hilarious but wouldn't sit in the front row, if anything, I think my wheelchair would give him more ammunition. Anyway his joke about cats came in one of those stand up rounds on Mock the Week (before the BBC sacked him for being too near the knuckle for his joke about the queen's 'pussy being haunted' -I laughed. The round title was 'things you wouldn't see on a label. Frankie said (and I still laugh whenever it springs to mind) 'we use only the cheapest horse-meat to go in 'f*ck it, it's just a cat'
Finally, before I leave you in peace, I just thought I'd mention the concert I went to at the Albert Hall last night to see 90s indie rockers James – it was brilliant – so much better than Jose (my personal trainer who heroically stepped in at the last minute after my plans came apart again) and I had expected and was probably better than seeing the killers there last year (and that had been awesome). I was a big James fan back when I was about 16 , well I had one of their CDs that I played a lot, James to me means long sleeve t-shirts, curtained long hair ( before becks nicked it off snotty nosed precocious little public schoolboys like me for the rightful wearers of such haircuts, chavs!)
and the thrill of nipping off to the bike-sheds for a crafty smoke back before I thought smoking was pointless. It was a better time, it was recapturing some of these feelings as to why I bought these tickets and it worked. Thankyou Hose for making it possible for me to go and for saying how much you'd enjoyed it afterwards, these things all help my rock bottom mental health.
LITERALLY IN THE LAST SECOND, I have had an email
asking for sponsorship for the 'London to Hove' cycle race on 27th June http://www.justgiving.com/Simon-Dawes He has been such a good friend to me before and since my stroke that this is the least I can do.


I quite often get told to make these posts more light-hearted, I try and make light of this situation with the odd joke but sometimes I have to get the big guns out, by which I mean gratuitous animal shots. Sometimes they're so nice they make you want to self harm. This week I may have got the definitive picture that captures pure joy - it is quite simply my niece Maddie (8 I think with her new Puppy Rosie, It fair nearly sickened me into saying'aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah' 'int that nice'

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