31 Aug 2010

Post 235: Bank Holidays aren't the same

Bank Holidays used to be a time of great excitement, a three day weekend with Monday a recovery day. It was a fantastic opportunity to spend time with friends, laughing and larging it – these days, that is what everyone else is doing and I am left at home to read the never-ending facebook updates and pore over pictures of friends having a laugh. I hate myself for feeling like this, I am rubbish on my own. This is the double edged sword of facebook, it's nice to be able to chat to people but it isn't so nice finding your ex-girlfriends wedding photos or pictures of people you know living it up when you want to be there.
Let me get this straight, I never begrudge anyone a good time, indeed I think it's peoples duty to have a good time, you never know if you're going to be hit by a bus or have a stroke. This particular weekend is SW4, an event I have been to twice as an ablebodied person, to the first one in 2004 (I think it was) and then in 2005 (I actually took this photo) and once in a wheelchair (in 2008) the people I'd go with are not around this year plus the person who drove me home two years ago is sadly no longer with us, poor lady dying of a heart attack, nothing is as simple as that first year I went to it where I simply walked there and back from my flat in Brixton and we were even able to swing by the official afterparty at the Telegraph on Brixton Hill where we'd heard Sasha (who headlined the main event spectacularly) was going to do an extra special surprise secret set. Of course he never did but we had a great time seeing Rocky from Xpress 2 and some unknown DJ belt out some of the grimiest funky Techno I've ever heard – apparently it could have been Billy Nasty. I do remember it being dangerously hot in the Telegraph. Whatever, all this partying and still a day to recover – it didn't get much better.
Nowadays, all I have are memories, going in a wheelchair in 2008 to SW4 was little more than proving a point, it was nice to see a lot of my friends I'd spent my first SW4 with but the same feeling is not there. It was the most exhausting day (post 66) Wearing shorts and being able to dance outside in the sun and open air and walking home from a music festival – not having to suffer the long journey home with a bunch of Zombies who can barely speak, feeling so relaxed that you feel weightless, a feeling I've only ever achieved on holiday in Ibiza. These are all just memories I'll never relive. And this is what I've been remembering this bank holiday, I wish memories could make you happy, but they can't, only happiness in the moment can make you happy. I can remember the pain of breaking my arm, but I can't feel it, this is why to feel anything we must live in the moment and engage that right brain. I wish I could do that.
The only slightly mitigating factor has been that the new kittens, brother and sister Ham and Cheese are now roaming the house. The sound of their charging around, playing is quite Mellifluous. They are gradually getting used to humans. My existing cat, Pickle – who we'd expected to stamp her authority on the place is terrified. I'm no pet psychologist.

28 Aug 2010

Post 234: My new brain

I wish I had something new, exciting and positive to talk about but if you've been paying any attention (and who am I to tell anyone to pay attention?!) the chances of those three things happening on the same day are as remote as the Hubble Telescope has of finding god. When I started this long journey I never asked to go on, my emphasis was on recovering so having this stroke would have been nothing more than a blip on a more or less ok life, like a broken arm that temporarily inconveniences you but you recover from. And this is what I said to my therapists in the Frank Cooksey rehab unit in 2006, and none of them said 'you're having a laugh Dom, your life is completely ruined forever, you're unlikely to ever walk or feel normal ever again!' In a way, I'm glad they didn't because some form of suicide would have been very tempting not that it solves anything. There was a time when I didn't want different treatment to anyone able-bodied but this was bravado, I now judge people on how well they seem to understand (or try to understand) what I'm going through. My #1 goal is to try and feel normal again, that is to not feel tired and no-one seems to have a clue how to do this so I approach all tiring activities with some antipathy while at the same time realising that I have to do some things to have some quality of life. Physical therapy is backbreaking and I approach most sessions with the sort of foreboding a 40 a day smoker would feel about a visit to the gym!
I have just watched a documentary I recorded off Channel 4 called 'my new Brain' about a 21 year old lad called Simon who fell off a wall. His experience exactly mirrors mine except all of his deficits are cognitive, he can no longer think properly or hold onto a thought properly. In his injury he lost the thinking/analytical part of his brain but he is absolutely certain he is not the same person he was before his accident, I share the same sense of loss -whereas his mum says it is like 'having a 4 year old around again' in a way I am glad that although my stroke has knocked me sideways in terms of depression and energy I'm mentally the same guy, my voice and face have changed a bit but the big difference is I no longer have the energy to do most things and my voice and face are somewhat affected. So in a strange kind of way, I am able to be the same as I was but in the same way it kind of smashed home the point that I need to let go of any hope that I might be able to get back to my old self, something I have probably repeatedly tried to do, but I don't think I've ever quite succeeded in doing. It's difficult when so much of my personality was because of my physical being, I was a confident guy who could do most things I set my mind to so even though this bloke (Simon) could walk around and go where he wanted including being able to go home, he didn't always know why he wanted to but like me, he really hated rehab, not because of the people, who actually make it bearable but because of almost feeling like you were back at school again and being treated like a kid again, with none of your time being your own. What it did tell me was that no matter what form your injury takes it's normal to be thoroughly dissatisfied with your post brain injury self.

23 Aug 2010

Post 233: Taking Friends to the Proms

In the last post I talked about how regal the Proms are and last night I got to do one of the things that makes my continued struggle better, I got to treat three people to going to the Albert Hall and I'm pretty sure they loved it. I have known Michael and Gaelle for a good few years and always used to run into them clubbing. I have got to know them better since my stroke because they live down the road and have driven me to a few things. Gaelle has also got a sweet little ten year old daughter called Lucie. For being such kind friends, I mentioned taking him and Gaelle to the proms, and they said they'd be up for it and could Lucie come? Well, I already had three tickets and the evening was officially sold out, but the Albert Hall seems to be the only venue where saying you're a wheelchair user means they can somehow magic a companion seat out of thin air, which meant that Lucie got to go. Her reaction to the hall and her saying she enjoyed it was worth all of our tickets.
It was also a very accessible program, starting with a lovely piece of Mozart, followed by a very dramatic Piano Concerto by Bartok, then a Choral piece by Bartok finished by a triumphant symphony by Haydn. I think it is pretty clear that I haven't got a clue when it comes to classical music but I think it's fair to say we all enjoyed it, there was barely a discordant note! It was very different from the very Germanic Prom I had been too with my parents the night before, where despite Wagner and Beethoven having been the soundtrack to National Socialism. This is not a good enough reason not to like them!

22 Aug 2010

Post 232: Taking nothing for granted

Going to the proms is regal, love or hate the Albert Hall, it just feels like a special place, I'd even go so far as to call it a 'wonder of the world' sure, it may not be as dramatically situated as the Sydney Opera House but at least the Albert Hall isn't in bloody Australia.
It is also one of the few pleasures I have left in life to take people to something they could do, but just wouldn't get around to doing. So last night I took my LSPs (long suffering parents). It makes it 100 times better taking people who enjoy it and my parents love the Proms. LSPs is actually an acronym my dad coined in a recent email he sent to me explaining how much him and Mum have had to put in (in money and hours) to keep me going since my stroke and their may have been times when I have let my stroke-affected self take them for granted. This is not me at all, I know better than to take anything or anyone for granted these days – my entire existence now is using whatever I have to let people know how important they are to me. On reading this if you feel taken for granted please let me know! I try harder than I ever have even if my outward persona says otherwise. F*cking brain injury!

21 Aug 2010

Post 231: Keeping busy

Further to my post about going to see Kasabian, I'm quite proud of the variety of stuff that I go to – admittedly I would go to almost anything although I draw the line at Simply Red, Phil f*cking Collins or bloody Cliff Richard and I probably wouldn't go and see Oasis because I think the Gallagher brothers are a pathetic excuse for humanity, but Barry Manilow, I might go and see, just out of curiosity. When I look at my upcoming events diary I'll pretty much go and see anything (if I can get tickets) within an hour of London, I seriously can't think of anything else I could do, I'm open to suggestions, seriously. I write when I've got something to write about. This isn't one of those occasions so I'm just going where the mood takes me and try to justify my existence which is quite hard to do, this topic crops up repeatedly, mainly because I haven't got any messages from people I need to reply too. Funnily enough, people stop asking the opinion of a sarcastic b*stard after a while even though (if I say so myself) I give f*cking good advice, you may well have to wade through some pisstaking to get there but it's there. I suppose this is the problem when you can only type so fast when feeling half asleep – the bullsh*t level increases as does my overall level of curmudgeonliness and this from a guy who's more or less decided that the only thing he can do with his life is write, oh dear, in what capacity? I am devoid of inspiration. All of these concerts and shows are ample stimulus for a blog but for a book? What the f*ck am I going to write about? Oh well, I've got two prom concerts this weekend which I suspect will be slightly less Mental than Kasabian on Thursday but it's nice to take my parents out (tonight) and Mike and Gaelle (and Gaelles sweet little ten year old Lucie) tomorrow. Seeing other people enjoy these things is worth all the tiredness this brain insult can throw at me.

20 Aug 2010

Post 230: Some gigs again: Kasabian

I've seen some impressive live shows in my time (particularly in the last couple of years) and I was blown away by Kasabian's performance at the Brixton Academy last night. I came away thinking they were the ultimate live band. Once I'd calmed down a bit, I just thought they were exceptional.
In the last few years Kasabian are probably the band that have written some of my favourite tunes, from 'LSF' and 'clubfoot' to what are in my opinion two of the finest live tracks ever, 'where did all the love go?' and 'fire'. Also, Tom, the lead singer is mesmerizing. I don't think I have ever seen a crowd go as mental. Proper pandemodium. One thing I don't understand is the crowd Kasabian attract. It is almost exclusively men. I would estimate there were probably 100 (maybe more) blokes to every girl. A real sausage factory. At times the place felt like (what I can only imagine) a football terrace feels like with the home team scoring goal after goal. This was why I was so glad to have been taken by my mate Oli. He is a veteran of going to these kind of gigs and he helped me feel at ease in what at times felt like an oppressive atmosphere. The academy is awesome but being in a wheelchair it is sometimes better being in a larger venue where you feel you can escape. It did feel unbearably hot at times last night, but it felt like a special gig, different in every respect to the two prom concerts at the Albert Hall I'm planning to go to this weekend. I really don't think it's wrong to love both, I have so little I can truly appreciate these days that I appreciate everything I can and I stand by my stance on internet dating. I have only written to a couple of potential dates this week and guess what? Silence.

18 Aug 2010

Post 229: Boiling over slightly

One of my favourite lines from brilliant sitcom Peep Show is when Jeremy (the selfish one) says to Mark 'I'm bored, I'm dangerously bored, I almost did what Michael Hutchence and that MP did the other day' he then mimes the rest. This doesn't mean I'm about to erotically auto asphyxiate myself ( I couldn't if I tried) plus I think it's probably one of the more undignified ways to go – imagine the whispering it would create! But I can relate to being dangerously bored. It sounds like a contradiction in terms but let me assure you it's very real. I'm sure I wrote somewhere how work exists not just for us to earn money but so we can be independent but more importantly to give our lives structure and meaning. I wish I could find it in myself to write creatively like this all day but I just can't because typing is slow and tiring and I'm not that creative. No, I'm dangerously bored!
Up until recently I would have been a poster-child for 'the big society', basically, friends rallying around me, raising money off people who'd barely heard of me to go into this trust to help pay for my continuing therapy and improve the quality of my life, while people volunteered to come and see me or take me to things. I'm so grateful for all this but I'd be lying if I thought more than a handful still gave a toss. I need to be less co-dependent but ultimately it is still other people I am dependent on. So you might think my decision to basically give up internet dating a strange one but enough is enough. I felt like I was applying and re-applying for a job I was woefully under qualified for and every competitor was the bosses son. Putting I was a wheelchair bound stroke survivor plus this blurb:
“Intelligent, articulate joker/cheeky b*stard survived an almost fatal stroke in 2005, looking for a female best friend to spend the rest of time loving and laughing. Convalescence is dull on my own. I've got a nice house and a reasonable income, I just need someone special to share it with, someone who doesn't think they're selling themselves short by going out with a disabled guy.(this appears to be a common theme)
If you drive it'll help! Same, if you live near-ish. I'm not a f*ckwit or a nonce but the wall of silence I get is enough to persuade me to virtually forget the online dating game because a stroke survivor like me won't be given a chance. I refuse to believe that nothing I've ever done in my life counts for anything. And what's yellow and dangerous? A banana with a machine gun.”

yielded one of three outcomes:
1.Nothing – this describes the vast majority of my experience internet dating, like approaching a girl in a bar only for her to notice you and walk off and ignore you
2.A reply thanking me for my honesty – there must be some awful people in the world who feel they have to lie to get anywhere. f*ckers. Grrrr. Then a cursory reason why it's not going to happen including my personal favourite
3.I'm too selfish for it to ever work
My conclusion after two years of this sh*t: Give up. People tell me not to - 'she's out there' 'stop trying to look, just let it happen' I can't just bump into people, I can't leave the house! I hope this in some way helping to describe my pain. I'm sure I've got something to offer, there just aren't any takers and writing this sure won't do me any favours. There goes my dignity, not that that seems to mean much these days. And as for the 'Big Society' its fundamental flaw is that people will do only so much for others until they ask themselves 'what's in this for me? Because people only seem to care about themselves. If you think I'm being a bit nihilistic then swivel! Nothing to see here!

14 Aug 2010

Temporary post - too long to post on my facebook wall - does this make any sense?

Got this as a fwded email - thoughts? My reply was 'This has got republican fingerprints all over it -there is no way making a provision that big can create a positive cashflow from the tax shield it creates.'Maybe I'm wrong - my financial analyst and economics days were a long time ago.

It seems like a miracle that our beloved leader was able to convince BP to establish a $20 billion slush (oops, escrow) fund to compensate those hurt by the ongoing oil plume in the Gulf of Mexico. After all, he had no constitutional power to force them to do so; so had to resort to Chicago-style negotiating. But, let us take a closer look at the effect on BP`s finances: 1. BP will establish a $20 billion fund, but will pay only $7 billion into it during 2010. 2. BP is a British corporation, but has a very large operating entity in the US but only about 30% of it`s income is derived from the US. 3. By Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAP), BP must book the entire $20 billion expense in the year accrued. Therefore, they will book a $20 billion expense in 2010, reducing their US tax liability by $7 billion. 4. Our dear leader also convinced this massive corporation to show their concern for the small people by withholding dividends to their shareholders for the last 3 quarters of 2010. This reduces their outward cash flow by about $7.5 billion, including approximately 40% of that amount to US citizens. Assuming that the Bush tax cuts will survive through 2010, the US Treasury will lose another $450 million in taxes on that amount. We won`t even discuss the effect on the US economy. Let us put the results into a table easily understood by the small people (including me): BP Cash Flow: o Escrow funding ($7 billion) o Dividend saving $7.5 billion o Tax savings $7 billion o Net favorable cash flow : $7.5 billion US Treasury Tax Receipts: o BP Corporate income tax .... minus $7.5 billion o BP Shareholders ..... minus $0.45 billion o Net unfavorable tax receipts ..... minus $7.95 billion I guess we really should expect this. After all, our dear leader is the most inexperienced man in ANY room he enters. Now tell me Did the enlightened one Kick Ass, or did he get Sucker Punched? This is just one more reason why a ˜community organizer should NOT be negotiating anything dealing with money and finances! Bottom line: The $20 Billion BP is putting up will create a $7.5 Billion positive cash for BP flow this year. But, Obama actually thinks he really did something special and kicked ass (in his own words). In reality, BP executives are laughing at him and kicked his ass. Oh well whats new with this President anyway??? He is in over his head when he starts dealing with business people.

Post 227: 'Cat'astrophe averted and even better news

Very little of what happens these days is life affirming but a couple of good things happened lately. The first refers to the pun in the title. Earlier this week 'Cheese', the male silver tabby was knocked out of Susan's first floor window by his delightful sister or he saw the open window and made a bid for kitty freedom. Distraught Susan (bless her) was unable to catch the little blighter then and there but two days later we found him at the bottom of the garden with the help of his sister who obligingly mewed a lot, my brother braved some vicious scratches to grab him, Cheese has now been repatriated and Susan is now consolable after briefly entering the twilight inconsolable zone (that sometimes happens to females where whatever you say causes louder sobs. Man is rendered powerless when this happens. Girls will know what I'm talking about. Anyway having Cheese back has made me feel better. Speaking of being outnumbered by females, I was visited today by my oldest university mate (in that she was the person I met first) Vicky Denning (+her 19 month old daughter Jemima) and Fi (sister of my great friend Rick Sanderson)(+her 15 month old daughter Honeybea), they may have taken over my sitting-room by spreading baby toys all over the floor but I wouldn't have it any other way! It's being able to do this that is one of the reasons for being alive and the uplifting news doesn't end there, the phone went the other day and it was Carlie(more thorough readers of this may remember her as the tetraplegic girl I befriended in Putney Hospital) she was calling to tell me she had just got engaged to one of the hospital workers - this is amazing news, I'm so chuffed for her- I know better but I almost feel there's such a thing as Karma! The final bit of good news is that my friend Suze has agreed to be my new tenant. She will bring some much-needed smiles to this house.

The only downer is it's the same old me but maybe that's my destiny (not that I believe that b*llocks) to be this unmoving constant.

To try and inject some entertainment into my sad and lonely life I recently discovered some local comedy shows on monday nights, the first of which was a couple of weeks back when my mate Sacha took me down to Kingston to some dodgy pub called 'The fighting cocks' to see one of my favourite comedians, Stephen k Amos

basically trialling his new material for his Edinburgh festival show. Plus one of my favourite things happened, two of the guest's happened to be comedians I'd seen on TV but had no idea were on, Mock the week regular Andy Parsons

and Mock the week occasional Holly Walsh. Andy Parsons is a political comedian and satirist eg 'if you mix yellow and blue how sh*t is your government' whereas Walsh is an observational story teller e.g on being shown a flat in Peckham, Walsh to estate agent 'this place is a sh*thole!' Estate agent 'Yes, but it could be your sh*thole' and then Amos himself was on last was clearly feeling the temperature of the place which was dangerously warm - 'I think he once referred to it as 'the bowels of hell' was forced to remove his dripping shirt and don a curtain. Despite the temperature and the fact Sacha and I had to sit outside the main room because my chair wouldn't fit through the door we had a laugh, For a Monday night that is 'Job Done' and Sacha, who is officially the busiest person in the world made me feel privileged she had granted me an audience! Last Monday this comedy outfit 'out of the box' was at the Hampton Playhouse and Mike and Gaelle had offered to take me. People who make time for me change my life, otherwise I'd be stuck at home. Again Andy Parsons was on and he was enjoyable but I think we were there for Milton Jones eg Grandfather to young MJ, pointing at a large chocolate cake 'No-ones looking' MJ- 'So I punched granny in the face' or 'Mum once accidentally iced a cake with Tamazepam, that was a quiet Christmas'

His timing is brilliant, such a good surreal one line comedian. And finally, I got sent this (look for Newport State of Mind, sadly the original has been taken down for copyright infringement, BUT IT IS HILARIOUS and I read this statement on facebook the other day 'Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, if it were not for parody' ...How wrong can that be? What a pretentious and b*llocks thing to say If it makes you laugh, that'll do nicely (with the proviso no-one gets upset)

Finally, I have been saved from myself this weekend because old college friends Nic and Sally Walmsley emailed me yesterday after seeing I was free on Saturday night and offered to take me out for dinner. How Kind! And, I now look forward to Mondays because I have arranged my Yoga class for the afternoon and Sam (my instructor) is lovely. This is how I muddle through.

8 Aug 2010

post 226: I won't go and watch crap

Today is a day when I could do with having someone to talk to to check that I think I'm being reasonable. Here goes: On Friday I was told that being afraid of being tired or being afraid of feeling grim was not a legitimate reason for not wanting to do something, specifically, my decision to stop doing walking practice is not legitimate. I stand by my decision, I no longer have this sense of dread about the upcoming week, I can appreciate that I'm not deriving the same overall level of benefit but I am now channelling that energy into other area's which are tuned towards general health, I sure as hell didn't feel I was getting any better at walking, I had no idea that something that had been so effortless could be so difficult and soul – destroying, I am going to take it on again when I feel up to it physically and mentally. Not doing the walking practice has helped my mood and people who say that fear of tiredness is illusory are wrong. I get upset when people give up trying to understand this, expecting me to have energy when I just don't or to be able to be positive when there's nothing to be positive about, If I was lazing around doing nothing, then that would be a different story.
Fine, I've said my piece – I need to change the subject and introduce two more feline additions to my household. Pickle is still very much Top Cat and I adore her, she's just very independent so I figured why not get some additions, The neighbours two young cats may practically live over here but long have I heard about how affectionate Burmese cats can be so on Sunday 8th August we acquired a brother and sister, hitherto to be known as Ham & Cheese ( cheese is the Male silver Tabby) and they will be nominally Male and Female till it's time to get them done. Susan (my housekeeper) loves cats and has stoically agreed to keep them in her room for a month (brave lady). So till September I'll just imagine them but they are cute, apart from perhaps mice, who doesn't like kittens?
The third subject is that Proms season has started again and I went to Prom 38 with my parents last night. In fact I nearly didn't go after an accident on the M25 caused my folks to arrive here an hour late. I was fairly relaxed about this because it wasn't their fault, it's not like they'd left an hour late, they got here when they got here – we go to the concert when they got here – we miss a bit, so what, doesn't matter. I honestly don't know where I've got this louche laissez-faire attitude from? Not My Parents. When they got here they were furious, Dad just wanted to go home and Mum was behaving like that traffic jam had been put there deliberately to antagonise them, this is a peculiar feature of the middle classes, this feeling that the world is conspiring against them, when plainly it's not. Why can't the world just f*cking calm down. We're a frail species (don't I know) who can't deal with physical and mental turmoil which links me nicely back to the Proms, we missed the first piece and arrived just in time to hear a piece of modern classical music which can only have been written to describe turmoil! As a technical exercise aimed at getting the widest variety of sounds out of an Orchestra, I'm sure it's very testing and interesting, whereas Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky etc knew what they were doing to get a pretty tune out of an Orchestra it seems that today's composers are competing to write the score to a horror movie. Even so, Mum thought it was amazing, and indeed it was amazing that the conductor didn't just snap his Baton five minutes in and say to himself 'oh, what's the point? ' it sounds like sh*t'. It is testament to the skill of the Orchestra (apparently the British youth Orchestra) and the conductor that any sound came out at all. I just remember back to my school days in Chamber Orchestra playing 2nd Clarinet, the second we were off the melody all but the best musicians didn't have a bloody clue (I was sadly one of the clueless ones), in a piece with no melody who actually knows what's going on? This is one of the many reasons I love the Proms and concerts in general. Seeing talented people at the top of their game is awesome and going to a place like the Albert hall is to glimpse one of man's greatest achievements. I think/hope this is in some way true of each and everything I go to. I won't go and watch crap. That can almost be my slogan for my life which is now about going to these things. If you can drive and there's anything you want to go and see drop me a line and I'll see about getting tickets. This is the one thing in my life which causes me to forget my tiredness or fear of tiredness. For example, I spent an hour on hold on Friday to get tickets to see a band I never thought I'd see live – Guns and Roses – I've got my tickets. Bring it on! The only other noteworthy thing is that I am in the process of applying for a grant from charity Motability for a new van. My present van has stood me in OK stead but I've never been able to travel in my wheelchair for longer journeys because my position in the back with my chair over the rear axle has meant almost hitting my head on the roof on more bumpy roads and the complexity of the four point securing device has been gallantly used but only to secure the chair when I'm not in it and I've had to make the (often laborious) transfer to the front seat. Instead, I may have found a vehicle which I can drive into the front passenger seat and remain in my wheelchair, the only problem is without a substantial grant from Motability I can't afford it so fingers crossed.

5 Aug 2010

Post 225: The story so far (ish)

So, I started this little melodrama in January 2008, some 31 months ago and about two years after the stroke ( I couldn't have started before, I was too f*cked up) I started it because I felt trapped in hospital and needed an outlet but it has developed a couple of other uses, foremost among these was I used to get a ton of emails simply saying 'How are you?' or 'so what have you been up to ? or worse than that people used to ask these questions to my face. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing and hearing from people but as talking and typing are so slow, frustrating, exhausting and often humiliating (ie I sometimes forget what I was even doing in the morning!) I thought this was quite a good way to tackle this head on, it's also a pretty good way to gauge if someone genuinely gives a sh*t about you although it's sometimes pretty disturbing to find that people who you thought cared or should care simply can't be *rsed.
Maybe this is too dull, or it doesn't always make light or easy reading, especially as being light and airy or beating about the bush are not specialities of mine. My second reason for writing is to try and prove to the world that if I am to look like this disabled loser, I want to prove that I'm trying to do something with my life and that before this I wasn't a f*ck-up. I hate blowing my own trumpet but I had a great life before this and I am upset I've lost it. I'm tired of people telling me to be grateful for what I've got, I've said thankyou for it a million times, what I have is nothing compared to what I've lost. Trying to find and live out some slender positives in the face of this huge immovable, unchanging negative lump is not only bloody hard, it is unrealistic and stupid, There is no bright side to look on – noone in my shoes could do it, which is why I get incensed by the myriad people who say 'try to look at the positives, I've tried, I prefer reality and logic. I have been told in the past that I need to be more 'emotionally open'. That's fine until the emotions point to an unrealistic solution. Emotions are important when understanding humans, and I'm in danger of sexism here but it's always been women I've known (even Germaine Greer would admit it's women who are the more emotional sex) who have sometimes let their emotions carry them away and let things get out of control or as out of f*cking proportion as some football fans were about the world cup, it is one of the many reasons I have fallen in Love in the past – my response to female emotion sometimes, just sometimes brings out the best in me , other times, I have learned to try and listen rather than try and find a logical solution. Anyway, this isn't the time or the place for this. Back when I started writing this it was supposed to be a 'dear diary' type thing with opinions and themes running quite near the surface. I was not well enough to have started before January 2008 and it is arguable I have ever been well enough given how much it takes out of me to just get out of bed every day. I think the reason I do anything with life is to avoid boredom and because I feel I owe it to people, even before my stroke life was about avoiding boredom and pain at all costs (how can people be long distance runners?!) and to me not being bored meant laughter and love which is why having a laugh and being in love was everything to me then and it is everything to me now. In the language of Billy Connolly (I'm not just going to start swearing)
'Beigeness will not be tolerated' but I refuse to be like Madonna who apparently just tells people to their faces if they are boring her (apparently, according to Rupert Everett's autobiography), he's such a bitchy queen, and there may have been a couple of occasions when I've said 'Dilligaf' to my parents about their latest round of golf or the flower-arranging in church (Dilligaf is borrowed from bawdy Australian comedian Kevin 'bloody' Wilson and = Does It look like I Give A F*ck. Rude it may be, but it's less rude and disingenuous than saying 'reeeeeeeaaaally?' sarcastically, it also takes less effort and they know what it means.
Reading bits of it back does make me smile and well up in equal measure. My friends have consistently been amazing and I have often been at pains to thank people, because that is the way I have been brought up -posh or not, you are always grateful to people for everything they ever do for you and I am grateful to each and every person and I f*cking mean it. That said there are people that live their lives expecting gratitude which makes it hard to know where the hell you stand with them – especially now, when doing anything is exhausting. I don't even know how I manage this?!
Looking back it is obvious how terrified I was but at the same time needed change to make me feel I was getting anywhere, leaving hospital was a prime example. Going from a comparatively sheltered environment to semi-independent living, given how much help I needed in hospital to suddenly rely on as yet unfound carers, I was convinced I was going to die (I've always been one for melodrama). Anyhow, I hope the blog has shown how I've muddled my way through my life falling apart, making most of it up as I go along. Some might say this is no great change from my old life.
In my old life I could pretty much do as I pleased, I had freedom and independence, well as much as having quite a responsible job and a girlfriend who kept me on a tight leash would allow. What can I say, I was in love but I was too young to realise what I had but she wasn't, she was 4 years older and wanted to settle. I wasn't ready, and my DJ-ing hobby was taking off, sometimes with a gig a week, it was smalltime but fun as hell. So life was this huge stressful balancing act, between work, Natasha, my existing friends and my new friends and I didn't get the balance right. I loved my job though and as long as it paid the mortgage I was happy. I didn't have to work anything like the hours I had to work in the f*cking city and I got to manage people. Working for John Lewis had it's idiosyncracies but it was a great place to work. To this day it is the fact that John Lewis pay me a disability pension that I can afford food, heat and light. It also gives me great pleasure that one of my best friends (Vicky Denning) chose to work at John Lewis (she is now personnel director) because of the way they treated me after I had my stroke (half of the directors came to visit me in hospital and the Chairman came to my rehab ward in summer 2006). I felt honoured and was a boost to my rock bottom self-esteem. That would have been about four years ago now and just thinking of it makes me realise they valued me then, it is so hard for me to look in the mirror now and understand why they bothered. I may be able to sit in my wheelchair now and hold my head straighter now than I could four years ago but I've never felt any better and all I can see is this dark abyss of tiredness stretching out until the end of my life whenever that may be.
What I have therefore tried to do is keep in touch with my existing friends and use every penny I have to try and eke out an existence. I have pretty much worked out that the only thing I can do with my life is write somehow, I did try with limited success to do an internet creative writing course but it turned out to be sh*t (hasn't my technical jargon improved?) so I am now getting help from a friend to start a mentorship. I am starting Yoga next week to help me with my breathing and I continue to do an hours physical exercise everyday. On top of this my former housemate Claire got me into transcendental meditation which together with the Yoga will help me quiet my overactive mind and chill the hell out. I also spend as much as my evening and weekend time going to concerts or watching live stand-up because sitting at home feeling like sh*t is boring. This is not the life I imagined and there are still many holes in it. The biggest by far is finding a girl to share everything I have who likes my company, sense of humour and the fact that I was nicknamed 'the anaconda' at college (I can't believe I just wrote that!), this is hard because I reckon I'd be fine if physical appearance didn't count for anything, anyone who says they don't is lying. I'd be fine if this were true, and I wouldn't worry so much, but I know what I'm like, I was a serial monogamist between the ages of 18 and 30 (not with the same girl, don't be silly), my cheeky banter was ok and hopefully still is but I have been cut down and left to wither. A friend of a friend talked me down from my heartbreak but now I am a lost soul losing what's left of my dignity and what's more I've given up internet dating because blokes in wheelchairs get ignored. Anyway, as long winded as this post has been it tells the story leaving out most of the specifics.



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