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28 Nov 2010

Post 257: Not the best, but it's been worse

If I'm honest not a great week for my rehab, after consistently bettering my walking times over the last 7 weeks across a variety of distances and managing the majority of my daily schedule, my times for a lap of the garden didn't improve and I didn't manage as much of my daily schedule as I perhaps should have. Luckily the week ended better when I managed to knock a minute off my round the block time to 11.02. I think Ian has succeeded in persuading me there is an immediate direct correlation between my walking times and how much of my torturous daily schedule I do. I am taking steps (no pun intended) to try and do more of it by always doing my 20 minutes of standing on my power plate after I have breakfast each day. I may struggle with it but at least it makes my body warm and I think we all know how bloody cold it has been! I have also invested in one of those bloody Wii consoles to help with my hand-eye coordination on the advice of my lovely Yoga instructor Sam who expressed concern that I seemed 'more down' than usual, I have explained to her that I have been struggling with my daily rehab schedule because I find it skull crushingly boring, so I tried out my brothers Wii on her advice and decided that even though I'm no gamer, it might be less boring. I've also got my counsellor, Cathy, coming to discuss short term goals with Ian and I next friday, this is critically important because my long term goal of walking independently again just seems too far off at the moment.
Enough already about the stuff I have to do. As usual it has been the stuff I don't have to do that has kept life interesting. Firstly I am disappointed, shocked and appalled at how many internet scams there are out there that exist to part the punter from their cash and having knackered eyesight doesn't help. Like a fool I entered my debit card details onto some site or other and before I knew it the f*ckers have charged me £25 for nothing – I suppose I should be grateful it wasn't more, if it wasn't for my dad (my power of attorney) I'm sure I would have been defrauded of lots more. I'm not stupid, I just have bad eyesight!
So this week I have been to two things of note, going to see Jason Manford for the 4th time on Wednesday. I first saw him in November 2008 (post 82) and he is just a nice young lad from Manchester, probably 5 years younger than me but so worth seeing because his observations have genuine gravitas and he is very likeable despite falling into the fashionable honeytrap that is 'sexting' fans. When are celebrities going to learn that nothing good can possibly come of this activity. I know it seems unlikely that scumbag Ashley Cole could teach anyone anything, but texting a stranger anything suggestive has gotta be up there with giving your debit card details to some random website if you're short sighted. To Manfords credit he managed to do the gig despite a higher and louder than average amount of heckling that night. Muggins here didn't know about the scandal till much later, but I now understand why Angus Deayton couldn't continue as the host of 'Have I got news for you'. Paul and Ian would have torn him apart every week. I again have Tanya to thank for saving the day and driving me – she is a big comedy fan despite being tricky to make laugh – well, she is a Saffa.
Anyway, the day after (Thursday) was a mixed bag because I had to go to Charing Cross hospital for an MRI scan. These things may be painless but I can ensure you, there is something deeply Traumatic about going back to the place you spent 7 weeks as a high dependency patient. There's also something faintly sinister about MRI scans. For a start their idle noise appears to be the same as every baddies lair in any James Bond film, you then get put into a machine that looks like a nuclear reactor surrounded by warning signs and people with white coats and clipboards, whilst in the machine you're told not to move, not that you can while the machine sounds like it's going into meltdown around you. Doubtless it's clever, expensive technology, but it feels more like being buried alive with a temperamental nuclear warhead. Luckily, it went as planned although I don't anticipate hearing results for several weeks. I'm hoping that it will show my AVM (the thing who's explosion in my brainstem 5 years ago virtually killed me, I'm hoping this scan shows it is no longer a danger to me. After the ignominy of this experience I had booked for my parents and I to go to an evening of 'the great classics' at the Albert Hall for Bruch's violin Concerto played by the stunning and stunningly talented Nicola Benedetti. I was speechless at both her beauty and her gift for playing the violin. I simply said 'WOW' when she had finished and concentrated looking daggers at the Nobhead who talked through most of the performance, clearly trying to show off his knowledge of classical music. His stupid white beard served to remind me of the horrible eye consultant with the bedside manner of a Dalek who told me that my eyesight would never get better. He's called Mr Lee and my recollections of him being a knob from 2006 are here and from 2008 are here. My parents and I managed to still enjoy the performance and Holsts 'the planets' were incredible.
And Finally, following on from the theme of having a perfect moral and ethical record to do anything in the public eye (my skeletons are probably attached to my wheelchair beccause my closet is upstairs, I was dead chuffed to see a friend of mine who I'll never get any dirt on, despite him being a Tory MP, Matt Hancock, I'm just astounded and grateful that him and his family find time to come and see me. His wife, Martha is awesome, so kind and understanding, she must be being married to Matt, and their two kids, Hope and Ferdi are scarily grown up now, when I first met them they were weeks old and I could barely speak.

21 Nov 2010

Post 256:Underworld and moments in life

I said in the last post that I'd keep you informed about the Underworld gig at Brixton academy so I shall. First and foremost I want to thank my two mates who accompanied me, Dom Icely, who drove and Simon Winstanley, who met us there – if I were to choose two people in the whole world to have gone with to a gig like this, it would be these two. The first issue was that we all arrived at about 7:30 to be told that underworld were coming on at midnight, so this was going to be the latest night I'd done in four/five years. I thought I'd specifically asked the box office guy and my understanding was that live acts at Brixton Academy started so people leaving could still get the last tube before midnight. Trust me, I used to live in Brixton, if there's one place you don't want to get stranded at 2am in the winter, or any time of year for that matter, it's delightful Brixton!
So we resigned ourself to sitting there for hours and broke out our best chat. Simon reminded me that seeing Underworld at Somerset House on a perfect summers evening in 2004 was easily in his top 5 nights out ever. I'd go further, I was there and it was the best night out dancing I've EVER had. Simon then went on to describe in the same terms I would have used as to why this was the case, it was the coincidence of weather, music, venue and critically, people that formed this apex of awesomeness that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Sadly, it is just a memory and a moment that'll never happen again but that's life. Underworld were brought to the world's attention when several of their tunes featured in Trainspotting, Trainspotting is according to wikipedia, a 1996 British drama filmdirected by Danny Boyle based on the novel of the same name by Irvine Welsh. The movie follows a group of heroin addicts in a late 1980s economically depressed area of Edinburgh and their passage through life. It is genius and Underworld's pulsating, throbbing electronic music fits better than perfectly into some key scenes. These tunes on a perfect summer's evening in the courtyard of one of the most beautiful buildings on the Strand, when surrounded by your mates when you know you'll be waking up the next day with the girl you love in your arms is what life is all about. Underworld were just brilliant last night and it was great that Dom and Simon were there, a particularly funny story, was, when I looked like I was flagging, Simon goes 'Sambuca' and I said 'yup', Dom chuckled and said 'you were both bluffing, he's now gone to the bar, this is how wars start!', the aniseedy liquer went down surprisingly well, I used to have a laugh, now everything else is different. Karl Hyde (the Underworld vocalist) is mental and commands the stage as well as anyone, the only person I've ever seen get so lost in the music is the James lead singer, and Brixton Academy in the winter is as good a venue in the winter as Somerset House in the summer, the crowd just get it, it is intense and not for the faint hearted.

20 Nov 2010

Post 255: Busy

So, like I said last week, this week looked like being pretty full on! I have just about managed both my rehab and my evening 'keeping me sane' activities. I also discovered how important facebook is for staying in touch with people. On Friday lunchtime I updated my status to tell people about the improvement I have made in my walking time thus
'Just walked round the block in 12.12 down from 15.02, fuuuuuuuuuuuck ', I didn't really think too much of this at the time (because I was broken) but by lunchtime today it had generated 24 'likes' and about 30 pretty motivational comments. This is helpful. About six weeks ago I felt like a lost cause, now I am less lost and have caught a whiff of a bacon sandwich! I have been out 4/5 nights this week. Firstly, to see the Coral at the Albert Hall on Monday
with my cousin Nicky. A Singer herself, she was just the person to go with because the folky singer/songwriter warm ups were just her thing and the Coral's indie sound was ideal for both of our tastes. On Tuesday I went to the Dome to see Gorillaz, an electronic/audio-visual hip-hop side project of Blur frontman Damon Albarn. The guy clearly has a lot of Talent because as a general rule I despise hip hop unless it's quite melodic and manages to avoid the brash aggressiveness and posturing materialism I associate with the genre. Oli and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I came away thinking it was unlike anything I'd seen or heard before. It was a thoroughly cinematic musical experience with the Dome experience being second to none. Perfect sound and a huge screen showing the frankly strange visual accompaniment. Albarn is obviously not normal, so rather than get locked up in an asylum he has created Gorillaz. Before this it was my mums 71st birthday and she barely looks a day over 60. This was yet another excuse for us to decamp to the Bear for lunch en Masse -Susan (my housekeeper) and Suzanne (my housemate) as surrogate members of the family because of the care and support they give to me were both in evidence, it's the least we can do. On Thursday, it was comedy time, seeing Lee Mack at the Hammersmith Apollo for the 2nd time, the 4th time I've seen him in total. He's always brilliant live, with the kind of nervous energy I'd imagine someone with Tourettes to have. Coincidentally, he does a couple of genius routines on Tourettes that I'd be rolling in the aisles if I could! I have my old friend Tanya to thank for stepping in and taking me at the last minute after a cock-up over my lift. She made me promise not to use this photo of her but I think she looks alright, and finally last night I took my parents to the Albert Hall to a 'Classical Spectacular'. I owe my parents so much that the least I can do is find good things to take them to. It was right up their streets, basically a mini last night of the proms in winter with lasers , nice lighting and indoor fireworks, all the Pomp and Circumstance with plenty of union jack waving and some pretty special classical music including 'Nessun Dorma' sang by a brilliant tenor called Jesus. All this from my favourite seats.
Getting to go to these things with people who enjoy it makes the exhaustion worthwhile. In my scarce spare time I have been listening to the autobiography of Rolling Stones medical miracle Keith Richards. I say miracle because at a recent concert, Mick Jagger said 'it's nice to be here' without missing a beat Keef chimed in 'it's nice to be anywhere'. The man's longevity may defy logic but his life is interesting. His friend Johnny Depp, reads the audiobook and it's impossible not to see Jack Sparrow bumbling his way through life. What particularly resonated is the way he says he couldn't live without music, I'm no rolling stone but the same is true of me. To him it may have been Elvis and Little Richard, I can't be that specific. I'm off tonight to see the guys responsible for the best gig I ever went to as an able bodied person, Underworld. I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.

14 Nov 2010

Post 254: I'm no Emo

You'd probably be forgiven for thinking I'm some sort of Emo based on the gigs I've been to this week. To tell you the truth I just buy tickets for whatever's on. Usually months in advance, ie whenever they announce it – sometimes I will have barely heard of the band, If someone volunteers to take me, we have a winner – I get to see the person who takes me, we almost always enjoy the gig and it gets me out of the house! I sometimes overstretch myself – for example next week, I have something every night, but I cope with it – because I bloody well ought to and I do my damnedest to do my rehab. This is life these days. So this week I went to see Linkin Park on Thursday at the Dome taken by old DJing buddy Jim. Jim is a bit of a musical encyclopaedia and informed me that the genre when they rapped/shouted over a rock bass and leadline was nu-metal, to me it just sounded like the Beastie Boys who are great. There's also something about the atmosphere and pandemonium live, loud music creates – it's chaos, in a controlled environment, and I'm still a young enough human to enjoy that, no matter how tired and constrained I feel.
For similar reasons I went to England v Australia at Twickenham yesterday or to be more accurate because my Dad
loves it, and because I'm disabled we get amazing seats! I still can't follow any of the play but I do it for Dad plus we stuck it to the Aussies which is a massive bonus, because they are sportingly the most arrogant nation on the planet. In the evening it was the first time I had done two events in one day since my stroke, I went to the Dome to see American indie rockers Paramore. I had bought the tickets months ago on the strength of hearing them live on Radio One. It was sold out and they were great. There was more teenage Angst at the Dome than in the latest Harry Potter movie. One teenage girl behind me kept screaming 'I love you Haley'. I must admit Hayley, the lead singer is rather cute but curmudgeon me couldn't see the point in this teenage girl screaming it again and again. I guess that's the essence of live music. I have my personal trainer Jose and his girlfriend Bec to thank for taking me and although the teenage Angst and oestrogen was sometimes a bit much we loved it, it's nice to see Jose when he's not flogging my guts out! And special thanks to them for stepping in at the last minute when my friend Rachel worked out she couldn't do it. She more than made up for it when her and her charming other half Mat took me and my housemate Suzanne for Sunday lunch at the Bear today – now if you don't mind, it's bedtime. Although I can't resist putting this picture of 'Cheese' up -not the most flattering angle but f*ck it, he's a cat

11 Nov 2010

Post 253: ahh redheads

Another week where I continue the balancing act that is my life, ironic that my major problem is balance. I do try to complete my daily rehab schedule but sometimes don't manage it particularly as there's so much on at this time of year and my priority is no longer my friends apparently, no, it's my rehab. Trying to achieve any sort of life with little energy is hard to do but I try. Somehow, I've found the time to listen to comedian Michael Mcintyres autobiography in the last week and I'd commend it to anyone especially anarcho-syndicalists just to see their skin crawl at his middleclassness!
I don't think I'd be wrong in saying that he has managed to achieve everything through self confidence which is a shame because this is the commodity my stroke has robbed me of. A lot of people equate self-confidence with arrogance. This is wrong. Self confident people with nothing to be confident about are arrogant – it's funny how this almost always coincides with the person being a dick. The key to being self confident without being an arrogant dick is self-awareness,i.e knowing how confident you can be about a subject or a person around that person. Cor, this is getting a bit boring and philosophical.
The other thing it did was it made me feel ok about always having women on the mind and made me realise how much better my life could be. Trouble seems to be that any girl worth her salt wants a confident bloke not someone who used to be confident.
One thing I am confident about is I seem to have an unhealthy obsession for red hair because I seem to be drawn to Florence from Florence and the machine who I saw in May (post 206) and I went to see Paloma Faith on Monday and it's pure coincidence that my driver for the evening, Felicity, has red hair, she's funny though, after I pointed out Eliza Doolittle (the support act) was 'a cute little thing' she said 'maybe, but that skirt makes her look like a whore'. There's no good answer to that! Paloma Faith didn't look like a whore though. Her chats with the crowd proved to me she was easily as likeable as when I saw her on Never Mind the Buzzcocks
last year and Noel Fielding said after she sang a couple of lines from one of her songs 'Paloma, I think I'm a little bit in love with you', me too.This romance was broken by going to see Glaswegian funnyman Kevin Bridges at the Hammersmith Apollo last night (Wednesday). Luckily it was nothing like as packed as it had been on Monday but it was great – the unexpected treat being that the excellent Simon Evans was warming up for the young Glaswegian protege. Lets just say that mine and Olly's
(my uni mate Gina's husband) (post 251) jaws hurt by the end, Bridges is brilliant, Evans was superb! Mark my words. Two guys to Watch!
Not much of a life but an attempt.

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