26 Feb 2011

Post 272: Making something out of nothing+Supplemental

So, it's Saturday and it feels right that I should probably get on with writing something but in the last week I've done my hours torture (physio) a day and not much else. The activity for the week has been trying to organise my 34th birthday on the 20th March and going to see a film last night with great mate Will, whose wedding I couldn't go to because of the bloody snow in December . Thankfully, despite some depletion of numbers the wedding went ahead and it sounded great - although I was slightly disappointed to hear that he hasn't knocked Liga up yet!
Anyway, the film we saw in Epsom last night, 'Paul', was enjoyable Hokum, but won't be troubling anyone's 'best ever' lists despite the fact that Paul (the Alien) is without question a 'dude'.It's people offering to take me to things like this that makes me think that life isn't so bad, although the real goal would be to find a girl to fall in love with who I'd feel I was living for, at the moment I'm not sure who I'm doing my torturous physio for. Fine, I'm doing most things for my friends and family (see last post) but there feels like a big gap, a yawning chasm, a metaphor of such enormous silliness that I can't even think of it! I'll change the subject before I start going on about how lonely this is blah blah.
So despite not much going on that I can say has contributed much to my general state of happiness I took some solace in some TV watching during my Saturday morning lie-in. While watching the heavily edited (for swearing) NME awards on T4 that happened at the Brixton Academy last night. Despite me wanting to punch Nick 'I've always got a backstage pass' Grimshaw for his unforgivable haircut and unbelievable 'you're all peasants' smugness, it was enlightening stuff, 'Hurts', a brilliant electropop duo who I got wind of a while ago and started raving about won best new band, Alexa Chung looked sexy and the Foo Fighters were awesome, Hurts and them are the two bands I most want to see. Today has also been punctuated by my college mate James Renshaw popping in for tea – we had a very interesting chat about the search for moral truth and our shared dislike for organised religion. Interesting stuff that needs frequent discussion and that I find myself thinking about a disturbing amount these days and I really don't think I'm idle. Numbers for my birthday lunch are at~50 (not including kids) plus I've got the arrival of my new wheelchair accessible van in April to look forward to. Given how important my current van has been, I anticipate this one (in which I can drive my wheelchair into the front passenger seat – will change my life, making it so much easier for anyone to take me out.

SUPPLEMENTAL - Once again I have failed to take a picture &*%$! but as it's Sunday, I just got taken out for lunch by two very dear friends, Alex Dundas and Helen Turnbull, seeing them has made me feel like a worthwhile person again, words fail me! Both were in the year above me at university – I am so very fond of both of them.

24 Feb 2011

Post 271: The Tightrope

In many ways this is by far the most difficult post I have had to write because so many things have been swimming around in my head about it, it's difficult to get it down on paper. It's why I dropped philosophy at university because I'd find myself pacing around my kitchen at 4AM wondering whether or not I existed.
I like to think of myself as a fairly decent bloke, always engaged in walking the tightrope
that is life, getting on with people whilst always having a viewpoint on things, a sociopath with an intermittently functioning tact filter. To me the cardinal sin is to be boring, so I've always tried to be interesting by being easy going, but not easy going in the 'daft hippy' sense. Tolerant of most things except crass stupidity, vulgarity, self importance,self promotion, self agrandisation and ostentation. People who take themselves too seriously annoy me although life is serious and can be unbearably hard. This unbearability and seriousness can only be mitigated by the kindness of other people, which is why when people are relieved they say 'my faith in human nature has been restored' – I've said it a few times but humans seem to be selfish in nature so the jury's out, friends and family are so important. I have been brought up to believe that there is nothing more important than my family and friends and everything about this experience has taught me this is fundamental to human existence, but neither should ever be taken for granted so as much as my journey through life has been compromised every decision or thought process I have always considered the consequences for my friends and family or for making new friends. You might be reading this and thinking 'calm down', even if you're not from Liverpool but life is serious sh*t and as much as we all do our best we can somehow make light of it.
Making and maintaining friends is in my opinion the single most important thing in life, a distant second is making sure you are happy. As soon as your ability to make yourself happy is compromised (by say having a stroke) it all becomes about everyone else. I'll give you an example, next month is my 34th birthday – as is traditional, I am going to try and organise a gathering of perhaps 50 people. It is clearly a big day for me but I have been racked with worry about whether it will inconvenience people, cost them too much, will it be an occasion that some people will hate, will it cost my parents loads, will it inconvenience the venue? Blah blah, all this and it's supposed to be my birthday party -sure, going on past form it does help me feel 'these people are here because of me' which makes me feel good but it's always going to be for them and only a tiny bit for me, but especially for my folks. Making them feel proud is great, feeling pride in someone is the best feeling and if you have a stake in creating that feeling, all the better. All effort or expense is worthwhile. Think about it. Make people proud! If this was too introspective and philosophical, tough.Maybe this picture of Ham (left) and Cheese will help. Its hard to believe they're brother and sister?I'll leave you with my current favourite cartoon character, the appearance of whom on TV always makes me laugh, probably because he makes me, the Hypnotoad

20 Feb 2011

Post 270: A week saved by kindness and nice people

It's difficult to be too positive about this week because as things stand I definitely wasn't able to see Maroon 5 at Brixton Academy on Thursday and I don't have a lift yet to see Russell Howard at the Dome tonight although some last minute heroics(on Saturday) have saved that . At the time it felt like a terrible waste. It does mean that I'm no longer going to book things during the week unless I have a firm assurance beforehand that I'll have a driver which is difficult to do months in advance. People understandably have their own lives and problems but it feels like my life is getting less and less important to other people. Despite this planet killer of a thought, which you're probably wondering why I've even included (because this blog is supposed to include an accurate record of my feelings, as much as I am familiar with bullsh*t, I think you can handle the truth) I have consoled myself by being taken to see on Wednesday a dramatic monologue written and performed by one of the real finds of this whole ghastly experience, Daniel Kitson and the fact that Helen VJ and James dropped in on me for tea yesterday late afternoon and almost as a joke I said that I had one spare ticket for Russell Howard's sold out show 'would there be anyway we could work it'. I am still virtually speechless at how kind they were. James revealed he was probably a little over the limit from a lunch he'd been at so Helen (who'd never driven my van before or even on the M25 bravely offered to drive James and I to the Dome which James had never been to before, take the tube home, then drive her car down to my house at midnight to pick James up after he'd driven me back from the Dome. What a pair of heroes, this is quite possibly one of kindest things anyone has ever done, ever! James and I enjoyed Russell Howard too. Not my favourite comedian because anyone so relentlessly positive and happy is clearly out of touch with reality, although selling out the Dome at the age of 30 must make him feel brilliant! Daniel Kitson was so much better, he was the nuts and is one of the most Side splittingly funny stand up comedians and most compelling speakers I have ever seen. Jose (my personal trainer) and his girlfriend Bec had spotted Kitson was on at the Aldershot West End Centre where I am now 2 for 2 at getting Kitson for telling me off during the show for taking pictures both of which have come out brilliantly (if I say so myself) Although his self written monologue - 'The Interminable Suicide Of Gregory Church' lacks some of the biting irony and observation of his stand up the compelling nature of the story and Kitson's energetic fluent delivery more than makes up for it although my one comment to him is to leave it till the end that it's all made up, it makes the gasp factor more profound. I remember vividly going to a 'work in progress' show where for £2 a ticket he literally read it off his laptop back in July 2009 just because he wanted to gauge what people thought of it. He knew it was good, He wanted to get it just right! He's continually analysing and re-analysing his actions to make sure he is achieving the most utilitarian outcome. Something I try to do. I like to think I respond well to constructive criticism and deprecating banter but I will vociferously stand my corner if anyone calls me a c***.

Last but certainly not least I want to thank the lovely Viola for coming to see me yesterday, she moved to the area at about the same time as me and saw an old advert advertising a room on Gumtree. As someone relatively new to the area her goal of meeting new local friends is the same as mine, it's always good to meet new, nice people.

13 Feb 2011

Post 269: A better end to the week despite Vday next week

Unlike last years post, this won't just be a diatribe about Valentines day likely being sh*t, although I have employed similar tactics to last year and hope the ladies in question feel special and admired when their flower(s) arrive(s), instead I'm going to talk about something different. It can't have escaped people that TV advertising is a disgrace, in fact it scares me that expenditure on car insurance, cash for gold, debt consolidation, injuries at work, and buying second hand cars seems to fund commercial television but my indignation was summed up the other day by Charlie Brooker (an angry man for sure) when he pointed out that the unrest and anger in Egypt might be related to the dreadfullness of the Tutankhamen themed Go Compare adverts which at the very least make me grope for the 'Off' button and seriously think of ways I could break my telly. I agree with Brooker – I'd love to see Go Compares man's head on a pike.
Because I've been feeling a bit war-like, I've been listening to some high brow literature, Tom Clancy's 'Red Storm Rising', It is riveting stuff – a neo-conservative wet dream probably because the US show 'Ivan' who really rules the world. I'm quite surprised Rumsfeld doesn't have some sort of cameo. Anyway, I thought I'd listen to it because I enjoyed the book on a holiday years ago back when I could take holidays and read books. Just before I left hospital I listened to 'The Bear and The Dragon' essentially the same book as 'Red Storm Rising' where China invades Russia and America saves the world instead of Russia invading Europe and the middle East and America saves the world, just the thing to put me in a romantic mood?!
Well,there have been a few things that have made the week ok. First and foremost was meeting a new friend Jatinder and introducing her to the ace food at the Bear on Saturday, she was very level headed and brave to come and meet a stranger like me, particularly one who writes a blog like this. Meeting people like her makes life worthwhile. Secondly is having Sunday lunch and sharing time with some my favourite people, the Lloyds (the Rev'nd Richard and Vicky) and the Dennings (PJ and Vicky). Both Vickys are~7months pregnant and doing great, I am honoured that they make the time for me and finally my mate Chris Dugdale (the magician) told me he is around to do my 34th next month – invites will go out tomorrow, I hope I haven't left it too late. All of this made up for the disappointment of missing the awesome 'White Lies' at Shepherds Bush Empire on Friday, where Oli and I turned up at the box office to collect my tickets, 'sorry we have no record of your booking'. I was mortified. Thanks to Oli for being cool, we drove home, had a couple of glasses of wine and watched the hilarious Kevin Bridges on DVD. Something of a save, despite Valentines day next week being a grim reminder of the lonliness I seem to be faced with.

6 Feb 2011

Post 268: I mustn't moan

I've had a few messages which have alluded to this self-indulgent sh*te being a bit whiney, I hate whingeing, even though I have more than most to whinge about, however that's not bloody good enough.. Trying to write without moaning, hmmm, I'm not even sure that's possible, well, it's worth a go.
I'm having a bit of a culture clash with the kind people who help me, I have pretty much decided that struggling with things is not what I want to do but everything is a struggle these days which puts me in a bit of a pickle. I guess like most things since my stroke, it's just tough sh*t, take the rough with the smooth and other such clichés. I have also been slightly concerned of late that the social life and entertainment I pursue to keep myself sane is a source of resentment to some. This sounds like another bloody whinge! I guess part of the reason I write this is to try and get feedback. I don't know what I'm doing (no sh*t) and I'm not bloody minded enough to just be convinced that I'm doing the right thing and do it. I might get a bit cocky, but I haven't signed up for 'project ostrich'.
Because seeing people is what keeps me going I organised lunch yesterday with six friends who have been so loyal – it's a good job I don't let my self-consciousness get the better of me otherwise I wouldn't have the guts to do anything, but seeing Jo and Gary and their sweetheart 16 month old Sophia and Michael and Gaelle and Simon and Johnnie Random (aka Jonathan Edwards) made me feel so much better. They are such a fun bunch who I met in my DJing days and despite the fact that I am a very different person they have been great. I took Gary and Michael (well Michael drove) to go and see Radio 4 double act Punt and Dennis at the Richmond Theatre on Wednesday.Now that this country is being run by a double act they are more relevant than ever, and have been two of the countries top political satirists for an age, basically with Steve Punt doing most of the talking, Hugh Dennis plays the fool, a lot of their material being observations about how sh*t Britons think Britain is. It was great stuff and yet more evidence that doing this kind of thing is the right thing for me to do. Speaking of double acts, I am loving some of the Armstrong and Miller show which contained this particular line from Horstadt, one of the 16th Century Vampires living in Modern times – while trying on modern clothes, he says 'Gok Wan says it is quite the thing', his companion says 'but who is Gok Wan?' Horstadt replies hilariously 'a gregarious Sodomite of some repute' I saw that weeks ago and it still makes me laugh! I am also loving 'Ten O'Clock Live', channel 4s irreverent look at the weeks news on Thursday with a few of my favourite comedians and Jimmy Carr. Despite most of the show being pre-written and on the autocue there are a few segments where the guys really have to get their brains out, particularly where David Mitchell has to interview people, I was particularly impressed by the way Mitchell interviewed surely the most slippery character ever, Alistair Campbell. I thought he handled him brilliantly. Mitchell must have been packing himself! I also watched 'Wall Street 2' on Friday night with local friend and Greek Goddess Christina, her perspective on life is so refreshing and as a political lobbyist in the area of finance we have a few common interests. The first Wall Street said lots about the madness of the 80s, this tells us a lot about the madness that led to the credit crunch and the global recession. My 2ps worth for what it's worth is that more people like Gordon Gekko
should have gone to jail. As is my wont I want to publish the latest iteration of the message I sometimes send out on dating sites, I think (at least I hope) it's getting better. Big thanks for the constructive input I've had from some quarters, particularly from Jatinder.

I'm sorry if this is a bit much, but my situation is rather unusual and all this is quite important (I think). I've looked at your picture and it's really nice so I might as well get this out in the open straight away, I'm currently physically disabled but I am a hopeless Romantic. I just survived a stroke in Christmas 2005 caused by a blood vessel weakness I was born with but didn't know about until it ruined Christmas and I woke up three weeks later, since then I've had to use a wheelchair. When I look at my situation totally objectively and dispassionately, I realise I have been fortunate because I have been left with more than most that I want to and can share with someone, My major asset is my memories and my past life, essentially who I am which I can try and sell myself with, many wouldn't even have this, two more of these assets are materialistic, a mortgage free 4 bedroom house in Oxshott (apparently a des res in London commutersville with excellent local schools, christ, apparently it's the best place to live in the country!), the 2nd is a decent stable pension, hardly riches but enough to live on, the unmaterialistic (more important I believe) things are a big group of mates and a fantastic extended family, both are a huge support and source of inspiration for my future and my day to day plans. I have (I think) somehow retained my dignity and sense of humour, some have even said this has added another 'darker' dimension to it, I am slightly concerned because they say forces could be at work in the ole noggin, if 'they' say so, 'they' are rarely wrong! It has always been pretty dark and tended towards the sarcastic and nihilistic I.e, the world can be pretty sh*te, you get out of it, what you put in, this maybe one of the only clichés I can put up with. Life owes you nothing, and there are times these days when I feel like making a tremendous effort even though I am exhausted most of the time(I always look for gigs and comedy shows that friends can drive me to), I will always try and be one of life's organisers but there are always those days when I feel utterly exhausted and need someone to metaphorically inflate me so I can make the most of what I have. Life can be tough but I try and soldier on. I guess it's because deep down I know life can feel so much better than this. In the words of genius Bill Bailey parodying Barack Obama 'It is the 'soul-crushing inevitability of hope' – this raises a smile to a face that used to smile so much more but a smile that will hopefully find reason in future to be used more often.

The net result of all this is I'm looking for the right girl to share everything with to work as a team because I am convinced this can lead to a comfortable, happy, fulfilling future for us both. As much as I am semi-independent now, I need someone who can drive and is ok with being with me after work in the evenings. Someone who is happy in my company who I miss when they're not here. In the long run I am looking for a lover who will be my best friend. I hope to be a writer in future. My blog will tell you about me.
wwwdotsurvivingastrokedotblogspotdotcom. Bear in mind I'm no Russian Oligarch. This is me giving future happiness a shot.

And finally, I want to leave you with some funny words. I have been taking in with interest developments in the Egyptian crisis as I used to live in Cairo more than 25 years ago and back then Mubarek was president, (just think how much he has embezzled in that time?!) from Charlie Brooker: 'the west saying they've supported Mubarek as the 'stability' candidate is a bit like saying, if you need your patio done, I know he's got a bit of a temper, but Fred West's your man'.



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