29 Apr 2011

Post 285: Does anyone care? Computer says NO!

Well I wrote most of this over the course of the week and it's friday today 'WE day', and trying to avoid the wedding coverage has been impossible. I've been half expecting Huw Edwards on the BBC to say 'psych'', turn all the cameras off, and apologise for wasting everyone's time – It might have been a hell of an event but the fuss about a pretty attractive girl marrying a balding chinless wonder has been excessive. I was thinking 'Nice one Will, you're batting well above your average' that said I really don't get all the fuss.
So, I was at my parents place (thankfully without my sister's 'adorable' children) this last weekend because I haven’t
worked out a way I can be at home on my own. Obviously the fact that I
have this option and my parents allow me to take it makes me
very lucky but I wish it was first on the list, despite the
fact they do what they can to make my stay comfortable. I sometimes
feel like a fish out of water, in my house I feel I know where
things are, how they work etc. Silly little things like holding cups
with hot tea, being unable to follow the mouse pointer on the screen,
the fact I can’t just wander into Mum’s masterpiece of a garden (not some sort of Freudian nightmare Euphemism) and
worst of all that I feel so shattered that the most appealing thing
seems to be transferring back into bed to get yet more rest (which bores me to tears and I'm sure makes people think less of me) –
actually, the worst thing is what a sad, pathetic loser I feel moaning
about this. There’s catharsis and there’s whingeing. I f*cking hate
the latter. To try and give myself some sense of doing something, I watched
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (part1) last Friday with Mum and
Dad and have to report it is one of the worst films I’ve ever seen.
Admittedly, it never helps having your ultra-confused Mum saying
'who's that' every minute! I do have to report from an aesthetic point
of view Hermione's looking very fine, Ron Weasleys acting is getting
less bad and Harry himself won't be able to avoid 'aren't you that
bloke who played Harry Potter?' for the rest of his life, a bit like the way Russell Brand points out that Macauley Culkin even into his 20s will always be that annoying kid in Home Alone, but the
person who I think comes out of this worst is JKRowling, I just have
this image of her desperately trying to come up with a workable yet
sensational ending surrounded by clumps of her own hair, screwed up balls
of paper and dirty twenty pound notes, scattered among read copies of
the Daily Mail and well thumbed copies of 'Mein Kampf' and Oswald
Mosely's biography. The backdrop to the 'story' is insidious, with the
Wizarding world (actually the world) being taken over by the forces of darkness led by the unbelievably evil Voldemort (being evil must be exhausting, I don't know why people bother?) and his deatheaters (begging the question why don't they just change their diet?), believing
that all non pure bloods should die - its weird enough all the spells being in Latin, I don't know about you but I can't help thinking fraulein Rowling has got a few screws loose, 'purebloods', 'mudbloods', 'muggles'.The only person able to
save the world from this fate is a group of kids headed by one who can't seem to magic away his
astigmatism! Along the way they encounter stranger and more improbable things which
have no clear explanation, a sort of 'lord of the Rings'
with kids written and directed by David Lynch, and I appreciate it's just a kids story but it still needs to make sense, it reminds me of what Bill Bailey said of Dan 'Da Vinci Code' Brown – the pudding faced murderer of prose – swapping reims of garbage for sackfulls of cash!'! No wonder mum was confused.
confused! I couldn't work out why she was directing her annoying
questions at me? I'm supposed to be the one with brain damage.
On the home front my new housekeepers have started and have been brilliant! For the first time in months I feel more relaxed which means I can try and get on with it, and more importantly my wearied septuagenarian LSPs (long suffering parents) and friends who have been helping me recently don't have to worry about me for once although I won't be able to promise that forever. Speaking of help, for the last couple of months I've had tickets to see Australian comedy and Piano genius and human Scarecrow Tim Minchin at the Albert Hall last Night. I've seen Minchin a couple of times before and he is amazing – probably a better Pianist than my hero Bill Bailey and the sort of empirical atheist evidence based irreverent comic ranting that I love. His language is also pretty severe which meant I was thrilled to have my old schoolmate Owen as my compatriot and not say my quite religious and traditional parents. I would have just died and wished the ground would have swallowed me because he pulls no punches and metaphorically throttles those who have no evidence for what they believe in! We were in the good seats and have to reiterate for the umpteenth time how magical the Albert Hall is. Sod the wedding – that was proper entertainment.
In other news, I am grateful to have found a PC repairman because without my PC I can literally do nothing -My ground to a halt life would go into reverse. At best my PC sounds like an industrial refrigerator, at worst a diesel generator with the enduring experience sounding like an old cross channel ferry, but by Tuesday this should all be fixed, for John was able to come round within a day and diagnose the problem and order the part to be with him to come and fix it on Tuesday. It may cost a bit but I will pay for peace of mind. I've also finally managed to upload all my mixes from 2002-2004, it's only taken me seven years , which are much less sh*t than I imagined. I think the time is drawing to a close for trying to find a partner, I've unearthed a few hearts of gold but there is always something missing and the common factor is me – I'm just not up to scratch, which I keep being told.

23 Apr 2011

Post 284: Spring!(but sadly not in my step)

Precious little has made me smile lately so you would have thought
things that made me gutturally laugh would be thin on the ground! One
such occasion almost caused me to choke, and spit out the orange I was
trying to auto-asphyxiate myself with, it was when Charlie Brooker
used this comment on 10 O'clock live last week “The press lapped up
the exciting scenes like a thirsty dog at a bukkake party.” Please
don't look up bukkake if you don't know what it means, its wrong and
I'm slightly ashamed I do know what it means
talking about the way the British media reported the largely
uneventful demonstrations in London last week against government cuts.
Brooker has got irreverent indignation down to a fine art and has
been on fire since quite rightly calling i-tunes a 'binary turd' in
the Guardian a few months ago. Another man who has been on comic fire
in my opinion is Jack Whitehall. His effected uber-poshness and
campness annoyed me a bit when he appeared last year and it rankled a
little but I have been enjoying some of his rants until he runs out of
breath on channel 4's very amusing 'stand up for the week' on Friday
nights. I'm enjoying it on several levels though because the venue is
KOKO in Camden which the new owners must have spent a fortune
restoring from the dirt soaked hard house hell-hole that I went raving
in a few times ten years ago. It's strange to see the way it's been
lovingly restored with people sitting demurely at tables when I recall
the grime-coated stairs between levels and numerous dodgy ghouls who
would try and flog you dog worming tablets for a tenner each. Jesus.
Misspent youth are the words that spring to mind. Speaking of which, a group of us have been reminding ourselves through facebook of some of the music that defined the times of our lives, it really is incredible how the music we loved brought us together and so did the music we hate [90s movie masterpiece Human Traffic]
Seeing as I was a
bit of a hanger on and knew a few people being a fledgling DJ I was
fascinated by the DJ booth, I was probably that annoying 'whatsisface'
or 'hoojamaflip' or more likely 'that bloke' who loved being in the
booth. I have to confess to being hypnotized by the power of it all, a
shameful metaphor, but it is similar (I imagine to how it must have
felt at Nuremberg). Anyway, I digress, The Camden Palace (as it was
then) is clearly a beautiful old theatre and as such is a great venue
for a weekly topical stand up show. Jack Whitehall's' hilarious
observation that the TV show Supersize v Superskinny needs to raise
the stakes and be changed to Diabetic vs Chocoholic so it's a matter
of life and death rather than just seeing piles of food making people
feel hungry! His rants about Vejjazling on 'The Only Way is Essex' are
also hysterical. In case you don't know, a Vejazzle is where a girl
looks down and goes 'there's something missing' and decides rather
than perhaps a Glade air freshener that a piece of bling/jewellery
will complete her VJJ, that Orange virtually got spat out again! So last
night to continue the laughter I went to the Albert Hall again to go
and see relative comedy newcomer John Bishop. Now I have seen Bishop a
couple of times
and despite being a scouser he has managed to file down most of the
chip on his shoulder. He ticks most of the right boxes and seems
genuinely down to earth and humbled by his rapid ascent to fame and
being recognised (at least in Liverpool). A lot of his material is
about the phenomenal sacrifice that people make being parents,
especially when kids grow up and are perhaps not as grateful as they
might be. In fact, he describes teenagers as 'twats' – which is probably
on the money. His older sons do sound like Scally f*ckers to be fair, but his
mixture of self deprecation, honesty and genuine gravitas hold your
attention even if the Albert Hall sound system was having a bit of an
off night and some of his Scouse ranting was getting lost in the
echoes. It was still a good night out.
I've got an above average number of people to be grateful to this
week, and as tautologous or circular as it sounds I'm grateful I can be grateful as I'm sure it's been clear from recent posts how disastrous things have been, and perhaps it is a little melodramatic, but it literally does feel like someone has saved my life whenever they’ve helped me out. So the first of the life savers have been the omnipotent frontline that is my Mum and Dad. Last weekend and this weekend they have put up with me at their house and pretended to enjoy having me there. Dad also stayed over one evening at my house during the week so I would have someone to help me with my morning routine. There’s something really important for human dignity about being able to shower, have fresh clothes and eat breakfast and I really don’t think I’ll be able to do this for the rest of my life without having someone there to help me. My long suffering brother also did this on Thursday. I’m not joking when I say it feels like someone has saved my life. Equally grateful am I for the company of my neighbours, Ian and Tracey on Wednesday night. One second, I was tapping away on the computer, the next I felt very vulnerable and alone so I picked up the phone and invited her and Ian for a glass of red wine. Them saying yes made my day, I’m taking them to see their favourite band, the Killers, in Hyde Park at the end of June. I am so lucky to have neighbours like them. I know they have had to put up with a lot living next to me but I need them to know how important they are. Next is Jose, my personal trainer, who as well as having to listen to me swear and curse and frequently insult him, he bought me fish and chips on Thursday before taking me to the Albert Hall to see John Bishop – he’s become a good friend over the last year, on several occasions making the trip from Aldershot to help me just with my morning routine, speaking of which I cannot not mention my new friend Jo, who on Friday morning batted off my protestations of ‘it’s too much for me to ask’ to come and help me, driving all the way from Basildon. Some people are just nice. The combination of the sun shining and having found new housekeepers (with glowing references) has made the joys of spring a joy again.

16 Apr 2011

Post 283: What to do now?

Another drama has hit my life like a tornado and Kansas would be a picnic compared to this, just when I thought things were calming down, alas no – that would be too easy. I should have checked weeks ago but the references for the people who were due to move in on Wednesday turned out to be less than satisfactory so I have been forced to change the locks and tell them they're not needed and re-advertise, it's for the best because I could never have trusted someone whose voluntarily supplied referees couldn't support them, no matter what the truth is. What I do know is that from Wednesday next week I'm going to be carer-less. As resourceful and tenacious as I can be, sorting this out is a huge ask. Rocio( my temporary professional carer has been awesome but she has to be back on a plane to Spain early next week. There's less drama in Eastenders and the trauma in that is off the scale! Mike, a hilarious lad I was in hospital with who was a born and bred 'apples and pears' cockney Essex boy used to say to me ' I'm off to watch Eastenders to make myself feel better, because at least I'm not as f*cked up as them' and he was in a wheelchair. Speaking of Essex boys, I somehow went to the Dome on Friday night to see Jamiroquai thanks to good college mate, Tristan, who I hope to see much more of now him and his lovely Chilean wife Macarena are back from Chile. Tristan had the exact 'can do' attitude to going to this gig even saying in an email 'let's roll with the punches' an expression which describes my post stroke life so well. 3 great things about last night: We were in the great seats, secondly Tristan said before the show 'I'm really looking forward to this, I really like Jamiroquai' and thirdly in the bar before the show a guy I used to work with ten years ago recognised me and came over for a chat. This made me feel like I wasn't a complete failure now I'm in a wheelchair. I'm always told I'm not, but it's hard to think otherwise given how I feel, how I perceive I look and Sound and how much help I need. So thankyou Nicholas.
Last time I saw Jamiroquai, in Hyde park last summer, I rather uncharitably said that Jay Kay was a man 'famous for one sound and one admittedly rather funky bassline' – this may be true, but he is quite the showman 'Cosmic Girl' and 'Space Cowboy' took the lid off the place -'you can take the boy out of Essex, but you can't take Romford out of the boy',Tristan chimed in with the factually accurate 'all he used to do was bang blonde birds and drive fast cars' – how awful for him.
On a more pressing point I am terribly worried that the people I see most (and care about most) are running out of patience with the post stroke me. People are starting to treat me like my old self which is nice but is a double-edged sword because it seems to mean people stand back and watch me struggle when someome with two functioning arms, who can walk and has proper eyesight and energy could easily do it out of the goodness of their hearts if they had the common decency to do so. I wish I could do more but I can't, nothing in the world could persuade me otherwise and I'm not being a dick.
Furthermore don't be a dick! (see previous post)

14 Apr 2011

Post 282: Being a bit Philosophical

Since as far back as I can remember, ie since I have been a conscious creature, I have always been engaged in trying to do the right thing, for my friends and family, for the greater good and for myself, probably in that order. This metaphysical thinking, this existential quandering has been brought about by going to an intelligence squared lecture on Monday given by modern Philospher and author Sam Harris, I'll be honest I hadn't heard of him either, but the evening was the suggestion of Olly, the husband of a good friend of mine from college (the lovely Gina) and I don't go in for nearly enough mental stimulation these days and he thought I might be game for this. He was right. Neither of us are in the least bit pretentious (at least I don't think I am, Olly certainly isn't) so off we set for Kensington town hall. I think the evening was about 'if you're trying to do the right thing, how do you know what the right thing is?', a big theme in my life right now. The good thing was that it wasn't just a straight science v religion head to head, sure, there was plenty of religion bashing as there quite rightly should be but most of it was about how do you get from the world of facts to the world of values? In other words who says what's right and what's wrong? potato,potaato, lets call the whole thing off etc! Well I have a fairly simple theory of my own which avoids most of the boredom, confusion and chin-scatching of most philosophical discourse, it's simply called 'don't be a dick', now this might not appear very objective but I can guarantee each one of us knows deep down if we're being a dick, what upsets me is when I behave like a dick and can't help it because of my stroke, it's like not being able to stop screaming in pain, because you're in agony and people get fed up with you making a racket. This may all sound too simplistic to some but ask yourself how different is it from the governments new initiative on being nice, to make Britain a nicer country! I've even got regional variations in my initiative – 'don't be a knobhead' if you're from the North, 'don't be a twat' if you're from London and 'don't be a prick' if you're from Swindon, I haven't assigned a lot of the nation, e.g. Scotland or Scunthorpe – that is a pleasure best left for a rainy day. I am keen to avoid the label of being judgemental because as a wheelchair user I hate being judged and it seems that able bodied people hate it just as much, so hopefully a self regulating system like this will in theory help. But self regulation is what led to the banking crisis isn't it? So there are gaps in my 'back of a fag packet' theory? 'surprise, bloody surprise' – also, what happens to the mentally ill, who already struggle with the concept of right and wrong? They survive imperfectly already dependent on the support of people who care about them – it is these people who teach them about right and wrong and own their morals. Long have I been told that I can only find happiness myself. Given that I've achieved happiness in the past and fleetingly in my post stroke days through and with someone else's happiness, I think this advice is nonsense. I'm not na├»ve enough to think it will be easy. It'll take a phenomenal lady, but (I think) I've still got plenty to offer whether it be in the trouser, grey matter or security department.
Anyway, I digress -Sam Harris is clearly a clever man, who thinks a lot about the interconnectedness of everything. These are big questions that bore the sh*t out of most of us so I'm not going to go on about it, it's just interesting to ask them sometimes, that's when we realize how insignificant we are. As Aussie comedian Tim Minchin puts it
' Isn’t this enough?
Just this world?
Just this beautiful, complex
Wonderfully unfathomable world?
How does it so fail to hold our attention
That we have to diminish it with the invention
Of cheap, man-made Myths and Monsters?
If you’re so into Shakespeare
Lend me your ear:
“To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw perfume on the violet… is just f*cking silly”
Or something like that.
Or what about Satchmo?!
I see trees of Green,
Red roses too,
And fine, if you wish to
Glorify Krishna and Vishnu
In a post-colonial, condescending
Bottled-up and labeled kind of way
That’s ok.
But here’s what gives me a hard-on:
I am a tiny, insignificant, ignorant lump of carbon.
I have one life, and it is short
And unimportant…
But thanks to recent scientific advances
I get to live twice as long as my great great great great uncles and auntses.
Twice as long to live this life of mine
Twice as long to love this wife of mine
Twice as many years of friends and wine
Of sharing curries and getting sh*tty
With good-looking hippies
With fairies on their spines
And butterflies on their titties. '
And if perchance I have offended
Think but this and all is mended:
We’d as well be 10 minutes back in time,
For all the chance you’ll change your mind.
One of my favourite Minchin rants that. Here it is in its entirety
To try and lighten this rather serious post, some evidence of why being a cat looks great. My favourite of my 3, Ham relaxing on my bed earlier - she is great

10 Apr 2011

Post 281: Trying to right the ship

It occurred to me a few days ago that the times I have been happiest in my life have been when I literally couldn't give a f*ck what anyone thought of me. This happened to coincide with a time when I felt most able to rely on myself, so my confidence was sky high. Things have done a bit of a volte face since then, I can no longer rely on myself, confidence is through the floor, and I wish I didn't give a f*ck, but sadly I do and seemingly in order to rely on people you have to give a f*ck and I do, bigtime. This doesn't mean to say I was horrible to people and would not fear the consequences like an Aspergers sufferer, I would just roll with the punches – I was relaxed and life was good, it just meant I became my own man, something, despite trying, I don't think I can do now. Sadly I'm not fabulously wealthy, I wish my lottery win would bloody hurry up, so I have been doing what I do best, taking what strength I can from messages of support, which some might deem to call 'sympathy – Sod that, it's support pure and simple – if you think otherwise, p*ss off, get some real friends and go away -'fetchez le Vache, I fart in your general direction etc',[Monty Python] like a friend of mine sensibly said, 'take the positive comments and ignore the rest'. Would that it were that easy. Sadly my skin isn't as thick as it used to be, so the other thing I've been doing to take my mind off all these destructive and frankly disruptive thoughts is my program of getting out trying to enjoy myself and friends dropping by and doing their best to talk me down from feeling rubbish, First were a couple of my old schoolmasters who dropped in on their way to London. I didn't ask, they offered, which is such a kind thing to do, Gibbo and Dave, I appreciate it. Particularly as I was such a precoscious little t*sspot at school Exhibit A. This photo was given to me the other day by the other guy in the photo, Owen, pictured here on Thursday with his Charming father in law Nino, the most English Italian I have ever met. Owen was a good friend of mine at school and tracked me down after hearing some half pissed old boy mention my name on a train, a couple of months ago I took him to see a comedian called Miles Jupp who's show 'fibber in the heat' is based on him blagging his way under false pretences as a cricket Journalist with the England team on their tour of India in 2005. This is right up Owen's street as he always was a bit of a cricketer and his father in law is an enthusiast plus Jupp is the sort of witty, well spoken, fluent story teller whose side you are instantly on (maybe just in this part of the country, he did imply he had had a tougher time up north) – he is the antithesis of a skin-headed tattooed England Football shirt wearing thug, I'm not saying you'd offer your wallet to him but you wouldn't instinctively imagine he'd mug you. No, you'd trust him because he speaks properly and is well mannered, and I don't care how much abuse I get for saying that, you just would trust him, I've tried to use the same principle myself.
So that was Thursday.
On Monday, I went for the 2nd time on his current tour to go and see Britains most popular comedian Peter Kay with my good friend Ben Watson who some might recall I christened Osama Ben Watson for his terrifyingly sharp sense of humour and his inability to suffer fools. His Sister, Eleanor and I keep trying to persuade him that his talents would be better served being an anarchic quick witted slightly nihilistic stand up comedian, but I suspect with his wife due in the summer with their first he'll stick with Equity Sales at UBS and I wouldn't blame him. He had precisely the right attitude for Monday, seeing it as a bit of an adventure and to add to the road-trip vibe, I thought taking along a recent birthday present CD of the 12th Man, where Aussie Comedian Billy Birmingham sends up the voices (via uncanny impressions) of the entire Australian cricket commentary team with some rather colourful language and some well made observations about the delights of Australian cricketing stereotypes. It was a good intro to Kays genius and a sold out Dome in block 105, not my favourite seats but Ben quickly ameliorated this by saying it felt like being in a box with an unobstructed view. Kay was his usual brilliant genius and we loved it right till his 'Sweet Child of mine' encore on his double shovel.
It is nice to feel a bit more in control of life. My friend Rachel and My friend Jo also found the time to pop in for tea this week which makes me feel I'm registering on peoples radar's and that my chat is of some use. I have met both of them since my stroke, which makes me think my life is not lost. I've told Jo to pack in her job and become a counselor, so good is she at listening or pretending to listen to my woes whereas Rachel I can't persuade to not move because she's got a new job as head of Physics at a school near St Albans – Dr Oz (as she styles herself) isn't half clever although I might have let slip my less than complimentary theory on school Physics teachers having had an 'interesting mixed bag' of A-level Physics teachers. Having Rocio (a professional carer) living here helping me out has persuaded me never to have an informal housekeeping arrangement ever again. Having a formal contract with her has meant I can always rely on her and although we have had our disagreements it has kept personal matters completely separate from professional matters. I have even had a care specialist come in and draw up a proper contract for my new housekeepers so keen am I to avoid the mess I had last time. This may have been an expensive experiment but you can't put a price on peace of mind. It's quite simple, I can't be left on my own. I might be habilitated, but I don't think it's realistic for me to be totally rehabilitated and be able to rely on myself ever again, I'm not delusional. I need to be realistic.
A final big thankyou must go to the Angel that is Jatinder, another brilliant person who I've met since my stroke. She came down and took me out for lunch on Thursday and agreed to take me to the Dome yesterday to see honorary national treasure Kylie who for 43 looks just incredible, I think when I was 7 hers might have been the first Album (on cassette) I ever owned! I suspect as straight people we were in the minority which in atmosphere terms is never a bad thing, and I can report it was fanbloodytastic, made all the better by the fact it was the first ever concert Jatinder had ever been too. Seeing her sitting on the edge of her seat drinking in the spectacle and atmosphere made it even better. Kylie really is a pop princess, but I love the way that she has reinvented herself, her sound which when live is thumping electropop but she threw in 'the locomotion just to remind us where she had started. I never thought I'd say this but I love Kylie, her sound and her look.The concert did make me think of what a cross between Madonna, Lady Gaga and Britney Spears might look like, a Greek Temple sort of set, crossed with a bit of a dancing freakshow with the Goddess Aphrodite at the centre of it. to stay top of her game for getting on 25 years is pretty awesome – she was the Scissor Sisters surprise guest at Glastonbury this year – she may bring out the drag queens in their 100s and is not my first choice of music but the Dome is great and she is just amazing. It's nice to be able to take someone who's never been before.

3 Apr 2011

Post 280: Is this bloody good enough?

They say that the definition of insanity is expecting a different outcome from always doing the same thing – a particularly good line I nicked from Wall Street 2. In which case I'm insane.
At the moment I am racked with self doubt over whether I'm doing the best for myself and the people who care about me. I'm particularly concerned that this latter group of people are dwindling in numbers because of what this stroke has done to me and who (or what) I've become.
Before I get on to that I really want to address something that has been a key feature of any criticism I have come in for lately. Namely that any or all of my public outlets have been manipulated by me to generate sympathy for myself. I can't lie, I much prefer people to be sympathetic but I vehemently deny that I'm trying to generate pity or create 'a pity party'. That is and would be pathetic, and although I've often said how pathetic I feel, I think I'm better than that. Feel free to argue about that amongst yourselves.
I think of this blog as a way to try and cleanse the troubled cache generated by the insanity of doing the same thing and expecting to get better. I genuinely think I try pretty hard to get better but I get upset when people tell me to try harder, I see this as aggressive negative criticism and makes me feel much worse. I feel like I'm trying as hard as I can. I'm a believer that life only achieves value from interactions with other humans and the only way I think I can do a lot of this these days is by sitting on this computer and communicating with people via email or facebook. Some disagree, and think I should give up my computer time and do exercises or rest to try and further my physical recovery and possibly reduce my fatigue. Let me make this perfectly clear, I already destroy myself training every weekday for an hour during my physiotherapy/personal training sessions and rest/sleep doesn't ever make me feel any better, actually it feels like wasted time, my fatigue is all encompassing, and masks every positive change to my feeling of wellbeing my training regime has ever made. I am not going to be told by anyone that I'm not trying hard enough! People who have tried to make me do more have rapidly become estranged because despite some of their own experiences (ie disability without fatigue or fatigue without physical disability -ie they can use both hands and walk) they can't possibly understand how bad I feel yet I still do my physiotherapy. There's encouragement (which I need) and there's people giving me their ill-informed opinions (which I need like a hole in the head). The latter, disguised as the former doesn't wash either. The problem I seem to be facing is this: If I only listen to experts, who do you listen to when there are no experts? Especially when what the so-called experts have suggested has done sod all to make me feel any better. I am a bit fed up of hearing the umpteenth story about such and such who battled against their disability and is now fine. I am battling, I haven't given up, I'm just disappointed by the lack of results thus far – sure I'm able to do more with help but nothing has come back online (like my balance, left arm or feeling normal) and all the effort I put in isn't enough according to some. How awful is hearing that from anyone? Letalone from people who you thought were your friends? Despite this I still do all this torture because I think 'it's the right thing to do' and it's the best use of all the money that's been kindly raised. I hope I'm making sense. End of rant about my current existential quandry. Despite what anyone tells me I'm never going to give up my habit of seeking out interesting live events or meeting kind new people or old friends. At the moment my ability to weed out confidence tricksters, nutters and bad apples is working well, and correspondence usually goes on for quite a while before tea/lunch in sunny Oxshott takes place but you can never be too careful. My new van arrives in 10 days and I've high hopes it will enrich my life (and make life significantly easier for everyone). Particularly Mum and Dad who will benefit from the start of the Proms season in the summer. In fact I took them for the 2nd time to Symphonic Rock at the Albert Hall on Thursday. I think it's the 3rd time I've been and it's always great to hear the power an Orchestra can create in the best music room in the world in the best seats in the house. What made it particularly cool was they played Elbows best track 'a day like this', which I'd heard Elbow play the Saturday before in the Dome and I not surprisingly have to report that the Dome Elbow version was far superior. I'm not my parents age yet, despite feeling far older. Anyway Radio 2's Ken Bruce was as bald and Scottish as ever and his compere's jokes were as hit and miss as last year but I suppose he has to moonlight as something when he's not sending his listeners to sleep. Harsh, I know. A big surprise this week was reconnecting with an old mate that I used to help put on some crazy parties in Stockwell about ten years ago.In blue with glasses Our paths have diverged a bit, I'm in a wheelchair, he's now unbelievably an aircraft captain, but for Ryanair, so we'll call it even. A seriously good lad though, who tracked me down through the wonder of facebook. Rich and I were still yacking bull about the 'good old days' when my lift turned up to take me to see punmeister extraordinaire Milton Jones at the Bloomsbury theatre. I've seen Milton a few times, and my legendary lift for the evening came from Chris Dugdale and his lovely wife Alexis. Regular readers will recognise Chris as the unbelievable magician who I harangue into doing my birthday every year – a very talented and seriously good bloke. I also must thank Jatinder for taking me to lunch on Wednesday – it's nice to have someone like her to talk to, it's nice to talk to someone who really tries to look past the stroke. So despite being fundamentally confused about the direction of my life I'm determined to find a way – it confuses the hell out of me most of the time!
I just this second got an email from my great friend the Reverend Richard to tell me that his lovely wife Vicky has happilly and healthily given birth to their first son – this may well be the 2nd coming! He has been called Barnabas. A very theological and fundamentally cool name. Finally,finally, some great news from my friends, the Icelys, Dom has finally passed his patent law exams. Despite being a diligent and clever lad passing these b*ggers has evaded him for a while. I am chuffed for him. Sorry about the length of this post.



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