This week my keeping sane has involved being taken out and taking people out. After my exhausting 3 days on the trot in Hyde Park with perhaps a slight lack of forethought, rather than plan to rest I'd booked tickets for a 'Great Classics' concert at the Albert Hall. I had been concerned that I'd sleep through most of it but luckily the third piece was the third time I'd seen the awe-inspiring Carmina Burana by Carl Orff. Think old spice advert or more recently the music they use to fabricate tension on the x-factor. I have a t-shirt that captures my feelings on this because of course like Americans with bumper stickers my most profound (profane?) thoughts are on t-shirts.
Back to the concert, my parents loved it and we got a bit of a thrill when the Pianist came and sat in our section (who'd just brilliantly played Griegs very recognisable Piano Concerto. I didn't recognise the opening piece by Smetana but I've now got to the stage where I can appreciate those sort of things and scratch my chin quite convincingly. Speaking of which, I went back to Hyde Park (last night – it's Friday today) to see Arcade Fire – a Canadian Band who's latest album won a Brit, Olly (who took me) had highly recommended them saying their sound was 'expansive'. To me this means good and the weather forecast looked pretty good too and Hyde Park is a glorious place, we had a great evening although the Lead Singer looks to have gone to similar overzealous barber as Brandon Flowers (see last post), so good in fact that we're going back for the Chemical Brothers there on Saturday -I've seen them a couple of times but Ol saw them at Glastonbury last week. It was a pretty busy and convoluted Saturday (It's now Sunday) and if I'm honest by the time I was on my way
to Hyde Park (5ish) I wasn't sure I'd have enough left in the tank. From a fatigue perspective it was tough but I'm damned if I'm going to let it defeat me doing the activities that I find worthwhile and I CAN do. There you go cliché spouters are you slightly placated? I can do this but not in the way I'd like too. That barely counts as a can!
Anyway, the thing that had tired me out is the something I can do which is the most important thing to me in the post-stroke world, and that is keeping up with my mates.
The Dennings and the Walmsleys had arranged lunch for me at the Walmsleys house in St Margarets nr Richmond. The only trouble was from the step at their front door to the narrowness of their hall, my wheelchair was never going to fit so we'd deliberately set this up to get me out of my (dis)comfort zone to see if with Nick and PJ's help I could walk through the house (thankfully they're both big lads) although Nick has gone from me calling him 'fat boy' to him looking great in the last few years. His wife Sally must be chuffed, her Pelvis has got better prospects! They are now (including Vicky and PJ all part of the 'self-confessed' professional suburban South London 30s Middle Classes who recognise the irony of having wooden Salad Bowls. They have 2 kids apiece (Oscar and Chloe for Nick and Sal and Gemima and Amelia for Vicky and PJ, Michael McIntyre would have a field day) – seeing as they are my very best friends who make so much effort for me, it's the least I can do to let them know how grateful I am. As it was with PJ in front and the Walm holding onto me behind I managed the walk from the front of Nick and Sals house to the lunch table out the back where I was greeted by Sal's delicious lasagne and three boisterous kids enjoying the British Summer. Having sat me down in a chair with arms, I was able to do my best at being a normal human although keeping ones head up is devilishly hard
, the only sligt hiccup was we had neglected to think through a strategy if I needed the loo, so the lads helped me slowly walk to the ground floor toilet where it is pretty demeaning but necessary that I had my trousers removed before occupying the throne. Not exactly a problem you want age 34. Anyway mission accomplished, Nick gave me a quick lift down to Epsom to wish good friend Jim farewell at a farewell BBQ at his folks house before he heads off to Australia for several years. I was a bit disparaging about his beard, probably because I couldn't grow one if I tried. After eating some rather delicious BBQ food, Ol and I headed off for Hyde Park getting there in time to catch most of Chase and Status, two electronic music producers who smash out Drum and Bass and Dubstep alongside a few other choice morsels, I've never really got dubstep till yesterday but have to report that on a massive soundsystem to a massive crowd, it is amazing, just watching the crowd leaping into the air as one – it's an awesome sight. The Chemical Brothers are two techno producers whose music just makes crowds just go mental, the generation above us just don't get saying that it just sounds like some sort of electrical fault. It can sometimes But they are masters at building up the intensity and then dropping back into a huge beat.
I also can't believe the expense that goes on facilities for the disabled at Hyde Park -I can imagine a management insultant looking at the numbers with incredulity, half the revenue per head and all this cost – extra staff, a dedicated platform, special portaloos (they still stink unfortunately), special parking – I'm glad it's legally protected because to me this is realistically the only benefit I get to being disabled. Disability living allowance is barely worth much, although my dad (quite rightly resents filling in a 60+ page form to qualify for it. I am lucky to have a father who does this. There must be people out there who don't stand a chance!
One of the many good reasons for going back to Hyde Park was to see the lovely girl who I could have sworn blind sounded like she was from Leeds but was actually from Manchester – the lovely Charisse, I'm a sucker for a pretty face, especially someone who seemed so genuinely pleased to see me everyday. She is lovely, I am also grateful to all the Showsec staff who were kind and chatty everyday I was there.
That might have seemed a natural place to end but no – Final thanks go to my friend Rachel who is moving to St Albans . She's a good friend – our red wine drinking evenings have been such a rare highlight. Anyone who fancies their chances filling Dr Oz's shoes?
Finally, on Monday -the Tonbridge guys took me out to dinner, this was when they first took me to dinner . Dave sadly couldn't make it but it was seriously good of the other three to make time for me particularly as Jim's wife is expecting twins.