26 Jun 2012

Post 349: Going to my college reunion

This is getting beyond a joke. The old me would not let getting ill stop me doing the things I had planned. If I ever missed work, like 99% of people there was probably a damn good reason for it. So now, when I’m already at a low ebb, insult and injury are two words that feature quite closely. This morning I was on the way to a discussion group run by my counsellor when I threw up on myself. I mean for fucks sakes. That’s what babies do! This is ridiculous. Luckily Gary (who was driving) was cool with turning the car around and clearing the pathetic mess up -he really is worth his weight in Krugerrand. I also haven’t been great at getting this posted when people expect it. I know we’re hardly talking about the stability of facebook here but I already have very little faith in my ability to hold the attention of the 10s of people who find themselves here. Before I formally go on I want to thank the Rector of Exeter College, a charming lady called Frances Cairncross

for asking me if I could help drum up fundraising and interest among former students to support my old college in the future. I am flattered and indeed honoured she asked me but I fear I’m going to have to say no, I already feel I am asking way to much of people already even to occasionally read this, letalone sometimes contribute to the Dom Pardey Trust and then on top of that contribute to their Alma Mater, an institution I now look on with Rose Tinted specs who went to all sorts of lengths to make sure my visit on Saturday was actually possible and indeed pleasant. Shit, when I was there a couple of the Porters made it quite clear that the college would be lovely if it wasn’t for [effect south west countryside accent] ‘youn bloody students’ [John the porter was a tool] – not a million miles away from the attitude of the nursing staff on Drapers ward in the royal hospital for neurodisability. Either they were agency staff and couldn’t give a shit or some of the staff nurses thought us patients got in the way of the smooth running of the hospital.
The last post was probably some mewling about how exhausting I’d find my visit to my college reunion on Saturday, and lo and behold I did find it a killer but I feel glad I made that effort even if I feel awful now. If people go out of their way for me I am prepared to go out of my way for them. I remember months ago being included on a big round robin email about this college reunion and Becky Morrison basically wondering out loud if they could find a way it’d be possible and if they could then twist my arm and persuade me to go. I hate people having to put themselves out for me –I couldn’t survive though without people making sacrifices so I can do things. I like to think that before this I was the kind of bloke who would put himself out for other people but I know this is something not to expect of people because people have their own lives, their own (precious) time, energy and pressures. I guess what I’m saying is I never want anyone to feel that I’m taking them for granted, so now that I can’t take myself for granted I have to find a balance between the help I need and the help people are willing to give me. Having such great friends and family has been a good start, but finding a partner like most of my friends and peers to live a normal life seems after four years at home alone to be a practical impossibility. I am clearly no longer the man I once was, and being in an ok financial position and owning my home outright is nothing to shout about because I’m no lottery winner. Instead I survive, trying as hard as I can to be as little a burden on anyone, getting by on the bare minimum – what I need, not what I want. It is not the way I thought life would be back when I was an early 20s undergraduate not really caring about more than friends, girls , occasional academic work and certainly not spending life in a wheelchair when I was at Exeter College in Oxford some 17 odd years ago. Realistically, this was when I met my friends who have become part of my family, this is not to devalue any of the friends I have made since, that is just how it’s panned out. I think that’s a fair enough point to make.
College is undoubtedly a pretty place to go for any sort of trip, particularly one where some of your best mates have offered to drive you to it, you’re meeting a few more there and they’ve offered to cut their evening short to bring you back. No matter what I said about it ‘being too much’ Becky and Vicky were having none of it.
College had even laid on a room for me which was a useful quiet place given my need for peace and quiet. Tea with the Rector at 4 was a nice occasion – supposed to be in The gardens but was it raining? Of course it was! Frances ( The rector) was charming and although they were fretting about numbers being low, the attendance looked ok to me(see photo), Kinsey, the development secretary had done a sterling job. Big thanks to her and Alice Icely for doing a recce of the college some months before when I had just flat refused, saying that I couldn’t imagine a more wheelchair unfriendly environment. To their credit college have built some strategically placed stone ramps and even installed an access lift into the hall pantry. After tea they had a reunion chapel service which I was so glad I went to even though being the world’s worst Christian had me sitting there machinating how something with so little evidence had caused the building of such a lovely chapel

and caused the choir to spend their time practicing. I stopped being so boringly logical when I thought ‘big picture, I’m here, this is possible and I’m sitting between two of my best friends in the world,

shut up Dom’. In fact, Vicky reminded me how we (and Tony) had come to see a Piano Recital by our good friend Richard Rous, now in the years we’d known Rousie, he had never once mentioned he could play the Piano and his recital started with a single long note. Tony and I had literally lost it for 20 minutes. Rous went on to play the piece of Chopin as easily as ‘Chopsticks’, oh we of little faith
After another rest, it was hall dinner time

Drama on the day was non existent apart from the bizarre Olive Cheescake they tried to serve for pudding, Seeing as I don’t eat puddings turning that down was Easy! And I was touched at the way the Rector stood up at the end of dinner and said ‘Dom’s off now – if you want to say your goodbyes, now is the time, 1995-1999, 4 of the better years of my life. Thanks to college and my friends for making Saturday possible.
It is a bloody miracle that this has even been posted.

22 Jun 2012

Post 348: Full Details and Pictures when I get over the pathetic exhaustion

I once again come cap in hand to say that finding the time and energy to write a proper post for Monday Office facetime is not going to happen. Normal people seem to be able to ‘pull themselves together’ – not me anymore. I don’t even have the energy to do that. It’s Friday now and I’m cowering in fear about how tired I’m gonna feel after going to my college reunion on Saturday. It’s a funny one this – I couldn’t be more grateful to my college friends for persuading me to go, doing the necessary recce’s about access, college bending over backwards for me and here I am still terrified. I should be honoured and grateful. Well of course I am but I’m still terrified. Giving in to my fear and not doing these things is what letting this fucking stroke beat me would be. I’m not there yet! But as you can no doubt tell, I’m pretty fucked off with myself about this. Details and pretty pictures as soon as I can. These pictures were found on the internet and summarise what a lovely place it was. It was probably the 4 most important years of my life.


20 Jun 2012

Post 347: Hurry up and wait for Mr Lemmish: Never a Pleasure, always a chore.

I was thinking of calling this: ‘This is still bullshit’ because nothing says exciting Saturday night more than 4 hours in f*cking A&E with suspected gallstones which is precisely what happened!
And who’s this Mr Lemmish character? Well that is a reference that only Gwen and Gary or their sons will get straight away. Seeing as I dedicate this post to them, one of the only things that made us chuckle our way through the delights of 4 hours in A&E was the concept of Mr Lemmish. It seems only right that he should feature highly, as charming a concept as he is!
It is their name for the delightful practice of having a rectal exam when you go and see the doctor. I don’t know what said practitioner is expecting to find up there, perhaps those pesky missing WMDs, the Aswan Dam

or perhaps an Acme Anvil

but never in the history of all my meetings with Mr Lemmish (I have been in hospital quite a lot) have they once gone ‘ah ha, I’ve found the problem’ –I reckon they just do it for a dark-humoured laugh.
What had made this 10 times worse was this little visit to the Kingston A&E had curtailed our trip to see the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Hampton Court Festival which can be pretty magical

– Gary has since said ‘we can always do it next year assuming you still want us around – just the most awful thing would have to happen for me to not want them around, I’m more worried about them getting fed up with me to be honest. On Saturday, there were four of us, Gary, Gwen and my old weekend carer the brilliant Bianca, who I care about like family now. When we left here at about 4:45 on Saturday I was starting to notice a pain in my right side behind my ribcage. Thinking it was nothing I just assumed it would back off and of course sitting in a wheelchair is no bloody help, so we did the obligatory wander around the magnificence of Hampton Court

(my goodness, British Royalty has plundered this country and still does – at least the money has built some incredible things and for people who have looked after them, at least the aristocracy know how to look after things, although I’m sure countless counterexamples could be found and it be made to look that the working-class have been swindled.
It is mid-June, it could have been glorious but no, this is England. Anything less than a struggle would be ‘too easy’. This was just one occasion when I thought the ‘Aussies may have a point’, I then came to my senses. Anyway, around 7pm everyone started making the move towards the palace from our delicious but rather cold and windswept Picnic

and the pain was getting unbearable and I was completely reluctant to let everyone down, but eventually I couldn’t take it and Gary and Gwen took me to Kingston A&E, the joys of which I sampled last July when I had Appendicitis, Mr Lemmish had rudely introduced himself back then if memory serves.
It’s hard not to feel like I’m falling apart! First a stroke, now my internal organs! This is no laughing matter!
But as much of this blog is a bit ‘me,me,me’, this post is about Gary and Gwen actually looking after me and smilingly putting up with whatever nonsense I have caused. Every 5 minutes on Saturday in A&E I told them how mortified I was that I had spoiled their evening. The usual response was ‘shut your mouth, ‘this is no problem’ which is pretty amazing, right? Well, I thought so. Those are 4 hours of all of our lives that we’re never getting back but it does support my thesis that hospitals are nothing more than big waiting rooms. I have talked about this before, but waiting for things has got to be one of the worst things in life. I am patient, I will wait, but I won’t be happy about it, I’m not a weirdo. The thing that does wind me up though is being kept waiting for the sake of waiting, which is something that seems to happen in hospitals and at millions of places up and down this country. I agree that people need breaks, as a former smoker I know all about this but people in hospitals appear to have breaks just so they can make people wait. It’s almost like bouncers at nightclubs not letting people in so a queue forms thus making the establishment look more popular. GAH! Whatever happened to trying not to make people unhappy?
Speaking of unhappy – you can’t have failed to notice it’s the European [disappointments] er championships. I have lost count of the number of times on facebook people have said to me after I have disparaged football or the ‘England team’ that people have said ‘why do you even bother to post on a subject you hate so much. If people didn’t comment about things they thought were shit, there’d be nothing on facebook, Christ, on the internet. Sad eh, peoples idle tittle tattle is worth almost $100bn. We live in strange times. Let’s hope Mr Lemmish has gone for a very long holiday to clean himself up. Quite frankly he should be on a register somewhere, as should my good friends, Simon and Steve

– two great lads who took me out for lunch on Sunday, between laughing, I couldn’t help but think them becoming housemates might have created ‘a perfect storm of wrongness where the combined darkness of their humour forms a black hole from which you can’t escape. Brilliant.

15 Jun 2012

Post 346: This is bullshit

This is bullshit, I started writing this on Wednesday and I have basically had this stomach infection for the best part of a week. If you’ve ever been inspired by anything I’ve ever written I wouldn’t bother reading this.

Life is not worth living when you (sometimes twice) have to get up in the middle of the night when you’re so tired you feel physically ill, get into your wheelchair and then navigate to your bathroom and then it feels like you have to risk what pathetic independence you have by risking broken bones (if you fall) to get on the loo. People have decided to end it all over less than this – I have had plenty of bad weeks but this is right up there. People are inspired when they see people who aren’t depressed even though they have a good reason to be depressed, actually people are inspired by anyone who isn’t depressed in this day and age.

Cathy (my counsellor) recently sent me an article featuring an interview with another stroke survivor detailing how he’s taught himself to play saxophone and how he hopes that busking at first will lead him to earn a living. Good on him is my first thought, my second is here is another stroke survivor with enough functionality to do that. I have met plenty of stroke survivors in the last 7 years. Being the only one who’s not recovering is starting to piss me off. He did say one thing that could have word for word been written by me: [talking about most of his mates]

They have seen my depression not as something that is my fault but as an inevitable consequence of going from being an energetic, dynamic and independent individual to being someone who is largely dependent on other people for pretty much everything

The rest of the article goes on to say how important it is when your very best friends move heaven and earth to stick with you but how hurtful it is when other so-called friends take this as an opportunity to ditch you. I’m never going to mention names, but I have my list filed in my head clear as day. It is perhaps the curse of my old life that people who were pretty good friends are actually fair-weather friends or c*nts depending on the prevailing mood. I think the other article calls them ‘deep as a puddle’ – Rude, but diplomatic – Diplomacy has never been my strong suit.

I have ranted about my dissatisfaction at the way the medical world treats strokes before (yawn). I’m not an unrealistic fool, I don’t expect there to be a pill or procedure that’ll sort me out just like that but I expect there to be some sort of medication that will at least induce a chemical environment in my brain which will mean I don’t feel this dreadful all the time, and I mean medication that actually works, not antidepressants, that I’m convinced have the drug companies laughing all the way to the bank.

By way of example, despite being the most exhausted man in the world, I, believe it or not, have trouble sleeping for two reasons (I think). Firstly, that I have very little freedom of movement and sleep relies on being able to get into a position where you are comfy and relaxed. Finding this position when your body isn’t fully co-operative seems to be bloody hard. (for example, people can fall asleep in the most uncomfortable looking places

because their body finds them a position it can relax in) –I find it bloody difficult, even on a bed, my wheelchair feels like a prison, so sleeping in it is sadly impossible (even reclined – it feels more like a coffin them), secondly and this feels conceptually more tricky – that I feel too tired to fall asleep. Trying to switch off seems to require concentration – when you’re too tired to concentrate, you can’t switch off, ergo, you can’t sleep, probably why I was such a lousy meditator. Anyway the point I wanted to make was that my GP refuses to prescribe me Zopiclone (a sleeping tablet that has worked for me in the past) in case I ‘become dependent on them’. I’m ill for fuck sakes, anything to make life easier – I don’t give a fuck, but it’s ok to hand out useless antideppresants like Smarties at a cost of several hundred millions if not billions of pounds to the taxpayer. I don’t mean to go on about it, but I will.
So, not the greatest of weeks, so boy was I pleased to see my mate Carlie yesterday. Regular readers (there can’t be too many?!) will remember her as the girl who I made friends with back at Putney hospital in about 2002-2003. Her story practically reduces me to tears. In her early 20s she had a haemorrhage in one of her spinal blood vessels that has left her quadriplegic (ie she can only move her head and feel her face) yet she somehow remains more calm and smily than any one of us could in her situation. If anyone ever wanted injustice defined you need look no further. The only saving grace is that the bleed didn’t affect her brain so she can feel physically normal and speak normally at least. In my last months in Putney Hospital I took everyone who came to see me to meet Carlie and they all commented on how lovely she was and how impressed they were with her calmness, attitude and lovely smile. I am rather ashamed to say that the last time I had seen her was for my housewarming back in June 2008 (I wonder does anyone read these links – Since then she has left Putney and been around the houses a bit, but for the last couple of years has been in a care home near Croydon which she is at least comfortable at. It appears to be a pretty nice place

and all the staff I met spoke highly of her. In short she’s being looked after properly which is a big relief. She’s also got her own power chair with a chin switch to drive it and special buttons on each side of her head to turn it on and off and control the speed. My wheelchair is probably my most important possession, each slender bit of independence means so much to me, I expect it’s even more important for her. Big thanks to Gary for driving me and for suggesting we do it more often. It’s the sort of soul food we all need more of.
Absolutely last of all, it looks like the British weather looks set to ruin something else that could be magical, for tomorrow (Saturday evening) I’m taking a group (Gary, Gwen and Bianca to the Hampton Court Festival to see the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. It could be amazing

or it could be a struggle. Bets?

I’ve gone on too long again so my anti-football rant

is optional. How much is Euro 2012 winding me up?: answer: LOADS, actually, probably a medically unhealthy amount. It’s the sheer number of meaningless quotes from morons

who seem to barely be able to string a sentence together. My least favourite by a long way is Ian Wright – predicting games on this mystical quality of how ‘up for it’teams are. IDIOT. Also, this idea that ‘if we all get behind the boys and fink positive then we’ll win. Wright has also been overcome by a nasty case of cockneyitis(tm), a disease where you feel the need to connect more with the common man, other notable sufferers have been Olly Murrs, James Cordon, Jeff Bezier, Russell Brand, Lily Allen, Dizzee Rascall, Christian O’Connell

and 100s of others. Anyway, the football’ll be another national disappointment – oddly fitting with the London Olympics round the corner. Being prepared for disappointment is almost the motto I’ve had to live by since my stroke and as I’ve said before maybe the end of the world might be the kindest outcome for us all. I do go on, sorry.

10 Jun 2012

Post 345: Stomaching this

A reccuring theme of this blog is how much I despise being a sub-standard human. Nothing in this world is meant for me anymore. Coping with anything seems to be a trial. Right now, I have a stomach bug – the type that requires frequent rapid access to a loo. I won’t elaborate further but not being able to walk/run to the loo is just awful. I am acutely aware that this is not how 35 year olds live and new people, who are hard enough to meet, seem to steer clear of someone with issues. Here I am, moaning again, and I have been told enough times that ‘I’m just seeking sympathy’ and that isn’t acceptable – well f*ck the people that say that, they are people who can get on with their lives and feel normal. I try and get on with my life without most of the trappings of feeling normal and it seems that a big part of feeling normal was spontaneity. It’s a bit of a cliché, in fact I find it f*cking annoying when people go on about how spontaneous they are. It implies to me that these are people who like being out of control, so that makes me a control freak, another thing that’s supposed to be bad. You can’t win – although despite my disabilities I am convinced I am normal, I’m really not some kind of freakshow although people don’t really make the time that they used to, partly I think because their lives are busy but mostly because spending time with me is less fun than it used to be. Knowing that you’re less of a fun person than you used to be and not being able to make instant improvements is the hardest thing. Maybe I used to be the kind of guy who spent his life organising stuff to do, meetups etc... now it seems to be all I do minus the job of course. I suppose it is now my job, it seems to be the only way to stave off the tedious inevitability of being alive tomorrow. People who talk about ‘how much they are enjoying their life’ – I think ‘good for them’ but then I think ‘really?’ ‘are you sure you’re not just saying that to sound falsely happy and positive?’. I used to be pretty happy and positive but I wouldn’t dream of saying it for fear of sounding like a smug wanker. Maybe I am being too cynical but this idea that the world is coated with candy floss is just crap. I am a bottom up guy, I like a person for all the things that make up a person, people (a person plural) are b*stards –is that harsh? I f*cking hope so.
Because of this damn stomach upset my plans this week have been a bit out of kilter, I was supposed to be going to Brixton Academy to see Keane, a group who’s wholesomeness and adherence to melody probably draws all manner of criticism about being ‘middle of the road tosh’ but I really rather like them because Tom Chaplin has got a rather incredible voice and their first album ‘Hopes and Fears’ is genuinely an album you can put on and every song is a belter, for pragmatism’s sake I can see the other side of the coin but for common sense’s sake I choose to ignore it – I’ll also declare an interest, that I was at school with the vocalist and keyboard player, and despite Tom having a bit of a loud high voice and an answer to everything, him and Tim were both nice lads. Anyway, my stomach intervened and I didn’t go to that in the end. A wise move because it’s brilliance as a music venue belies the fact that in a wheelchair it is tough. I was also gutted to miss my mate Owen who I was due to meet there. Instead the wonderful lady who was supposed to be taking me came round here to watch a couple of comedy DVDs. It is an honour and a privilege to be friends with Chey.

She put up with a fairly fed up me for the evening.
I’m conscious I’m going on again but it’s important to me that people know how genuinely grateful I am. On Tuesday, I went to a rather bizarre concert at the Albert Hall called ‘East meets West’ showcasing the best of China. Now call me racist, but it’s hard not to think that China is a country up to something. In the 17th and 18th centuries America achieved great power through the Slave Trade. Ie Extremely low unit costs for labour helped them cement 200 years of hegemony. China seems to be doing the same today. (this is just my opinion) – I can’t help thinking that Piano Protégée Lang Lang and Soprano Song Zuying are only as good as they are because they had a gun to their head when they were growing up. Particularly Song , who does that weird thing of singing with a permanent smile.

I must confess, I’m not a fan of Chinese music, it’s far too squawky and as for Mandarin as a language – it’s horrible, it just seems to be a collection of unrelated sounds, maybe that’s what English sounds like to them. If I were Chinese I’d be embarrassed to speak it. Lang Lang is undoubtedly exceptional. His hands looking like two hyperactive spiders,

it’s hard not to imagine he’s thinking ‘God I’m good' when he sways back from the piano.

Song the soprano is undoubtedly talented but I can’t put into words what her interpretations of Chinese folk songs sounded like. The majority Chinese audience of course loved it. Luckily, representing the west was the awesome tenor Andrea Bocelli. When he reaches for those high notes and somehow hits them, then manages to crescendo, it’s like the Earth Stands Still. He is more a sort of distinguished Jose Marino

than the beached Whale that was Pavarotti making you wonder where all that vocal power is coming from. It is just awesome though, and he is clearly popular – two dates in November at the Dome are already sold out of wheelchair tickets. Clearly, I’m not the only wheelchair user whose life is live concerts. Still, it stings, and makes me feel in competition with a group of people I’d rather not feel in competition with. My thanks go to Gwen and Gary

for taking me. God, it was good to have them back from their trip to Paris. Coping without them is tricky. I really have become the world’s most pathetic 35 year old!
On Wednesday, I think for about the fourth time I went to go and see Dave Gorman

– now he’s never been one of my favourite comedians because I’ve always felt he’s a bit sure of himself, ie he’s too confident of how funny he is. I was pleasantly surprised, I wouldn’t be surprised if his show ranks highly at the Edinburgh Festival – he shines a light at some of the absurdity of conventional wisdom, like it is shopkeeping and advertising 101 that you get a better response to clock purchasing if you set clocks to a ‘happytime’ e.g 10:08,

however it is stark raving bonkers that in all their adverts, all of the DIGITAL clocks on HTC mobile phones are set at 10:08.

He also observes how funny a lot of the online responses to news stories by John Q Public are and he has invented a feature called ‘found poetry’
which I rather like. This trip was the original brainchild of the lovely Mel

who had been to the Beck Theatre in Hayes before. She also handles my van rather fearlessly which sets me at ease. Thankyou Mel.
With my dicky tummy, it was touch and go whether I’d make it last night but I’d already given in on Friday, I was damned if I was doing it for the Grand Organ Gala

at the Albert Hall with my long suffering rentals.

My reward was Mum saying afterwards – ‘that was one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. I’ve taken this with the requisite pinch of salt because hyperbole runs in the family. Apparently, the Garden is looking ‘better than ever’

Finally but so critically, thanks to three of my clubbing mates, Carine, Adam and Sketch for offering to do a 100k sponsored walk for the trust in July
Please sponsor them!
Words fail me, although your continued support is wonderful and gives me a bit of hope for the future. A bit.

4 Jun 2012

Post 344: Testosterone and Oestrogen may be completely different, but they can both be brilliant.

I never quite get the balance right these days? Please bear with the length of this, it has been quite a week! Seeing as fatigue is my worst symptom... I often maintain that if I felt normal, or well, ever – I would be a happier, more interesting, basically better person able to cope with much more, more therapy, more visitors, more laughs, more motivation, more opportunities and probably (unfortunately) more blogging.
I tell people and doctors this but there’s nothing. Antideppresants don’t do anything except once causing me to fall out of my chair on the floor (or so my carer at the time thought). The bottom line is they don’t make me feel any different and frankly I think they’re a con, although for some people they make the difference. I listen to peoples ideas as long as it doesn’t involve fruitless hard work. It’s hard enough having to feel like this thankyou very much, so if someone comes up with a hypocritical idea –ie ‘You should do more exercise’, when they themselves don’t, they can sling their hook. I brutalise myself with the training I have to do just so I can get from my wheelchair into my bed or another chair or even sit on the loo. I cannot balance, the part of my brain that did that is gone and the accepted wisdom seems to be that this long after a stroke being able to walk unaided is unlikely to be possible again, ergo trying to walk independently isn’t going to happen. Hard to accept but necessary. If anyone tells me I’m ‘a quitter I’ll be bloody livid with them. If they ever find a solution to me feeling better I’ll start trying to walk again. I’m committing to trying to stay in shape by continuing with my training regimen with Jose and I’m even getting this treadmill

because stepping seems to be the best form of exercise. It keeps my legs strong, makes me sweat (therefore helps with my weight) and longer term it might payoff. Seriously though, twenty paces at 0.5kmh feels like running a marathon. That’s how pathetic this has made me.
Anyway, better news – due to the chaotic way I plan things, ie if I hear about something I want to see, I try and make sure I’m free on the day, that I can get a discounted or free carer ticket, there’s somewhere to park and the journey is manageable(sometimes a year in advance). It is this chaotic system that sometimes means I have nothing in a week or sometimes 4 things. In the words of legendarily reasonable Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary ‘no refunds means no refunds, which part don’t you understand?’ Doesn’t he sound like a nice man?
Anyway, last week was a week with nothing, this was a week where I only had Wednesday Evening off! I was quite scared. On Monday my driver/companion was ill so I made tentative alternative plans but called going to that off which kills me, not only because it constitutes a waste but because it ended up sold out. It was a small comedy show to see a few B-list comedians that I’ve seen on TV, Canadian dirty old man Mike Wilmot,

Welsh idiot Lloyd Langford

and a couple of others. Makes me feel quite sad missing it now. On Tuesday I went to see comedy android, half panel show, half comedian but nonetheless offensive lego-twat Jimmy Carr.

Now, his popularity is testament to the power of TV, most of his tour is sold out. It is a very slick and confident show, just to say that one of his Joke writers is legendarily nasty Scottish bstard Frankie Boyle – if you know who he is then you’ll understand that the material is pretty close to the bone. I think he even used the exact words ‘I’m an equal opportunities offender’ as he’s a professional comedian often on telly and I’m a professional nobody often in my front room, I think I must have nicked it off him. It’s a good job I don’t offend easily though because he said ‘we’d all cheer ourselves up if we spent more time pointing at disabled people and laughing’ He’s not always such a c*nt, and I’ve got respect for his sharpness and delivery, he’s probably a comedian not to heckle, not if you value the sanctity of your mum. He’s a real c*nt. Big thanks to my trainer and friend Jose

for taking me, I only want to kill him on Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s.
Luckily, I had Wednesday evening off to recover a bit before going to see one of the bands that had defined my youth, the mighty Guns and Roses at the Dome.

I’d last seen them at the Dome back in October 2010
If anything they’re even better. Axl’s voice is just as good and he no longer looks like someone has inserted a bicycle pump up his arse. He’s still an arse though, unapologetically leaving the crowd to wait over an hour after the brilliant support act ‘Thin Lizzy’

(they are straight out of the 70s but I saw them back in February at the Apollo ) They rocked the Dome till 10pm.I think the Dome management bods must have been seriously starting to Panic about having thousands of people stranded by now, a uniquely 1st world humanitarian crisis!
Guns and Roses finally materialised onstage at 11pm with the sellout crowd alternating booing and slow handclaps. Seeing as I’m the kind of bloke who thinks that leaving anyone waiting (even my closest friends) for even a minute is bloody rude, I just don’t understand the mentality of making over 10,000 people who’ve forked out over £20 each to see you boo you. It must be utterly mortifying, but hey, what do I know? I think GnR have generated so much goodwill with their fans down the years that they know they’ll be forgiven. It’s madness. Anyway, despite their contempt for their fans, us fickle lot loved them. Axl’s voice is as good as it always was, if not better, his high scream is as good as ever but his low growl sounds more menacing even if his facial hair

makes me think of Dr Zoidberg

or the Predator.

They have more good songs than you can shake a shitty stick at and the Dome is the best large venue I’ve ever been to. Everyone’s a winner. Axl on vocals, Izzy Stradling on Rhythm guitar

and Dizzy Reed on keyboards

are the only names I recognize from the 90s. They still sounded awesome and the new guys seem to have slotted right in –particularly a guy called Richard Fortus,

filling Slash’s massive shoes by being excellent and really looking and playing the part. Guns and Roses in their ‘use your illusion’ era were untouchable in my opinion. A mix of heavy Rock and Melody beloved by teenagers of both sexes. Blokes loved the attitude as well as their music, Girls were attracted to Axl’s looks and androgynous style

like they love Brian from Placebo,

Slash was my hero

in the same way Billy Duffy from The Cult

was a lot of peoples hero. I guess we just loved talented rebels and the idea of entertaining other people for a living, real work sounded worse than having to go to school.
A French guy at school (Donald Tournier or frog dougier as I rudely and racistly called him - I was a floppy haired stroppy teenager) Him and I used to noodle Guns and Roses songs on Donald’s shit electric guitar and dream about having a Les Paul

Anyway, I digress. GnR are not one of these annoying bands that insist on subjecting you to new material, although some of it eg ‘Chinese Democracy’ is tidy and ‘this I love’ is easily as good, if not better than ‘November rain (the keen eyed will note how it perfectly fits the ‘November Rain’ video) , I guess Axl thinks Stephanie Seymour is pretty special. She is certainly attractive but has that ‘femme fatale’ quality where oneday she might just murder you. Not a nice quality to exude.
They also played some ‘Appetite for Destruction’ classics
The real stars of the show were the people I went with though, this is always important as life is about shared experiences. My accomplice for the evening was a friend who has made a lot of my post-stroke concert-going possible, Oli

– I imagine that in the last four years we must be in the highish teens as to the number of events we’ve been too. This time, he couldn’t make the timings for driving me work because Ol’s high powered advertising job has got him under the cosh but as luck would have it my mate Isabel was taking her son Kevin along with friend Elaine

as she was determined that 13 year old Kev see the mighty Guns n Roses and a proper rock concert. They were able to drive me and we met Ol there. What a cool lady, my mum would think it a ‘frightful noise’. As luck would have it – they were allocated seats near us as Kev was deemed too young to go in the standing bit and Oli bumped into one of his good mates (Kieron) and Kieron’s lovely girlfriend Bec.

I think we all had a good time although finishing at 130am and getting home at 4am was the thin end of the wedge. I think everyone was thoroughly exhausted.
After Thursdays highly charged Testosterone driven event. I was grateful when Jose rung me to ask if it ‘had been a late one’ and ‘would having the Friday off training be advisable?’ What a good lad, because on Friday evening I was supposed to be going to the rather more estrogenically endowed Coldplay concert at Arsenal’s Emirates stadium.

Now if the worst thing in life is waiting, and the second worst thing is traffic. Waiting in traffic is the worst thing ever.

As the crow flies the distance from my house to the Emirates is about 25 miles – The concert started at 645, the disabled carpark in the stadium shut at 545, we left at 4 and we got there during the 2nd support act, the lovely Marina and the Diamonds at about 7,

and luckily the Police took pity on us and let us in. Respect to my mate Graham for never abandoning hope, where many would have just turned the car around and given in. It was also the bumpiest journey of my life, no wonder the French take the piss out of our roads, they are a f*cking disgrace.
So, we’d managed to miss Ash, who are on my list to see, but Marina and the Diamonds were ok, if only for the gorgeousness of Marina

and her beautiful voice – I think her genre would be Electrowarbling. I’m always being told that being attractive is not enough to like someone so I thought of her as a fine canvas and I appreciated her patter to the crowd about ‘London being the city that had made her dreams come true’ I’m now appreciating the irony of it being the city that realised some of my worst nightmares.
That’s not a trap I’m going to fall into, this post has been too long and too full of nice things.
You can’t get more yin and yang than Guns and Roses and Coldplay. Guns and Roses are Testosterone to Coldplay’s Oestrogen. Sure, there were plenty of heel wearing sexy rock chicks at Guns and Roses but the entire crowd at Coldplay seemed to be Puffa Jacket Wearing middle class Thirtysomething posh girls and I know which group I more readily associate with, but I’m a pragmatist so I accept the best of both and as much as I just want to hit Chris Martin

in his boring, guilt about Africa holistic, Environmentally friendly, Bono-syndromed, smug, weedy, self-satisfied, detoxed face He can’t half sing and be the frontman of a band that has produced 5 albums, sold 55 million of the buggers and won 7 Brits, they’re not muppets. They are great live
Even the attempt by the usual British weather failed to spoil it, although you should never sit yourself too close to the point where the roof ends above you for the same reason you never pitch your tent under a tree. I am planning on going to a couple of outdoor events later in the year that will be made or broken by the weather. It did get me thinking, any outdoor British event, no matter how good, will never be judged on it’s merits if it rains, a Devon tractor pull can be better than the opening ceremony of the Olympic games if the weather for the latter is wretched (we’ll see).
Back to the gigs, I have heard of mobile phone Mexican waves at gigs but at this they had wristband lights that were centrally controlled. Not that I had one but I thought the results were excellent. Judge for yourself. Doing a gig without them seems mad now. I can see why hard rockers say that the song ‘Paradise’ is wet-lettuce insipid middle of the road crap but in the name of pragmatism, I like it. I don’t care if I get called unprincipled. The people that do call me that probably like ‘The Apprentice’ or ‘The X-Factor’. A shout out to the lads (James and Rob I think) who chatted to me in the post gig melee. I think by and large total strangers can’t believe a guy in my state bothers to go to gigs. I sometimes wonder. It’s hard and not cheap but what else would I do? I stay in touch with my friends and family and organising the things is meticulous, complicated and expensive so I can’t back out, I force myself to push through the inevitable pathetic exhaustion. I’m not in the habit of letting people down...
Speaking of which, it’s a four day weekend celebrating 60 years of an old lady who doesn’t ‘give a sh*t if you die tomorrow’[comedian Jon Richardson on 8 out of 10 cats], It’s just too mental to make up. As with any bank holiday the weather has reminded us to forget anything good about this country. At least Saturday was alright and I was able to go to my neighbours front garden and have tea and scones and chat to the amazing 90 year old lady

amongst the bunting who lives a couple of doors down. Seriously, Connie, for her age she has hardly any assistance, walks around, looks after her garden beautifully and tells anyone who’ll listen how it would be a mercy if she just went. Bollocks, she is a feature of this street and a real character, we’d all be much worse off without her. Speaking of care, my housekeepers, Gary and Gwen

have gone to Paris to celebrate their 39th (lace apparently) wedding anniversary (goodness, they deserve it) and it has really highlighted how I can’t cope on my own. Luckily, I have had my neighbour Tracey and my mate Isabel pop in to do my morning routine and meals. I couldn’t survive without them. Amazing People. Oh, and also special thanks to my mate Graham who took me to the Coldplay

concert – him saying ‘that was fantastic’ after they encored with ‘Clocks’ reminds me of why I go to concerts. God, I don't half go on. Sorry.-



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