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.



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