29 Jul 2012

Post 355: Engineering work with severe delays resumed

It seems that life is a pisspoor replacement bus service for ever. As much as organising to go to 7 things in 7 days last week was a bit excessive, it was probably the right thing to do.
I am not afraid to state my opinion and stick by it unless it gets disproved, you’ve probably noticed, but Friday night was the Olympic Opening Ceremony

which I think by the end everyone was pretty happy with, certainly the fireworks were unbelievable. I’m a sucker for fireworks! However, seeing as I’m the kind of chump who can’t resist a bit of chat I said what I thought about the Opening Ceremony’s starting bit on facebook ‘Is anyone else not exactly overwhelmed?’ – well, this received some agreement but an awful lot of ‘burn the witch’ from the ‘positive police’ but as soon as they ‘forged’ the Olympic rings

it started to take a different, rather more entertaining direction beginning to celebrate that we lead the world in Music and comedy. Sure, I think that the Industrial revolution and the NHS are great British achievements. I sadly don’t think there’s anything to celebrate about the bloody Unions, something a rather radical leftie champagne socialist passive aggressive friend of mine pointed out were celebrated.
In principle I have no objection to collective action when it is used to make sure working practices are fair. For crissakes, I used to work at a company (John Lewis) who virtually had an internal union which could not be overruled by the management (It was called Registry) and I could see how much happier the staff were there. The beauty of this was it could never be hijacked for political gain by power hungry morons with busts of Lenin on their desks who always tell their members how dissatisfied they should be with management and with their government. Workers are politicised (like terrorists being ‘radicalised’) and they feel oppressed because fat bald Trotskyites tell them that’s how they should feel and it makes me mad to think that British Labour is organised this way, it makes me madder still to think I have friends who believe that this is right. Grow a brain! Ooops, off on one again!
Back to the opening ceremony – didn’t the introduction of Mr Bean just turn the mood round from

‘I’m not sure I can take another three hours of this to ‘I wonder how they’re going to light/fashion the Olympic flame and who’s going to light it’? I also thought Dizzee Rascal’s rendition of ‘Bonkers’

stormed the place, he can now go back to being ‘a bit stupid’ as this demonstrates and being a mediocre (at best) ‘Grime’ artist
What was a relief was the Arctic Monkeys belting out ‘I bet that you look good on the dance floor’ rather than Coldplay ‘inspiring’ us. Thank goodness this country doesn’t get tarred with Chris Martin’s patheticness.

That would be as mental as me representing Britain in the 100m! Anyway, the whole thing about the Games has been the disprortionate excitement and ‘hype’ that it has generated. As JFK said ‘No matter how big the lie; repeat it often enough and the masses will regard it as the truth’, is how I feel about the Games. Call me cynical, I put my hand up and say ‘guilty’ but at least I do it with a sense of humour. I think that the Games are a good thing but my enthusiasm is tempered by how much it has cost and the transport chaos it will inevitably create in London. I am not really one for national pride and patriotism because it as another thing that creates division. There are already enough things that do that. Although I am by nature a little competitive, I can’t stand ultra-competitive people so for me the Olympics is just really a spectacle which I’m looking forward to seeing on 11th August. But regardless of how good/mediocre/bad we thought the opening ceremony was, I think we can all agree that the most important thing was that it hardly rained. It always saddens me that no matter how much is sunk into an event, it’s ultimate success or failure is entirely dependent on the weather. Living in this country is sometimes rubbish. Overall, I think we did well – I was one of the cynics (really?) but genuinely hope it goes well. I will of course support British Sportsmen and Women, mainly because it’ll be more fun if they win, so I’m going apeshit for the cyclist Mark Cavendish right now – well that didn’t happen. It better be worth having all the roads near my house closed until Monday. Well no it f*cking wasn’t, frankly I think that the commentators should be shot! From saying that team GB couldn’t have planned the race better at about the ¾ mark to Cavendish not even getting close at the end. These guys are obviously great athletes, but it has got to be the sh*ttest spectator sport of all time. Some sports just don’t work either live or on TV. The commentators didn’t even have a clue who was who. I suppose the disappointment of Cavendish not even getting close should prepare us for more disappointment. After all, this is Britain.
No doubt people have worked out I’m a fairly conservative, selfless, opinionated yet humble bloke by now. Well you might not find me humble, but I’m not an unreasonable c*nt. If there are people that get offended by my language. I sort-of apologise, but I sort-of also believe this.

I’ve only had one thing in the diary this week and it was something that when I saw it, I thought ‘my parents’d love that’ and indeed they did – it was Henry Blofeld and Peter Baxter

sharing their memories of Test Match Special, a bit of an institution with Cricket Fans and posh old duffers. I think my parents are in the overlap of those two groups, I’d also invited my cricketing schoolmate Owen who has just literally become a father for the second time. He doesn’t sound it but he’s so Welsh his second son’s initials are JPR.
Blowers and Baccers were awesome, a couple of comedy posh old buffers just reminiscing in front of an audience. I found myself whispering to my dad ‘how is this different from what happens at your golf club every week’? I don’t think I got an answer.
It got me thinking, Blowers is ‘living the dream’ – how many people can get flown all over the world at that age (he’s 72) and get paid to chat sh*t and drink all day while watching your favourite sport. No wonder he’s such a jolly chap! To someone else living the dream, a DJ who I used to worship, because his mixing and music production were superb. Back in the early noughties he was voted the world’s best DJ three years running. Of course I’m talking about Tiesto .
The reason I bring up this lucky bastard is that I happened to see one of his updates with Photos from Pacha in Ibiza,

a famous club I’ve actually been to a few times. Jealousy is not a constructive thing but sometimes it can’t be avoided.
In other news, my Gall Bladder operation is set for 14th August. It should be a routine keyhole procedure that hopefully won’t involve me spending a week in intensive care like my appendix did last year but still I’m nervous. Anything that requires a general anaesthetic and someone removing something that is supposedly part of my digestive system does that.
In other home news, my friend Isa has got some time on her hands as both her kids are away so she got in touch and came over and cooked me dinner yesterday. What a nice thing to do. This is not to belittle Gary’s cooking, it’s just that he can’t really flex his BBQing (sorry Brai-ing, he and Gwen are South African) muscles while I’ve still got my Gall Bladder (and any fat is off the menu) – we still manage to eat from the brai

– I just have to not have most good things.
Pickle is apparently settling in really well at my brothers and not only is it nice having Ham back around

but the garden seems to be attracting other wildlife.

Mercifully, my schedule for the next few weeks looks ok. After my operation Jose and I are planning a special recovery training regime before his girlfriend has a baby – while he is going to be busy I plan doing a few sessions at a specialist neurorehab physio practice near Dorking on my left arm/hand. It is called Heads Up and was actually investigated by my friend Tanya 4 years ago. However, my then Neurophysio told me that it would not complement her useless and expensive methods so I didn’t bother with it. This wasn’t the first time I have experienced Therapists being precious that their methods are correct. I haven’t known who to listen too. What I do know is that no-ones methods have ever made me feel even the slightest bit better. I have found that the most important thing is the rapport. Let me remind you, these people are essentially torturing you. Worse, you’re essentially paying them to torture you. The least you can hope for is to enjoy their company. I won’t say anymore.

23 Jul 2012

Post 354: 7 things in 7 days. Not wise.

This week has been mostly about trying to take my mind off hearing about a friend’s

death. It really hit me quite hard so I used common venting ground Facebook to try and share a bit of the grief.
Social networking seems to be a modern way of sharing emotion, good or bad, funny or unoriginal crap,(I try and avoid the latter (arguably)) happy or sad, positive or negative, any old sh*t really. Most of what I say isn’t serious although some of it gets taken the wrong way. The last thing facebook should be is a love-in, a mutual ego masturbation fest. It sometimes is and I then stick my neck out and say something a bit controversial, accusations fly, and eventually the banter reaches a new less earnest equilibrium. I don’t think this is what’s called ‘internet trolling’, it’s just trying to save the major domain I am forced to live in from endless Kitten-Offs (I am aware of the irony of having a picture of one of my cats somewhere in this post).
So, I have given Pickle to my brother for several reasons: Firstly because he absolutely deserves her for all the help he has given me, and they really get on. She used to wait for him to arrive in the mornings, then follow him up the garden path, all the while squeaking at him till he’d give her a bowl of milk. When I used to try to stroke her when she was sitting down, she’d treat me like I was disturbing her before having a go at my right hand; secondly, her and Ham were always fighting. Poor Ham used to have to tip toe around the house before Pickle would unceremoniously chase her out of the cat flap. Feckless feline! Anyway apparently she is all happy and relaxed at my brothers house and is really completing the place (not like a painter and decorator would) and Ham has gotten the courage to come and sleep on my bed

(for the record we put that Pink Sheet over my bed during the day as a ‘dust sheet’ to stop the cats grubby feet spoiling my sheets (So far, Jobs a good’un)(and no, this isn’t some elaborate ‘she’s gone to live on a farm’ story, but rather unbelievably I can say with a straight face ‘everyone’s a winner’

Anyway I posted this rather articulate ditty on facebook when I heard my mate Carlie died

‘F*ckety f*ck - my lovely friend Carlie who I met in hospital and only saw a few weeks ago died last week. she wasn't even 30. FUCK’

Getting over 30 responses to this, mostly expressing sympathy to Carlie’s family was nice or particularly those that shared memories of her. My aim this week has been to drag myself out of this Melancholia and considering I’m not the most upbeat of people it’s been a bit of a tricky b*stard. Luckily, my calendar has been Mental. Now, there’s being determined to keep myself busy having interesting events to go to that my friends take me to and there’s biting off more than I can chew. I’m conscious here of how an erstwhile friend said she found the way I wrote about going to stand up comedy ‘boring’. If that’s her view, I also find it ‘boring’ that she hasn’t bothered visiting me in years as I’m clearly no longer interesting.
Anyway f*ck it – I’ll crack on, on Monday I went to see old favourite Stephen K Amos

at local Kingston comedy ‘bunker’ (Amos’ words) ‘The Fighting Cocks’. Now, I have tended to be a fan of bigger ‘better’ venues with more facilities. This venue has taken a lot of the Glamour and occasion out of live comedy. It’s still a laugh but it is the ‘gritty, unglamorous, business end’ of earning a living from making people laugh. I have my old mate Charlie ‘The Kaner’ Kane

to thank for taking me –luckily, he’s just down the road so this is a minor inconvenience for him. He also took me to the Kingston Nando’s where there’s about one thing on the menu I can currently eat. My Gall Bladder removal hasn’t happened yet and it playing up is making life even more dull than usual. Seriously, dietary restrictions really make you more depressed than usual. I’m sure Gary (my carer who has to imagine fat-free things to cook) feels like performing the operation himself or at least ramming his arm down my throat and removing the bloody thing himself. He’s obviously too kindly, patient and mild mannered to do that!
So on Tuesday I had tickets to the Greenwich Comedy festival and my lift had had to decline and looking at where it was (about a three hour round trip) I was extremely doubtful about finding anyone until Isabel answered my distress call. I warned her it was a long journey and she cheerfully told me not to worry about it and that she hadn’t seen a live stand up gig before and ‘stop thinking you’re a pain’. What a nice lady. Between being a local lifeline when Gary and Gwen are away and running a triathlon to raise money for the trust what a find she is. Even though it’s a geographical impossibility, she is a Portuguese Samaritan. Ostensibly, I had bought the tickets to see on-fire comedian Sean Lock

who was bloody amusing e.g his politics are too mixed for him to ever be in government so he says, Some of his policies are very very right wing like he’d use the 4th plinth in Trafalgar square to publicly LIQUIDISE paedophiles. Some of his policies are very very left wing, like he’d close all the Public Schools tomorrow, saying if life were a 100m race, going to public school would be like having a bath in Nandrolone or the school he went to was like being fired backwards out of a cannon. So I guess I’m just thick and Prince Harry really is that stupid! Isabel seemed to be enjoying it though.

Also good was first act Danny Bhoy,

being Scottish but avoiding the customary nihilism. I would say he’s doing a Kevin Bridges and is ‘definitely one to watch’. Sadly at these events there’s always a weak act and sadly at this one it was madcap American Tony Law

who was trying to be funny just by being Wacky, I’m afraid in my brain Wacky= Weird and I give weirdness a fairly wide berth. The compere, a guy called Ed Gamble was also quite weak.

For a start he reminded me of Ed Miliband. I wouldn’t normally express sympathy for the Labour party but they’re stuck with a guy who was clearly the school dweeb until after the inevitable landslide Tory victory when pudding faced Etonian automaton Cameron

gets easily re-elected. I’m feeling a bit anti-politics at the moment as my left wing friends have made it perfectly clear that they loathe everything I stand for. Just because I don’t have sympathy for ‘Oiks’, people who don’t have manners, ‘Chavs’, ‘Vermin’, people with no self-respect, lazy people, dicks basically, and if I complain, I complain about my physical condition, and things that genuinely impact the people I care about rather than ‘bleating’ about how unfair things are on a section of society who couldn’t give a sh*t about me.
Oh dear, I went off on one there. This makes sense to me, but not to the people it’s aimed at. Maybe I really am that thick. I do care about people and society but it is always steeped in pragmatism and realism and that I think there’s more to this than pledging an unswerving allegiance to a particular class or ideology. You have to do what is best for the people you genuinely care about, not people you’re told you should care about or have solidarity with. That is not being true to yourself and that can go hang!
Ooof, still off on one – where was I?
Wednesday I think.
Well, Wednesday was a bit different. I had been invited by a former colleague (Sue) to her daughter’s graduation gathering in a pub in Victoria. This sort of thing is pretty hard for me these days, but if someone’s gone to the trouble of inviting me I’m going to try and make a plan. Again this is where Gary is brilliant. Because he can drive, if I ask him nicely – he’ll take me to these things. It’s not under my own steam but it makes a difference.
Now I remember Sue’s daughter Alex doing a day’s work-shadowing of yours truly when she was a slightly rebellious 14 year old goth. She has certainly grown up now into a graduate psychologist

and very rebellious rock-chick.

Thursday was a bit different too, as I try to have as much variation in what I see as possible and after my friend and former colleague Jackie had organised a very interesting talk on Scotts early 20th century expedition to
The Antarctic a few years ago, I jumped at the chance to go and see Sir Ranulph Fiennes

talk in Guildford

about his trips to Everest, the Eiger and both Poles. I judged this to be something my parents would appreciate, and I must say it was quite possibly even more middle-class and middle-aged as going to the Proms! A T-Shirt with this on just arrived.
Fiennes is an inspirational character but clearly a nutter, given his age and health problems, no sane person would take the risks he has. He has raised a lot of money for charity which begs the question ' Is the money encouraging him to take unacceptable risks?
For the record I think the risks he takes place a huge unnecessary burden on the people who care about him. I base this on how much stress having this stroke has put on the people who care about me.

Friday was back to Greenwich for more of the comedy festival. The name that I had spotted, who I always enjoy seeing was Dylan Moran. The way he performs makes me think he’s an Alcoholic Irish genius. Maybe I just don’t remember his jokes but it always sounds different and he sounds like it’s all off the top of his head.

It can’t be but it does feel like he’s just thinking of his punchlines then and there. It’s a real art, and it was a particular joy to have my mate Karen chuckling away. She probably doesn’t like this photo but I think it captures pretty damn well the smirk that the evening put on people’s faces.

Also great on the bill was deadpan sarky Northerner, Alun Cochrane who I’ve seen before and listen to with Frank Skinner every Saturday morning on Absolute Radio.

As I said earlier, on these multiple bills there’s always a weak link, and sadly this time it was Radio 4 performance poet Tim Key.

His material is at such a different tempo, standing up in front of more than 1000 people with stuff that is not obviously funny must be terrifying. Still, I take my hat off to the guy for having the courage to do it. The festival is not an unpleasant night out but it is a hell of an excursion! The clement weather and the willingness of my last minute drivers to say that the ‘round trip was no problem’ made it better. I went to this 3 years ago

and if the scale of the main tent

is anything to go by it is doing well.People need to laugh, I know I’m not a representative sample but the World isn’t getting any easier – for anyone, nevermind my problems. We all need to get out more! What also lifted my heart was a rather beautiful stranger asking me if I was alright in the interval when Karen had gone to get me a drink. Perhaps humanity isn't doomed!

Karen and her husband Toby are rather brilliant

(just generally) and are also taking me to the last day of the Olympic Athletics on August 11th . There was initially a slight confusion about which events we were supposed to be going to see. After some Homework we worked out we’re getting to see the finals of the Mens 4X100m,

and the Mens 5000m where the Brit Mo Farah is favourite. If he wins the noise in the stadium

will be deafening. There are also several other finals. I still can’t believe how good these tickets are.
Anyway, enough about the Olympics, it is exciting though! As Dylan Moran said, the Olympics is two expensive weeks of organised jumping! What terrible cynicism, you’d never catch me saying that!
Saturday, I took my parents to the Proms,

which was as usual, lovely. Live Classical Music in the warm, cosy atmosphere of the Hall has a tranquilising affect and Beethovens 3rd and 4th symphonies sounded as good as you’ll ever hear.

My mum and Dad absolutely loved it.
My 7th thing was going to my favourite Comedian Daniel Kitson

at the Regents Park Outdoor Theatre

with my trainer and Friend Jose and my old carer and Top bird Bianca.

Kitson is a unique comedian,

one of these guys that just uses the English language to deconstruct the intricacies, subtleties and contradictions of the world. My original acid test for comedy ‘ is this someone I could get on well with and laugh and chat with’ falls down spectacularly because I actually think he’s a bit weird and disturbed. If the first half musical poem/duet with Gavin Osborn demonstrated anything, it showed me that here’s a talented man who’s a bit messed up. The subject matter (about a girl who befriends a monster, that then murders gruesomely anyone who tries to romance her) was both imaginative and disturbing in the first half. His current stand up show in the 2nd half was both blistering genius and very long. How he manages to write and deliver an hour and forty minutes in the way he does puts every Shakespearean Monolugue so far in the shade they’re six feet under. It was astounding and to quote him, I can understand why I often get a bit self righteous.
‘It’s hard to avoid being self-righteous when you are right’
I’m sorry this post is ridiculously long and a bit late. I had to share. I want to share. I should never do seven things in seven days. Not now, not ever. I do NOT have the energy. No-one does. Except Possibly Ranulph Fiennes!

Absolutely finally, I was dropped in on, on saturday morning by an old friend who I'd nicknamed Osama Ben Watson when I first met him back in about 2001 - He's the bald guy

He popped in with his wife and daughter. A real legend.

22 Jul 2012

Post 354 ish: Another placeholder (but please read)

I’m afraid my proper post ‘7 things in 7 days. Not wise.’ Will be up on Monday afternoon as finding the time to write and post this has been challenging so this is another ‘cap in hand’ post. If you’ve ever read this blog, please keep reading it. It’s just my life that’s a bit sh*t. This is probably very sh*t!
While I’m here however I am really touched that three of my friends from my clubbing days, Adam, Carine and Matt are doing a sponsored 100k walk for the Trust this weekend .

Thank goodness the sun is shining. They’re planning on walking the South Downs way in 20 hours. Words Fail Me for how grateful I am but please sponsor these three legends if you know how or email me for instructions on how to do it by paypal. I’ll do my best not to confuse you completely!

15 Jul 2012

Post 353 – Another British disgrace

And the Olympics haven’t even started! The reason I say this was I and 65,000 other idiots got rained on at Hard Rock Calling in the name of seeing 3rd best grunge band ever Soundgarden on Friday

(for the record Nirvana were#1,Pearl Jam were #2) – I found myself saying to my hero of a friend Oli,

‘They're really f*cking good'. he bravely endures taking me to so many things - maybe because it was Friday 13th I should have known it would rain! Of course, I don’t believe in that sort of bollocks so in actuality, it’s this country and it’s geographical position on the planet letting us down again. These outdoor events can be one of the most glorious things. Wimbledon, The Olympics can all be glorious things if it doesn’t rain. I think the fact that we organise these things, and 1000s of people stump up what is quite a lot of money, and time, and energy, and lets face it when it comes to using the loo at these things, dignity and humanity. It’s nice to think that we are a nation of optimists and it rather pleases me that despite the fact I often get accused (since my stroke mainly) of being a dour, negative, b*stard that deep down, I am an optimist. The fact that I cram my life with all this sh*t is done in the vain hope that making the people who take me happy and possibly myself temporarily happy will help me achieve some sort of contentedness. Any other suggestions are of course welcome. I also have slight rose-tinted spectacles about previous outdoor events. Bon Jovi at Twickenham in summer 2008 is a particular favourite that probably started this way of life and Bon Jovi on the Saturday of Hard Rock Calling last year

Even though Bon Jovi isn’t exactly my favourite, Both events were enough to keep me going to concerts even if it is such a profound effort and expense because life is about saying ‘yes, I can do that’ or ‘yes, I’ll do that’ almost without thinking. If I spent my life machinating and going over all the permutations and combinations of everything I’d spend my whole life prevaricating. That’s not to say I’m blindly, wildly, instinctive although some might call me reactionary – nah, I’m just a do-er and a ‘cut the crap’ sort of person. I can trade in bullshit if the need arises. If I decided (like so many people) to ‘Not risk being tired’ the day after something then I wouldn’t do anything. Being tired when trying to do anything is pretty much the worst thing ever. The worst part of a hangover (well there can be a lot of worst parts) in my opinion is the fact you haven’t slept properly. Since my stroke my lowest moments have been when I haven’t slept properly but thinking about it, when I’ve had nothing to go to and when I haven’t seen my friends have also been pretty bad. As much as I love Gary and Gwen they can’t make me not feel alone. Going out and trying to be as normal as I can be is the only thing I can do. I try not to be precious, for example I have encountered various people throughout my life who have ‘ideas above their station’ –ie if something’s a bit difficult or a bit tiring they won’t do it. They’re not happy unless they’re staying in a ‘five star’ hotel etc... To be clear I’m not one of those people who says ‘doing anything that isn’t a challenge is a waste of time’. No, I like things that should be easy, to be easy, which is why having this stroke has got me down so much and being kicked when I’m down hasn’t helped. That has included people letting me down, people ignoring me, people appearing to think that ‘I have it easy’, people telling me ‘I moan too much’, people telling me ‘you’ve given up’ or ‘you’re not trying hard enough’ or ‘do you know how lucky you are?’ or ’you need to be more positive’ and the latest kicker, my friend Carlie dying last week. I know I’d only met her in hospital in 2007, but she was still my friend, and she was less than 30 – I just wish I’d been to see her more. I first wrote about her here
Back in March 2008
, and I was glad I went to see her (with Gary) a few weeks ago

We had been due to visit her again and it rather shames me we hadn’t been more often. There is a lot said about how the dignity of some disabled people ( this can’t include me if we’re talking about dignity!) can teach us something. She was a great example of that. She is now at peace.
This has hit me a lot harder than I thought something like this would.
So last night was a funny one. I actually had tickets to see Scottish nihilist comic/magician Jerry Sadowitz

(well stone me, a Scottish nihilist?) but a great college friend of mine emailed me a few weeks ago to say that him and his wife were planning a small gathering to celebrate their 10th (10th!) wedding anniversary – now weirdly I had been one of his ushers back in 2002

(see if you can spot me – probably in the prime of my life), anyway, it was in the Sanderson Hotel in Soho. I’m glad I went because I haven’t seen Guy and Teresa for a while as they’ve been in America. The Sanderson is something else – one of these boutique hotels that is hideously overpriced,

the type of place that footballers and models probably go to waste their piles of money. I guess what I’m saying, is the highlight of the bar was the absurd eye candy and the smoothness of the floor, it certainly wasn’t the ‘just too loud so you had to shout’ funky electro-house. I said to guy ‘I’m half expecting Zoolander to walk in.

Guy said’he wouldn’t be surprised if John Terry suddenly turned up celebrating his being acquitted of Racism.

He must have a clear conscience (or as clear as anyone who hires Max Clifford as his PR agent).

I’m sorry, but does having to hire a PR agent make you look as guilty as I think it does?
Anyway, special thanks to Gary for taking me – I think getting to the Sanderson may top the table for worst journeys. I’m nervous about next week. I’ve got a lot on and my Gall Bladder is still a problem and my Vegan no fat diet is making me tetchy.



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