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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.

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