30 Sep 2012

Post 369: taking an ironic two steps forward, then three steps back

I’m doing this writing course for a few reasons. The first is to try and crystallise some inspiration. The second is to try and get away from all this autobiographical writing which is a bit egotistical, self-indulgent and narcissistic. The third is so I can share any lessons I learn from some of my reading.Particularly the more challenging audiobooks I've started taking on after a recommendation to read the Classics quite recently. I have started Don Quixote

but it was brought to an abrupt halt when I fell over while trying to transfer into my armchair. Such incidents rather discourage me and play hell with continuity.

I think even though I do hope that people think ‘ hmmm, he sounds reasonable’, 'bit of an arse, but reasonable.'

Having at one point managed a team of more than ten people, something I was glad I got the chance to do before my stroke, I almost wrote ‘before I died’ there but didn't because it’s not strictly true, even though the outcome has been pretty similar! Anyway, I’ll be honest I managed this lot by the seat of my pants. I wasn't afraid to tell them in 1on1’s that they probably knew more about Merchandising than me but this was the fait accompli they’d been dealt, we’d better get on with it.
I’ve often thought that the measure of someone is how well they perform at the extremes of their abilities – it’s management 101 to see how someone performs when you ‘throw them in at the deepend and that age-old cliché ‘will they sink or swim’ applies. I like to think I coughed and splashed around a bit, but I resolutely didn’t drown. I managed to navigate the choppy waters (that’s enough of the water based metaphor!) of 2005’s December trade and plan for post Christmas clearance, and even though I took nailbiting to a new height and office bullshit for ‘nothing to worry about’ to a new dimension it was an enjoyable but challenging few months. Looking back on it now, it was the first time I’ve NOT thought of myself as somebody’s bitch(well, analyst but you know what I mean)!
I’ve always primarily thought that the measure of a person is at the extremes of their abilities; or secondarily that an ability to self motivate yourself is what stands you out. However both things are very different. Because I consider myself to be at the extremes of my abilities with most things I do these days, I find that a lack of energy severely impacts both of the things that make you a better person, therefore it helps having energy and helps me explain why I am quite cautious about what I expend my energy on in the face of ZERO definitive information on what the right thing to do is. The worst impact of no energy is on my ability to motivate myself, it’s probably why I bang on about missing a partner so much. I need someone who cares and I care back, someone who I can impress, someone who is prepared to take a stake in my improvement, I want to improve someone’s life – I don’t want to be thought of as some sort of millstone which I think is what strangers think. I guess this blog is an attempt to show I’m not a millstone.
My attempts to lighten the load this week have included having a Pizza and chat on Tuesday with my old mate Nick 'the Walm' Walmsley.

Him and his wife and kids have been the first people I know really well to voluntarily 'take the plunge' and move out of London. He now commutes and the effort he made just for a Pizza astounds me. We didn't used to know him as 'fatboy' for nothing.

I then took my ace housekeepers who I couldn't live without to see the Beach Boys (yes, the original Beach Boys) at a sold out Wembley Arena on Friday Night. Wembley is a nightmare to get to at the best of times and on a Friday we needed every minute of the two and a half hours we took to get there. Annoyingly the day after I’d got the tickets months ago, I’d discovered that they were playing at the Albert Hall the night before. It’s much less distance and I prefer the Albert Hall. On a Friday the journey can still be a bit interesting but not a patch on the Wembley shocker!
Anyway, Gary and Gwen

are big fans and this was a fitting event to take them to. Gwen had even said to me earlier in the week how much she was looking forward to it. This always makes it better for me.
Now, I would be amazed if there was anyone in the world over 30 who doesn’t know or hasn’t heard one Beach Boys track. It is relentlessly happy RocknRoll from the 1960s when West Coast Rock bands wrote songs in major keys about cars, girls, sports, their high school free from a lot of the heartbreak, politics, immorality and Melancholia that characterises so much rock music. We had brilliant seats

which is the one (trust me) small comfort. It is a big help for me but I prefer the pleasure it gives the people with me. Especially at Wembley Arena

where if you’re at the back, you might as well be watching your TV at home!
Now, the elephant in the room was that the average age of the Beach Boys is just over 70

and given a lot of their songs are quite energetic and feel like they should be sung by young men with quite exact falsetto’s so I was quite intrigued to see how they’d do and honestly I thought that in one or two of the more exacting ballads they sometimes came unstuck but by and large they got away with it. It does however feel a bit wrong sometimes! I’m off to see 70 odd year old former Kink Ray Davies

at the Albert Hall next week. That’ll be interesting. My attitude to these old lizards going on forever is ‘Good for them’ – if they’re not embarrassing themselves and people are willing to go see them – there is nothing to compare to the feeling of public performance. I say do it for as long as you can.
From discussing the twilight years of a career to seeing the rise of someone set to be huge (not in waistline terms),

25 year old Glaswegian comedian Kevin Bridges,

who I went to see with my legend of a mate Ben Watson

at the Hammersmith Apollo last night. Again, the London traffic was not our friend. We left Oxshott at 630 for a journey that should take an hour tops, but we hadn’t bargained with it taking more than an hour to get from Putney to Hammersmith. We were probably in place to see irritating warm up Leprechaun Neil Delamere by about 815 (he had started at 8). Bridges is a rare positive Glaswegian comic, he may swear liberally but it is funny swearing and unlike Frankie Boyle he doesn’t sound like he’d use the ‘c’ word to order a pint of milk. Incidentally Ben and I are going to see him at the Apollo in a month or so, so watch this space. To tell you the truth, I’m slightly afraid!I suppose Bridges could be called an observational comedian, speaking of which I’m off to see Michael McIntyre at the Dome tonight with my friend Chey. I’ve seen several comics at the Dome and he has always carried it off. He’s like Peter Kay but not so one dimensionally working class or northern. McIntyre’s appeal is more universal. Poking fun at everyone and we love it.
Enjoying this is crucial – I really need to as I’m having this hideous Gamma Knife surgery on the 11th and I’m not sure how to feel about it after the surgeon called on Friday and told me he’d rather not do the procedure under General Anaesthetic because of the risks of megetting a chest infection and me not coming around from the Anaesthetic so I’ve agreed to do it like I did it before, basically, I’ll be awake. Seeing as it was the most traumatic experience of my conscious life back in 2006, I’m not really looking forward to it...

22 Sep 2012

Post 368: What’s going on?

I’m really not sure, although a friend of mine posted this up on Facebook on Friday.

I don’t know what my result ‘love, lust and time’ says about me? Just when I was coming to the decision in my head that the best I can ever expect in my life is to be ‘just friends’ with anyone, the dream of having a beautiful wife and an idyllic lifestyle is now gone! Just being friends with girls will probably work for me because feeling alone and vulnerable is my most regular problem. Fancying me has got to come from the other side. I think the time for me ever being physically seductive or remotely physically attractive is in the past, before my stroke when I was 25-27 was probably the good days,

my 30s are a write off, no, the rest of my life is a write-off and to be fair to me – it was one of the most important parts of my life before this happened. It’s paradoxical how the world hates people who hate themselves and people who love themselves. I think to succeed in Iife you have to be somewhere between the two extremes – I am probably too far towards ‘hate’ at the moment. I now feel like Susan f*cking Boyle and I can’t even sing! Bless her, she may have the voice of an angel but she has the face of a moose!

If that upsets you, you need to seriously re-evaluate your sense of humour. I know it’s no laughing matter for some. I have had one or two nice messages saying ‘I read your Blog, please don’t pack it in’, there was also something about keeping on with the physical therapy. This is how I replied to one of those messages:

I've worked hard on my walking and independence and I've
reached a sort of unhappy equilibrium where I've accepted I have to be
in a wheelchair and even though I'm giving my left arm another go at
this Bobath therapy it's not going to get better, the only thing that
I hope is that something can come along (medication wise) for my fatigue
and mood. Otherwise everything I do is: ‘about maintaining what
independence I have and things that will in the short term keep me interested in being alive
- eg seeing friends and family, concerts, good films/tv series/audiobooks,
meeting new people, doing my writing course and writing my blog,
there's no other strategy with my energy the way it is, I might be
able to do years of that - I've done 7 to get this far, it feels like
a life sentence, crikey, even a death sentence . [This may appear on the blog]
The whole energy/mood thing is everything.’
Even though I’m not a big TV watcher, like a lot of my demographic we live vicariously through the current big series that is on TV and nothing epitomises that more than the latest HBO series

that happens to be on Sky Atlantic.

Until a Couple of months ago it was Game of Thrones,

a gritty fantasy epic based on a series of 5 novels

set in a weird fictional medieval land. My writing course tutor just finished the first book and her praise for it could scarcely have been higher. It keeps cheese to a minimum and avoids the age old good vs evil cliché instead drawing the lines of battle on whether the characters are nasty pieces of work and sort of tangled family allegiances and staying safe in a dangerous magical feudal world. The translation to small screen has been pretty good, no, amazing – the type of program you record and watch at the same time. How did we manage before Sky+? It is a great mystery – like the questions – how did we manage before Sat Nav? Or mobile phones? People used to make plans and stick to them and read maps. Imagine that? Ooo, was starting to rant there.
The two series of Game of Thrones so far have been beautifully done and they’re not for the faint hearted (series three is eagerly awaited by more than just sad people like me. The gore and the sex are both pretty graphic. Mary Whitehouse

would disapprove but it’s a wonder anyone listened to her bluster. Only in England, probably the only country where ‘outrage by association’ happens. By this I mean you can be angry with something despite not knowing about it even if it makes f*ck all difference to you.

I’ve actually got a t-shirt with this on. We’re all grown ups and in the age of the internet ‘Mary Whitehouse’ style outrage is a battle that has long been lost. I mean little old me has seen and heard things on the internet and at live comedy shows that would have her spinning in her grave.
Another HBO show on Sky has been the Sopranos. I am hooked on it despite the fact that almost all the Characters are unspeakable Scum, Surprise surprise, most of the characters are deranged sociopaths who only care about where the next ill-gotten $ is coming from. What makes it so compelling is how real it feels and how it overlays human frailty onto being an organised criminal. I am actually quite happy that they’ve got to the point where they’re starting to kill each other where the New York Mafia led by Phil ‘ the biggest Mafia Stereotype ever’ Leotardo

has decided to decapitate ‘cosa nostra lingo’ the New Jersey Soprano family, he comes out with some classic lines like ‘let me tell you a couple of three things’. I know it’s fictional but I don’t want to pick a side, I want them all to kill each other painfully! Oh well, two episodes of carnage until it’s all over, it’ll be grim but at least I’ll feel like justice has been done. I don’t for a second think a sportsman’s handshake is going to sort this mess out! It should occupy my next two Wednesdays! On Saturdays I have always recorded the Borgias

which goes a long way to explaining the Italian appetite for revenge that is part of the Mafia code. A big part of this is the work of Niccolo Machiavelli, who was chief adviser to the Medici family of Florence in the 15th and early 16th century. Machiavellian Political and moral Philosophy basically says ‘the ends justify the means’ which is the sociopath or autistic child’s way of doing things which is basically ‘keep your eyes on the prize, sod everyone else’ Real people can’t get away with being like this unless you are able to completely block out the fact that friendship, love and human empathy are the important tripos of being human. Not being able to appreciate how someone else is feeling as a result of something is an alien concept to me. I am so tuned into other people these days because I rely on people’s goodwill to get through the day. I’m no crawling suck up though so the hardest thing I have had to do is continually make sure that people are ok with helping me and that they feel appreciated. Perhaps in the old days I could just leave people to take care of themselves a bit more, this is not taking people for granted, it’s giving people a lot more credit for being able to look after themselves. It is kind of a cruel irony that now I have no energy I have to expend much more than I used to caring about what people think. I’m sure that people think I take myself far more seriously than I do. Jesus, look at me –what’s there to take seriously? I’m like Steven Hawking without the Astrophysics.
I suppose what has been a bit disingenuous of me over the last few weeks on here has been the lack of despair. I have had a viral stomach infection which is probably one of the worst undignified things you can possibly have if you can’t walk. I would say not being able to walk independently robs you of your dignity. In essence, I feel sometimes like a six month old child with the consciousness of a 35 year old – at least at 6 months people think you’re cute whatever you do. Now I feel sometimes people are as disgusted with me as I am with myself. It is difficult to explain how awful the interplay of tiredness and fear are when you have to transfer from your bed to your wheelchair and then to the toilet at 4am. There have been some low moments in the last seven years. We might have a new champion. Gary and Gwen have been very understanding in helping me get through this.
On top of this I now have my date for Gamma Knife surgery,

it is Thursday 11th October and I feel like I’m on Death Row. The only possible positive thing I can draw out of this is at least it’ll be a painless way to go if it does go wrong as I have said I'll only do it under general anaesthetic, sorry, it’s the best I can do. I’m Petrified given my chequered history with anaesthetics. Here is the Cromwell Hospital Webpage that describes the procedure
It is a small crumb of comfort that I have private medical insurance to do this but guess what? – I don’t feel lucky.

16 Sep 2012

Post 367: it feels like ages...

...since I’ve added anything to this unweighty tome. I’ve formulated a hair-brained theory (you know, the type untroubled by empirical or scientific fact) that our summers are coming later – ie there’s no need to get depressed that summer is over by the time September has started because you’re going to be guaranteed one or two glorious days in September and because they are quite unexpected they just make you feel a bit better. I know talking about weather is duller than dull but I got an email from a mate of mine who has moved her whole family out to California to move with her husband’s job and the impression I get is that waking up every day to endless blue sky is nothing short of euphoric for them. I was chatting about this to my dad (perhaps the oracle about trivia like this) and he told me that Boeing have an assembly plant in California which is open to the air which is just an earth-shattering concept to me.
Well, the main reason I’m talking about the weather (apart from the fact that I’m English) is that last Sunday (9th) was one of these glorious days and it was made even better by the fact I was taken out for lunch by Gina and Oli Tress. I was at University with Gina and she has aged amazingly,

she still looks identical to how she looked in her early twenties despite having two kids. Her kids (Talia and Bruno) are cute and her husband Oli

is charming (he takes me to events sometimes) The kids were also a big fan of the slide I’ve got in my garden

(a bit of a stroke of genius my mum deciding it was better situated in my garden than hers). And special thanks to Chey for popping in for a quick motivational chat and TellyWatch in the evening. I appreciate the company.
Now that I’ve got rid of my pesky Gall Bladder I can get back to the serious business of taking people out/being taken out for lunch. It’s one of the cornerstones of post-stroke life or as Dave Gorman just ridiculously said on the radio ‘one of the tent poles that keep life afloat’, why would you ever be in a floating tent? (Except maybe at Glastonbury)?

Even though eating and talking is not one of my strongpoints, ie not something I can do at the same time all that well. I suppose this is the big difference between pre and post stroke life. Pre-stroke, it’s more about the actual food –post-stroke, the food is a pleasant distraction, the main-event is the fact that the people are there, and that they’ve taken me out and elected to spend their precious time with a guy who (lets face it) looks and sounds a bit odd, is not happy and is well past his best. I wish I had a secret that this awful experience has taught me, that I could convey to people in hushed tones, let me think, no, I’ve got nothing!
Saying ‘never give up’ is patent b*llocks, it’s more like ‘pick and choose your battles’. To some this implies that in the battles you choose not to fight you’ve given up. Er, no, you’ve just decided to commit your limited energy a bit more intelligently. Sadly, there are two types of people you need to learn to ignore:
1. The Stroke Survivor who’s only advice is ‘never give up’. Every brain injury seems to have a different recovery profile. Those who have recovered well seem to make a lot of gains in the first few months, and don’t suffer from omnipresent Fatigue. Stories of people who make gradual recoveries over years are few and far between but seem to provide plenty of ammunition to the ‘never give up’ brigade. I play the percentages because I just have to.
2. People who seem to think a stroke is like any other illness ie One that you’ll recover from – I was probably one of the uneducated many that believed this before I actually had one. Here are the facts – If you had a very serious stroke that has taken away your energy, balance, co-ordination and use of your left side you won’t recover, your quality of life will be determined by how bloody minded you are to make sure you meet new friends, stay in touch with your old ones, do stuff and maintain the health and independence you do have. I think most people would be too depressed and too tired to do anything. Trying to avoid this state is now my number one priority. As some mafia stereotype said in ‘The Soprano’s’ ‘you’re at the precipice of a crossroads’ –eh, what, that makes no sense. To turn the corner(!) I need some luck. It’s a ridiculous platitude/cliché or plataché to say ‘you make your own luck’ but there is a certain amount of that in my strategy for life. Here comes the factual stuff about what I’ve been up to:
On the 7th I went to Wembley Arena to see Noel Gallaghers High Flying Birds.

Now several years ago I probably wouldn’t have bothered because I tarred Noel with the same Brush as Liam, ie, they were both miserable Northern bastads so I was damned if I was gonna like their music. I couldn’t give two sh*ts about how much people were raving about Oasis. The final straw in their coffin (!;)) had been when a random French guy on a skiing holiday had tried to make polite conversation with the line ‘I like waziz, ‘ave you ‘eard of waziz?’ As a typical Jonny Foreigner it took me several minutes to process this – but what I remember clear as a bell was resolving to dislike Oasis forever. Only marginally illogical, but I was a young xenophobe! Goodness, that must have been in the early 90s! So, after years of sibling fighting between the feckless Gallaghers they finally called an end to Oasis in about 2009. Since then Noel’s own project High Flying Birds has been churning out song after song that sound rather Oasis-like, confirming my suspicion that Liam had 0% creative input, and just behaved like a moron. Consistency has never been my strongpoint, cognitive dissonance has, but Noel has clearly got some talent. Therefore he is worthy of respect and I challenge anyone not to listen to ‘Everbodys on the run’ and not be a little uplifted. He’s got a great voice. Anyway, the support act were the brilliant Kooks,

a group who I’d last seen in October 2011 at Brixton Academy . If you haven’t got it, their Album ‘Junk of the Heart’ is exceptional.
My mate Graham who was supposed to be taking me couldn’t because the son of his best mate had been killed riding a moped in Thailand. There are few things that I can imagine are worse. My mate Ched

was able to take the reins after a quick bit of facebooking.
Wembley Arena is a funny old venue. It’s basically a large rectangular shed, that used to be a huge indoor swimming pool (last used in the 1948 Olympics. Despite it not being a patch on the Dome I quite like it, the sound is loud and clear and the seats they allocate to wheelchairs are bloody good

– it feels a bit like being on the level above a sea of people (although I can imagine being at the opposite end to the stage must be sh*t)

The Kooks were up first and were far to good to be a warm up act. We could imagine Noel cursing in his dressing room!
Anyway, they finished far too fast, and on came Noel. OK, his dour Northerness does grate a bit but he is pretty good. His monobrow does make him look like a bit of a vulture

(possibly why his band is called high flying birds I dunno) but he’s got plenty of great material. His latest stuff is superb and he proved that he can knock out Oasis numbers with ease. He finished with ‘Don’t look back in Anger’ which was pretty awesome.
I am conscious I’ve gone on but I’ve got a few rather big thankyous. Firstly to Alexa, a friend of a friend – a lady who lives in Bermuda, last week she happened to be in the UK for a work conference, and as she said she had read all of this blog (surely the only person in the world) she dropped in for a cup of tea and a chat). Wow, what a kind thing to do – I would have thought reading all of this might have made her steer well clear. She was charming, well spoken, beautiful and above all, married to a guy who looks like Antonio Banderas.

No fairytales here.
The second is to my friend Gaelle, who I went out for lunch with on Friday. A very level head on a lovely lady. A massive thankyou goes to my friend Isabel for coming round on Friday evening to start watching brilliant Boxset The Tudors

about Henry the Eighth, obviously while he wasn’t large enough to Crush his sexual partners. But being King back then was obviously a licence to do what you wanted.
What is disturbing is the influence religion had back then. It is used as an excuse to cloak the immorality of the powerful from the greater populace. I know it’s a dramatisation but they talk about the rich taking the piss today. Isa is a good mate – she invited me round for a BBQ with her friends and her son last night. There are some people you just take being exhausted for, and she seems able to put up with my utter exhaustion.
And finally, a big thanks again to Ched and his wife Terri for taking me to a gathering to celebrate the (temporary, for a holiday) return to this country from his new home in Sydney of Simon the Hat. The Hat is possibly one the most amusing blokes to walk this Earth, and his visits with his 6 months pregnant wife Lorena, are all too rare. The last time I saw the Hat clan must have been over 3 years ago because since I last saw them he has somehow acquired a 3 year old daughter, Charlotte (how does that happen? Answers on a postcard) Anyhow, despite not really being able to join in the general mirthmaking,

I’m glad I went even if the Grove Pub in Suburbiton is as conducive to a wheelchair as the Eiffel Tower Stairs. Good food though and the chance to see people I haven’t seen for years (people like Del and her twins).

Lord knows how I’ve had the energy to write this!

7 Sep 2012

Post 366: Being really worried about the Future. What on earth keeps us going?

For strters I haven’t got the answers! I never do. This is quite a recurring theme for this blog. Since the stroke happened a significant part of my day to day existence has been about getting back or at least feeling like I’m on equal terms with my old friends, family but most importantly, any new people that I meet. The idea that I might need a carer or anyone to do anything for me is utterly alien! I have to face facts though, I can no longer be independent. I can no longer be the physical equal of anyone able-bodied. Now, I’m pretty sure I’ve come to terms with this, at least a large part of it. Finding housekeepers that I can trust has been a big part of this. I hope Gary and Gwen live here for a long long time. The other part (here he goes again, yawn) is finding a better half. I used to believe, perhaps hopefully, probably romantically that there might be someone who would be able to accept the fact that the best I could be was an emotional and intellectual equal. Someone with their own life, their own job who shares my interests, admires my spirit, likes my friends and family, will either want to live here or lives nearby and drives, who could drop-in at will, not because I ask, but because they want to... I think this probably is hopelessly romantic. In almost 5 years of living here, nothing meaningful has developed. Physical equality seems to be the thing, emotional and intellectual equality don’t seem to count for much. A female friend of mine recently said when talking in general terms about a prospective partner for me, in this day and age that means ‘Someone who can drive her home when she's had a few drinks, cook her dinner when she's tired, someone who can look after her a bit – it’s not enough just to show willing or find a solution. I’ve always tried to get away from this notion that a partner would have to a certain extent be a carer to me, all of that stuff is out of the equation now I’ve decided that the upstairs of my house will always have to be a flat for housekeepers. Building some sort of annex is still a work in progress in my head. I’ll figure it out somehow, a big culture-shock is accepting never having a relationship with someone where we couldn’t keep our hands off each other. I really don’t think it’s wrong of me to miss that a lot! Now the last thing I want to be doing is trying to base anything on sympathy. Sympathy is a nice emotion, but I dont think it could or should be the basis for any sort of proper friendship or relationship. Important that I get that clear because although sympathy might be the first thought that this nonsense generates, I hope that it is rapidly replaced by empathy
Changing the subject, my training has resumed and a friend recommended I give some other therapy a go on my left arm (called bobath therapy). Again this is ‘try anything’ territory - the idea of having a basically useless left arm for life is too awful a thought. Once more people just need to understand that chronic fatigue saps your motivation to do anything, plus, recent sky series ‘Road to glory’

about Britain’s Olympic Cycling heroes, guys like Bradley Wiggins,

being good at something motivates you to train and practice so you get even better. You’ll be prepared to suffer great pain and make huge sacrifices. It’s why Steve Redgrave won 5 Olympic golds,

it’s why in my first year at college I used to even consider getting up at 630am because I was part of a sh*t-hot college rowing crew. If you’re sh*t at something, but train hard and get no better, what motivates you? I wish I knew. This is what I grapple with in my head daily
Despite feeling a little fed up with the yawning void which is the rest of my life,

people still appear to find me ok company – On Tuesday my friend, the legend that is Richard Lloyd,

vicar of next door Parish Claygate took me out for lunch – despite believing in God, the rest of what he speaks is totally sensical and more often than not hilarious. His story about being ‘parachuted’ into a nearby underperforming parish to fix it sounds a lot like ‘guerrilla vicaring’ to coin a phrase. Legend is an overused accolade – he is worthy of it.

3 Sep 2012

Post 365: Far from being a Disney adventure

They say that smiling uses fewer muscles than frowning. This is patent bollocks. Why would I dare to say such a thing, an affront to the ‘positive police’

perchance? Because I’m happy (see) insulting those fools who prey on the realistic and tell them off because they (the ‘positive police’) can’t think of anything better to say. I’m not just trying to wind them up, god knows I seem to do that just with my day to day utterings! But I had a little practical experiment in my car the other day while I was sitting waiting for a mate of mine to go and get a Nandos for us to eat in the car in Epsom (only the best!)but it does take an awful lot of muscle power (relatively speaking) to lift the skin on the lower half of your face upwards –try it! Whereas, gravity does the work for a frown. If you then use effort to accentuate it, that’s when you’re being a proper miserable b*stard or you’re doing an impression of a Soprano’s mafia stereotype!

Thank goodness laughter is pretty much involuntary but smiling all the time when you don’t have the best control over your facial muscles is a bit of a b*stard.
Anyway, I have just had my first session back with Jose since my operation – we worked out that it has been 19 days since I’ve had a training session, seeing as I reckon it only takes about a day or two for me to weaken so my transfers get a bit shaky, I’m in pretty lousy shape, anyway, it’s not all about me, in that time him and his girlfriend Bec have had a baby girl called Alba!

I’m really quite honoured he’s found the time to answer my request for emergency torture seeing as he’s averaging about 45 minutes sleep a night!
Anyway this week has been rather defined by a few of my mates taking the initiative. Having to rely on people to suggest things to do isn’t a model of lifestyle that works for regular people, so it is doubly nice when they do it for a high maintenance problem child like me. Firstly, my best mate Tony sent me the boxed set of Dexter which I’m working my way through slowly. It’s rather good but isn’t rollicking laugh a minute stuff.

Nup – it’s the story of a serial-killer who works for the Miami forensic department and it is rather unsettling. Even though he only kills people he believes have got away with things, so righteous retribution is the motif. Hopefully no-one in the world exists like that because the whole sociopath ‘devoid of emotion’ thing scares the sh*t out of me. Boxsets are a big part of modern life! I’d say having someone to watch them with is the key. I’m in the rare position of having both series of Game of Thrones

and my mate Isabel is into them and came over for Portuguese Beer, Pizza and to watch the last couple of episodes of season two. People offering to do that might be my new favourite thing . Makes me feel almost normal. I’m not a great TV watcher but it is something to do, even though my eyesight isn’t great I’ve got a pretty big telly.

Obviously a euphemism! (I wish)
The icing on the cake was that my mate Will had said ‘it’s been ages pal, let me take you to the cinema on Saturday?’ So we did, seeing the latest Batman Film the ‘ Dark Knight’

which from a production values and Cinematography standpoint is probably going to win an Oscar, I didn’t have a clue what was going on, and I suspect I was not alone. I suspect I’m the only one with the excuse of having brain damage to make it tricky to follow!
The Cherry on top was being taken to lunch yesterday by my University mate Tristan and his lovely Chilean wife Macarena.

Macca’s English since I last saw them at my birthday in March is like night and day. Well done Macca, and this isn’t supposed to be as patronising as it sounds! And some good news in the last few minutes. Dylan (my 10 year old neighbour and I were about to put out some ‘LOST CAT’ Posters after we hadn’t seen little Ham

for three days when who should bound in through the catflap miaowing and doubtless telling us all about her big adventure. Feckless Feline! Well she looked even thinner than normal but it’s a relief she’s back. Here ends the human interest story I tag on the end of my usual dross! Do keep reading, life is still far from fun but I’m doing what I can to drag people down to my level![ahem]



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