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...

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