28 Oct 2012

Post 373: We all need someone to lean on

Despite hating the Rolling Stones for the ticketing rip-off nightmare for their November gigs, I decided that I’d rather eat than even consider paying £406 for a ticket. It’ll be so RocknRoll that gig! A bunch of Septuagenarians, being watched by an equally ‘experienced’ crowd. Despite bringing it up again, it’s really not the end of the world. I said on facebook:

Now that I've found out the cheapest Rolling Stones tickets were £406 - I hope they all have heart attacks. I don't like thieves, given what I can do with my life - that feels a bit like someone holding a gun to my head. I'm probably over-reacting but f*ck off back to your chateau Mick

Someone said that I’d feel so bad if one of them did collapse – I said I thought I’d ‘cope’. I’m not some sort of Haitian witch doctor!

Although one man’s witch doctor is another man’s Dalai Lama or comedian. I’m such an apostate or ‘godless piece of meat’ as my last carer bravely called me via e-mail from his 3rd world bolthole in Bangladesh. I despise the way that ‘devout’ Muslims like him (well, he observed Ramadamadingdong) use such aggressive language despite saying that Islam is a peaceful religion. Animals and savages the lot of them (well, the radical ones who are all morons, they’re a bunch of backward women hating scum). And who honestly gives a sh*t if someone calls an inanimate object Mohamed. Gosh, aren’t I racist? Er no, I just don’t like people saying and doing stupid things in the name of something that’s obviously nonsense. This applies to all religions who don’t have a photo of god! But particularly to the ones that have quite a lot of killing and maiming done in their name.
The only religion I practice is getting out of the house, taking people to things, keeping in touch with friends and trying (sometimes unsuccessfully if I’m honest) not to ‘be a dick’. As far as I can figure we make friends throughout life because friends cheer us up, hence the Rolling Stones number ‘we all need someone to lean on’
Well we all need someone to lean on
And if you want it, well you can lean on me [ad infinitum]
‘Tis quite a funky number. I’ve calmed the f*ck down about the Stones now after – well, I wrote this on facebook:
I think without Irony, Muse at the Dome last night might have set a new benchmark for brilliance. I couldn't give a squat that they're a bit 'mainstream'
Well, it was awesome and I can’t really appreciate it properly which is slightly frustrating but it won’t stop me getting people to take me to these things being my life, it’s by no means ideal but withering away and dying isn’t really an option, too many people (myself included) have waded through too much sh*t since December 2005.
Last Night my partners in crime were my friend and mentor from my job at John Lewis, Simon Dawes and my adorable friend Chey

who just loves gigs – she even said that one of the main reasons for her coming over to this country from South Africa was so she could go to more gigs because bands don’t do overseas tours all that much. I suppose that makes London sound like a bit less of a shithole than I know it is! The Dome is a superb venue, from national white elephant/monstrous carbuncle to ‘the worlds favourite venue’ the arena is pretty damn sensational in terms of production and sound quality and if you’re disabled and in a wheelchair it’s pretty good. As I’m a sky customer, I was able to get access to a special bar.

As every pikey in the land values their sky subscription on a par with football the pikey count in this bar was high but it was not an unpleasant place to kill time before it kicked off at 9 (even if the doors opened at 630 (Rockstars clearly like to take their time) Our space in gangway 108 is pretty good.

For big panoramic music shows like this, it’s probably better than block 101 which is just off to the right hand side of the stage

I’m not saying this is the right way to live your life, just that this might be ‘best practice’ in these circumstances. At least I feel like I deserve to live, and at least I feel I have earned a lot of what sustains me, namely, my friendships , the income that helps me subsist and my living situation. I suppose my not ending up in a care home was a little lucky but I don’t feel like I’m a financial burden on anyone – crikey, I could even be a financial support. The reason I ‘rattle the cage’ of the more ‘right-on’ people I know is that it’s hard to feel you’ve got any common ground with people I believe are misguided. I don’t have an agenda, just a strong belief in verbally opposing any viewpoint that might have threatened my very survival or that of my friends and family since I had my stroke. I’m all about being able to survive in relative comfort free from fear, pain or fear of death (basically in stable civilised society) but I’m no bloody good at keeping my head down. Keeping your head down is dull. I had a little more hope after watching ‘Have I got News for you the other night. In the last 7 years, I have convinced myself that attractive girls, well, the type I find attractive, are all more shallow than even me, and are totally unmoved by intellect, manners and sense of humour despite what online dating profiles say– see what I’m saying about keeping my head below the parapet! Well the last seven years have taught me not to bother really because it’s a waste of effort. Just making friends has been a hard exercise but I heard that luscious ‘thinking mans crumpet’ Victoria Coren was engaged to David Mitchell and thought that somehow beauty and the beast

can happen. Now perhaps I am being unfair on Mitchell and projecting too much of his pathetic Peep Show character Mark Corrigan onto his actual persona but I dunno, his persona doesn’t suggest the kind of Don Juan you’d expect to be with the awesome Miss Coren.

I want to be the nugget of Gold that surprises some lucky lady. Well, I’m firmly in the ‘friend zone’ of several girls I adore and destined to get no further so I shan’t even bother trying. Isn’t it interesting, ironic and a bit tragic how you can be such good friends with someone of the opposite sex but wanting to be ‘better’ friends can result in you becoming mortal enemies? I’m having a Freudian catastrophe here!
So working backwards from the Muse epicness on Saturday. As is often the way having to book months in advance had yielded 4 events in 4 days, so Friday was an interesting one, I appear to have booked to see ‘Northern Monkeys’, Reverend and the Makers at Shepherds Bush Empire. My compatriots for the evening were my friend Ched – an old friend who’d I’d reconnected with on facebook after he’d stumbled across this blog. Him and his wife

Terri live locally and are entertaining and dependable despite being Vegetarians which is clearly the root of all evil in my world! My 2nd companion who lives locally to the Empire showed up two hours late but at least he showed up – ever disorganised, my mate Champ.

Unfortunately this gig fell on the weekend he was moving house. I can’t have made the poor man popular with his wife! Moving house and accompanying a disabled mate to a music gig are never going to make comfy bedfellows! But the gig was a good one, in the context of Muse at the Dome, this was chalk and Cheese. Observe It was fun though, and Champ occasionally saying ‘I’m liking this’ and his stories of seeing Reverend DJ-ing at Glastonbury ‘clearly off his tits’ were bloody funny. The Shepherds Bush Empire is a heroic venue to go to in a wheelchair because the nature of the venue means once you’re in place, you have to wait till well after the end to go to the loo, and having to hold on for two hours is not nice! But seriously, Ched and Terri’s attempts to live sustainably through growing their own food is to be applauded! The stories Ched tells of making Elderflower Champagne are particularly entertaining.
Cheds tales of sustainable veggie living are to be Applauded, yes, emulated, no! I don’t think my carnivorous carers will be trying it in a hurry! Yours truly would get pretty unhappy, pretty fast! On Thursday I went to see Irish ‘Mock the Week’ Presenter Dara O’Briain’s

stand-up show ‘craic dealer’at the Apollo,

a show title that Tesco had objected to because it might encourage Crack usage. There’s two things that have been crying out to be associated but Crack usage could barely hope for a better Slogan than ‘every little helps’ . My compadre for the evening was Graham,

a friend of a friend that I’m more than happy to have in my pool of mates willing to take me to an event. I wouldn’t survive without them! The night before, Wednesday, I had been to the Dome to see Scouse stand-up comedian John Bishop.

Now, I like Bish but I can’t help thinking his management are trying to make as much money as they can at the peak of his early popularity, it’s the same with Jason Manford. The only people who seem to be able to carry off Arenas are Peter Kay and Michael Macintyre and even then as Tim Minchin says ‘comedy is destroyed by arenas’... Given how side-splittingly funny Dara was on Thursday, I am now pretty convinced you don’t want to be seeing comedy in venues much bigger than the Hammersmith Apollo.
Going to all these events is all well and good but I find it particularly nice when one of my old friends takes advantage of time off and comes down to see me and it was just so on Tuesday when my old college mate Becky Morrison brought her twins down to Oxshott to have a bit of lunch and a bit of a catch-up. I have specially downloaded some Peppa Pig t keep the twins mesmerised. Becky told me this magic trick, not that I'm Jimmy Saville that Peppa Pig instantly subdues toddlers. It's witchcraft!

Anyway, thanks to everyone who's helped me survive another week, it's by no means a foregone conclusion! Apologies if this has been boring and too long!

21 Oct 2012

Post 372: Bye Bye Miss American Pie

A long long time ago
I can still remember how
That music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they'd be happy for a while
But February made me shiver
With every paper I'd deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn't take one more step
I can't remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
But something touched me deep inside
**The day the music died**

The words of this first verse are a sort of rhetorical allegory for the last seven years, but February is the wrong month (very few people genuinely like February though (besides those with birthdays and those good-looking enough to get loads of Valentine’s day cards and gifts) but these days February does make me shiver and I’m sure as hell not delivering any papers or getting valentines!
‘I couldn't take one more step’ is also oddly prophetic
Now, I promised myself near(ish) the beginning of this nonsense (this whole blog) that I wouldn’t pretentiously pull apart song lyrics because it’s not a terribly interesting thing to do. For starters so many bo-ho chinscratchers

have already had a go and I file them under ‘hipster’ and I tend not to be frightfully complimentary to those feckless w*nkers. I think built into the human psyche is this innate capacity to find a certain lot (or lots) of people abhorrent. Hipsters are (1) and (2) are ignorant b*stards and people with little awareness and self respect that they are letting the side down(lets call them Chavs, they’re a good example)(and the side in question would be humanity) are definitely circles on the Venn diagram.

There are almost certainly others . People who profess to love everybody are probably another circle, they are just weird and are probably in a some sort of cult! I’m digressing, back to music, I think there is a lot more value and talent in the actual music than the Lyrics. Up yours Kanye, you’re no genius, you’re some sort of socio-narcissist!

To be honest It’s not something I lose sleep over. I lose sleep over all manner of things these days which is somewhat ironic given how tired I am) and the sheer volume of nonsense put to music to me means ‘by all means sing along’ and not a lot else but for heavens sakes conspiracies about hidden meanings are almost always a load of old bollox. I also happen to think this about most conspiracy theories, simply because people can’t be bothered and are too busy trying to survive their own lives and worry about their friends and families. The downside of any conspiracy being uncovered is so great that it’s simply not worth the time, stress, or effort in the first place, think about it! I mean, one person can just about conceal a lie, I personally can’t take the stress, I’m a lousy liar so I don’t do it, it’s quite simple. Concealing a lie between two people is nigh impossible. I am especially irritated by perceived political conspiracies peddled by champagne socialists, left-wing intellectuals and politically correct thugs who trawl the internet telling people off, that they’re bigots/racists/homophobes or peddle ‘lazy stereotypes’. Please why can’t these people just shut up and f*ck off. Probably the reason I’m so tetchy is I got up early on Friday so I could ring the Dome disabled booking line to try and get tickets for what I can only imagine is my last chance to see ‘The Rolling Stones’

live while they or I am still alive. Well, as you can guess it didn’t go well! I rather admire the Rolling Stones as this older post shows but I don’t half go on!
Firstly, (when I called) it said there was a ‘fault’ and then an automated voice told me the phones were ‘particularly’ busy. Not for the first time, particularly in the last seven years, I was crestfallen, wheelchair spaces sell-out even more quickly than regular seats it appears, these tenacious disabled b*stards!
I get the impression that the Dome are even taking the piss when they sent me this reply to a panic mail I sent them about their phones. This was their reply:

Thank you for your email, I am sorry you are having trouble getting through if you haven't booked already we still have availability on level 1 row Z priced at £406.00 if you still wanted to book call the number

I can hardly afford to go to things in the first place but only lottery winners or premier league footballers could afford that, and that’s in row Z! I give up! I hate saying that because my many naysayers who think I’ve got it easy then take it out of context. All I’m trying to do now is survive my own pisspoor life by being honest, by being generous and kind to people who help me survive, I hope I’m not too much of a misery – it’s difficult always trying to put on a happy face when the things that should make you happy just make you tired. I really hate saying that, but sadly it’s true!
So, that was Friday, it’s now Sunday, and once again I find myself owing my very survival to someone and not for the first time (and I hope not the last), it is to my new friend Isabel. She lives relatively close to Oxshott and she has taken up the slack when my housekeepers are visiting someone more entertaining than me (so let’s face it, anyone!) – it is quite good the way that Gary just calls her.
Isabel came and cooked a Portuguese speciality round here with her 13 year-old son Kevin and 6ish year old daughter Lara on Saturday evening

and Isabel came and did my morning routine this morning. We all get along fine. Kevin is a bit of a cheeky chappie with an answer to most things and Lara may look like butter wouldn’t melt but poor Isabel! Makes me respect her even more! Now, Isabel is ridiculously modest, and objects to this praise but a saint is what she is. She just took me for Sunday Lunch at her house with her kids and I’m starting to understand why she has been such a good Samaritan – namely because I give her a bit of ‘sanity time’ – she is a great friend and I genuinely hope her kids don’t think I’m some ‘wheelchair bound weirdo’ who looks and sounds a bit funny. Isabel is a chef (among many many things) so I think the food I get from her is amazing but I clearly have no identification with her kids when they say ‘I don’t like it’ when they find a herb crust on their roast beef. It takes a lot of wherewithal for me not to snap ‘just f*cking eat it’! I’ve got a lot to learn. My observation is that Children and well treated pets are similar, they don’t realise how lucky they are! They’re ingrates and that’s not on – when they do pay you back it’s often ’too little too late’. I was a little horrified last night after Kevin put ‘Family Guy’ on while Isa was cooking me supper. It is amusing but some of the political references were even over my head but Kevin and Lara were merrily chuckling along even to the bit where Fox News were trying to discredit Michael Moore, but decided to stop when his gay lover was found to be Rush Limbaugh.
I buy into the philosophy that you should always have one thing between you and the inevitable impending blackness [part of comedian Daniel Kitson’s philosophy of life that I actually agree with] and my attempt at that this week was going to a Gala to celebrate the 80th birthday of Film Music Demigod John Williams.

If we’re to look at human beings who’ve routed neurons he’s gotta be top 5! I’d bet there are few civilized people that don’t in some way think of the chords from Jaws before going for a swim in the sea or imagine the deathstar without a brass section or Indiana Jones without his theme. I’d challenge anyone who’s seen a tv and I’d be confident that something by him’d be in there somewhere. Anyway because I can’t physically enjoy things anymore, it is for the people who take me to enjoy it, so after my friend who was supposed to take me couldn’t, I asked Brian (the genius who makes things for my wheelchair and then doesn’t rip me off) who told me his son, Tas was a big fan so I took them and I think they thought it was wonderful. The Albert Hall was a sellout and our seats were brilliant!

You can’t tell from this picture, which I felt lucky to have taken (because the obergruppenfuhrer usher is clearly incentivised to stop people taking pictures despite the fact that the ticket price should make him our employee!) but we were feet from the Kettle – drummer

who must love this night (I’d go as far as saying this must be the biggest and best night of his life, The only thing that might top it is getting back to his dressing room and finding two naked supermodels waiting for him) because literally every piece of Williams music finishes with some manner of full volume kettle drum bashing!) I remember how exhilarating it was in a chamber Orchestra when as a third clarinettist I had a chance to be heard!
I’m sure you wished I’d finished – well not quite – big thanks to my good friend Richard ‘the Guerilla Vicar’ Lloyd who took me for lunch on Tuesday and Jackie and Selwyn,

who popped in on the way to the airport to their retirement home in Portugal. I had no idea they were coming so I talked to them as I did my 2nd training session of the week with Jose. I’m actually quite happy that people get to see the Hell I have to put myself through

14 Oct 2012

Post 371: A Bit Bloody Preoccupied

I’m usually too preoccupied with how sh*t I feel to write this but that’s beside the point. The point is, how dreadful it was having Gamma-Knife surgery on Thursday. I have probably blabbed (blubbed) enough about how awful it is already. I’m sure I have. Well, the ‘in the machine’ bit was much less unpleasant than six years ago but I think I might have screamed with pain when they screwed the frame (via four two inch screws) into my skull. I’ve found a picture on the internet of it. It was simply titled ‘ouch’, I didn’t rename it that!

Aside from the procedure itself being grim, so was being in hospital again. I don’t care that the Cromwell Hospital is a 5* BUPA Hospital. Having your own room is an advantage if you can walk around and it is better if you have visitors. I have said it before but having visitors feels like Oxygen. This time I have my tireless best mate Tony and my old flatmate Vicky, and Martha ( the wife of Tory MP Matt to thank for popping in to see me. They are heroes because it’s hard to explain just how dreadful the feeling of isolation can be and I should be an expert by now!
As ever, the real heroes are my LSPs (long suffering parents) who seem determined to ease my suffering by being there. I have no words for how great they have been and how hard they try. I wish I could reward them by actually getting a bit better, but that isn’t happening.
I’d actually been able to time this horrific procedure around my event diary which I suppose was one good thing. On Monday I was able to go to the Dome to see Radiohead

with Chey

and Bianca

who had both emailed me almost simultaneously when it had been announced saying that they’d volunteer to drive. I adore these girls and the old me would rather fancy them but the new me has come to terms with the fact that I’ll never be good enough – it’s taken me four years to accept, that I’ll never be good enough for anyone the old me would have fancied, the best I can ever hope for is to be friends with anyone now. It has taken 4 years of rejections, being ignored and being horrified by what I see in the mirror for me to throw in the towel. I am fed up and I give up.
Still, it gave me immense pleasure to take Chey and Bianca to the Dome Gaucho Grill, one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to.

I have never had better Steak and red wine. It is an amazing dining experience. I wish I could have said the same for the concert, the consolation being that the girls seemed to enjoy it. This is what I wrote on youtube to go with the following video.
‘Radiohead at the O2 in October 2012. No idea what song it is. If you go and watch a big band you expect them to play 1 or 2 recognisable numbers. Instead this gash would have made the chinscratchers happy. Still, I never tire of the spectacle of a sellout arena, a 100ft high stage and the company of friends.’
If any angst-ridden skinny jean wearing wispy beard-toting Thom Yorke-alike Muso’s disagree, they can f*ck right off back to their Hackney bedsits.
Just saying like, if you are going to sellout the Dome on an autumnal Monday night, you say thankyou and give people what they want, a set full of hits, from their seminal album ‘OK Computer’ if necessary.
Anyway, that was Monday, having said I want to do what I can to thank my parents, Tuesday was one such concert. The Royal Philharmonic playing some Great Classics at the Royal Albert Hall. Recognisable classical music played by an Orchestra at the Albert Hall is magical and my parents loved it. My mother was transfixed by the conductor who reminded me of Dracula

or Mr Burns playing Dracula!

Still, Beethovens fifth (dot dot dot dash in Morse code) is another one of those piece’s Beethoven chucked the Kitchen sink at! I don’t recall seeing violinists work as hard!
So Wednesday night, I went into hospital for the Gamma Knife on Thursday morning and came home on Friday, and to be honest, I feel exhausted. Yet another procedure that isn’t designed to make me feel better. Instead designed to stop me having another stroke. OK, so if it reduces the risk of getting Locked-in syndrome it’s worth it.
So yesterday night my friend Isabel came and cooked me and Gary an amazing fillet Steak and we’ve almost polished off the first series of the Tudors which dramatises what a nasty sociopath Henry VIII was. It is a jolly disturbing romp. At the same time I have been glued to a docu-drama on Sky

called ‘The British’ about the last 2000 years of British History. It is fascinating.
What this country needs is not a violent revolution by the working class. It needs some good old fashioned Victorian Philanthropy by the mega-rich! And now it’s Sunday where I’ve had to write this after waking from a food coma after an amazing Sunday Roast at the Bear with Gary(my carer) and two old friends, Ched and Daegal

in honour of Daegals departure to Melbourne after he somehow managed to secure one of those well known 12 year Visa’s that Kiwis seem to get. Really good of him to make time to drop in on me, and Ched has been a really good mate since we reconnected on facebook, and as for Gary, he makes it possible for me to be alive so I am quite grateful to him!
I haven’t really had much chance to talk about the first picture, which I think sums up my current state of mind perfectly, that and this diatribe by comedienne Miranda Hart.

Even if my ability to be silly is a bit eclipsed by exhaustion I will always try and make time for friends, especially Vicky and PJ

who popped in with their cute little daughters


7 Oct 2012

Post 370: You’re not trying hard enough

This is one of those days when summoning the wherewithal to write is harder than usual. I don’t plan mental weeks, they just happen. Since last Sunday, it’s been five shows, five training sessions and a big effort to try and blot out the bloody awful Gamma Knife surgery I’m having on the 11th . OK, there isn’t the risk associated with not coming round (ie death)from the anaesthetic but there is 100% chance of pain from when they screw the frame into my skull and 100% chance of my head feeling like it’s in a vice for several hours. Time to change that subject.
Years ago, to my eternal shame I once reacted with anger to someone who complained about feeling tired, now I can appreciate the irony and utter stupidity of doing this. That was the old-school reaction to tiredness which I still think most people have = if you’re tired, you need to try harder, ie if there’s nothing medically wrong with you and you complain of feeling tired, you’re not trying hard enough or it’s your fault, it’s what you deserve , pull yourself together – have a redbull. You can tell I used to work in the city. Thinking about it, it probably wasn’t legal, I remember reading in my job contract ‘normal hours of business are 9-5, but sometimes you will reasonably be expected to work outside these hours’. Isn’t it amazing how a seemingly innocuous sentence can be the difference between freedom at 5 and some *&^% telling you at 6 when you’re packing your stuff up and looking like leaving ‘so, are you working a half day?’. Hardef*ckinghar! I think there is a certain amount healthy people can do to combat tiredness. My old approach used to be: Walk around; get some fresh air; perhaps have a coffee; in extreme circumstances go to the gym; go and have a power-nap in a toilet cubicle or stab yourself in the leg with a pen. Foolproof. Now, of those options left available none make an ounce of difference, so I just feel terrible and I feel that people think I should just try harder even though I have an er slight medical condition. Well, I think I do try hard but what I have to show for it isn’t that tangible. I’m never going to say: I’m glad I had this stroke because it has meant staying in closer touch with some friends that might have drifted, meeting one or two new people who are great, seeing some shows I wouldn't have even thought about, the fact remains that all the tea in China is not worth this, feeling like this, losing the ability to walk and feel normal and having my independence, freedom and dignity taken away. There is only one thing that might make this worthwhile and that is meeting someone.
I’m not getting into that again. I’d much rather talk about the efforts I’ve been making to stave off loneliness and madness this week. Well it started last Sunday with going to see that ‘funny little man’ Michael McIntyre at the Dome,

ably taken by my adorable new friend Chey.

Now, I can see why he’s popular –but I can’t quite see why he’s SO popular. He’s a bit too ‘middle of the road’ and as he’s an observational Comedian when his stories are obviously b*llocks I cease to find him funny. As we’re such a ‘middle of the road’ country he’s #1 and selling out the Dome. He’s good for an evening’s entertainment but he’s not going to teach us much which I think is pretty much how Chey and I took it so mission accomplished I think.
On Tuesday, I went to see the Cranberries at the Apollo with my new friend Isabel.

Now I like going to the Apollo as it generates quite a buzz for music gigs. I admit the Cranberries are quite ‘ Middle of the road’ (MOR) BUT post-stroke life limits me to mainstream venues and the Cranberries were quite a reminder of my teenage years – I think Isa is one of these people who is happy to help if it gets her out of the house. She invests so much time and energy looking after her kids that helping me out is her bit of ‘me time’, as far as I’m concerned she’s a saint. The lead Singer of the Cranberries (Dolores)

may look a bit different but their big tunes sounded awesome.
Wednesday was a bit different as I’d booked to go and see Tori Amos at the Albert Hall. Now my compatriot Simon Dawes

was probably my best mate at my old job – he has been such a big supporter since my stroke – he observed that we were probably the only straight blokes at this gig which is a good sign since gay men appear to have enlightened music taste. I must confess that Ms Amos is a sublime talent, a lovely voice and an ability to hammer away on the Piano at the same time

quite beautifully. Now, considering I can’t even walk this sort of talent amazes me. Imagine a red-headed Adele who you don’t think is a skank (because of Adele’s London Cabbie speaking voice, I suspect that if she couldn’t sing she wouldn’t be far removed from Waynetta Slob)

– I reckon this is a view that is widely held but not often spoken out loud because of fear of ‘PC Thugs’)
On Thursday I was back to the Albert hall to see late 70s Kink Lizard Ray Davies. Now I didn’t see the closing Ceremony of the Olympics but I believe he might have shown his age ( or so goes the hearsay, actually he had a Macca, it is fairly obvious) Anyway, he is clearly a charismatic old fella and the Kinks produced some great stuff. Now, when I had scored tickets for this gig months ago I had asked a chap called Oli, a big rock fan and the charming husband of an old college friend Gina – now Oli had neglected to put this in his diary and reacted with some astonishment when I’d sent a reminder. Without missing a beat a babysitter had quickly been found and Gina volunteered to step in. Gina is one of those friends that this bloody stroke has meant I’ve kept in touch with. She is an angel and she’s offered to help plan my Christmas drinks which is awesome of her. Gina will be the first to admit her musical tastes are a little modern (ie One Direction and JLS may feature in the good column) I’ll forgive her this but Ray was superb – I quote from Gina ‘this is lovely’ as Ray performed his stuff.

We were in the good seats too so we were at pretty close quarters to the old lizard. It felt like a rather nice gig, 50 and 60 somethings were up and dancing and for once the Albert Hall weren’t being anti-filming Nazis.
But, that wasn’t the last thing. On Friday Isabel came round here to continue our immersion in ‘The Tudors’. This is one of my favourite things to do as watching TV on my own feels like wasted time, I much prefer it being a shared interest – and the Portuguese beer might be a bit of a help! It also doesn't involve the car Journeys that I find so exhausting.
Alas, no, that isn't the end of my ramblings, last night it was back to the Albert Hall to see the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra play one of Beethovens Piano Concerto’s and his glorious 9th Symphony with singing by the Bach Choir. Now, I go to the Albert Hall a lot and it was seriously full to the rafters. For this I had obviously asked my parents as this is right up their street and my friends Vicki and her husband PJ

who had actually asked if I could get them tickets. As Vicky is like a sister to me and PJ’s a bit of a Ledge how could I not? This would be right up Vickys street as she read Music at College and is an accomplished Pianist and board member of Waitrose (part of John Lewis where I used to work) I think it’s probably fair to say that she took the job some 6-7 years ago because she was so impressed with how good JL had been to me since my stroke. Her meteoric rise to the top is down to her brilliance as a businesswoman. It’s hard to imagine us as flatmates back in Clapham in 2000 sitting in our lounge with our feet up smoking Marlboro lights complaining how hard our respective jobs were at the time.
What really made me laugh was when Vicky whispered to me during the performance. ‘Whenever I hear this piece I always think that Beethoven just said to himself ‘oh f*ck it, I’m just going to chuck the Kitchen Sink at this’, the benefits of an Oxford degree shining through there! The reason I found this appraisal so funny is that ‘back in the day’ a couple of my mates used to nickname one of the popular tunes of the time in the clubs ‘the kitchen sink’ and here it is – don’t be fooled that it was originally by the Vengaboys, I had no idea until quite recently.
In other news my best mate Tony popped in yesterday lunchtime to discuss goings on. I was able to discuss this therapy (Bobath therapy) I’ve been doing on my left hand. He reckons that 8 sessions I’ve had in the last month have made my left hand less clawed but more importantly than that Jose and I now have a specific left arm circuit we can fit into our thrice weekly torture. Lastly, we have doubled the speed at which I walk on my treadmill. It is slow as sh*t to a normal person but it is still torture.



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