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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.