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28 Mar 2012

Post 340: Another year, life affirmed again

Well obviously, lots of this post is going to be about my 35th birthday lunch. This photo sums it up well,

the people on the outside are Gary and Gwen who now do an awesome job looking after me and in the middle is Bianca, who used to be my weekend carer. Three people who are making such a difference to my life.
I'm lucky to have friends and even friends that care but it's even more important to have carers that are friends when you're in a hole as deep and dark as I am. It's not therefore a huge surprise I'm alone when it comes to love.
A male mate of mine the other day said I was lousy at being alone when I was able-bodied – I'm now lousy to the power n, still have my old standards and girls are not interested. I shouldn't be surprised but it doesn't seem to make it any easier. All this crap you read on dating sites about looks not being important is just that, crap, and I don't care how many times people tell me I look the same, I don't!
Anyway, f*ck all that – the thing that matters was that my 35th birthday lunch on Sunday was uplifting and well attended. Organising it would be positively difficult if I was able bodied but the way I have to organise it now is frankly farcical!
I have to use the facebook invite system. Problems: Not everyone I want to invite even uses the internet, letalone has even heard of facebook and some people can't access it. Then there are those that ignore all facebook invites because of the sheer volume of spam. As a former clubber the sheer volume of sh*te is phenomenal. NO I DON'T FANCY LISTENING TO SOME 'BANGING TUNES' IN SOME SOUTH LONDON SH*THOLE ON A SUNDAY MORNING, one of these days I'm going to write back and say 'sorry, can't imagine anything worse', oh by the way 'I'm in a wheelchair and have chronic fatigue' restraining myself from adding anything else. I've just got off an instant message chat with an old mate from clubbing days, a guy called Danny Gilligan,

I hope I didn't bring him down. He said lots of encouraging things, said it was a balmy 42'C in Melbourne, did his level best to try and persuade me that things sounded like they were getting better and that the way I have gone about my life since my stroke has raised his estimation of me in his and a lot of peoples eyes (crikey, did they really think that little of me?).
Anyway, my birthday. Getting the exact numbers via RSVPs was the usual nightmare bearing in mind my utter reliance on the facebook system. Despite this it was a pretty good turnout, I estimated 40 (and it could have been anywhere between 10 and 70, so 40 being the mathematical median (probably) made sense. probably about 40 people (pure luck)plus about a million little people showed up and my friend Gaelle had volunteered her angel of a daughter Lucie (left)

to do some face painting (supposedly for the kids)– such a pity I don't have any pictures of some rather sheepish looking adults leaving with interesting moustaches and cats whiskers, ah ha just found one and raher unbelievably this cavalier fellow helped me put my will together in a little bit more detail than me leaving my worldly goods to a cat home. My brother now has a material interest in bumping me off, as do a couple of my friends. That's a nice thought.

Like last year my mate Chris did some unbelievable close up magic

and had children and adults equally befuddled, he is ridiculously good and he revealed to me that he's been doing a stand up comedy course to slot in with his magic as if we're not vexed enough? If anyone can pull a rabbit out of a hat (ahem) and make it work it's him and he's promised not to be as grim and nihilistic as Scottish comedy magician Jerry Sadowitz.

Some of the stuff Sadowitz comes out with is so unrepeatable that even I won't repeat it here. But it is so funny. The people who I must thank are of course my parents who bought the first round and collected money and paid £5 per head on top so we could get the best buffet. I always wish we were the type of family who could just pay for this but we're not, we contribute everything we can. It is life affirming that people actually turn up for this because I am a lot less fun than I used to be. Sadly, I think people turn up because of who I used to be rather than for the entity I am today. I know people get annoyed by how down on myself I get but I have to live feeling like this. Surely something worse than a life sentence in my view (even a death sentence). Despite this and the intense non-positive feelings it generates I do try to make the most of this sh*t. This birthday party every year is exhibit A, there were some great photos (courtesy of my parents) here (Ignore the really bad ones) putting them all on here would result in the longest blog post in the world and these things are already too long plus this is not f*cking Hello!

I Guess my point is that I want to express more gratitude than ever to my family, friends, old and new and the Bear for allowing me a day of humanity, a day when I can remember that it can be ok, and that life only derives value from interactions with other humans, it was important for me – exhibit B and many like it are the gig I foolishly went to the night before when I should have been resting. It always seems to happen this way. Unfortunately, I had bought the tickets for it months before. It was to see two electronic music producers who call themselves Nero at a sold outBrixton Academy. Ostensibly they are a dubstep outfit (I is down wiv da kids aiight even though I feel 100 years older than everyone) but having now seen them they have stolen the Chemical Brothers Act – basically a couple of guys who look like they're checking their emails,

while a huge soundsystem pumps out some crazy synthetic sounds. The best Album I bought last year was Nero's début effort.

What made the night special was taking a couple of my mates and running into some friends there. Firstly, I met up with Oli,

who takes me to loads of gigs these days, when I asked him ages ago if he could take me to this, he said 'already going mate'. Secondly was Emma, aka Minimoo, an old clubbing mate who was taking her 16 year old son out to his first gig.

Emma is hilarious. I think her son Dinks was only marginally embarrassed to have a mum who was dancing as energetically as most of the kids. My mate Simon,

who had driven me deadpaned 'it's nice to see Emma's calmed down' – even ten years ago there was no keeping up with her eccentricities. Topping the evening off was arranging to meet Bianca there. She was a bit worried that my first picture of her might make her look like a stereotypical Sheila.

We banished that thought by taking this one.

Seeing as I started off by talking about how important it is to have carers who become friends, it does make me feel that despite the fact I am an adult who needs help, not all people automatically resent you – my former carers, Mauritian couple Jeanmichel and his wife Annelise popped by with Delicious Thai food last night

to share a glass of wine – gosh that's how a normal evening should be!
Last but not least I want to thank my super cute friend Steph

for popping in for tea on Saturday. Fine, so she admitted she'd got the day wrong, but decided she'd get more time to actually talk to me if she came on her own. What a nice thing to do.

23 Mar 2012

Post 339: Avoiding thinking about something I'm looking forward to

Traditionally, I have always been harsh on our Australian Brethren with good cause. They love a bit of sledging (and I'm not talking about the suicidal on snow downhill variety). However, I think I've finally found something the Australians without a doubt do better than us – The answer is of course Pink Floyd tribute bands.

My brilliant mate Graham suggested about 6 months ago that he didn't mind taking in the occasional event in Brighton as he's familiar with the journey and there are a couple of venues which have some half decent stuff on. So far we've seen Bill Bailey (in November)Billy Connolly last week , and as it was actually my 35th birthday on Tuesday and the Australian Pink Floyd were playing, seeing as the first gig Graham and I had been to had been Britfloyd (surprise surprise the British tribute band) at the Dome in November 2011,

The Dome Britfloyd show had been a pretty good gig at easily the best venue I've ever been to but it wasn't a patch on the Aussie Floyds performance in Brighton.
Put it this way, the Aussie Floyd gig will stay in the memory. I have always been a sucker for good production (ie lights, lasers,

projections – keeping the timing with the music. Whereas nothing much had really happened to the stage lighting during the brit floyd gig, sure they were tidy and tight but it wasn't really a show. The Aussies made it a spectacle, so much so that the crowd gave them a standing ovation at the end if they could stand,

what was worthy of note was the crowd was aging hippies – people who in the 60s and 70s were probably dropping acid or trying to find a vein are now more concerned about bringing a picnic or that the egg and cress sandwiches are up to scratch. One valuable lesson we did learn is never park in an NCP carpark to get closer to the venue, it's more than the price of a concert ticket. Graham and I don't ever expect our concert going to be very Rock'n'Roll but that was utterly ridiculous.

Pink Floyd must have been incredible back in their day, it's slightly trite to say they were before their time but their music is deep, dark, brooding and intense and that is my 100% sober judgement – it is subversive, dirty, emotive and synaesthesic managing to conjure sounds out of a guitar that beggar belief and dare I say it, transport you to another place, and much of this was before the synthesizer was even invented. I don't pretend to be massively knowledgeable about their back catalogue but there are songs like 'Comfortably Numb','High Hopes' and 'I wish you were here' that will live forever, my goodness, youngsters like me talking about them is exhibit A, exhibit B is full concert venues and tribute acts filling them almost two decades after the band have split up (not counting their one-off 2005 sortie at Live 8).
I try not put my eggs in one basket though, so last night I went to the Albert Hall to see the human panda, Lang Lang, play Beethovens 2nd and 3rd Piano Concertos

and I was taken to this by my friend Pat

(here doing her best to avoid the camera) who is a classical music enthusiast. She used to be the 'hand on the tiller' while the lunatics who ran it ran amok, swore loudly and chopped the air!It was a big antip-heavy clubbing outfit called 'heat'

that I once played for many moons ago. Anyway, the long and short of it was I ran into her outside the Albert Hall last year and we have kept in touch through the magic of facebook. I remembered her saying that her favourite classical artist was a chinese cellist so swapping pianist for cellist I thought everyone could be a winner. What do you know, the conductor, some Finnish guy,

even turned out to be an artist she used to manage. Weird.
Anyway. I think we both had a good time, further proof, if proof were needed that taking me to a concert isn't so bad and that importantly, I had got exactly the right person to take me to that concert because it was their thing. This is probably my reason for living these days.
I am aware that this post is dragging on a bit, but just to emphasize how much I am cramming in I am headed back to the Albert hall for some comedy in the Elgar room

featuring a guy who always makes me laugh when he's on TV, Carl Donnelly.


Anyway a computer crash has fortunately deprived you of my thoughts on it. It was good but it was better seeing my old weekend carer, no-nonsense Aussie Bianca

who is a candidate for the exception that proves the rule about Australians.
However, I particularly want to mention my friend Isabel who took me out for lunch on my birthday, not only did she handle my meals during the two weeks I didn't have carers she is also running,swimming and cycling in a triathlon later this year to raise money for the Trust.

Apparently I am a decent example of someone not giving in and getting on with it. She is a hero, please sponsor her. So, it's my birthday buffet on Sunday and I'm the usual bundle of nerves about seeing everyone and of people thinking 'why am I bothering with this f*ckwit?' Sod it – it's an important event for my mental wellbeing and more importantly everyone seems to enjoy it! I'll sign off now with a heartwarming picture of why some great mates of mine (Mel and Lucas) are otherwise engaged on Sunday.

She's called Amira.
Next time, reports of my birthday lunch and how genuinely moved I am that people bother with me.

18 Mar 2012

Post 338: 3 Blokes, 1 Barrel


The less people that get that reference the better. My attitude is that there are some things better left unseen. The 3 blokes in question were Daniel Kitson, Steve Hughes and some Scottish nutter called Billy Connolly, the barrel is for all the laughs. Now I would say here are three of the finest comedians of their generation and here am I, A.N.other bloke trying to unwast what to the casual observer could be a wasted life. In a TV series I have been watching/listening to called 'Game of Thrones', there is a character called Tyrion who is a dwarf,

the people around him who succeed are all taller, stronger and better looking but he is determined to succeed because he has his mind. 'Game of Thrones' is set in medieval times in a sort of middle earth where being a dwarf would mean death or at least a life of being a freak or outcast, instead he has the immortal line 'a mind needs books like a sword needs a wetstone' which is in a funny kind of way the exact way I'm trying to live my life. I'm not a dwarf but normal life has basically cast me aside and I have the stark choice of 'getting busy living' or 'getting busy dying', the latter would be the easy way out (for me) but NOT fair on the people who have invested their hard earned effort in remaining or becoming my friend. I can't pretend to be happy or not lonely but I hold out hope that there is someone out there who will make my life tolerable once again because it feels far from it right now.
So, back to these comedians. They're all the best at what they do which is three very different things in my opinion. Kitson

is a linguistic gymnast with a turn of phrase and ability to captivate an audience to a higher level than even Tim Minchin's genius on the Piano eg 'oh f*ck, my attempt to feign ignorance there was prevented by a genuine level of ignorance' I'm sure that's singularly unimpressive to most people reading this. Why haven't I heard of him I hear you say? Annoyingly, he's one of these people who hates fame, he says he is genuinely unhinged by having 22,000 people on his mailing list. He doesn't use twitter or facebook and spent quite a lot of time telling the sold-out West End Centre in Aldershot

that if you believed you and him would be good friends in real life think again. I've a hunch he's probably a manic depressive (based on my rigorous psychological training – ie f*ck all) – as someone who lives most of his life introspectively that's my guess. I reckon a lot of depression seems to come from a deep dissatisfaction with your physical self, well, that was the impression I got from seeing Stephen Fry live at the Albert Hall in 2010
Whereas Fry courts fame, Kitson actively eschews it which I think is a shame. He certainly likes the trappings of fame: The Money, the DimSum and the Poontang (his words) but he gets hung up on the fact he would have to distort his art. Maybe I just don't give enough of a sh*t. If I had such an amazing talent I would exploit it to become Rich and Famous. I would try and maintain as much artistic integrity and personal dignity as I could, ie I'd draw the line at selling f*cking car insurance (actually any sort of insurance) or butter commercials – Chris Addison,

Johnny Rotten

and Iggy Pop

have a lot to answer for! There's selling out and there's doing that. I have always been one for pragmatism and I like to think that my remaining intelligence helps me navigate the right path between integrity, dignity, principles and reality. Crippled or not these choices are unaf*ckingvoidable, which is why Steve Hughes is my favourite comedian of the three, quite simply because he is the most human. Whereas Kitson is an intellectual linguistic gymnast he is undeniably odd. Hughes' time starting up the Australian Heavy Metal scene makes him a bit odd but his observations about what is mental about the world are both funny and brilliant, the fact that he appears to have adopted the Ronnie Wood

approach to skincare gives him the look of a wizened wizard


with Gravitas plus he's clearly a knowlegeable and amusing consort by the way Reginald D Hunter used to introduce him when he was Reg's warm-up man.
And finally last night was the 'big Yin'. He is the consummate mad scottish sweary, shouty storyteller.

There's nothing clever about it, but it is funny. It's just nice to have another chance to see him in the flesh while I'm alive. I'm half his age and I'm more worried I'll be the one to let the side down. Stroke'll do that.
Big thanks to Graham for taking me all the way to the Brighton Centre last night. The Brighton Centre is not my favourite venue, I can imagine it's soulnessness suiting Trade Union meetings,

when I saw Bill Bailey there last autumn he said 'aren't these old Victorian venues charming?' I hope Graham enjoys his well deserved lie-in today. And big thanks to the Spanish Firemen (My trainer Hose-A and his best mate Hose-B (and his wife Gemma))

for spotting Kitson was on in the West End centre and getting tickets before they sold out. It is about the third time I've been to see Kitson and it's proof positive of his brilliance what an enlightening time Jose has, the same was true of seeing Hughes the next night with him and his pregnant girlfriend Bec

who have become the very best of friends since I met them 3 years ago.
My latest crackpot idea for improving life is investing in a one handed keyboard.

I must confess to being intrigued by the photo but more than a little nervous about struggling to use it. Right, time to do yet another life affirming thing - make a will, oh joy!

14 Mar 2012

Post 337: Things only 'look' better

Uh-oh, writing midweek can't be good – I think the arrival of spring has helped but being realistic, it's only f*cking weather! It's like throwing a pot of paint on the Forth Bridge

in the grand scheme of things. I have been trying my best to try and sort out 'little victories' or medium to long-term projects but if I face facts, I still feel like sh*t and life is barely worthwhile – life is hard, but should it be this hard? I appreciate these sound like the words of a defeated pessimist. These, I know, are two of the least attractive qualities you can have in this 'positive,optimistic' brave new world

that we're told we should be living in but as hard as I make a go of being a 'going concern' the more life seems to have ways of sh*tting on me. Meeting new people is high up the list and the more I try to emphasize my good points (I used to have some apparently) the more I realize that most new people treat a disabled person like a curiosity, someone to meet, then someone to forget (not everyone) and given how hard I try it just eats me up, which is not to say I am devaluing my existing mates who I am always over the moon to see, there's no but – I am so looking forward to seeing everyone in a couple of weeks at my 35th (f*cking hell, how did that happen?) - Oh well, I almost died when I was 28! I have rather convinced myself that I will be happier if I find love again and as this blog attests, that still remains elusive. I can no longer use the alpha male method of meeting girls, you know, going to bars, pubs and clubs. I'm no biologist but that was probably the evolutionary equivalent of a bunch of dogs sniffing each others arses. Instead I am forced to meet people through facebook or online dating, and because my typing is a bit sh*t I have a pre-written message which I admit is not ideal, as my limited success is evidence of. I like to get feedback on it because I'm not confident enough to remotely think it's any good:

I'm sorry if this is a bit much. I'm afraid I'm only interested if you're really nearby ( I live in Oxshott, nr Epsom) and can drive, you have also to be prepared to make some effort. If you're put off by this, we'll never work. It breaks my heart to have to start like this... I'm sure a lot of this is in my profile but knowing what people read on these sites is anyone's guess, my situation is rather unusual and all of this is quite important (I think). I've read bits of your profile and looked at your picture and you look really nice so I might as well get this out in the open straight away, I'm currently disabled but I am a hopeless Romantic. I just survived a stroke in Christmas 2005 caused by a blood vessel weakness I was born with but didn't know about until it was too late and ruined Christmas and I woke up three weeks later in January 2006, since then I've had to use a wheelchair. When I look at my situation totally objectively and dispassionately, I realise I have been fortunate because I have been left with more than most, but I want to share it with someone, my major asset is my memories and hopefully some intelligence (I did go to Oxford but I'm not too much of a posh twat), I have my past life (essentially who I am) - which I can try and sell myself with, many wouldn't even have this, two more of these assets are materialistic, a mortgage free 4 bedroom house in Oxshott (apparently a des res in London commutersville with excellent local schools(having kids is something I want to do), christ, apparently Oxshott is the best place to live in the country!) - I used to have my own place in town and complete independence, Now, at least I have a decent stable pension, hardly riches but enough for two people to live on and spend on those we care about, the unmaterialistic (more important ) things are a big group of mates and a fantastic extended family, both are a huge support and source of inspiration for my future and my day to day plans. I have (I think) somehow retained my dignity and sense of humour, some have even said this has added another dimension to it, it has always been pretty dark and tended towards the sarcastic and nihilistic ie, the world can be pretty sh*te (believe me it can), you get out of it, what you put in, this is probably one of the only times I will put up with clichés . Life owes you nothing, and there are times these days when I feel like making a tremendous effort even though I am exhausted most of the time(I always look for gigs and comedy shows that friends can drive me to), I will always try and be one of life's organisers but there are always those days when I feel utterly exhausted and need someone to metaphorically inflate me so I can make the most of what I have. Life can be tough but I soldier on. I guess it's because deep down I know it should feel so much better than this. In the words of deity and hero of mine Bill Bailey parodying Barack Obama 'It is the 'soul-crushing inevitability of hope' – this is the type of thing that makes me laugh.
The net result of all this is I'm looking for the right girl to share everything with, who has the right 'can do' attitude, to work as a team. I am convinced this can lead to a comfortable, happy, fulfilling future for us both. As much as I am semi-independent now, I need someone who can drive, lives nearby,isn't bossy and consumed by their career and is ok with being with me in the evenings. My idea of a good night in is lying curled up on the sofa with someone, sharing an amazing bottle of Malbec laughing like hell at some sort of comedy on the box. I like to wine and dine people and appreciate red wine. I'll probably ask you to drive me to a show. Someone who is happy in my company who I miss when they're not here who loves cuddling and cats. It is the dream to meet someone who I can wine and dine in return for you giving me your company. In the long run I am looking for a lover who will be my best friend. I hope to be a writer in future. My blog will tell you about what I get up to.
Dx
PS Bear in mind I'm no Russian Oligarch. This is me giving future happiness a shot. If you want to reply please use my direct email. Only selfless patient people who want something wonderful to develop need be interested. In the old days this would be a no brainer!
I am truly sorry if this is way off
I'm just a human and therefore fallible and you look lovely.
Dx It's d/o/m/p/a/r/d/e/y/(at)/g/m/a/i/l/(dot)/c/o/m

w/w/w/./s/u/r/v/i/v/i/n/g/a/s/t/r/o/k/e/./b/l/o/g/s/p/o/t/./c/o/m/
I'm no tacky old man, being alone is just dull.
If you've read this -thankyou, I want to be totally honest. Unfortunately I can't come and see you, you'll have to come and meet me here if you want. I hope this message and my blog persuade you I'm ok, talking on facebook too is really important. I hope you reply – if you do, use my direct email. I apologize this looks 'cut and pasted', I'd prefer to write you an individual email but it just isn't practical these days, if you reply we'll talk properly. Please do, it helps.

I have already figured out it's a little on the long side (double entendre NOT intended BOOM BOOM)
My thanks also go to my gorgeous cousin Julie and her dad (the infamous uncle Ian) and her lovely nine month old Barney.

I've met a lot of babies but he is especially cute,
(I'm glad he's too young to read)
and I'd also like to mention The Kaner (aka Charlie Kane for popping in yesterday and for bringing me some delicious Chilli con carne´.Next time I should hopefully have reports from the plethora of stand-up shows I'm taking in! I will hopefully be less miserable next time. Hopefully

10 Mar 2012

Post 336: Florence - almost two years on

What to talk about today? Well, I watched a comedy DVD by a bloke called Jim Jeffries. I think it is safe to assume from it's name – Alcoholocaust, that it wasn't family

entertainment. Jim won't be booked for the royal variety show or anything on TV before the watershed. He's up there with Tim Minchin or Frankie Boyle as the comedian I'd least like to see with my parents. He does say some really quite thought provoking stuff amongst the provocative filth. For example he says that 'he has gone further in his life than a man of his looks and intellect should'. Well before my stroke my attitude was fairly similar, I had pretty much worked my ass off to get to where I was in life and at times would feel happy with my lot. I admit that being from a middle-class background and being of above average looks and intellect (apparently) was a help but the Scottish ancestry prevalent in the family meant you took nothing for granted and you worked for every friend and achievement in life. The trouble with this is you develop an expectation that a certain level of hard work will produce a payoff. Eg If you run the marathon

and raise ooddles of dosh for charity you're doing a great thing both for your own physical and mental health but also for others so you'll feel great about it in the medium to long run and people will respect you for doing something great even if you want the ground to swallow you while you're doing it

or while you're training for it. That payback is why most people run marathons, people who do it because they enjoy running are mental!
However having expectations of a payback when you've had a stroke is just stupid. Seriously. In the introduction I talk about how independence, love and freedom are what had helped me almost be happy before my stroke. I am trying to do more of the same now and I can't afford the luxury of having expectations. Well, even though I feel I've said it before, Recalibrating what you expect from life just doesn't seem possible. Imagine if you will the before and after of winning the lottery. Having a stroke is like that except in reverse – I hate going on about it but it is just like that. I was never lottery rich and I'm not 'starving African' poor now but that is how marked the contrast is.
A wise man once told me that life is about the 'little victories',at the time I probably politely nodded my head and moved on but thinking about it the only way I can get through the day is with 'little victories' and these can take so many forms, it can be as simple as hearing from someone or a gutural laugh at something, now I know there are people who read this who hate swearing but I'll always maintain if it's done sparingly and right it can be hilarious. So on watching the NME music awards from Brixton Academy the other night host Jack Whitehall said 'and the next award is T4's best international artist award.' 'now T4 will be replaying this at 930 in the morning obviously minus any swearing, so to present this award it's only f*cking Katy B and Nick c*nting Grimshaw, which is doubly funny because I believe that that's an accurate way to describe Nick Grimshaw.

I've heard he speaks highly of me too.
My other small victory this week was going to see Florence and the Machine at Ally Pally on Thursday

with trainer, good friend and utter sadist Jose´.

The last time I'd been to see Florence (in May 2010 incidentally with Jose ) she had made quite an impression, I think the word 'amazing' was foremost in my mind, I described the show on Thursday night in an email thus:

'Florence used to be this cute little ginger pixie with an amazing voice. Granted, she's still got the voice and the red hair but she's now this full on gothic celtic witch, which I'm not into. Pity. Ally Pally is a bit special.'


Ally Pally is cavernous (the capacity is over 10,000)

and has the most spectacular views across London.

Pity it was dark when we were there.
That sounds like the most critical review in the world – well it's not as harsh as it sounds – I will never forget that first Florence gig though, if her voice was staggering her legs were mesmerizing, I like her music and she certainly sings her heart out, she still does.

A couple of people have said she's 'too shouty' which is a fair criticism but the people who really need to go are her stylist and hairdresser. Are we really all Goths? When did having Virginia Woolf/George Elliot



hair ever be attractive? Now, I don't pretend to be 'down wiv da kids, innit? But Florence used to be gorgeous,

her hair, her style and poise

used to be some of the special things about her but when she got interviewed by the sensational Alexa Chung (anything to crowbar a picture of her in)

at last weeks NME awards Florence looked a bit haggared. Perhaps I should just ignore this, and maybe I'm being a bit of a bloke about it. Anyway, enough about Florence, despite everything, I'm still a fan – the way she thanked her Mum for being there on Thursday

made my heart melt, I love that sort of humility, lets see how her Albert Hall gig makes me feel at the start of April, as long as I survive my medical procedures at the end of March. I'm so nervous.
Big thanks to Gaelle

and Chey

for coming to see me yesterday and my old mate from college James,

who popped in for Tea – I've said it before, but people who make time to come and see me make life worth living. It's especially good to see how Gary and Gwen (my housekeepers) have made a proper home for themselves here. The big room upstairs is now their lounge and somewhere for guests to stay in relative comfort.

What a difference! Plus they look after the rest of the house, the cats (Gwen loves them,this is Ham)

and me properly. Next week I am seeing two of my favourite comedians (Daniel Kitson

and Steve Hughes

on Wednesday and Thursday in Aldershot) and the Big Yin

in Brighton the day after. Strangely, I am a pogonophobe . Relatively happy days. What a difference the arrival of spring makes.

As a human the way I feel is still barely tolerable 6 years and 2 months down the line, it's certainly not acceptable. I need to work out how to go on holiday.

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