13 Jun 2013

Post 401: Have I survived this stroke, you decide?

It is with some trepidation,
but perhaps not a massive amount of surprise that this is going to be my last post – I’m not sure the numbers are going in the right direction (said like a true analyst) and I think my activity on facebook (where I’m Dom Pardey) or on email dompardey (at) makes more impact. It also doesn’t exhaust me in quite the same way.
I’ve been at this blogging business for over 5 years (since Jan 2008 to be precise and I had my stroke 7.5 years ago) and like a tree falling in the wood I’m pretty sure this isn’t an event of any significance. To those who did read it, I hope you don’t think too many evil notions about me and that I haven’t come across too badly. To the people who know me it was supposed to be a way of people hearing what I used to sound like (if only in their heads) and to keep them informed. Basically to answer the emails: ‘How’re you?’ and ‘what you been up to?’ I have tried to come to terms with the situation but I don’t do boredom (notwithstanding this) or putting in huge amounts of effort for no reward.
I hope it has demonstrated to both friends and strangers that I am someone who is always grateful, takes nothing (and no-one) for granted and can be trusted and is honest, that despite everything I will do whatever I can for my friends or people who deserve help. That said, I won’t take any sh*t and anyone or anything I feel is in the wrong I’ll try and find a way of getting my feelings felt. I think this might be a family thing.
Not so much lately, but this blog has often been a bit of a lonely heart. There are clearly a lot of lying dickheads out there – and I hope to show (even prove) that I’m not one of them. I know it’s going to take someone a bit unique, who just wants companionship, financial stability and doesn’t mind looking after someone a bit. My standards aren’t exacting – I just need someone who drives, isn’t lazy, likes concerts, sharing red wine, cats, isn’t precious (doesn’t get easily offended) and looks after themselves. Someone who appreciates my cheeky (some might sometimes say naughty) sense of humour. I have been persuaded that there are girls in the world like this that actually exist. I reserve everything else for my friends, family and housekeepers. I have been forced into a corner by this stroke and it’s got me by the tail.
A chap, a fountain of wisdom, who I have got to know online wrote this and it struck a chord:

I'm a pessimist, life is one pleasant surprise after another. God knows how optimists manage.

9 Jun 2013

Post bloody 400!

I’m loathe to say I’m giving up anything because it gives ammunition to the legion of people who might as well carve ‘never give up’ into their foreheads and they judge you a lesser person because you decide that the bruise on your own forehead actually quite hurts and there’s a bit of blood on the brick wall! I’m not mentioning any names but a certain cadre of stroke survivor does this. I do think it’s admirable but strokes are all different and as we all know a ‘one size fits all’ approach is one of reasons why the lemming isn’t top of the food chain!
So, I’ve decided to give up facing Friday night traffic and never to book another gig ANYWHERE (except very locally) on a Friday evening EVER again. It’s just not fair on the poor people who have volunteered to take me – They don’t need that sh*t – no-one needs that sh*t. Especially my LSPs (long suffering parents)or my LSFs (long suffering friends) who I already feel like I’m asking too much of having to suffer my company!
This all started a few months ago – even though the ‘Australian Pink Floyd’ incident where the M25 made a 1 hour journey into a 4 hour one was on a Monday, it made me aware how travelling to things is pretty high up on a crowded list of ‘most unpleasant things’. That’s the thing about having a stroke like this –almost everything that we used to tolerate through gritted teeth is basically intolerable now. People used to respect how much I just got on with things. They don’t anymore, they just think all I do is complain, to be clear I do an above average amount of that, and I hate that I do, which makes me a bit sad, both that I’m an above average complainer and that people’s patience with me appears to have run thin, but as a mate of mine once said to me ‘the disabled don’t have a monopoly on complaining’ – he’s so right – maybe it’s an English thing, maybe it’s a human thing, we all want to have something to complain about, and we all want someone to listen to us – why do you think that social media is so popular?
To my mind complaining is only ever justified in two ways:
1. If you complain but have a proposal for a solution.
2. You observe that something is sh*t, but you do it in an amusing way. If you’re not funny, you’re in trouble.

To be clear, I don’t think I’m funny, but I’d hazard that we’re all quite good at spotting a pisspoor attempt at humour, I’d just observe that I might have once made people titter, which is the most I’d ever claim.
Point 2 is actually how commercial comedy seems to work.
If you think about it, that’s what anyone making a public proclamation is doing – they just want to be listened to and provoke some sort of reaction, which is probably what this blog is.
Well, it’s probably my way of saying thankyou specifically to the people that help me and generally to say that I’m grateful to the folks that keep me living and help me to do the interesting things that I take it upon myself to try and do.
So people who get fed up with the way I’m grateful to people for the things I do can look away now!
On Tuesday I went to see Jack Dee at a sold out Guildford G-Live. Seeing as I’ve already talked about how complaining about things is annoying it seems a tad oxymoronic that Jack Dee is so popular. I guess it’s back to my point 2 above, that you can only complain about things if you make them funny and it is quite funny that a successful mainstream comedian can be that miserable. Big thanks to my old schoolmate Owen for taking me.
At the other end of the comedy spectrum from Jack, was going to see Eddie Izzard last night at the Dome – whereas Jack is quite straightforward and is adept at pointing out what is sh*t about the world – Izzard is out there and is adept at pointing out what is strange about the world. Both (what is sh*t and what is strange) are seemingly inexhaustible reservoirs of material in my view which makes comedy one of the most environmentally friendly forms of energy the world over – I admit, it can’t be used to power a lightbulb but laughter is probably what keeps a c*nt like me being like Jack Dee without the funny stuff. I have Karen and Helen to thank for taking me last night. Helen (an old mate from college) was an excellent last minute sub after Karen’s husband Toby couldn’t make it. I have been trying to little avail to pay these two back since they took me to the Olympics, I think last time I saw them (in March) with typical aplomb with Kazza standing right there I said to Toby ‘knocked up Karen yet?’ –the answer then was ‘No’, but they’ve been getting busy and I’m happy to report that Karen is now expecting, not that you’d offer her your seat on the bus yet! Still, Izzard was good – I don’t think any of us get pissed enough anymore to truly appreciate his out there weirdness. He is definitely the kind of friend you could settle in for a serious laughter session with. Just his impression of Julius Caesar sounding like the Italian officer from ‘Allo ‘Allo is a pretty good start.
So, the Friday thing that has convinced me never to put anyone through Friday traffic again was Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ at the Albert Hall – a somewhat Ironic title in the circumstances. My poor LSPs are no longer spring chickens and none of us can stand the stress of a one hour journey taking almost three hours or the sheer anger that the repeated stories from the Daily HateMail that my mother is fond of telling an already on edge me and my Dad. Add to this mums perfect 20:20 Hindsight and the rest: ‘We should have left more time’; ‘we must remember to look at the traffic report online before we leave’;’have you heard about the bloody Romanians’; ‘how much benefit are these bloody muslims claiming?’. It’s as if Nigel Farage and Enoch Powell are having a frank exchange of views right there. If the Mail is to be believed Britain is under siege and it blatantly isn’t – what scares me is if two educated, middle-class, law-abiding, moderate citizens like my parents believe this, what hope for the rest of the country? ‘Rivers of Blood’ anyone? Good job the Beethoven was pretty special. I’m not a cliched psychotic movie character about it but Ode to Joy is basically Beethoven’s ‘Glorious 9th’ by another name and I remember the words of my friend and college music scholar Vicky when I went to see it with her ‘it was like Beethoven chucked the Kitchen Sink at this when he wrote it’.

On a seperate subject it's worth reading the comments on the last post. Quite important stuff

2 Jun 2013

Post 399: Despite planning stuff, isn’t it difficult staying interested?

I’m sure there are those who think this is just one joyless moan? Luckily, I don’t quite think everyone thinks it is. I do try and write about what joy I do manage, after all – we should all be trying to live life through joyful moments and do our best to try and share them. Life is all about sharing joy isn’t it? There is nothing better than bringing joy to someone else. Forget how cheesy that sounds – it really is as simple as that. It is the Tuesday after a bank holiday, it is 3 days till June and f*cking ten degrees. The old me might have uttered a cursory profanity and broken into a jog but there’s nothing cursory about the disappointment I’m feeling now. Granted, the sun did shine over the bank holiday weekend so I am pleased we got to share that (at the very least) but I can assure you I’d rather have a job, office, colleagues and a real life to go back to on this delightful Tuesday. I am seriously saying I miss working. I know it sounds mental but I have said before that one of the primary functions of work is that we’re sociable creatures but on our own terms – Offices, yes; shopping centres; are you mad?
It’s now Thursday and I’m trying to work out what to do with the rest of my life. It’s a slightly profound question. So before pondering eternity, I thought I’d try and get my house in order. More or less, my fulltime existence is planning my events calendar around my therapy and rest times. A sort of peripheral for a normal, healthy person, a fulltime job for a disabled one. What have I booked, who have I asked, who’s actually taking me, where are the tickets, where do we park, How do we get there? Now granted, a person with normal energy and normal eyesight might find this a bit of a wrestle but they’d just do it. The fact I find it verging on impossible is understating it comically! Especially as most venues seem to be chopping out costs left, right and centre whilst increasing their booking fees. 4 years ago you’d usually be sent paper tickets, which would give upcoming events a bit of tangibility, plus you could file the buggers. Now a few places email tickets for some things, expect you to pick them up or do actually send them in the post, or even less helpfully, a combination of all three and the onus is on you to know what’s going on. F*ck, I’m boring myself even writing this. I guess my point is even a professional administrator (I know they exist) would struggle. Now, this is big business, there’s clearly an enormous secondary market in these things –we’ve all been to events where a terrifying man will say ‘anyone need tickets, buy or sell?’, he’ll buy any spares for a fiver or sell you one for a ton – it is twilight robbery, and these guys don’t have necks!
Some venues send you a four page form to fill out and an email address to send scanned documents to prove you’re disabled. Doing this does me in. I can’t believe there are people out there pikey enough to stoop that low and pretend they’re disabled! Disability – Not having a neck and speaking in aggressive cockney is not a disability, at least not officially! Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that this isn’t a piece of piss – I can imagine there are a few people who don’t give a f*ck, or even hate me for mentioning it – well shame, bye then – don’t let the door hit you on your way out.
I’ve had a visit from my counsellor, Cathy, today, she helps me not be all over the place (which I usually am) and concentrate on the things I should be concentrating on, when you’re an energetic young turk, you can afford to be doing a million and one things – just doing that one thing can now be difficult and it is helpful to have someone on your side who can remind you what you said you thought you were supposed to be doing.
She has also counselled me into believing that there are people in this world who might be interested in helping, maybe even caring about and looking after someone like me. ’Counselled me into believing’ is a good effort but a long way from convincing me.
I suppose this week’s joy has been in the form of going to a couple of massive concerts, firstly, the glorious Muse, the 5th time I’ve seen them since 2008, another epic, sprawling, massive, production heavy event at Arsenal’s relatively new North London home, The Emirates Stadium. Obviously seeing a band do a stadium gig is a spectacle, which is probably my main reason for going and as usual Muse (3 lads from the West Country) were pretty awesome my only criticism (there’s always something!) was the choice of Dizzee Rascal as warm up act! I thought for the Olympic opening ceremony he was pretty good, the fact he was told not to swear, and his rendition of ‘Bonkerz’ was entertaining, at the least it fitted the mood, here’s what I wrote on youtube to go with this video of him trying to ‘warm up’ the crowd on Sunday

Some people love Dizzee, I don't. As a general rule I dislike Hip-hop artists that just seem to shout over a snythesized backing beat, at least Chase and Status have an actual drummer. All Dizzee seems to do is tell the crowd to 'jump' and 'make some f*cking noise'. He is a moron with as little right to be warming up a Muse gig as JZ had warming up Coldplay when they played Wembley a few years ago
I still think he’s a moron, after telling Jeremy Paxman ‘that Hip-Hop had a lot to do with Obama getting elected’. I’m not a fan of Paxman’s belicose style but it’s the first time I’ve really seem him lost for words! My hero and compatriot for the evening was my mate Oli who loves Muse and says he enjoys taking me out, I do apologise for being a bit ‘lairy’ when Dizzee was on, so that’s what a hip-flask of Cherry brandy does. I guess that’s not really a surprise. That’s the end of that experiment! Anyway, that aside, it was a pretty decent evening even if the drive to the Emirates is speedbump hell and London roads are a disgrace. Sometimes it feels like you’re driving on a dirt road through the desert!
Thinking about it, the journey to anything is often one of my biggest considerations, and it’s getting to the stage where fear of the journey almost dissuades me from bothering going to an event. Yet another thing to file under ‘this is no bloody good’ –It’s a thick file.
Luckily it was a warm and pleasant bank holiday weekend which allowed my friend Isabel, her little daughter Lara and I to go to a Foodies Fair up the road across from Hampton Court. An event 100% reliant on decent weather. It was actually quite pleasant but I couldn’t help thinking ‘only because it’s a nice day . There’d be no-one here if it were cold and miserable’. Another challenging event with difficult terrain and lots of people that I’m glad I managed to do. Isabel is such a little terrier!
I need people like her to suggest things. Speaking of which an old mate of mine (I made the ‘old’ joke back then, I’m sure he’s still not laughing) legend Marc French, when he had helped out a few weeks ago, I’d suggested a comedy event, he’d countered with, ‘shall we go to the IMAX first?’ seeing as the comedy was in a tent on the South Bank. Now, I’d never been to an IMAX – which is basically a cinema on steroids in 3D, probably with similarly inflated prices, cheers for the ticket Frenchie! We had opted to see the new Star Trek movie, which takes the Star Trek formula, takes all the camp out of it, the crap uniforms, monsters made out of rubber and Styrofoam and basically gives it the Matrix special effects treatment, I mean, it almost looks like the same movie poster. Everything about the IMAX experience is just ‘BIGGER’. The Screen is about 5 storeys high and there are approximately 1 million speakers (probably). It was a pretty immersive experience. Despite wearing the 3D glasses, my eyesight is too screwed to see the 3D, interestingly though, the 3D glasses stop it being blurred, another question neurologists won’t be able to answer. The Villain was Benedict Cumberbatch or as I choose to call him Cumberdick Bendybatch. An interesting choice, I tend to think of him as ‘period drama’. I’ll bet when his acting career began, the thought of ever playing a genetically engineered Star Trek supervillian was a strange new world he hadn’t boldly even thought about.
Anyway, a superb idea from Frenchie – we decided that red wine, pipe and slippers is where we are now after our respective forays into playing electronic music all those years ago. He did it properly, I was just a muppet! Frenchie is a gent for helping me out, we certainly laughed our socks off seeing Irish Comedian Andrew Maxwell at the E4 Underbelly Comedy Festival afterwards. Maxwell’s observation ‘How could one man in the 70s eclipse the work of the entire Catholic church?’ was darkly hilarious.
This just doesn’t stop – it’s now Saturday 1st June and I’m off later to see 90s Punk Rockers Green Day at the Emirates, and no, I didn’t think like I do now that perhaps, just perhaps, I might be overdoing things a bit. It was pretty good and obviously reminded me of going to see them at Wembley 3 years ago and reminded me of the lovely Christina, a girl who pre-stroke would have probably been on the level but who soon realised how much better she could do, the story of post-stroke life really. Anyway, I’ll stop that and just say I thought they were better this time simply based on what they played. Stuff like this Whereas three years ago I think they’d fallen into the trap of playing ‘new material’ FAIL, nobody cares – we’re not chinscratching hipster c*nts! I was right about remembering how ghastly the journey was, these were my youtube thoughts:
Despite not having the greatest seats this was still quite a gig. Green day do punk without the nihilism which is a big hit in my book. Major chords, melodic tunes, energy and smiles. Billie- Joe Armstrong has a great voice and behaves like he's having the time of his life which is what inspires people. Not 100% convinced by the Emirates as a concert venue. I suppose a stadium is a stadium
Thanks to mate and regular concert-goer Graham for putting up with me not being the most talkative person when I’m exhausted.
Seeing as we’re on bands that had the audacity to play new material 3 years ago, I’d also been to see Depeche Mode on the Wednesday who looked like this
They were 100 times better tonight[29/5/13] than they had been in December 09, playing most of their old good stuff. It was like Gay Pride this time (always a positive for atmos) and they kept 'new' material to a minimum which they didn't do last time.
Big thanks to Christian and Terri ‘the Cheds’ for taking me and bonus points for the amusing facebook chat I had with Terri the next day: ‘I think my heart belongs to Dave Gahan[Depeche Mode lead singer]she said ‘I don’t think he likes girls in that way’ I said
Forget all that – what it’s all about is people coming to see me, firstly, there was Mr Firth, a veritable encyclopaedia on Rock Music which is a big help considering I go to all these gigs, I know f*ck-all.
And last but not least my best mate Tony who dropped in after golf. It must be golf season and the weather is good because golf gets Tony to make the trek from North London all the way out to the sticks where living in a wheelchair is just possible. Oh f*ck, I’ve gone on again.

26 May 2013

Post 398: Pictures are annoying at the time...

So, another week trundles by of what is the coldest spring since 1979. No sh*t, I heard it on the radio on Saturday morning so it must be true. Ostensibly two things are on the agenda today, firstly, the fact that I want to make more of a song and dance about my parents having been married 50 years and secondly more of a song and dance about the song and dance on Friday night to celebrate Steve and Naomi being over from Melbourne. Thirdly, i've just been transferred some unreal pictures
Friends Shaun and Renae had a similar shindig a couple of weeks back that caused me to write on facebook (my only real way of communicating daily with the outside world, I just take the piss a bit and try and stick to amusing/playful banter, I avoid like the plague any innuendo or slander (that’s for here)) ie:
When Shaun and Nae had their party a couple of weeks ago I said afterwards that it 'was the best thing I'd been to in ten years' Same venue, a lot of the same people, early noughties trance, what's not to like?
I am such a sentimentalist! Even if I spend far too much time taking the piss and ruminating about nonsense online it is so much better making people look forward to things if you can. I was really looking forward to this in the same way I look forward to most things – with a healthy dose of dread at how exhausted I’d feel during and after it – things sadly don’t change, or at least not since this f*cking stroke. Not true apparently, I had a long chat with a chap called Marco who told me two things that stuck in my mind:
1. That the amount I’d improved since I last saw him a few years ago was marked ie back whenever it was I could never have held a glass steadily (arguably, I still can’t)
2. The amount I looked like I was enjoying myself is what made him start DJing.
Almost the exact reason I had started after watching Bettsy – who incidentally was playing last night, but Alas too late for me to have been there. I was running on empty by 10pm when him and his wife Sharon got there, unbelievably, I found this photo (taken in San Antonio, Ibiza featuring Ian and Sharon well before they were married, I think I took it in about 2004) I’d been at the party since 7ish when they got there, I’d gabbled incomprehensibly at a lot of people including Brett and Sylvia, Sean, Ig, Tim, John and Megan, Pablo, Johnny ‘shitcones’ Random, Annabel, Stacey and Kris, Louisa and fiancĂ© John, Ben, Dale, Simon and sexyJoJo and one of my favourite people, Emma, who has been such a big support since my stroke who I just love seeing and others my ruined short term grey cells have forgotten (NOT INTENTIONALLY). One observation I’d make is that the ladies have aged so much better than us men (apart from Simon obviously). The Y chromosome clearly makes men go a bit soggy in the middle, I like to think that I’ve got a better reason than most for that! All except the legend that is Sacha, here on the right in 2002, who assured me that he hasn’t put any weight on for 30 years, lucky b*stard. Just as I was leaving I bumped into Gary, here pictured in 2002 with his then girlfriend, now wife, Jo. This will always be one of my favourite photos from the best days of our lives. As always, I have the brilliant Cheds (Christian and Terri) to thank for ferrying me to and from this. The fact that we both know this lot and they live down the road, can drive, and seem happy to put up with me is nothing short of a miracle!
I’d inconvenienced one too many people (by making them try to understand what my f*cked voice was on about) but it was a fitting party for a couple who have made a hell of an impact. Seeing Stevie loving the music in one of his comedy shirts really made the evening. I found this, taken on the same night as the kiss photo from all those years ago! No wonder I’m so obsessed with taking photos of everything these days!
I think at this point I better go and rest before I go out in a few hours with my great friend and mentor from work Simon Dawes to see comedy cockney Geezer Micky Flanagan discuss ‘Apples and Pears’ at the Apollo, he sure was a funny man although it wasn’t exactly cerebral stuff, but f*ck it.
I’ll hopefully be able to post this on Sunday just before I head to the Emirates stadium in North London to see Baroque anthem Overlords Muse tear Arsenal’s newish stadium a new emergency exit.
So, my parents, they’re not easily forgotten or left till last, in anything. I was quite moved at the 3rd (yes THIRD) party to celebrate my parents 50th Wedding anniversary after my dad gave a great (and very funny) speech without notes to a couple of rooms full of their oldest friends, and then the old boy broke down in tears a bit, as did I. This is what we as a family seem to do when we are faced with everybody who has ever meant something to us. My parents have done it properly, they have lived their lives for their friends and their families. They have travelled the world with Dad’s job and on genuine adventures and created more memories than I could do justice to. This was all brought home to me when I flicked through this unbelievable photobook that my sister and brother had cunningly been working on behind the scenes. When the house they’d lived in since 1980 (the house of their dreams, as dad had said in his speech)burnt down, they thought they had lost everything (including all their old photos of their wedding, honeymoon and travels all over the world. My brother had been first on the scene and by a stroke of utter genius had saved what photos he could and deliberately not told mum and dad. He then scanned what pictures he could and sent them to my sister who had 5 beautiful hardback books made. When my sister presented them on Sunday, Mum’s face was a picture which ironically I didn’t get!

18 May 2013

Post 397: I'm sorry I write so much

Last time I posed the question ‘does anyone bother reading this?’ I got that grotty email basically telling me what a miserable selfish complaining piece of sh*t I was. Well, I’m not a selfish piece of sh*t, that I’d contest - I’m just saying that given how much elbow grease I put into this, a little evidence that it gets read wider than a few key people would help although I might be willing to entertain the notion I’m a dullard. I dunno, as cathartic as shouting in a hurricane might be, it’s not really THAT useful.
OK, so what has been a massive relief is having Gwen and Gary back. I think the only thing that might be happier than me is Cheese, my greedy, vociferous, opinionated cat. Listening to Gary and him bicker is hilarious:
Cheese: miaow
Gary: you’ve eaten
Cheese: Miaow
Gary: You’ve Eaten
Cheese: MIAOW
Cats are just rude. His miaowing is often comical. Buying a water pistol to shoot him in the face when he miaows unnecessarily has really worked. I’m hardly ‘the Cat whisperer’ am I? I think Cheese might be slightly retarded. Gary will give him his food, he’ll wolf it down, then sometimes turn round and start miaowing again. Feckless Feline! Despite all this we love him dearly, with visitors he is gold and frankly a bit of a tart! Snuggling up to them and dare I say it managing to be gorgeous and even polite! Cheese’s sister Ham continues to be adorable
The Palmers being away really has shown me how reliant I am on them. It’s really driven it home to me how no matter how hard I try to cope on my own, I can’t do it. A 36 year old that can’t cope on his own, doesn’t that sound like an appealing prospect? Who cares what he used to be like? I’m sure there are people with the use of one arm who cope better but this damn fatigue (yawn, heard it) kills most effort I make in its crib. It’s probably almost certainly as savagely tedious to me as it is telling you about it for the umpteenth time, I’m sorry!
It did get me thinking though. I am not by a long stretch someone with unlimited resources but what would that man do?
I’m sure like me they’d say:
‘This isn’t bloody good enough!’
It’s not worth living feeling like this. Would they pay someone to ship them off to the Dignitas clinic or would they tell their neurologist to try harder? I’m reminded of a couple of stories from Keith Richards autobiography (not a man traditionally associated with health advice) about how he’d seen a French doctor who’d given him a vitamin injection that had really seen him through some of the darker days of his heroin addiction, or Keef’s mate that had been diagnosed with MS and packed himself off to some weird therapy centre that would treat patients with Snake venom. Obviously clinically untested but I’m desperate enough to try ANYTHING. I’m definitely not in the assisted suicide camp (YET!) although my biggest fear is becoming more disabled than I am (ie Needing more help)(as being prescribed Ritalin in Summer 2010 did effectively paralyze further my useless left side) My other big fear is a painful lonely undignified slow death (what is probably happening at the moment).
I have mentioned a few times on this blog about my intentions to get out of this country for the winter. Everything was pointing to impossible but a few facebook discussions this week have made things look a bit less impossible. I can’t even remember as far back as May 2011 when I got visited by an old DJ mate, Dan, and his mum Trixie –now Trixie is a carer by profession, but is the housekeeper for a glorious looking guesthouse out near Valencia called the Casa de la Finestra. To cut a long story short, they don’t have guests in the winter and there is a place I could stay, and another old mate of mine lives in Valencia – he’s a pilot with Ryanair and Valencia is their hub and he made all the right noises about the climate and living in that part of Spain in the winter. Basically, I’m sold. The planets feel like they’re aligning. I’ve set aside time to go out there in early November to check it out. Travel at this moment looks like overnight car ferry from Portsmouth to Santander followed by ~a 6 hour drive. I can’t cope with the cold during the winter here, and I need some sort of big project to occupy myself otherwise it would be all too easy to let depression set in even more. I’m fed up with saying ‘this isn’t bloody good enough’. I need to make something f*cking happen. Sure, it is bloody terrifying, and Mum and Dad have (bless them) told me several times ‘it’s impossible.’ Who am I going to call if something goes wrong?’ Well, someone, I suppose, and seeing as it’s a place where people already speak English and live, I have good grounds to feel quite confident.
Obviously I will miss people and things in this country but having a stroke makes you feel separate from the real world. All attempts to be part of what was once considered ‘normality’ require stupid amounts of effort, not only by me, but by anyone I interact with. My view will never change. Life is hard enough for people – why make it harder by spending time with someone who’s hard work? I’ve always hoped that people feel tremendously rewarded for making this extra effort. Maybe this was true for the first five years but I’m not sure it’s the same now. Maybe this is a bit un-optimistic to have this attitude? I’m afraid this is realism, honesty and logic although somewhat uncharacteristic it may sound, I was reflecting on the fact that I used to have a knack for drawing out the positive in almost any statement and not in an annoying church-like sermon where the vicar might say, ‘in many ways that’s just like Jesus’ NO IT’S NOT. You may not think it but it’s one of the things managing people does teach you. Not talking about Jesus, but finding ANYTHING positive. Yet another pat on the back for John Lewis. Between trying to sort out going to Spain I’ve been slightly less engaged in going to events largely because when I was booking stuff 6 months ago there wasn’t a plethora of good things.
After taking my friend Isabel and her mate Jolanta to see Symphonic rock last week and they had loved it, it was one of my own favourites Filmharmonic, on Wednesday evening, where the royal Philharmonic Orchestra plays film scores. I have been to this every year since 2008 and I can’t attach enough superlatives to how absurdly brilliant it is. Everyone knows the music to certain films, usually ones by George Lucas (Star Wars, Indiana Jones) or Steven Spielberg (Jurassic Park,ET, Jaws) because the music was written by John Williams, a man I would argue has created more memory in the Human Race than any other man. Weirdly, I think the brain remembers music better than anything else... annoying jingles are a case in point! I’ll bet I remember Go Compare and bloody Danone Yoghurt for much longer! Obviously I have no evidence! I am merely an above averagely verbose observer. Back to Filmharmonic, it just serves as a reminder to a packed Albert Hall how brilliant some of this stuff is. This time it was how triumphant the music to Jurassic Park is, and secondly how gutted Hans Zimmer (I thought this) (the guy who did the epic score to Gladiator) must feel about being around at the same time as John Williams (he probably says he admires and greatly respects him but I’ll bet he’s cursing his luck and seething, probably the feeling that Tim Henman gets about any other tennis player and while we’re on Henmanalikes, David Miliband must get that deep seething feeling about his brother Grommit. One man who must love this event more than any other is the RPO Kettle drummer who literally gets the chance to smack the crap out of the kettle drums in practically every piece. Taking Isabel and Jolanta to this was a lucky privilege, as getting to take people to things they love is the purpose in my life at the moment. It might not have been though as by a bit too perfect a piece of symmetry my friends Stevie and Naomi are over from their home in Melbourne and I might have originally asked them and they couldn’t as they have the most packed itinerary ever and were up in Lincolnshire visiting his parents cave. I say that as you’ll see from the next photo that Steve is in fact a caveman, but they slung by to visit me by surprise the other afternoon which was an unreal surprise. They are having a party on Friday with a similar format to the one last week which I described as ‘the best thing I’ve been to in 10 years’ I know what I’ve said in the past about setting expectations high. Well, I’m a pragmatist. Given what a hero my friend Isabel is and has been, I just got back from her 2nd Triathlon where the Dom Pardey Trust has been one of the beneficiaries. My dad and I were so glad we went. She really is a trooper.
And finally, my friend Simon and I dusted down some 20 year old memories last night by going to see our teenage music heroes ‘The Levellers’. A few weeks ago, I hadn’t been sure who to ask and then for some reason Simon had uploaded the Levellers album artwork as his facebook background. You know how I go on about finding the right person for the gig and it being one of the most important parts of my life. Well I got it right. Look at the concentration! This is what I wrote on youtube:
The levellers (remember) playing live in Guildford in May 2013. I loved the fact that they didn't faff around and they knocked out all their greatest hits (so most of 'levelling the land') . What stuff I didn't recognise sounded ok. Not a massive fan of the 'folk' genre but how much better are these guys than f*cking Mumford and sons?! The 'Dreads' and 'dogs on string' count was mercifully low. They've got so many catchy tunes.
Home tomorrow for another round of my LSP’s Golden wedding anniversary (50 flippin’ years!)
I’m sorry I write so much! There are almost certainly other people to thank!



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