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24 Mar 2013
Post 388: Is it really that time of year again?
Not that it’s likely to make any difference to anyone, but the main bit of this post is likely to be a few days late because on the Sunday during the time I’d normally post this I will be having the annual buffet lunch in my local pub ‘The Bear’ and I’ll probably be back home trying to sleep off what is one of the most uplifting, whilst simultaneously being one of the most exhausting events of my post-stroke life. Someone last week said they weren’t going to ‘bother with me’, if it looks like ‘I’ve given up’ – I thought the effort I made to stay in touch with people, meet new people, the myriad shows I go to with people to say thankyou for helping me, the gruelling physio I put myself through to maintain my abilities (that most toddlers would outperform or sh*t on (probably literally) (and at least their brains actually improve))
- I thought all this was not giving up, but clearly some people think otherwise. Sadly, it appears that my brain damage is too great, my chronic fatigue too serious (and too tedious to talk about) and after 8 years the odds against me making forward progress is up there with finding intelligent life on the sun! Bloody mindedness and straight up stupidity are two different kinds of wasted energy, Bloody-mindedness is tolerable – stupidity is not, so I may have given up on being stupid but I try and get on with everything else no matter how futile it seems.
Anyway, this is the fifth time I’ve tried to sort out some sort of birthday gathering to recognise (or is that celebrate) me somehow making it through another year. The fact I’m 36 and now in my late 30s (by virtue of being nearer to 40 than 30) is not something that fills me with joy. I challenge you to find anyone over the age of 30 that’s thrilled at the prospect of getting older. In my 20s I was looking forward to my 30s. Little did I know how sh*t they’d be. I was looking forward to settling down with the girl of my dreams, having 2.4 children, living a well above average life, exploring the world, getting up in the morning and having the energy and the wherewithal to make the world a little less sh*t. That was then, this is now, and the general aims are the same although ‘well above average life' has become ‘endurable life' because every day post-stroke is an endurance and I am pretty sure that a lot of the people who were my friends now ‘suffer me’ if that. I have become this sort of ‘line in the sand’ – ‘as long as we’re doing better than that our lives are OK’, I think I called it ‘Schadenfreunde Psychology’ a few years back. Seriously, that seems to be the most positive difference I make to people these days, there are probably people on Death Row who have more hope for the future than me. I can appreciate that that isn’t the happiest thing to say but I’m not much of a ‘pip pip diddly-dee, my old man’s a mushroom’ type. Well I’m basing that on how I feel every bloody morning. Medicine should be about making people feel better everyday of their lives, improving quality of life not just keeping people alive. Wellbeing seems to be about the efficient and fast transmission of electrical impulses in the brain, that is all it is. Creativity and intelligence appear to be about how axonal fibres meander in the brain. I got this from a BBC TV ad about some horizon program the other evening. Man, as a species, has done some clever sh*t, we’ve split the Atom, worked out innumerable cunning ways to kill, spy and communicate. Isn’t it time to work out how to safely make ourselves feel better/happier?! And I’m not talking about the way I’m trying to do it (which as a wheelchair bound stroke survivor is so very difficult).
Anyway my actual birthday was on Wednesday 20th and this week has been a bit of a mixed bag. On Tuesday my mate Isabel took me to Guildford to go and see grouchy deadpan yank musical comedy legend Rich Hall, now I’ve been to see Rich several times and he pitches his act just right to appeal to the slightly ‘harumphed’ UK middle class who feel that just surviving in modern Britain is an uphill grind, it can feel like you’re walking the wrong way against a travolator and the only way to get some temporary relief is to have a laugh at the absurdity of life and the ridiculousness of the systems we have put in place to try and regulate our existence. Rich says that comedy is about saying stupid things intelligently or intelligent things stupidly, he’s not sure, nor am I?
He taps in to that most basic root of humour, confusion, or is it doubt? I’m really not sure either! We just need to put ourselves in that kind of environment every so often, it’s not rocket surgery (he says). Isabel is a bit of a hero and is taking part in her second triathlon in two years to raise money for the trust which pays for a lot of my physical therapy. Speaking of which, my therapist Jose, has with his partner and baby daughter, been away this week, and it has been a real struggle without him. So as much as I haven’t missed the torture, I have missed the structure, chat and the laughs.
Anyway – like I said, a mixed bag of a week, on Wednesday I was convinced I was supposed to see the stand up talents of much-maligned quixotic pseudo-mockney Russell Brand with my friend, the lovely Gaelle, but she had to pass because motherly duties called, she sent over Michael who although ‘less blonde[her words]’ is a staunch mate and co-conspirator of mine. We were about to leave when it appeared we were short of one crucial detail, the tickets! A panic call to the Albert Hall later and it appeared I’d put the event in my diary but neglected to buy tickets. Piss-up, Brewery basically, I blame the brain damage! We salvaged the evening by opting to chat and slowly sample a bit of my Sloe Gin. Poor chap needs a bit of counsel after his dad had a serious accident and is not in a good way in Hospital. Poor Mike, not only that but lumbered talking to me. Still, his dad is in good hands.
So that was Wednesday, the last two evenings have been on plan, going to the next two gigs in the teenage cancer trust series at the Albert Hall to see Kasabian on Friday with Ched and Noel Gallagher last night with Olly. I think I’ve now seen Kasabian six times in the last five years, here's what I wrote on youtube to go with this clip
Kasabian being brilliant live as usual. I call it football terrace indie-rock and I don't even like football! The atmosphere was superb even in a place as stuffy as the Albert Hall for a charity as sobering as Teenage Cancer Trust. Charity is what makes the Human Race great and the fact that an event like this exists shows that despite being a cynical misanthrope I am happy to be proved wrong (sometimes)
Some might say doing all this activity is deleterious to my state of fatigue but I would simply argue it makes no real difference. If I’m exhausted anyway, I might as well be exhausted out of the house!
Last night I went with my friend Oli to see Noel Gallagher
used to tar Noel with the same brush as Liam but Noel has the talent and what I would call an epic voice. Some of his solo stuff is superb. Makes you believe great things are true
Another great gig and listening to this song made me miss going to a gig with a girlfriend and having someone to really hug and Kiss at the end of a song like this!
Anyway, my birthday lunch was magic! Pictures and words in a couple of days, despite the Baltic weather about 60 people showed up, it was bloody lovely!