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27 Jun 2010

Post 218: More peoplescapes

Not in the best of moods at the moment despite the brilliant weather or the arrival (by email) of a summary of a life coaching session from an old clubbing mate of mine Carly . It's always nice to see her (hubba hubba) and her summary of our life coaching session cheered me up a bit plus it reminded me she had raised £800 for the trust by running in an insane race called 'tough guy' but I didn't need to thank her apparently because she'd enjoyed it so much – well she's mad in that case - and reminded me that I needed to have a goal and some structure to my life, neither of which I have. When I used to write University essays, I never had a plan whereas some of my peers would have two page things with flowcharts. I just used to write and have a checklist in my head of things to mention and arguments to make, if I forgot something I'd somehow work it into the conclusion.
Much like this (you've probably noticed). I have a mental list of things to talk about and somehow string them together.
Like today, I'm trying to square the circle in my head of feeling like this dreadful burden to everyone and the fact that people tell me I'm not. Am I wrong or are people just being kind? On balance and on the evidence I'd say that I'm probably wrong and people ARE actually kind. I think I'm kind but whenever I try and be kind my disability intervenes and makes me feel I'm not nice. I hate not feeling up to the standards of what people should expect of someone of my age and background.
A casual inspection of my diary reveals I have almost 40 events to go to till the start of next July and this will rise, That's almost 1 a week (ish) and the most common expression from my mates is that I have a busier life than them. Things may be busy but it's hardly life. Going to events and organising people to take me to them is my life these days and one of the issues we discussed in yesterdays coaching session is so relevant, that of social power! I have had to suspend my dignity because I do all the asking and organising these days which gives me something to do. It can be quite satisfying but is utterly exhausting, especially satisfying if it has been a great show, the person who took me enjoyed it and says that taking me out and being responsible for me has been easy. It makes me feel like a normal human again. Just so yesterday when college mates Nick, wife Sally and brain of Britain Mel (she's the senior Bernhard-Yes Prime Minister reference) to the development secretary (for as long as I've known her she's always been the one to get the most competitive, sought after jobs EVER) Coincidence, I think not. Anyway, they took me to Hyde Park to see day two of music festival 'Hard Rock Calling' even kinder of Sal and Nick that they had organised and got me the tickets. Its acts of generosity like this that make me feel better about myself. Speaking of generosity I forgot to thank gorgeous uni mate and journalist extraordinaire Karen (ain't structure a beaut?) for taking me out for lunch 10ish days ago and Sexy Suze for taking me to see Reg Hunter on Monday in Dorking. I do have male friends I'm just not grateful to them at this precise moment. Actually on the point of going to see Reg Hunter, it's rare these days that I'll go to a comedy show where I haven't at least heard of or seen one of the comedians before; rarer still is this guy so good that he instantly enters the top 5 comedians I've ever seen, and my taste is (not that) fickle a mistress. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Steve Hughes, don't let his roadie appearance (otherwise Bill Bailey wouldn't be the demigod that he is) and the fact he's Australian put you off or that he calls himself a heavy Metal Comedian, after he'd been on, during the interval Suze and I both agreed he was amazing. Really intelligent subversive comedy, deconstructing the way that global corporations tell us what to think and do, whilst at the same time telling us that political correctness was merely health and safety for the emotions (it means well but only morons would struggle without it). Anyone who gets offended and upset by 'just words' is a c *nt. I'd go with that or ' McDonalds selling salads is like a drug-dealer selling Houmous' and that the 'skullet' is the mullet for bald people.
Apparently you see a lot of them if you're into heavy metal. Reg was his usual super cool brilliance, telling us about his experiences of living in this country, a lot of them being around the strange experiences you encounter being an African American in this country. He's a rare commodity, an American who 'gets sarcasm. One of my favourite stories he tells is at English drinks parties he loves saying when someone comes and asks him who he is he says 'I'm Reggie, king of the Blacks' By a strange twist of coincidence I'm going to see Reg again at Shepherds Bush Empire on the 6th July, if this makes you want to come I suggest you get tickets sharpish. If he can sellout Dorking (which for a town no-one's heard of has a pretty big venue. Seemingly to prove my dislike of football, I am writing this during the game. As it's against Germany, what's the betting we lose, and on penalties. In fact even better, apparently we lost 4-1. My new t-shirt is so appropriate
I'm sort of coming to the end now but I will say this, when will we understand we're no bloody good?! The hysteria is hysterical! Here are some pictures of the inapropriately named Hard Rock Calling taken by my friends phones. Next big project is clearly to find a digital camera with a docking station as I don't have the manual dexterity to recharge my current one. I got to the gig assuming some kind soul had recharged my camera, I tried to turn it on but guess what, flat battery. This neatly illustrates 2 points I have always strongly held and since my stroke are even more veracious:
1.Assumption is the mother of all f*ck ups
2.You can only ever rely on yourself so when you have to rely on others (as I now do) then something will go wrong . I don't assume that. I know it.
This post isn't finished quite yet!
So yesterday's 'We couldn't get Glastonbury tickets' festival actually started on Friday, and me being me I'd got tickets because I really wanted to see Pearl Jam , a band who had been huge when I was a stroppy teenager almost twenty years ago when 'Grunge' had been the big thing. I was reminded of this phenomenon in hospital when I'd listened to the brilliant 'A bit of a Blur' , the Autobiography of Blur bassist Alex James, a man who's only a few years older than me but had a hell of a laugh partying around the world, I'm not saying other rock stars aren't smart but for a rock star he is unusually eloquent, I wish I'd ended up being to DJ-ing what he had been to rock and Roll. I do like cheese to, but not as much as he does!Anyway, Grunge. Grunge expressed depression, fear and even suicide. As teenagers we lapped it up, enough to wear long sleeve t-shirts and have shi* floppy haircuts, yup, the 90s sucked. The leading exponent of Grunge, Kurt Cobain, achieved his goal of blowing his head off in 94 so the lead singer of Pearl Jam Eddie Vedder must be ashamed of the Rude Health he looks in. Rather than show his age via the 'take every drug under the sun' route that Keith Richards or Iggy Pop have taken he looks to have opted for the more traditional 'time' approach.The line-up was full of people I'd never heard of but Pearl Jam were on last and absolutely rocked it with their biggest songs from the 90s (unsurprisingly) 'Alive' and 'Even flow' (not a song about unblocking a toilet) storming the place. You can just feel the atmosphere change when a song does this. In my DJ-ing days I would say it 'smashed the place up', literally, of course it doesn't but when a big crowd just gets something it's difficult to put into words what happens
The Daweses are the legends who deserve thanks for sticking by me and being great friends as well as taking me to this amongst many other things.
The next day, hard rock calling was much less about hard rock, much more about Hyde Park being rammed with 80+thousand people out to enjoy the sunshine. It was as well behaved as a Keane concert in stark contrast to the day before when Vedder had had to ask the crowd to take three steps back, a callback to some Scandinavian festival a few years before when one fan had been crushed to death in the mosh pit. This wasn't going to happen on Saturday. The line-up kicked off with the inoffensive warblings of soul singer Corinne Bailey Ray followed by a chuffed to be there James Morrison who wasn't too bad actually but has probably suffered at least in my eyes because I've confused him with James Blunt. They're both male singer/songwriters called James with a guitar,in my head that makes them the same person! Anyway, set of the day was courtesy of Jamiroquai, a man who has become famous because of one sound and one admittedly rather funky baseline. Here though is a man I envy because he's had and continues to have a laugh, going out with some gorgeous girls and owning a collection of Ferraris despite some bloody silly hats, he was sporting a read Indian headrest and warpaint on Saturday, and all this based on one noise and one baseline. Having seen him we didn't really stick around for headliner Stevie Wonder who looks and sounds just like Barry White thes days, ie the black Jabba the hut of soul music! and I've never been able to get over Lee Macks joke that Stevie's not blind, he just writes his lyrics on the inside of his glasses and the reason he moves head round so much is to help him read them.I was pretty knackered when I got home but not too knackered to watch the Saturday night headlining set from sun-baked Glastonbury which was incredible even on TV. Muse aren't the best live band in the world for nothing. There is noone I'd rather be in the world other their lead guitarist and singer Matt Bellamy right now. He is on fire. Another week in the pursuit of my hobbies, Loud Music, Peoplescapes (usually caused by concerts and making sure my friends know how important they are to me. Feeling this bad will not last forever.

Just a throway comment. As ever I'm back to the ole drawing board when it comes to looking for someone. Looks like I was a shade hasty but (effect Barry White voice)that's life baby.

20 Jun 2010

Post 217:Probably too much but so what!

Some people clearly have too much energy, unfortunately not me, was the conclusion I drew from going to Wembley Stadium on Saturday to see Californian Punk Rockers Green Day. Now I will say this, I'm hardly a hardcore GD fan, I don't know the names of any of the band or even how many of them there even are. All I know is that I really like a few of their songs. I was put off them in 2004 for two reasons. Firstly I was only really interested in electronic dance music which I was busy amassing a collection of as I was gripped by DJ fever. Secondly, one of the ladies from work asked me if her 15 year old daughter could workshadow me for a day, no big deal I thought until this precocious girl dressed head to toe in black with accompanying 'bovver' boots and copious quantities of black eye-liner showed up. She proceeded to tell me all about some band called 'Green Day'. I remained pretty sanguine and convinced that I couldn't enjoy a band that rebellious or was sacred to stroppy teenage goths/emo's although this is what she looks like now. My point of view was reinforced by an observation I saw comedian Ed Byrne make. When faced with an aggressive looking Emo simply say “Oh so you're an Emo, I think of the two of us, we both know who's more likely to harm themselves”
It has to be one on one, if you're faced with more than one or the dreaded 'mood of goths'[mood is the correct collective noun apparently]. LEG IT. Speaking of aggressive behaviour and too much energy at yesterdays concert, there was some of the worst moshing/fighting I've ever seen in my life. It's easy for me to say this from the safety of our seats in the top tier. The concert was still good though because the sound and the performance were epic. Being punk rockers they couldn't care about mere technicalities like safety or sticking to details like running times and we did get the impression they were just messing around at the end, like I said in a previous post (which escapes me), musicians when faced with tens of thousands of people worshipping even your mistakes on a soundsystem as powerful as a tactical nuclear bomb you don't ever want to leave the stage, even when you've run out of your own songs, you can literally play anything, so thats what happened, shout! By Lu lu was rolled out, 'Hey Jude' by the Beatles, 'Paint it black by the Stones to keep the emos happy etcetera! It was a hell of a spectacle which is half the point and enabled me to spend some quality time with Christina, even though she probably couldn't hear a word I said too but the other good news for her didn't end with that, it was her first time driving the van and she passed with flying colours. I'm glad Oli had the chance to show her the routine when we had gone to Keane the week before. It put Christina's mind much more at ease so she could concentrate on the concert. From the ridiculous to the ridiculously sublime. The night before , my friend Rachel and I had braved the drizzle and cold to go to the Hampton Court festival to go and see voice of an angel' Katherine Jenkins (actually appearing to be some sort of angelic being in this picture) – having seen Dame Kiri te Kanawa the week before, I can see why men become fans of these young sopranos. Not only is she one the most beautiful women in the world but her voice is just incredible. Her voice doesn't fit her face and body, if I close my eyes I imagine Monserat Cabale or the Spanish Infanta from blackadder one but when you open your eyes you're faced by the human Barbie with breasts equally out of proportion (which must be where all that vocal power and range comes from! Her voice clearly made god himself weep because it rained and rained which is such a shame because on a fine evening base court at Hampton Court has got to be one of the most beautiful backdrops to a concert in the world, and I think the scurrilous rumours I'd heard about Ms Jenkins being a stroppy Diva were laid to rest by her softly spoken welsh accent and down to earth dialogue with the crowd. I thought she was adorable. I also thought the American barbershop dectet (whatever the word is for a ten man acappella group is) called 'straight no chaser' were also awesome. Rachel was a trooper too, making sure I had blankets and rain ponchos. By the end of the evening I'd gone through three rain Ponchos! People and rain don't mix. Rain and wheelchairs and cold are a disaster and I purposefully don't reserve a special place in my heart for Hampton Courts cobblestones!
So Thursday, Before all these Shenanigans, I went to see Bon Jovi at the Dome with friend from my DJ days Sharon, now married to legend Ian Betts. Now that they've had two kids I understandably don't see much of them, they're not the only ones.
We had a good time and a good catch up -Sharon has a very level head and has always been a good person to bounce ideas or problems off.
I had convinced myself this was going to be the best gig ever and I think I over-hyped it to myself. It was good and 'Living on a prayer was awesome'(obviously) but I think Aerosmith smashed it on Tuesday just because the Hard Rock sound sounds better live. If I'm honest 2008 at Twickenham (post 52) was rocking, I just found it a bit of a shame they didn't seem to play any of 'blaze of glory'
Still one of my all time favourite albums although the 'brokeback' rendition of 'Diamond ring' was rubbish and I can't get Marc Lamarrs Never mind the Buzzcocks desciption of Jon Bon Jovi out of my head 'arsey soft rock Oompah Loompah' out of my head, right, I'm probably guilty of trying to do much, so I'll award honours to AeroSmith but I'm glad I got to do all of those things. Life is after all, what you make of it.

18 Jun 2010

Post 216:Aerosmith!

This isn't a joke, it's an observation! What do you get when you cross Mick Jagger,
Jim Morrison and Axl Rose's voice? In my opinion you get Steve Tyler from Aerosmith,
ok so possibly it's Mick Jaggers spitting Image puppet after it's been left on a radiator (that's a joke) but the point still stands. I know I say a lot of gigs are great but Aerosmith on 15/6 genuinely was. I'm still trying to work out why America's bestselling hard rock band [wikipedia FACT]were only worthy of a Tuesday at the Dome (still comfortably the best large music venue I've ever been to.
The trouble with hard rock is it does have the propensity to attract a lot of fortysomething overweight blokes who look as though they're there to abduct, torture and murder someone like at Spinal Tap last year, or the New Kids on the block concert that was full of chavs (post), I don't understand how they manage to afford concerts alongside the cost of superkings, fake burberry and sky sports and those bloody little England flags. Maybe I'm being unfair, the thing that gets me is these people can walk and feel (relatively) normal. I do feel a bit bitter at this but all I can do is keep going to these things
So, I do, I almost didn't go, because the people who were supposed to take me were too tired. If I decided that I wouldn't go to things because I was tired I wouldn't go to anything. That said,they had been at the Isle of Wight festival over the weekend! Jose and Bec heroically stepped in at the last minute to save my bacon, and them being Aerosmith enthusiasts helped a bundle and Bec took some great pics! Aerosmith played all the tracks that I recognised, even the uberschmaltzy 'I don't want to miss a thing with obligatory screenshots from uberschmaltzy Hollywood blockbuster Armageddon. Everytime Ben Afflecks face appeared I couldn't stifle a giggle and think of Bill Baileys observation that in all his films 'he looks like a bloke that's just dawned on him he might have left the back door open'. TeeHee.

16 Jun 2010

Post 215: Suits you sir!

'My husband and I would like to thank you all for coming to our big fat gay wedding' is not something I thought I'd ever hear but is the phrase from Dave's speech (one of Saturdays's grooms) that stuck in my mind and things don't really stick too well in my short term memory these days.
I don't work for Hello! or OK! (you've probably noticed) but I've had neither the computer time or the energy to process my thoughts from the last few days, so here goes:
As I suspected though pretty much everything about Saturdays wedding was fabulous and not because Dave or Stephen are Anal (that's the wrong thing to say!) but actually because Stephen is a little OCD! [Raising the tone]Dave and Stephen looked wonderful, it didn't rain and my parents(much to my disappointment) didn't put their foot in it! It gave me the chance to see old colleagues that I hadn't seen for ages -I didn't think I'd ever say this, I wish I was at work!, seeing them is always a highlight even though I am amazed they can work out what I am saying because the disarthyria caused by the stroke makes me sound like I've got a mouthful of gobstoppers!
When Dave and Stephen 'walked up the aisle', I lost my first sportsmans bet to myself, I had thought if anyone could carry off a white Tuxedo, it'd be Dave but instead it was Stephen sporting a natty white suit and blue suede shoes.
The ceremony was lovely and very short (always a good thing) and there were some excellent readings about how the strongest force in the universe was love, monkey love and two Tyrannosaurs in love (!) emphasising that if two people of any sex, creed or culture fall in love nothing should prevent them from expressing this commitment. It almost feels as though religion has hijacked weddings as a way of propping up their shaky foundations. Ho hum, not another reason to dislike religion in all it's guises?Surely not, that particular tin of apostates is already bursting at the seams! I agree with Stephen Fry: 'religion, sh*t it'. Their was also lots of music, I had expected something akin to 'four poofs and a piano' but I had forgotten Dave had been a choral scholar at Fenland Polytechnic so there was a rather skilled pianist and an amazing choir.
This was followed with al fresco drinks and then a merciful 2 hour rest before a sit down dinner. It was already feeling like one of my 'tired days' where I get so exhausted I don't know how to move or communicate. Luckily I was able to take this time to find a darkened corner of a barn, recline my wheelchair and have a dose. I hate having to do this, it's pathetic.
Only a gay couple could have organised their wedding during Englands first game of the world cup but it didn't worry me, if there's one thing I hate more than religion, it's football and dinner kicked off at the same time. Dinner was a collage of cold foods the like of which I had never seen but then I remembered Dave is a serious foodie so it was bound to be impressive. On the sorry subject of the footie. England didn't disappoint by disappointing and it struck me in the car on the way home what I find so disappointing, that it doesn't matter in football if it's 1-1 or 5-1 it's equally as rubbish to watch, it's just in one game we've been lucky enough to score more goals, that's right, luck. still, can't help thinking that this weeks exhaustion is slightly my fault by virtue of the fact that I've been trying to do too much again. In the week preceding this wedding I had been to two of the most middle class concerts in my life:
Thursday to see Dame Kiri te Kanawa at Wisley (My Dad has been a fan for as long as I can remember (she is famous as Mezzo Soprano's go)Wisley is one of the royal horticultural societies beautiful gardens 15 mins from me that hasn't lost it's magic despite one of the guys who used to work for me (a gay bloke) telling me it was the south of England's cruising and cottaging hotspot!
I bought the tickets mainly because I knew it would be the ideal night for my parents, we'd all enjoy the music and the setting, and because it was so close it wouldn't be too exhausting.
It ended up being one of those evenings when you know it would have been magic if it'd been a beautiful evening, instead the sky remained resolutely slate grey and there were some chilly gusts of wind but miraculously the rain held off. This being a middle aged, middle class event when it got pretty cold and the rain threatened, there was a sort-of stiff upper lipped blitz spirit where people would huddle under their Waitrose bags (which were probably used instead of tickets!), or sit on their wicker hampers and use their John Lewis picnic blankets for warmth.. there is an irony to this that makes me chuckle but I never find it as funny as some of my more militant leftie friends who seem to have me believe that they'd like nothing more than to lob a hand grenade into gatherings like this. Friday night was more of a middle class rock concert, a sponge concert if you will, seeing Keane at Bedgebury Pinetum. I have seen some horrible things written about Keane because their music is too nice, I think these things are a load of bull! Keane's music may be a bit tuneful and they may be to Rock'n'Roll what Mary Whitehouse is to Pornography but I think their music is brilliant. I hadn't seen them since February 2009 (post 107) and I have a little history with the Keane lads having been to school with them so I was keen to see them again to see what they could do – having had such an amazing debut album, it must have been difficult to better it and conjure up a new musical direction, unfortunately,unforgiving musical Philistines like me just wanted to hear the masterpieces from their first album which are amazing live, so sure enough the ridiculously well-behaved crowd loved it when they broke into the familiar introductions of 'everything's changing' and when they finished with the spellbinding 'bedshaped'.
Particular bonuses for the evening were the lovely weather, the view from the wheelchair platform which was brilliant and the company (of Oli) who is consistently one of the best of the many kind folk who take me to gigs, because he loves live events and he is great at looking after me. He did a superb job of demonstrating how to use the van to the adorable Christina, who was feeling (unsurprisingly!) a bit unsure about the procedures necessary for taking me to see Green Day at Wembley this saturday. She'll do fine. Oli and Christina made the night for me by being there and loving the gig. Keaane may not be very Rock'n'Roll but neither am I!
That's not it yet. In my attempts to get as much out of my life (some might say I'm exhausting myself)I went out on Sunday evening to see my current favourite comedian Daniel Kitson. Regular readers will know I've had a few favourite comedians. Bill Bailey (who is still my hero), Stephen k Amos, Tim Minchin and now Daniel Kitson who I will always try and see if he's performing within the vicinity. Friends Simon and Yvonne feel the same, seeing Kitson is gold, I'd also invited my trainer Jose and his girlfriend Bec,
a nutritionist who has helped me in the past and my friend Rachel because I always feel that going to these things in a big group is more fun, it sounds trite but I like to 'spread the joy' (then sadly the poor girl was ill). I first saw Kitson unintentionally in 2009 when he was compering a charity gig in January (post 96)
Anyway, rather than his usual stand up he was telling a story he had written about his old flat when he had lived in crystal Palace during the nineties called 66A Church Road. I've been to one of his story recitals before and even though you could just switch off, he is such a compelling and amusing speaker you listen to it all, you get the impression that he's a sensitive soul because the smallest details get woven into the story and I really empathised with how he got attached to the flat and came up with several crackpot schemes for the place. There was also a particularly moving bit about him moving out and saying goodbye. I was particularly attached to my place in Brixton but I never had the chance to say goodbye. In spite of the fact that I still own it I don't think I'll ever live there again, even though it's on the ground floor, Brixton and disability don't mix
and it was a fun place to live in my 20s and even though Oxshott is a bit more sedate, I'm 33 and this is a place I think I can survive in. Life used to be for living, now it's about surviving. Is that wrong?

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