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27 Nov 2011

Black FridayPost318:, what's that?

This is going to be mercifully shorter than the last post (phew!). Something has changed about this blog. I started doing it in January 2008 as a way of trying to let people know I still existed. I didn't really know what to expect. What I do know is when people have been nice about it, it has made me feel a bit more useful, I have always wanted it to inspire debate, one of the things I said in my first post was that I barely had the energy to write this, letalone argue and I didn't mind the odd hostile comment but then this started linking to facebook and hostile comments became vicious arguments. I don't expect people to agree with me but I expect people to realise that the only reward I get from all this effort is the perception that people are reading it and feeling thanked, enriched or occasionally amused although my idea of what I think is vacuous crap elicited some vicious responses, I wanted people to feel that I have got a brain inside of my head, and apart from occasional falability and fragility of my arguments, it is a force for good, particularly when I'm encouraged however if all people want to do is aggressively argue with and make me feel 'pathetic' then what's the point of going to this effort? Especially if I thought those people were my friends. I want this to be thought provoking and not provocative, Plus no-one should care enough about the thoughts of a disabled guy whose minute to minute worries are about whether I can navigate my bloody wheelchair to the loo in time or that his carers (who I rely on 100%) are happy. I also want to avoid just writing a blog about things I hate, every so often there are times when it's appropriate and a lot of modern comedy is about bad things, you just have to read the papers or watch the news or satire shows, and I have to admit I haven't been able to resist the frankly asenine and nihilistic humour of people like Frankie Boyle, Jimmy Carr and Charlie Brooker who in reality are probably complete tw*ts. The bottom line is rather simpler in my view. Anyone should be able to laugh at whatever they find funny – I find it rather ironic that I'm trying to say, laugh at whatever you find funny' and I'm sitting here with a frown so big it's laughable! Anyway, enough of that, we're approaching my (least) favourite time of year. My American ( or at least English friends in America) started talking about preparing for 'black Friday', this isn't as apocalyptic as it sounds, it's what we at John Lewis (probably) would have considered an RLN or Retailers Logistical Nightmare, one day of sales madness to kickstart the christmas spending spree, where customers sharpen their elbows
so they can make sure that they get the latest or last years home cinema system 25% cheaper than anyone else. We humans love a bargain, in England we'll pay whatever it costs as long as it's cheaper than such and such had to pay. Schadenfreunde shopping, so much so that in America there was a story about people being pepper sprayed
out of the way, which for insanity has got to be up there with someone being trampled to death in the Stampede for bargains at the new Edmonton branch of Ikea
(in North london) By anyones measure that's a pretty bad day. People go MENTAL for bargains. People lose all sense of dignity or humanity. It's terrifying, and it's not even that people are scared for their lives. I sometimes wonder if I am confronted by a fire if my legs would suddenly decide to work again? And then I think 'of course they wouldn't you fool, things don't just work. It's like a few times recently, my internet dating has meant I've been faced with a beautiful girl that I've just wanted to kiss, if only I could look normal, get out of my chair and seduce her, but no – I'm afraid all they see is Dom, the disabled git. Another thing I need to stop on this blog is the 'Woe is me' moments -but I can't help the buggers happening. Anybloodyway the good news (the What?) is that details for the Christmas drinks
have been finalised. These – apart from my birthday are the most important event for my mental wellbeing every year. It serves to remind me I'm not quite ready for the knackers yard yet (despite what I sometimes say). If you need details because facebook's not your bag drop me an email. The final good news is that old friends still sometimes drop in on me. This week it was Becky Morrison with her twin almost three year old girls who have now turned into proper people, pictured here being distracted by the 'toddler crack' that is Peppa Pig
It reallw was amazing how a frankly scary looking cartoon character can do this. Aren't they proper people compared with the babies I have occasionally seen over the last few years.
Good old Becky – I've said it before but people making the time and effort to come and see me keep me alive. Speaking of which my lovely old mate the gorgeous Alex J
just left after coming down and having lunch. Thank goodness there are people in this world who can be bothered to do things. People who are always too busy because they can't be bothered to make time should be ashamed!

21 Nov 2011

Post 317: Should I not care about other people liking vacuous crap??

I probably need to be starting this with a couple of apologies which'll come in a bit, but I thought we'd better start with a laugh! I've always loved having a go at Australians because they're always having a go at us and this really tickled me: As much as when Derek (a Nurse in my last hospital ward) gave me a demonstration of his elementary Swedish, the fact that Swedes aren't lying around kicking themselves in puddles of their own drool is a miracle to me. The Swedish Chef
from the muppets is funny, but the actual Swedish language is killer. ANY swedes reading I would be sorry for my lack of sang froid but I used to work with a swedish guy who was so unpleasant because he took himself so seriously that I fear a large proportion of the Swedish people maybe like him (except the ones who look like Britt Ekland!
Oh god where was I? Taking the piss out of the Australians. Here you go (I dare you not to laugh) -
The apologies I was in the middle of making: 1.This wasn't up first thing monday morning (for reasons I'll explain) 2.It's so bloody long. I appear to have an attack of verbose diarrhoea, it just sort of happened I spent most of sunday writing and even though I knew full well in the morning I was supposed to be going out in the evening, to Jeremy Paxman's
book launch at the Richmond Theatre
when my lift and compatriot showed up it felt like I had no idea. This has happened several times and must be an impact from the Stroke. My mind is playing annoying tricks on me. As it was it was a very interesting evening with Paxman talking us through his book about The impact the British Empire has had on us as a nation. Well timed as I am in the middle of an anti-vacuous crap drive. My ally for the evening was my former housemate and now Tory MP for somewhere in Suffolk, Matt Hancock.
It rather throws me to think that I'm here blogging and he's sitting in the house of Commons. Anyway I was rather impressed by the wily old silver fox who talked through the book
in the first half and threw it open to questions in the 2nd half. People seemed keen to get his predictions for the future, and he seemed very reluctant to chance his arm saying that he was just a journalist, Writing this book makes him a historian as far as I'm concerned, and the type of guy who's always going to be asked his view on what's going to happen. Being interested in this sort of sh*t is bound to make some think 'pretentious b*stard' Think what you like – I have to find things to do that don't make me feel grubby and suit the people who can take me. My goal is to find a partner who'll want to go to the type of things we'll both like half the time, I'll take my friends the other half. Does that sound like a reasonable plan? Anyway this was the original starting point. I had been thinking of writing this post for ages – One of the things that seems to frustrate me is the amount of time many of my close friends whose intelligence I respect spend a lot of time caring about vapid things, it does feel like my purpose in life is laughably these days to spend time on facebook and get in unwinnable arguments which is no bloody good and not a life to be proud of, again it seems to be one of those things that gets filed under the burgeoning heading 'Something to do'. In the days when I used to be able to live life normally, going on bulletin boards or social networking was frowned upon by some of my friends, if not banned completely by work, so using those sort of websites was either a stealth exercise or something confined to non-work hours. Well, in my last few jobs before my stroke I had sworked out that companies were pretty sharp on pornography
and not much else, and if bulletin boards and social networking have taught us anything it is that we like chatting to our friends more than anything else. I used to spend what was probably a 'sackable' amount of time chatting to my friends and winding up idiots on a clubbing bulletin board because that was where my mates were and somehow I also did my work. What I do know is my work probably would have been better and more voluminous but somehow I never got more than the occasional dissaproving look from my boss and co-workers. It's quite simple really, as long as you balance the amount you 'take the p*ss' with doing a good job you'll be ok. The advent of facebook must have been a nightmare for global productivity. I remember being visited in Hospital by a friend of mine from John Lewis, in fact, a glorious girl who used to work for me called Harriet (now happily married and sprogged up with a lucky b*stard).
She said the immortal line 'everyone tries to get away with logging onto facebook' and if you can believe it I said 'what's that?' and I wasn't delirious or being facetious which is rare for me. Anyway – looking back on that it really explains to me how chatting to our friends is what we want to do, the majority of good memories (not a large cache)of my time in hospital were when friends came to see me, what we (humans) enjoy doing with our time is not swimming with f*cking dolphins, it is spending time with our friends. I have lost count of the number of dating profiles that say 'I enjoy spending time with my friends' obviously what they are too scared to say 'I enjoy spending time with my enemies, noting their weaknesses and plotting their downfalls' To be honest you don't see a lot of that! I've gone off on one -where was I? Ah,yes. Annoyingly, having paid gainful employment is what gives our life a purpose and that purpose is to earn enough money to live and keep up with our peers and friends. My life wasn't cheap. I had a pretty big mortgage, neither DJing and clubbing were cheap things to like, I probably ate out/ordered in too much, my girlfriend had a well paid city job which meant more expenses (funny how that happens) and on top of all this it's difficult to shakeoff the fact that London can often be 'take the piss' expensive. Luckily, I loved my job and I earned enough to afford that life. The job was challenging and I loved working for John Lewis – I think if I'd had been at one of my earlier jobs for longer the weakness in my brain would probably have haemorrhaged earlier, so, I have pretty much decided that my stint at JL enabled me to have a decent 2004-5 but a chance at post-stroke life too. I'm sure I've probably said all this before but if anything's worthy of repeating. this is. Anyway where was I: Yes, my lack of patience with vapid, stupid things. See for yourself, I wrote this on facebook early last week: “Is dissapointed at the popularity of some rubbish things (particularly when they get defended by intelligent people) 1. x-factor 2. Football 3. Eastenders 4. Snow Patrol and this isn't just taste - it should be objective fact. OK, so I don't think I can set what is Objective fact, I just strongly believe these things and at the time I was feeling confident -sometimes I think 'Why don't you just leave it Dom? In fact should I just leave it? A little later a friend of mine quite rightly pointed out “Nothing wrong with being intelligent and watching rubbish things - it's called entertainment. It is only a problem when you start watching TV instead of doing the things you should really be doing. That is so right, but 'in for a conversationally awkward penny, in for a socially crippling pound'[a genius phrase from my favourite Comedian Daniel Kitson ] my further objection is that people start having opinions about these things as if it's an important cornerstone of the quest for moral truth. Maybe I'm being a Killjoy who needs to embrace a new golden age of vacuous crap but Things are bad enough *thanks* without accepting that a bunch of awful people have so much influence on our thoughts and tastes. Maybe I ought to care more/(or is it less) about 'pop culture'?. My position has never been 'it's popular therefore it must be good'. The last thing I'm trying to do is be 'contrary' or 'alternative' People who are like that are almost without exception dicks. I don't pretend to know what's 'right' or 'wrong', I'm just trying to be helpful. I hope that I can't easily be run rings about (which is ironic given that next doors nine year old can ACTUALLY do just that). My time is instead spent exploring culture from a fairly cynical viewpoint i.e. with Xfactor I don't see any talent. I see Simon Cowell
saying 'excellent' and wringing his fingers like Mr Burns
except it's not funny I only let my self get involved with popular culture which has some actual talent or substance behind it. Take TV, I've almost always avoided Soaps or 'Talent shows' or things like Football which has so many reasons for me to actively hate it rather than passively dislike it (being passive has pretty much always been the default position that you should have until you're convinced enough to commit yourself to the firing line where 'the firing line is a euphemism for a place where people can't resist disagreeing with you (usually aggressively online)(maybe it's just me). If I get sucked in at all by TV it's for decent comedy or drama series, I just can't do soaps. Is there anyone in Eastenders I can actually relate to or actually imagine being friends with? I'm afraid the answer is no. They're all the sort of scum who'd say -Oi, who you looking at? The answer is: I'm sorry, they don't label sh*t like you. I have a similar issue with a couple of the drama series I watch. The first is the Sopranos (which I briefly talked about (here) I watch it because it's well acted and well written and unlike Eastender's you can imagine their emotions but sadly like Eastenders I find myself really disliking all the characters (even more than Eastenders because they all speak so aggressively to each other and there are a few characters who are unbelievably nasty pieces of work: 1 Tony Soprano:There's no warmth to his character at all
2 Paulie, Just because of the way he shouts, swears and grimaces at everyone, he's also thick too, badmouthing Snakes because they're sometimes Hermaphroditic 'how could you ever trust something that could literally 'go f*ck themselves' – unflappable logic and intelligence there
3 Silvio – As nasty as Paulie -says less but grimaces more
4 Carmella Soprano – apart from being more of a stereotype Italian-American blonde lady than you can imagine (big hair, permanently wearing a shiny shoulder-padded trouser suit she spends all her time worrying about and nagging her kids about whether they are they educationally, culturally or socially 'doing the right thing' when it's blatantly obvious her husband is a gangster.
No wonder it's depressing viewing. I could go on but I think the point is made, I know it's only TV but I think it's safe to assume that the Mafia are nasty b*stards, Eastenders are to but not as murderous. I'm not sure I'm going to bother with The Soprano's for much longer because there's no single character you really feel you can support or get behind. I have recently watched all 8 seasons of Entourage (previous thoughts ), a comedy-drama followingly the lives and loves of a fictional A list actor Vincent Chase (based on Mark 'Marky Mark' Whalberg)and his hangers on).
The show has been tagged as 'Sex and the City' for blokes and this is where I'll play my 'it's vacuous but it's entertainment' card. It's funny the way they take the piss out of each other and from time to time it is touching the things that they do for each other but I have my criticisms which I've written about before, but I was talking about them with friend (and fellow Entourage fan) Oli
and I said it pissed me off that Vince, despite earning $1m+ per movie couldn't even be arsed to get out of bed or answer his phone himself. Again I know it's only TV but there are probably people who behave like this. My point ended with a flourish 'it just annoys me the way he needs help to do things'. Oli shot back instantly shutting me up 'isn't that a bit ironic'. It is of course but at least I need the help. It kills me that I can't help myself. But at least help is mostly there when I need it. At least I do get to go out, although this week I won't be my usual positive(!) and complimentary self about the gig I went to although catching up with old mate Simon Champ was a pleasure. He is an interesting and charismatic bloke, whose northerness and continued association with the city I can forgive purely because of his storytelling ability and his sense of humour. On Wednesday we went to the Brixton Academy to go and see a band that were bigger than big in the 90s - the Smashing Pumpkins. On paper this looked awesome, but in actuality it was quite sh*te, Champ, a veteran of many gigs, even revealed to me on the way there that he had seen 90s indie rockers James 34 times(!) in his life and he'd been to the 'last ever' Smashing Pumpkins gig in South Africa in 2000 ( bands are always doing this 'last ever' crap). I went to two 'last ever' gigs by A-Ha , 1 in October 2010) and the other in November 2009 ) - mad. What helped the evening was the imagined attractiveness of the bassist,
imagined because of my rubbish eyesight (but proved when I looked her up on the internet) .
Call me shallow, but at the end of the gig I was going out through the bar when this blonde angel came up to me and asked me what I'd thought and just wanted to see me smile. Incidents like that lift my heart and make life worthile.God she was pretty and smelt so nice! Musically, it was just a weird gig, the Smashing Pumpkins were always quite dark and heavy but this has never been a substitute for the odd tune – even heavy metal bands know that. Here is conclusive proof that it failed to capture the imagination of the place
and Champ is probably looking so sleepy because he has to get up at ridiculous O'Clock to get to work in the City which must be just awful at the moment as uncertainty about the survival of the Euro means nobody is trading or willing to invest in anything European. So, from a sh*te music gig to a slightly below par comedy gig. On Friday my legend of a Uni mate Guy took me too a charity comedy show at the Hammersmith Apollo called 'laugh or the Polar Bear gets it'
organised by a brilliant young comedian called Dan Antopolski who I had seen quite a while ago in April 2009 -Ostensibly, this was a show in aid of 'friends of the earth' a charity/pressure group with a decent message who are probably just a bunch of unkempt time wasting idealist anarcho-hippies trying to keep warm huddled around a computer, or maybe I'm being unfair or cynical. Anyway, an enormous man who's having an enormous year Greg Davies
did a creditable job as compere introducing some rather varied acts. First up was Richard Herring who I've seen several times at several charity comedy gigs. It doesn't matter that it's been over several years, the jokes are still the same – I suppose you don't expect Paul McCartney to sing ABBA (and nor should you EVER) so it sort of makes sense, but the piece de la resistance was Tim Minchin
whose piano talent alone is worth the ticket price. After a bit of his typical fractious stand up he did his Pope Song whose sentiment I broadly agree with but still maintain it is the thing I'd least like to see with someone who is easily offended. My other takeaway from this and other events is I'm still a little perturbed that of all the events I go to I have rarely not been the most disabled person (why do you think there are so few pictures of me on here?) On the brightside (lightside?) I seem to be one of the few people in a wheelchair who has kept some control of their weight. I would hazard a guess (a very un PC one) that the main reason the other wheelchair user at the Apollo was in a wheelchair was that she was overweight. Does anyone else think this is wrong? And not just me saying this, the reason I am saying it was her carers (yes, there was more than 1) were bringing her chocolate and snacks to tuck in to during the show. The next time somebody tells me or implies I'm not trying hard enough because I've been convinced walking again is beyond me I'll remember my self imposed diet, giving up sweets, puddings and giving up eating between meals. I'm no supermodel, and bulimia will never be an option. All I know is I can still laugh despite there not being much to laugh about, and vacuous crap can f*ck off.

13 Nov 2011

Post 316: Is caring or worrying too much just going to make me angry?

I go on quite a bit about how post stroke life is a lot about the avoidance of boredom. I can't work and because there aren't 'real jobs' that would be suitable for a bloke in my condition – I want to be a writer but an idea for something remains elusive so I write this – which is not a real thing to do! I guess it's all to do with, do I feel like I'm worth anything to myself and to others? And this is what I do everyday. I continually ask myself this question at the same time as trying to avoid boredom, it's a shame it's such a boring question. I probably used to do this before my stroke -christ, I'm sure we all do it. Do we? Or is it just me? I'm sure there are some people who think they're great, well, bully for them - we can't all be sociopaths! People who merrily cruise through life without realising that we're only worth what other people think of us and there's no arbitrator which means life seems to be one big guestimate and becomes more of a guess the stupider you get. This seems to stand up to critical reasoning. Crap, I think too much, which for a bloke who tries not to take life too seriously is a bit tricky, a lot of the things I used to laugh at about myself don't seem so appropriate to laugh about anymore but I have a go. I try and avoid being too inappropriate by distracting myself – pre-stroke it was about solving a seemingly endless supply of problems (good old John Lewis), I suppose I'm still trying to solve problems now, it's just they're different and less structured and who knows who the boss of me is now? I fear it's the hardest person for me to please. ME. Simple Question: Why can't I stop worrying about it? Why do I care about this? Have you met the people whose Genes I've inherited? Plus they always tell me off when I say 'I don't care'. It goes without saying I love them very much and as much as I've got a lot of good stuff from them, any misanthropy (see previous post ) coupled with their capacity to worry makes things a bit harder than they need to be. It does prepare you quite well for inexplicable histrionics which until it's an Olympic Sport are a bloody waste of time and energy. Mum's efforts will have to go unrewarded, although she's a clear gold medal contender! There are people who bleat about how unfair society is. We all want want more equality and fairness but I also know with a more equal society I'd be living in a bloody awful care home in South London or not living at all. I have been extremely lucky not to have to rely on state support or my parents financially – everytime I have ever asked the state for help since my need for critical hospitalisation they haven't even had time to open the door before slamming it shut. What's that? I know strictly speaking you can't slam a closed door but you get the drift, because I used to have a job and pay tax and I own a property because critical illness cover paid off my mortgage and the company I used to work for pays me a disability pension that gets taxed? (this allows me some sort of life – it pays for my food, heat, carers and concert tickets) but that makes me a privileged b*stard, I'm sorry – state help is out of the question for people like me, it says here I'm on my own – it says I can 'jolly well rely on my friends, my elderly parents and myself – good luck and goodbye. Actually, they don't wish you luck. In practice it's just another means testing form that my long suffering dad has stopped filling in because I'm not destitute enough to get any state services and before my lefty mates say 'well, it's this tory coalition – I'd like to point out this has been happening since before the election. No wonder I've got esteem issues if the state I've paid loads in tax to doesn't seem to give a sh*t, but it can spend £18m evicting some gypo's from a piece of land they decided to illegally park their caravans on one day.
Pardon me if I feel a bit annoyed and with the politics of those whose bleating about 'equality' and 'fairness' has redistributed my tax pounds for someone to spend on fags (maybe) or cheap lager from Wetherspoons (possibly). Pardon me if I'm not thrilled my tax money ended up in the pocket of someone who doesn't care if I live or die, probably someone who thinks I'm posh. If that person is able to work, they don't warrant a penny of other peoples tax money. I have no objection to my tax being spent on hospitals, schools, the disabled or the elderly but beyond that people should look after themselves. People who make the effort should be rewarded . It should be about reward for making effort for the people you care about, and who you care about should be people who care about you. I care about the dignity of humans but this runs out on humans who don't care back. I apologize if this isn't 'light and airy' enough or too serious – I just hope it shows some depth to my unstructured rantings and some underlying evidence for my 'anger'. If it's no structure you want then I'll oblige, despite all this I've seen some good comedy in the last few days, firstly last Sunday at the Dome,Alan Carr,
a man who's slowly turning into an old woman – in fact I would hazard a guess that he wouldn't have to spend long in make-up to become Mrs Merton,
and seeing as I'm a former politics student there will only ever be one AC!
Anyway, he's good enough, he's basically an amusing 'chatty man', I say man, there were a couple of times he even told himself off for over mincing or being too camp. He basically transfers his TV persona to the stand up format but he camps it up more (if you can imagine that's even possible) although I believe he was a stand up first. His audience was an interesting juxtaposition of 30something fabulous gay men and a high number of 20-50 women who love chat shows skewed because of the Dome's unfortunate location (sandwiched as it is between Essex, Kent chav central and the East End) meaning that there were a lot of high-heeled boots
and ill-fitting leopard print leggings
or 'muck'.
You take the rough with the smooth going to the Dome. It's a great music venue but I'm reminded of Tim Minchins words 'stand up comedy is killed by arenas'. As it was thankfully I was taken by a mate who'd never been to the Dome before, Danny Legg,
so what the show lacked in hilarity was made up by his impressedness at the scale of the place
although Danny's a fairly sanguine bloke. So that was last Sunday, on Tuesday my friend Jo had discovered original 'cheeky chappy', cockney legend and one of her hero's Lee Hurst was touring and hitting the bright lights of the Redhill Harlequin Theatre. I must admit, stand up at close quarters
is rather better - in the silken words of Reginald D Hunter ' stand-up comedy is art, [appearing on] Television is business'. although parts of Hurst's show Man v Woman bordered on the misogynistic which Jo can happily handle but I am reminded of being at college during a particularly right-on phase when the womens officer had nearly succeeded in cancelling the college subscription to The Sun on the grounds that 'page 3 was degrading to women'.Sense was seen in the end and our subscription stayed but it was an odd time at college. Perfectly reasonable women would treat all men 'as potential rapists' and political correctness [spastic gaytalk] was rife. As you become a bigger name on the Comedy circuit it's about crafting a show that suits the size of the venue you play which is why the show I went to see on Wednesday worked so brilliantly. A few months ago the mother of a friend introduced me to a friend of hers called Graham
whose job it is is to help disabled passengers onto planes at Gatwick. For some reason she figured we'd get on although he must be fed up with disabled people, I know I'm often a bit fed up with myself. In August Graham and I went to the Dome . Because he lives on the way to Brighton he suggested that I look at events there, the combination of sea air, amazing fish and chips and a decent show might be just the ticket for blowing a few cobwebs away (which I badly need to do), and as luck would have it, the show in question was a gently modified version of one of my favourite ever stand up DVDs Dandelion Mind by genius and my hero Bill Bailey. A friend of mine once wisely observed 'he's like a favourite uncle' I had first seen this DVD back in December last year so Bill has been [milki...] touring it for quite some time and why not? It is one of the funniest things you'll ever see. I was literally crying with laughter at some points. Because Bill is a musical comedian, a larger venue with big sound and a big stage rather suits the show
(The Brighton centre is not intimate or remotely inspiring
with Bill taking the piss quite liberally out of this latter fact). It is clearly quite a major venue though as yesterday I managed to get tickets for Graham and I to see the 'big yin' Billy Connolly
in March next year. He (Billy) must be getting on a bit now, I saw him in January 2010 and he was so good I have vowed to try and see him whenever I can. And finally, I went to go and see Jack
Whitehall at the Hammersmith Apollo with my old schoolmate Owen,
the unanimous decision was that he is rather good although having half of his old school, Marlborough college there made it feel a bit like the House of Lords, speaking as a former public school dweller myself a big gathering of male public school types is not the most welcoming atmosphere but there were hundreds of them (and I had forgotten my grenades). This Irony/Hypocrisy isn't lost on me but putting it into words isn't happening. As much as this feels a bit like a flounce, my brain just won't do it. Tiredness is sh*te. An unexpected bonus was running into old friend Matt Clarke
at the end.. Not quite the lady of my dreams, but I've been told to keep looking, she is out there. Since my stroke, I have often been called brave. I'm not brave, I just somehow go about my life. Today is armistice day
and the real people who are brave need to be thought about today I was watching a program last night about 'the battle of the Bulge' in WW2 and I can't even begin to comprehend the terror and hardship those guys faced Standing up to that is bravery – the same can be said for Afghanistan and Iraq, it must be even harder to be brave when it's not exactly clear what you're doing there – fighting an invasion is at least clear. Being nice to someone who you suspect doesn't want you there and would happily kill you painfully must be awful. That is proper bravery.

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