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|Sunday, July 17th, 2016|
I wasn't planning on marking it, much less celebrating it but on Friday I remembered that it was exactly a year since I was admitted to hospital with a more or less life threatening blood clot on my lungs. To my surprise during the day I kept remembering what it was I was doing at the same point exactly one year ago - assisted by the fact that I was on a sleep in shift at work again this year - the same shift I would have been doing if I had made it into work.
The first flash was when I passed through the tube station I use for work - the same point in the journey last year when I gave up the ghost and arranged an ambulance for myself. Then during the afternoon and evening I kept remembering (in quite evocative detail) my journey through A&E, strapped to an oxygen tank and awaiting a confirmed diagnosis - stil expecting (until around 10pm that night) to be sent home rather than admitted to a ward.
It is only realy with hindsight that I have come to appreciate how ill I actually was at this point. Tiredness (caused by the oxygen blocking clot) was my over-riding sansation, much more so than 'illness' as such. Also at that point I had still been forcing myself to work - it was only with the hospital stay that I realised how debilitaded I had become (walking six feet became a massive endevour) and it took several months for me to get anywhere near back up to speed. The drama of the illness - especially of the near fatal consequences - was still yet to materialize in my consciousness. I was aware of being in hospital, feeling crap and struggling to breathe while all the while playing down the seriousness of what was happening partially to calm my loved ones but also out of a skewed sense of proportion - apart from the 'breathing thing' I felt fine!
I had not really thought much about my illness since I returned to work but I suprised myself with how vivid my memories were once i had cause to think about it again.
This week I Have been mostly re-reading: The Hunted by Charlie Higson Current Mood: awake
|Thursday, July 14th, 2016|
|The Great British Graphic Novel
Another exhibition I caught up with in the past week or so was 'The Great British Graphic Novel' at the Cartoon Museum in Little Russel Street. Given that the Cartoon Museum is fairly small this exhibition was never going to be grand - but it did a great jon in highlighting the history and continuity of British graphic storytelling which goes back way longer than graphic novels as we currently know them. It was great to see that particular form in it's greater historical context - but also deepened my appreciation (as if that were needed!) of the amazing role played by (in particular) 2000AD back in the day. I have seen a few good exhibitions here over the years but this was one of the best. Current Mood: awake
|Wednesday, July 13th, 2016|
|Deutsche Börse 2016
Catching up with gallery and museum visits, last week i caught up with the Deutsche Börse Prize exhibition at the photographers gallery. This is I guess the contemporary photography equivilent of The Turner Prize with a £30,000 award to the winner. I've been to a few of these in recent years and it is becomming increasingly rare that I like the final selection. Often there is work that you can see is of interest either because of its highly unusual subject matter or that there is some way technically that it stands out from the norm - but rarely is there anything easy on the eye. The emphasis I guess is on challenge and inovation within the field rather than conventional beauty. Nevertheless it remains fun to visit.
This week I have been re-reading: The Fallen by Charlie Higson Current Mood: awake
|Tuesday, July 12th, 2016|
A while ago I set myself to trying out different recipes - nothing fancy just learning to cook things that I do not normally try. I didn't get as far into this challenge as I would like but today at work I cooked my first ever fish pie from a recipe I kind of made up as I went along. It turned out to br pretty bloody nice too so I am adding that to my repertoir pretty sharpish.
My service users loved it and came back for seconds. Sadly my colleagues were less than enthusiastic. All three of my co-workers tonight were of African origin and found the concept of 'Fish Pie' to alien to contemplate (which is partially why I cooked, rather than them). None of the three were prepared to try it and one of them made herself an alternative dinner before we had even started dishing up. I found myself to be a little offended by this. More upsetting than people not liking it was fully grown adults not even being prepared to try it - it took me about 90 minutes to make it from scratch. The important people enjoyed it though and so did I - so sod them! Current Mood: awake
|Monday, July 11th, 2016|
|Six Months In The Job
I realised today towards the end of my shift at work that I had been working in this new position for exactly six months. It simultaneously feels like a long time and no time at all. I havent died yet and neither has anybody else so that is some benchmark maybe. To be honest, if it wasnt for this thing about that stupid rent increase I would be enjoying the whole experience a lot more - the benefits of the new higher salary now go directly to my landlord. On the plus side, if I wasn't earning this new salary I would be completely fucked and probably homeless around now.
So far so good then. Current Mood: awake
|Sunday, July 10th, 2016|
|End Of Euro 2016
I have enjoyed watching much of the Euro 2016 tournament (especially the England Vs Iceland game!) and have enjoyed some modest (but mixed) successes betting on some of the matches. I did not bet on every match (not even a quarter of them) but enough of the bets came off. Sadly some tiny margins at the end spoiled some of my longer range predictions.
Before the first kick of the tournament I predicted that France would face Germany in the semi finals and Germany would then face and beat Portugal in the final. Portugal fluked their way into the final as predicted but Germany failed to beat France to the final, which France ultimately lost to Portugal. Having lost £20 on Germany not being champions (which would have won me nearly £200!) I wasn't that bothered about who actually won the final.
Prior to the start of the tournament I predicted that France would not win it - despite them being favourites. On the night of the final, having already despatched the Germans I had expected them to at least narrowly beat Portugal. The consolation prize I was looking for was to see Portugal's Ronaldo cry (I am no fan of his massive ego). This was granted quite early on in the match as he retired unexpectedly early due to injury. Even this schadenfreude was snatched away by his gleeful grin when Portugal eventually won.
I could blame the French for upsetting my predictions. I was right about them not winning the tournament but if they had the grace to bow out in the semi-finals then I reckon Germany would have done Prtugal in the final. (If I blame anyone it is the Italian referee who awarded France a ridiculous penalty against Germany - that bloke cost me a potential £200!). Not that I'm bitter!
Overall it has been a lot of fun. A number of smaller countries exceeded expectations, Wales chief among them. Iceland beating England to a humiliating exit was the result of the tournament for me. While some superstars failed to perform there were some significant new names to watch out for in the future. With the various stresses and minor illnesses of the past month it has at least been a welcome and entertaining distraction.
This week I have been mostly re-reading: The Sacrifice by Charlie Higson Current Mood: awake
|Saturday, July 9th, 2016|
|Old People's Fete
The old people's home I visit as part of my second job had a 'Summer Fete' today and I dropped in while I was visiting my job. The staff there had clearly worked hard in pulling it all together and many of the residents were clearly having a really good time - which is surely the point. The other reason for having the Fete was as part of a PR exercise to integrate the home with the local community. How successful this was will be difficult to measure but it certainly would have done no harm. Well done to everyone involved. It looked very successful to me. Current Mood: hopeful
|Thursday, July 7th, 2016|
|Old People Library Fail
In an attempt to find new homes for my books (in my bid to both spread the love and downsize) I hit upon the idea of taking a selection of books into the old peoples home where I visit one of my service users every week. I know they readily welcome donations so I knew I was on fairly safe ground. I selected a suitcase full of books that I thought suitable and went with the intention of not only donating but also to raise the possibility of setting up an in-house library in the home. I was willing to offer my time to set the library up, to talk to the residents about books and what they might like to read, to donate a huge chunk of my own books to get the library started and even to help raise donations (in books or cash) to help expand.
Sadly the meeting of minds I sought was very short lived. My donation was welcome but the idea of a library was very quickly squashed. Apparently there is already an 'activities committee' who will decide what books would be useful and was asked if I would mind if they sold whatever books were leftover to help raise cash? I could hardly object!
This is the second time in the past couple of week I have tried to use some (pretty bloody good) books from my own collection to either help out a public library or to establish one for a group of lonely old people who rarely get out and both times been fairly roundly rejected - except to suggest my books might raise a few pennies in a sale. I could give my books to a charity shop for the same effect. It seems that my idea of what a library is about is not one that is universally shared or appreciated. Bummer. Current Mood: awake
|Wednesday, July 6th, 2016|
|Chilcot & The Lack Of Joy
Political events have been moving pretty damn quickly this past couple of weeks and the overall impression of doom is overshadowing the moments would would normally give me joy - or at least some sense of satisfaction:
* Tory shit-bag David Cameron resigns and my joy lasts a total of 4 seconds as I already realize the door is now open for somebody even worse than him.
* Tory shit-bag Michael Gove effectively ends the political ambitions of fellow shit-bag Boris Johnson and does so in such a transparently Machiavellian way that he also effectively ends his own and I can barely raise a smirk.
* UKIP shit-bag Farage also resigns but this feels more like a victory for him that a defeat. The small consolation is maybe I wont have to look at his overly punchable face as much anymore. This mildest of silver linings is tempered not only by the hateful victory he has already achieved but also by the knowledge that he has already resigned once not that long ago and came back again pretty soon afterwards.
* Today saw the long awaited publication of the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War. The brief was never about the actual legality of the war but it's findings are none the less damning. The report stops short of calling War-monger Tony Blair an actual liar - but it comes pretty damn close. Again in the face of the shit-storm this man's actions have caused (and continue to cause) this feels like a pretty mild rebuke. Where is the war-crimes trial he really deserves?
* The TV news carries part of shit-bag Blair's speech from his press conference. I haven't seen him on tv for years but straight away I am overcome with loathing! His faux-sincerity! His deliberate mangling of the language he uses to blur his actual intentions! Everything the fucking weasel does to dodge (even in his own mind) the blood that is on his hands! Shouting the worst swear words I know at his image on the tv was both a little cathartic and a little nostalgic, but again small comfort.
The situation currently seems so grim that victories and vindications (however significant) appear as tiny lights flickering briefly in the darkness, then fading before they can provide any comfort. What would I give to see a real political victory right now? We really need one. Current Mood: crappy
|Tuesday, July 5th, 2016|
|New Health Woes.
I have some new heath problems which have been bugging me for the past few days. First of all there is the bug that started with a sore throat, progressed through 'the sniffles' and is currently graduating to full-on man flu. This is making me feel like crap.
In addition to this I have been having some pain in my right hand side for a while. A couple of weeks ago this was just the odd twinge but starting on Saturday it has been with me pretty much constantly and is especially bad if I twist or bend my body or generally move at all. On Sunday morning while I was showering before work I found a lump beneath my skin on my body (kind of just above my ribs). I was working a sleep in shift on Sunday and couldn't really get out of it but I left work early today and having failed to secure a doctors appointment I took myself off to A&E.
The nurse who checked me in at A&E did not inspire confidence. She confided that her first guess would be that my problem is a hernia brought on by my coughing. A hernia in my ribs?! That's a new one on me! Also the pain started before I had a cold and since I have had a cold I have deliberately suppressed any coughs and sneezes as much as possible because the bloody well hurt! When I did see a proper nurse (who actually examined me rather than asked me a couple of questions then guessed without evening listening properly) and then a doctor, they did not seem that bothered either. They think the lump is either a small cyst of 'noddle' and could possibly be ignored. They advised "if it was bothering me" to get my GP to refer me for a scan and "if necessary" get it removed.
They make it sound like this is a purely cosmetic decision. As if I am going to be worried by a small lump that isn't even visible on my already ridiculously lumpy body! My actual issue with the pump is primarily actual pain followed by the restricted movement caused by the pain! In this scenario removing it isn't just an aesthetic decision. I would have hoped that given that I was at an actual hospital they might have arranged a scan for me but maybe this shifts the bill onto the GP's budget (I'm guessing).
Of all my experience with healthcare professionals in the past year, this has been one of the least inspiring.
This week I have been mostly re-reading: The Fear by Charlie Higson. Current Mood: sick
|Monday, July 4th, 2016|
I will bypass for now the journal entries I would have made if I had the energy and cut straight to the chase. I agreed a new rent contract with my landlord today. This is still at an extortionate price (all London rents are in the private sector) but I managed to get the concessions I wanted which is still just about affordable. The best news is that for at least another year I do not have to look at the costs and logistics of moving. I also manage to avoid for another year the huge psychological defeat that would have been the result of an enforced downsizing. This time next year the beasts will be back but if nothing else I have bought myself a year to get prepared. A compromise snatched from the jaws of crushing defeat. Current Mood: relieved
|Wednesday, June 29th, 2016|
|Date With Destiny (if my landlord was called destiny, and its a meeting not a date).
The waiting is almost over. I had an email today from the new 'managing agents'. I get to meet them and my new landlords on Monday to discuss which conditions (if any) I will sign a tenancy renewal with them. I am confident of my case on a moral level and even fairly confident about some of it on a legal level - but given my experience so far I am not entirely expecting my new landlord to fight fair. It is not just my actual flat that is in jeopardy but effectively anything I have built with my life in the past 20 years and anything I might build with it in whatever time I have left.
No pressure then.
This week I have been mostly re-reading The Enemy and The Dead (both) by Charlie Higson Current Mood: pessimistic
|Friday, June 24th, 2016|
|Green Light To The Right
The E.U. refeerndum has come and gone and the shift feels fairly seismic.
I convinced myself to vote 'remain' despite my lack of enthusiasm it still felt like the right thing to do. Then I woke up this morning to find that a small majority of the country has decided to swallow the right wing bullshit and vote 'leave'. As I digest this news between spoonfuls of breakfast David Cameron slithers out of 10 Downing Street to announce his resignation. I allow myself about four seconds to punch the air in celebration and quietly exclaim, "YES!!" but even before I begin the realisation has dawned - the next Tory Leader and British Prime Minister is likely to be a total shit in a league that will make Cameron look like a fluffy leftie.
Is this the moment for Boris Johnson or worse, Michael Gove? Maybe it will be some faceless shark in a suit but things are hardly likely to get better. Johnson can look forward to senior ministerial positions even if they do not take the leadership. They, farage and every far right looney in the country have been given a green light to attack migrants, the left and roll Britain back towards whatever little England fantasy that gives them wet dreams.
A very British form of Fascism now looks likely. Scarier still is the distant but worryingly likely prospect of Boris Johnson as prime minister and Donald Trump in the white house. A new Reagan/Thatcher era of truly destructive politics could follow.
What a shit result.
If Scotland go independent I will seriously consider moving. Current Mood: pessimistic
|Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016|
I am writing this on the eve of the E.U. Referendum partly as a way of trying to clear my own head. With a matter of hours to go before the polling stations open I still remain unsure which way to cast my vote. This is unheard of for me. I have always known which way I would vote in every election and on any issue. My politics are fairly clear to me and while I am open to change if a persuasive and convincing argument is put to me, by and large my political and moral principles usually indicate which path I think should be taken.
This is pretty new ground for me.
Part of the problem is that the politicians on both sides have put forward arguments that have been shaped to sound like a sales pitch for their particular vision of the world but it is a vision (on either side) that I do not feel invested in and I do not want or trust a sales pitch. I would have liked a quantity of clear information that would help inform my own decision but each side has their own statistics that contradict the other. and then its back to the untrusted propaganda/sales pitch.
My train of thought has run more or less as follows:
I have no great love of the E.U. but I have no truck with petty nationalism, my inclination is to vote remain.
David Cameron wants me to vote remain. Am I on the right side? (Maybe vote leave). It might force a general election in which we could dump Cameron.
Most of the people I hate most in the world (Gove, Farage, B Johnson etc, not to mention far right groups) are on the leave side. All my instincts scream to vote against them, to 'remain'.
Most of the 'far left' with whom I normally identify are calling for a leave vote, including people who's judgement and analysis I usually trust and with sound reason. Vote Leave?
The European conventions which protect our working conditions and legal rights may be lost (in very real rather than just abstract terms). Vote remain?
Vote remain = support the establishment, including Cameron & Osborne. Vote leave looks tempting...
There is a huge upsurge in petty (and serious) racism, fueled by the anti-immigrant line of some of the 'Leave' campaigners. This is even affecting people I know (and I'm sure, many I don't). I ask myself who will be celebrating on June 24th if there is a 'Leave' vote? Gove, Johnson, Farage, The BNP and similar groups. ((Shudder!!!)) Vote remain?
Idiots at work are talking vote leave on the basis of poor understanding and a warped sense of self interest. Still Vote Remain?
This could end Cameron and possibly split the Tories! Vote Leave?
The truth is I still do not know. If I had voted last week I would have said vote leave. Since the weekend (and especially since the murder of MP Jo Cox and Farage with that fascist poster) I have felt quite strongly to remain. Yesterday I would have voted to remain. Tonight I still don't know. I do not want to base my decision on superficial factors or short term gain but all I have to work with are untrustworthy sales pitches and a gut instinct that is pulled or pushed in both directions.
Dammit. This has not helped at all.
This week I have been mostly reading: Untold Stories by Alan Bennett. Current Mood: confused
|Tuesday, June 21st, 2016|
I browsed the local newsagents when I was home visiting my mum over the weekend and was pleased to find the shelf stocked with the latest issue of 2000AD, much as it would have been when I was a kid - this was the first shop where I ever bought 2000AD and was where I usualy picked it up if I was buying. The issue number was #1985 - which ironically was the year when I first bought it, I am pretty sure. The issue featured Slaine - a favourite of mine back in the day. This was pretty much a perfect storm of nostalgia but I managed to resist on the basis of I m not really going to start reading/colecting them again (especially at £2.25 per issue!) and I am also in the process of downsizing my collections so adding more stuff is just making my own job harder. It was nice to see it still running though. Current Mood: awake
|Monday, June 20th, 2016|
|Attila The Stockbroker And Friends
My friends Tina & Dave bought me a ticket to see Attila The Stockbroker (a punk poet, anti-capitalist and all round good egg) at Le Pub in Newport, one of my former watering holes. For Christmas last year they bought me a signed copy of Attila's autobiography, 'Arguments Yard' which was a great read. Obviously I had no idea when I read this that I would actually see him perform live so soon after, much less in my home town.
The gig was brilliant (with proceeds going to an emergency aid convoy to the refugees in Calais). It was great to see Tina and Dave too as we rarely hang out longer than it takes to have a cup of coffee and even that doesn't happen too often. The evening also had a couple of other bonuses. I got to visit one of my old watering holes, which brought back some memories I didnt even know I had! I was also reunited with my old friend and Comrade Des - who was both one of the instigators of the event and also one of the support acts! This was a brilliant night.
This week I have been mostly reading: Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson Current Mood: awake
|Sunday, June 19th, 2016|
I have just returned from another weekend visiting my home town in Wales. Several factors made this a trip different to the usual. Firstly my friends Tina and Dave bought me a ticket to a gig on Saturday (or which more later) and the other thing was that with my mother, my brother and my sister all struggling with health/job/money stresses, this combined with the gig meant that I was not able to catch up with the friends I usually see, nor the other half of my family. My apologies to everyone I missed. I usually try to book the Monday off from work too which allows me an extra day to spread myself around but I could not manage it this time so my time was both limited and very much in demand. Everything went as smoothly as it could though - I am just sorry to have missed the people I would normally see. Current Mood: awake
|Wednesday, June 15th, 2016|
After taking in the Shaun Tan exhibition I strolled down from Piccadilly to Trafalgar Square through the 'back streets' of St James'. At the National Gallery I sought out a small free exhibition called 'Dutch Flowers' which was a small room full of painting which explored that very specific sub-genre and placed it into an historical context. I wouldn't say the exhibition of itself was enough of a draw to make me travel across town but as I was in the area and it fitted in with my plans it pleasantly filled in half an hour and helped make me feel human again after a tough week at work. Current Mood: awake
|Tuesday, June 14th, 2016|
|Shaun Tan's Surrealist Vision
On my way home from work the other day I swung by the Illustration Cupboard - a small gallery that specializes in children's book illustrators - to see the Shaun Tan exhibition they are currently showing. Shaun Tan is one of my favourite illustrators and I have been a fan of his work for years. This small exhibition was a bit of a new spin on his work as there was a heavy emphasis on his surreal side which to be honest was never far away from the surface. The exhibition doesn't run for long and I wish there was more of it - but it was well worth catching.http://www.illustrationcupboard.com/exhibition_illustrations.aspx?eId=266&ePage=0
This week I have been mostly reading: Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami Current Mood: awake
|Monday, June 13th, 2016|
|Waiting for the Landlord
After the huge rush of emotion and activity caused by the sudden announcement of a huge hike in my rent events of the past week have pretty much ground to a halt - until today when I heard that the new owner and the new property manager want to meet with me to 'finalize' an agreement.
The huge increase has been negotiated down to a still painful but more manageable figure, at least for this year. The landlord has already indicated that they want to go up to the full whack next year. As far as I can see there are only a very few items left to be ironed out. This may well be the last year in my flat (or any decent property that is not a shared space) but I am prepared to kick on with it if the landlord is prepared to not be a total dick. Some hope, that.
As it happens it is probably going to be the best part of a fortnight before any such meeting can be arranged - partly because of the overtime I am being forced to work to cover the new rent costs - an irony I will be happy to point out to the new landlord! For now it is still a case of watch this space. Current Mood: awake