Thursday, March 31, 2005

Last night I went to The Marquee Club to see a friend's band lovingly entitled The Feeling. It should be noted that The Marquee is no longer the world famous venue in Charing Cross Road where some of the biggest bands of the sixties and seventies played as this had some years ago become a Wetherspoons public house. Although the no doubt structurally important pillar I once saw a couple use as a prop to shag each other whilst the club was full remains, albeit with a new coat of paint.

The old Marquee was great...

No, this was a venue in Leicester Square which has no doubt taken the famous name in order to increase its standing in the city. So much so in fact that being on the guest list apparently still doesn't get one in for free. Bah.

I've known Dan, the lead singer of The Feeling, since he was knee high to a grasshopper - which is very small indeed.

I hadn't seen The Feeling for nearly a year and a half but I had obtained a CD of their tunes last March and took it with me travelling - and mightily impressive it was too. In the desire to accumulate as much money as possible for travelling I had purchased virtually no new music for months so it was a welcome addition to the collection of CD's I took to S.E. Asia with me. As my plane flew into Bangkok International Airport at the start of my trip I had "Kettle On" playing in my ears - quite against the usual avian advice to switch off electrical equipment on descent. "I'm coming home" Dan crooned - quite contrary to the situation I was in but seemingly appropriate nevertheless.

The music became a genuine sound track to much of my trip. Listening to some of the songs again I am reminded of a guesthouse room in Thailand's Koh Phangan and waiting for a bus whilst passing through Australia's Bundaberg (and needing cheering up as I had that morning said goodbye to a wonderful group of people I had befriended). And their songs are rally top quality.

"They've got an army of teeny boppers now" my friend James, Dan's brother, informed me. And so it was true. When they came on the dance floor packed itself out and in front of me was an army of trendy-types singing along to every word. I knew they were trendy (and I freely admit that is a word my mother uses) because they all had ridiculous 1980's haircuts. As did Richard the band's bassist.

And it is possibly because of Richard that all the people were there. For he is boyfriend to cat-like being Sofie Ellis-Bextor who was there at the front. Plus her mum the goddess like Janet Ellis - of Blue Peter fame - was there too. And I am reliably informed that it isn't the patronage of a best selling pop singer that has bought along these masses but rather the encouragement of Ms Ellis who must have some maternal influence on them all. Regardless it was a good gig.

Luckily I was wearing my Blue Peter badge.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Over the last three weeks I've hardly been in the mood to socialise or make lots of phone calls. But very occasionally - very occasionally it seems - I do receive calls from my friends.

But somehow they always manage to contact me when I'm on the bloody underground. On average I must spend less than half-an-hour a day out of mobile phone signal range, so it would be pretty unlucky you would think if I always received calls during this time. And my journeys are always at different times so it's not some time-based annoyance.

During these three weeks I have answered a truly pathetic 23 incoming calls; with five having got through but for one reason or another I have missed. Meanwhile the number of times someone had attempted to call me whilst I have been travelling on a tube train is eleven.

Annoying. Thinking about it - I spent a week convalescing at my Mum's during which I spent zero minutes on the underground. So make that makes seven per cent of my life over the last three weeks that has been spent on the tube. And that is when about a third of calls to me have been made!


Fascinating stuff that the entire internet should know about I'm sure you'll agree.

Monday, March 21, 2005

If I was not in occasional pain then that picture of Tetsuo at the top would have been integrated into the site much more aesthetically.

But the image is one that I downloaded at work and my work doesn't have floppy disk drive access and my home PC isn't connected to the internet.

So I would have to put a copy of the image into a CD burning software at an appropriate desk at work, cut a CD with the image, take it home, turn on my PC, save it to my hard drive and load it up into Photoshop. Then I would have to resize and crop the image. I would put a black border only on the vertical edges ('cos I thing that would look pretty cool) and write some appropriate wording in the suitable typeface. Something like: Charging Through The Pain.

Then I would have to resave the altered image, recut a CD, bring it into work, save it to my allocated section of the hard drive, upload it onto the site I use for hosting my photos, click the link, right click on the picture, select Properties and copy the URL.

Then I would have to log into my Blogger account, select the Template tab, find the correct piece of HTML code, paste over the old header URL with the new one, save the new code, and hit republish.

And IF that all went smoothly then I should have my new header, all nice and looking good.

But I can't be arsed.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

It's been a while.

And there's been good reason too.

I am currently speaking to you thanks to the wonder of modern pain-killers and anti inflammatory drugs. Last Sunday I developed what I would have then described as a 'dodgy tummy'. I held my stomach and hoped that sleep would put it off. When the pain returned on Monday I went to work anyway hoping the displeasure would fade away. But it was too much for me - I went home wearing something like a wince.

So I ate little and waited for it to pass. Pain grew. And stayed. It remained in the same place, just above my belly-button, and became a permanent feature of my life. Worse still, hunger remained, and food smells were magical.

By Wednesday it was too much for me. In genuine agony I dragged myself down the street in an attempt to join a local GP. No can do. I was directed to the Drop In Center at the nearest hospital (which doubled up as the A&E department). So I caught the bus to the Whittington Hospital in Archway. I waited whilst doubled forward in an attempt to relieve pain. I was first seen by a buxom Caribbean nurse. I could tell she'd been doing this for a while: I've never been treated with greater rudeness and impatience. I was berated for not dealing with it earlier.

"WHY did you not see a GP before?" she demanded.

"I don't know" I whimpered, avoiding the temptation to apologise to her for being a member of her public in health difficulties.

When the doctor saw me she prodded me a bit, asked me a few questions and furnished me with antacid pills and a bottle of indigestion-type syrup. "In reality these Drop In Centers aren't that good because no-one will follow up your case. I don't really know what's wrong with you. I'll schedule you a scan and book you an appointment with a gastro-enterologist." Neither medicine did anything and the pain continued unabated. Not eating but with an appetite I went back to work last weekend for a couple of days. I shouldn't have done, but I wanted to work.

Yet I couldn't take the pain on the Monday and on Wednesday morning I was in so much pain, after nearly doing so twice before, I called 999 and asked for an ambulance. I was bouncing off the walls in pain and I couldn't take it anymore. Half an hour after putting in the call I was called back.

"Unfortunately Sir our ambulances are very busy this morning. Is there any other way you can make it in?"

"No. I'm in too much pain."

"Okay, wait there, don't eat or drink anything, and we'll send someone when we can."

One hour later I answer my phone again:

A concerned girl spoke. "Unfortunately we have to prioritize our ambulances and it will be a while before we can dispatch one to you."

Fair enough, I wasn't bleeding to death on a street. But by this time I was very worried about my condition. The pain had remained constant and ever-present in the same place.

"If you can get a taxi in your wait will be shorter than if you waited for us to get to you." I agreed to try to get in myself.

My Mum had called me that morning, and, bless her nylon stockings, decided to take time off work and join me at the Whittington. The girl on the phone advised me to take some paracetamol for the pain. I had previously avoided this as I had known that it can increase stomach problems and even cause bleeding. Bah.

I took my paracetamol and my Ma joined me in the queue. The nurse this time was an extremely friendly young chap who looked Thai. "Fill this" he said. My Mum handed me a large bottle of water and rightly encouraged me to drink muchly. The doctor carried an impression of importance and knowledge. He poked various parts of me.

"PARACETAMOL???" He bellowed, looking over his glasses at me. (I cannot remember if he had glasses, but my mental reconstruction of him has them in it.) "I cannot believe that they advised you to take that." He bemoaned the state of the modern NHS and how advise given over the phone was ofen dangerously incorrect. "Do not take paracetamol." He took the antacid pills the previous doctor had given me and prescribed new, stronger pills that did pretty much the same thing. "These are the most expensive medicines for your condition". "But expensive doesn't mean best" my Mother wisely countered. He instructed me to take double the dose suggested on the label and drink much more of the indigestion stuff.

Whilst I was at the doctors, the paracetamol had reduced the pain so I went home positive that perhaps things would improve if I kept disciplined. The doctor had ruled out any major disease and also unpleasant things I was worried might be afflicting me like a stomach ulcer, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or an intolerance to a type of food.

But the pain continued. The medicine did nothing. I'm still bouncing off the walls beseeching the air around me and clutching my stomach "Why? Why won't the pain just go away? GO AWAY PLEEASE..."

My Mum, upon hearing my condition was unchanged, wasn't likely to wait long before acting. "I'm coming round, taking you to Barnet hospital and then you're staying at home with me." I didn't object. Barnet Hospital was where I was born - this was a return to my roots. And besides, my flat was in a disgracefully dirty state - not a good place to be ill. Barnet A&E actually looks like an A&E. There are ambulances outside and wards next door. The Whittington felt like a glorified doctors surgery. Wonderfully the waiting room was empty. "Fill this" said the nurse.

The doctor saw me and did the usual prodding - eliminating all the nasty diseases. "I'm stumped". I squirmed in pain for the umpteenth time. "Okay we'll take a blood test and I'm going to get a second opinion."

He fetched a nurse and a consultant surgeon. At last a proper test and a specialist/expert person. He felt around, felt around a few other places, and sent me off for an X-Ray.

So basically Barnet worked out in about one hour that I had torn an abdominal muscle. The doctor filled my hands with Ibuprofen and PARACETAMOL! Like a scene from a Simpsons episode he emptied his pockets of drugs. "Take these..."

"And these..."

"And these."

Blessed relief!

So now I'm am atopped with drugs. There is still a bit of pain, but nothing like what it was.

And I can eat!

Whittington = shit

Barnet = good

Meanwhile during my absence my good friend Chris has set up his own wonderfully entitled blog Igirisujin Ni Nihon in preperation for his self shipment out to the land of Japan and it is already better than mine. Bahness galore.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

A whole week since my last post but at least I spent my time being vaguely active. This weekend I went to Brighton to visit friends. Friends who have a young cat (or a slightly aged kitten) called Marcus.

So although I received excellent hospitality I was placed on some sofa cushions on the floor with the sofa frames above my head and to one side. Which basically means I was at the center of the cat's playground.

So I lay down in the darkness and my foot was stuck slightly out the bottom of the duvet - pounce. I laughed and quickly moved the foot back under - pounce. My other foot moved - pounce. I kept my feet very still. Twenty seconds later I moved a finger - pounce. My other hand scratches a point on my chest - pounce. Twenty minutes of pouncing practice later and it all stops. I lay in the silence. After three minutes I open my eyes. A cat's head hovers staring at me from about six centimeters. Our eyes met for several seconds.

I had read somewhere that in the cat kingdom, when eye contact is made, the superior is the one who doesn't break the stare. So with that in mind I won that encounter. However I'm not sure if Marcus was playing as thirty or forty seconds later... pounce.

In the morning I am woken up early my more pouncery. After a few minutes of existing as a semi-conscious involuntary plaything I give up the idea of getting more sleep and roll one of my hands into a fist. I sit the aforesaid hand on top of my duvet and have it quiver* as if to recreate a small furry thing. Marcus duly responding by demolishing my arm with his claws and teeth.

* - The entry for quiver in the Urban Dictionary uses the following example to illustrate its meaning: "Right before you come, let me know so I can shove this shampoo bottle up your ass. You'll quiver".

There is no picture of Marcus available to show you. So to make up for things, here is a list of catty webcams:

Lisaviolets Cats
Erik Max Francis' Kitten
Amsterdam Cat-Food Dish
Cat Nap Cam
Kitty Cam
Kat and Calypso
Randy Cam

Other weird and bizarre webcam links.

But if you have a bit of time and lots of patience to spare, type: inurl:"ViewerFrame?Mode=" into Google. Bit pot luck but click on a few links and some will have you in control of various webcams. Good luck.