Monday 30 September 2013

we are fine

the author on stage, September 2013 - in front of an AUDIENCE and everything - credit: Vinnie Ransome
 So the gig went absolutely fine and I saw some people who I hadn't seen in ages. Three headlines:
  • it's been ages since my wife has had to find an 'I'm with the band' outfit - she had no idea what to wear!
  • the indie-pop world is considerably LOUDER and much more MUSICALLY PROFICIENT than it was "back in the day".
  • bass guitars are heavy. And playing a gig with one round your neck is quite tiring.
This last weekend was the return of the arts festival that the place where I work helps to organise (with other partners in the city).

(I swear I've rewritten that sentence three four times and that's the best I can make it today!)

You may remember I mentioned it last year. Anyway, the event was fine and we've had no adverse comments or complaints YET, and if anything it was even better-attended than last year.

*pats self on back*

Anyway, it's paid for by public money so we have to have a launch event with drinks and speeches and THE LIKE (I'm not important enough to make a speech myself, obviously, but still - CULTURAL ELITE).

Because the events on Friday involved a lot of walking, I obviously took my walking stick.

Which meant that I had FIVE instances (within 30 minutes) of people coming up to me and asking me what had happened.

Now regular readers will know that I'm not exactly shy about it (rightly or wrongly) - if people ask me, I'll tell them. Let's see how it went:

#1 - representative of the major funding body for the festival
HER - so what's happened?
ME - oh nothing's happened, as such. I've got Multiple Sclerosis, I need to use a stick every now and again
HER - [quite nervy and unclear way of asking the same question again]
ME - like I say, I've got Multiple Sclerosis...
HER - [changes the subject]


#2 - artistic partner in the festival
HIM - so what's happened?
ME - oh it's nothing new! I've got Multiple Sclerosis...
HIM - [looks a bit teary, gulps for air]
ME - It's ok. Well, it's not, I guess. It is what it is...


#3 & #4 - (seperate but pretty much interchangeable) artistic partner in the festival / ex-councillor
THEM - so what's happened?
ME - oh it's nothing new, I just need to use this every now and again [translation: all the time]
THEM - are you sure?
ME - yeah, yeah, it's FINE!
THEM - are you SURE?
ME - it's FINE.

ENDS (NOTE - this conversation is probably still happening right now in a parallel universe somewhere)

#5 - partner who I've been working with off and on for the past 10 years
HER - you alright Steve? What's with the stick?
ME - oh I just need to use it every now and again... And it's really great for pointing stuff out [points into middle distance with NHS-regulation walking stick]
HER - cool!


Man oh man.

I don't know if I'd go so far as to say that "Hell is other people" but surely one circle of hell has to be:

"genuinely nice people being concerned about your health in social situations where you don't want to completely bum them out but you also don't want to feel like you're lying to them"

But then - as is increasingly obvious - I'm not much of a writer.

Monday 9 September 2013

i'm dancing in the show tonight

Long time readers of IASB will know the reason for the blog's title. Even so I can sometimes forget that it contains a (what I would call) MILD SWEAR.

So I was surprised to have a twitter conversation with a representative of a national MS charity, saying that they wouldn't be able to RT one of my last blogs because as a corporate charity, they need to protect their brand. 

Fair enough - I'm the brand and grammar fascist where I work so I can appreciate where they're coming from. 

Anyway - thanks to the MS Trust (amongst others) who did retweet it, swears and all...!

Back in the days when we were playing in various bands and writing songs, I held the valuable position of recordist. Out of all of us, I'd had the most experience of using 4-Track Studios - I know, it seems so bizarre to think that now I've got a 4-Track recorder, a 16 track studio, and GarageBand ON MY PHONE but still. 

Rather than going out and getting wrecked, we would stay in, think up a band name and write and record songs for them as quickly as possible. It was great experience and really helped me to learn how to get good sounds from some cheap and crappy bog-standard equipment. And working within the limitations was a really good way of working.

Listen to the Shithouse Masters for what I think are the best examples of this stuff. But eventually everything Johnny Domino released was recorded in my home, which is pretty cool.

I'd also record things for friends, and one of those was my old friend Brian. He was the mental drummer in one of our old noisy bands but he also had a taste for the twee-er side of Indiepop - the kind that was typified by bands like The Field Mice and the rest of Bristol's Sarah Records label. 

It wasn't really my bag but I used to record their stuff - and as other members came and went, I ended up assisting with arranging songs and playing a variety of instruments. 

Brian was always really plugged into the international network of fanzines and cassette labels (pre-internet, obviously) and through various friends and contacts, that band - Peru - has had a bit of a second life. Two years ago, a label in Canada got in touch wanting to press a CD of songs so I was given the task of 'remastering' them (the guy pressing up the CDs really spanked them so they sound pretty dire despite all my work - but these files sound just peachy). 

Anyway, Brian put together a new line up of the band which has been playing to audiences ever since. A couple of months ago he got in touch to say that they'd been asked to play a festival in Nottingham and their new bass player had double-booked himself. As I'd recorded and played on most of the songs that are in the set, Brian asked me if I'd be willing to fill in. 

I was chuffed beyond measure to be asked, so next week I'll be taking yet ANOTHER opportunity to show off!

And unlike the intense rehearsal process for my appearance at IndieTracks two years ago, we'll be lucky if we manage one run through before the day...

No bother!

Friday 6 September 2013

damn fine

When two separate evens occur simultaneously pertaining to the same object in enquiry we must always pay strict attention.
- Dale Cooper 

God, I loved Twin Peaks - in the UK it was broadcast on Tuesday nights and I always remember that every Wednesday we'd all pile on to the college bus saying "did you see it? what did THAT mean? what did THIS line mean??" Excellent music, too.

Happy days - anyway, there is a reason why the above quote popped into my head.

Where we live, we have two neighbours - they're both (fairly young) grandparents and they live alone. A couple of weeks back, in the intense heat, they got together to sunbathe and to indulge in some pretty  high-octane flirting.

Now I'll stop you right there! I have no problem with older people flirting and getting jiggy - it was just that they were so awkward and plus they got HEROICALLY drunk while they were doing it. They could've been the youngest, buffest, most beautiful people in the world but still, there's nothing worse than hearing drunk people of any age trying to cop off with each other.

Anyway, we don't judge. And even though we have a child, we're not like Grandma Moses or anything - we don't mind a bit of noise, it's only natural. But the walls are thin and there have been a couple of occasions when it has gotten ridiculous.

CASE IN POINT: earlier this week - on WEDNESDAY (the international party night), they were playing music ridiculously loud to the early hours. They stopped when we banged on the walls (and no-one likes doing that, do they?) but I'm struggling to stay focused at work as it is (as you can tell by the fact that I'm typing this at 4pm on a Friday...).

But the lack of sleep turned me into a basket case the following day and my legs get incredibly immovable when I've had a stressful night.

Aside from anything else they both know about my health and have seen our daughter - so they know what we're dealing with. With all that, their selfishness was the most upsetting thing about it.

So imagine my surprise when I saw this article in my Twitter feed, about how sleep plays a key role in the production and repair of Myelin.
"Disturbed sleep may aggravate perhaps the symptoms of [Multiple Sclerosis], in a vicious cycle"
Now it's not rocket science that rest and recuperation can play a part in maintaining our health and it's a particular type of sleep that seems to be the most beneficial but still, it's interesting so I thought I would share with you.

Tuesday 3 September 2013

holiday epiphany

Seven years ago last month, me and Mrs. D got married in Venice - not to be flash or anything, it was just where we went on our first holiday together as a couple, and I think we were even talking about it back then (which was about two months after we started seeing each other).

if we look sickeningly happy, that's because we were!
Even though we got married a year after my diagnosis, we still decided to do it in the middle of the day at the hottest time of the year. And as you can tell from the picture above (aside from the fact that I'd clearly EATEN ALL THE PIES), there was a fair bit of walking involved, around a city which - although amazingly beautiful - is perhaps not the most accessible.

Could we do it now? I don't know - it would certainly take a lot more planning.

Some friends have asked us recently if we'd recommend Venice as a place for them to take their young (under 1 yr old) son. And our initial response was to say no way, but then we realised that we have an additional issue to contend with.

Are we creating problems unnecessarily? It's hard to say, and all pwMS probably do this.

But does it stop us being brave? And should it?

Last week we were on holiday with my family and my brother and his kids - which we did at the same time last year after my relapse, when the idea of holidaying solo seemed ridiculous.

We went on holiday with my in-laws earlier this year which was great. And it's really useful for us to have an extra pair of hands around, but I don't want to think that we'll never go on holiday on our own again.

So the last week we had a really cool time in a lovely part of Wales, Aberporth. The weather was great, and it was really mellow (even with three family members under the age of 8).

  • El Salsa - As we arrived in Aberporth we saw a sign advertising Mexican take away so we did a little bit of digging around and discovered that it was a little pop-up eating cart, on Tuesdays only and was dirt cheap. So one Tuesday, me and Mrs D ended up eating delicious freshly-made Mexican food whilst sat on a bench overlooking the Welsh coast. It was gloriously surreal.

  • Epiphany on the shore. This isn't rocket science by any stretch of the imagination, and is probably something you have noticed many years before. But I was standing with my feet in the sea (after letting my feet get acclimatised to the change in temperature, obviously) and I was really aware that the sand was being sucked out from under me. Obviously this is THE WAY THAT IT GOES - it's not some brilliant insight that no-one's ever had before - but it was really obvious to me last week. That the seas move the sand out to sea and back to the land in a constant motion. The earth was being moved out from under my feet by powerful waves.

    If I had been more depressed, this would have been a reminder of my diagnosis and of my increased unsteadiness. But now it was a cosmic reminder of the inter-connectedness of everything and an awareness of the fact that I was standing with my wife - who I love very much and who puts up with A LOT - and we were both holding hands with our daughter.
All things considered, life is pretty good and it might not always be so.

We should all enjoy it while we can - and take it from an official miserable bastard, we can all be as happy as we possibly can be in our present circumstances if we let ourselves.
Stevedomino would like to make it clear that he was not partaking in any controlled substances when he came up with his blindingly-obvious hippy-dippy bullshit non-insights. Just so you sarcastic buggers know!