Friday, August 31, 2007

Post #699

So, this will be the last post I do before my hols. Still not completely ready, but it's no biggie. As long as I'm sat down and have nothing else to do by the time The Shield comes on at 11pm tonight, I'll be happy.

Still got packing to do, but the clothes are basically chosen.

Cat is at the spa, or cattery.

I pretty much know what has to be done. Now I've just got to get around to it. And as long as we don't die between now and our return, post #700 should contain a few pictures from Sicily. Enjoy the break from me. Kisses to you all, except for those who shrug at such overt displays of affection; in which case, a handshake or a manly pat on the shoulder. Byeeeeeee.


I’m hungry

It's 8.20am, and I've been awake for a bit more than half an hour. I'm sat at my machine when really I don't need to be because I have no work to do. I should be getting ready to go on holiday...

In fact, I should be getting ready to have breakfast, get showered, do things like put petrol in the car. Get dressed even.

And now I need to take a dump.

Also, I don't think I mentioned that there's a new Buddy Holly CD coming out on 7 September, so I need to place my order. It's actually got some new material on it that has NEVER been released before, not even on bootlegs. This is very exciting. Man... so much to do and so little time. Right then, here I go. Catch you later!


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Weather and stuff that is related to weather

We've got some washing hanging out on the line. A few bits and pieces that we want to take to Sicily with us. We're praying the weather holds out long enough for them to dry.

Apparently it's 20°C here today. That's 68°F in old money.

And where we're headed it's 39°C, or 102.2°F. Now that is what I call toasty. Something tells me I'll quickly start resembling a lobster. Agghh!


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again

Gordon Brown, our new prime minister, is a fucking cunt. Do I need to elaborate? Well, I won't anyway. He's a cunt, plain and simple.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Colour me happy, again

Finally my Hawaiian shirts have arrived! They were mailed out to me on 8 August; they arrived in the UK on 16 August; and they spent a further eight days in Customs Hell, before coming to me with a notification that I must pay an extra £25. That's fine; I'm just glad to have the motherfuckers in time for my hols!

1. This is a bit of a boring, non-animated shot, isn't it? Nice shirt, though. Short-sleeved.

2. This is me doing it Westside stylee. White boys throwing gang signs: is there anything cooler? Long-sleeved, this one!

3. And now I'm so happy I'm dancing! Collar up, too. Shit, I'm Elvis! Another long-sleever.

4. Going for the Michael Douglas dance here. What say you? Long-sleeve #3.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Preserving the past

Today a box arrived for me in the post. I was expecting it, of course. In it was a secondhand camcorder I bought off eBay earlier in the week. It's a Digital 8 model by Hitachi, and I suspect it's almost 10 years old. But I needed it.

You see, despite already having a new Mini DV camcorder, I wanted this Digital 8 one in order to transfer some of my old Hi8 camera footage to my computer and back it up, edit it, and keep it for posterity.

Footage such as our honeymoon in Thailand, including lots of me, sunburned and drunk, singing karaoke with the Filipino band at our resort.

Footage such as the wife and I getting tattooed in celebration of our engagement.

Footage such as the documentary we started shooting about the trials and tribulations of getting married abroad.

Footage from the short film I shot and might now be able to do a redux edit of on the Mac; ditto a music video I shot for a friend of my dad's.

Footage of our nephews and nieces and, I suspect, various animals we have known. There may even be footage of people who are no longer with us.

There is a whole lot of stuff waiting to be rescued from obscurity. My only hope is that the motor and/or heads of this machine still have lots of life left in them.

It'll probably be a few weeks before I'm really able to throw myself into this labour of love. Wish me luck...

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Wednesday miscellany

Some weeks it feels as though there really is no time to do anything but work and eat. Last night I left my desk at 7:40pm and headed down to the kitchen to start cooking. Half an hour later, Red joined me. One of the things she asked me, within about ten minutes, was whether I wanted her to help me that evening with A.N. Other work project that is sitting on the dining-room table. While the work has to be done, I hadn't even eaten yet and had only just finished a long day's work. It can be kinda depressing like that at times. (It doesn't help that this particular job came to me unannounced and unexpected as the final part of a job I finished six weeks ago, and of course they want it yesterday. I feel pissed off at them and not inclined to bust my balls doing it in the evening.)

Here's something I learned today: After making a bacon sandwich, wash your hands before going for a pee. Otherwise you might smell like you've been fucking Miss Piggy. I tried that lame gag out on the wife first. She was unimpressed. I suspect everyone else will be too.

I gotta give props to my man Shea over at Shea of the Dead. Some of my readers here will know that Shea makes films. I don't know the full ins and outs of the role he plays in the film-making process, but he impressed me yesterday with a two-minute showreel of some of the best bits of his output. You can see it here. Inspirational stuff, for sure. I believe you can even buy copies of his work, proceeds of which help towards keeping the movie-making machine in motion. (Don't you just love alliteration?)

What else? Well, you'll be pleased (no doubt) to hear that the wife and I made up after Monday morning's disruption to normal service. As far as I'm aware, all is now hunky-dory. Huzzah! (By the way, has anyone in real life EVER had make-up sex?)

This week is Jamboree week in the wife's Italian home town. Traditionally we head to her seaside childhood home every summer, and occasionally we catch a bit of the Jamboree, which is a 1950s-themed week of fun and entertainment. It's been running for just three or four years, I think, and people come from all over Europe to celebrate the '50s. It's really quite odd that this town was chosen -- maybe the organizers live thereabouts. And this year they have excelled themselves: not only is The Killer himself, Jerry Lee Lewis, playing there, but international burlesque superstar Dita Von Teese (above) is also performing. That's all happening this coming Friday and Saturday. It's a shame to miss it, but we have bigger fish to fry this summer.

Well, time's a-wastin', and I gotta get on and do some work. Hope you all have a rockin' Wednesday.

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Monday, August 20, 2007


Last night I watched David Lynch's Inland Empire. You can read my review of it here.

This morning I made my wife cry. I'm a bit mean. Not always in a good way. It wasn't intentional. Sometimes men just don't "get" chicks. Sorry.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Non-Lynch stuff

This made my head explode

First, a brief apology to those (such as Wife) who couldn't give a flying fuck about David Lynch, but I'm having to post this here for my own reference first and foremost. Also, though, I know a few of you do dig the Lynch.

The following theory is what has fuelled the debate that the first 40 minutes of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is actually all a dream dreamed by Agent Cooper. I have lifted this directly from the thread "Theresa Banks' investigation - que?" over at the Twin Peaks Gazette Message Board.

From John Thorne's "Dreams of Deer Meadow", from issue 60 of Wrapped in Plastic magazine, August 2002

(Paraphrased and quoted with respect)

Vision and Revision

Lynch/Engels Goal: FWWM was intended to be about the Dale Cooper investigation, BOB and Mike, and other characters from the show.

FWWM had to be self contained and work within the framework of established facts of events prior to the series. It had to be integrated into the Laura Palmer story without adding too much new storyline/resolution.

The investigation allowed Cooper to be in the film and part of Laura's living world (and afterlife) just as the TV show hinted in ep 2009 that they shared a dream that would trigger his intuition and he would send an alarm to Laura (in which she receives his warning), and he comforts her/shepherds her in the Red Room.

Problems: this would have been three hours long; Kyle's refusal to commit to his time also led to revisions. It was implied in the show that Cooper investigated the Banks murder, and The Autobiography of FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper -- by sometimes Peaks script writer Scott Frost -- has Cooper examining her body with a partner, meeting Cable, etc. With so few Cooper scenes, why bother with the prologue?

The first 30 min and Laura's story feel separate, but...

The Dreams of Dale Cooper

Cooper is actually a dominant presence and Chet only seems to investigate.

In the original script, Cooper has Desmond's lines.

In the working script, Desmond meets a mysterious fate and Coop is sent out, now a passive role. Just as he reworked the Mulholland Dr. pilot in a feature, he adds critical dialogue and restructures the opening as Cooper's dream. (It's in character for Coop and supports Lynch's fascination with dreams.) The dream has to be necessary and contribute to the story, or else it would be arbitrary.

Purpose: Every dream element leads to Cooper's better understanding of Teresa's Owl Cave ring. His subconscious seeks answers while other being enter to aid him, and information gleaned will help with the Laura Palmer case. He can enter the Red Room world in dreams, and the random/confusing elements of the prologue can be solved.

Part 1: Chet

Cooper dreams the real events of Teresa's death and floating body.

First Doubling: two secretaries at Gordon Cole's, blonde and brunette, are symbols of aspects of a double personality. (There was only one in the original script.)

The Chet dream is based on Cooper's memory of his own experiences. Lynch was able to keep his original concept (both CD and DC have the same line -- and the same initials reversed.) Just as Cooper fails to solve the case in reality, so must his dream manifestation of himself.

The blue rose is not in the original script. The blue rose is a figment of Cooper's mind, meaning like a blue rose, the case is an impossibility. Desmond can't explain the rose to Sam because Cooper doesn't know what it means but recognizes it as a case involving the supernatural OR as a subconscious clue to "look beyond the rational." Sam later asks if he's "going back" for it.

Cooper intuits the importance of understanding the missing ring in his dream, which could not be located in reality. When he (as Chet, who goes back to the trailer park for the rose) sees it on a mound of dirt (Laura's necklace is also found on a mound of dirt) and reaches for it, he can't "grasp" it.

Second Doubling: The old man at Hap's asks "Are you talking about that little girl that got murdered?" twice. (It was only asked once in the original script.) Meaning, Cooper is investigating Teresa's death for a second time.

Third Doubling: Sam repeats "We sure do need a good wake me up, don't we Agent Desmond?" (in the script, Sam asks, "You really do like that coffee, don't you Agent Cooper?"), Cooper may be trying to wake himself,

Then, the old woman, the phone pole/whooping noise (the Man From Another Place's call from the pilot), and Carl Rodd says: "I've already gone places, I just want to stay where I am." If Cooper awakens, Rodd will cease to exist. (This was a spontaneous improvisation that Lynch kept, as he sometimes does.)

Cooper submits to the inevitable and abandons his dream persona, but his dream continues. He enters (in Philadelphia) as soon as Chet disappears and tells Cole enigmatically: "I'm worried today because of the dream I told you about." A reference to the Deer Meadow dream?

Fourth Doubling: Cooper sees himself on the closed-circuit camera monitor, re-enacting his doubled presence in the Deer Meadow dream while not stating it explicitly to Cole.

Part 2: Jeffries

Jeffries appears, walks past Cooper's double, relates his experiences, then disappears -- this was changed radically from the original script to appear more dreamlike. This scene is too bizarre to reconcile with reality. In the script, Cooper's double follows Jeffries into Cole's office. After he says "it was a dream, we live inside a dream," Jeffries cries, "the ring, the ring." Cole tries to call his intercom for a stenographer, "static begins to build and the fluorescent lights start to hum," Cooper checks the hall for help and only Albert witnesses Jeffries disappear. (Wouldn't Albert be less sarcastic about the existence of BOB in the series after witnessing this?) The "we" refers to Cooper, Cole, Albert and Jeffries. Jeffries asks "Who do you think this is there?" about Cooper. The answer is: the dreamer, or Jeffries knows Cooper has changed dream identities.

Jeffries subjective experience of the Red Room (Lynch says it changes depending on whoever walks into it) is a sign that he's an entity who has forced his way into Cooper's subconscious mind. Lynch edits the scene as if Cooper's mind is overloaded with information and struggling to process it.

Jeffries supplies Cooper with crucial information (The Little Man says "with this ring, I thee wed," also unscripted) that he is able to warn Laura with. The ring is deadly when taken from the Little Man.

Part 3: Cooper

Cooper returns to the Fat Trout and intuitively looks at the space with the empty trailer, where Desmond found the ring, and sees "Let's Rock" on the car (a line of the Little Man's from the series.) The lines "sorry to wake you" and "I was having a bad dream anyway" were scripted for the earlier Chet scene, then moved to Cooper's visit to emphasize the continuing dream of the prologue.

Fifth Doubling: The last TWO previous tenants were Chalfont, just as Donna finds two Tremonds next to Harold's in the series.

Cooper awakens after his dictation to Diane.


Oh, man! I really want to watch this again now, but I'm holding off until I've finished watching Twin Peaks series 2 again...

In other Lynch-related news, my INLAND EMPIRE DVD is en route to me, so I'm excited about that. And go to Lazy Eye Theatre for a cool look at scene-making David Lynch style. Have a great weekend, and don't have nightmares!

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Today’s the day

I like music. I like music almost as much as I like film. I used to love music way more than I do now, but that changed somewhere along the line.

But I can pinpoint the exact day that I first became interested in music beyond listening to theme tunes of kids' TV shows.

It was 16 August 1977, 30 years ago today. I'm sure you don't need to ask how it is that I can be so accurate with such a seemingly arbitrary moment in my life story. I'm sure you all know that when something happens that is as momentous as Elvis dying, it can have an influence on the mind of a 7-year-old boy.

It was on the radio, I seem to remember. I also seem to recall the doorstep of my house and telling my then-28-year-old mum that "her boyfriend" had died. (This was a mistake on my part, since "her boyfriend" was Alvin Stardust, but Elvis and Alvin sound the same to a music-ignorant 7-year-old, I guess.)

Then there was the realization that my dad, who had quite recently turned 30, had a bunch of Elvis records. Well, naturally, my younger brother and I had to listen to hear what all the fuss was about. There were singles, albums, and EPs for our aural pleasure, but mostly the early stuff. Indeed I don't recall there being any movie soundtracks in his collection, apart from an EP from the film King Creole. The only later records were perhaps the "Suspicious Minds" single and the hugely exciting Elvis NBC-TV Special album.

I remember my dad saying something weird one time when I was listening to that latter album: "No one sounds more like Elvis than Elvis does on that record." I didn't really get it at the time, but it's something that's become even truer through the past three decades. With all the pretenders to Elvis's crown, and despite all the shit that the man himself had been through with crappy films and bad management, when he got on that stage in 1968 to record what everyone expected to be a paltry showcase of a has-been, something magical happened. It's not for nothing that that performance has ever since been known as "The '68 Comeback Special".

Elvis was back, and he was sounding more like Elvis -- the real Elvis of the early days -- than he ever had before. And more like Elvis than anyone who had tried to usurp him in the meantime. He was The King, and suddenly a new generation of kids brought up on The Beatles, Rolling Stones, and the Vietnam war were getting a glimpse of his greatness.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Want movie reviews? We got ’em!

Been a bit short on time to blog this week. Also been short on time to look and edit the video footage I shot of all the cool dogs at the Dogs Trust Open Day, near Canterbury, on Sunday.

I have thrown up a couple of movie reviews over at Such As They Are, though, so feel free to swing by there and check them out.

Hope to catch up with you all soon... Once I get all this work out of the way.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Miss Milla, nooo! We will not let you go!

So, Saturday was the big day. The day of the MIRL between me and Red, and Milla and Zorro. We threw caution to the wind when arranging our meet, and it was decided to get together not in public or on neutral ground; rather, the venue was Milla's house, which is about 42 miles (67 km) away from us. It's funny, when we lived in London, it would take us about 75 minutes to drive 12 miles across London to see friends. These days we can do 42 miles in less than an hour when traffic conditions are favourable.

We arrived at 1.15pm to be greeted by Milla walking down her front path towards us. We met at the gate. The two girls kissed and hugged hello. Then I, too, had my turn. Red and Zorro kissed hello; he and I shook hands in a manly fashion. We entered their home and went straight through into the back garden.

It was a glorious day. You could even say it was a touch too glorious: although we stood and sat in it chatting and drinking for a while, when it came to sitting down to eat, we moved to the shade. I felt bad for Zorro, who loves being in the sun, but it was just too hot for the rest of us. It was hot for Pisko the cat, too, who spent much of the time trying to cool his belly in the shade.

Milla had cooked lasagne, and Zorro barbecued a trout for each of us. With the salads and giant mushrooms and the rest of the food, there was enough for a truly long and sociable lunch. Everything was delicious, but I can't remember the last time I ate so much! There were even two tiramisus: one that we brought with us and one that Milla made!

Don't you just hate self-timer pictures?
Someone always gets cut out of the shot...

We ate and drank and chatted. We talked about work and tattoos and chavs and blogs and travel and home and family and cats and how we met our partners -- essentially, all the most important things in life. And the next thing we knew it was 8pm. Where had the day gone? We chatted some more, but knew that the evening would soon have to come to an end. About 9pm we headed to the front door for the 10-minute goodbyes. It's nice when goodbyes take a wee while; it's like you're delaying the inevitable.

It was a great day we had for our first MIRL. Within minutes we were comfortable with each other, which came as no real surprise. What was a surprise, though, was the fact that we have mutual friends/acquaintances. Milla and Zorro know some photographers that I used to work with quite regularly a few years back. That was bizarre. London is a big city, and yet it's a small world, right?

One of the strangest things was what to call one another. I think everyone was called at least two names and possibly three in some cases. When you get accustomed to someone being a certain name, it can be strange to have to change that thought process!

Thanks, guys, for a great day. Here's to the next time! I keep thinking of other things that I should add to this post. I feel like there's so much to say. But I have to stop somewhere, right. So I'll stop here. Now. End. Fin.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Weren’t he a wizard or summink?

Everyone's on about Harry Potter right now, but I want to talk about another wizard: MIRLing.

Those of you who read my wife's blog will already know that this weekend we have our first MIRL (meeting in real life) lined up. We are heading over to the home of Milla and her man Zorro.

I'm kind of not surprised that Milla should be our first. We don't live that far apart; she's Italian and has spent half her life in the UK, just like Red; she laughs at some of my bad jokes...

And it got me thinking. Milla first came to this blog while looking for posts about New Model Army. And despite a couple of lyrics that I have posted, I have done only one post about New Model Army. But she found it and left a comment. I returned the courtesy, and we've been firm blogmates ever since.

I suppose as one MIRLs more and more often (and Martha seems to be becoming quite the expert), such meetings must become less daunting. I think, though, that Martha's friends fear for her life with every one! I can only imagine what they might say when she shows them my masked mug and says she's meeting up with me!

There are several people on my blogroll who I look forward to meeting someday. But I think we men are not very MIRLy. I mean in the way of arranging such things. Perhaps it's no coincidence that MIRL rhymes with girl. I don't even know what I'm on about any more.

Anyways... tomorrow is the day. Look out, Milzor, here we come! It's gonna be cool. And I promise not to groan when you put Pink Floyd on the hi-fi. (Actually, I've got my fingers crossed. I can't make such promises, sorry...)

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Ain’t mates great?

Sometime back in March it was Buy A Friend A Book week, and my blogmate Karen was kind enough to give me a gift voucher for

At that time, shortly after my birthday, I had a few books that I had yet to get around to reading. Birthday gifts some, but also some Christmas ones. Hell, who am I kidding? I've got books from years ago that I've never got around to...

Anyway, bottom line is, I didn't want to rush out and buy the first thing that came into my head only to have it sitting there doing nothing. I wanted to pick the appropriate gift. And I wanted to pick something as close as possible to the value of the voucher, so that Karen bought me a whole book.

The book I eventually bought, just a couple of weeks ago, was Digital Film-Making by Mike Figgis, director of Leaving Las Vegas and Internal Affairs and one of the biggest proponents of DV in Hollywood.

What a book! I couldn't put it down. For about a week it felt as though I was superglued to that book. In a good way. And it's small enough to carry with you wherever you go. If you are interested in low- and no-budget film-making, this book is an essential purchase. It will now take pride of place on my bookshelf alongside that other low-budget film-making bible, Robert Rodriguez's Rebel Without A Crew.

So, thanks Karen, for buying a friend a book. Sorry it took so long for me to redeem your voucher, but I hope you know it was worth the wait!

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Bye bye, sweet dolphin

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Smells like the beach

I say it a lot recently, but I really don't know where the time goes. I don't have time to blog; I don't have time to work (!); I don't have time to watch movies or write reviews. And I have had very little time to visit all my blogpals, so MASSIVE APOLOGIES to you all, but I'm trying to make good.

Anyway... today I will work. I have a lot to do. The frustrating thing about work is that some clients piss you about. And when you get pissed about and screwed over, it makes you feel like not working on people's jobs, y'know? But I've got to, so I will.

I must say, though, I feel a bit queasy. Last night I had Indian food for the first time since my food-poisoning episode. And we ate it with some Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine; Champagne and Prosecco go great with Indian, in case you don't know). This was also the first alcohol to have passed my lips in more than a week. I feel delicate. Not ill; not relapse stylee. Just "maybe I shouldn't have done it"-ish. But you gotta get back on the horse sometime, right? So I saddled up, baby...!

What a great weekend it was, though, here in the southeast of England. Red said to me on Friday night, "Let's go to Whitstable tomorrow, since it's going to be so lovely." I agreed. We often go to Whitstable on a weekend for a constitutional stroll to get some blood moving through our veins. What she meant -- and what I didn't fully realize until we got there (don't ask why; I'm an idiot. And it led to some degree of upset) -- was to spend the whole day. Like going for a day at the seaside. Despite my being ill prepared, we made the most of a bad lot and enjoyed it while we were there.

Since Sunday was due to be nice, we made a pact to do it again properly the next day. In the United States they have a great term that we don't seem to use here in the UK: "do-over". I'm a big fan of the do-over. Something goes wrong, hell, let's have a do-over, and this time we'll get it right. And get it right we did on Sunday!

We took the parasol from the garden, a couple of bath towels, appropriate head gear (Red's Yankees baseball cap and my trusty tattoo-style bandanna, instead of the shirt I used on Saturday, seen in the pic at top), swimwear, and just enough money to buy lunch, and off we set. We didn't take the camera because we wanted to spend some time in the water. It's a shame in hindsight, because it is nice having photos of when you're being dorks! It was a fun day out.

Whitstable's beach is a pebbly beach, and it is painful as hell walking to and from the sea. It's also amazing how shallow and deep the water gets. During the mid-morning we commented how safe it is for children, since you have to walk for miles in the water to get even your ankles wet; but after lunch it was impossible to touch the seafloor after just a few feet.

I had ice cream! And I wore my black Chuck Taylors in the sea (picture by Red below). I had no other footwear, and the pebbles were slaying me, man. Red says, "You can't not come in just because it's painful. Put your shoes on." She was right. (It's not just that it was painful. I have got the most sensitive soles of feet in Christendom, I swear. My feet cannot be touched. I will accidentally kick you in the face if you touch my feet. Accidentally, mind.)

So, two days on the beach. And I got a little burned, but only really around my feet, so that's okay.

On Friday I guess I must have worked some. I also watched the previous week's episode of The Shield in preparation for that night's. I love The Shield. And I finished reading my book (more on that soon). We also laughed about the dorks we made of ourselves with Eamonn at The Globe. I dunno what else...

Oh yeah, and here are some pics I promised from The Globe.

Desdemona and Othello alive and well and gettin' jiggy with it at the curtain call.

The stage at The Globe.

Eamonn humouring two adoring fans -- i.e., Red and me. (He's much more smiley over here at Red's blog.)

An autographed programme.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

A grand day out

Thanks so much for all your comments on my long, rambling post about the hospital visit. I am almost 100 per cent again now, though still a bit appetite-suppressed: always hungry, but not really wanting to eat anything much.

Thursday, in celebration of our 10th wedding anniversary, the wife and I went to the theatre to see Othello at The Globe, as previously mentioned in this post. Pictures will follow.

The theatre itself was magnificent and the play was great, with a really gripping, compelling last act, and the performances were solid all round. Afterwards we met the man in the title role, Mr Eamonn Walker himself, had a chat with him in the bar for a good five minutes, possibly ten, talking about his film choices, locations he's worked in, and things like that. He then humoured us with some photos and an autograph. A real gent of a man.

A great day was had by all.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Sunday fun, part 4, wherein the tale concludes like a comedy of errors

Probably about 3.15 am Monday morning
Finally we are called and led through to a curtained area by an Asian doctor man (Asian as in Indian or Pakistani, rather than Chinese or Japanese), and he goes through all the same questions yet again. He tells me that he'd like to take my blood pressure, draw blood for testing, get a urine sample, and do an ECG on me. This all sounds like it's going to take a loooong time.

I don't know what order he did things, but I do remember a big fuck-off needle going into my arm and drawing out a syringeful of thick black blood. The missus watches the whole thing; I decline. I'm not a big fan of watching needles entering my flesh. I ask whether it is supposed to look so dark, my blood, and he replies that it is perfectly normal. Okay... Within a few minutes of having half an armful of blood drained from me, I am feeling lightheaded again, so I have a lie down on the bed.

We wait quite a long time then for a nurse to come and do the ECG. When she arrives -- she put me in mind of a Greek, quite stocky but pleasant, and very chatty -- she asks me to lift my shirt and proceeds to cover me with sticky pads. She comments that the tattoos are well positioned to help her with the applications. One is stuck on the right side of my chest; three on the left; another one on each of my sides; one on each upper arm; and one just above each ankle. I think that's all. Then she attaches some cables to me. The cables are connected to a central interface that then feeds into the ECG machine. She turns on the machine.

"Oh...," she says, and checks all the connections again. Back to the machine. "Hmmm... According to this, you're flatlining!"

"I think I'm alive," I say, though to be honest I feel like death.

"Let me go and get another machine." And off she goes.

It must be at least five long minutes later that she returns with a new, snazzier machine. But as flash as it is, it doesn't have a screen, so she can't tell if it's working until actually printing off the results. So I get all hooked up again, and she presses a button. Nothing. Still flatline. I'm beginning to think I am dead and this is my hell. She tweaks my sticky pads and leads and puts sticky tape on some to hold them in place. Try again. Zip. She is staying pleasant, but I'm fast losing my patience and energy.

She decides to get someone to help, and in comes the triage nurse. I am asked to remove my shirt. This seems sensible, and I wonder why I wasn't asked earlier. All the leads and connections are gone over and another attempt is made. Still nothing. So off they go in search of another machine. When they reappear I think they have the old machine again, but I couldn't swear to it... We go through the same rigmarole once more, with the same results, before yet another nurse is called, this time the matron, if memory serves.

I've lost track of the time, 'kay?
Now there are three of them milling around my torso. One of them asks: "Could it be the tattoos affecting it?" A reply comes: "No, it shouldn't be... Are they new, these tattoos?" I say: "This one is, the others no." Of course it's not the tattoos. It's amazing how little people in the medical profession know about tattoos and piercings... Anyway, sometime over the course of the next ten minutes, I stop flatlining, and the nurses flee. Yay!

The doctor comes back with the results of half of my blood work. He'd estimated this would take one and a half to 2 hours, so that gives me some indication of how long I have been there waiting for the ECG. The results show high white-cell count. I'm also showing low blood pressure (which I knew from earlier in the evening). The ECG is fine. I go off to do my urine sample. The results of this come back quickly: slight infection. (This is weird since I've felt totally fine "down there"!) Also, I've got a mild case of gastritis, which could be from food poisoning. I know it's from the pastie I reheated for dinner Sunday night. Urgh! I'm given some antibiotics and am told to drink plenty of fluids and to drink a hydrating solution available from the chemist. We can go, at last.

4.45 am Monday morning
We make our way to the freephone to call for a taxi. I'm asked if I can ring back in half an hour and then they'll be able to tell me if a cab is available. Yeah, right. I dig around in my wallet for details of a cab firm close to where we live. We go outside to call on the mobile. It's daylight; where did the night go? The cab will come out right away; it'll take about 20 minutes and cost £25; and can I pay over the phone with a debit or credit card, please? Sure. I guess they don't want to make such a long journey to find we're gone when they get here.

Taxi man arrives after yet another tediously long-seeming wait. He drives like a motherfucking bat out of hell. I'm clasping, as I have been all evening, a little cardboard sick tray and a plastic sickbag that the ambulance crew gave me, feeling certain that I am going to need them any minute. In the event, miraculously, I don't.

5.30 am Monday morning
We arrive home. It's been five and a half hours since I collapsed. Cat is awaiting our arrival, deeply confused by the whole affair. He wasn't at home when we left with the ambulance, so he came in to an empty house. We go to bed, desperately hoping to get some sleep.

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Sunday fun, part 3

About 1 am, I guess
On entry into the hospital I am once again made highly aware of the Simpsons night shirt that I am wearing. The eyes of what seem like a hundred drunks and thugs alight upon me. I know I am also snow-white pale. I take the denim jacket that Red had draped over my shoulders and put it on properly.

I don't know how long we wait in reception, but I know that by the time we have seen the triage nurse (and answered all the same questions yet again) it is about 1.30 am. She is tall and slim with dark hair [apparently she was blonde, though that's not how I remember her] and glasses and the sort of shoes only ever worn by people who are on their feet all day. She sends us back into reception to wait for a doctor to call us. We sit...

The wait is interminable, and I bide my time by staring at the red splashes of vomit on my shoes and the ends of my jeans. Red buys me a bottle of water from the 24-hour kiosk (after being told it's now okay for me to drink), but it's too cold to drink more than a tiny sip. I also make several trips to the bathroom, which is conveniently very nearby. I'm sure you'll be pleased to know I also have the sense not to get down on my hands and knees in such an unclean environment. (For all the cleaning that goes on there, basic problems like blood on the armrest of chairs still exist.) Fortunately, I don't need to kneel anyway, for now my body wants to emit from its other end. I use the toilet with embarrassing frequency, every time shitting through the eye of a needle.

While on one of my bathroom visits, I moisten some hand towels to dab on my face and neck to keep me awake. I'm exhausted from wanting to sleep as well as from the energy used thus far into the evening.

People come and go: an old woman in a wheelchair with an obviously very painful leg; a young lad holding a white towel to his eyes and with damp marks on the knees of his grey sweatpants; a woman with a massive black eye, accompanied by her man. I also see a girl who works in our local convenience store. She walks past two or three times, and later I see that it seems she is there with a few family members.

2.30 am Monday morning
The wife goes to the bathroom and I see someone who has been waiting longer than us approach the reception counter. She asks how much longer she will have to wait. This doesn't bode well. She's told she's the next to be called, but I have no idea how long after her we came in. On Red's return I ask her to find out. "There are three more before you," she's told. "The person at the top of the list has been waiting two and a half hours." From that we deduce that it'll probably be another 45 minutes or so before we get seen.

Conversation is limited. Red and I are both exhausted. She'd not slept well the night before so was hoping to catch up Sunday night. Oops. I continue my regular bathroom trips while we wait and wait. And we people-watch and discuss what we see under our breath and mostly in Italian, so as to avoid being caught out. But we didn't bitch too much; that would be rude.

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