Tragicomic Timing

I barely recognised Si

In order to delve into how health anxiety affects my days, the better to consider ways of lessening the impact through therapy, I have to focus on how my anxieties crop up concerning my body. Which makes me anxious.

Ahead of today’s session I had a coffee and a catch up with Si. Do you know Si? He knows you. He goes to Iceland, the land of the ice and snow, yet still sees through your windows because he has super vision. We were having our usual sort of conversation – experiences laced into surreal threads as is our wont – when I was aware I was feeling lots of pain and thus lots of anxiety.

If the rest of my day had involved any other kind of appointment than therapy I’d have taken to my bed and phoned in to apologise for no show. But the timing was actually perfect, even if acknowledging this fact didn’t make it any easier to deal with.

While the work I did last year in therapy was focused on areas I feel reasonably articulate about, this health anxiety stuff often defies words as it is primal and so terribly deep-rooted. It’s not easy to judge the sort of progress I’m making, but that’s not only for me to measure so I’ll have to trust my therapist through this part of the process. We built up trust last year so hopefully I’ll hang on in there during these testing sessions.

And now I’ve taken to my bed. If you have chocolate and trifle you can join me. Ha ha, you thought I was making some kind of innuendo when actually I just want chocolate and trifle.

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Through Concrete, Flowers Grow

If this is Monday afternoon it must be bedtime. No, I’m not lazy but I am in a lot of pain. I went out for a walk to get my muscles and legs moving and the overriding emotion now that I’ve returned home is one of regret.

I regret having muscles and legs. I regret stopping in that cafe and eating way too much fried breakfast for lunch. I regret not buying a bass guitar in the music shop but I regret that every time I walk past the music shop and don’t buy a bass guitar because I know if I did buy one I would then regret buying it because I’m a guitarist, not a bass player.

My neighbourhood is cowering beneath grumpy skies today, a perfect complement to my own grumpiness. Funny how a short trip away to unfamiliar streets can make one’s own locale seem fresh again even if the sky is grey and rain threatens to leak down upon this portion of the world.

I did manage to pick up a few groceries while I was out so I could stay indoors for another few days if I felt like it. But I don’t feel like it, I feel like getting to therapy tomorrow. I’m not sure if my sojourn to London brought me any new insights into what we’re working on but it certainly made me aware of incidents of the type of anxiety I am so under the thumb of at present. I guess the biggest positive I should take is that I managed to go and do the things I wanted to do up there despite the huge drag factor of my anxieties and my physical issues. I’m awesome.

Or something less arrogant.

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Black-Eyed Dog

When I was young, teenager young rather than infant, I was vehemently opposed to anybody attempting to limit the possibilities of my life. Anything I wanted to be, I could be. Any goal I set for myself, I could reach it if I worked hard enough and wanted it badly enough. I was relatively talented, supremely imaginative and extremely bloody minded. And, it seems obvious now, I was mostly a nightmare to deal with.

My own nightmare began somewhere in my twenties when the fragility of my health began to make itself apparent and thus to impose limits on life. For so very long I did not want to accept the reality of the situation which ultimately means I must have made things worse by carrying on regardless of the impact on my body. I’m talking exertions it wasn’t great at recovering from, drug-taking it was entirely used to but which only added to physical problems in the long run. Bloody-mindedness as self-harm: whoops, that’s gonna fuck life up, eh?

Spending time with old friends, those who knew me before I began to acknowledge the impact of my own personality on my physical frailties, comes with a stark reality check even as their company fills me with joy and fond memories. In the main they are all living accomplished, grown-up, decent lives and exude a genuine assurance that they’re doing what they are happiest doing, being the person they want to be.

Ironically I was most assured when we were all younger. While they were still working towards the achievements they went on to accomplish, my most successful periods of self-expression and achievement are far behind me. My imagination has even begun to fail me as I am no longer capable of delving into my soul to reshape the world as I would like it. Not with any confidence, anyway, nor with any certainty that my flights of fantasy are anything other than childish escapism.

Maybe I was never justified in feeling so assured of my place and purpose? Maybe the arrogance which used to fuel my creative endeavours made it impossible for me to see that I’ve always been somewhat deluded and that my existence has never been as meaningful as I once chose to believe? Or maybe today I am in both mental and physical pain as I tot up the cost of two days spent trying to resurrect echoes of the younger, more adventurous and assured version of me I continue to miss, even if I was kidding myself back then?

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Shakin’ Steven

After two nights sleeping on a bunk bed it feels opulent and grown-up to be back in my own double sleepy sleepy place. I don’t mean I have two beds, I mean mine isn’t small and bunky, it’s a double bed. You’ve heard of them, right? Twice.

Last night, as I strolled around Lambeth in search of grub and nosh, I felt faint and shaky. I assumed it was a combination of needing grub and nosh and the effort of travelling, socialising and being ready for my close-ups. This morning I was similarly shaky so I got in an earlier train home than I’d planned to and here I am home. Double bedded. Twice.

I’m tired. I’m also pleased to have been able to spend these last few days on my little adventure. To others such things are no sweat or big deal but to me every mini-adventure is a big sweat and some deal to me. So yay me. Twice.

I may sleep this afternoon. More than once.

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Tings An Times

Brixton Road stretches on forever, the jumble of new structures and sturdy Regency buildings scattered along it in much the way I remember from days so long ago they sometimes seem like another person’s memories. It’s definitely busy, just as it always was.

Lambeth, or my little corner of it for these couple of days, is very quiet by comparison, possibly because one of the cut throughs from Clapham Road to Brixton Road is closed off for roadworks. My digs are Spartan, a room with bunk beds and a small en suite in what looks to be part of an old school. The stairwells remind me very much of the older buildings at my old grammar school and as I slowly ascended to my floor earlier I had a terrible sense of impending Double Geography. Phew, Twiddles Baker has long since gone to the great retirement home in the sky and won’t care that I forgot to do my homework. Again.

The photo shoot I’m up here for was a great experience. As I’ve said, I cant reveal much about the project yet but the photographer is a really nice guy and his two-handed support team today were equally friendly and interesting to talk with. My body is now bitching at me, mostly because of the travelling and sitting still for a few hours to be photographed, but partly because of last night too.

Last night? Oh, er, nothing out of the ordinary really. Oh alright then, I caught up with my friend Tim, whom I’ve not seen in 20 years, and we ate Indian food tapas style (hipster gimmick, just give me a plate of fucking curry) and drank some liquids. Me? Oh coke, yes just coke. And Indian beer. And craft beer. And bourbon. Just the one, honest. No really, just the one bourbon.

How awesome was it to sit and talk some hours away with Tim? It was super awesome. Friendships that can be picked up after a gap of some years mean a lot to me as they’ve lasted time and distance yet still move into the future even as you reflect the past both shared and separate. This trip will exhaust me and take a nasty toll on my body, no doubt, but for the pleasure of Tim’s company and the experience of today’s shoot it will be worth it. Unless I die, of course. Nothing is worth dying for unless what you really value is being dead.

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Not Yet Doing The Lambeth Walk

I can’t recall the last time I travelled to London on a train. A train? Ideas above my station (shit pun intended) and it must mean someone else is picking up the bill. Well yes, it does mean that but I think I’d have tried to find the fare anyway as I’m still battered from a long, ill winter and four to five hours on a coach that stinks of toilet wouldn’t have been an appealing prospect.

The bill picker-upper is the photographer whose project I am honoured to play a small part in by having agreed to let him point his camera at my face tomorrow afternoon. I’m not going to say anything in detail about the project because it’s not my project and because it won’t be ready for exhibition until autumn.

So the basic facts are I’m doing some casual in front of the camera stuff for the first time since I was a properly jobbing musician (and very occasional actor). I’m quite excited about it although I’m hoping it’s more sedate than a few photo sessions I remember from the old days. This is studio based thus there will be no traipsing around looking for suitably gritty back streets in which to take moody pictures of surly band members. I am pretty much always surly, though, so the feel of the shots may come out the same as they always did.

Anyway, the train, the train, Meester Rourke! So far (an hour in) there’s more remote farmland and woods than you get to see from the coaches which trudge up and down the clotted arterial motorways from the West Country to the capital. But I’m facing backwards so have that faintly queasy disorientation that used to make me convinced I would throw up as a kid. I don’t think I ever did throw up which is why I’m no longer convinced I will throw up. Which is an opportunity for Sod’s Law to make me throw up. All over my own crotch. Or the face of another passenger.

Top tip, don’t dwell on the details of vomiting when feeling faintly queasy on a train.

The journey to Paddington is almost half done. The Guardian cryptic crossword is way less than half done. I need bacon. They probably don’t have bacon in that London. They probably all eat the corners of their Oyster cards which have been soaked in nutrients and anti-terrorism chemicals. Those urbanites and their sophisticated ways.

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And I Know How To Use Them

You know legs? Those pointy to the ground things that begin near your arse and end at the ground? Mine don’t like me today. All I asked them to do was convey me to my appointment for one o’clock. And then to convey me as quickly as my stupid lungs ever allow to the correct location for my appointment at slightly later than one o’clock.

Why isn’t my brain upset with me? Why am I not upset with my brain for mixing up appointment locations? Maybe because I’m a ditsy twatface and I’ve done this stuff before. Fortunately I tend to get to appointments early, probably because I secretly know there’s a chance I might have come to the wrong place.

My legs are cross, though. Cross at the extra yardage (a quarter mile). Cross at the impossibility of moving especially swiftly because my lungs are in control of that business, not them. Cross because they’d rather have stayed covered up warm and toasty in bed today, just like they did yesterday. Cross because I’m going to ask them to get me from Paddington station to the underground and then from Stockwell to Lambeth tomorrow.

Yeah, I’m so mean to my legs, asking them to do stuff that other people’s legs do all the time. If they give me any shit tomorrow I’m going to poke them with a pencil. Not the sharp end, I’m not a masochist, not even when my legs are being wankers.

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