Garfield’s Right About Mondays

Monday was a big pile of dog’s arse. Well, maybe a small pile because there were also one or two moments that somehow restored my faith in human beings and god and the universe enough to keep me going through all the crap I had to endure on three hours sleep.

The delivery driver bringing one of my meds didn’t come at fuck early o’clock for a change. But I’d been awake since even fuckier early o’clock so it didn’t matter that he was here at a more human hour.

So I made someone else make my breakfast by going to a cafe. The breakfast was meh as best but I didn’t have to make it nor did I have to wash the dishes afterwards. Win. See how thin the straws have been I’ve grabbed at today?

I got to the hospital for my test run of a new nebulised drug to help me clear the nasty shit that makes my chest so damn problematic ALL THE TIME lately and that seemed to go ok so I’ve got a fortnight’s worth of it for a proper trial at home. Some of my spirometry results were better than they were before I went away too which was promising. I’ve also been booked on another physical rehab course which starts next week. If these measures don’t help much my specialist would like me to have another two week course of intravenous antibiotics. I’ve asked that if it comes to it, can I do the whole two weeks in hospital instead of mostly at home, as I’ll be looked after, fed and wont have to worry about functioning while taking uber-powerful meds. They’re ok with that so if that’s what happens I might get my christmas dinner in hospital. Not win.

And I’ve no idea whether the reassessment for Personal Independence Payments is a win or not as they’re not going to make the decision for a few weeks – the person I saw today just asked a bunch of leading and undignified questions which some other cunt in an office full of cunts will process as data like I’m not even a human person at all. So that’s December ruined by anxiety even if I don’t have to have IV antibiotics. Which is definitely not a win.

But, I gave all my change to a homeless guy today because I thought that he was having a worse life than mine. And he was genuinely thankful which meant we had a nice moment, human to human.

And, when I was having my breakfast a student wanted to stretch the plug of her laptop behind my seat to charge it up and I said I was more than happy to swap seats with her to make it easier for her. And she was genuinely thankful which was another nice human to human moment.

And there was actually a free disabled parking space in front of the place I had to have my assessment. Those are the little things that got me through today. Food and overpowering painkillers will hopefully see me through the rest of Monday’s conscious pieces.

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I Feel Stupid And Contagious

Tomorrow I must suffer the indignity of being reassessed to see whether I’m still eligible for the Personal Independence Payment money I was awarded two years ago. Because my two incurable and degenerative health conditions must miraculously have gone away, right? Because all the anxiety and depression they bring with them doesn’t matter as long as I don’t go postal, right? Because I don’t need money for extra heating in my place to try and keep my lungs as happy as possible during the coldest months of the year, do I? Because being able to afford better quality food in greater quantities has no effect on a person’s wellbeing, eh? Because being able to buy food at supermarket prices in larger, more economical loads, is a piece of piss without the car which prevents me being unable to breathe from carrying all the bags, right?

I’m terrified they’ll take my extra help away. This current government has been accused by the United Nations of human rights abuses in terms of how they process and treat the disabled so compassion and rationality seems unlikely to have any part in the process I have to undergo tomorrow. It’s a pathetic, spiteful government still trying (and failing) to balance the economy by throwing ill people off the benefit schemes designed to improve the quality of life for ill people rather than chasing after the tax-avoiding super-rich bastards who have actually been ruining this country’s economy for years.

I’m so tired, still jet-lagged (don’t tell them that, cripples aren’t allowed to have holidays or enjoy themselves) and don’t feel like I have the energy for a fight on this one. I’ve had a great time last month, I found romance and saw amazing sights, maybe I should be a good citizen and conveniently die now and stop costing the government any more money.

It’s a long day tomorrow too as, ironically, one of my meds deliveries will be arriving at just after sun-up, then I have to go to the hospital to trial a new drug to replace the saline I can no longer tolerate along with my regular nebulised antibiotic, then I need to order more ‘ordinary’ meds from my GP then I have this insulting and frightening assessment. Oh fucking joy. Keep me away from train lines and high bridges for a while please. Lest I throw anyone who looks like a Tory cunt under an express train or down onto a major highway.

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Bad dreams, broken sleep, maudlin thoughts, anxiety about the days ahead: this isn’t just jet lag, this is an emotional tsunami set in motion by such wonder and beauty being replaced by biting cold, by death, by loss.

It will never be said of me that I am an unemotional soul, of all the facets of my personality this is the most apparent. For some it is the least impressive of my qualities but without being consistently driven by my emotions I’d not even have achieved the tiny anthill of experiences I’ve called life. I feel before I think which wins me no prizes for stoicism nor for complete stability but I know no other way to exist.

Is there really anything so wrong with crying when I am sad, laughing when I am amused, railing against injustices when they disgust and anger me? Has genuine emotion been so entirely airbrushed out of a society now dictated by a vile distortion of the enlightenment project that raises capital to the level of a deity and diminishes more humane inspirations and truths to the status of fakery and foolishness?

Words and words and words. However I shape them, throw them at the wall of eternity, so few seem to stick, even fewer resonate with the world I find myself chained to. I cannot claim to be any kind of visionary, I cannot point to evidence of the genius required to permit a cold, calculating society to accept one or two of life’s more unpredictable, poetic souls. I am little more than bluster and battered belief being worn down to the barest of irritants by time.

I love and I am loved. If I can point to nothing else I do at least know these facts to be true enough to sustain me through however many or few days remain.

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A Trick Of Time, A Change Of Faces

The heart is a powerful organ yet infinitely fragile at the same time. My own has been pushed and pulled over the past few days courtesy of many factors: leaving behind my beloved in beautiful California to come home to freezing cold England; jet lag; world and local politics…

Today came another jolt when I learned that a former bandmate of mine, Dave Harding, has passed away. I know that about three years back he had some major health issues which required serious surgery but he’d recently come back to this country for a visit from Cambodia which had been his home for many years and it seemed to me that he was doing better than he had for some years.

Unlike when he was last in the UK, in 2015, I didn’t get to meet up with Dave this time around. I knew he was here and I would have liked to have seen him but I was conserving energy for my own travels and not feeling especially well. I’m sad now that we couldn’t catch up one last time but I have great memories of his time here on that previous occasion which was the first time we’d hung out in many years.

When we was fab

Dave was the first permanent drummer of my favourite former band, Dead Men Don’t, so he and I and the other members, Giles and Niall, shared so many things together. You’ll never make it into the Bristol scene because you’re from the sticks, we were told. We proved them wrong and I can recall several nights when Dave’s drumming blew audience’s minds. And my own, if I’m honest.

In rehearsal he had the same knack the rest of that line-up had of being able to hear a new song and have ideas and energy to bring to the tune immediately. I didn’t realise quite how blessed I was at the time to be working with such intuitive musicians, all I understood was their skills helped me to raise my own game when it came to playing guitar and writing songs. After Dave had left the band (we all feel pretty guilty that we had to sack him in the end for reasons I wont go into now as they simply no longer matter all these years later) several other drummers occupied the role, all of them talented but only one of them his superior in my mind. When Dave went to live and work abroad we lost touch but the wonders of Facebook brought us back together and I treasure more than ever now the exchanges and conversations we’ve shared these past few years.

Rest in peace my friend. God has been putting a band together for some years now up there in heaven. Go knock on his door and make sure you get a seat on the holy drumstool, eh? You will be missed and have been much loved.

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Dreaming California

Jet lag and the emotions of leaving G behind to return to my cold home country mean it might be an unwise notion to try to blog about how I feel in this precise moment. Instead here is a piece of mediocre poetry I wrote at San Francisco airport while waiting to board the plane.



The very shapes of my words change with the weather,
With mood,
According to the company I keep.
Vowels stretch or tighten up
Like soft metals tortured by the extremes of the seasons.
Meaning slides around,
Slips, sometimes, entirely out of mind.
Whole words are elbowed from the mouth,
Usurped and undermined by more urgent, self-important words.

Through it all I claim a consistency of identity
Which laughs in the face of the deeper awareness
That we are reborn every single moment.

We are nothing but now.
We are everything that is now.
We are all and all and all for just one soap bubble instant
Before we vanish
And return to god.

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All Up In The Air

Tuesday 28th November: 19.00 West Coast Time

My last opportunity to watch the sun go down over San Francisco was thwarted by boarding just as the sky began showing that pinkish tinge I’ve quickly come to recognise as the approach of sundown on the Pacific coast.

Airport farewells are never fun. Are any farewells happy ones? But at least G and I had one last morning of adventure back in the city. Last night we stayed in the Phoenix hotel in the ‘tenderloin’, a cool hotel in a less than salubrious quarter of San Francisco. Tweakers, stoners, hobos and the homeless roam those streets: Kerouac would have loved it and probably stolen their meth.

After the obvious opulence of Carmel, however, it did me some good to see a life closer to the one I recognise as potentially have been my own once upon a time. Thirty years ago in a shady Paris backstreet I felt myself tumbling towards a life of drifting, grifting and being shifted from doorway to doorway by the gendarmerie. It wasn’t a future I wanted – it was more romantic and way safer to read about it in the works of Henry Miller or Orwell – and it did not become my reality despite my continuing to take dumb-ass life risks and make stupid decisions for some years to come.

Still, wandering the tenderloin today was a glimpse into the harsher realities of far too many American citizens. The eating there is good, though: my last Californian meal was Thai beef and rice which will in no way be matched for quality or satisfaction by whatever reheated crap Virgin shove under my nose later.

It is too early and I am too raw to paint words in meaningful ways concerning my time with G, my newfound relationship with the West Coast, and the impact my return is likely to have on me. When I am at my most mentally healthy I try to live in the moment as much as I am able. These moments in the sky are my life right now. By the time I reach the ground again I will have lost eight hours of my day and my body will demand to know why it is light and why I’m sitting around waiting for a coach to take me home to Exeter when it is actually four in the freaking morning where I’ve just come from.

Wednesday 29th November: 10.10 UK Time

My body knows it’s really two in the morning for it, especially as I’ve not slept more than a wink and a few minute doze here and there throughout the flight. But we’re about an hour ahead of schedule, apparently, so could be landing within the hour. If so I’m going to see if I can transfer my coach ticket for an earlier one as I don’t fancy sitting around at Heathrow for four and a half hours when all I want is to be nearing Exeter and the part of my apartment I call bed. That in itself will be a four hour journey so fingers crossed I can make the switch. It’s midweek at the arse end of a month few British people care much for these days; surely there will be a spare seat on an earlier bus? Surely there will be an earlier bus? Surely I won’t end this section of my blogging with another question mark?

Aha, I won’t end with a ? Instead I shall end with a smugness that comes from changing my ticket for abus that leaves two hours earlier than the one I was meant to be on. Good, cos it’s fucking freeezing in this country and G isn’t here 😦

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From The Redwood Forest…

We avoided the ugly excesses of Black Friday yesterday and indulged in Back To Nature Saturday today by heading for Big Sur.

And it is quite big, in case you wondered. Very tricky to find the spot where Kerouac took that spiritual crap then wiped his ass on scratchy ferns but that’s because it never happened. Or did it?

I suppose there may be a Medium Sur or even just a Regular Sur out there somewhere but we didn’t want to visit them so we found the Pfeiffer State Park thing (who knew she was so rich she could own the land?) and spent a little time beside the virgin clear waters of a smallish river which was meandering its way through the trees down to the shore. We didn’t meander, just ambled. I’m a broken old man, remember. We didn’t get to see the shore either – too popular on a Saturday and the parking lot was full.

but we did find a road house called Roadhouse which will make you wet yourself endlessly if you watch Family Guy. I made friends with a Redwood there so I now feel slightly better qualified to sing Woody Guthrie tunes.

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