Thursday, 23 December 2010

Desperate Living

This has been the worst week of my life. Real misery is shopping for lipstck in Wood Green shopping centre two days before Christmas and seeing the woman you love more than anything in the world, now almost totally bald and the few remaining hairs glued flat to her scalp with Aloe Vera paste, burst into tears because shes too tired to go on and too confused to use an escalator.

They didn't have the bastard lipstick either.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Rant in the key of life.

Kelly has a theory. It's a lunatic theory because sleep deprivation is slowly driving her mad. And it's a desperate one because we are desperate. It is simply this: none of this is real.

It's the "intelligent design" theory of tragedy. The misfortunes befalling us are just too neat, too pat; too petty. The way Kelly's condition has been deteriorating exponentially is fair enough - diseases take hold, they insinuate. They burrow in. They party. That's nature: red in hoof and tail, goatee bearded and horny headed.

But...I attempt to have a night out. My friend's band is playing in Stoke Newington, nearby. I'd like to go. I'm a bit fat to be a scenester but I like to keep my hand in. I invite Jess out and the moment I do there is a panicked phonecall from Mo, Kelly's sister. Kelly is a bit manic at her work's Christmas do. I ring her and she is indeed in an agitated state. I ask her if she is alright and she tells me she is fine and to go ahead and meet Jess. I text Mo and get a markedly different assesment of the situation and so I blow The Ethical Debating Society out. That's the name of the band, by the way. I ring Jess leave her two answerphone messages to say I wont be meeting her after all, and then send a couple of texts as well, to seal the deal.

It starts snowing outside, fat soft flakes the size of postage stamps. Under different circumstances I would enjoy walking in the snow, as I did walking the five miles back from the Royal Free a week before-hand, sloughing off the gluey hospital fug with the exercise and the keen wet cold. But time is a factor so I take the tube and it is delayed as usual. The driver spends the entire journey barracking his customers because one of them, somewhere, has left his bag in a doorway while the doors are shutting. I hear this everyday and on virtually every journey and I have never once seen anyone with their bags jammed in the doorway as the doors were shutting. And there are a lot of backpackers out there and all of them quite happy to ram their sweat soaked haversacks into you face, but crucially, never in the doors - they've got places to go.

So after a solid hour on the tube I got off at Finsbury Park. Where I live. I find no messages on my phone. It's now 6.15 and as far as I know Jess is on her way to sit on her own in a Stoke Newington boozer. I phone her again. No answer. I ring again and leave another voice-mail, this one rambling and incoherent, which is how she usually hears me speaking. And then I think: Fuck it! I've done what I can - if she's sat on her own own, cursing my name (and she would) it's not my fault - she needs a new phone.

I walk up to the house through the snow, salt staining the cheap leather of my boots. There is nobody in but Kelly has told me she is stopping off at the hospital to pick up an inhaler. I try the door. The key turns but the door doesnt open. I try again. The door which usually elastic, you can feel the cheap wood give slightly as you turn the key in the lock, is stiff and unyeilding. The door doesnt open. The deabolt has been put on. I'm standing on the doorstep of my own flat in the snow unable to get in. I try the key again. Nothing. I look up and see that one of the flats has a light on. There is condensation in the window. I ring the bell and there is no answer. I ring again. I try the key again. I ring the doorbell of the top floor flat where there is no light on. Obviously nothing happens. I ring Kelly and tell her I cant get in. She immediately assumes I'm accusing her of something, some sly subtle thing. There is a notion at the back of Kelly's mind and edging forcefully into her voice, that in some way it's my fault the door wont open as if this technology somehow exceeds my reach. A locking mechanism is about as far as my knowledge of physics goes but I have had some practical experience of doors. Kelly advises me to go to the pub and wait for them - she has the BIG key required for the secondary lock. I dont need telling twice.

It's half six. I go to my local. It's closed for a private party. I go to my other local. It too is closed for a private party. All of the pubs in the area are closed for Christmas parties bar one - The Stapleton Arms. It has its advantages - it's on the 210 bus route (just) so will be great for Kelly and Mo when they get out of the hospital. But it has its disadvantages too - it's fucking freezing and its full of cunts!

It's half eight now. I've made a glass of wine last two hours. I'll go home. Try the door. Perhaps one of the neighbours has unlocked it now or I will have magically learned to use a key.

So I ask you: has my vain notion of going out with friends really resulted in my wife no longer thinking I'm competent to operate a key, in my being forced onto the snowy streets and into the worst pub in North London unable to help or even talk to those I love, whose three hour ordeal in pursuit of an inhaler has worn her phone into a brittle stump of incommunicado. Could this be real?

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

I think Fagin, as always, said it best...

I'm reviewing the situation,
I must quickly look up ev'ryone I know.
Titled people -- with a station --
Who can help me make a real impressive show!
I will own a suite at Claridges,
And run a fleet of carriages,
And wave at all the duchesses
With friendliness, as much as is
Befitting of my new estate...

"Good morrow to you, magistrate!" Oh gawd!

...I think I'd better think it out again.

So where shall I go -- somebody?
Who do I know? Nobody!
All my dearest companions
Have always been villains and thieves...
So at my time of life
I should start turning over new leaves...?

I'm reviewing the situation.
If you want to eat -- you've got to earn a bob!
Is it such a humiliation
For a robber to perform an honest job?
So a job I'm getting, possibly,
I wonder who my boss'll be?
I wonder if he'll take to me...?
What bonuses he'll make to me...?
I'll start at eight and finish late,
At normal rate, and all..but wait!

...I think I'd better think it out again.

What happens when I'm seventy?
Must come a time...seventy.
When you're old, and it's cold
And who cares if you live or you die,
Your one consolation's the money
You may have put by...

I'm reviewing the situation.
I'm a bad 'un and a bad 'un I shall stay!
You'll be seeing no transformation,
But it's wrong to be a rogue in ev'ry way.

I don't want nobody hurt for me,
Or made to do the dirt for me.
This rotten life is not for me.
It's getting far too hot for me.
There is no in between for me
But who will change the scene for me?
Don't want no one to rob for me.
But who will find a job for me,

...I think I'd better think it out again!

And a kick in the balls...

This used to be a blog, unread and unloved admittedly, about my writing. Events have somewhat overtaken it recently but Kelly's own blog A Quare Gunk outstrips it in every way. So it's back to the old untravelled path, the one that leads to my boundless authorial success.

So it is with a heavy heart and no little shock and horror that I have to report that things aren't going that well. They aren't going that well at all. As I have previously said on this here blog I'm at the point of sending out the completed manuscript of The Improving Parents, my delightful children's fable about treacherous parents and a thinly disguised satire on Scientology and the Alpha Church. It has transformed from a series of short stories to a fully realised narrative with, y'know, a journey, a narrative arc, a reversal of fortune and lessons learned - I am nothing if not a traditionalist. Much of this was on the advice of an agent who had spent time and effort on reading the first three chapters and was a great fan of my writing, the story and thought there was great potential. It was the most positive feedback of my so-called career.

Well not anymore. Having sent her the completed novel she is no longer a fan of my work. My new changes seem "cobbled together" and there is a "lack of cohesion". She longer likes the writing, merely "the premise". She suggests I use an editorial service like Cornerstones and lastly there is explicitly no chance whatsoever of her or her company ever representing my material.


Not ideal.

Probably for the best. I was getting too full of myself for a while there.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Do the Hustle!

Sent off The Improving Parents as an unsolicited submission to two more agencies today - uber hustler that I am. If recent events have taught me anything, and that's debatable, it's that tempus is a fugitive and I need to be a fat ray-banned Southern Sheriff with two snarling dogs called Killer and Zeke. Like Tom Petty or Halle Berry I'm running down a dream.

Time to flex those hustle muscles: lift, seperate and hyper-extend! feel the books burn!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The Ghost

She has the "The Ghost" back on again! Presumably with the notion that what didnt kill her may make her stronger. No fits so far!

Surprisingly it's not Kim Catrall or Ewan MacGregor who are the most annoying characters but Olivia Williams, out of "The Sixth Sense" and about two seconds of "Spaced", whose faux Cherie Blair seems to be channeling both Liz Hurley and Violet Elizabeth Bott.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Medical School taught yer torture

The cancer is in her brain. Kelly is back to localised radiotherapy, this time directly to her head. She will lose her hair again and there will undoubtably be burning to the scalp. She is terrified of brain damage; of not being the person she was.

The cancer being in her brain precludes her from taking part in the bespoke drug trials we had been anticipating and because of the "blood brain barrier" (blood treatments don't work in the brain as there is too little blood for it to be effecacious)so we're back to the bludgeoning burning radiotherapy again. Its for five solid days, ten minutes at a time; her head bolted to the gurney by a moulded mesh mask to stop her head from moving. It's medieval.If there's a fine line between medicine and torture, I think medicine just edges it, mainly because the onus is rarely on the torture victim to remember why they are being tortured and which instruments would probably get the job done.

It's a French farce complete with slamming doors, medical misunderstandings and cheek chewing character actors. Hospital is the only place where you still hear cockney accents that would shame bit part players in Carry On movies.

The Prisoner of Guantanamo Orange

We had our own room behind a paper curtain and we waited as you do in hospitals. They are centres of excellence for waiting and I've put in a lot of hours waiting in hospitals at one point clocking up a 12 hour stint in A & E that was so boring and frightening as I worked my way from five in the evening to five in the morning that I became spaced-out and hysterical, laughing like a nervous jackal as the doctor showed me my own femur through the green hole in my leg. So we waited. Gradually doctors arrived, did various stroke tests, banged Kelly with wooden mallets and went away again. Then an oncologist arrived and did the same thing with slightly more authority.

A begged egg sandwich and a cup of tea arrived, stolen by a friendly Dub nurse who looked and sounded like he could have roadied for The Boomtown Rats. He then took us to the ward on the 11th floor. And then I had to leave Kelly for another night in hospital in her Guantanamo orange pyjamas.

It was hard to leave. Not least because the Royal Free locks all but one of it's exits at night- I wandered the corridors for the next twenty minutes, clattering up and down the corridors, like "The Prisoner" without the fanfaring bongotastic theme tune, angrily shouting and laughing hysterically at the shit art on the walls, somewhere between imperial period MacGoohan and a helium filled Alexis Kanner. There was nobody about, every exit was closed to me - it was a ghost hospital!

Eventually, desperately, I span around a corner and almost crashed into a man ferrying a corpse on a trolley. I have never been so please to see a man with a dead body in my life.

"Please," I said, "please, is there a way out of here?"

"Over there," he said, gesturing over his shoulder. And he was right. I followed the thumbs rule, headed out through the double-door and into the icy night. Belsize Park on a freezing Sunday evening, with no taxis, trains or buses in sight. It was a long walk home.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Back in the Jug agane!

A sunday afternoon. Kelly and I attempt to watch the Ewan McGregor/Pierce Brosnan film "The Ghost". McGregor's accent is ludicrous, the script is a doddering exposition and when Kim Cattrall turned up I knew that something was wrong. And not just with the film. Kelly had already told me she was having difficulty dealing with her depth perception watching film, as cameras tripped in and out of focus it was hurting her eyes. The clincher came when she asked me to change the volume for her. Now this was extremely odd. Kelly is very nuch the practical hands-on one in our marriage. For her to ask me to do something vaguely technical, and pressing a button on the remote is about the limit of my technical sophistication, should have been a warning sign. A more obvious warning sign was when she started saying "erm" repeatedly, the sort of noise you make when someone makes an off colour remark in a social situation or when you're trying desperately to remember a word. And in fact it was the latter - though Kelly wasn't trying to remember a word but ANY word - nothing would come. Suddenly she let out a low gutteral moan and threw herself against the back of the sofa, her eyes rolling back in her skull, her teeth clamped shut, her body rigid as a table. I jumped up and grabbed her by the shoulders begging her to look at me, to acknowledge me. Slowly her body relaxed, curling like a passion fish onto her side. At last only her teeth remained solid, gritted. I thought for a moment. I could only think for a moment, from moment to moment. I thought about her tongue, how she might have bitten it in two or how it could have curled back in her mouth, choking her. But she wasn't choking and there was no blood in her saliva. I ran off once I was certain she was still breathing and phoned an ambulance. When I came back, jittery and sick with sweat, she was still lying on her side, but her eyes were open. I lifted her up and she smiled, her eyes were slipping in and out of focus, her recognition fading, the pupils expanding and contracting as her face seemed to cloud over in confusion.

"Do you know me, darlin'? Do you recognise me?" I said grabbing her arms.

"Love you" she slurred, grinning like a happy drunk.

"But do you know me? What's my name?

A levee broke inside her head. Words tumbled out: phrases, sounds, strings of disordered language patted out. "Bronagh and the bird-bag" was mentioned as were "the tablet, the tables of the tablets". It was language loosed from its moorings, a scatter-shot of attempted speech.

"love you," she kept saying. "love you" She had no idea who I was but she knew she loved me.