Wednesday, 27 June 2007
Click here to see magnificence in action!
[You might have to choose your settings and then go back to click again, but they're worth it.]
And here are some photos too ...
Tuesday, 26 June 2007
I haven't bothered shaving since I went into hospital and I'm starting to look a bit of a scruff-bag. Should I keep it and train it or get rid of it? Itchy-scratch.
I've never grown a beard before and now, with my baldy heed 'n' all, I've got that 'growing a beard to make up for baldy' thing going on in my head. The only thing wrong with baldiness is that you can't really change the style... at least a beard gives me that opportunity.
Y'see, the other thing is ... it's white. I have a white beard. If I let it grow I could pass for Santa at Christmas. I've got a bit of gray round the 'tache area but the rest of it is pure as the driven snow. That sort of holds up a sign in front of me saying 'old geezer'.
Saturday, 23 June 2007
Back - de-stitched and un-dressed
First off, the latest on my back is that I’ve had the stitches out at last – or more accurately, the stitch (singular). Ever since being released from hospital a couple of weeks ago nearly, I’ve had a big waterproof (and everything-proof) dressing covering the wound. I went to see my practice nurse yesterday morning to finally have the stitch out.
As soon as she started peeling off the dressing I could feel the air getting to the covered area again - it felt soooo good! It was a bit like taking contact lenses out at the end of a long day and letting the eyes breathe again.
Then *snip* and out came the suture and a lot of tension vanished - it's been a bit uncomfortable over the last few days, feeling tight in the small of my back where the operation was. I wasn't sure if it was the operation or the stitch and now I know it was the stitch. Freedom at last!
The nurse put on a much lighter temporary dressing to protect the wound while letting air get to it. The first thing I did this morning was to slowly peel it off so now I’m stitchless and undressed. I can’t actually see because of where it is and no amount of careful twisting and turning gives me a good view of it. Naturally, the batteries for my camera are exhausted so I’m charging them at the moment and will take a photo later so I can see it properly.
Of course, now I need to be careful this doesn't go to my head and I try to be too active or do too much too soon. But it feels so much better now.
I also had my first adventure yesterday – I went to Tooting! Ok, so Tooting might not be the most exotic of locations but it’s the furthest I’ve been from my front door since getting out of hospital. It also allowed me to try out my new Oyster card (I’ve always had a travelcard but it’s just run out so I thought I’d try an Oyster).
I was a bit apprehensive of getting a bus and being bounced and jostled round but it wasn’t too bad really. There were a few awkward moments when I gritted my teeth when the bus swerved, went over speed bumps or slammed on the brakes but I survived ok. Getting on and off were ok since the bus pulled right into the curb. I wouldn’t risk it in the rush hour just yet.
Walking slowly round the Tooting pavement and shops was fine as well. When it started to get crowded anywhere I made a quick get away so I didn’t risk anyone touching my back – that’s my one big fear at the moment, that someone might actually touch me!
After about half an hour I started feeling tired and bone weary so I headed back home. That’s the longest time I’ve been outside the flat since being released form hospital. When I got home I collapsed on the bed. I need to work on my stamina but, all in all, I’m pleased with my progress.
One of the joys of the internet is shopping and having your goods delivered to your door. Since I can’t get to proper shops and I no longer have a record shop in Streatham (which is shocking) then I’ve taken advantage of Amazon and Play.
The last of the re-mastered albums were issued on 11 June but I just got them yesterday. The whole SLADE back catalogue has now been re-issued in glorious sound and with lovely booklets telling the SLADE story through the music.I didn’t get these last four albums when they first came out in the ‘80s and these aren’t the SLADE of their glory days, this is the music of a tight, loud rock band that knows what it’s doing and excellent stuff they are too.
As ever, I seem to be going against the grain since this never gets a good write-up but it sounds good to me. Hard rocking pop music, an album of potential singles that hang together well. The CD includes 9 bonus tracks (timing runs to 79:54 minutes so they’ve squeezed a lot on here) with the wonderful ‘swing’ version of ‘My Oh My’.
It’s just a shame about the cover though – it’s the worst cover on any SLADE record in my view, dark and downbeat, but at least they're on the cover (unlike 'Kamikaze'). The re-issue picks up on the medals theme (if you look carefully you can see that all the lads have medals pinned to their coats) and uses the colour banding on the packing. It’s little details like this that make the packaging well worth it – well done
The other record I’d pick out is ‘You Boyz Make Big Noize’, SLADE’s last album. Despite the title, the original album didn’t include the song of that name but this re-issue includes four versions of the song – luckily it’s one of my favourites of latter-day SLADE. I love the ending of the song which concludes with the refrain from my favourite SLADE song, ‘Mama Weer All Crazee Now’.
So there we are. The SLADE cannon is complete. Or is it? Surely there must be more material in the vaults somewhere? Another discovery this week is that the ‘Delighted To See You’ EP by The N’Betweens is now available to download on iTunes so, obviously, I downloaded it in a trice. As all worthy people know, The N’Betweens were baby SLADE (as Chris calls them). I wonder what else there might be lying around somewhere…
Marc Almond – ‘
I’m not a great fan of Marc Almond (although everyone who was around in the ‘80s will have a favourite Soft Cell song) but I’d heard good things about his new album and heard a few songs on his MySpace site so I indulged. It’s a bit of a grower – first listen was, ‘oh, ok’, second one got me looking at the song titles and third listen got me looking forward to hearing favourite songs. I’ve listened to it a few more times now and it’s a great record.
All the songs are covers except for the penultimate track, ‘Redeem Me’. It’s an interesting selection of songs, such as ‘I Close My Eyes And Count To Ten’ and ‘Strangers In The Night’, and also a lot of songs I haven’t heard before from people like Charles Aznavour and Al Stewart and, of course, ‘London Boys’ by David Bowie (a song I’ve never heard).
My favourite track is ‘Kitsch’, one of the more up-tempo songs that builds and builds and then explodes into a wonderful refrain of ‘la la las’ taken from ‘Hot Love’ by T.Rex. It’s a wonderful arrangement of the song but I’ve got no idea whether that refrain is included in the original.
Take a listen and if you download only one song, make it ‘Kitsch’!
Suzanne Vega – ‘Beauty & Crime’Lovely melodies and words place just so – I think her songs are getting simpler and less wordy with each album and I’m sure that makes writing them even harder.
I love her voice. It’s soothing, calming and placid, and I can’t help relaxing when I listen to her. The songs are all based around
Favourite tracks include the single, ‘Frank & Ava’, ‘Zephyr & I’ (a conversation with one of her brothers best friends about the old days), ‘Unbound’ (freedom and growth, following on from my least favourite track, ‘Bound’) and ‘New York Is A Woman’ (and a sexy one at that).
I’m delighted that I’ll be able to see her play some of these songs live at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in a couple of weeks time.
Donna Summer – ‘Bad Girls’ (Deluxe Edition)
What can I say about this album? Disco heaven! Relentless synth beats pounding away forcing you onto the dance-floor. The double album fits nicely onto one CD while a second is made up of 12” and re-mix versions of her singles from around the time the album came out, from ‘I Feel Love’ to ‘No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)’.
It includes the 17 minute ‘MacArthur Park Suite’ – ‘
Buffy Sainte-MarieNot only did I not go to
I’m still waiting patiently for news of the real new album though, the one recorded over the spring. In a recent article Buffy refers to it as having only just gone to her agent so I’m doubtful it’ll be released this year. I’ll continue waiting patiently.Beardy Hippy
Am I growing a beard or just not shaving? The end result is the same, what's different is the intent. It's disappointing (but not surprising) to see that most of my beard is white.
Wednesday, 20 June 2007
This is a song from the 'Live At The Roundhouse' DVD to be released on 2 July from those teasing ragamuffin Brechtian punks! Can you see me in the audience? (no, I can't either).
Saturday, 16 June 2007
Deep in the Earth
Cover me with pretty lies
Bury my heart at Wounded Knee
One of my favourite songs by Buffy Sainte-Marie is 'Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee' from 1992, a powerful latter day protest song, a truth song that harks back to what happened in the American West in the late 1800s and is still happening in modern day America. The disasters wreaked on native Americans for gold are now happening for uranium and other precious metals.
I took advantage of being in hospital to finish reading the book of that name by Dee Brown. It was first published in 1970 and is still being re-published. The book is subtitled, 'An Indian History Of The American West' and is based on official documents and archived material, referenced throughout and quoting eye-witness accounts wherever possible. It's a difficult read. It's shameful and heartbreaking. The people who ruled America over the period of this book (1860-1890) had the arrogance and power to commit much to paper and that is the source of much of Mr Brown's material. The title is taken from a poem called 'American Names' by Stephen Vincent Benet.
It tells of planned genocide, of assassinations, of treaties broken time and again, of people forcibly moved from land wanted by miners, of herds of buffalo killed and left to rot in the plains, of children slaughtered ... It also tells of a proud people who know they will die but still try to protect their peoples and the land, tales of bravery, of Buffalo-Calf-Road-Woman who rode out in a hail of bullets to save her brother from ambush, of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.
Crazy Horse died on 5 September 1877. While escaping from a reservation and heading to join Sitting Bull in Canada, Crazy Horse's parents took his bones and heart and buried them near Chankpe Opi Wakpala, the creek called Wounded Knee. Wounded Knee was also the scene of a massacre of a band of Sioux at Christmas 1890.
The final quote in the book is under a photo of Red Cloud in old age, hair silver and long, face lined and mouth turned down. He says, "They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one: they promised to take our land, and they took it."
'Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee' is one of two books Buffy Sainte-Marie recommends people read to understand the history of native Americans. The other is 'Indian Givers' by Jack Weatherford, subtitled, 'How The Indians Of The Americas Transformed The World', another academic and referenced book that attempts to explain how the discovery of the Americas changed the world. It's a fascinating read.
One of the disturbing things about all this is that history keeps repeating itself and those in power have still to learn the lessons of the past. People are still being forcibly moved between reservations in America as land is wanted for mining and treaties and laws broken. I was both pleased and saddened to come across the blog by Brenda Norrell about the uranium mining in the Black Hills (I blogged about this and the 'Broken Rainbow' DVD last year). The blog included a link to a previously censored article about an interview with Buffy Sainte-Marie from 1999 in which she talks about her own censorship and her song 'Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee'. You should read both the article and the blog and I thank Brenda for publishing both.
How can I understand what the issues really are with my cosy life thousands of miles away in London? I can't. But I can be aware of them thanks to Buffy. I should be wandering round New York today, waiting for Monday to see Buffy in concert at the Highline Ballroom, and possibly meet her again after the concert. Instead I'm sitting at the table in my bay window with the sun streaming in and the trees moving in the South London breeze having filled up with painkillers for the morning. And Buffy is singing 'Starwalker', a song of hope for all generations and all peoples.
Since then, of course, we've had the grand re-issue of all SLADE's albums, lovingly re-mastered and sounding perfect. SLADE have had more press in the last year than for ages and that's only right and proper. Jim's released two solo albums, but where's Nod's? One of the greatest rock voices is missing from music - it's time to reintroduce it in all its glory... I still believe in miracles.
Happy birthday Noddy!
Thursday, 14 June 2007
Jim is the youngest member of SLADE and always portrayed as 'the musical one' since he played violin and was a member of the Midlands Youth Orchestra. He left that behind when he discovered the joy of rock'n'roll and joined The N'Betweens that later became SLADE. He was the musical one in truth since he co-wrote the majority of SLADE's songs with Noddy Holder, Jim mainly writing the music. The string of hits they had in the early-mid '70s, and then again in the early '80s, has never been properly evaluated and they've never been given due credit for the marvelous songs and achievements.
When I think of Jim from the glory years he's always wearing a red lurex suit. He never went that far with the glam stuff so the suit was probably as far as he felt comfortable with. It was the mainstay of his 1973 wardrobe, wearing red lurex suits on Top Of The Pops and playing live - he wore it when I saw SLADE live in Newcastle in July 1973. He left the dressing up to Dave and Nod.
He was never that comfortable with the stardom thing - he seemed to love playing live and in the studio, it was just everything else he didn't like. He took on the title of 'the Midlands misery' but I always think of him grinning as he pounded away on the bass, put his leg up on Don's drums and leaned back, like on the cover of 'SLADE Alive'.
It was with enormous joy that I found out he'd set up a website for his new studio album earlier this year. Available for download or purchase from the site, 'Therapy' is now available through iTunes. It was so good to hear new music from Jim, guitar-based rock music best played loud. Some great songs on there that deserve wider distribution, but it's his decision whatever he wants to do with his work. I wanted more and voila! the live album appeared for download. I still want more, though.
Happy birthday, Jim!
Wednesday, 13 June 2007
It's strange seeing Bob Monkhouse again and it's very good of his family to agree to this ad happening. As the website says,
"In 2003, Bob died from prostate cancer, a disease which is now killing one man every hour in the UK. Shockingly, although it's almost as common as breast cancer, it gets a fraction of the research funding. Highly promising research projects are ready to go right now, they just need the money to get started. Please forward the film (made with the full support of Bob's family) to every man (and anyone who cares about a man) you know. Then click below to give a few bob. You might save someone's life."
Go to www.giveafewbob.org
I left the flat twice yesterday, firstly late morning to slowly walk up to the local shops for food supplies (yes, strawberries count as food), and then in the afternoon for a short trip round the corner to my doctor. After both adventures I was knackered and promptly flaked out on the bed when I got home. I used my walking stick to signal to people to give me a bit of distance and it seemed to work.
I've noticed that I'm not sleeping for very long - during the day seems to be a couple of hours at a stretch and at night-time it's about four hours. At night I take a cocktail of painkillers before going to bed which might suggest that they work for about four hours before I wake up and need more to go back to sleep. That's what I'm doing at the moment, waiting for more pills to kick in so I can go back to sleep. This can be an experiment, to extend snooze-time before thinking of reducing my intake of pills.
I'll keep you posted.
Tuesday, 12 June 2007
hursday dawned and I was put on an insulin and glucose drip to control my diabetes at 6am so I lay there all morning with the drip in my right hand. Then the anaesthetist arrived to talk about that side of the operation, followed quickly by the surgeon with consent forms (and the astonishing news that the hospital has found some of my notes) and then within an eye-blink I was being whisked through the corridors on my bed to the operating room, more questions about allergies and suchlike and then drifted off to sleep to quiet talk of a holiday on a tropical beach with surf crashing and palm trees swaying and …
…and then I woke up with two nurses fussing over me, plugging a morphine machine into my right hand, a saline drip into my left and with a ‘drain’ in my back to drain away the left-over juices from the operation. After discussing the merits of champagne as a cure-all with the nurses the surgeon came round to tell me to drink lots of coke since the caffeine would counteract the effects of some of my nerve-juices he’d spilled that would give me a killer headache. OK, I said, thinking more of morphine and champagne. Wheeled back to my little ward and told to lie flat for the next 24 hours.
Tired and dozy, pressing the morphine button when pain started (a nice little machine that pumped small amounts of morphine into me), drinking through a straw but not eating much. Chris came to see me with supplies of Pepsi Max and news of Big Brother to take my mind off things. Not really up to much, just dozing and having tests and various pills, but despite being tired, not much sleep, partly through pain and partly the noise of the night nurses and fellow patients (probably exaggerated by the drugs).
The surgeon came to see me the next day to explain the operation and next steps. When he opened me up he found not only the biggest slipped disc, he also found the oldest, which was growing into other organs and around bones, attaching itself to them and calcifying. It could only happen to me. He removed as much as he could but had to leave some of the disc that had grown into other organs or risk damaging them so I’ll have to wait and see whether that’s a longer-term problem or not. He’d also split some membrane that coated some nerves trying to remove bits of disc and that’s what had released some juices into my blood stream that would give me a killer headache so I have to drink lots and remain on the drip to get it out of my system. I had to stay flat in bed with the drip for another day.
He came again on Saturday (in what looked like ‘day off’ clothes so it was good of him to come in) to check up on me, check reactions and say that I can be de-dripped and de-morphined, can get up for short periods with the physio and, if all went well, could go home on Sunday. Phew, that was such a relief! I’ll get the stitches out in 2 weeks time and start physio, and go back to see the surgeon in 6 weeks. He’ll then assess whether I can return to work. The physio gave me a walking frame so I can start getting used to walking again and the delight of that first trip to the toilet is a personal joy that will stay with me for a long time. There are only so many things you can do with comfort when lying flat on your back or even on a slight incline.
Saw a doctor on the ward on Sunday morning who gave me the all-clear for going home, the physio tested my walking without the frame and on stairs and gave me some exercises, the pharmacist gave me pills and got my discharge letters from the ward. Rang Chris to come to pick me up and that was that. Had lunch in the hospital and then a slow walk to the hospital entrance, a taxi home and slowly up the stairs to my flat and I was home again! Lots of slow healing to do and in the meantime I can’t sit for more than 15 minutes so this blog is being written in bits, but that time should increase as I get more mobile.Such a relief to have it all over with. And, of course, there had to be complications since it’s me. Before the op the surgeon talked about 4 weeks off work to recuperate and this went up to 6 weeks after the op. My problem is going to taking the time to get well properly and not try to do things too quickly. Even this morning, when I awoke early, took some pills and went back to sleep and then felt fine when I woke again, thinking it won’t take six weeks… and then I moved. Ouch. I need to take it slowly.
I'm very grateful to the surgeon and his team for sorting me out and doing it so quickly and professionally. It just lowers my view even further of the orthopaedics team that left me with this disc for 10 months after I first saw them, saying it wasn’t worth a scan and I would be fine if I just lost weight. I now have plenty of time to compose a suitable letter to the hospital about my treatment (or lack of) over the past 10 months.
No doubt there’ll be more to tell after my latest adventure but that’ll do for now.
There was a great view out of the ward window, a panoramic view that took in the chimneys of Battersea Power Station to the south, the Big Wheel at Westminster with St Paul’s dome in the distance, and the BT Tower (or whatever it’s called these days) in the north. It was quite impressive and a reminder at how low-rise much of
The mackerel? Well,
Tuesday, 5 June 2007
I asked to see the scan images and that's the first thing he did - found a computer capable of showing them and I finally saw what all the fuss was about. Usually a slipped disc is a little pimple poking out from the spinal column just enough to press on the nerves that run down down the leg or onto other nerves in the area. Mine's a golf ball by comparison. And here it is >
The surgeon gave me the disc with the instruction to bring it with me the next time I attend hospital - whether he was simply making a point or he genuinely doesn't trust the hospital's admin capabilities, I don't know, but I've got it. It's coded to some medical system so I couldn't simply copy the disc (I'll try again later) but I've copied some of the images.
We had a similar discussion to our discussion three weeks ago and I said 'ok, I may as well have the operation sooner rather than later' and he went off to check surgery appointments and came back and said, 'see you on Thursday'. I was a bit startled by that - I'd expected next week not this week. Then, after I'd mentioned that I was diabetic (which he didn't know due to there being no record of me) he changed it to admission tomorrow, Wednesday, so they could monitor my insulin and blood sugar - wouldn't want me slipping into a coma after surgery, oh no.
So the end result is I go into hospital tomorrow afternoon, operation on Thursday and released home on Saturday to be followed by four weeks of recuperation. I was expecting an operation but I'd been planning on next week, not this, so it was still a bit of a shock. Still, at least the surgeon seems to know what he's doing even if no-one else at that hospital does so I feel a bit relieved.
Of course, that means I miss SLADE Day on Monday and will miss my trip to New York to see Buffy Sainte-Marie the following Monday (I haven't booked flights or hotel, just got tickets for the Highline Ballroom). I haven't booked anything for the rest of June so I'll have a thoroughly exciting time sitting staring out the window as the world passes me by. Another dreary summer ahead of me - but it could be worse.
So that's me signing off for a few days - the next time I blog part of my body will have been cut out and chucked in the bin...
Friday, 1 June 2007
Chris and Don kept me entertained in-between turns and Dawn (for some obscure reason) turned the other cheek to enable me to spank her (and she didn't even punch me in return). So, a strange night of delights and frights.
Fred Bear was co-hosting since Timberlina was off opening a village fete (eh?) and he did really well, keeping the patter going. He also delighted us with his flying version of Bearbarella and then took to the stage to lead us in 'The Time Warp' (actions were mandatory).
Nathan was dressed as Ziggy Stardust throughout and had his puppets on show ( I quite like his wierdo puppets) but it seemed a bit slow and laboured tonight. Dawn Right Nasty spun some kool choons before, during and after the turns and played the promised 'Moonage Daydream' as well as giving us her weekly 'tranny stalking tips'. Polly Vinyl was dressed as a 'Blade Runner' clone with wild hair.
Guest artistes tonight were The Space Invaders and they, sort of, sum up VauxhallVille for me - amateur night but they'll give it a go anyway and have great fun doing it! They were two triple-breasted green alien lesbians who have a baby after dancing all over the stage. They obviously had a great time and, quite frankly, so did I! Let's have more acts like them at VauxhallVille.
I meant to take my camera tonight but didn't make it back home in time to pick it up but here are pics from my phone.