Saturday, 21 December 2013

Flux Sake

I think I'm about done with the blogging.  After two years, the desire to reveal myself like those pictures of Jesus with his heart exposed, has grown smaller and smaller.  Some of you who read this are now Facebook friends, so it's not actually goodbye.  More "Arse arse arse arse and bugger me backwards".  Sorry, my fingers swear a lot.

2012 was about finding things.  Apartments, jobs, trams, a path through the bewildering systems of my adopted country, and friends.  I got through it on reserves of stamina, crisps, red wine and bloody-mindedness.  That, and not having a break all year, took quite a toll.

2013 was the year of being poorly.  I will be honest, there were times I thought it was very serious.  The coughing and the asthma were so bad at times, it seemed that something awful was in there and that I was just being humoured with inhalers.  Ten months and one marvellous doctor later, things became better.

There is no sense of completion here; life is still very much in flux, which is probably as it should be.  I love Gent and I love my job.  The rest is flux.

What I would like for 2014 is that my friends and family stay healthy and happy.  In addition, I'd like not to put on more weight.  It is as if the very air contains fat.  Ten kilos this year, and that just isn't funny.  Medications, while useful, are bastards for that.  I'd like to know the people I know better.  I'd like for the front door to stop getting smashed.  I'd like to leave the country during the Gentse Feesten.  I'd like to be a bit more bi-lingual.  I'd like a partner in crime to share stuff with. 

I wish you all a tolerable Christmas and a hangover-free New Year.   


Friday, 8 November 2013

Breaking, Not Entering III

So.  Surgery and anaesthetic take their toll.  For a week gravity totally had its way and I would just keep going back to bed.  Then I was officially "fit for work" but wanted to sleep; and sleep.  Which possibly wasn't the best thing as we were preparing for a big event in the EP.  Days consisted of antiobiotics, washing out my clotted, rancid sinuses, work, and feeling sort of dead.  Oh and the door got smashed in again.  One could get paranoid.  Any repair to the inside front door seems like a temporary job these days.  It's taken three major hits since I moved in eleven months ago.  Just over a week ago I was putting out my rubbish and noticed that someone had put a disposable lighter between the door and the jamb, to prevent its closing.  "Ah", I thought, "the nutter upstairs must have popped to the night shop.  I'll leave it ajar."

At 1am it was bedtime and I'd heard the nutter in his flat so thought I would go down to check the door was closed.  It was not, so I closed it.  Between 1am and 7.15am when I left the house, someone smashed the glass.  Being double glazed, fortunately they smashed only the outer layer but still.  The glass has twice been smashed and the entire door and frame taken off once; it seems someone is keen to enter or, at least, cause grievous bodily harm to the door.  It still is not fixed, and large, barely attached shards of frosted glass rattle when I shut it. 

Our event in the EP:  I was dreading it.  Before I moved to the land of my forefathers, I met a youngish man who worked at the EP.  I rather liked him, and visited him, and then he sort of dumped me by not contacting me again.  And then after I'd moved here he contacted me via the dating website on which we'd met and vaguely flirted and said we should meet up, and then he disappeared.  Rinse and repeat a few months later.  After which I blocked him.  My station in the EP was outside the main restaurant and the gym.  I sat there in utter dread.  Not because I loved him or anything pathetic like that.  I just did not want to see him.  I think it's because in my life story he felt a bit significant, and I was probably just a thing to do in his.  Seeing him walk past looking a bit Val Kilmeresque maybe chatting to some high-heeled stripling stagiaire would have just reminded me how inconsequential I am to him; to anyone.

Fortunately the gods of petty snivelling were on my side this week and I did not see him, for which I am very, very grateful. 

And we now have a three day weekend for which, also, I am very, very grateful.

Oh I forgot to say last weekend I was visited from the UK by lovely S and her lovely chap D, and we had a smashing time.  We did the Castle, which somehow I had managed not to do so far.  Executions used to take place approximately where I get my tram in the morning.  Lovely.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Table Times

This is just a bit of an aide memoire or something, for me or anyone else.  Doing something is usually much easier than thinking about it and worrying about it.  Of course, most people know that but it's easy to forget.  Fearful, negative thoughts can form a fence around you.  Balls are also easy to lose but equally you can find them again and stick them back.  I believe some even have velcro.

I've been mithering for months about getting a table.  As I have actual real guests at the end of the week, I thought I'd better bloody get on with it.  The after-effects of the anaesthetic have meant that I get up, faddle around a bit and then go all wan and back to bed.  So I didn't actually get to IKEA until 6.30pm.   There is some sense in this, of course.  At that time of day, it's much emptier.  However, there were still some families browsing with less aim than cattle, walking slowly in front of me while their projectile offspring assailed my trolley wheels.  One cannot do much about this, although mass sterilisation occasionally seems reasonable.

I serially ignored all the stupid worries, e.g., I won't be able to find the table; the staff won't speak English; the taxi service will have finished for the night; the taxi service man won't speak English; I won't get home before the taxi service man; and so on.  It's wearying in my head at times.  Working up a hideous IKEA sweat, I buggered on, and arrived home before the taxi service came with the goods.  So far, so goods.

Getting the goods (I also bought an opportunistic ironing board) up in the lift was a right fucking nightmare, but the table is now in the middle of creation, face down on the carpet.  Tomorrow I shall complete it and then sit smugly at it, being a person who owns a big table.  Drinking coffee or holding a pen or something.  Perhaps even eating off it.  Like a person with a table.

So, the moral is, if your balls fall off stick them back on, and tell the fence-making voice in your head to shut the fuck up.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Nasal Gazing

Nietzsche and Kanye West definitely got it wrong.  That which doesn't kill you undermines you until your respiratory system falls apart and you have to have stuff cut out of your head, and repairs.  My nose doctor reckons this has been brewing for about four years and, honestly, I had no idea anything was wrong until this year.  Unsurprisingly, it's all bound up with the asthma too because - sorry if you are eating here - the mucus that was unable to drain properly was just glopping about and dripping down my throat.  A post-nasal drip (not -natal, as I always want to write.  A post-natal drip is from a different orifice) will irritate the airways, obviously.  Hence the nearly a year of coughing like an absolute bastard.  Whether the asthma will be much eased remains to be seen, but early signs are good.

Today was the removal of tampons from my nasal cavities.  Surprisingly painful.  Nose doctor kept telling me in a very cheerful and gentle manner to "Keep quiet" but it was somewhat difficult.  He had to locally-anaesthetise my nose holes before he went in with the suction thing to hoover out clots and bogies and scabs and crap.  And it still hurt like fuck.  I have to keep irrigating now, flushing out whatever is left in there so it heals properly. 

Aside from all the nasal cavity activity, the operation itself knocked me for six.  I arrived home here on Tuesday and didn't go out again until today for my hospital appointment.  Perhaps it's the sheer amount of anaesthesia needed to fell a person of size, or the fact that I'm a bit older now, but I didn't expect this.  Going out today, it felt as if I'd borrowed somebody else's legs.  Or that they were made from balloons.  Very odd feeling.  Most of the week has been spent sleeping and reading about Priscilla Presley.   In one of those oddly meaningless coincidences, I finished the book, browsed on the Daily Mail website (shhhhh, I'm sick!) and saw that she'd been dating Toby Anstis last year, while playing in panto at Wimbledon Theatre.  You couldn't make it up.   And here's a photo, just to prove I didn't.




Tuesday, 22 October 2013

She Nose, You Know

And so it is done.  I sit with two pieces of rolled cotton wool in my nostrils, stemming a scarlet-ish drip from two tampons which are situated somewhere much further up.  These, hopefully without bits of brain, will be removed on Friday.

The sheer speed of all this has left me a bit whirred.  And weird.   Weird and whirred.  Apparently it was quite a difficult operation as my sinuses were very sick, and I suspect they did not mean this in the argot of youth.  Arriving at the hospital about 9.45am yesterday, I was put in a room for the final admission process, with the one member of staff who spoke no English, so we did it in French.  Thus it was discovered that I know enough French to admit myself to hospital.  By 10.10am I was on the operating table, and there were bees in my head, for which I tried hard to stay awake.  My own disgruntled coughing woke me around midday, followed by the trundle back to the ward.  I had requested to be in a  two-bed room as that  would get fully-refunded on hospital insurance.  They had no doubles so it was a single, at no extra charge.  (Note: I will be checking this on the bill...)

The intention then was to sleep, but both nostrils were dripping and dripping, so it was hard.  Instead I read the trashy but gripping "Child Bride", which purports to be The Truth about the Elvis and Priscilla story.  The television, which advertised both BBCs 1 and 2, was not receiving a signal for either.  A yoghurt was brought, which I devoured.  At about 5.30pm three slices of brown wonderloaf  bread were brought, with some limp cheese more like something a plumber might use to stop leaks, and another yoghurt.  Again, devoured.  I enquired would there be food (you know, actual proper food, for people with teeth) later and the answer was no.  I hadn't thought to bring something from home.  There is little more desolate than eating three limp slices of bread with limp cheese, and that being it for the night.  It felt a bit Jane Eyre.  With bloody drips.

Screwing up tissues and putting them up your nose gets you told off.  The nurse fashioned a little sanitary napkin from some gauze and taped it round my face.  Not attractive, but it allowed me to sleep.  Sadly the staff didn't.  At midnight and 5am they came to take my blood pressure and check the drip (not the nasal one) and then at 8am woke me with a hearty breakfast of three limp slices of bread, limp cheese, and some jam.

At 10am, loaded down with squirty stuff, and what I assumed to be some decent painkillers but which are paracetamol, I was out.  Despite all this whingeing, I could not fault the care received.  Nobody made me feel like a pain because I only understand a little Dutch.  They were all lovely and very sweet.  Unlike St Georges Hospital, Tooting, a couple of years back, when I was left, prepped for an operation and sitting in a gown, no food or water since the day before, in a waiting room from 7am till 3pm (by which point crying because nobody would give any information), and then the operation was cancelled.  The surgeon did rather get the rough end of my tongue that day.

I am indebted to dear K, who came to collect me today.  I probably could have wobbled home alone as the staff didn't make sure I was collected, but it would have been unwise.  Still a bit wobbly now.  And drippy.


Thursday, 17 October 2013

Blue Velvet

Since the events with the door and the frame off, I've felt weird.  As if the whole prettiness of Gent was an illusion that dissolved and something like Dennis Hopper appeared instead.  As if the whole prettiness was an illusion that I dissolved with the very darkness of me.  Other weird things: there have been two rapes in Citadel Park recently and the description in the news sounded exactly like someone I had met.  Well, more than met.  So I contacted the police and have heard nothing more, but feel very unsettled.  Then the other day, I'm standing in the rain waiting for the tram outside Gent station and this good-looking youngish man starts what seems like a pick-up but is really odd.  Random questions, random stories.  I think he was on drugs.   Once on the tram I turned and looked out the window, hoping that someone younger would get on to divert him.  I feel exposed, in all sorts of ways.  I want to go back to when Gent was Disneyland and I had yet to discover it.  I don't want to find out it is some place inhabited by Dennis Hopper.

The other night I woke in my locked bedroom and something was looking down on me from above, like a Triffid, or Alien.  It probably took only two seconds before my conscious brain realised there was nothing there, but my heart took a good five minutes to calm down, and I slightly fear sleep now.

Yesterday, I went to my sinus specialist because for the last three weeks I have not been able to breathe through my nose and there are greeny brown lumps.  And, of course, no senses of smell and taste.  Another infection, so the third lot of antibiotics this year; possibly more than in the whole of the previous ten years.  He asked what I thought, and what I thought was something needs to be done.  They do tend to move quickly here - I'm being operated on this coming Monday.

I had a form my GP had to complete and so I went to him tonight, thinking it would be a quick thing.  Before I know it, I'm completely topless with electrodes attached, from ankle to prodigious chest, and this trainee doctor and my GP are talking over me.  "Try to relax" says my GP.  My snorted "HA!" made him laugh.  My pulse was also about 14 beats higher than usual - not good.  I had rushed to the appointment and found myself unexpectedly half-dressed on a table between two men.  I did feel sorry for the child doctor, he had probably never seen anything like it.

So, one more thing before the op, an x-ray early tomorrow morning.  I get the feeling my boss thinks I'm doing all this to be awkward but it has to be done.  Afterwards I will be like those old Tunes adverts once they'd sucked a Tunes sweetie.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013


Or to give it another name: shameless self-promotion.  This is a bit like Google saying "if you liked that, we think you'll like this." 

The Flick Book is a new blog I'm doing alongside this one because, frankly, I like the sound of my own voice.  Writing about films and telly and stuff.  Because nobody has had this idea before.