SUNDAY #87 – Bad Habit

I wonder how productive I’d be if I spent more time looking forward and less time looking back. Then I remember I secretly enjoy being a sentimental drip, so I’ll probably never break that habit.

I’ve spent my weekend listening to Foals’ back catalogue and laughing at the photographs in the boxes stashed under my bed. I know people store all their pictures online nowadays, but I still print everything out because I refuse to fully embrace technology, or let go of the past. I beamed at pictures of my friends & I circa 2009 with our bad haircuts, questionable fashion sense, and fresh/drunken smiles. I used to take my camera everywhere (much to their dismay), so there’s stacks of unflattering pictures just waiting to be uploaded to the internet.

Somewhere along the line though, I stopped bringing my camera with me and I stopped documenting nights out. We used to be outside The Pink Toothbrush’s doors at 21:45, half-pissed, every Friday & Saturday. I used to take embarrassing photos of us all, and I used to write about it all the time in my diary. Eventually; budgets, the amount of leisure time, and people’s tastes shifted. No photographs and no diary entries become the new habit, and now I have less pictures to laugh at and less words to cringe at.

BUT – the good thing about habits is you can always break them, so hopefully in a few years time when I unearth that box of visual treasure again, I’ll have new photos of all of us doing the exact same things, but with slightly less grace and more obvious bags under our eyes.

I must stop looking back so often though. I’m in danger of getting chronic neck ache.

 

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SUNDAY #86 – 6 Things I’ve Learned From Contracting Glandular Fever

I’m not the first person in the world to contract Glandular Fever and I won’t be the last, but I’m coming out the other side of the virus and I finally have the strength to make jokes(?) about it. 22 days ago, I woke up with a stabbing headache and a high temperature. “Oh it’s probably just a 48 hour thing” I jested to my parents, so I took it easy over the weekend and consoled myself with my own (massively incorrect) diagnosis.

A few days later, I almost blacked out in the shower. Like all responsible adults, I called my Mum and told her I couldn’t get registered in time at a new doctor’s surgery in London, but I was also too feeble to make the train journey back to Essex. BROTHER JOE AND HIS VAN TO THE RESCUE! Once I was back in Essex, my symptoms escalated and I ended up spending three nights in Hospital, even though my GP originally insisted I had a “water infection”. Turns out, I’m not the only one who’s good at giving massively incorrect diagnoses.

The good news is I’m finally feeling better, so I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned during my time as a pain riddled, frustrated, incredibly relieved survivor of this Godforsaken virus….

 

  1. Glandular Fever is fucking awful

Glandular Fever is commonly known as ‘The Kissing Disease’. It only takes one saucy bit of lip action to contract it, so I find it hilarious (and cruel) that I caught this adventurous and licentious disease when romantically, things have been very tame for me recently.

The virus struck me down like a bolt of lightning. I couldn’t sit up straight for more than five minutes. I had a constant headache for 17 consecutive days (which baffled all of my doctors) and I spent all of my time horizontal, sleeping, or counting down the hours until I could take more Paracetamol (which felt like placebos towards the end). There’s no cure; you simply have to rest, avoid alcohol, and not engage in contact sports for 2-4 weeks. GREAT.

  1. DON’T GET WORKED UP IF YOU HAVE A TEMPERATURE, OKAY!?

Despite my general sunny disposition and optimistic heart, like most formerly shy kids with a point to prove – I have a volcanic rage burning inside of me. I am an expert at channelling, concealing and controlling it, but when I’m in severe pain or I have to keep repeating the sentence “IT’S NOT A WATER INFECTION” to multiple people; naturally, the rage begins to flare up.

On my second day in hospital, I was told by the doctor that if my bloods were clear, I would be discharged later that day. After the worst night’s sleep of my life (see next point for full details) this news genuinely comforted me. Fast forward a few hours, my temperature had risen by 2 degrees, and (quite rightly) they decided to keep me in for observation for another 24 hours. Internally, I erupted. I couldn’t make eye contact with my Mum, the doctor, or any other patients on the ward. I. Was. Livid.

Little did I know, getting angry or upset whilst you have a temperature causes your temperature to spike. My internal emotional combustion made my second night in hospital even more uncomfortable, so I resolved to CALM. THE FUCK. DOWN. and do everything I could (aka lay still and count the ceiling tiles) to make my mind and body cool again.

  1. The NHS is great, but you’re a joker if you think Hospitals are a good place for rest/sleep

Obviously, I love the NHS. They’ve kept me alive and properly medicated since I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2002, and for that I can’t fault them. However…

Having a prolonged headache made me extremely sensitive to any kind of noise, so much so that I had to wear the ear plugs I would usually wear at gigs to gain any kind of relief from the unbearable sound of everyday life. After a lengthy amount of time in an exceptionally loud A&E assessment ward, I was transferred to a proper ward at around 22:00, and much to my relief, the patients were nice and quiet. Hello restful, rejuvenating night’s sleep….

ONLY JOKING! As soon as my head hit the pillow, the ward burst in to life. The woman in the bed opposite me decided to strike up a conversation with the woman to my right about how inadequate her husband’s cooking skills were (that dragged on for 50 minutes). At approximately 3am, another patient decided to rip out her tubes/cannulas because they were “uncomfortable” and then complain that she was in pain when the nurse had to put them back in TO KEEP HER ALIVE. There was also an unfortunate soul who insisted there was something wrong with her catheter as she (quite disturbingly) yelped in pain, only for nurses to tell her she’d tangled the bloody tubes around her leg which is why it wasn’t working properly.

Finally; there was the heathen who slept through the whole night SNORING LIKE A PIG WHILST I SUFFERED NON-STOP WITH MY MIND-NUMBING HEADACHE UNTIL 6AM THE NEXT DAY WHEN I HAD TO CONSTRICT MY SHITTY CORNFLAKES AND AVOID EYE CONTACT WITH EVERYONE ON THE WARD (INCLUDING STAFF) WHO’D KEPT ME AWAKE, JUST IN CASE I SNAPPED AND SMASHED THE ENTIRE WARD TO PIECES. I hope this offers some insight as to why my temperature spiked when they told me I couldn’t go home…

  1. Codeine is the devil

“Take codeine” they said. “It’s stronger and more effective than Paracetamol” they said. These statements are true, but my body had other ideas. Codeine made me drowsy, it made me vom vom vom vomit, and best of all; it didn’t get rid of my headache. Fuck you codeine. You betrayed me.

  1. Not being able to listen to music is torture

A music journalist who can’t listen to music? Classic.

A heightened sensitivity to noise coupled with a chronic headache robbed me of the ability to distract myself with my favourite albums, and stopped me from attending all of the gigs I had penned in my diary (I missed Ho99o9’s gig at Underworld last week, definitely cried about that).

When my headache miraculously disappeared a few days ago, I cautiously watched Placebo’s live DVD ‘We Come In Pieces’ and it healed my heart and ear drums. Chelou’s ‘Halfway To Nowhere’ has also been an exceptional tonic.

  1. I feel a bit broken

I’ve tried to avoid being too aggressive or melancholy whilst writing this (lolz), but truthfully; Glandular Fever has scared the living daylights out of me. I can see the funny side now the headache’s subsided and I’m able to walk up the stairs without feeling like my legs are going to give way, but I’m worried about going back to ‘normality’ in this weakened state.

I’m having trouble sleeping because I keep thinking I’m still in hospital with a cannula in my arm, and I know that not drinking alcohol for the next few weeks is going to be a struggle for me. I also keep getting emotional when I think about having to leave my family home and go back to looking after myself in London again. In terms of independence, I feel like I’ve regressed about 15 years.

I guess those fears will evaporate in time, so I’ll just have to hold on to the hope that I’ll be fit and healthy again next time Ho99o9 are back in town.

Up yours Glandular Fever! (and thanks Mum, I’m a husk without you).

SUNDAY #85 – Effort

It’s been two months since I posted on this blog.

I don’t know why I stopped writing. True, I’ve been busy with other things (and living without Wi-Fi wasn’t ideal), but I feel like I’ve been avoiding it because, well, whilst it can’t be denied I’m living my absolute best life in the big smoke now, there are still times when I sit and stare at walls and wonder what on earth I am doing.

I set up this blog almost three years ago as an attempt to distract myself from my usual Sunday hangover, and (although it pains me to admit it) as an effort to feel less alone. I’m not sure if the internet is the best place to avoid loneliness, but at the time it felt like a useful tool, and it definitely helped to counteract the sadness and rationalise what I was feeling.

Of course, I know I am not actually alone. I could call up any member of my family, or some of my close friends, and they’d obviously try to help me out. I’m just really bad at asking for help, and even worse at admitting that I’m not actually alright. That’s probably why I sporadically return to this blog now, because I’m getting better at distinguishing between genuine loneliness, and a minor lonely blip.

So, if anyone else out there occasionally stares at walls and feels weird, this one’s for you.

SUNDAY #84 – Moving Out

LIFE UPDATE: I’M MOVING OUT!

This (overgrown) bird is finally flying the nest.

I originally attempted the flight in 2008 when I moved away (30 miles down the road) to University, but for various reasons, that went totally wrong and I ran home to my parents.

Eight years later, with an O.U degree and a full-time job under my belt, I’m cautiously stretching my wings again and preparing to move to London with my friend Kelly in two weeks time.

When people ask me where I’m from, I release a dramatic sigh and tell them “I’m from Essex” in a voice thick with disappointment and apology. I rarely tell them I quite like being from Essex, and that living in this county hasn’t held me back – I’ve just held myself back because I’ve been scared to leave it.

80% of my family live here. The Pink Toothbrush has been nurturing my music taste since I was 19. Most of my school friends still have roots here. Hanningfield Reservoir has been the backdrop to my childhood. Leaving Essex means leaving all of this behind.

There’s a Magnolia tree on the route in to the town that I’ve been walking past since I was old enough to put one foot in front of the other. My Mum used to let me collect the fallen petals from the ground after school, and I cherished the pink & white treasure. I stared at the tree last Friday night, and lost myself in this sentimental memory. Is there a Magnolia tree in London that’s going to provide the same comfort and reassurance as this one?

Short answer: Fuck knows.

I’m sure I can get sentimental about a new tree when I’m not busy dancing around the flat with Kelly on the weekends, and getting an extra 10 hours of sleep during the working week.

It’s not like I’ll never come back to Essex. There’s always a weekend rail replacement bus I can ride home, and The Pink Toothbrush is still the only place I’ll ever venture to on Halloween. But I don’t fit here anymore, and I want to see if I can fit somewhere up in the big smoke instead.

Fingers crossed I can ‘ack it.

SUNDAY #83 – Remember

I know it’s not Valentine’s Day, but I want to quickly revisit the date (because I’m a bored masochist) so I can share a small but sweet story about it.

We all know it’s a con, but it was hard for me to think of it like that when I was standing next to my friend Kelly at a gig she’d (although she insists ‘we’) organised. She booked Dirty White Fever, Saint Agnes, and Yassassin to play our ‘Anti-Valentine’s’ event, and to complete our night we had absolute mega-babes Dream Wife DJing for us.

Never in a million years did I think I’d be dancing around to Robots In Disguise with two thirds of Dream Wife, but that’s how I spent Valentine’s this year, and tbh it topped every date and bouquet of flowers I’ve ever had (2 proper dates, 2 bouquets. Not really that hard to beat, but STILL.)

That’s how I ended the night, but I’d started Valentine’s Day at home, in the kitchen, waiting for the kettle to boil, trying not to think about commuting in to work. My Dad came down the stairs, tapped me on the shoulder, and asked if he thought my Mum would like this:

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The night before, we’d all been taking the piss out of him because he’d forgotten to buy my Mum a Valentine’s card for the first time in 30 years of marriage. We joked that he should return home later on V-Day with a last minute card and consolatory offering of Ferrero Rocher.

Instead, at 10pm on February 13th, he went down to his shed and spent two hours sawing this heart-shape out of a sheet of aluminium. In his haste, he forgot to engrave “Happy Valentine’s” and instead wrote “Happy Anniversary”. My parents celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary last year in September (with a lot of selfies in Rome), so technically this gift was late too.Whilst he was frantically sawing away at this heart, my Mum kept hassling him about being in the shed so late, which is why he panic-scribed the wrong word on to it. When he gave her the heart the next morning she realised even after 30 years of marriage, passive aggressive guilt trips still work.

What cracked me up is that my Dad had placed the heart in a make-shift paper card that read “Forget me not” on the front.

I’m not in love, and since a big ol’ break up two years ago (which I never even talk about, WHY ARE YOU BRINGING IT UP?!) I’ve been running at full speed from anything that remotely resembles “feelings”. I’ve also seen other people’s romances crumble before my eyes, which adds to my sad and cynical view that true love is a bloody luxury, not a necessity like everyone believes. But, holding that bit of aluminium in my hands on Valentine’s Day reminded me that love isn’t dead; it’s just a bit tired and forgetful sometimes.

Also, if my Mum had dark curly hair and my Dad had a bow and arrow and some hair, they’d basically be Robin Hood & Maid Marion in Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves. #RelationshipGoals

 

SUNDAY #82 – Black Eyed

I’m re-bobbed, permanently jobbed, and my body is mobbed with bruises.

I know you shouldn’t gloat about a black eye, but I’ve never felt so punk in my life (an admission that immediately removes any punk credentials I formerly possessed). I was lovingly elbowed in the eye socket at Ho99o9‘s gig at The Old Blue Last a week ago. Despite being pinned to the front of the stage and being told by security “NOT TO TOUCH THE MONITORS!”  I felt no pain for 45 minutes, and I would happily live that night on repeat for the rest of my black-eyed days.

It was the most insane gig I’ve ever been to. It was also insane of me to mix white wine with tequila, but that probably helped me on my journey to black eye city. I’ve been furiously applying foundation to cover it up at work. By day I’m a genuine adult with a job and responsibilities, and by night I’m a juvenile wine connoisseur who finds the meaning of life in a mosh pit.

During the week I also received some shining news to go with my shiner: I’m being made a permanent member of staff at my current job. This means a) I’m actually quite good at my job, and b) the next time I get a black eye at a gig, hopefully I’ll be living in London, so I’ll have less of distance to commute home with my war wound.

There were a few low points this week amidst all the glory. I’d pre-bought dinner on Friday night because I had plans to go out and drink gin and love life after work. Unfortunately, those plans got cancelled last minute, and I got in a bit of a strop and went to bin the pre-purchased food. I decided I was going to storm home, tear my bedroom walls down to some Blood Red Shoes, and if I felt lie it; cry to my Mum – because that’s what adults with full-time jobs and black eyes do.

I approached the bin ready to chuck my dinner in to it, then I realised I was being a selfish, stupid arse. I returned to my desk, put the food in my bag, and on my walk home through central London I passed it on to a homeless man. Even when you think you’re having a mildly shit day, it’s best to remember that someone else is probably not going home to a bed, a nice family, and a hot dinner. That’s the kind of punch in the face we all want to avoid really.

 

SUNDAY #81 – DO IT

I’m searching my brain cells for something witty to start this post with, but you’ll have to make do with this pointless sentence because my Mum’s just cooked a cracking veggie lasagne and there’s no way I’m letting that bad boy go cold.

This is just a quick post to gloat about the success of the first ever Gigslutz / Get In Her Ears night at The Finsbury Pub that took place on Friday night. Mari organised four brilliant bands to play for us (Petty Phase, Tokyo Taboo, Young Romance & The Empty Page) and when my Spotify playlist went to hell (never underestimate the importance of a good Wi-Fi connection) Tash stepped in and saved the DJing day. I spent most of the night looking around in blissful disbelief, overwhelmed by how well everything had turned out.

In 2015, I tweeted Gigslutz asking if they were looking for a writer to cover The Great Escape Festival. Just over a year later, I’m part of the incredible Editorial team, and I’m helping to organise radio shows and live events. I could never have predicted how much Gigslutz would enrich my life. Not only have I heard so much brilliant and fascinating music, I’ve met some of the kindest, funniest, most motivated people who make the idea of replying to 100+ emails every week (alongside my day job) a total joy.

When it comes to chasing something you love, don’t give up on it or let it slip away from you. Hunt that elusive, bastard dream down and do what you have to do to make it work for you. Do it. DO. IT. DO. IT. Okay? Because you might end up getting everything you asked for, and you might write sentimental drivel like this in the hope that it might help someone else out.

Keep bloody chasing it. I double dare ya…