Tuesday, 27 February 2007
Mrs Mo still in good form and actively looking for another job.
My written work is starting to come together, I had a really good day yesterday, focussed well and now have about 75% complete.
I am making a conscious effort to try and remove myself from internet circles as they presently take up loads of time and keep me out of the real world.
I decided to spend some money before it all runs out and ordered a 50s stratocaster last night.
Maybe it'll get me back in to playing again.
I'm now posting lyrics on another page instead of posting them here.
Monday, 26 February 2007
I was up early again after little sleep but I still don't feel energetic. I've spent the day trying in vain to make a start on my first written exam. I'm driven but I can't seem to apply myself at all, can't focus. I try to rearrange a simple equation and sit staring at the page. I go to check something in Wiki and lose myself in the internet. A bit like selective deafness, selective working. I'd really like to get this done and dusted even if it's the only paper I submit. So I'm off back to it now.
"Now I get up around whenever
I used ta get up on time
But that old man he's a real muthafucker
Gonna kick him on down the line"
Sunday, 25 February 2007
So even though I was only awarded DLA in September, they want me to reapply now for when it runs out in August. The form is a nightmare. I gave up the last time after a couple of hours. Mrs Mo persevered for the best part of a day. In the end she travel to meet with a benefits officer to sort it all out. I had hoped it would simply be a case of confirming that my circumstances hadn’t changed but no they want it all. If only we had kept a copy to copy from.
One of the parts is about what medication I am taking and what psychiatrist I am seeing. It looks like if I don’t agree to be “treated” and have them poison my brain with drugs again, they will stop my benefits. I’d have to be mad to agree. Catch 22. The pirate is indeed captain of this ship and will not see my mutiny go unpunished.
You may have noticed yesterdays crap was posted at 5:35am (6 hours before the bombshell arrived). My sleep pattern has flipped again from sleeping 18 of 24 to being wakened 20 of 24 hours. I’m getting up around 5 now and seem to be driven and busy all day without achieving anything. I wander from OU stuff to browsing, to installing, to deleting stuff. However, I am not euphoric or hypomanic. The nearest I can describe how I am feeling just now is apprehensive and perplexed.
Friday, 23 February 2007
Kelvingrove Art Galleries & Museum had recently opened again after a couple of years of work on "improvements".
I was dissapointed as I thought part of the improvements would have bringing out previously stored and unseen exhibits out on display. First impressions are that quite a few of the old exhibits have been removed and in their place themed zones with boards and information screens put up. A bit sad really cos I can get all the information I want courtesy of AOL, down a little telephone wire into my own house. What I can't do at home is get a sense of scale of this huge Egyptian sarcophagus and feel the texture of it.
Salvador Dali's "Christ Of St John Of The Cross" still hangs upstairs (you can even see part of it that hasn't been washed out by my flash). My mother loved this painiting and was over the moon when my brother bought her a framed copy for her living room.
I was disappointed that the glass apiary was no longer on display. I remember being fascinated by it when I was a wee boy, spending ages watching the bees come and go.
Across the road is the transport museum and we spent a couple of hours in there. As well as old trams and buses, there's a fair bit of stuff in there from the 1970-80s. I was pleasantly surprised to see examples of five cars I have previously owned, but you start to feel a bit too close to the grim reaper when most of your life is now exhibited in a museum.
Afterwards we jumped back on the subway and made a whistlestop tour to Sound Control to drool over the guitars. I swithered about buying a beautiful 70s stratocaster but unfortunately common sense prevailed.
In the evening we went (full of trepidation) to a school drama competition my 13 year old niece was appearing in. Much to my surprise it was a fantastic night out. Things have certainly changed since I was a nipper. Radio mics, professional lighting etc. The kids were outstanding, hamming up Shakespeare and reincarnating Father Ted. For us country bumpkins this was a grand night out at the theatre.
On Friday morning we walked through Pollok Park. I had been brought up just outside this posh estate but had never set foot in it. It's funny how you often ignore what's right on your doorstep but travel miles to see similar shit elsewhere. First thing we came across was a giant woodpecker.
I was completely unaware there were highland cattle in Glasgow. I'm still not sure why?. Similarly, there was a guy doing Tai Chi in the woods. While this might be the norm in Tokyo or Los Angeles, it's certainly not around here.
From the outside, Pollok House looks a large and grand affair but it's a bit like the tardis in reverse. Although very opulent, once inside, everything seems to be on rather a small scale.
It was a nice morning for walking through the grounds...
The crocuses had just started flowering...
and there was a girl out riding a big Clydesdale horse...
Next stop on our itineray was the Burrell Collection which is also sited within Pollok park. I was tired of taking pictures so we just wandered round looking at the exhibits. I wish I had taken the camera on this occassion because one of the largest pieces of jade in existence was on temporary display as part of it's "world tour". It was a beautifully carved terrapin from 17th century India, about a foot and a half long. Here's a picture of it I stole from the internet...
Later in the afternoon we went to the Science Centre which was packed full of coachloads of screaming schoolkids. It's a very much hands on experience of discovering gravity, electricity etc. and totally geared up for kids. I found the noise and general chaos pretty unbearable and was glad to get out. Unlike all the other city attraction which are totally free, I actually thought this was a real ripoff. We paid £6.95 each to get in the door. Once inside the only thing I really wanted to see was the planetarium. When we eventually found it we were told we couldn't get in without going away back downstairs and buying extra £2 tickets for the planetarium, I was tired and my feet were sore so we didn't bother. Similarly if you want to have a look over the city from the top of the tower it's another £4.95 and to visit the IMAX cinema is another £6.95. I know it sounds like I'm an old scrooge but this would be an incredibly expensive day out for an average family. I was particulary annoyed about them not telling us on entry that we had to get extra tickets to enter the planetarium as that was the only thing I really wanted to see.
On leaving, we looked across the river is the Scottish Exhibition Centre, known locally as "the armadillo", before making the long drive home.
Wednesday, 21 February 2007
I was up before dawn but at the moment that only means I was up before seven am. I ambled through some OU stuff for a while before wandering off around the world in my little blue Internet Explorer. Mrs Mo got up around 9, we had a cuppa and a chat before she went off to meet friends for aquarobics at the pool while I actually got stuck into my OU stuff. By the end of the morning I was up to date, I think. Mrs Mo came home around 1 and made pancakes! I haven't had pancakes for about 5 years, they were absolutely FAB!
We took next doors mutt for a long walk in the afternoon. Even in the cold February wind he couldn't resist getting wet and going for a swim.
We came back from the river through the backstreets, behind the supermarket where we found a wall sprayed with grafitti. Nothing as sophisticated as tagging has arrived yet in our sleepy wee town. Just the usual friendly messages of respect to the police, anatomical images of male and female genitalia and of course the inevitable accusations of homosexuality and promiscuity involving various local colourful characters. There was however, one piece of very unusual grafitti that caught my eye and made me wonder what it was all about...
I could only try and imagine who the perptrator was and why they were so angry about pop music. Perhaps a brilliant classical pianist who had failed in his bid for commercial success and now lived in these back alleyways, raking through Somerfield's bins for food. Or a fanatical death metal band who lived life on the edge and despised melody, harmony and superficial lyrics. Or maybe the culprit was Tony Hadley from Spandau Ballet, embittered and shunned by a music business that used and abused him and left Gary Kemp with all the royalties. I will probably never know.
This evening I was back driving the IE6 around the world and came across an old aquaintance (pardon the expression). I don't know where Annie finds her images or what sort of hallucinogenics she has to take in order to think up the straplines but she is the funniest blogger I have ever encountered.
We've now arranged for Whackerman (Mr Next Door) to feed the cat and are all set to head off to encounter the exciting, cosmopolitan world of alcoholism, heroin, crime, poverty and social exclusion in sunny Glasgow tomorrow morning. It sounds almost as good as Las Vegas, I can't wait.
Tuesday, 20 February 2007
Mrs Mo is much, much better, back to her annoying, controlling, effervescent self again. She saw Dr Portillo this morning and has been declared fit for further abuse by her employers. Later she spoke to her boss and as she has a few days holiday left to take before April, it was agreed she could take them now and return to work next week. So we're going to spend a couple of days at my brother's later this week (a fortnight in the Maldives would probably have been ideal but two days in Glasgow will provide adequate respite for us working class heroes).
On the downside... I stayed up once again on Friday night and boozed until dawn. Woke up a couple of hours later full of guilt and shame. I had probably posted crap all over the interweb and had certainly invited some bams to MySpace. I have shut down my music pages on MySpace and put this blog into hibernation to reduce the immediate consequences of posting my URL everywhere. Mrs Mo was really upset and once again removed all the alcohol from the house.
I'm not sleeping as much now, 4-6 hours per night. My head is buzzing and I am keeping pretty busy. Mostly constructive stuff, working on my OU course and building other websites. No euphoria or excess spending. I am still drug and psychiatrist free. I could probably do with a tranquiliser just now but I'm not desperate enough yet to consider seeing a doctor.
"And you go dancing through doorways just to see what you will find
Leaving nothing to interfere with the crazy balance of your mind
And when you finally reappear at the place where you came in
You've thrown your love to all the strangers and caution to the wind"
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
On this day 27 years ago a couple of wide eyed and legless teenagers signed on the dotted line. No big gothic church venue, the registry office was situated in the old police station. Wedding photos bear witness to this, “County Police Station” emblazoned in the sandstone lintel above the entrance. Yup, we got married on Valentines Day.
More than a quarter of a century later we’re still holding on tight. Today’s celebrations were much in keeping with our humble beginnings. No candlelit dinner for two in a fancy restaurant, just a walk down the woods with the neighbour’s dog.
If anybody knows what they are could you let me know?
Things are getting busier for me at the moment with Mrs Mo needing much attention and I’m struggling with my OU stuff. Hence I haven’t managed to respond to comments (some have been great, in particular gabriel and the pig, excellent!) or wax lyrical in other folks blogs. Sorry, but I think things will be like this for a while, so please don’t take offence as I take a back seat in the blog world and try to get back into the driving seat in the real world.
At the moment we’re waiting for Mrs Mo’s dad to come out of the theatre from his prostate op, hopefully all will have gone well.
"Crying to the sky
Searching for a silver lining
Hoping that the clouds I'm climbing aren't hiding rain" (Nelson)
Monday, 12 February 2007
Looking above at that dreadful picture I can now see why people used to call me “Barry”. That could be me in the photo! That is exactly what I looked like in the 1970s, even the same hair (Mo can almost hear your mouse clicking on the Home button).
Even worse… thirty years later, despite now being in his 60’s, thanks to good genes and cosmetic surgery, Barry looks even younger. Meantime I have been transformed into a baldy, wrinkled, fat, old man. Still, I can’t smile without him…. ha ha ha !
We were feeling a bit peckish after our walk in the rain. We should have followed Barry’s advice and gone to the Copacabana where Tony would have served us Pina Coladas while we watched Lola merengue and do the Cha Cha. Unfortunately McDonalds was nearer.
We queued patiently through a couple of ice ages, watched various species of screaming children evolve into banshees before falling into extinction. Soon we were at the front of the queue and were being served by the traditional sulky teenager. Although full of angst and attitude, this youth was unfortunately not full of English. We struggled to communicate our order to the Eastern European girl but eventually what was in our minds and what was punched up on the till matched up. And so the slow process of making up our order began. As ever, rather than being logical and getting the cold drinks out first, she put the chips on the tray to give them plenty time to cool down. After a while the plastic tray contained most of what we had asked for but my chips were cooling down and my wife’s sweet chilli chicken sandwich was missing. “Take this and go sit down table” she said “I bring sandwich later”.
My hackles begin to rise…
“No, I’d like all my order together”
“OK, I keep and bring over”.
“No, I don’t want cold chips with a hot sandwich, I want it all fresh”
“I bring over”
“No, I don’t think you understand what I’m asking for?”
“Yeah, you sit down, I bring over”
At this point the needle sticks and the music crescendos. We repeat the last two sentences over and over and I get increasingly angrier and increasingly louder. Suddenly I realise that the entire staff of McDonalds are surrounding/protecting Miss Eastern Europe (apart from the white shirted, gold starred manager who is pale faced and moon walking backwards into the kitchen area to hide behind the fryers). The restaurant is now eerily silent, kids are clinging to mothers and all eyes are on me. This is Dog Day Afternoon!
I look around and plead with other acne suffering members of staff “Do you know what I mean? Do you understand what I’m saying? Hey you! What about you, do you understand me?”. Tumbleweed blows across the floor, in the distance a bell rings, the padre clutches his bible as the carpenter measures me up. I daren’t look round at the silent mob of angry villagers behind me lest they are wielding pitchforks. I see myself. I am frightening these people. The staff are teenagers, children, ordinary sons and daughters, just kids working at the weekend to get some pocket money. I am now the bogey man, Scotland’s answer to Freddy Krueger. How did I get here? A couple of years ago I was Joe Ordinary, everybody likes Joe, he’s always whistling, smiling, joking, happy to help folks out. One day I turned a corner and became a very different caricature. I used to be a guy who might have intervened in such a situation, distract, diffuse, make light of it of it all “Hey, give the guy a free Happy Meal for fuck’s sake, I’ll give him a hug. C’mon buddy. Hey, d’ya wanna hear me sing “I’d like to buy the world a coke”?”.
Nowadays it’s “Psycho Killer, Qu'est-ce que c'est? Fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better Run run run run run run run away”.
Fortunately every cloud has a silver lining and this incident did have a silver lining. I take Mrs Mo for a day out in an effort to cheer her up. I go off the deep end and we end up like the new age Bonnie & Clyde, publicly humiliated, outcasts, wanted in each and every state. Later, outside McDonalds, we’re sitting in the car. I think it has all gone horribly wrong and I’m sitting, shaking in the passenger seat, rocking myself like a polar bear trapped in a zoo and staring at the floor. Mrs Mo puts her hand on my leg, smiles and says quietly “it’s OK baby”. It was one of the most beautiful and perfect moments of my life. It certainly swept the McDonalds incident completely out of my mind and made me feel like Norah Jones was singing to me personally. Now I’m not a big fan of Norah Jones nor Bob Dylan, but put them together… Norah sings Dylan’s “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” and you’ve got one of the warmest songs of all time. That was the moment.
My moment of weakness made Mrs Mo strong again. Simply because she had to. A bit like an agoraphobic in a fire… she had to go outside. She had to look after me. I know it’s not right, I'm putting even more pressure on her, it’s not fair, it’ll all end in disaster. But maybe not. Don’t judge too soon.
A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away I was an in-your-face, loudmouthed, arrogant SOB who married a quiet, sensitive girl who lived in the shadows. All sorts of superficial clichés spring to mind like “Wind Beneath My Wings”, “My Rock”, etc… all are shite. Opposites attract, we clicked and that’s that. One day, suddenly after 25 years, our roles reversed. I went to bed for 2 years and Mrs Mo suddenly found herself the dominant partner. She became more of a mother than a wife. She blossomed in her new role and found a level of confidence and self assurance she had never known before. I think, since recently flapping my arse a la Jarvis Cocker at psychiatry, I’m starting to get better and more independent. Perhaps her new found confidence has been eroded. Yesterday in McDonalds it was restored. I collapsed and she picked me up. Everybody wins… except of course Ronald McDonald!
Saturday, 10 February 2007
Friday, 9 February 2007
Saturday, 3 February 2007
Access to our health centres is rigorously defended by psychopathic cyborgs cunningly disguised as sweet old ladies who call themselves receptionists. Despite having no medical training, when you phone for an appointment they will ask you what it’s about. You may question their blatant disregard of your right to confidentiality and general medical ethics. They will coldly explain that they may be able to fit you in quicker if you have an urgent medical problem. Experts in triage, they can quickly differentiate between the two main groups…
a) Those suffering myocardial infarction
As my wife fell into the second category she was given an appointment for 10 days later (obviously I use the term “appointment” loosely). On arrival at the health centre you first have to report to security. Head down, apparently staring at a blank piece of paper, you may think the cyborg has sustained a power failure. No, it is simply trying to annoy you. On all accounts do not sigh, cough or say excuse me. This will result immediately in the pretty cyborg getting up and spending the next 17 minutes searching aimlessly through medical records. Bide your time and eventually the cyborg will scan you for concealed weapons. It does this by looking up at you and raising an eyebrow. At this point it is safe for you to say “I’ve got an appointment with Dr Grumpy”. The sound of your voice will cause a Jacksonian seizure in the cyborg. It’s mouth will spasm horribly in an evil grimace and it will say “Just got through and take a seat dear” before switching back into hibernation mode.
Once in the waiting room you scan the table for a magazine of remote interest or at least something you vaguely recognise. You give up and settle for a 30 year old copy of “Horse and Hound”. You sit down with your back to a long corridor leading out of the waiting room. This corridor is lined with unmarked doors, behind these lurk the high priests of the temple, the GPs. Frequently a door bursts open, out comes a tall, scowling youth. Rosy red cheeks, hair in a 1960s side parting and bizarrely dressed as a country gent. He strides along the corridor, head down, the segs on his brogues clacking like castanets on the floor tiles. He suddenly stops about 100 yards from the waiting room and roars in a muffled public school accent “Mawa Habadon!!!”. Despite having no formal training in languages, you are supposed to understand that this is a call for Mrs Ferguson. Unfortunately Mawa Habadon also means John Davidson, Euphaemia Grant and Alexander McGuigan. About 55 minutes after your allotted time, the country gent makes yet another appearance and again roars “Mawa Habadon!!!”. Now this is where it all gets a bit weird. In some primitive part of your brain you have a sixth sense which tells you that this time, and this time only, Mawa Habadon is in fact your name! Unfortunately in the millisecond it takes to wonder at this amazing new level of telepathy, country gent turns on his heels and takes off like Jesse Owens. Sprinting back to his office, he dashes back in and by the time you turn your head around the doorspring has done it’s job and you are faced with a long empty corridor of closed doors. Aye, there's the rub.
Anyway, Mrs Mo eventually gets in to see Dr Portillo and despite her not suffering from leprosy or anthrax he is surprisingly sympathetic. He sits and listens and talks for a good 30 minutes. One can only presume he had just downed a huge amount of opiates prior to seeing her. UK doctors are notorious for immediately writing on their prescription pads before even hearing the patient's complaint and rushing people out of their surgeries ASAP. One GP in Glasgow does not provide a chair for his patients to sit on. “You get through them much quicker” he explains. Mrs Mo had hoped (in vain) to get Fluoxetine (Prozac) or benzos. Instead she got a good dose of psychological support. Well done Dr Portillo (you are obviously a strange anomaly that has not yet been identified and eliminated by NHS management... but it's only a matter of time). She says she broke down in tears at one point. He had asked her if she had one wish, what would it be (yeah, I know… weird for a GP to think he is the genie from Aladdin. Maybe he hadn't just taken opiates). She replied “To get the old Mo back again”. Isn’t that just the sweetest thing ever.
I was saying in an email to a friend the other day that although I feel a bit better now, I am in no doubt that I am permanently damaged. It’s a bit like coming back from holiday and discovering you’ve been burgled. I got better and came back to an empty house. So what. You move on, you get on with it. But I had no idea how much all this bipolar crap was hurting my wife.
Thursday, 1 February 2007
I finally finished reading my Bill Bryson book and as with any good book it was sad to reach the end of it. Finished it just in time as it happens, my OU stuff arrived a couple of days ago and I’m trying (or more honestly, not trying) in vain to make a start on it. Now it’s here it all seems a bit overwhelming. I’ve installed the required software, read through the guide, in fact did everything I can but start the actual work. I’ve diverted myself by starting to build another website, taken to having long walks around the ring road, surfing the net, downloading and listening to loads of music.
I knew my Astronomy course wouldn’t just consist of sitting out in the moonlight, gazing at stars, singing cowboy songs... but managing spreadsheets!
This is gonna be hard for a luddite like me to get his head round (I refuse to use that crap and usually misused phrase, “steep learning curve”). But I’m sure once I get my head down it’ll probably be fine. I just need a bit self discipline (easier said than done).
I’m just back from a walk down the woods. First time I’ve been down for ages and I was amazed, as I am every year, to see how many snowdrops are out. I had stopped for a while just to look at them when I noticed a squirrel busying about on the ground a few yards from me. Then there was a flapping sound from above and I looked up to see a large buzzard land on the branches above me. I wish I’d taken my camera with me.
Poor Mrs Mo is having a rough time just now. She’s looks pale and tired, most unusually for her, she is suffering from headaches and insomnia. Generally stressed out, probably due to a combination of major hassles at work and me. She has an appointment with our GP tomorrow. I’m a bit worried about her seeing Dr Portillo. As I’ve said before, he’s not particularly sympathetic to anyone who is suffering from anything less than smallpox or the bubonic plague. Anyone presenting with a psychological problem who is not floridly psychotic or confessing to being a serial killer is a charlatan who needs a good dressing down. He views all stress related illnesses as “Earlston Fever” (the local phrase for malingering. Earlston being a town apparently notorious for it’s work-shy inhabitants).
I’ve suggested she see another doctor but she insists this will be easier as he is my GP, it’ll save her explaining at length about her dependent husband.