Tuesday, 23 January 2007

The Man With No Past

When I was a kid I used to get slightly envious of those kids at school who had a plaster cast on an arm or leg. I think it was because I wanted to know what it felt like. It was a life experience that I was lacking and would have liked to have known about, preferably without having felt too much pain though I accept that that would defeat the object somewhat. It was also a feeling that I felt quite guilty about as it trivialised the pain that someone else was going through. But then I was a child and therefore susceptible to childish emotions.

Many years later, in September last year, I dislocated my collarbone, my first proper skeletal injury. Despite the discomfort I enjoyed the experience of having to learn how to do everyday day things differently and this, for me, was a vindication of how I felt all those years ago.

Last night those same feelings came back as I watched a TV program called The Man With No Past about a London man of 25, David Fitzpatrick, who lost his memory. Motor movements and skills such as football and swimming remained but he had no recollection of any specific experiences. He could remember none of his family or friends, including his daughter from a failed relationship. He couldn't be sure of the truth of anything he was told about any subject.

Now, I should state that there is no way I would swap places with David. I treasure my family and friends and am aware that we are the sum of our experiences and that those experiences, good or bad, provide us with memories that define how we feel and act. I can't begin to imagine the horror David felt and must surely continue to feel.


Wouldn't it be, well, something, if we could just start again? If we could rid ourselves of the neuroses picked up in our formative years that will plague us through life and actually choose who we wanted to be? David was, by all accounts, a bit of a git before he suffered amnesia. Now he isn't. He had an alcohol problem borne of an unhappiness with aspects of his life and he was an imposition on his friends and their families. Now, everything he does is a new experience and he is of an age to really appreciate those experiences, to understand how important they are in a way that a child never can. He appreciates life in a way no-one else can understand. The evident joy of his "first" swim in the sea was so touching, he matched the wonder of a child with the articulacy of an adult and it is this that I'm envious of. Nothing else.

He's now writing a book about his life and I can't wait to read it. Good luck David.

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Heart Attack Man

Football wasn't fun on saturday, something that's bothering me quite a bit. My shoulder was fine but my legs and lungs let me down badly. Most troubling was the feeling that I really didn't know what I was doing out there. I felt quite lost in an environment that was for many years where I felt most at home. Feeling like an outsider in your own home isn't a pleasant feeling but I'm sure it won't be that way after I've a few games under my belt.

So I now face a scary prospect: getting fit. It will mean some pretty major lifestyle changes. Exercise, for example. Not smoking. And if these two mammoth tasks weren't enough I've decided to reduce the levels of sugar and caffeine in my bloodstream. The amount of beer I drink will, however, remain constant. One step at a time, eh? Coca-Cola is out though.

As of today I take one sugar in my tea instead of two, with the intention of cutting it out altogether as soon as I can tolerate it. Buying decaffeinated tea is the next thing on the list. When I get paid next week I'm going to stock up on nicotine substitutes (patches, gum etc) and try to stop smoking. The exercise will start once I've myself of the pneumonia-like symptoms that will surely follow this massive upheaval. My body will be severely displeased with me for a while but will hopefully soon realise that all this is for its own good.

I normally like to put a few funny bits in my blog entries but, quite frankly, I'm scared right now. My life has for many years been characterised by avoiding those things that might be called a challenge. Anything that requires effort, basically. This is a big thing for me. Hopefully, normal service will be resumed shortly and I can get on with making snidey comments about stuff.

Thursday, 11 January 2007


The past couple of weeks have, for me, been notable mainly for my complete laziness. Not just my normal everyday slovenliness but my unwillingness to do anything more than sit and read once I finish work. Just typing this makes me feel as though I've turned into some sort of human dynamo, such is my normal level of inaction.

But I did something a couple of days ago - I went to a preview screening of Nick Broomfield's new film, Ghosts, followed by a Q&A with Nick himself. It was a very good film and an excellent evening all round not least because it wasn't the kind of film that I'd normally go to the cinema to see. I generally go to the cinema twice a year, in fact. Nick's a very amiable chap, just like his screen self really, and his words really increased my appreciation of the film.

I think the main reason that I enjoyed myself so much is that it actually felt as though I was indulging in an intellectual pursuit. I was surrounded by people who hadn't gone to the cinema to just passively observe, they actually wanted to learn and enrich their lives. I haven't had that feeling for a decade now. And they didn't speak wanky film language either. When the questions started I was expecting people to come out with words such as metatextual and symbiotic and auteur but they didn't, although one chap prefixed his question with "The film affected me very deeply on many different levels". That's ok though as he was just speaking the truth in the plainest possible English. And even if he wasn't, so what?

Of course, I now find mainstream cinema beneath me. How could I not after visiting the Curzon Renoir? I will never step foot in a multiplex again, especially not an out-of-town one. I will never again view a hollywood blockbuster or anything with a wide general release unless some incredible set of circumstances leads Polish arthouse to popularity. I will grow a goatee and maybe start wearing a beret and find that the main reason that I dislike a particular film, song etc is that it is too populist.

I've had enough of this blog, it's too populist.

Another thing that I've done, just an hour ago actually, is go jogging. Not far, only about a mile, but that's not the point. The point is that today I made myself available for football on saturday and I haven't done even a tiny amount of exercise since I dislocated my collarbone four months ago. My normal level of fitness is such that it would embarrass an asthmatic aardvark, I dread to think how it's going to be right now. There is also the fear that as soon as any pressure is applied to my shoulder then I'll do myself a mischief again. I don't actually know what further damage I can do since the bone is still protruding from the top of my shoulder but I'm still scared. I need to start playing again though or I'll completely seize up. Oh, I nearly forgot - I don't actually like football. It's too populist.