Ten years ago this month in my life

Some backward-looking Pepys into life ten years ago

I am feeling both lazy and in a bit of a rush this morning.

So, instead of transcribing one of several chats I have had with people which would make for a more relevant blog today, I looked at pre-written stuff – what was happening ten years ago.

I kept a diary on my computer.

These are brief extracts from 2002.

My mother died in Clacton in 2007. Comedian Malcolm Hardee drowned in Rotherhithe in 2005.

Sunday 1st September – Borehamwood

I have a rather snotty, flu-y thing which, together with exhaustion, made me even dozier for most of last week after getting back from the Edinburgh Fringe.

My mother had her plaster off on Friday but is in agony when she puts any weight on the foot. She is seeing the doctor again in a fortnight. She has a sort-of bandage-stocking thing she has to put on and remove daily, doubled, which is a bit of a problem if you only have one hand, as she has.

Monday 2nd September – Clacton

My mother’s 82nd birthday. Although together, it felt when we sat together that we were both cold and solitary.

Tuesday 3rd September – Kensington

At 4.20pm, on the platform at High Street Kensington tube, the tips of the middle and third finger on my left hand started vibrating – tingling – from within.

Thursday 5th September – Fleckney/Higham Ferrers

I went to see comedian Charlie Chuck in Leicestershire; he seemed internally sad. And mad inventor John Ward in Northamptonshire; he seemed internally frustrated.

Friday 6th September – Borehamwood

Very depressed. I slept through until 1430.

Saturday 7th September – Clacton

My mother’s cousin Sheena has got glaucoma.

Sunday 8th September – North London

The woman who runs criminal AAAA BBBB’s website e-mailed me:
I am off to the hospital now, my ma is having a brain scan tomorrow to see if she is brain stem dead. If she is I guess it’s not good.

I went round to comedian CCCC DDDD ‘s home. He told me he believes in God, is a Christian and prays every day. He has a 3ft high brass Buddha in his fireplace.

Monday 9th September – Soho

I had a chat with someone who told me about EEEE FFFF, whom I used to work with at a TV station. She says that, after I left, he was bullied by his boss. As a result, he took a drugs overdose and was found by police just about to jump into a canal. The police talked to him and found out why he was going to jump – they can investigate and press charges without a complaint being made. It was assumed they were going to prosecute. The boss resigned from the company before being sacked. There were also tales of him allegedly drugging teenage boys for homosexual acts, but she did not know the details.

The woman who runs criminal AAAA BBBB’s website e-mailed me:
Been at the hospital. I have popped home to get changed. Ma had the brain scan and we do have brain activity, although the seizures could be confusing the issue. She is having a seizure about every 45 mins. They are going to lighten her sedation and try to remove the breathing tube to see what happens, which is what they did last week and we had to have her resuscitated which scared the shit out of me and my dad.

Tuesday 10th September – Ealing

Had tea with comedian GGGG HHHH at a health club in Ealing. His eyes were emotionless. Malcolm Hardee had told me GGGG HHHH’s marriage was rocky because GGGG HHHH had been sleeping with other women on an epic scale, although you could not call him handsome. He has always seemed – and still does – a quiet, rather shy and insecure man.

Wednesday 11th September – Clacton

I am heavily depressed at the moment and have been for two or three years – especially since watching (and listening to) my father die last year and looking at his eyes at the instant of death. Now, when I come to see my mother, I have more depressive layers poured on top of the existing ones.

Thursday 12th September – Southwark/Pimlico

I went to the Old Kent Road to talk to comedian IIII JJJJ about the Sit-Down Comedy book. As soon as I came out of the station at Elephant & Castle, there were posters about guns in Southwark. Turn the gunmen in. Guns are no way to live.

IIII JJJJ is 50, clearly not wanting to live long. He says the guns are used by the Nigerians who run the local drug trade.

Then I went to meet Malcolm Hardee and the editor at Random House for a meeting about the book. There were various marketing/PR people there. Difficult to know what they made of Malcolm, fairly quiet and ramshackle.

Friday 13th September – Clacton

I took my mother to Clacton Hospital for a check-up. There were lots of people sitting on chairs in corridors throughout the hospital, just waiting to be seen.

Saturday 14th September – Enfield/Rotherhithe

Malcolm wanted to buy a second duck as a mate for the one he already has (as a surprise for his partner Andree). Charlie Chuck and I went and bought the second duck for him at an animal ‘hyper’ shop in Enfield. While waiting, there was much alarmed quacking when a cockerel decided to mate with a startled mallard duck. The cockerel gave up eventually, which was a relief both to us and to the mallard. Back in Rotherhithe, Malcolm’s female Indian Runner duck was even more startled to see a male Indian Runner emerge from our cardboard box.

Sunday 15th September – Borehamwood

Immensely depressed and despairing. Maybe men aged over a certain age don’t care about anything any more because they know nothing matters – they have a clear sight of mortality. All that really matters in life is pleasure, relationships and the money that allows both to function freely. I realised this too late.

Monday 16th September – Borehamwood

This evening, Malcolm’s female duck jumped over the side of his ship in what he said was an assumed suicide bid – possibly alarmed at the new male’s attentions – and Malcolm spent about 45 minutes trying to retrieve her with a fishing net.

Thursday 19th September – Rotherhithe

I went to Malcolm’s Wibbley Wobbley pub. His two ducks Crispy (the original) and Charlie (named after Charlie Chuck) had been let out and he successfully tried to catch them again – running along a wooden pontoon, a single long-poled fishing net in his hand. Andree has not been able to eat duck since the first arrival.

Comedian KKKK LLLL arrived, looking relaxed and confident but I know he is in big money trouble.

Friday 20th September – Borehamwood

Back to the depression.

Saturday 21st September – Borehamwood

The tips of the middle and third finger on my left hand were vibrating – tingling – from within.

Sunday 22nd September – Borehamwood

I went to bed at 0200 and got up at 1510. I didn’t want to get up even then, just to stay in bed. Late at night, there was a 4.8 Richter Scale earthquake in Dudley (on the outskirts of Birmingham)… I felt it in Borehamwood (in Hertfordshire).

Monday 23rd September – Clacton

On ITV,  Anglia News reported that a woman from Peterborough had phoned in to say that, during last night’s earthquake, her pet bird was thrown off its perch.

I got an e-mail from someone I went to school with; he is now in Israel:

Are you now, or have you ever been…… the John Fleming who joined Ilford County High School for Boys in 1961, and left considerably earlier than the rest of us, in what I have always viewed as a blaze of glory? I have found myself, at odd moments over the intervening 35 years, wondering, not a little enviously, whether the John Fleming I knew continued to live by his high principles of artistic freedom. As for your splendid website, that is how I found you, and I must say that what I read there did not disappoint. It sounds as though you are doing what you want to do,

In fact, I took an overdose of paracetamol, aspirin and codeine and, slightly later, ran away from home. All over a girl. Hardly a blaze of glory. Hardly anything to do with artistic freedom. How strange how others view our lives.

My mother’s stomach was more painful than normal today She took 2 paracetamol at teatime and was holding her stomach while sitting in her chair during the evening.

Tuesday 24th September – Borehamwood

My friend Sandy in Italy e-mailed me:
Earthquakes of course were a monthly occurrence in Japan. I survived a 6.9 one… Oh, the tales I shall tell…

I replied:
Earthquakes are not such a threat to the Japanese as they are very small and thus don’t have so far to fall if they get knocked over.

I felt a circa 5.8 one in Manchester in the early 1980s (its epicentre was in North Wales); at first I had thought it was a couple having sex in the next room… And there was a distinct shaking in a hotel in Las Vegas when I was there in 1979. We at first thought this was an earthquake then realised it might be an underground atomic bomb going off in the Nevada test area.

Wednesday 25th September – Borehamwood

Extract from an e-mail from my friend Lys (who lives in Oxfordshire):
I forgot to say but, yes, the earthquake woke me up too.

I had a meal with comedian MMMM NNNN and a long-time male friend of hers at the Groucho Club. She says she feels more secure there because people don’t look at her.

Thursday 26th September – Borehamwood

I slept from 6.10pm-8.50pm and I don’t know what or how to describe it, But something seemed to snap when I was asleep. My ability to cope with reality. My ability to cope with anything. When I woke up and got up, I felt even more adrift and separated from Life.

The woman who runs criminal AAAA BBBB’s website e-mailed me:
My mother has had a total of about 18-20 strokes and she is due to come home into community care Friday as there is nothing else a hospital can do. They might try and find her a private rehab centre but places are few and far between so I am thinking it over. Private rehab is £1,800 per week which is a very expensive. We will see.

Saturday 28th September – Clacton

My mother and I sit mostly in silence. My mother’s wrist is very thin, very boney.

Sunday 29th September – Borehamwood

My friend Lynn (who is also the executrix of my will) told me that, last night, she dreamt about my death. It was not my body lying on the floor yet she knew it was me.

I met my friend OOOO PPPP in London. She was puffy-faced, yet with no lines on her forehead. Maybe the anti-cancer drugs have puffed her face up.

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Filed under Comedy, Death, Psychology

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