Wednesday, 17 April 2019

The Bitterest Pillbox.

This afternoon, I had my own smallscale Twitter moment; let's relive it in real time:

4:22PM: (Just to clarify, we're not imprisoning him.)

4:24PM: Look at it. It was a work of art. LOOK AT IT. 

4:24PM: My money's on him having eaten it.

4:25PM: It was the healthiest Filofax on the planet.

4:27PM: It was all the colours of the rainbow. Literally.
4:27PM: Apart from the ones you can't see. Which is ironic, as now you can't see it.

4:36PM: If I run out of time to write a new show for Edinburgh, can I just dispense seven-day pill-organisers to the audience like a shopping channel made flesh?

4:42PM: I've ordered a new one. Fuck it.


4:46PM: (I've also ordered him some scourers, but I'm worried the colour scheme will confuse it.)


4:52PM: Perhaps I can develop a mechanism that'll dispense tablets directly to his mouth at the given time in the style of the board game Mouse Trap.

4:52PM: (Something to think about.)

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Gently Does It.

I'm feeling quite vulnerable at the moment.

I don't really know how to approach my work. It all feels very moot. I'm sure it's just a blip - and it's no wonder, considering what's going for me at the moment - but I've got no impetus to get things done. I've recently been more candid than usual about my uncertainty, along with my dad's and my health situation, and it's made me feel very raw.

Over the past two days, I've had a few, brief flashes of ideas, which is a step forward, but I'm still unsure how I'm going to navigate the coming months. Somehow, I've got to get my head around preparing for Edinburgh while there's a big question mark around my personal life, and to compound it, I'm trying to be funny when I'm not feeling remotely comedic. Perhaps I should employ a writer or an understudy; that would take the pressure off.

I'm just going to try to rein things in. Sometimes it's best to focus on something small, and the fact my dog's fast asleep on the sofa next to me is helping. I should get some sleep myself too; most things look better on a fresh day after a rest.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Up Against It.

It's a measure of how stressful the past few weeks of sorting my dad's palliative care have been that I spent an hour looking at a page of figures today when I got home, unable to make head nor tail of it; it's like someone substituted my brain with Pollyfilla.

The kindness everyone involved in his care has shown - from friends to medical professionals - has been exceptional. My Dad has a small army of loyal mates, all in their seventies themselves (who my mum accurately described as being, "Like the cast of 'Last of the Summer Wine'") who have gone out of their way to help him. But inevitably the pressure is on my mum and me the most as we try to navigate the difficulties presented both by my dad and his illness; it's a neverending one-step-forward, two-steps-back process that it's hard to keep a handle on, and the fact my dad can be a difficult patient at the best of times makes the whole thing rawer.

In some ways, the busyness helps as it doesn't give you time to think. It's easier to tackle the smaller day-to-day challenges than to consider the bigger picture. In the moments when I take it in, I wish I could press a button marked 'reset' and be given a second chance at it. But having said that, I'm aware that there was a time almost exactly a year ago when my dad suffered a terrible brain bleed that he was never meant to recover; we were told he wouldn't make it through the night, so each day since then has been a blessed luxury.

What I wasn't prepared for - as with the response Re. my current PIP situation - was the kindness of the internet. I posted a few tweets earlier today, which were essentially this blog in truncated form, and received some lovely responses, mostly from people I've never met. One, in particular, stood out: 
"I'm just off to work my 12 hour night shift as a rapid responder to assist people living with and managing palliative care situations. The stress on families is at times colossal. 
Stay strong and make time for yourself and each other."

What you do, sir, is incredible and so many of us are very grateful for it.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Life with Subtitles.

When I pressed the bell on the bus today, only the last four letters of the 'STOPPING' sign lit up to spell 'PING', which was a small victory for happy accidents.

It was beautiful in its appropriateness; so much so, I was tempted to point it out to the other passengers, except that would mean breaking the official bus vow of silence, and you should never do that. Instead, I laughed to myself and made a note in my ideas pad so I didn't forget it; a pad that's fast resembling a very odd shopping list.

It's always pleasing when these little things happen; it's like someone 'Up There' is cracking a joke. It's like the time I watched three people press the buzzer bathroom at exactly at the moment and I thought we might get thrust into another dimension; well, if The Doctor can travel through time in a converted police box then anything's possible; I've just remembered Doctor Who is fiction.

Monday, 8 April 2019

(Im)personal Independence Payment.

Today, the DWP rescinded the PIP I'd been "awarded" for two years - that gave me a semblance of financial assistance and a sense that my health conditions of severe chronic depression, anxiety & vestibular migraine/vertigo were real - despite my providing more evidence than ever.

For starters, they decided the detailed reports they'd received from the mental health team I've been under for seven years (including my psychiatrist, therapist & GP) and information on my prescribed medication & ENT analysis of my vertigo was no longer enough and I now required a PIP assessment.

Despite expecting my evidence WITHOUT FAIL by a given date and absolute assurance I would attend my interview, they gave me under two weeks notice that I had to get to an appointment in Borehamwood (I don't drive). If I missed it/wasn't available, I had one more strike or my PIP would end.

This morning, a letter arrived, telling me "I've looked into your claim and decided I can't award you Personal Independence Payment" as if I'd never had it before, and - here's the clincher - "I'VE DECIDED YOUR PIP AWARD WILL END ON 2ND APRIL 2019"


Not only have they stopped it retrospectively without warning, they've informed me of this bluntly; totally unmindful of how this might affect someone with my history, with all manner of direct evidence of my vulnerability in front of them.

Every statement the Government make about finding parity between mental & physical health is an empty promise; they couldn't care less. As with Brexit, they're only out for personal gain at our expense. The affluent protect themselves and treat the poor & vulnerable like effluent.

Thank God I have some support or I don't know how I'd cope.

The Tories should be ashamed, but then they don't have the capacity for that.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Mostly Slattery.

Tonight's Mostly Comedy was a good one, which was a relief for me, as Glyn wasn't there and I wasn't really in the right mood.

Running a club's a multitasking exercise at the best of times, not least when you're on your own. Your attention's all over the place as you methodically make your way through the setup process, trying not to be sent off-course. Inevitably you spend the least amount of time thinking about the material you'll do and more about the get-in and setup, which is a recipe for panic, particularly when you're responsible for the whole event with no buffer from the audience.  I'd love to be able to rock up, plug in and be good to go, but instead, I'm my own lackey (unless I rope someone in to help).

This is all compounded when I'm on my own, and when, in the case of yesterday, a series of things conspired to make me arrive at the venue later than planned, not to mention the fact my dad's health issues have taken over to the extent that my brain's pretty shot. It can be daunting when a new character plays the club - in this case, it was Tony Slattery - as you desperately want them to be nice and straightforward, and, above all, to not make a dick of yourself when the process of meeting someone is, by its nature, awkward.

Thankfully, Tony and his team (including his fellow improviser Allan Lear and P.A. Erica) were super-nice and relaxed about the whole thing. From the moment they arrived, Tony was praising the room, saying how lovely it was and how pleased he was to be there. This broke the ice nicely as, as it stood, I was lacking in personality and not capable of contributing a great deal to proceedings.
Pictures of tonight's action.

Spin forward to the gig and all was good. Spring Day made her second appearance at the club and was excellent, and then Tony and Allan did about thirty minutes of improv games to a strong reaction (with bonus involvement from the actor James Payton). We didn't make a great deal on the door due to the short notice of the event, but we made some nice friends and watched some great comedy; now you can't say fairer than that.

Thursday, 4 April 2019


With things as they are at the moment, I'm not really in the mood to be funny or creative.

A lot of this stems from problems regarding my dad's health and the time that's taken up with trying to care for him, which has left me feeling a little flaccid and barren. As a result, I've spent a lot of time prevaricating when I'd usually be working, and a lot of time just staring at a blank computer screen.

I just don't seem to have the requisite space in my head to think creatively, plus I don't really know how things will fall over the next few months. Unfortunately, I've had to pull the work-in-progress dates I had booked in Bath this weekend for the simple reason I've had no time to put anything together, and being away wouldn't be ideal at the moment. Everything's in a state of flux, but hopefully, things will settle down soon.