Well fancy seeing you here...

Hello and welcome to the rambling rollercoaster of useless ponderings, strung together in what the internet calls a "blog," and the voices call a waste of everyone elses time.

Please check your sanity at the door (along with your dignity, logic, principles, good taste and prejudices against daftness.)

"I am here to seduce you into a love of life; to help you to become a little more poetic; to help you die to the mundane and to the ordinary so that the extraordinary explodes in your life." -Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Sunday, 20 April 2008

If I May Be Excused? And Other Excuses

It's one of those days today, and I have been somewhat distracted until now, so this is a little hurried and I can only apologise. Though to be frank, if you've read any of the other entries in this blog, then you hardly expect sparkling wit and linear constructs anyway!

There was a documentary on ITV tonight called Superhuman Giants, and the majority of the people featured were over seven feet tall. I'm only 5'2" - so four people text me saying it was on. That's just rubbing it in.

One of the men featured - who was the tallest man in Britain until very recently - has a lot of problems because his heart is twice the size of most peoples. Due to thickening of the muscle it can beat irregularly, and even stop for a few seconds. I reference it because this weekend I have been trying to get back in touch with an old friend who had a heart transplant. John had his operation in 2000, after his heart was damaged by a childhood illness, and other surgery failed to correct the problems. I contacted John about a year after his op because of a GCSE English project. I had to write a short story based on one of several potential titles, and I chose 'The Call.' I was fifteen then, and had been exposed to hospitals rather a lot the previous year. I knew a little about people on the donor register getting called in for their surgery, only to be told the operation is impossible because their white cell count is too high (indicating infection), or the organ is damaged, etc. (Truth is, it quite possibly had nothing to do with my familiarity with the hospital environment - I'd probably just seen it on ER.) Anyway, I wanted to really research these 'calls,' and scoured the internet - reading dozens of devastating accounts from people waiting on transplant lists. During my research I came across nothing that really gave me details of the actual process, so I emailed John, outlining my project and asking him to tell me the story of his call.

He was very helpful, and provided me the all the information I needed regarding the healthcare professionals involved in transplant surgery, as well as enlightening me on the personal and physical challenges faced by donor organ recipients. I wrote the story, was marked well on it and sent a copy to John as I had promised I would. He was very pleased with it and published it on his website. He used to forward me emails and letters from people who had read the story and wanted to thank me for putting the experience down on paper. Most of the correspondence was from teenagers, as that is the angle I went for when writing the piece. It was my first taste of writing for an audience, and I adored the attention. The piece itself is far from exceptional, and I wouldn't even consider putting it on public view now, but I was pleased with it at the time.

Writing 'The Call' eight years or so ago was difficult, because I only had a very old laptop, and no way of printing my work: so I wrote it on a typewriter. Being - even then - the nocturnal creature that I am now, I would write in the evenings when everyone else was in bed. If I started too early then my sister would complain that the noise of the typewriter was keeping her awake - so I would have to wait until she was already asleep, and then muffle the sound with music (which was apparently less annoying.) If her chastisements interrupted a moment of inspiration then I would have my petty revenge by deliberately choosing bands she'd hate more than the noise of the typewriter. A deal's a deal, after all!

I still have those typewritten pages; streaked with my tutor's red pen corrections, paper thickened by globules of smeared Tippex, and wrinkled where it jammed in the mechanism. Not quite Kerouac's scroll from On The Road! Though there is one parallel. The last section of Kerouac's masterpiece was destroyed by a canine, and some of my work that GCSE year suffered a similar fate. I had been putting the finishing touches to my version of the Witches scene in Macbeth, of which I was writing the direction for a modern production. I imagined it taking place in an underground car park. It would start with a bleak shot of the abandoned industrial landscape, and a large black crow would fly across the camera as we descended into the gloomy concrete structure. With the camera moving slowly into the murky half-light - the strip lighting flickering and buzzing - the haunting, echoing sound of young girls chanting would bounce and roll around the dingy basement. I imagined the "hubble bubble" incantation as a schoolyard chant - sung in slow motion, like a Victorian skipping-rope song - with the witches as seven year-old girls dressed as Goths. Innocent female voices that belie the witches malice, "Hu-bble bu-bble toil and tro-uble, fi-re burn and caul-dron bu-bble."

Come 3am, I'd just finished writing the direction for the whole scene, and so I went to make a cup of tea - leaving my work spread out on the floor in the living room. Our golden retriever was only a few months old then, but quite docile - she was never a destructive puppy and I was only in the next room. I returned with a cup of tea and found her sprawled amongst my papers. I think I woke the whole house that night, yelling at the poor dog. I had to put the chewed, soggy, bonio-spattered remains of the coursework into plastic wallets so I could show my tutor Babs - because I knew there was no way she'd believe me if I told her that "the dog ate my homework." I felt like such an idiot that day, showing her - I swear she thought I chewed it up myself. (That's the sort of thing I probably would do - in a fix - so I couldn't blame her for doubting me.) I knew exactly how ridiculous it sounded. Nevertheless, one whiff of the Pedigree-Chum scented documents should have convinced her of my innocence. I don't think you can give a puppy tic-tacs - but I would have seriously considered it if I'd known I'd have to spend the next few days piecing foul-stenched, drool covered paperwork back together.

I had a quick browse online tonight to see what other strange things have been eaten by peoples' dogs. I found this story about a dog that ate a knife:

Jake, a 12-week-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross from Merseyside, was taken to the vet after he started vomiting and trying to keep his body in a straight line. X-rays indicated a seven-inch knife was running through his body, with the plastic handle at the base of his pelvis and the metal point at the top of his throat. Vets at the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) operated immediately and within a few days Jake had bounced back to health. Jake had swallowed the Shappu 2000 knife whole, handle-first, at his home in Huyton.

Whilst horrifying - and incredibly stupid - sword swallowing is quite a neat trick...for a canine. Not a marketable skill, though, when it's so difficult to get the knife out again.

Jake the Bull Terrier.

Sally, my Golden Retriever.

Fortunately, despite the missed deadline, I passed my English GCSE coursework.

And my dog passed the rest of it.

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