Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Museum of Curiousity

Its been a fun week. Things starting to snowball nicely in preparation for my trip out to Las Vegas to play in a major US bridge convention next month. I'll be playing as part of the Kings and Queens bridge team, which consists of some good friends I've played and worked with for a few years now, on the wonderful online bridge site www.bridgebase.com, known to its friends as BBO. We're getting lots of good support, tips and advice from all sorts of unexpected people. Delighted however, that the team's mentor, a wonderful Indian national team player, and one of the brightest and loveliest men I know , was able to do a session with us. It was lovely to 'see' you again Zas-ji. Namaste, my friend and teacher

Last Wednesday, me and my old schoolfriend Zouk went into London to be part of the radio audience for BBCR4's remarkeable show 'The Museum of Curiousity'. As usuak, it was a really fun show, and we got to chat and shake hands after the show with Phil Jupitus, who is this seasons new curator, AND the ever-wonderful and totally amazing John Lloyd :). They were both standing outside the theatre, ready to go on to their next gigs. Both very friendly and happy to chat :)

John Lloyd talks about The Museum of Curiousity

Unfortunately, it was pretty damn hot that day. We had met up with a couple of Zouk's regular radio-showgoing friends and despite the heat we headed off after the show around 4.30 towards Soho, (like you do), in search of a pleasant watering hole, cafe or green space, while exploring the various interesting shops in the area. Eventually we found a nice street cafe and parked our bums for as long we dare with just a round of coffees and glasses of tap water.

It was about this time that I began to realise that:

a. The UTI that I suspected hadn't quite gone away with the last course of antibiotics, had returned with a vengeance
b. The 3 one-use catheters that I had brought with me began to look woefully inadequate
c. It seemed the delicious bite to eat that we'd had before the show from a promising looking Italian cafe near the studios had decided to add to my woes

and d.

It was becoming rapidly apparent that I'm in need of a decent pair of walking shoes, in addition to replacements for the cheap work shoes I had been wearing. Alas they did not survive London. Along with my feet.

And so we started walking again......... I believe I may be able to make a new claim for the World record in 'gritted teeth for an extended period'. Chancing on a small park, we stopped to watch a few folks playing table tennis on a free table. I darent sit down, what with all the teeth-grinding and bumcheek-clenching whilst endevouring to hold in my knees and the occasional gasps caused by decidedly unsexual frissons from down below. But there were a coupla Chinese players that we watched that were just messing around and were a joy to watch. Zouk and his mate were hoping to have a go, but there was apparently a queue :)

Mercifully, the other guys finally decided to head back to catch their bus so we walked back with them towards their bus-stop.

Things came to a head when I realised that I had shat myself, and besides I REALLY needed to use my last catheter. I spotted a pub just down a side-street and hobbled determinedly towards it. Several levels of relief later, I re-emerged and we headed home, rather drained (but in a good way).

We had to get back to Burnt Oak on the tube, then pick up the car and drive back to Stevenage. Where I quickly dropped Zouk off and dashed for home.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Wild Ride - Part 2

'Now then, Mr Cropton, you'll be feeling a little sore down below. We've popped a catheter in so try not to make any sudden movements. Right let's take you up to the ward.' I'm dimly aware of the guy on the other side of the ward from me, is asleep, with his lower left leg in a plaster cast. There are 2 other bays, one containing an empty space, and the other bed soon to be vacated.Consciousness drifts in and out.

The next to arrive was Jim, who I seem to recall as being both loud and lucid from the moment he came into the ward. He seemed a bit of a grumpy old sod and didnt seem to be talking very nicely to his wife.

Finally the ward is completed with the addition of Bill, who took quite some to recover from his op.

The surgeon and his students make an appearance at some point. 'Ah yes, Mr Cropton, when we got you down to theatre we found you had very smelly urine, and so we've done what we could to clean out your bladder. We didnt want to risk transferring any possible infection further up the urinary tract, so we've postponed the Endoscopy until we've got the bladder infection under control. You've been fitted with a catheter which drains into a bag to your right, on the side of the bed. The nurses will empty your bag as and when needed. You may feel the urge to pee. Try to relax, the catheter works by gravity and your urine will drain into the bag quite naturally. Assuming your urine levels look normal tomorrow you should be free to go home. Do you have any questions?'

I make some smart-aleck remark about telling them my urine had smelt awful for months, but have the presence of mind to thank him and the team for doing what they could for me.

Catheterisation had been discussed as a likely part of the post-op treatment, so it wasnt too disconcerting to wake up and find the deed done. But it still felt very very strange, not that its something you can prepare for, I suppose. Suffice to say, they take a bit of getting used to.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Wild Ride - part 1

Those those know me may be aware that over the last few years my waterworks have been giving me problems. I've had Benign Prostastic Hypoplasia - non-cancerous swelling of the prostate gland for about 5 years now which has been managed reasonably effectively with prescription drugs. BHP causes all kinds of strange perceptions leading to dribbling, pain before, during and after passing urine, wanting to go (desperately) and not being able, and a frequent need to urinate. This in turn leads to sleepnessness and general fatigue. I imagine it might also lead to quite a lot of depression, but as a PTSD survivor I'm kinda used to living with depression fairly constantly.

Then, some while ago, I noticed that my urine constantly smelt awful, and it stung like buggery quite often. This did not get successfully treated for some time as my GP assumed it was another BPH symptom. Urine tests showed that I was passing white blood cells but the infection was not bacterial, and so antibiotics did nothing for it.

On Christmas Eve, 2012 I was horrified to see what looked like globs of red blood in my urine. Over the next couple of days the discharge of darker coloured material rapidly diminished, but needless to say I got an emergency appointment with my doctor's surgery as soon as they reopened after the Christmas break, which finally led to me being referred to our local hospital for further tests.

A CT scan had identified anomolies on my right kidney and ureter. The attempt to investigate these via flexible cystoscopy was apparently hampered due to the amount of debris in the urine; and so on Thurs 11 July I was due back into Lister Hospital to undergo a Rigid Endoscopy under general anaesthetic.

I had been experiencing severe discomfort and constant backache just prior to going in, and my urine test on the day identified a bacterial infection. The original plan was to try to image the anomoly in the ureter, possibly working through the suspected blockage and on into the kidney itself. There was also talk of installing a stent to bypass the ureter if the blockage could not be cleared.

On the day, I arrived at the Lister at 7am, and was taken down to theatre around 8.15. A cheery anaesthetist talked me through the process, then gave me a first injection. 'You probably won't feel much from this one' he said. And I didn't. 'This next one, you may start to feel a warmth spreading up your arm' - and in went the second shot.

I heard a disembodied voice say 'Hello Mr. Cropton, you're in Lister Hospital, your operation went smoothly. We'll take you up to a ward shortly. Would you like a drink of water?'. I swear I have no recollection of anything that happened within about 30 seconds of the 2nd injection going in. Apparently, a couple of hours had passed. I became conscious fairly quickly, and was soon wheeled up to the ward.

I distinctly remember thinking, wow that wasnt so bad............

Monday, 8 April 2013

Pome of the Day: The Wicked Witch is Dead

Margaret Thatcher
School milk bottle snatcher
Heartless bitch, and none could match her

Took on the miners and sent them reeling
Destroyed whole communities, as ever, unfeeling
Ripped the country apart, and it still isn't healing

Took on the Argies with The Sun on her side
Blew up The Belgrano, countless innocents died
The lies and warmongering transmuted to pride

But she wasn't done yet, as she took out her axe
And waged war on the poor, and imposed the Poll Tax
It was one war too many, it put up their backs
Her government was routed, with her blood on the tracks

I can't say I'll mourn for the old wicked witch
A State Funeral beckons, its really too rich
No memorial needed, let's just bury her in a ditch

copyright Ian Cropton 8 April 2013

Thursday, 4 April 2013

'Space Donkey' speaks out

I have only just stumbled upon the fact that the term 'Space Donkey' appears to have several meanings in the Urban Dictionary:

Space Donkey

I wish to reassure my friends and visitors that I was unaware of these meanings when I set up my blog, and apologise to those who've had a wasted visit. But I'm intrigued and actually quietly delighted to learn that my moniker has its druggie overtones. Thinking about it, its the perfect description in particular of marijuana usage, and I speak from considerable experience here.

I have enjoyed smoking pot and more lately, weed, off and on throughout my life since my mid-teens. It is, and always has been, my relaxant of choice, and I still like to indulge in it to this day when I can afford it. One of the greatest joys for me in its usage, is that it does often help to unlock my creative juices. This I gratefully accept as a gift from nature. I don't believe that I place any burden on society by making this choice.

I should also add that I have many friends who have never used it, or no longer use it, and to my knowledge I have never said or done anything to encourage them to use it. I consider myself a responsible pot-smoker.

And I have to say, I have found it be most efficaceous in the dulling of the considerable back pain I've been experiencing of late, presumably related to my kidney problem.

I'm also very interested in exploring other areas of mental/spiritual growth, and hope to, once Dad's Estate is sorted out, get to grips with learning to meditate properly, and I'd really like to try to learn Reiki as well.

Plus so much to read in all related areas, I'm sure

Any thoughts, suggestions, gratefully received

Pome of the Day: The Twitterscape

The Twitterscape has a dichotomy
Great for spreading the word, but it got to me
There are so many a$$holes grinding their axes
That it does my head in, and rarely relaxes
Its just as much fun as paying your taxes
Which really is not how it ought to be

A piece of fun which I posted recently on a friends blog. Morning all!!!

Friday, 25 January 2013

GBE2 WEEK #88 (1-20-13 to 1-26-13): Music

Music has always been central to the Cropton household. I grew up enjoying much of the Big Band Sound, the divine Ms. Fitzgerald and the obligatory Rat Pack who I was, and still am, less than enthusiastic about. Despite that, I can still sing along with most of Frank Sinatra's recorded output grrrr

Ella Fitzgerald - Every time we say goodbye

Mum also liked classical music, particularly Rachmaninov Tchaikowsky and Chopin, while Dad had learned to play bugle then later bass drum in the ATC marching band, and he had learned to play piano (not well, but enthusiastically) at some point.

My 2 younger sisters and I both studied music at school and all of us learned to play a recorder. I later started to learn cello, but my pathway to becoming a reasonable musician got rudely shattered when I broke my arm. My sisters fared better, one studying flute and piano to 'A' level and the other getting to the Royal School of Music studying double-bass. I in much later life took up the fiddle, playing for various Morris dance sides and my home side, Stevenage Sword Dancers.

Stevenage Sword - Newbiggin - Whittlsea StrawBear Festival 2012

I can also hack out a few chords on guitar, and like most wannabe musicians of my age, I of course can play the obligatory 'Sunshine of your Love' :)

Cream - Sunshine of your love

Of course my lifelong liking for good guitar playing stemmed originally from the British 'Man with the red guitar' Hank Marvin, leader of 'The Shadows' who began as Cliff Richards backing band.

The Shadows - FBI

The ultimate mind blower for me came with Jimi Handrix, who remains a god amongst my pantheon of worship.

Jimi Hendrix - Bold as Love

In tandem with this I learned to enjoy a lot of accoustic music, initially through schoolfriends and the Collenswood School Folk Club in Stevenage and later Stevenage's official folk club which was based for many years in the upstairs room at the Red Lion pub in the Old Town. This interest led me into traditional English folk-song and the album 'Anthems in Eden' by Shirley and Dolly Collins remains a big fave.

The Guardian - Shirley Collins
Shirley and Dolly Collins = Pleasant and Delightful

Although Shirley is revered as the Queen of the English Folk Revival, Fairport Convention were the first to pioneer 'folk/rock' and their achievements over the years have helped to shape the modern folk world. I've long been a fan of them and all the band's various offshoots. Here's one of my favourite Fairport songs:

Fairport Convention - Crazy Man Michael

As I've grown older I've to enjoy most music apart from the commercialised pap that passes for pop these days(OMG I've turned into my Dad)

But throughout the years, 4 musicians have in particular rocked my boat and continue to do so. They are Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Roy Harper and Richard Thompson. It will be my great delight to see Roy receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Folk awards shortly.

Here's a few faves from each of these great musicians and artists

Roy Harper - On Summer Day

Joni Mitchell - Case of You

Paul Simon - Slip Sliding Away

Richard and Linda Thompson - Walking on a Wire

You've been listening to 'Desert Island Discs' with eeyorn the space donkey. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did