Sunday, 26 May 2013

Rush at the O2 24 May 2013

Well there was a gig that had it all!  First a delayed start as there was a fox that needed to be extracted from the auditorium. Then hardly any change from a 3 hour set! Three drum solos, the new album played in it's entirety (about a third of the set!), use of two drum kits in one song, great string ensemble through the new album, fantastic light and video show, and the rest!

Ok I am a Rush fan, possibly a fanatic,  so biased but this is near the top of my best gigs ever, did I mention the best indoor pyrotechnics I've ever seen? No? See there was so much to say. Honestly just amazing! The highlights were The Garden, The Wreckers both off Clockwork Angels then Spirit Of The Radio as well to end the main set.

Still on a high 2 days later! :-)

Friday, 24 May 2013

A year on some same, some different

I was about to blog about how I've been feeling the last couple of weeks and then thought - you know what you've said this before, and indeed I have.  So one of the advantages of a blog, diary or journal is that you can look back see patterns.  Clearly I have this pattern of a bit of a "low time" after my AA birthday, it is I presume the build up to that day then is passing and of course nothing really being any different just another day sober, which is itself always a minor miracle for someone like me in all honesty.

Also it has been all a bit stressed in the house with Mrs F's Mum in hospital - she is making good progress, there is talk of her moving to a rehabilitation specialist place, a friend who knows this stuff well highly recommends it, so we hope that will be good and she'll get more mobile soon.  My wife posted a ghastly picture of her knee wound on Facebook last night - I'll spare you that it was horrible!

Additionally the build-up to Son-of-Futheron coming home was great and it is great to have him back but it is funny that after the anticipation of looking forward to something can, once it arrives, lead to a bit of a downer.  I think I expect more and build it up in my head and of course the reality therefore never meets my inflated expectations.  This was a pattern in my drinking career too.  Often my worst times for drinking were really when I should have been on a high, but I realised that a) the thing I'd been anticipating wasn't quiet as good as I'd imagined it would be and b) now that that has arrived/happened clearly life is soon to be crap again so I might as well speed that process of decline along with a bit of a drinking spree. My mind during my active alcoholic was a strange place at times.  However just because I don't drink my mis-wired brain can still react in a similar way.  The good news is that today I do recognise this, I see these patterns, I review my blog etc. and see this happened before and therefore I know "This too shall pass".  So I let it pass, sometimes reluctantly as again a bit of the old head would like to hold on to those feelings to wallow in the self-pity of my rough existence and other lies it would ideally enjoy recounting to set a fictional view on my life and reality to justify the destructive nature it would love to rekindle.

I had a read around other posts from the same month last year... same old same old in many ways, this weekend is Premiership Final, Monaco GP and Indianapolis 500! :-)

Good stuff though is that I'm off to see Rush with my son tonight - a sort of welcome back to UK gig we'd planned ages before he even went off to Svalbard.  Then tomorrow we have a family/friends party to go to.  My niece turns 30 this weekend!  How can I have a niece of 30?  My sister has two grandchildren and my brother will be a granddad before the year is out.  Life does indeed move on a pace doesn't it.

One thing that is different this year - the weather!  Last year was hot and we were having BBQs at this time. I just looked outside as the teeming rain and a cold wind is blowing in London today under a very grey London sky.  Still I need to look for the sunshine in my heart not a leaden depressing cloudy sky!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

He's home!

Son-of-Furtheron returned from his Arctic adventure yesterday.  Mrs F and I headed up to Heathrow to pick him up, arriving in reasonable time, good job too as his flight actually landed 20 mins early.  Still we had time for a coffee waiting for his flight to land, taxi and bags to be delivered.

We stood at the end of the "funnel" at T3 arrivals, there is a bit with barriers that people come through which is a bit funnel shaped.  Standing there as the automatic doors flip open you can see some of those coming through.  Mrs F suddenly shouted "There he is" and ran forward so that she almost lept on him as he came through the door.  All good stuff.  He looks really well, the beard is impressive although he had trimmed it up a bit but he did have a look of the intrepid explorer... well a bit ;-)

Lovely to have him home safe and sound.  He immediately was saying how warm it is;  it really isn't for late May is it?  However if for the best part of 6 months you've never known a day about freezing I suppose it is.  As we drove along the motorway home he also was saying "I can't get used to how green it is".  Also funny was that as soon as he logged onto Facebook at home the first thing on his Newsfeed was a picture of a 40 German rifle that someone is selling as "Ideal Polar Bear Protection".  He laughed and said "Doubt I'll need that in Kent!"

So the house is full of us all again if only for a while, he is back off to Wales to visit his girlfriend as soon as she has finished her MSc project write up and presentation, then house hunting in the Midlands with her, and both of them have managed to get an all expenses paid trip to Budapest for a PhD introductory summer school in August.

Daughter-of-Furtheron has a busy week of AS level exams.  She has been busy revising last week and the weekend so there is nothing to do but the doing of it as they say.  She is predicting woeful results as ever - I doubt that'll be the case, she is a glass half empty kind of a person.

Mrs F's Mother is on the slow recovery path, she had a massive op where they wired the knee, plated the arm and pinned the shoulder!  She has been out of bed a few times and they have had her up on her feet and given her a load of bed and chair exercises.  There is beginning to be talk about rehabilitation and Mrs F has pushed and looks to have successfully got her into another hospital that a friend of ours who has had more operations than is fair for anyone to have to endure and he recommends that one fully.  Goodness knows how long before she can go home and with her house having bathroom, toilet and bedroom upstairs I'm not sure how that will work... Still one day at a time on this stuff I suppose.

Monday, 13 May 2013

9 years - but who's counting?

Well I obviously am!

Yes somehow unbelievably it is 9 years since I took my last alcoholic drink.  If you want a brief summary of my drinking career read My Drinking Story.  Friday 14th May 2004 - I remember it well!  I was already in the pub, well it was a Friday and it was after noon after all, when Mrs F text me about something we'd been waiting on. "Tonight we can celebrate" said the text.  Of course my stupid brain looked at that and did the usual flip and a voice, one of my voices, said "But frankly your life is still shite pal. What a loser!".   That was it I went on one of my many regular drinking binges.  (There is a whole book worth of stuff around why I did that, about my lack of self-worth, my need for external gratification and acknowledgements but coupled with an internal knowledge that they were not enough anyway.  If you can't love yourself as you are you'll never be happy even if you win the biggest lottery win in the world!)

I got home about 7pm I think, by then Mrs F was not happy as I'd supposed to been home much earlier than that to take our daughter to a swimming lesson, so she had had to take her and the plans for the "celebration" were in tatters already, or gently burning in the oven at least.  Oh yes and the TV had broken.  My son informed me of my wife's anger and the issue with the TV.  That was it the opportunity to redeem myself, I donned the full suit of armour and got on my white charger, well I phoned the TV repair company.   When she came back in I informed her in my drunken state that I'd saved the day.   She didn't bow down and thank me profusely for saving her from this great disaster, in fact she wasn't much impressed at all!  So I snapped at her and she snapped back at me and we had a most awful almighty row.  Btw it has to be said that Mrs F and I don't row, it just is not how our relationship has ever functioned.    Before the sun set that night I was lying curled up just crying and hating myself and how I was and how I acted and the fact that I just couldn't stop bloody drinking!  I felt so utterly defeated.  Mrs F quietly told me life couldn't go on like this.  I knew that too and I vowed to finally do something about it - and not rely on myself which had singularly shown itself to not be a good strategy.

In a few days I was in rehab, in weeks back home to a tentative rebuilding of a marriage and family and then in AA trying to cope with that voice which now was saying things like "You can cope, just cut down, you're not like those others you can cope with it"...   utter madness!  I see that hopelessness in newcomers eyes regularly at AA meetings, for many they fail to stop drinking, to be honest what makes someone like me stop and others don't I really don't know it is the finest of lines between being an arrested alcoholic and a still active one.

Today is a normal Tuesday.  I'll get up and go to work, I'll come home, I'll either go to a meeting or I'll take my daughter to swimming club as Mrs F probably needs to visit her Mum in hospital.  None of it that special, and so it should be so, I've just not drunk alcohol for another day and it is just another day like which for me is a minor miracle every day I manage to cope with life without having to resort to alcohol.  Also to anyone who is or ever has been part of AA - my eternal gratitude to you I don't believe I'd have made it this far without you.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

A new beginning

First some bad news. Mrs F's mum had a fall in the local shopping centre on Thursday and has broken her arm, shoulder and knee! She doesn't do it by halves does she. It is Sunday morning and she is in surgery now on at least the shoulder the knee may need an op too. The rehab etc will be a long time and issue given she lives in house so bathroom etc all upstairs.

Anyhow some good news. I have been accepted onto a counselling course starting in Sept. This is the new direction I am planning to go in. At the end of this month I'm going to reduce to 2 days a week at the uni. So one day at the course centre then look for some voluntary work to start with where I can hopefully look to apply the new skills I'll be learning.

I went to an open day at the centre yesterday and met some current students all of which confirmed to me that I am making the right decision on course and centre.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

What you do when off sick... Vintage VE2000GG video review

Well I am feeling better thankfully.  Still have an annoying cough from time to time but on the mend.  Soon back to work.  However now I'm not just lying on the sofa watching snooker or my DVD collection of Ewan McGregor's various motorcycle journey's I've been learning a couple of pieces and getting to enjoy my new Vintage Gordon Giltrap VE2000GG Deluxe.

The Deluxe edition of this model features like the cheaper model a shaped based on one of Gordon's most iconic custom guitars made by Rob Armstrong many moons ago and has a mahogany neck and a solid cedar top.  The difference lies in that this model has a solid rosewood back and laminate rosewood sides - the cheaper one is laminate back and sides in mahogany (don't scoff at laminate the original was laminate as Rob believes it adds strength without reducing tone!).  The fingerboard on this is a lovely piece of ebony, becoming rarer and rarer on guitars these days with the issues surrounding the reduction of ebony stocks.  The other major update is that the pickup is the Fishman Rare Earth Blend system - which is Gordon's go to pickup - most of his stage guitars feature this pickup.  Considering that the pickup as a retrofit item can set you back over £250 the whole package including the really nice Kinsman hard case being on the streets for only £629 is a bit of a bargain frankly.

Ok so - some people have commented in reviews that the neck is a bit "chunky" - I don't find that to be so, it is wider and a bit more D shaped than my Yamaha LL11 but those Yamaha's are noted for narrow necks.  I've not had a chance to use the pickup live yet but can't believe it'll be anything other than excellent - I'll report back after my first live use of this.

Anyway - I've been learning two pieces both in DADGAD tuning recently.  Gordon Giltrap's Isabella's Wedding - very apt to play on his signature guitar and David Mead's Unseen Sunlight which has the added fun of having a partial capo on the top five strings at the fifth fret so you have to play "over" the capo at times.  Here are two videos of this pieces played on the new guitar.




Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Chest infection

So yesterday morning I thought I was getting over the flu.  After a walk to the shops and back I wasn't so sure, honestly only about a mile round trip but I was so out of breath and then in the evening was unable to get off the couch at all.

I went to the doctors this morning to be told "this is proper flu" and then after he listen to my chest "Hmm - bad chest infection".   So I'm on antibiotics and signed off work until the 12th! 

I haven't been this ill in ages.  I hope it will now start to get better - also I need to learn to give it time and not rush it like I did yesterday.