Tuesday 25 December 2007

Simply Complex Christmas.

"I'm dreaming of a White Christmas. Just like the ones I used to know..." In January 1940 Irving Berlin revealed to the world the lyrics of a Christmas classic immortalised by 'the crooner' Bing Crosby. In theme with today's worldly concerns, perhaps Mr. Berlin was giving us a precursor to the dangers of global warming.
I'm not sure what it is about this time of the year but events in my life seem to be rather enhanced. Perhaps because it is this 'special' time of the year, I am more aware of them. For someone who has turned the reclusive state into an art form, I keep having predicaments that force me from any prolonged duvet contemplation. At Christmas I perceive them to be more pronounced.
I shall now present to you what life has been like for me during the last two weeks. Remember, this is a guy who prefers life nice and simple, not confusing and complex. A couple of weeks ago my very nice neighbour from below mentioned that he was getting some residue on his kitchen walls. He believed the source of the problem may be coming from the back of my washing machine. Okay fine. So just to be sure, a plumber from my Housing Association checked out the taps at the back of my washing machine. Sure enough, there was a minor drip. Slight tightening of the hose and problem solved.
Two days later, on the Saturday, I turned on the washing machine and went off to the shops. Upon my return, I went into my kitchen and waded through the carpet. To my horror, my kitchen was now flooded out. What the hell has happened? Where the hell is my canoe? What must my neighbour's kitchen be like?
I proceeded to look under my sink and immediately noticed the cause of my oceanic adventure. When the plumber had moved my machine away from the wall, he had also removed the drainage pipe. So water from the machine had gone directly onto the floor. What had started out as a simple plumbing job, two days before, was now a complete disaster.
Then came the predictable panicky knock on my door. To his credit, my neighbour was very calm. He realised that this comedy of errors was not my fault. For the next week, there was a flurry of activity as workers went in and out below. Their kitchen walls had to be redone and the electrics rewired. I felt absolutely terrible about what had transpired. Yet despite it all, my neighbours have been very good-natured about the whole sorry saga. I am most grateful for that. In fact, we can actually have a laugh about it as we discuss lifeboat drills.
Two days before Christmas, I got another frantic knock on my door. Oh no, what now, thought this guy who craves a simple life. (I must keep that negative speculation under control). It was my neighbour from just up the road. Here was this hysterical woman, a single mother with three children, about to have her electric meter run out. Of all the neighbours to approach, she always seems to come to me for help. Her boyfriend was busy getting drunk in Hanley and she didn't like to disturb him! What!? So off I went in my car, trying to get a top-up for her electric meter. I drove all over Leek, finally at the third shop I tried, I managed to get her card topped-up.
When I returned to her house, we tried the card and it did not work. The reason? Turns out that her meter was no longer working and needed to be replaced. So as I looked after her children, her Uncle came to the rescue and took them away to his house. At least I knew they would be safe and warm.
Now then, Christmas Eve, nothing else would happen to complicate my longed-for simple life? Oh how wrong I was. I had one last laundry to do before the 'special day'. I switched on the machine and, oh shit, nothing happened. " Great stuff, what now?" I thought. So I pulled my machine out from the wall three times (yes three times) to check the plumbing. I could see nothing wrong. So now I had visions of doing the laundry in the bathtub. Oh joy! (whoops..more negative speculation!) Out of sheer frustration, I pushed every flippin' button on the darn thing. Then it started! I then realised that somehow I had it set on timer delay. Silly me. So my panic subsided and I could now enjoy Christmas Eve.
"Tristan" I called. "The machine is now working. Would you please monitor the situation whilst I go off to the shops in my car?" I got into my car, went to start it and guess what? Yeah, that's right, my battery was flat. Oh fantastic! So off I strolled in the pouring rain to do my last bit of shopping.
There was a time when situations like this would have really got to me. Now I try to be positively philosophical. My life aint so bad. The events of the last couple of weeks have turned out okay. My neighbours have a nice new kitchen. The single Mother with three children is back in her house and the lights are working. My washing machine has cleaned our clothes. So all that is left is to get my 'midlife-chrisis, divorce mobile' started. (which reminds me. I need new furry dice for my rear-view mirror).
I hope this blog has not bored you silly. Upon reading it myself...yawn...zzzz...WAKE UP! Right then, where was I? Once again, I seemed to have experienced a simply complex Christmas.

Saturday 15 December 2007

Boxing Day Eve

When I reflect back on the past several Christmas Days, I remember the overwhelming sense of loneliness and isolation. Christmas Day was a sad reminder of just how ill I was. I would spend that special day with my son's Jack Russell, she was a bit of comfort in a very uncomfortable day.
I tried to find some solace by going for a long walk with the dog. All around me were people doing 'Christmassy' things. The excited little children with their brand new shiny bicycles. The friends and families gathered in their cosy homes celebrating the Festive Season. I observed this 'normality' and longed for the Christmas spirit to embrace me. Wandering aimlessly, nobody paid any notice of me, I was the 'invisible man'.
This year I have finally decided that enough is enough. I dreaded the thought of spending Christmas Day, strolling about, going back inside to an all-consuming quiet and discussing the meaning of life with the dog. As my positivity began to grow, I knew I had a choice. I would challenge my solitude, I would try to socialise. Maybe, just maybe, people would accept me and allow me into their lives.
What kept me going during Christmas Day was by trying to have a bit of a laugh about my situation. So Christmas Day became affectionately known as 'Boxing Day Eve'. Oh yeah and before you ask...December 24th is 'Boxing Day Eve, Eve'. So despite Boxing Day Eve being a time of sadness, I did manage to have a chuckle. Even during those times when dark thoughts tried to completely destroy my morale, I just knew that Christmas would eventually be a time of joy. I clung on to that thought, for I would perservere.
I think of all the sad and lonely people, who are only spectators, whilst those around them, rejoice in Christmas celebration. For these sad and lonely people crave social interaction. In this often, all-too-hectic, indifferent world, we can easily overlook the lost souls who need love and understanding. See the tears in their eyes and know that one moment of kindness can mean so very, very much.
I am fortunate, I am blessed. For one Christmas Day, I spent feeding and hopefully comforting the homeless of Stoke on Trent. I witnessed decent people, who through a series of spiralling circumstances, had been sleeping rough. I was truly touched by that experience. For despite my battle with mental illness, I could take comfort in the knowledge that I had a home to go back too. I focus on that Christmas, it has made me more determined to be grateful for what I have.
This 'Boxing Day Eve' will be different. Yes Christmas is tough because my family is so far away in Vancouver. However, I am so thankful, that through challenging my fears of society, I have met people who sincerely care. I respect them, they respect me, and perhaps, most importantly, I respect myself.
May you have a peaceful and positive Christmas.

Sunday 2 December 2007

Real Surreal?

It has been suggested that I attempt a surreal blog. So after going outside and recharging my battery hens, I thought, "heck let's give it a try!"
Upon going back inside, I realised I needed some inspiration. Quite obviously, I contacted Obi-Wan-Knobe on my Yodaphone. "Yo Obi! what's the secret to being surreal?" Obi replied: "The Force will be with you, always.." Based on his response, I knew that perhaps I should find inspiration through my own observations of the world around me.
I decided to go back outside, neatly avoiding the test pilots from the broom factory. Maybe when folks around here say "duck" they might be referring to those pesky pilots. Which witch is which? As I continued to stroll merrily along, I came upon the dreaded 'Race against time' also known as aliens who hate clocks. They said they would love to chat with me but they were somewhat rushed. Race against time indeed. Wait 'til I introduce them to the neighbourhood watch...or..heaven forbid!..the Time Lords..who?
I walked towards the centre of town. A dude strolled up to me and asked: "do you know where I can catch a bus?" Hmmm...now why the heck would he want to do that? Wouldn't catching a bus be a rather risky venture? Still, as the Americans say, 'whatever'. I directed him to the bus depot and wished him well.
Wandering further along I bumped into the androids with attitude. Yeah, that's right, bloody obnoxious androids. Who the hell are they to tell me in their droning, monotonous, electonically-enhanced, synthetic voices that we humans are obsolete? "Hey arrogant android! don't mess with me or I'll knock that microchip of your shoulder!"
So after another average day out in this small English town, I decided it was time to go back to my home. No inspirations for a surreal blog, just another uneventful day in this town that shares its name with a long green, leafy vegetable that is closely related to an onion and is the national emblem of Wales. Oh well, at least I knew I could go home and p**s off my teenage rebel-type son.
I got home and all was quiet. Teenage rebel was nowhere to be seen. Thus I decided to have some peaceful, relaxing , stress-free time.... Crash! "What the heck what that?" I rushed into my front room and noticed a huge hole in the ceiling. "Oh howdy neighbour, nice of you to drop in. I realise I must be careful what I say to you. So would you mind just moving off to the side while I deposit eggshells on my carpet?"
Before I go, exciting news. I've been offered a part in a local play. Easy work, great money. "What's the catch?" I asked. No catch, I was assured. They need someone to play the part of a motionless puppet..no strings attached.