I’ve been listening to bits and pieces of online radio these last couple of days while I’ve been slaving away non-stop at the computer. Mainly Resonance FM and BBC 6 Music. Listening to “Fast Records Played Slow” on Resonance at the moment, and it’s a revelation. A 45 of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” played at 33rpm is every bit as wonderful as the original, but subtly different and sung by a man. Awesome!
Monthly Archive for October, 2005
<sigh> this page brought back memories and emotions in a way which I’m sure is quite unhealthy.
These last few weeks, I have been finding it harder and harder to breathe. I remember the same thing happening last year, exactly at the time we switched the central heating on, and in fact it would occur daily in the evening, at around the time the heating switched on.
I suspected some sort of allergy – perhaps to dust, or Gizmo’s hair, that could have been inflamed by the heating convection putting things into the air that had been just lying around for a long time. I may well have been right, because after a few weeks it tailed off, but I also suspected a winter-onset chest infection.
So I hoped the same thing might happen this year, but about four weeks in it was getting worse than ever. I took the dog out for a walk one night and had to rest every few steps to get enough oxygen to carry on. It came to a head last Thursday, when we had a play rehearsal in my house and I could barely get a line out for coughing (tight, chesty coughs which, if I was lucky, brought up a little phlegm and cleared a tiny space for more oxygen). By the end I was coughing so hard that my head was aching, I suspect I burst a few blood vessels.
My mum, who was staying with us, ordered me to the doctor. By this time I’d convinced myself I had a chest infection, because there seemed to be quite a few other people around also coughing. But he examined my chest and told me it was definitely not an infection, because it was not localised, instead it was probably asthma or an allergy. Whichever it was, the solution would be the same: a salbutamol inhaler. He asked me “have you ever used an inhaler before” and when I said I hadn’t told me “neither had I until a couple of weeks ago, but I’ve just had to start using one as well”.
Actually the news is not a great surprise to me – I’ve always suffered from chest-related problems: I used to get a lot of bronchitus when I was a kid, and whenever I stayed at a friend’s where there were cats, I would get horribly wheezy and snotty, which is why it surprised me that when we had a cat of our own I got virtually no allergic symptoms. I strongly suspect Gizmo’s hair is what’s setting me off, also odd as we had a dog from when I was a month or two old until I was 15, but Gizmo does have very fine hair for a dog so perhaps this explains it.
Anyway, I picked up my inhaler and spacer, took a few hits, and was a different person. I went out in the afternoon, after four puffs, and was overjoyed to feel the cold air reaching all parts of my lungs for the first time in around a month. I still have a bit of residual wheeziness, but at least I don’t spend every evening feeling like I could suffocate at any minute.
It was Rowan’s 10th birthday last Friday. Unbelievable, double figures already, ten years since Gill and I spent a long 36 hours in Whipps Cross Hospital. She looked very grown-up too, as if she had climbed up to the next developmental stage overnight.
Also on Friday night, Rob and Kay visited Sheffield and took me out to see The Magic Numbers – I’d only heard snatches of two of their tunes in passing, but they were awesome – absolutely beautiful music (and some especially nice, very clean guitar solos, notes dribbling off the fretboard) and the most appreciative band I have ever seen live – after each song, when they heard the applause (which admittedly was almighty) they beamed at each other and at the audience as if they couldn’t quite belive, without pinching themselves, that so many people liked their music so much. I was really glad I went.
The next day, that “heightened awareness of something you’ve recently become familiar with” thing kicked in, and The Magic Numbers were everywhere, on the radio, on the (still-broken) CD player in the Showroom bar, in shops, everywhere. Since then, it feels like I’ve been unable to get them out of my head, but what I’ve actually been unable to get out of my head is the freakishly similar-sounding Flaming Lips singing “This Here Giraffe” (possibly because the cot and changing mat here have pictures of giraffes on then, with the words “mummy loves her little giraffe”).
Recently in Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery I spotted this painting, “Child’s Wonderment” by Carel Weight, dated 1975. It leapt out at me instantly. There are so many things that I love about it. In particular, the scene reminds me of the riverside in Twickenham, just past Syon Park Gardens and near the entrance to Marble Hill Park (which may well be where it was painted; if so, it was completed about 2 or 3 years after I used to spend so much of my time there with my mum. Who knows, that child could be me). Also the composition really appealed to me; I didn’t realise this at the time, but there’s something about it very reminiscent of Edvard Munch’s The Scream: the boy’s pose, the railings, the river. Finally, the style of the painting really appeals to me, I love this largely realist but slightly expressionist style which was popular mainly in the first half of the 20th century, and which feels incredibly English. I’d never heard of Carel Weight before, but having fallen in love with this picture and just hunted out a few more of his works online, his is a name I shall definitely look out for. I’ll definitely be visiting Doncaster again too: their very small art gallery has some real little gems, and I always come out of there feeling uplifted.