November 22nd, 2003


everyone's getting it

Under its little cap of grey clouds, Oxford is shaking. It isn't rain through pollution making those grey-streaked golden building shiver, it's the sheer force of coughs, sneezes, chokings, hawkings, retchings and miserable, sickly, sticky conversations that dizzy round and round and never get anywhere. The dumbest of all is the one I'm having with myself.

"I feel like crap, I should be in bed, this is HORRIBLE!"
"Whatdoyamean? Don't you have a week's supply of Nirolex in your drawer? Isn't that presentation due on Wednesday? Go on, ya wimp! You can cope!"

Oh yeah. I am tough! See me cope.

Friday night should not be idly cast aside on illness. And anyway, haven't I suffered spontaneous cure of illnesses at gigs before? (Suitable Case for Treatment/The Evenings, if anyone's researching the curative potential of bands.) Even so I might not have made it, but Emma phoned up and put me on the guest list, so (dangling cameras) I go and demand vodka for my ravaged throat from Neal and Alx while some sixth-form band warble soudtrack-ishly in the background. They've brought along their entire year from school and it feels like work, I keep twitchingly wondering how engaged they are and whether any of them would like to participate in outreach activities.

They go away eventually, and half the underage drinkers go downstairs and the other half start yammering their tiny heads off. Science Never Sleeps (Emma's band) mix disconcertingly with the chatter creating a dangerously broad and deceptively flat pattern, like a grey thorn-thicket stretching out as far as the eye can see masking a treacherous landscape of pits and hollows. The technical problems don't quite mound over the gig; the grown-ups get disadvantaged at gigs sometimes, I think. Their parents aren't there to beat people up when things go wrong.

Poor Eberg aren't even local and practically everything breaks for them which is a bitter shame, though it couldn't entirely eclipse their beauty; a box-of-tricks lead (computer! guitar! electric coathanger!) exchanging flirty looks with an athleticly squirmy cellist while a sweet walrussy drummer tactfully keeps them both to time. The pretty cellist pranged all the good-looking boys up to the front to stare, tongues out; then the good-looking girls came up, to haul them back. It was all very Hollyoaks. Eventually we elbowed our way in front of the girls-into-music welded to their gloweringly resentful boyfriends in time to dance to their version of twinkle twinkle little star, close enough to see the band chalking this up as one of their most miserable gigs ever. They were good. They should have been better.

As I'm wondering aloud whether the boys who stand at the front of the gigs at the Wheatsheaf are demonstrating their disapproval of their girlfriends having any interests other than them, one of the little girls turns to me and tearfully says, "Oh, that's so true. My boyfriend's downstairs and he's going to give me hell over coming upstairs for the gig." This is getting too close to my job, though at least here I can say, "dump the fuck", and not have anyone on at me for not respecting her needs or referring her to an esteem building course or suggesting further reading ...

We rounded off the night by going to the cinema to watch Jeremy Northam and Lucy Lui act up a storm in wierd identity theft thriller Cypher on a late-night I was sure I wouldn't get through, but I was captivated, by the way it drifts back and forth over the science-fiction divide, like the best of the 60s spy serials; its gung-ho glamour, the way it's cooler, sharper, cleverer than you. It reminded me of the lifestyle magazines I read when I was growing up; that feeling of looking through a window into a more glamourous world. And yet it was also frightening, thoroughly modern, sometimes gruesome. Fascinating, delightful.

See? How could I possibly be ill when I got all that done? Ha. On the strength of that, I should surely go to Ruth and Matthew's party Saturday night. And the bookshop too, why not? Lug some books around, you need the exercise! Cough. Hack. Choke. ... there's a funny thing about colds and central heating. Turn it up a shred too high and what was uncomfortable becomes unbearable. Ruth and Matthew, they like it warm. I spent the time I wasn't having awkward conversations with midwives in the coolest room in the house coughing my guts up.

By Sunday I was severely unwell. But, looking at the cupboard, I still had plenty of Nirolex. And that presentation due on Wednesday wasn't going to write itself ...
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    the divine comedy - lucy

... it lasts about two weeks

So even though I'm now coughing hard enough that it hurts, a lot, I suffer through a paracetemol break on Sunday so I'll just be able to medicate myself through the next three days, and work as normal. By the end of Monday, I'm seething and streaming, jolted by ephedrine and sort of half-dried by the decongestants. What am I doing this for? Does my job rate this sort of self-sacrifice? No, of course not, but I learnt my working habits on the farm, where if you took a day off, things would die, and later at Oxfam, where the answer to that question was still sometimes yes. And my ability to think clearly is always an early casualty, when I'm ill ...

The presentation looks great. I show it to Councillors. Make new contacts. Celebrate successes. Just the best, I am. The missing links between performance and display. We're all gathered there to celebrate 10 years of being signatory to the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child. Trouble is, I'm here to make badges with young people; and they're all in the next room, and their teacher won't let them come and make badges. And nobody thinks to get me through to them. I'd laugh, if it were funny. Me and my volunteer sit there getting boreder and boreder while the Councillors and Commissioners do their speeches (to think I passed up a free invite to a conference on e-government for this!) and when he starts fiddling with my precious wireless laptop, I let him get on with it, out of pity. He breaks it, of course, my fault for letting him. And at the end of all that, I have to lug two bloody laptops (including the broken one), the practically unused badge machine, not to mention the cards and the mnousemats and the data projector, of course, home on the bus, because by the time the Councillors are finished, the offices are closed. Oh, ow.

Which, if you're counting the days, ends up with me taking home a data projector the night after the extended version of The Two Towers comes out on DVD. Oh, every cloud ...
  • Current Music
    pet shop boys-you only tell me you love me when you're drunk
2020 lack of vision

migraine diary redux

I got my migraines under control by finding a medication that attacked the squeeze (the neurological/visual effects) rather than the relax (pain and nausea) -- previous medications had actually made me worse! And I hadn't had one for, oh months, because I could just take this super-fast-release ibuprofen and it would smooth itself out. Dreamy.

But friday I was feeling pretty rotten, choking and coughing and snivelling so I took some cold medication. Then I suddenly started getting panicked and cranky in that very specific way. Then I couldn't look at the computer. Then I went home, cursing and squinting and clutching my head (luckily the bus was almost empty) and stumbled down my street and through my door and into bed. All the time with the dose of special migraine relief in my bag I couldn't take because I wasn't going to layer ibuprofen on top of paracetemol.

Still, at least I could burrow under my covers, go to sleep, ignore the updates, meeting and dozen other oh-so-important things I was missing. Ah. No I couldn't. I'd taken day cold cure, the stuff with stimulants in it, to help me through the meeting. So I wasn't going to sleep. I was going to stay awake and alert throughout. Joy. Collapse )
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