Saturday, 29 January 2011

"Hello Wembley"

Jake has started learning the electric guitar. This is after a couple of lessons

I have told him that when he can do this

I will buy him one of these

in the meantime I bought him one of these

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Hello World

I hadn't planned on doing another blog entry this month; didn't want to set your expectations unrealistically high for blog output this year, but I have just discovered the stats page on the blog site and it had some interesting information. I already knew that there had been around 4500 hits since I started it but I also know the following now.

It is not quite Google territory or likely to attract any sponsorship but I am grateful for the loyal following.
It has been accessed from over 20 different countries including Portugal - hi,Gary; Ireland - hi Trisha; USA - hi Peter (and several fellow MND sufferers) and Mandy in Canada. However some of the other countries are more of a mystery, including the 43 hits from South Korea and 29 from India. The 94 from The Netherlands also had me puzzled until I remembered that it is a location of many Internet redirection services, which allow people to visit dodgy websites anonymously, I won't say hi but I know who you are ;-)

The statistics also show me what search words were used when the blog was found with Google. Most are self explanatory, 'MND Blog', 'Steve Evans Blog ', 'Best blog in the world' but other combinations were more perplexing and included 'steve evans gay' and 'lsd steve postman'! I have just tried the last one myself and I hadn't found my blog by the end of page 3, but I am still intrigued by what they were actually looking for.

I also know that I am read on PCs, Macs, Iphones, Ipads (is that you Wendy) and Blackberries, that Google wasted their money marketing their browser Chrome and that 23 people prefer my blog to Eastenders!

Thank you all again for following

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Manic Street Preachers

Last night we went to see Manic Street Preachers at Brixton Academy. It had been rescheduled from last November due to a bout of tonsillitis for the lead singer. I was stressing as usual about getting there; parking in Brixton is difficult and the side roads are a maze of one way streets, no entries and no-through roads. Having scoured the web for parking information without success, I used google maps. The StreetView feature was great. You can walk around virtually, checking out not just these restrictions but also where the yellow lines, disabled bays and residents permit parking are . I could even spot where the dropped kerbs were, so I could plan my route between car and venue. obviously some good fortune is still required to get a space, but having so much information in advance reduces the stress. The planning paid off and with a combination of SatNav and SteveNav we parked within a hundred yards of the venue.

It was the first time I had gone to Brixton Academy in the Wheelchair. The viewing area along the side is excellent, but it was a little depressing looking down on the standing area where I had stood the last time we had seen them in late 2007, shortly after my diagnosis. Saying that, I remember thinking then that it might be the last time I see them, but here I was three years later. The same is significantly less likely to be the case this time.

They came on around 9.15 and started a great setlist comprising of tracks from most of their album back catalogue. As ever, their performance was faultless and as with Muse, every song was a crowd pleaser; you're never wanting them to 'get on to the next one'. One of the tracks they played from their new album had a certain irony: it is titled 'Me and Stephen Hawking'. The set included a short accoustic section and video below is from that. Unfortunately the volume of the band at full tilt was just too much for the iphone to deal with!

I managed to get through the entire gig without bursting into tears, even when they played A Design For Life and Motorcycle Emptiness, although I had control the occasionally wobbly lower lip! So a thoroughly enjoyable evening, the only complaint is that the set lasted barely ninety minutes and they don't 'do' encores. With so much material to choose from, they could manage a couple of hours.

The staff were excellent. They escorted us through the crowds, helped us get the wheelchair up a stupidly steep 45 degree ramp, and even intervened when some pissed bloke on the wheelchair platform had the cheek to tell Tracy to move because he couldn't see!

Next time you're on or itunes and want to spend your £7.99 on a great album, search for Everything Must Go, Send Away The Tigers or Postcards From A Young Man.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Christmas 2010

OK, I have exhausted every other option and can't avoid writing a blog entry any longer. Of all my fellow MND sufferer friends who write blogs, I am the last one to do their post Christmas entry, so despite it already being a distant memory, here goes!

Firstly to refer back to my entry recounting my frustrating defeat against MND when trying to get out, I can report that I won not only the return leg, but the rest of the group matches since. However both the winner and runner up progress to the next stage and there is a mathematical certainty that we will meet in the final, and although many have earned a draw, MND has never been beaten on penalties!

So, festive activities started with our annual visit to Santa's grotto at Painshill Park. I was worried that the half mile walk during the icy evening was going to be too much for me, but I managed it. However the traditional mulled wine and mince pies were not possible this year. Tracy video-taped the bit actually inside the grotto which can't accommodate my offroad wheelchair. The boys were their usual charming selves, responding to Santa's "so what would you like for Christmas " with "ipod, electric scooter, electric guitar, £200, guns" and several other equally high ticket items. As he handed them their presents he must have been dying to say, "well you'll have to make do with these crappy painting sets, you spoiled little sh**s"!

By the time we got home the word "kit" was no longer applicable with brushes and several paint pots lost forever in the inaccessible crevices of the car. I suspect it will be the last grotto visit I will be able to manage and the boys may also be too old.

On Christmas Eve we went to Wimbledon Theatre to see Peter Pan panto with David Hasslehoff and Louie Spence. It was a good laugh; you wouldn't believe how many Baywatch, Knightrider and Gay references you can cram into 2 hours.

As usual, we split Christmas and Boxing Day between our families, this year was the turn of the Alters on Christmas Day and the Evans' on boxing day. Tracy did a fantastic job as usual of arranging everything and everyone else helped out with the food over the two days. The only hiccup was over watering the Christmas tree which had been brought in from the garden for the second year. A 48 hour stint with the fan heater got the carpet dry eventually. It had grown over a foot since last year, but just fitted in so we weren't faced with 'Castrating Christmas' a la Peep Show!

The boys were up at 7am having given Tracy a 60 minute countdown from 6. Everyone descended to my bedroom, where Santa had been instructed to leave the presents. Six minutes later, presents all unwrapped, they headed off again. Daniel actually went back to bed until lunch!

Tracy's mum and brother arrived in the afternoon for the next round of presents and Christmas dinner. All fairly stress free and pleasant. Not being able to eat and drink was the hardest thing but it wasn't too 'in my face'.

On Boxing Day I managed to get out for a walk by the river after my family had arrived, we were quite a crowd with the 10 of us and 4 dogs. Last summer I was getting myself down to the river and Hampton Court in the offroad wheelchair several times a week but my progression and cold weather since October has prevented these excursions.

Predictably the boys' enthusiasm for these Christmas walks is minimal when they know there are bags of unopened presents waiting at home. But this year they had asked for money towards Ipod Touches, so going home to look at an online bank account wasn't a very exciting prospect. They didn't know that I had bought them a few weeks earlier and had been busy loading them since. Needless to say that they were over the moon when they opened them later that afternoon. It was nice to have been able to get them and set them all up, almost entirely by myself using eyegaze control. The decision to give them email accounts and filtered internet access gave me and tracy a few hours extra work but they love them. Since Christmas they have occasionally been the source of stress, particularly with one owner who shall remain nameless. The timer we put on to restrict use isn't welcome and the temptation to keep downloading the thousands of 59p games is iresistable to them.

New Year came and went without much event; we watched the fireworks on TV. Tracy's other brother, David and his wife Becky were over on the 2nd, less than 24 hours after returning from Australia, for the final round of presents and food.

OK, my eyes are knackered so I am posting this for now and will hopefully continue next week!