18 November 2010
I cope with the pressure through exercise. Since the summer of 2007, with the exception of three weddings and a music festival, it’s been relentless. Weekends are a jumble of competing demands: a creative project with a hundred strands; the tangled challenges of my extended family. Then, at 8.30 a.m. on Monday morning, my head snaps into work mode and a five-day saga begins – the occasional moment of tranquillity in a sea of fire-fighting, everything-that-can-go-wrong and one-crisis-to-the-next.
But every morning I go to the gym. Every weekend I go for a swim. And that keeps me in balance.
In the run-up to the operation I’d been limited in which muscles I could use before the weird-leg-throbs began. Then, after they’d cut me open and sent in the nanobots, it was six weeks, no gym, no exercise and no good for my physical or mental wellbeing. Simultaneous to my convalescence, the next wave of “other stuff” came along. So, just as my spirits dropped and my carefully cultivated vigour started to undo, for the first time in three years, to my colossal frustration, the book was not relentlessly grinding forward.
A confused note from my mad uncle, an all-guns-blazing letter from a solicitor who wants lots of cash from me, a teleconference with an advisor and then a reply: give me a couple of weeks, I’ll deal with it. Send the letter at lunchtime, five more hours of actuaries, go home, send out an update about the trials and tribulations of delivering a huge artistic project (while life gets in the way), then collapse into bed.
Next day: call a gas engineer, send a letter to the council, receive an email demanding action, spend a Saturday compiling information, fill out some forms for Dad, talk to Colchester housing inspectorate, a final dentist appointment, call a different council officer, a negotiation, an agreement, contact a tradesman, breathe in, breathe out, but 14 days have passed and the angry lawyer is after me again. She sounds seriously irate. One thing at a time. Six hours sleep. Not enough. Crawl through another day.
‘Six hours?’ Comments my sister, archly. ‘Poor thing. Just wait until you have children.’
Tony the Tiger update: Tony had his first gig. He was a headlining act at PeaceFest, a free festival organised by the Peace family of Hertfordshire. He practiced hard during the run up to the big day, then cracked under the pressure of a real audience, and crashed and burned live, on-stage and fully-plugged.
He’d bought a red-and-orange electric Epiphone guitar the week before the show. Then, on arriving, was told that he’d been moved to the top of the bill, such was the audience anticipation. That’s when he started drinking. By the time he was due on, Tony was slurring his words and experiencing acute manual dexterity inexactitudes.
On getting hold of the microphone he began by insulting the hosts. He then harangued the crowd with a litany of four-letter words, before bungling his way through ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ while Jimi Hendrix turned in his grave. He had to stop four times. For months I’d agonised over whether Tony would nail the final performance or fall embarrassingly, and publicly, flat on his face. Head in hands, I watched as the worst-case scenario unfolded before me.
He completed his set by holding the guitar overhead like the caveman who’d slain the mammoth. A transcendent musical performance it was not, but hard, compelling rock ‘n’ roll it most assuredly was.
‘We are all worms, but I do believe I am a glow worm.’ – Winston Spencer Churchill