Breath Of Life

The life and times of Mr Mark Allen....

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Show me the way to armadillo!


Busy few days cher Mark. I went to the huge free-for-all some men know as Longford Island Bank Holiday Car Boot sale on Monday....

I certainly got the exercise but I think people would have bought the oxygen cylinder from my back if they could!

Everything was for sale from Viagra to Vinegar. The thing is so large (ooer) that you see something, hunt around to find it cheaper and you can't find the original 'stall'.

It also the only time Cannock sees such an ethnic mix.

There were Armenians selling cigarettes and Muslim women with just their eyes showing....Very confusing for some of the stallholders, who obvously thought they were just men in long dresses for the purpose of shoplifting!

I bought some great CDs (Killers), average CDs (Kaiser Chiefs) and the obligatory dodgy one (Moby - oh please just make another 'Play' or 'Animal Rights')

Car boot sales are good for me because I can have the exercise and there are planty of places to stop and look at things and coffee stands if need be.

They are also on fields so I am not embarassed to spit onto the ground if I need to either - something I can't do in the middle of Woolworths.

They put a bit of my MP3 diary on BBC Radio WM yesterday at 9.50am (a day later than expected but never mind!)

Mr M came round late morning with the MP3 recorder/player which was cool, because we had a good chin-wag.

I was impressed they used Erasure's Breath as background music. The BBC are much better than the other channels for this kind of thing though.

I hope they will use some more of the diary in coming days...It is in the lap of the Gods (or Mr Goldberg anyway!)

I hit Lichfield yesterday and tried to make a 'cool' MP3 recording from a cafe....But there was too much noise. I did go to Tudor Tunes and found out Tony Christie (currently at number 1 in the charts here in the UK) is actually from Hammerwich (just round the corner!)

I also heard a women ask for "The Way To Armadillo" - lol.....soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside......

Got a long letter from the docs today about my November 'MOT' with lots of long words in there that I must now go and look up on Google!

Tally Ho!



(It's where some of my reviews end up!)

Music: Jem, The Killers, The Bravery

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Easter Chav Spotting and more Beeb


Happy Easter...I hope the Easter bunny came to your place....I had a friend from Manchester come to visit today.....does that count?

My bunny brought the Guinness Book of Hit Records....which will help me no end with the NME crossword each week!

If you want a link to the Burntwood Post front page, e-mail me, as everytime I try and put it on the blog it mucks up the whole layout and I have to re-edit the HTML!

(Ooooh how technical did THAT sound!)

I will be on Radio WM again on Tuesday at 8.40am (subject to change!) with my MP3 diary..Of course knowing the Beeb this is subject to change (remember last time and Sir Jimmy Saville?!)

They still haven't given my the MP3 player back to make my next there will be a gap in the diary I will have to fill when it arrives...any ideas?

Anyway..went to a nice pub near Cannock last night (Yeh I know that sounds unbelievable) for Mr W's 40th birthday....It wasa also Mr S's 49th b'day...coming the week after Mrs JP, DH and Miss HC's birthdays......tomorrow is Mr W's birthday.

I might as well move into Clinton's card shop!

What is about June each year that makes people produce children 9-months-later. Must be crap TV or an annual condom shortage.

Perhaps everyone is converted by the Pope's Easter message and becomes Catholic, but lapses by July (hmmm perhaps not!)

Anyway it was good to see people last night and I said I wouldn't embarrass anyone by putting their name on the Hi

Medical wise I did ok for the first hour in the pub, then I started to feel the strain and put my oxygen up to full....c'est la vie....

I was reading a website about the transplant games and read one of the coordinators in Newcastle in the manager of Team UK.....

I can feel myself being badgered into something post-op already! Seriously, how fun would that be? Is Chav-spotting a sport?

Eat chocolate! Remember brown things have NO calories!

Music: Daft Punk, Joe Strummer, Strokes, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Lava Lamps and Hippy Chicks

Hiya Bloggedears!

(The one where I announce the arrival of my LAVA LAMP!!)

It seems the most beautiful thing known to man at the moment....and sends me to sleep quicker than Classic FM ever did.

The problem with the radio in bed is just as one is entering the land of nod the news comes and the talking stirs you awake..

A CD is normally not quite long enough to do the I burned a disc of chill out stuff like Moby and Bjork..

This combined with the laval who wants to market that as a package?

As ever the world of Mark is busy..Monday saw Uncle B and Auntie J come round and we encamped to a 'Weederia' (or garden centre, for the uninitiated...)

I requainted myself with the large and floppy golden retreiver who lives outside the coffee shop area...

Notices have appeared asking people not to feed him and he is a shadow of his former self....

He always lies on your toes if he feels you haven't given him enough love! I tried that once but it doesn't work.

Then yesterday....I met Miss H-C and C for lunch at the Park Gate to celebrate H-C's birthday...But my oxygen had to be up high (being in a pub) and I couldn't stay too long as it was running out.....damn and thrice damn.

I went to Lichfield and bought far too many magazines...I get through them so fast while I am doing by nebulisers... and a strange French indie compilation.

French people and guitars just don't go....think 'Telefon' or whatever they were called...but give them a dance manifesto and they can work miracles.....I give you Moon Safari by of the best albums ever made! Daft Punk ain't bad either....I will keep you informed!

Mr M, who was my first chief reporter way back when, came to collect the MP3 player...Radio WM plan to run the first diary (I must be careful not to write dairy!) piece next week sometime.

I think I have given them way too much stuff, but it is better that way round eh? He said they were pleased with the interview...which is good to hear.

Perhaps when I am fully recovered I could pitch for a job!

Off to do another set of nebulisers and take some more drugs.... xxx (That sounds more pleasurable than it is!)

Music: Leonard Cohen, Erasure, Libertines

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Coffee and TV

Hello Blogerettes,

Wo.what a busy week! Claire and John from the BBC came down (and up respectively) to do some filming of my life Big Brother-style, which may or may not be used in a TV documentary series being put together for August.

They filmed me coming out of computer class, picking up my prescription, going to the newsagents, as well as me doing my nebulisers, physio and stuff in the house. The kids coming out of the local school were very interested! lol

It also gave me and my mum (and later perhaps my friends) a chance to talk (a lot) about my situation and the problems I face. I explain how it feels to be drowning in inner gunge and the frustration of watching everyone else getting on with their lives while I am treading water, unable to do much work or socialising and not even having the energy to cook a decent meal for myself blah blah blah blah……It might even make good TV….

Hey you know what I am looking forward to most…being able to sit down with a coffee and feeling comfortable…actually comfortable…

After they left (late….gosh these guys work very hard…) this) it made me think. I have got a lot of feelings on camera that people don’t know. These things will be on film now, even if they are not used, its almost as though I have something of me that will outlive me. It’s a comfort. I suppose this Mps diary I’m doing for Radio WM is a similar thing.

I think this is one of the reasons I am doing so much writing. I have written songs, poems, children’s stories, lots of letters, so many letters to friends since going on the list.

It’s nice to think there is something of me in cyberspace, on music discs, on pages, that people can enjoy or learn about me from. Perhaps this is really selfish.

Music: Kaiser Chiefs, The Dears, Babyshambles

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Mark v Erasure

I had a night out tonight and I just want to explain what goes into it, compared with what most people have to do, which of course I have to do as well.

Well I went to the Erasure gig at Wolverhampton Civic and my preparations had to start early. I went to the supermarket, so I would have had some exercise, enough to bring up any rubbish from my lungs but not enough to exhaust me too much.

I had a bath and a steam bowl, inhaling Olbas oil before my evening nebulisers. I then had a light meal and filled up two oxygen containers with liquid oxygen and got out two conventional containers I had got a prescription for earlier today.

When my friend came I attached myself to a cylinder with the liquid oxygen containers in the front of the car, if they are not vertical they leak.

I was sick outside a lot but it seemed to do the trick. I felt better for it.
When we got to the gig I then attached myself to one of the liquid oxygen was dropped outside outside, with a friend holding the spare container.

Half way through the gig I swapped the containers. But I was constantly checking the levels. It was all such a to do. This is what I have to do before going out for an evening.

I bet the band didn’t do as much preparation as I did before the gig. But I can’t just sit in and medicate myself all evening.

You will be pleased to know I put a lot of glitter and gel on, most of which seems to have malted onto my pillow overnight!


Erasure has been belting out the electro-pop soundtrack to our lives for 20 years now.

Nobody would have been expecting the duo to sell out venues in 2005 with the kind of anthems they struck chart gold with in the 1980s, but they have.

The band have with new album Nightbird, already spawning one top five hit, brought back fans who deserted them in the late 90s and found favour with electro clashers.

So from the bizarre opener Three Blind Mice (yes the nursery rhyme) sung in complete darkness through to the closing chords of Sometimes, we saw a band very much on top of their game.

The stage took the shape of a forest, appropriately as they aired five songs from their new CD, definitely a grower.

Fortunately they chose to ignore their blander covers off Other People’s Songs and ABBA-esque and dug deep into their back catalogue for myriad of gems.

Highlights included the heart-wrenching tale of parental rejection that is Hideaway, quasi-political The Circus as well as all-out disco stomps of Love To Hate You and Stop.

Andy showed no signs of the hip problems that have plagued him and looked healthy and muscular, while dapper Vince stood as statue-like as fits the keyboard half of the duo.

This tour has seen two glamorous backing singers added who have almost as many costumes as Mr Bell. But Erasure, being Erasure, we had a few surprises.

The inclusion of a straight, or straight as Andy can be, version of Ave Maria and Vince rapping during a cover of Blondie’s Rapture were, ahem, different.

What other band could you see where the singer comes on dressed as an angel, with the backing vocalists as butterflies, in a magical forest? You don’t get this with Oasis!

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Aunty C and the BBC

I got up today early because Claire from the BBC at White City, London, was coming to chat about a documentary they are making on transplant patients.

They want to follow several patients, needing different transplants and do before, and after comparisons, see how their lives pan out and probably film the actual operation.

My Auntie C came to visit - a larger than life lady. Poor reporter girl hadn't met anyone like Auntie C before I don't think....I think she would be reality TV Star.

(And no Rebecca I won't be eating grubs in the jungle next year with Ant 'n Dec!)

Claire was delayed and brought some sweets as an apology, how sweet is that?

I think she did remarkably well to find the house, 'us living in the sticks an' all' and with all the windy -is windy (turning) and windy (blowy the same spelling?)- lanes.

Anyway…as we chatted I realised how much I miss the day-to-day journalism. I loved the feeling on not knowing what would be happening and who I would be meeting.

She didn’t know, as most people don't, that I can’t claim INCAPACITY BENEFIT or JOB SEEKERS ALLOWANCE and wont be able to even when I have had my transplant.

This is because I was out of the country for two years immediately prior to being ill and therefore the Government cancelled my national insurance payments and I will have to work for two years before I will be entitled to IB or JSA.

If I had come over illegally from another country I would get a lot more....(hmmm Perhaps I should change my name to Muhammed Imran Islam and say I am from Iran?!)

Work that one out Mr Blair.

This is why I have no time for incapacity scroungers..but that’s a previous blog!

It's things like this that niggle me at the moment. I get a lot of thinking time, perhaps too much. We were talking about how being on a transplant list effects relationship.

The dynamics of my relationships with friends have changed. I can’t go and meet them at the oub for example without planning and getting a lift with my oxygen cylinders.

I can’t go to visit people for weekends, or go farther than 30 minutes away, because of getting back to the house if I get the call. It is SO MUCH more convenient getting picked up by the ambulance from home when I get 'the call', where I will have my gear with me.

But as I used to be the organiser or nights out and meet ups I am now at the whim of others, totally. I don’t want people to feel that they ‘ought’ to visit me.

Anyway. I digress, Claire is going to be in contact regarding the TV thing. I am really keen to do it and have already sounded out friends and family to be interviewed.

I went to Lichfield this afternoon. My mum had to do some shopping. I am really tied to where she goes and what she does. She is very accommodating, but it is frustrating…I brought up a lot of stuff up from my lungs when I hit the cold air getting out of the car. The East wind didn’t help.

I bought some magazines and chilled out at a great café I know where I can get a decent ginger and green tea and people watch.

It was Comic Relief Night, but I don’t like those shows anymore. I want to be in a pub having fun, rather than watching with a cup of tea, picking away at my bass in my room.

I was exhausted by the time of my evening nebulisers and physiotherapy. People don’t realise how draining just getting by is at the moment.

I was on the front page of the Burntwood edition of the local free paper The Post and the sweet paper girl gave me an extra copy. (Bless her cotton socks!)

*Oh yes (1)‘Best Mate’ (a famous racehorse) had the same problem with burst aritaries that brought me a bit nearer to meeting my maker in January. (Bless his metal hooves?)

Oh yes (2)..this is a funny link to Michael Jackson erm.... 'song' lol

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Media Whore Mark v Auntie Beeb

Manic Day.

Got up before 4am…..You know how it is when you have to be up mega-early, you always wake up too early, but not early enough to make it worth one’s while going back to sleep. Dontchajusthateit!

I started the rigmoral that is my daily routine of nebulisers, phyiso – "today’s special guest instrument is the….’spirometer’…." - and hacking my guts up with a swing in my step and a song in my heart (or is that just rhyming slang?)

We left 6ish and got to Uncle Bs in Brum before 7am…The roads were empty. I felt cheated….How dare all the other people still be in bed! lol

B drove us to the Mailbox where the front lift only goes to level 5…you have to walk to the end of the arcade to get escalators to do the rest, very badly designed!

But the building is spanking new….It seems such a waste for it ever be almost empty. The toilets are a cross between Ally McBeal and The Hilton..(a good thing!)

The Adrian Goldberg Show is one of those no-music, news and discussion programmes that ironically seems to be broadcast from the inner sanctum of the BBC, as far away from the outside world as possible.

To cut a long story short….My ‘slot’ kept being put back and back, due to other stories. Tommy Vance died and we had Sir Jimmy Saville talking about it and called after caller giving opinions about whether black boys should be taught seperately.

I saw an Asian woman vicar in a sari….Now that’s not something you see every day. She had just done something amazing in the Indian sub-continent.

In the end I was interviewed at 10am and allowed to waffle on and on...The 'taster' for the interview says it's the 'jewel in the crown' of interviews or something like that....I hope I lived up to the expectation.

It goes out on Wednesday morning....listen in (or record it and laugh at me later.)

One complaint - £6 for parking! SIX QUID!!!! (I must find out how to make an expenses claim.) I was fantastically sick on the concrete floor so I guess that will soak up some of the cash.....(better than in the studio eh Adrian?)

The TV people from White City (somewhere in London I believe) are now coming on Thursday for a chat on what they its all becoming a bit hectic.

The Chase Post (a local newspaper) wanted me to do something for them by tonight (aaagh) as well as the usual stuff I did for the Mercury.

I have an outpatients appointment in Brum tomorrow and by tomorrow night I will be flopping into a lack-of-sleep induced stupa!

The BBC Radio people want me to keep a diary for them of my progress and have given me a very snazzy MP3 player to record my mutterings on..(e-bay here I come! - only joking!)

Currently it has lots of tracks of someone talking about how scared they are of flying...followed by crashing noises (which I hope are courtesy of the BBC Sound Effects Department)

*I heard the house I used to live in in Stafford is up for sale...The landlord was Keith Riff-Hard from Rolling Stones tributers Stoned Again.... memories..of half-wasted hippies making herbal tea and rock-chicks making out with wasted hippies. - if you are up early enough the show is 7am till 10am - but I don't know when my bit is (!!)

Music in Background: Embrace...

Friday, March 04, 2005

Blowing the Tardis and Radio WM


The day started with a call from Radio WM who are the marvellous local rulers of the airwaves (a little too much? Oh why not!)

They want me to come in on Monday for an interview for the Breakfast Show....It means that I will have to get up at 4am to have all my medication and nebulisers and pack the car for Newcastle (in case we get the call) before setting off 6ish.

We are leaving the car at Uncle B's house in Brum as they know the centre better than us and we don't want to get lost on the way to the 'Mailbox'.

I think the interview will be on at 8.20am or 8.40am (when most of you will be still asleep or on your way to work no doubt.)

I will let you know how it goes....I will then be keeping an audio diary for a weekly broadcast....They are giving my a recordable Mp3 player...spits on an ipod eh?

You see what influencial people read this blog! There is a lesson in there somewhere...But I don't know what it is.

I had a torturous day at Heartlands Hospital doing blowing tests...It involved blowing and sucking on tubes and in certain sequences with and without oxygen in a glass 'tardis' - while a computer drew graphs and rattled out figures!

Luckily I was the last patient of the day so I think they did it as quickly as possible (phew!) but it was still nasty.

The offers for our A11 ENK numberplate are getting higher by the day! At this rate it will be worth more than the campervan it came off!

Jordan for Europvision? At least we will get at least two points then?! lol

Tottlepip! x

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Media Mania, Tony Parsons and Joy Division


Well this little column has been getting a bit of media attention of late…If you don’t soon will!

It’s been a week of visitors and visiting….I like seeing people, but it’s so tiring.

My Uncle and Aunt are going to be presented to medical students as the ideal modern retired couple, with all their activities and projects…Goldfish or guinea pigs?

Today I met Mrs P in Wetherspoons in Cannock for a latte and told her how this time last month my hospital room looked like a crime scene because of all the blood.

I hope she doesn’t have nightmares. She is a remarkably together person.

It looks like I will have to go to Brum tomorrow for breathing tests. I was hoping the consultants would veto the tests, at the risk of projective blood vomit.

But looks like they want the results…its an hour of blowing into things, sucking things, breathing into things, blood being taken and a lot of hacking my guts up.

I got a call from Newcastle today…but it was ‘only’ because BBC are doing a documentary on before/during/after patients and the docs think I would be a good subject.

Every time I hear someone from Newcastle on the phone I gesture towards my chest and my heart shouts ‘I’m gonna get two breathing friends soon!’

It is such a coincidence because a radio station are interested in me recording an MP3 diary of what it is like waiting for a transplant. The more the better. AWARENESS

*Big hi to the waitress in Burntwood who said: “I read your blog” when she served me the other week by the way…It made me feel really good.

Since I only do one weekly newspaper piece nowadays I really miss the power of writing….and communicating (as well as not being knackered and coughing my guts up every few minutes of course)

Thought for the day….Someone somewhere analyses phlegm for a living!

Reading: For My Baby by Tony Parsons (it is about a person who fell in love while teaching English in the Far East…. Ring any bells?)

Music: Joy Division, Kaiser Chiefs, Psych (Korean hip-hop!)