Breath Of Life

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

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Dutch Pancakes and Silly Subs


Hospital day yesterday....Up early, car full of 'Newcastle' stuff. Usual probs!

My lung function was up has risen for six or seven months on the trott and now at its highest point for well over a year.

The consultants changed one antibiotic. The problems the CF causes in me are mainly to do with two 'evil' bugs. I wasn't on anything to attack the most common of these.

Well I am now!

I went to Cannock today to film some stuff for my videodiary and bumped into Mick, and two Express and Star colleagues.

Duncan (Cannock chief reporter blokey) asked if I wanted to do a monthly column for the paper....I agreed.

The Express and Star is the largest evening paper outside London and I used to work there full-time before I went travelling.

I may use it to highlight the fact I can't claim jobseekers allowance or incapacity benefit - all because I was out of the country for more than two years.

When I got home I noticed the Burntwood Post has published my story about the playground opening....but put someone else's name on it!!!

What is the point in me giving them stories? The tight gits won't pay me so I want at least a byline for my efforts.

This is the same paper that when I gave them a story about the lack of weddings at the local church they put an intro in basically saying how I was moved by the plight of the I am some kind of campaigner.

No wonder people don't read the media like they used to....

I did see a man from Utrecht, my old hometown in Holland, selling pancakes in Cannock. There was a European Market in the town centre...very cosmo!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Village Politics


Saturday was the official opening of the children's playground in the village that Dad had done a lot of fundraising for.

The chairman of Cannock Chase District Council cut the ribbon and Councillor Pat Ansell said a little speech.

But there was a moany, groany fat man who stood by the pavillion filming the whole event and grumbling about the village news I write (not knowing I write it!)

He complained I had said people were complaining that dog's foul the field and if I spoke to dog-walkers I would 'know' there aren't enough bins for them...

Well why doesn't he get up off his fat arse and donate one himself. He was also complaining about the parish council.....Well why doesn't he stand himself...

(Of course stand is the wrong word for a man mroe round than Mr Round of Roundshire....) was nice to see so many people there....including a red-headed girl I hadn't seen before...Well one has to have an aim doesn't one?!

I managed to walk all the way down to the village hall for a tea afterwards and home. I think my health is definitely easier to manage in the is life!

In the evening mum and I went to a Hog Roast in Gentleshaw in aid of the George Meredith Trust....It seems half the village was there...

As with most of these 'social' affairs...everyone seemed to be much older or younger than me....It was Saturday night after all...If only I was able to get out...

I drank a whole bottle of red wine and chatted to anyone who came near me!

We watched that 'Girl In The Cafe' made for TV film with Bill Nighy in it...written by Richard 'Four Weddings' Curtis...It was way too worthy and precious for prime-timeTV...but there again, most people with taste would be out drinking at that time!

Today I met the usual suspect for drinkies at the PG... Mr and Mrs W joined us and we all sat outside in the sun....The world DOES look better in the sun.

My fantasy cricket team actually got a negative score today....only two were playing and one got a duck! Doh! What was that about life looking better?

Music: The Eels
Book: The Shipping Forecast - Charlie Connelly

Friday, June 24, 2005

Baby Booming


Thursday was an 'active' day for me. We went shopping in the morning (well I was getting withdrawl symptoms without WebUser and NME) and then Vickie came round.

This is the recently sprogged Vickie from 'Tale Of Two Vickies' and she brought along baby Gracie. So we wandered up to the pub for coffee.

On the way we passed Vickie F (not one of the 'Tale Of Two Vickies' but also with baby....although its not born yet.)

Then in the evening I went to my web design class. The files I need for my practice paper are still not on-line (well welcome to Lichfeld and Tamworth College!)

It was Vickie S(who WAS one of the 'Tale of Two Vickies' Vickies)'s interview today at Crewe University...apparently it went well although there was a nutter there.

As it is a counselling course one would expect a nutter to be there.

I chatted to Miss M on the phone and I am going to help her with her Korean teacher recruitment website.

With helping Bruce's students out I am getting more and more involved in Korea again.

Today I went to Lichfield and ran into Andrea Peters (nee Smith) who was an old school friend from way back when...I hadn't seen her in about 10 years.

She too has a little baby....gosh it makes me feel old! She (Andrea) hasn't changed a bit - it must be something in the water in the Isle Of Wight.

Burntwood Post put in my article about tomorrow's playground opening in Cannock Wood. It also went in The Mercury as part of the village news section.

Miss M texted me lots of pics of her kittens....unbelievable cute things... :)

Well its going to be rainy and muddy at Glastonbury this year....Awww what a shame (he he he he)

When we went on the C.W.C.C cricket club tour we used to pass them at the motorway services coming home....

The tour starts tonight. Last year was the first even not to have an Allen on tour. This year will be the last.... Viva hope!

Music: Erasure - Nightbird Kraftwerk - Computer Love

Monday, June 20, 2005

Stranded Without Oxygen!


I had an erm....different day today.... We went to Lichfield to enjoy some sun, take a couple of articles into local papers and buy the new Erasure single etc...

I left mum and went to the Lichfield Post office, came out and found my liquid oxygen cylinder was empty! I had come out of the house with an empty one!

I was stranded...the car (with the spare oxygen old-type cylinder inside) was locked and Mum's mobile wasn't responsing....aaaaaagh.

I figured I was meeting Mum in an hour-and-a-half at a cafe and if I did absolutely nothing and sat in a breeze I could just do it...I kept busy with texting J in Manchester...

Then a stroke of luck. I wandered past a precinct on Bore Street and noticed mum at the other end...I rushed through but she had gone...

I went into each shop until I found her and she rushed back to the car and I ws re-attached....We went home and found the full container in the kitchen...

I had picked up the wrong container and her phone has run out of charge (a combination of unfortunate circumstances)....

We returned later in the lovely sunshine and then had coffee outside The Gatehouse, a cafe opposite the Old Friary...

I got one of the versions of the new CD single from Tudor Tunes and they are going to ask the rep to get the others for me....

I am at college at this moment and the practice paper I have (on web design) I can't do as the files I need are not on the Clait Plus website yet....

Back to normality...

Oh yes..It seems several of the cricketers in my Telegraph fantasy game decided to get injured so I have been in a transfer whirl... :)

I have also been checking out a few transplant related sites and it sems grapefruit are banned post-op.....That won't change my life...

Wimbledon started today too....Am already bored! xxx

My IVs (pic taken last month)

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Butchers and Bakers


Well, well, well isn't it hot! England warmed than Barbados, Cyprus and Ibiza today...I feel sorry for all those holiday makers (not!)

Mr and Mrs W have gone to Paris....while I went to Brownhills Market (note the contrast I am picturing here dear reader?) Of course I don't envy them...NO (cries!)

I had a strange dream. I was in the family butchers in London (which my family used to run for generations and indeed Florence Nightingale was a regular but I have never visited it ) trying to explain who I was....

In another dream this week I was playing football in our lounge with Dennis Wise...and we were arguing if the carpet near the hi-fi was part of the goal..

On a slightly less weird note I finished my CDs of melancholy, suspense and triumph for the documentary...I also sent off the first two tapes of video diary to them...

I also have a confession....about a month ago I dissed a Moby album on this blog...It has since grown into one of my favourite albums the little New Yorker has done...up there with Animal Rights, and a lot better than 18...

Oh I almost forgot I bumped into E.S (yes Laura...your Daddio!) in Lichfield and spent a pleasurable lunchtime watching England V Bangledesh in an ale house (ssssh!)

The same day I went to Mr and Mrs S ('tale of two Vickies' Mrs S) for dinner. I think it was the best day I have had for a long time.

My health always suffers after going somewhere for an evening...but I had almost a full O2 container left so put it up to '6' on the way home...

Mum had stayed in Stafford and found a pub that do nice coffees....This is a bonus as I always feel guilty having to rely on her to take me places if she is bored.

We have been doing a lot of wrapping (as opposed to rapping) yesterday. With the ever looming propect of being away in Newcastle for more than two months at 30 mins notice we have to be ready. That includes wrapping cards and presents for people whose b'days are in the next couple of months...especially if they are 'big' b'days.

AND I almost forgot congratulations the former Mrs Baker (now Mrs B!?!) on the birth of her third it's not her last..

I thought you may like to see a pic of my cousins Jane and Oliver (he's the smaller one!) in our back garden....bless.

(full set on

Music: Kraftwerk, William Orbit
Book: The Shipping Forecast - Connelly

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Lost MP3s and Tiscali Trouble


Just a quickie (ooer)....Weird week! Radio WM have lost my MP3 diary filed (doh!.) This is after they used just one piece from my first lot....

I think I have now given them more than 25 entries.....Where does our licence fee go eh folks?

I am finding non-vocal music for 'melancholy' 'suspense' and 'triumph' for TV Does this mean I get a title credit?

My computer still isn't fixed....even tried modem on laptop. It is a nightmare that all their helpdesk people are Asian with strong accents....

Had haircut...hmmm...Bumped into JB and BB from Brum in Burntwood Library....

So am replying to e-mails by phone and when I get to the library.....yawn!

Oh Tori Amos review appeared in The Post last week and my Coldplay review can be found at to follow...

Newcastle enjoyed my 'Music To Get Transplanted By'...expect a follow-up!

Did I mention I have the Nick Cave videos DVD and I can clarly be seen on 'I Have A Dream, Joe' exactly 3.00 minutes into the track, gazing at Nick from the front of a stage in Amsterdam..(Paradiso Club) - well I did now!

Huggles to one and all....Everybody say 'moisturiser' and liquidise the Crazy Frog!

Music: Coldplay, Manics, Nick Cave

Friday, June 10, 2005

PC Plods


Sorry about the lack of decent blogs this week ('what's new ?' I hear you cry!)

My computer won't let me get on the net...My broadband modem had one light on and one flashing which normally means a wire is loose.

If you see one of my eyes winking this may mean I have a screw loose....a pattern?!!

I tried everything to remedy the situation even uninstalling the modem software and re-installing (which then led it to not being able to find its own drivers!)

A call to Tiscali didn't leave me much the wiser and they are asking BT to check the bandwidth of the line...(each output to a phone has a filter on already)..

On a cheerier note...(erm) I went to the doctor to try and find out which medication if any is causing my skin to be dry. I put on moisturiser (love that word!) and it all soaks up in minutes....

Dr H in Burntwood gave me a cream and shampoo ('sham' poo - why not the real thing!) and we will see how it goes....It all sems to be a mystery amd not sun-related.

Well I am at Burntwood Library and my time is running out so I'll go now...

Oh many thanks to JB and BB who made Tuesday (which was always going to be difficult) a little more manageable!

One more thing....good luck to Miss S.B for her exams....'If you tolerate this..'

Music: Babyshambles, Bruce Springsteen, Wire, Manics

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Dad...One year on

It has been a year...gosh!

Gerry Allen died...7/6/2004

The headstone was put in place last night....

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Tori Amos, Orance Knickers and Coloured Dreams


How are ye my weary readers? Another week eh? Life eh? eh? (This sentence has been brought to you by the word 'eh'.)

Come into my world for a tick....(oh come on in, the water's lovely!)

I do dream in colour....I made a point to remember and wrote down my dream the other night, which consisted of people and bread (and getting the two jumbled)

I went to Tori Amos on Thursday with Mr and Mrs W and Mr I (who unbelievably is in his 50s and I swore he was in his 30s!)

It was a tough night. Two oxygen cylinders for the gig and an old-style metal one for the car....

It was the first seated gig I have ever been to at the Civic...

Why are so may pseudo tie-n-dye intellectual types Tori Amos fans? I think half the audience were school teachers (who really felt they should be lecturers!)

If they were that intelligent why did so many of them smoke?!

Well then my friends this is a cut-down version of what I thought of the gig. A longer pseudo tie-n-dye intellectual version will appear on later!

The lovely Tori Amos - she likes pigs you know.

Tori Amos – Sinsuality Tour – Wolverhampton Civic June 2

Tori Amos is best known for the album sleeve where she breastfeeds a piglet, something she must be ‘boar’ed of being reminded about.

But the lady who put the ‘sty’ in style (enough pig puns – Ed) with kooky good looks and orgasmic piano has a reputation covered in rhythm and ‘sow’ul (sorry!)

Never one to rest on laurels she covered Eminem and hit number one with the remixed ‘Professional Widow’ – neither aired tonight.

An hour-and-a-half of girl and whimsical piano, not matter how virtuoso, spells ‘same’.

Tori’s a fine pianist, swapping drawbar organ, and harpsichord, even sitting at one, playing the other behind her back. Clever.

But for £30 we deserved a little banter (she was virtually silent); A bit of variety (she could have at least afforded Damien Rice to duet).

Diehards enjoyed older songs like Jackie’s Strength, Hey Jupiter and countless ballads about icicles and God as a woman (or whatever!)

Songs off new album The Beekeeper made up most of the gig, with the title track, Martha’s Foolish Ginger and Goodbye Pisces (during which the screen showed fish) almost standing out.

But where were her hits? No Cornflake Girl. No The Power Of Orange Knickers - the subject of most of her merchandising.

Sometimes a chorus of any kind would have been welcome, even the Crazy Frog!

Perhaps she will make enough from this tour to retire to Cornwall and become a pig farmer full time!

Music: Guess?!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Poked 'n' Prodded

Long day..We had to get up very early as car loaded with Newcastle stuff, urine samples (!) nebuliser (it needed servicing) my excess IV stuff and the BBC camera (in case we get the call)

My weight was stlightly down (good thing!) and my blowing was up (again!) It is bizarre, my lung capacity seems to be increasing very slowly. It was my best spirometry result for a year, and again, up a bit on last month.

Sooner of later it is going to go down. So the longer I can keep it going up for, the higher plateau they will have to fall from , the longest I can stay out of hospital, Comprendez?

It is a bit like the 100 metres world record. It keeps improving, but only by a tiny bit each time - but it is in the right direction!

My consultant is going to look into the side effects of my drugs to see which one is causing my skin to go red, flakey and blotchy in the sun (some sort of photosynthesis)

Just as we were leaving they called me on my mobile phone to ask me to come back for blood tests. At least I got to go to the front of the queue though.

I got a package of letters from my Korean friend from teenagers he teaches.

I will send them all a letter back and a little present. The only thing is I don’t know which ones are male and which are female.

Perhaps if I Google their Korean names it will help!

One said she was 'pretty'....hmmmm if I was Sherlock Homes I could deduce she was either female or his English wasn't up to scratch.

Korean boys always descibe themselves as 'handsome' and the girls as 'princesses'.

In fact 'Princess Syndrome' is an actual condition in Korea (fact!) I remember when I lived there that Koreans are the best people in the world for doing 'cute'.

The people are 'cute' the dogs are cute (the ones that aren't eaten anyway!) the writing paper is cute, the clothes are cute. EVERYTHING is cute! Princess heaven!

I went to my computer class last night. I am now working on designing a simple web site for a holiday firm….My mind wasn’t too focussed tonight, head ached!

I sent the CD of ‘Music To Be Transplanted By’ to Newcastle today. This included ‘Breathe Me’ by Sia, ‘The Air That I Breathe’ The Hollies and Pain Killer by Turin Brakes...

My cd-burning software is behaving again so Mr MH you will get your compilation in the next few days too!

It is Thursday afternoon and I am going to see Tori Amos tonight. Her last album bored me but I hear she is better live...

I have texted ahead to tell the Wolverhampton Civic manager I am coming, so the bouncers don't question my oxygen cylinders....


Music: Fischerspooner
Book: Reporting Royalty – Jennie Bond (!)