Breath Of Life

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Talking Magpie and Media Madness

Hello Poppets,

How are we this fine morrow.....Now then (say what you see) try and guess my next four words...which usual 'I have been busy'.

Oh yes...for those who saw me cycling this morning. I was wrapped up like an Eskimo because I was damn cold....I know I looked a buffoon but I don't there!

On Sunday I met the usual suspects and in the afternoon took 'the adults' to Amerton Farm where I met the ever-lovely LC and she showed me the rescued animals.

I was particularly impressed by the talking magpie (I kid you not!), some gorgeous baby mices ('mices' sounds better than 'mice' don't you think?) and 'my' golden pheasant (very pleasant).

Monday was my media madness day. As you have probably already read. I spend the day at the BBC in Birmingham putting my input into the final editing of Inside Out.

I got there, via a grim Cannock train, and got to The Mailbox about 10ish. Most of the shops there were not yet open for business (they cater for ladies who lunch)

The ladies who lunch are still reading Elle and Cosmo in bed with the butler(s) at 10am!

Rachel and the rest of the Inside Out people were lovely to me. I also did an interview on Radio Stoke (who want £10 for a copy of the interview on tape!!!!) Radio Stoke? Who are they anyway? (Answers on a postcard please)

I got to experience such delights as the BBC canteen (very cheap and delicious latte-fest) met some people I knew from previous interviews and jobs and sat in on the edit.

I also got a chance to 'read the news' lol Click on the link to see my very pathetic efforts.

Anyway. I watched the whole edpisode of Inside Out through for the first time and we chatted about it. It was quite emotional for me. There was personal stuff there.

I think, as ever with these things, there were whole documentaries of stuff they had to leave out.

I got home in the afternoon and had a busy time ringing round trying to sort out the car insurance, replace my lost railcard (need it for Newcastle on Monday), and transfer money around accounts to get the car maney sorted.

We watched 'IO' in the evening. Again people I DON'T LOOK THAT OLD IN REAL LIFE! A lot of the footage was taklen when I was at my most ill and desperate for a tranpslant and therefore was quite shocking....golly gosh indeedy.

Today I had a dentist appointment. Mr Urin has been replaced by Miss Sam Brown (who is a lot more pleasant to look at, no offence to Mr Urin!)

I had forgotten it was (is) Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday - the start of the Christian festival of Lent) so Lichfield was packed. There was even a fair.

I bought Madonna's new single from Tudor Tunes (for the Pet Shop Boys and Paul Oakenfold Remixes) and the CD from Panic At The Disco.

Oh yes...I also put my review of Johnny Cash's 'American III' on Ciao. So please click on my review and rate it so I earn some cash from it!

My t-shirt arrives from Emily. Its tremendous matey and I shall wear it with pride.

I almost forgot. I had my hair cut today too. Sophie attacked me with hair straighteners in a noble bid to trendify me up a bit.

Thinking of dyeing my hair very dark red. What do you think? (Positive answers only please!)

Here's a quick link to me reading the news at BBC Midlands..he he. Its definitely one for dog-lovers! CLICK HERE

To e-mail me CLICK To read my latest music review CLICK

MUSIC: Panic At The Disco: "I Write Sins Not Tragedies"

Monday, February 27, 2006

Coffee and TV


Hope you heard my bit on Radio Stoke today. If not, don't worry, the sky won't cave in!

Sat in on the edit of Inside Out today in Birmingham....I look SO OLD a year ago in the interview footage. Gosh!

l8r x

Sunday, February 26, 2006

£5.10, Uncle Roger, Rum, Sodomy and the Lash!

Hiya Bloggettes,

Ok, ok I made up the last three bits of the title. But it got your attention didn't it?!

Saturday we went to Stafford as I had to pick up my bank card, which I had left at the phone shop (doh!) and then with Dyne visitors in tow took a 'train' to Brum.

Something so strange happened. Some Asian woman asked me for £5.10?????

What did she need £5.10 for.... Before you come here and try and live here at least work out the value of our currency woman! DOH!

The church in the centre of the city is St Martins and is the parish church of Brum (not the cathedral, which is somewhere else) and has a lovely restaurant, complete with pianist and warm radiators. (It was a bitter day!)

I emmersed myself in market culture. I had forgotten how bizarre the markets by the old rag market in Birmingham are. Its a different world, a world time and inflation forgot. Cup of coffee for 35p guv'nor?!

If I hadn't been the only one who spoke English there (or was it a type of Brummie that was just too much?) We could have been in 1976 (including the fashion!)

AND every other storeholder looked like an older version of Ian Brown (former Stone Roses singer.)

But its nice that it has kept its character and some of the characters are still there. The rest of the centre has reaped the benefit/suffered 'urban renewal'.

The Bill Ring is a dazzling post-modern Starbuckfest (with a great Music Zone!)

I bought bits and pieces. Of course I'm not telling you what because a couple of the bits are presents (and the pieces are for me!)

In the evening myself, The Dynes and Mum met Kay and Roger in a pub called The Horseshoe in Tetenhill (near Burton)

Roger was talking about all our old trips to Cornwall.

Every Easter a group of families - it started off just as Ripley Round Table and expended! - used to head to cottages in Devon or Cornwell.

Places like Boscastle and Tintagel were favourites.

There were about a dozen 'kids' about the same age and we all brought friends and there was always a Champagne breakfast, Patricks Adventure, and lots of card games.

(Oh and Slippery Sam, which I exported to Korea and the kids loved it!!!)

It continued even as we went through Uni and several of us still keep in touch. In fact one is even married to another one's ex. (We weren't all THAT close!)

Anyway. Us kids are all grown-up (ish) and some even have their own kids and there is talk of a reunion of the hardcore of people who went most years.

Some have died (there have been tragedies) and others will not want to go but Roger said plans were afoot for another trip perhaps. I have so many memories. I would love to stir them up again.

I look back at photos (was that 1989 or 1987?!!) - and think WHERE/WHO/WHY ARE THEY NOW?

Anyway the meal was great. I would really recommend it. The wine flowed freely and thank the God of SatNavs we got home!

Its now Sunday morning (just about) - My morning cycle was interupted by my handlebars turning at right-angels to my wheel so I came back and did some more insurance quote hunting. I certainly won't have time tomorrow.

Off to mee the usual suspects before hitting Amerton. I have been told to try their pies! Can I point at the animal I want to eat I wonder?

Another bit of tarting on my part. When I am at the BBC on Monday with the Inside Out crew (BBC1 7.30pm don't forget!) I will be on Radio Stoke talking about the programme, sometime between 10am and 10.40am.

Radio Stoke's link is...... CLICK ME

To watch Inside Out (after Monday) CLICK ME

Music: Johnny Cash : American III (the one with covers of U2 and Nick Cave on there!)

Friday, February 24, 2006

Snow Go Stoke Bloke

Pic: Emily and friend model the new t-shirts!

Hey Hey Its Not The Monkeys (so don't get excited!) - but it is Arctic (boom boom!)

FLAKY WHITE STUFF EVERYWHERE. (No not the contents of Kate Moss's handbag but SNOW!) It's still virginal, white and fresh. (the only thing that's any of those things in Staffs!)

I still did my morning bike ride, but my chain came off and I arrived home a sweaty, dirty mess (what's new!)

The countryside looks stunning over Cannock Chase between Pye Green and Stafford engulfed in a blanket of serenity. Its just a shame its so cold. If God invented warm snow the churches would be full.

I actually did the phone thing and changed my contract in Stafford. I will be keeping the same number so don't worry! Met LC in Starbucks and put the world to right....before heading to the hairdressers to book an appointment.

I did get recognised once in Stafford from the Pick Me Up article, just outside The Gatehouse. Infamy, infamy, they've all got it 'infamy'!

Just a couple of quickies. Firstly I must give you Emily's new link. She is the lovely person who is in the same position as I was a few weeks ago and in need of new lungs......She has launched a new range of awareness t-shirts.

Her site is (She is a regular contributor to this blog, has her own blog and is in Women's Own magazine and is a mate of Richard and Judy too no less! Are all my friends media tarts?)

Another bit of tarting on my part. When I am at the BBC on Monday with the Inside Out crew (BBC1 7.30pm don't forget!) I will be on Radio Stoke talking about the programme, sometime between 10am and 10.40am.

Radio Stoke's link is...... CLICK ME

To watch Inside Out (after Monday) CLICK ME

MUSIC: Kaiser Chiefs, Boo Radleys, John Lee Hooker

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Beauty By Louisa, Inferno By Dante

Pictures of Louisa and moi from my little break in Sheffield - If this was smellyvision you would know how good that food was!

*Am in PickMeUp magazine this week and will be on BBC TV’s Inside Out on Monday night (as if I hadn’t plugged these enough! I HAVE NOW...) Lets all rejoice in the post-modern currency of celebrity and publicity (or not.)

REWIND (please make correct rewind noises) to Saturday – eventful evening. A stupid girl got beaten up by her stupid boyfriend and we were nearly caught in it and I bet the silly b*tch is back going out with him now.

You can see what kind of people they are is she said ‘he was saying stuff about my step sister’. I thought about it. If anything had happened to my friends that night….

The girl looked like the type who would split up with someone and be convinced her life wasn’t a life until she had another bloke, who would no doubt cheat on her too.

Get a grip! Try being on oxygen for two years hon and see how that affects your love life! So young and yet… stupid. What does she want? Sympathy?

Why do girls of a certain age get so depressed they haven’t got a loser in tow at any one time. Gosh….no bloke at Xmas….life’s not worth living eh? lol…..DOH!

As for the bloke….he was such a lowlife I'm not going to waste valuable cyberspace! Although I already have!

I had a good time in Sheffield. I went up to spend time with beauty therapist Louisa, who I worked with in Sydney. (We both worked with Nomes and Gerbri…but NOT as beauty therapists….she’s the only artistic one!)

We only live an hour apart, but I had seen Gerbri from Holland twice and Naomi from Australia twice in the time it took for me to get to see Louisa once. Silly us….

It was great to catch up on our gossip (and drinking) and although we planned to do lots of other stuff we really just sat and chatted all weekend….losing track of time…

We both had a lot to talk about because we both have a lot going on in our lives and I’m sure we both felt a lot better for talking about it. It was all a GOOD THING.

If anyone is ever in Sheffield Las Iguanas is a great restaurant – it also provides some ideal opportunities for middle-class bohemian people-watching (my sport of choice!)

I believe I agreed to a weekend at Manchester's Mardi Gras (although I can't be certain.....) Not to self - 'buy glitter'.

I was sorry to go home. It was also the first day on NO painkillers so anyone who saw me shaking a bit, it wasn’t just the cold or a touch of the Pete Dohertys - although I believe he wants my medicine cabinet.

Bizarrely two days hardly leaving a room in Sheffield for some reason illogically did my stamina good as my cycle on Wednesday morning went well! C'est la vie mon amis.

I need to get insurance cover for my new car, but despite NEVER having had an accident, because I have not driven for three years my NO CLAIMS has vanished. (*pooooof* - a vanashing noise.)

Insurance companies are the pits. Not Brad or Jen either! I am talking about Dante’s Inferno, just between terrorists and Celebrity Big Brother contestants!

Talking of the pits, after a cycle and an induction at Fitness First (a bit pricey!) I went to Heartlands to see the nurses and docs and have a check-up etc.

They knew I needed Tauralin for days but the prescription wasn’t written out and when it was I had to wait more than 90 minutes at pharmacy and they still didn’t have enough in.

Piss up, Heartland Hospital couldn’t organise, brewery – rearrange these words to make a sentence!

And, despite all the publicity there were large areas of the hospital which seemed to ignore the fact that alcohlol gel keeps infections down. They had posters, but no gel, especially in the pharmacy area!

All this meant a planned meeting at the BBC and a visit to my uncle’s place couldn’t happen! (Both rearranged – phew!)

I also get the impression people at hospitals want to find something wrong with you so they can arrange home visits to boost expenses and the spiral continues…..not getting caught in that again, thank you.

At least Dr Wildman, who seems very nice, said my lungs were ‘clean as a bell’.

I found out some strange things that have been happening to me are just side effects from the drugs I’m on. This is good…as privately I was stressing. Enough about that.

One interesting thing is I apparently won’t go bald while I am on anti-rejection drugs, but may need the odd waxing! Lol…I wouldn’t advise a transplant as a baldness cure!

Thursday was a ‘white-out’ as the media like to say – My cycle ride was a ‘snow go’ and feeling ‘flaked out’ I went to B’wood Leisure Centre, but no gym appointments available.

Not feeling too ‘iced off’ I got a lift home and started more internet insurance hunting.

Meeting Vickie for coffee pm soon…..loads to catch up on…probably.

Then I think I deserve a hot water and whiskey…(need a little warming from the inside!)

Oh yes… For those to be at Starbucks at Stafford on Friday – I salute you and hug you.

Busy (I mean 'busy' whi did I say 'bust'?) weekend with a visit from the family Dyne but am probably meeting the usual suspects on Sunday and going ‘editing’ with the Inside Out team at BBC’s Mailbox (Brum) on Monday.

MUSIC: Sparks: Hello Young Lovers, Johnny Cash - Amercian IV, Arctic Monkeys,
BOOK: Cutting Humour (Private Eye Compilation)

To email me click

Friday, February 17, 2006

BBC Filming and My New Car

(Pic = my new Vauxhall Corsa SXi+ )
Hiya Good People,

Just a very quick update. I was being filmed all morning by the BBC as part of the INSIDE OUT programme that will be broadcast a week on Monday....(7pm BBC1 plug plug!) So I feel like a jaded supermodel. My makeup has run and my lines are showing daaaarlings! I am going along to the BBC in Brum next week for the 'mixing' and 'editing',

I bought a car today..An ulta blue Vauxhall Corsa SXi+ Although I will pick it up in a fortnight because that's when the new plates come in. It is brand new and comes with lots of stuff.

The CD player is excellent too! Eminem will love it.

More optimism on the getting paid for old stories and interest shown in a couple of new ones I did. Thing are looking up on that front.Its good because its an incentive to keep on writing!

Oh yes. I put another review on Ciao CLICK Its on a couple of up and coming Aussie bands which may be of interest.

And ARE on that video I have from 1992.But you are not the DJ - I can't recognise some people on there. Do you remember Kim (who I snogged later that night) - whatever happened to people like her? I think Karl and Nigel are on there, clearing up!!!!

Tootle pips. Who needs that new film about buggering cowboys when we have the two-man bobsleigh team to watch!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Mark does Tai-Chi and Filmed for TV

Bloggers/Bloggettes/Munchkins etc....etc....

Welcome to a 'not very interesting' few days. But in the true spirit of historical chonicling (and the fact I have a few minutes) .....I will continue.

I have found a video from my leaving party in 1992 before I went to live in Holland. Some of you who read this blog are on it including Matt H, Louise B (fomerly C) - someone needs to help me ID the others! The DJ should have been hung too!

The crew are coming tomorrow to wrap up filming for the 'Inside Out' docu (more on this later)-and want me to find out some old footage of me on video - I think this is about all I have for them.

Wednesday - after my usual mini-workour (I am embarassed to call it a workout because it is still very limited) I did a 'Body Balance' class, which is a combination of yoga, tai-chi (?) and pilates.

How do some of these women get so bendy?

It was quite difficult for me because of the stretching involved and seemed tough on the knees. I am sure it strenghtens me though and I am keen to do another class on Saturday. (my last but one day of my free trial - gulp!)

I was very nervous not to be a total oath and was so glad I didn't fall over - although I came close!!! The best bit was the final 15 minutes when the intstructor put whale music on and I almost fell asleep.

Gymo-Jodie was working out and I saw her as I left. Gosh. People like that have temples for bodies eh? So do I..unfortunately mine is a very broad church!

Then I met the ever-radiant LC in Stafford. There are so many places to eat there now we were spoilt for choice! It was a bit of a munchkin-fest, being school holidays and the like.

I bought the new Sparks album - a review will appear at various places which I will send you links to. (see bottom of blog) There are lots of fluffy bunnies on the front (always a good thing!)

I bought it from HMV (boo!) but got a free sampler CD of tracks from other newly-released albums on there! (Hurray!) - not that I will EVER get around to listening to them!

Then I spent a boring but useful hour looking around the phone shops for a good deal, or at least a better one than I am on now.

The one Rach and Mike have with '3' sounds perfect, but I am just going from shop to shop to see what extras I can have for doing it with them, rather than direct. We shall see...

Wednesday evening Akbar and Nath came round and we had a meal at the Park Gate - £4 per person, sorted! None of us had alcohol AND we walked there and back - (even passed the ghostly wood and Castle Ring!)

The car hunt has moved up a gear now I have come off one more painkiller. There is a place my uncle bought a people-carrier from which we are going to check out on Wednesday.

Next Wednesday will be quite busy! I have in induction at Fitness First in the morning (I am trying out two or three health centres before I splash out on membership!)

Then I have an appointment at Heartlands Hospital at lunchtime and car hunting in the afternoon. 'Golly Gosh' - as Boris Johnson may have said.

I have finished a couple of features and am deciding who to pitch them too at the moment. The piece I did on the Cannock Wood Party went in THE BURNTWOOD POST today.

I have no idea what went in the MERCURY because the lazy paper boy/girl/thing doesn't deliver it still!

Today after my morning gym sesh we saw David (financial advisor) in Walsall. My head is full of tax, investments and wills. I am glad he is clear headed!

There is a huge Indian supermarket near the office, in Walsall, and I indugled in buying fruit I had never heard of, ingredients I had never tasted and even some normal stuff!

Inside Out people are coming round tomorrow (Friday) to finish off filming and hope my segment will be broadcast a week on Monday, 7pm BBC1.(27th!) I also get to go to an editing suite somewhere deep in the Mailbox next week!

Oh yes some great news. I am free of burkholderia multivorans, the bug that did a lot of the damage pre-transplant with my lungs. The last biopsy apparenty showed I am clear of it. This is a very GOOD thing. Burkholderia kills.

CF patients are very open to getting this nasty thing. I am not 100 per cent sure if I got it in Korea or when I came back to Heartlands, seeing the lack of hygiene at the H, my betting is on the latter!

Off to make a smoothie!

Oh yes....please visit CIAO and rate my latest review (on Sparks album) so I get more cash! Thanks CLICK

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Belly Good Fun and the Timewarp

Lads and Laddettes.

(Imagine it being said in the style of a pirate and you are half way there!)

Welcome to a blog completely free of religious cartoons and mad Muslim clerics (for now!)

Here are some of the pictures from Friday night. I hope to have lots more on my photosite asap - (ie As soon as I've Photoshopped myself out of some of them!)

So where are we? Friday was one of those ‘functional’ days .

After my cycle, my shower and my post-exercie buzz - which I wish I could bottle - I had prescription to pick up, a note from the doc to say ‘Yes….Mark can use your gym for the next part of his rehab’ to give to GymoJodie.

I did feel like a little kid asking permission to do PE!

I had to do some stuff at Halifax. Its handy to have investments which ‘mature’ on Valentine’s Day and people’s birthdays. Its much easier to remember! Howard wasn’t there! I think Howard is like the ‘Ashley Blake’ of banking, he isn’t real and doesn’t do anything - and gets paid a lot.

(I really shouldn't say that as I am the subject of a TV INSIDE OUT documentary that will be presented by AB! )

It was the village Valentine Party at the village hall. My friend Caroline S came around about 7.30pm and by the time we arrived the venue was packed.

There were the sounds of the Hazel Slade Swing Band, a raffle, ‘stand up’ bingo (where you sit down if one of your numbers is called and the last one wins weekend at Hoar Cross Hall (health spa!) )

The highlight (apart from the copious amount of alcohol drunk) had to be the Belly Dancers, who were followed by a cheesy DJ who made us dance to The Timewarp, Saturday Night and the Macarena etc etc. It was like a dodgy wedding! I expected Peter Kay to start his act from Pheonix Nights.

Well we did do ‘Amarillo’. I never knew it has so many actions.

Oh I almost forgot. The buffet, done by John from Hoar Cross was magnificent! And the event raised more than 500 for the George Meredith Trust, the CF Trust and Cerebral Palsy.

Caroline and I sat on a table with Rach and Mike and their neighbours from Rugeley – wo all had funny laughs, perhaps its something to do with the Power Station?

I got introduced to WKD – a blue mixture of e-numbers and sugar, designed to make teenagers sick up on their parent’s pink carpets.

People kept giving me wine on the dance floor, meaning I had to drink it fast before I spilled it.

This is the first time I have danced since February 2002. FOUR YEARS. I am a crap dancer, but it was kind of fun to do it. And I did it because I CAN....

We walked home at 2ish and mum (the dirty stop out) didn’t come in till later. Never was so much coffee needed for so few.

I did manage my 8am cycle and enjoyed the numbness of Saturday morning TV before we picked up Caroline’s car from the hall and made our way home. She has a cool car. Perhaps I should consider buying one similar.

I met up with Louise for coffee at 3ish (Louisetime not normal time)…. Needless to say, the coffees, turned to Tia Marias and then to Snirnoff Ice (a new taste for me and one I could get TOO accustomed too)… I had a great time I think. I also bumped into Debbie B and Mick. ‘Hello!’ I do remember it cost £16 to get from my friends’ in Lichfield home in the taxi, just five miles.

AND a man at Apres kept spraying me in man-lotion-smelly-stuff and asking for money. He looked like Derek Griffiths, that black guy from Playschool, or Riachard Pryor I his younger days (before he was dead, obviously!)

Home at 2.30am-ish but up at 7.30am as had my gym induction with Gym-o-Jodie at 9am, then met up with the’usual suspects’ for lunchtime drinkies (I was on lemonade and coffee, but not together)

Afterwards I met up with Brian and Clare (who did Kilamonjaro and many of you I believe sponsored through this site)….I know you did because she told me!

As you can imagine, after she gave me a lift home Sunday arbo was spent in a state of sleep and regression Is this what rehab’s all about….?

Monday seemed to be spent form filling, photocopying and fact-finding. I still had my tracksuit on for most of the day so started to get a ‘chav’ mentality and ALMOST went to Wetherspoons and boughts some dodgy bling from a man in a shellsuit (not really!) And rumours I bought a 50 Cent album are TOTALLY UNFOUNDED (My lawyers are watching!)

I bumped into Andrea’s dad Ken at the gym on Tuesday. He is a good advert for the place. He looks like a man half his age (shhhhh don’t tell!) ‘Hello Ken and Dot’ lol…. Then I went to Cannock to collect my Beacon Radio ‘Prize’ from the shopping centre.

It turned out to be a big cuddly bear thingy and token to get two t-bone steaks from a Cannock butchers. So no guesses what I will be cooking tonight (NO NOT THE BEAR!) Not top notch winnings, but good for free. I thought I had won a meal for two at a restaurant. But at least I am in a draw for a holiday.

Cannock had its usual share of abnormals and strangeness. We sat in George and Bertie’s (a café) and played the 'normal or not' game, where we try to spot people who aren’t mentally defective in some way. I THINK I spotted one, but I may be mistaken.

I have got a couple of interesting features to write up. I have been in touch with a man who was evacuarted to Gentlesahw 60 years ago and have got to start thinking aboyut this talk I am giving at the ‘Quality Hotel’ in Brum in a few weeks.

Health wise I am coming along ok. Today I am due to stop another painkiller, another one crossed off my chart and I shall see if I have any ill effects.

I am still getting the side effects from the steroids and the cyclosporin and a little back painmbut I think the latter is the way I am sleeping to avoid rolling onto my chest..The main thing is to keep focussed on my exercising.

I can only really user the cardiovac section of the gym, like the treadmill and cycling machine....I can't risk stretching my chest musles too much. There is a lot of healing to be done first - (hence the high-protein diet!)

Tomorrow I am meeting up with French Nathalie, Ak and Eve. We were going to go to the cinema, but we decided that sinice we will need to have a good chin-wag it would be better to go and eat. So we are going to the Park Gate in Cannock Wood.

Since I have to be in Walsall on Thursday anyway, we may go to the cinema then. If we see anything good I will probably cash in and review it for ‘Ciao’ anyway!

Thanks for the e-mails, witty and relevant as ever.

To answer your questions…"No I’m not!” and “No I don’t have a sister, but if I did I would hope she would be a bit like you - but not so like you" oh and "Erik mate, I am still trying to get those Arctic Monkeys tickets and if I don’t see you before HAPPY BIRTHDAY to your good woman Dianaski".

Oh yes and Hannaski, keep wearing my little bracelet and may your world be covered in glitter - I think that’s all my dedications out of the way.

I am still looking for someone who is able to take a day off, or lives in London, and wants to join me on Channel 4’s The Wright Stuff. Let me know asap ok!


Next Sunday it’s Hello Sheffield! I am spending some time with Louisa, my former Sydney work-colleague and partner in crime on those Australian pool tables. So I may see one or two of you up there! Text me if you are around.

PS: Lets all hope the bill goes through parliament today to ban smoking from pubs!

Book: If I Was - Midge Ure
Music: Nirvana, John Lee Hooker, Moby, Kubb

Friday, February 10, 2006

Sleepy Mark on Beacon Radio + (ghosthunting)


I was awoke by the presenters of Beacon Radio's Breakfast Show this morning!

Sleepy Mark went to the phone to be greeted by whoops of joy and excitment by the presenters. I had to answer a question and pick a number I think...its very blurrry....

Anyway sleepy Mark won a free 'Valentines' meal for tow at a top local restaurant (!) with drink (hmmmm) and a big cuddly bear or something. We shall see what arrives in the post tomorrow.

Manic morning. Spent time in Halifax trying to sort out an ISA that is maturing (like a cheese?)

While doing this I ask for a printout of all my investments with them for when I see my F.A next week - and I discover one of them is missing. >?>!!!! Money just doesn't disappear....or does it?

I went to Rugeley to sort out my parking pass and claim for hospital expenses too and from Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

I didn't realise I could claim. but because I am now on 'A BENEFIT 'at long last (and I am damn proud of it after all these months of not being to be able to claim anything, despite all the taxes I've paid over the years...moan moan.)

But because I get this pittance.....I can claim money back from my long train journeys up to Newcasltle every fortnight. Bonus! But it means keep filling out loads of forms and making sure the info is the same on each!

Its like I had to start my own business to pay my own national insurance 'stamps' as I wasn't allowed to pay them before. An employer had to do it. SO I overcame it by becoming my own employer....ha ha.

I picked up my doctors 'signiture' so I can go to the gym and it basically says 'Mark can exercise as set out my transplant team'

So I rang Newcastle (who STILL haven't got the results of my blood tests) and the nurse said it was too soon to be using any weights or a stepper or rower, but I could use the bikes and treadmill.

But nobody was available to put anything in writing. I find all this strange as I used the dumbells before I left hospital and use them each morning.

They will deny me my morning cycle next!

Some of you know I did a lot of research to Nunswell Park - and the legends there involving Saxon Kings, beautiful female saints and monks who were not perhaps as serm.....aintly as they seemed.

Well I have had interest today from someone who wants to include it in a book they are doing! Cool. Perhaps I could put 'historian' on my CV.

For those interested there is footage of a ghost-hunt on Castle Ring (at the end of my road) here http://

Good things about Rugeley: Huge all-day breakfast (with drink) £1.25, a latte 65p; photocopying 7p; booksale at library with books 10p each; Home Bargains shop (so bloomin' cheap!)

Bad things about Rugeley: Loads of people smoke (because they are too stupid not to I suppose) ;The Power Station pumps (belches) out nasty smog; lots of ugly people with babies (how? why?) lol

See some of you at the Village Hall tonight. Its bring-your-own-drinks!

Music: Editors, Sparks (anyone got the new Sparks album?)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Wright Stuff, Radio WM, Walsall Potatoes.


SORRY I didn't let anyone know I was on RADIO WM on Monday. It was a very last-minute affair (as mine tend to be!) but I have got my review of the ARCTIC MONKEYS CD in The Post this week. Again I presume its in all editions, but don't know. In ours its on pg37.

LC can you spot the reference to yourself in the review?

There should be another long VILLAGE NEWS ROUND-UP in THE MERCURY too, but I always have to scrounge a copy from someone else as we never get it!

Saturday afternoon I did the Lichfield thing...but nightmare upon nightmare, we couldn't get our normal sofa in Couch we had to make do with another one.....Gosh..judgement day must be upon us my friend.

Actually, talking about potatoes - I saw a friend in a potato queue and she was intensely texting and didn't see me, so I texted her and saod 'look five yards to your left' small incident, but it amused me anyway...

After LC went to her posh ball (you see...I know people who do posh stuff....I do...I do) I went to Stafford for Colin's b'day bash. We did all the old haunts and I think the people were the same....

It ended up with pizzas, catnip (for the cats not us) and a DVD of 80s Hits (oh and a 'fart' machine!) I was up bright(ish) and breezy(ish) on Sunday to meet the 'usual suspects' for Sunday dwinkies.....(I was on coffee!)

In the afternoon Matt and Kathryn came round. Its been years since I have seen Mr H, although we frequently send each other CDs....I blame him etirely of course, because its his fault. Because it is! lol

Anyway we vowed (as you do) to do it again sooner. It will probably involve beer and Cheeky Monkeys at The Wolverhampton Civic. Oooooh anyone want to see The Arctic Monkeys there by the way?

I have also been offered ticket to be in the audience of The Wright Stuff....Its Matthew Wright's morning TV show and filmed for Channel4 live in London, any weekday morning.

Anyone with time off and want to go down with me, let me know asap. I may also require a floor to sleep on the night before.....hint hint! lol

Monday I was on the Adrian Goldberg Show. They were talking about the so-called 'George Best Effect' - where people won't donate organs because they think they'll be wasted. I don't think it exists because a) People aren't so shallow and b) People haven't got that good memories!

Mum had to taek Sheila to see Arthur in hospital so caught a lift and went into Lichfield. I bought a CD, paid in a cheque (always a pleasure) and did little functional things. (And wen to Couch Potato)

Tuesday I was also functional. I have now doubled my distance I cycle in the morning as of this day. I suffered for it later lol.....I arranged to visit the other LC (Louisa Capps) in Sheffield. We actually sorted out a date to do it!

LC and I used to work with Naomi and Gerbri (the Aussie and the Dutch personage who came to see me at differernt times in the last couple of years) in Sydney (the place in Australia, not a man!)

We worked door-to-door trying to persuade people to change their telecom company - long hard and often thankless work!

I hope to see Hannah J and visit my old haunts. For those who don't know, I did my journalist course in Sheffield.
I miss The Leadmill - a club in an old factory that always has up-and-coming bands on and indie discos.

On Wednesday I went all kitted out in my new gear and trainers (pic to follow!) to my first gym session at Cannon's in Cannock - only to be told I needed a doctors' letter. Why they didn't tlel me this before so I could have brought it along I don't know.....grrrrr.

But Jodie, my personal training instructor (how celeb does that sound?) is nice and when I got on some scales she could tell all my body mass index, fat levels, hydration and wow....probably my DNA too! I was almost impressed.

I have to go back on Sunday for my first proper session....9am (gulp!)

I froze around Cannock later in the day and regretted that too. Ugly people - how do they breed? I saw a family of inbreds buying Valentine's Cards - probably for each other!

Today I met Dan and Tony in Walsall. I showed Dan the ropes when I was at The Newsletter and he was a work experience personage. All three of us worked for the Express & Star - all of us escaped!

We got back in touch vie Diana (who works for the council's countryside department) I know its a strange thing to work for in WALSALL! I was the best man at her wedding - hence the connection. Gosh!

It was a constructive meeting, in a bar, over a coffee and baked potato (ooooooh bakes potato theme again!)

It was good to chat over old times....and they will pass on any freelance stuff they have - which could always give me a foot in the door so to speak.

Walsall is great for cheapness. I got a coat for £5 and numerous gadgets, including 'magic' hand warmers, a cooling face-mask and several CDs....ooooooh and two copies of a great book Jonathan Livingston Seagull, which if I give you as a present, read it. Its great!

Walsall is a bit of a theme too! I am going to see my 'Financial Advisor' (oooooooo) to fiddle around (ooer) with some investments and try and sort out the inheritance tax thing. I advise everyone to try and avoid it too!

Nathalie (French Nathalie, Berangere's friend) is coming over next Wednesday and we hope to meet up with Akbar and Eve and go to the cinema or a pub - in Walsall....

Walsall Walsall Walsall....Oh have you seen how CHEAP

Tomorrow is the Village Party. I can't reveal what exactly is happening as its meant to be a secret. I am going with Caroline and meeting Mike and Rachel there (Rachel will be helping serving the buffet). It will be different.

Through the week I have been finishing my album of dance music. I have been listening to the tracks on my MP3 player each day on my cycle to try and decided which to put on and which not to.

You will be relieve to know I don't attempt to sing on any track, althoguh I do use a sample of my voice in the track '1971 (Couch)' for obvious reasons.

I may try and sell copies of on ebay. I need a title. Any ideas? Its basically a quickly-knocked up side project album. I hjave taken samples of free-to-download and royalty free tracks and other samples from e-Jay (the studio programme) and made something almost creative.

I will let you know all about Friday night.....later on....and look forward to seeing people over the weekend. (I think I am going to the Park Gate for Sunday lunch! Hmmmmmmm) I have a medical check-up as a follow up to the blood tests (but its only in Burntwood) on Tuesday, and on Sunday 19th I am off to Sheffield....gosh blomey gosh gosh

Huggles and Snuggles

Chairman Miaow! x

Friday, February 03, 2006

Botched Blood, Balls, Swordfish, 'Wok' n Roll


Salutations! Wow! Wow! Wow! Had a call from the brilliantly dizzy but intantly loveable SARAH CLARRY who I travelled around half Australia with in 2000 and haven't seen her since. She is now a physio student in Newcastle. So hopfully will be seeing a lot more of her (ooer - U know what I mean!)

When one is travelling you meet someone, decided you want to go in the same direction and spent 24-hours-a-day with them - eat, drink, sleep, laugh, explore and cry with them....then never see them again. Its strange.

Anyone who has gone travelling for months on end knows all about it. Its an experience only available to fellow travellers.

The two (or three sometimes) of you share something, in a certain time and place which only you experience and it will always be special. That happened a lot during my three years of global trotting! One doesn't stay in contact with many people. Its just not done. Its a part of life which is usually left there.

Anyway. It was lovely to hear from you Sarah and it will make next biopsy slightly more bearable knowing I have someone to go drinking and shopping with afterwards. I may even let you practice your physio on me.

This week two major life-marks in the life of Mark! 100 days since my transplant and 8000 visitors to my blog! Yippeeee!

I am either still alive, or this is some kind of Truman Show for the undead and you are all actors and actresses. If so, you are very good. Some better than others. Can I see that scenery move?

Tuesday I poppped into Lichfield and actually bought nothing from Tudor that a record (record....geddit??) I sat in Couch Potato and chilled (pretending I was cool or something!) I can't pull it off can I?! NO - says everyone! Thanks!

I went for a blood test in Burntwood on Wednesday and it was done by the lovely Jane, who I am told is Purdey's mum. She is a friend of LC and CC's mum. Gosh this is complicated. Stay with me on this was interesting.

I got loads of gossip about you Louise - (just joking...but I would never have thought you did THAT, gosh!) At THAT age....with HIM....on a...ok enough already...(!) Saturdays rock now by the way!

Oh yes. 'Natural Blues' by the God that is Moby. What a powerful, moving video (the one where he is old and watching his life slip away in front of him, seeing his youth and people from his past). It is a tear-jerker I can tell you!

Bizarrely I watched it on the evening I was meant to be going to look at a cineam which has been set up in an old-folks place. And I didn't know the Moby video was about old people. Bizarre? Well I thought so.

Not as bizarre as a room where someone was writing a letter to me not warming up and strange noises. But, well, I wouldn't spend a night there ALONE! lol..brrrrr

Thursday I went to Brum with Ian. I think we visited every record shop, clothes shop and coffee shop in the city. We also had a as much as you can eat deal at The Big Wok restaurant. So much choice. Tip: Don't have too much starter!

I spoke to the waitress about the 'Year Of The Dog' (well, she was cute and most un-canine!) and she said it would be a lucky year.....yay!!! But perhaps she just thought I asked the way to the toilet.

It all brought back memories of when I was going out with Oria (the Japanese girl in Walsall) we used to frequent the China Town area of Brum quite a lot. Not that I could find most of the places we went to now.

What did I buy? Lots of CDs.....We went to Swordfish and all the old haunts. One place had CD singles from 10p each! I got CDs albums and singles by Republica, John Lee Hooker, Dodgy, Arctic Monkeys (new single was only £1.80 and had a couple of tracks I hadn't got on), Blur ('Tender') and Deepest Blue among others.

I also got a 12" vinyl version of Kayleigh to give to James and Jude for their daughter Kayleigh. (It cost all of 50p!) I got a vinyl version of Erasure's The Circus for 50p from a Charity (say 'charidy'!) shop. As you know I devour such items!

Ian gave me acouple of videos of my appearances on Midlands Today. (thanks!) Don't ask to see them I look TERRIBLE. Especially in the pre-transplant ones.

When I got home I had two bits of news 1) Mr Waterman was coming to visit and 2) Newcastle had DROPPED one of my blood samples and Burton (which analysed some of it) had let it clot!

Andy W and I went to the Park Gate and had a good chin-wag. I was falling asleep by the end. It wasn't because Andy W is boring (perish the thought!) It was just a day in Brum took it out of me!

He has been to visit his parents and his Mum asked him to cut rhough a wire that was LIVE (never be said he isn't a LIVEWIRE - perhaps she was trying to tell him something??????!

After you come home from a day in a big city you always feel dirty don't you. Glad I don't live in one anymore! But...when I am driving and getting about better (very soon I hope) Who knows where I may end up.

Talking of which. Transplantation in Newcastle is 21-years-old this May and they are having a big ball. Its an excuse for me and a guest to get tarted up and eat posh nosh and pretend we know not what a yam-yam is!

So I had to go to Burton Hospital by 8.30am on Friday to get more tests done. When I got there (through freezing fog) they hadn't got my records. Then they didn't know what to do with it and what to test it for.

It just went from bad to worse. I was sitting in this room, sandwiched between two coughing people and here was I thinking. I REALLY don't need to catch anything right now.

Talking of health. I have been going for my bike ride every morning, except today (Friday) because it would have meant getting up before 6am and it was brrrrrrrrr freezing!

From Burton, (great little town and football club) Mum and I went to see Uncle B and Aunty J (the latter edited this blog when I was in hospital and told you about my transplant!) Little did I realise they were armed with cameras.

So you can see the results on my profile and on 'marksucks' (if I manage to put them on tonight, that is!)

Talking of pictures I am in the BURNTWOOD POST this week (courtesy of Sarah T) with a picture too! - Its better than I expected. Anyway. If any of you get the paper can you save me a copy?

Yet again we didn't get The Mercury. I will have to nick a copy from Estate Agents in Lichfield. But its the wrong edition and sometimes hasn't got my village news bit in it. So I have to guess my lineage! (Note: have got a copy now thanks!)

Oh yes....rewind...I went to start my ECDL Advanced this week at Tamworth College (evening class) - spent two hours reading through the study books. I think I will need a sharp drink before going to the IT room!

I got a cheque through the post today from the EXPRESS & STAR for the full amount they owed me. It just proves that persistanmce pays off. NO NOTE OF APOLOGY THOUGH.

I would have thought at least Duncan or Diane would have phoned me up. I shall write to them saying 'Thank You' anyway.

The weekend is packed (insert own Simon Hughes joke here) so will probably do you another update soon! Until then I will love you and (reluctantly) leave you. Although......I will see some of you tomorrow lunchtime in Lichfield, tomorrow night in Stafford and Sunday at the pub. (Usual suspect of course!)

The night out in Stafford will be my first real proper sleepover night out in England for SIX YEARS. It is a major milestone. I left the UK in 1999 and when I came back I was too ill to do anything like this.....wish me luck and hope I survive to tell the tale. (Excuse me for sounding like a teenage girl....excuse me while I hold that thought, but sadly not the girl! lol)


PS: Caroline, Debbie and Dan (sounds like a comedy act!) I do still hope to meet up with you next week. Text me!
PPS: Nice to see you in Lichfield CC, you do look cute when you are intensly texting! lol

BOOK: Midge Ure - If I Was, The Rough Guide To Cult Pop
MUSIC: Moby - Play, Animal Rights, Dodgy - Free, Peace, Sweet, DM - Playing The Angel