Breath Of Life

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

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Gordon Brown's Child Has CF


Wow....this will announced be on the news tonight. I heard it this afternoon.

This is FANTASTIC as Gordon Brown will now push for funding for gene therapy which could lead to a cure. WOW...WOW...

It does mean I will be probably be snowed under with TV and radio appearances in the next few days...

So if I don't get back to any of know why! But although a shock for the family....this is excellent for CF patients everywhere....

On to other news....I went up to Warrington (86 miles each way in the rain!) for a medical for my new job in a former soldiers hospital and had a very pleasant afternoon in Widnes...

I met up with Claire and had a wander around the town. It seems everything is in walking distance from the office - good thing.......

I was going to pop into Halton Council to say hi but I wanted to get home before the rush hour. I hope they don't think I was being rude....

I think someone from the office passed me in the town but I didn't realise it was them til they had gone.....damn me for being a half-wit!

I didn't realise how close Warrington is to Widnes. People advise against living in Runcorn as the bridge in the mornings is a nightmare apparently...

I took some details of estate agents. I think what I am going to do is when I have a start date amd can commit I will spend a whole day looking round places...

In the evening a group of us went to Sutton to see Casino Royale....A case of James Blond!

Today has been same old really. I went to the gym but wasn't in the mood for it and then went to do some IT practice for my exam ON MONDAY...

Oh some good news OLA, my Canadandnandanian friend who I knew in Korean is coming over for the weekend. She is up in Hull (not an euphemism) at the moment (poor girl!)

Tomorrow I am selling CF charity cards in Sutton and then playing badminton. No rest for the wicked....

I am going to have to start thinking about the new issue of Transplant Support News as I doubt if I will have the time when I am up in Widnes.....too much to see/do!

More info on CF CLICK


Sunday, November 26, 2006

How do you solve a problem like Korea Pt3

Hiya Folkettes,

Thanks again for all the comments on the last post and the one before that. Yes, she REALLY was that bad. If I feel the need to give up 9 days to show someone around the UK again I hope somebody will say "MARK .....NOOOOOOOOO!"

Friday night I went to the PG with Rich and Marta and there was actually a singer/guitarist there and lots of people. Miracles do happen! Stella-fest.

Saturday was mum's b'day so we went to the German Market in the centre of Birmignham. I always forget how good Brum is for shopping and events.

I was pleasantly surprised that it was mostly staffed be real live Germans and not people from Dudley with leather trousers on.

I did overhear a father asking his young son what he thought of it. "I liked it but where were the tanks," he said. I giggled.

Well it's my medical in Warrington on Tuesday for the new job. I have been looking at accommodation but its useless without a start date as I can't commit!

But with going to Prague on December 10th and needing a few days to sort out accomodation etc this probably won't happen.

The perfect scenario would be to get a start date a resonable time ahead. That would allow me to prepare and hunt for somewhere to stay and sort out everything back here!!

If I had known it would take so long I would have tried tp make better use of the time (i.e go on holiday instead of babysitting Koreans!)

But life's not like that is it? I am excited job, new life!

I have been invited to the Walsall Council press office's Xmas Party the Thursday before Xmas. I am going to go to as I can't make the Halton one...even if I have to drive back to Halton the next day!

I am also trying to fit in a re-take I have to do as part of my ECDL Advanced and next Saturday we have relatives visiting and I am trying to meet up with a Canadian friend who is in the country for a few days... SO its busy me again....

...Looking forward to the Levellers gig in Brum on 8th!

A bientot

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

How do you solve a problem like Korea Pt2

Well Well Well (from which hope/bitterness springs eternal!)

Lets get down to the truth about Jen's visit. I have had several enquiring emails after the comments left on my blog by people who met her...(thanks lads!)

She was someone I knew when I lived in South Korea and seemed decent enough....Although with a habit of going AWOL. (You see... I should have read the signs!)

She asked if she could come and visit me. Despite me telling her to email me the dates BEFORE she booked the tickets....She booked the tickets....I was prepared to let this oversight go...

From the second day she was here she started going on about how she 'missed Korea' and even wanted me find her a Korean hotel for her to stay in...

(It is like the sad British people who go to Spain and just order steak and chips! What kind of strange person goes abroad to sample their own culture?)

After all the time and effort and money I had already spent planning her trip this WASN'T going to happen. At first I put her moodiness down to jetlag.....And let it go.... Doh!

All the time she was here she never once made a drink for me or my friends and family who put her up. (And put UP with her..)

She said she didn't like English food but went to bed early (without telling me ) so missed the traditional roast at the hotel in Cambridge. (And left me with a hot dinner and empty seat next to me at the post-volleyball entertainment - very embarrassing.)

For a culture that puts so much into not losing face I am sure she would have been livid if it had been the other way round...

She did the same when we were due to have fish and chips with my mum. Who comes to England and doesn't try fish and chips?

She couldn't even buy a cake on her own and complained when I suggested she used her English (which was ok) to find out which gate her plane left from.

I suppose I have been spoilt with previous friends who have visited me being more savvy. I suppose it may be her upbringing and work culture and not totally her fault I suppose.

It was worrying the amount of times she said she 'loved' her company. But again this could just be a bad translation and she might have means 'enjoyed working for them' (hmmmmm)

She said she was a Christian but seemed obsessed with how much money and what jobs my friends did (not the kind of thing Jesus would do? I am no expert but....)

She also kept mentioning how I had put on weight since I last saw her (not surprising as I was a skeleton in Korea and am on steroids now)...When I told her she had too she went into a sulk.

She also did the stereotype Korean thing of whining like a little girl at friends through her mobile phone....Which she was rudely on far too much. She didn't like it too much when I mimicked (I like this word!) it!

She also wanted so many pictures of herself. (You know the way the Japanese do - by every tourist attraction and person they meet) ...I have never met anyone so vain!

She even said 'English phones are too big' when my phone was bigger than hers- I tried to explain that you could get phones a lot smaller than mine - she didn't seem to grasp this. Korea has such an insular (I could never spell this word) culture!

She seemed to have been brainwashed into thinking Korea is the best at everything when in truth it has developed only in the past few years and is still behind most of the world.

After I drove almost 900 miles over the course of the week I didn't even get a thank you. That is the sign of a spoilt little princess... And not typical of most Koreans I hasten to add.

When I lived there I met some lovely people...

And the only present I got from her was a little butterfly for my phone which she also gave to all my friends. (This was after she arrived just DAYS after my birthday...)

Oh and I got a £5.99 Corpse Bride DVD (which kept jumping, but I can't blame her for that!)- but that was the day I bought her an England football top.

Seeing that she came a few days after my birthday and I put myself out to be nice to her (a tourist guide like me would have cost hundreds on the open market) I could have at least expected a few 'thanks you's...

She did provide me with amusement though. She told me Americans are descended from Indians, told me she had never met a black person and wanted to learn English to teach the world about Korean culture.

Well if Korean culture is being rude, sulking and sleeping all evening after eating too much at lunchtime (greed) - the world is welcome to it.

Luckily having lived there I know there is more to Korean life than this... My friends like Bruce and Jay showed me how hospitable and friendly Koreans can be...

She took offence everytime I praised Japan (which I found to be very trendy and stylish) saying everything was stolen from Korea. For a country that owes so much to America she didn't seem too keen on the Americans too.... (Wanting cake and eating it comes to mind!)

Ironically she said she didn't trust British water... She is from Seoul - so polluted people go round in Altern8-syle masks!

It is all such a contrast to the visits of Naomi and Chantelle from Australia and Katryn from Germany - who were all perfect guests..... (but there again they are Westerners.)

The true test of my opinion being right and not biased is that my friends who met her agree with me and told me I deserved a medal (apart from the bronze one I won in the volleyball competition lol) for putting up with her..

I even needed a replacement windscreen on the car driving to Heathrow. I should have taken this as a sign too...

We did have good times too you understand and I enjoyed being a tourist in London and reckon I could have a second career as a tour guide....

I drove straight from Heathrow back to Cannock Wood to get to the cricket end of season bash, got very drunk and ended up at a Burntwood Nightspot. Viva Le Weekend!

Well I was physically and emotionally drained by the end of the week. This week has been more of a routine of gym/work/evening classes and the like.

I have a medical exam next week in Warrington which I need to pass before I get a start date for the new job.....I have no idea what this examination will entail.....

I just hope it isn't a Korean doctor!

In a strange twist of fate I am going to see a couple of other people I knew in Korea in the next few weeks. Ola (gorgeous Canadanian) is in Hull right now and I am meeting Ian in Prague....Good times ahead.

Snuggles xx

Lots of pics from Jen's stay at

Sunday, November 19, 2006

How do you solve a problem like Korea!


Its been a manic few days as I took my Korean friend to London, Guildford, Oxford, Cambridge, Stratford, Birmingham Lichfield and Stafford.... as well as fitting in time to win a bronze in the transplant volleyball competition!

As many of you will know by now the week was very eventful for many different reasons (those of you who we visited have some idea!)

I will write more about it all in the next few days....It would take a bloomin' book!

As it is, all the driving and being a 24-hours-a-day unpaid tour guide has taken it out of me (+ going straight to the cricket club bash from Heathrow!) so watch this space...

I will dish all the dirt...because I'm worth it! lol (PS: I could never be a diplomat I am just totally diplomatted(?) out....

Love and monkey brains from Mark (your favourite 'gook')

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Borat and Pomegranate Juice


I hope the weekend was as beer fuelled and sparkly bangy as mine was! The kittens are very afraid of fireworks and don't approve of the invention..

(But Perdita has decided she likes green beans and when she is nervous licks her toy cat within an inch of its life....)

Oh yes...Perdita is a character in 'A Winter's Tale' and Portia is a character in several of Shakespeare's plays....they know you do to!

I met up with someone else who had a double-lung transplant on Saturday which was interesting. She too has red hair...

I undid all the gym work with too much alcohol on Saturday night and Sunday lunchtime. Doh!

Monday was hectic as I had a gym assessment and IT exam (and had to go shopping in-between) ... My mouse also decided not to work - there ending my revision!

Anyone considering doing ECDL Advanced - DON'T! The exam is a lot harder than the mocks! There were a couple of things on the paper I had to improvise at...c'est la vie.

Today I am sitting at my desk at Walsall Council writing stuff about LNPs fielding calls from SAGA (why do all the reporters from SAGA sound about 15-years old when the average listenership must be 65-years-old?) and the like.... drinking pomegranate juice (not as nice as the thought of pomegranate juice).

It took me 80 minutes to drive the 11 miles in this morning. Ho hum...Not a happy bunny!

But (tone lightens!) tonight will be good. I'm off to see Borat in Stoke....with Caroline. I haven't seen her since February so there will be much to gossip about!

Tomorrow will be more hectic still. I have an IT session, gym/physio session, and haircut to fit in as well as packing the car for my manic road trip with Korean Jen..(if I can afford the car parkling at Heathrow to pick her up!)

So I will see some of you in Guildford/London/Cambridge/Stafford/Oxford in the next few days. (I will be on my mobile but won't be checking my e-mail for ages people who I'm making arrangements with..)

My cyclosporin levels have been reduced quite a lot today so I need to have bloods done somewhere next week - I will have to cross that bridge when I come to it. Logistics eh?!

Talking of health I cannot get ANY health insurance for my trip to Prague on Decemeber 10-15th - Despite being healthier than I have been in years! (I will be meeting up with my old housemate from Korea 'Ian'.... So I expect to remember only segments of my trip!)

So I am having to take out the basic insurance and get a copy of whatever replaced the old E111 and hope for the best.... Sucks eh?

Oh yes....There is a new cinema complex/ice rink planned for Widnes by the way - so there's an incentive for some of you to come and visit me when I move!

Snuggles and autumnal colours...

Friday, November 03, 2006

Found my Nietzsche!

Hello there Bloggettes,

Hope you like the pictures. They were all taken in our village!

So how is everyone? I have been busy. I have an IT exam on Monday and have been working at Walsall Council two days this week and been up in Newcastle for two days.

My lung capacity was up and all the indicators are good. It is still not up to its May/June peak.

Professor Corris said I had some secondary pneumonia a few weeks ago and it is that which knocked me. But in the words of those great philosophers Chumbawamba - 'I get up again'.

But that last two lung function tests have been higher than the one before so everything points to things getting back on track. I will just have to work harder at the gym and badminton.

While I was there I went to Sarah's new place and got directions from a hospital porter woman who sent me completely the wrong way. I was FROZEN when I got there.

Big thanks to Sarah's lovely housemate Lucy who always gives me a lift back to the flat. Respect to the Heaton massive!

Then, when I got the flat I met Emily Aston (I think this is her name) who was waiting to get in. She had a heart transplant six years ago when she was 15 and looks amazing.

But I am perhaps biased because I am but a hot blooded Englishman!

But things took a turn for the worse when I got to my room. The heating didn't work. Is this healthy for transplant patients? I think not.

Today I did my last IT mock before work. It was a bad time to go. The college was noisy (mostly elderly people- they need a good ASBO/ASDA!) so I couldn't really concentrate.

Went to a Halloween party at Gary's. The photos will be on my photo site asap. Remember the pics from my party two weeks ago are slowly going on there CLICK

This time last year I watched a firework display from my hospital 'tomb with a view'. This time I am going to a bonfire (no hedgehogs allowed).

How thing have changed eh? - Still a long way to go.

Book: When Neitzsche Wept - by Irvin D Yalom (thanks Katrin!)
Oh yes Cannock Wood's new website is at CLICK