Yes am lucky being alive!
Cos am nearing sixty five
My generation has been able to strive
Cos our fathers were able to survive
That heinous conflict known as the second world war
And in a way we owe it to them to do a bit more.
When we were young, in our 20’s at college, we all thought we were bullet proof, we never thought one day we may get older and prone to all the challenges a human life will put in the way. Now I look around at the friends I made in college in the early 1970s and I see some have had strokes, one had a massive one, several have had heart attacks and some have fought cancer whilst I battled a nasty disease called rheumatoid arthritis. Most of us who have survived did so as a result of help from the much maligned NHS and in my case I’ve gotten so much better that I can grace the world with my dance(s). One northern contemporary of mine was heard to exclaim on seeing my recent performance filmed at BALTIC, ‘I thought he had r. a.?’ Well he did too and you wouldn’t want it my old friend. It’s a basterd bhugga I can vouch for that. Constant medical intervention by my consultant and G.P. pulled me thru the worst part and came early enough to stem its development. My wife was astounding in her support she never stopped paying attention to my needs and she altered my diet so I ate no crap. Then at Benton hall I began to swim a length a day, then two, then more and now am quite a good swimmer but not as good as Erica. Add yoga with Gareth Chandler, tai chi with Gareth’s Master Ch’n and Zumba with the Townshend Twins, Frances, Laura and last week with Lou to the mix and that’s what has made me able to do my dance. Add to that my natural gall, my attitude that if it’s hard I want to crack it, if it can be done then I can do it has brought me through. But this blog’s not about my small discomforts I want to celebrate my old friend Ian and his battle with recovery from the big old stroke he had.
gladiola of the most beautiful shade of peach (c) by IEPW
Ian is one of life’s obsessives, he did everything he chose to do to excess. He never drove a car in his youth then when he got one he had to strip it down to bits and rebuild it himself, most of us would have taken it to a garage or sold the thing. He abstained from sport for let’s say ten years from around age 18 to 28, then he started doing marathons and swimming hundreds of lengths. Most of us would have walked and maybe dipped our toe in the sea.
It’s OK swimming many lengths fast when you’re young but not so good as you approach your sixties and you got high blood pressure so most of us wouldn’t challenge a youngster to a race in the pool but Ian did. When they pulled him out they thought he was dead. He’d had a massive stroke. They took him into hospital for over 10 weeks and did what they did and he began to recover, then he added his natural inability to give up and his recovery has been quite remarkable even though he can’t feel the left side of his limbs and his leg feels real heavy he’s learned to use mind over matter to make them move. And he gets by. He used to run around his adopted town training for marathons and all the bus drivers and taxi men knew his face. When he didn’t turn up on the roads for months one bus driver turned up at his house and asked after his health. He did try to runs slowly around the streets again but it proved too danger-full so now he pushes his limbs on a bike machine to do more miles in a week than I would do, and I’m nearly normal! ‘Life is for living’ is his mantra.
springtime acer leaves (c) by IEPW
It was Ian who taught me to take and process photos, in the day when you had to do it wet. I got quite good and took some lovely photos of people but Ian did the best.
Have you spotted Apulhed? He sneaked in everywhere.
His photos of a man we knew in the early 70s as John St Field that I did the drawing above from, who later became known as Jackie Leven, are astounding and one of the last things Jackie said to me was ‘tell Ian I want to pay him for those photos cos they were great’. Recently he photo’d prima ballerinas from Japan and wild animals at London zoo and the flowers photos are his from the flowers he grows, with the help of a strong young man who digs the earth for him.
In about 1972 when I used to work into the night to create my early comics, something outside my college work, he came round and photo’d me with my comic of Tutankhamun reflected in my specs! It took him hours to capture the image which he had seen in a flash but had to work to capture as I continued scribbling with my rotring pen. I find a mention in my notes from back then which I am re-presenting now for my new Shrewd Idiot artisbuk.
I guess I am lucky too cos this blArt gets folk coming to visit every week and this week i had some hits from Russia, Georgia and even from Kazakstan. I wonder how they find my stuff? And in the first hour this one went up we had visits from Greenland, Morocco & Russia. I know who it may be in Greenland, and in Morocco but have no idea who it is in Russia. Namaste to yez all.