Surviving Brain Cancer in a Precarious World

in #life6 years ago (edited)

Part 27: London Called...

Not long after our wedding season, I couldn’t help but get excited about seeing Depeche Mode again that June. On this tour, the friends I had made on the previous tour managed to get us all gold standing tickets for London Stadium.

This was huge for me because not only would I be able to get close to the stage again but London Stadium was the UK’s Olympic stadium which had blown me away when watching the opening ceremony back in 2012.

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Because cannabis had also removed the social anxiety that had blighted my concert experiences in my 20’s, I was able to enjoy this one more than ever before. There is something about the atmosphere at a Depeche Mode concert that is truly unique so this time I was able to just take it all in and enjoy every second.

The only problem this time was that the hotel we were staying at was probably the worst I’ve ever stayed in and most certainly the worst for my wife Nicky. Luckily we both wouldn’t be there much other than to sleep because she used the event to meet up with one of her friends to see a musical at the West End.

On the way to the concert, I could tell if I had never found cannabis, it would be an event I would have anxiety over because you can always tell that the cannabis is simply regulating your body to stay in that beautifully comfortable homeostasis.

So I would every now and then feel my heart rate pick up and then suddenly relax.
It was as if I was able to reassure myself that I was not in any danger and going to have a great time, whereas before with uncontrolled anxiety, my mind would just flood with worries that I could not rationalize quick enough to stop myself from having panic attacks.

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After so many years of dealing with such a problem, this control I now had over my mind simply felt like a new superpower. I can honestly say it turbo charged the experience of enjoying the music too. I felt like I was able to pick up sounds I had never heard before buried in the many layers of sound that Depeche Mode structure their songs with.

When Dave Gahan came out onto the catwalk during Everything Counts, It was raining in this beautiful vast open-air stadium. This moment made it the best memory of all the many shows I had seen of theirs. It’s impossible to do it justice by explaining this in text, just how much the atmosphere was the best I had ever seen it.

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Another sublime moment was seeing the climax to Never Let Me Down, in a proper stadium with the “cornfield” of arms waving from side to side. For me, this was the closest thing to their 101 performance at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena 1988.

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On the way out I was expecting to have the worst post gig blues but instead, I was literally distracted by a terror attack. We were on the DLR back to the hotel when my mother text me if I was ok. Followed by my wife ringing me that terrorists were attacking people on London Bridge.

This meant Bank Station was instantly closed putting a block between me and my wife who was on the tube coming from the other side just 1 stop away at St Paul’s Cathedral where she and her friend Philippa were evacuated to street level.

My gig friends and I managed to get to the hotel and watch the news to see what was happening live. By this time things were still unfolding so it was hard to work out where the attack was and how it was being carried out exactly.

All I could think about was how I could get to my wife and her friend as fast as possible. All the taxi services were in chaos at both ends so they couldn’t get away from where they had been evacuated without going on a long walk across the city. On the news, I could see that the attack was moving South West of London Bridge which was a huge relief for me as I then knew it was going further away from where my wife was.

Around 11 they were allowed back into the station and back on their way to us. Seeing my wife come into the hotel lobby made my heart race with relief as I went to hold her.

It’s safe to say we were both drained from all the emotions of the events and fatigue from a very long day of travelling. By the time we actually went to bed, it was past midnight, we didn’t care that the room was horrible with cigarette burns on top of various poorly cleaned surfaces, it was a hot summer night and there was a fan in the room and a bed that was thankfully clean.

The next day we said our goodbyes to my gig buddies Alanna and John and went off to get breakfast at Covent gardens. It was a beautifully sunny and warm day which made me feel quite bad for all the extra police that were put on patrol around the city sweating their arses off in full Kevlar.

We decided not to let the terrorist events ruin our time in London because we still had hours to wait for our train home. We went straight to enjoy the parks around Buckingham Palace and to do a few of the things we never had a chance to do the last time we were in London where just getting from A to B was a struggle with anxiety a month before I was diagnosed.

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I tried to contact my survivor friend from London to see if we could finally meet up but it was not a good time to catch him as he was having problems with seizure control which made him understandably anxious about using the tube to get to us as it was on the tube where his brain tumour first appeared in his life in the form of a brain haemorrhage that I thank god he survived.

I tried my best to make him feel I understood and not to worry this time as I’m sure I would be back there in future. When we were on the train home there wasn’t much to do but catch up on the news in regards to what exactly happened with the terror attacks.

For me, terrorist attacks are like a desperate and misguided call for attention which I have little interest in yielding to. At the same time, I can understand why they are such a problem since Western politics became so polluted by blood money to scaffold economies reliant on Saudi “petrodollars”.

I would have been more patriotic during the initial wars against terror if it wasn't obvious that our leaders couldn’t give a hoot if we got attacked by terrorists because in many of those wars the terrorists would just get armed and funded by our own establishment on the sly.

It’s never about keeping people safe and free from terror, its 100% about who has the oil and who is willing to do the deals for it to keep those unelected fossil fuel companies happy.
These shameful facts rob me of any trust in right-wing or neoliberal Western governments. The irony is my diagnosis is often terminal but I beat it early on and worked hard to ensure it stays away.

The type of governments mentioned above though has a terminal diagnosis they are either in denial of or unaware of.
This was soon compounded by the fact that in the days after these terror attacks on London bridge, bizarrely celebrated far-right pundits were doing the rounds whipping up racial hatred of anyone that isn’t white. Sure enough, another radicalized right-wing white terrorist carried out his own attack on a London Mosque by using his van as a weapon to run Islamic worshippers over.

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To me this was more disgusting than the original London Bridge attack because it literally shows our nations dumbest gammon faced right-wing louts not only don’t understand they are being played by their rich UKIP idols but have no ideas of their own than to simply copy a terrorist attack perpetrated by monsters that are actually their own creation in historical and political terms.

In many ways I could see all of these awful events happening the year before because I had already become aware that our government was complicit in helping the world’s worst dictatorship in Saudi Arabia to commit repeated war crimes in Yemen after they had already turned Libya into a failed state hot bed of anti-Western militia and grotesque slave markets.

The point here is that our government cannot be trusted to keep people safe from terrorist attacks when their whole interventionist foreign policy does nothing but create terrorists that wish to attack anyone in the West. You can’t just go around kicking wasp nests, expecting you will never get stung!

To make matters worse the UK at this time in 2017 was already going through a snap general election that had been called back in April because the Tories who I now despised felt they would walk it due to their 20 point lead in the polls.
What annoyed me about this poll lead was that it had been self-inflicted by disgruntled neoliberals in the Labour party that were still bitter that they had lost control of the leadership twice with Jeremy Corbyn’s victories in the leadership elections.

I had come to admire Jeremy Corbyn because I had watched how corporate neoliberals had cheated Bernie Sanders out of the US election to beat Trump despite the fact that polling was crystal clear that he was a more popular candidate than Hillary Clinton who was always going to lose to Trump given her toxicity that the US establishment are too out of touch to acknowledge.

In the UK Jeremy Corbyn was the closest thing we had to Bernie Sanders because he is a genuine progressive democratic socialist. Such candidates are not popular with establishment mainstream media because they hate the idea of fair taxation and love the idea of tax breaks for the rich.

In this UK election, it was incredibly obvious how bias our media was against Jeremy Corbyn for this reason. The coverage he had was constantly spun in a negative way and the neoliberals in the Labour party who had created such a poll lead were not helping by desperately trying to smear their own leader with unsubstantial accusations of anti-Semitism.

So the mainstream media along with Labour neoliberals were obsessed with trying to get the country to associate Jeremy Corbyn with antisemitism. For me, it was more obvious than most what was happening because I had been on the other side before my diagnosis so I still had fresh memories of feeling gratified watching the BBC and Sky news due to all the 24-hour confirmation bias cycles you are fed when you support the right wing or neoliberals.
Because of the London bridge attacks, the current election campaigns had been suspended making it the second suspension due to the terror attack at Manchester Arena. Although this removed a day of campaigning for the parties, the government kept the election date set for the 8th of June.

This was probably because the Tories were haemorrhaging their poll lead each week as Theresa May proved to be an awkward and clumsy campaigner. Jeremy Corbyn was able to close a 20 point lead during the election but when the exit poll came in, the Tories remained the largest party but lost their majority.

Sadly they returned to government with the help of the lunatics in the DUP party. This was at huge expense to the taxpayers after they bribed the Tories to focus on their patch of Northern Ireland that would negate it from austerity. This was quite a smack in the face to the nurse who was told by Theresa May "There is no magic money tree" in her classic patronising manner.

Later that month London was hit with another human tragedy when dozens of working-class residents were burned to death in a tower fire that had been made worse by the fact that the building they lived in had been cladded with an extremely flammable material.

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This was the Grenfell tower disaster, whereas high as 71 people had died in the fire. Rather than a suspension to the election this time, the Prime Minister instead made a clumsy trip to the tower where she spoke to the firemen that had been up for hours trying their best to save as many lives as possible but had been seriously hampered by lack of proper equipment and staff due to the prime ministers own failing austerity program.

To add insult to injury, she also refused to meet with residents affected by the disaster. Of course, Jeremy Corbyn went to the residents first to offer assurances that he would fight for their will to ensure the reasons for this disaster were promptly brought to light and that they would be rehoused.

This not only opened up more ugliness in the biased mainstream media at the time but also put on show just how unapologetically snobby the upper classes had become especially in the capital. The area that this fire had happened was considered a fairly desirable location in London with very few residential buildings that could be considered affordable to working class people.

Grenfell had been the exception, hence its absence of sprinklers and abundance of highly flammable outside cladding which had been placed there to stop the building being too much of an eye saw to the well-off residents nearby, the material used was also against building regulations and a corner cut as they were cheaper than the non-flammable cladding.

The government failed to provide temporary accommodation to many of the survivors of the fire and some of the reasons were broadcast on LBC radio when local well-off residents were interviewed saying condescending and distasteful comments about the residents of Grenfell, more focused on questioning whether they should have been allowed in such a rich part of town in the first place rather than concern for the survivors homelessness.

This disgusted me because one of the things that were very evident as we were leaving London early that month was how bad the homelessness problem had become in our nation’s capital.

Just a short trip around the stations before we left, my wife and I witnessed not just an abundance of homeless people but homeless people that were hungry and starving to death in front of the crowds.

I had not seen such poverty in London since I was a child in the 90’s when I first went to visit. The advice from charities was to not give beggars money but simply donate to local food banks and shelters. It was impossible not to give some money to the beggar’s I saw that day we were leaving because they were clearly dying from malnutrition.

One of the first I encountered was a very young guy who looked like he was still a teenager who was simply moving along a row of people sitting on benches begging for help because he was so hungry. He sounded desperately unwell as if just using his voice was taking it out of him.

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It really got to me after the initial shock of seeing another human in such a state, I felt extremely guilty that I had not stopped to help him so I tried to go off and find where he had gone myself but failed to which is why I made sure I gave money to the next person I saw that was also in this state.
This was an older man who was on a corner stairwell to a tube station. His sign simply read “so hungry it hurts”. It was no scam, he was clearly malnourished and in total distress.

These people were never shown on the news and they were not welcomed into shelters because the homeless problem had got so bad that there was now even a hierarchy among the homeless population.
This meant that the stronger individuals with more connections to crime would be able to pack out the shelters and deter the weaker ones away because they would just steal what little they had while they slept.

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The combination of all these recent political events and seeing with my own eyes the death toll that was being dealt by a right-wing government obsessed with austerity while giving all the breaks to the rich, made me decide that for the first time I would actually join a political party (Labour) and vote for them for the first time too when the election finally came.

To Be Continued…

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