Surviving Brain Cancer in a Precarious World

in #life6 years ago (edited)

Part 29: Always Meet Your Heroes…

For most of 2017, my wife had been arranging a charity event to raise funds for motor-neurons disease which her uncle was now in the final stages of, and for brain tumour research.org to help with funding for the disease that I had been afflicted with in 2016.

She named the event Flair Fest and combined it as an early Christmas event so that her girl guides could get involved and bring in more people from around Upton. The venue was the Royal British Legion club in Upton Chester.

At first, we had no idea how many people were going to show up so we just set up some decorations and stalls for other people to sell their products for the charities. At its peak, we just managed to fill the main hall and raise just over a grand for the charities.

While selling badges and Christmas cards on behalf of brain tumour research.org I would do my best to give people information on how I had managed my battle with the disease. At this point, I had already told my story more times than I could count so it was easy for me to cut to the chase and involve all the most important points.

It was around this time my wife was also trying to promote the event but this time around we found local news was not interested and despite her persistent attempts to wake up TV channels such as ITV, no one got back to us before the event. At this point with 6 clear scans under my belt, it was hard not to feel like TV didn't want to go near my story because a huge part of my success was due to cannabis and it would be something I would, of course, speak highly of on tv if I had the chance.

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Not long after I got to go see my second Depeche Mode show of the year which would be the last I could see on their Global Spirit Tour. Meeting my friends from the last show this time in Birmingham, it seemed they had suspicions that they knew Depeche Mode were staying in the hotel next to theirs. So before we could go off to the gig, John got us all to stick around the entrance to the hotel next to theirs.

After about ten minutes waiting in the freezing cold I was already starting to weigh up if it was worth it because I thought they would no doubt just be in a rush and with cold in no mood to stick around chatting to proud members of what they call their fans “The Black Swarm”.

Just before we gave up some fancy black cabs showed up and none other than Depeche Mode’s Martin L Gore came out from the hotel already chatting to John. Of course I then got a little star struck and simply asked like a tourist “photo!?” and then took a quick selfie with him.

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For me it was so very rushed because being a huge fan of so many of the songs he wrote, I had a huge amount of things I would have liked to chat to him about but knowing it’s not the setting or time to get such an experience I was more than happy just to get a picture with him.

After he left we didn’t want to stick around too long for other band members because not only were we all freezing cold but we also wanted to make sure we got a good position in the standing area next to the stage again.

I also don’t think I would have got out of my star struck trance if I had seen lead singer Dave Gahan because for as long as I can remember he has been the most inspirational singer I’ve ever known in music and at this stage in his career he had already proven himself as a great song writer in his own right after 10 years of solo work and joining the Depeche Mode song writing process.

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The actual show was incredible. It seemed that during the months since we saw them in London, they had kept 100% match fit, providing a few changes to the set such as an acoustic version of “Strange love” and a revival of “Useless” from their 1997 album “Ultra”. On the way out the cold was actual welcome after the heat of a sold out arena full of people dancing. I walked back with my friends to their hotel and hung out for a bit before I headed back to mine.

This had been the first time I had been in Birmingham city centre since I was a little kid and sadly just like when we were in London, the poverty and homelessness in the area was impossible to miss. It seemed that after 7 years of austerity, UK city centres were starting to advertise the country as a dystopian nightmare.

I used to leave these concerts feeling buzzed out of my mind from the entertainment of the show but both times on this tour I went back to my hotel faced with either the repercussions of our states corporate interventionist agenda in the Middle East or the failed outcome of austerity.

So instead of going through all my photo’s in bed, I was trying my best to find out what homeless charities worked in Birmingham that I could make a donation to. Part of this was out of guilt on my part.

Before I checked into the hotel that day I had literally turned a corner to the entrance and been called at by a homeless couple next to it. In my haste to make sure I was at the right place and get ready for the concert, I ignored them calling me which triggered an internal conflict of guilt and embarrassment trying to act like I had not heard anything.

I then heard the woman get quite angry at my ignorance and sarcastically shouted thank you to me. I then heard her partner try to calm her down as if he had been dealing with life on the streets for a lot longer. All this happened in the space of a few seconds and left me feeling guilty and ashamed as I went up to my room.

Never before had I been so troubled by the social problems in the UK than I was in 2017. I know I had been directly giving money back in London to homeless people because there it seemed like they were being left to starve to death. But I knew in Birmingham they had at least set up some food programs which I could donate to. At this point of the year the cold was really building up which meant although it was misery for the homeless people left out in it. Their situation was at least hitting the news now after a spate of hyperthermia deaths in Manchester.

Of course on LBC radio the right wing “Gammonites” would ring in to attempt to accuse the homeless people of being on the streets by choice because there were lots of shelters around now. The idiocy of this accusation is that they ignore that there is also a cruel structure within homeless communities. The stronger ones go to the shelters and put the weaker ones off because they steal what little they have if they sleep in the same shelter.

My wife and I then went on a day out to Liverpool for some Christmas shopping. After Birmingham, I was dreading to see the same problems there. I had watched “Boys from the Black Stuff” in the past and the scene where “Yosser” is left homeless on the waterfront was stuck in my mind as a horrific portrayal of the homeless problem during Thatcher’s era.
Instead, Liverpool turned out to be on appearances one of the few cities where locals were looking out for each other. It’s not that homeless people were not visible, but they were not being walked past and ignored, they were in conversation and being tended to.

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This was why Liverpool impressed me to my heart and left me in agreement that Liverpool has some of the friendliest people in the country despite what their reputation is in regional rivalry banter up and down the UK.

To Be Continued…

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