24th Best Stroke Blog Ever

In about 640 words, I’ll get onto something vaguely stroke-related. Bear with me. It’ll be a good exercise in maintaining attention. Better than listening to a therapist read a random paragraph about John Adams, then being asked to recall various of the recited facts.

John Adams was the 2nd president of the USA. People would often remark upon his likeness to Paul Giamatti – “I don’t see it myself,” others would say.

[More whimsy, about the same amount of #stroke – the Apoplexy Tiny Letter.]

Longsufferinggirlfriendoftheblogbeth will occasionally check to see how far down I am when she googles “stroke blog”. I just gave it a go myself, and apoplectic.me is in like a bullet at #24. This is, of course, meaningless. Really, I mention it because it reminds me of the title of (mostly) English stand-up comedian Stewart Lee’s show, 41st Best Stand Up Ever.

And this was *before* Bernard Manning died!

And the bit about talking about strokes at around word 643 words is a nod to Stew’s carefully-wrought style. But I’ll get to that in about 465 words. I’m getting ahead of myself.

Yesterday, Longsufferinggirlfriendoftheblogbeth and I were invited to take cake and fizzy elderflower water with one of my classmates who was celebrating her birthday. And very pleasant it was, too. After we left, and were strolling along George IV Bridge, Beth noted the similarities to her college days, and how impossibly old I was. A illustration will suffice.

The group had gotten to talking of didgeridoos, and one of us mentioned that she hadn’t heard a digeridoo before. I cued one up on my phone. A second person asked:

Do you carry that with you in case you run into someone who doesn’t know what a digeridoo sounds like?

So, the experience wasn’t particularly like my undergrad experience. In a room of artsy, studenty types in the late C20th, a sizeable proportion of people would have recognized this:

Maybe the title of this week’s post should be a bit different.

“Ricky Brown – ’90s Blogger”

Stew disdains observational stuff, but bear with me a sec…. I’ve been wondering recently if there’s a thing where your cultural preferences are cemented in a particular era. [Aside: Of course there is, Ricky – but that informs new contemporary tastes, rather than cutting them off.]

As Longsufferingetc. and I had this conversation, we were on our way to Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre to see Stewart Lee’s new show, the wonderfully lazily-titled A Room With a Stew. Once again, it was interesting to see what the crowd reflected back to me. Given Stew’s long-standing cantankerousness is settling into a more middle-aged milieu, the crowd was encouragingly young.

Stew has addressed this issue previously. If You Prefer a Milder Comedian… was released in the aftermath of Frankie Boyle declaring that no-one over forty should be doing stand-up. At the time, as Stew told it, Frankie was a young, young, furious 38-year-old man. Stew, conversely, was 41. The age I will turn in September.

He’s furious, though, about the Queen’s vagina, Frankie Boyle. Now, er… I’m 41. I don’t mind about the Queen’s vagina. At my age, if I think about the Queen’s vagina, I’m at worst ambivalent about it.

As it happens, they added a few years to Liz this week.

In recognition of this abject short-coming, A Room With a Stew addresses further ageing directly. He reflects on how his urine flow now resembles the fine mist of a crop-sprayer. More so than he remembers was the case with his grandfather, when he was a boy. And Grandpa Lee had had a stroke and was on Warfarin. They had me on that when I was in hospital after my stroke.

Oh, yeah… strokes. So, someone recently asked me, in relation to writing, whether I thought my brain now worked differently. What with a particular area being hit, and the widely-recognised ameliorating impact of the brain’s plasticity, even later in life. I’d probably made some remark about how my brain injury had sparked my late-life interest in writing, because it had given me a story I wanted to tell.

But looking back, I now remember that not long before The Event (Or was it after? Maybe it was after…), I’d been scribbling down some ideas for a spoken word piece with comedic aspects. Because we’d enjoyed a couple of good nights at The Moth in Brooklyn. Anyway, whenever it was, the notes contained no mention of stroke. Either way, here I am now, trying to be creative. Stewart Lee’s work kind of comments upon itself as a set unfolds. He also talks a little about the creation of the Room With a Stew set here.

The creative process at work. (Photograph: Antonio Olmos/Observer)

Like the opening of this post, he opened A Room With a Stew by laying out how long he’d be talking about certain subject before moving on to another, when the intermission would be, and so on. He also explained that there would be a kind of an encore. But he wouldn’t go off stage. He’d just weigh whether it seemed like an encore-y night. If it did, he would do another wee bit. But not like a band, where they come back on and do their best song, the one you’ve been waiting for all night.

No, just some stuff, then it would peter out, and everyone could go home.

More digeridoo? Don’t mind if I doo.

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4 thoughts on “24th Best Stroke Blog Ever

  1. A big THANK YOU for posting both those didgeridoo tracks!

    I don’t remember ever hearing either one, but I’m pretty sure it’s physically impossible that I haven’t. “Don’t remember” is the key phrase. The little mini-strokes of life have obliterated those songs from my memory.

    I’m flagging them as writing soundtracks for novel #2. I should probably finish novel #1 first though.

    1. Nah, finish #2 first. Then prepare your own reviews for #1 for the dust jacket. Stew Lee collects his worst reviews and puts them on his posters and posts them on his website. Just so you can’t complain when he is the odd cove that’s been promised.

      Personally, I preferred your first novel. All that didgeridoo music seems to have resulted in some kind of trance-club-centred ‘nineties throwback. What about all those “beautifully-observed, painterly scenes” from your debut? (The Edinburgh Reporter)

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