Friday, 10 October 2008

Vertigo and Cheeky Girls (ugh)

Sorry for the long break owing to sadness, a quick trip to the States, over a month of debilitating illness, then returning to my old ways of working all the time, but with the new post-illness twist of falling asleep as soon as I get home, as though I’m 93. I have during this period scribbled down a couple things most days that I wanted to get off my chest on the blog, but never managed to put finger to keyboard as I was too busy accidentally snoozing on the sofa to function like a normal person. But I’m working on improving and trying to stay awake past the early bird special at the local cafe….

During the illness, I was trapped in my bed and unable to move my head even slightly most of the time, which meant I was forced to listen to a lot of shocking dross on the telly, which was always on for company and to kill the boredom, but I rarely could manage to change channels or focus on the visual part of the medium. This meant that some of the programmes I had not long before cursed as being the stupidest thing I’d ever heard of now filled my room and was, for a short period, my only friend. I fear that one such example, the one that most sticks in my mind, was Living’s Living with the Cheeky Girls. I thought it was a series but understand it might have been just the one programme, which was plenty, following docusoap-style Transylvania twin singers Gabriela and Monica Irimia, who live in the UK with their stage mum and English stepfather and spend a lot of time trying on sexy clothes their mum has bought them as stage outfits and practicing their self-choreographed dance routines for whatever crowds are out there vying for their talents. I thought there was something intensely creepy about the fact that the stepfather was their official photographer and spent a lot of time with the girls as they found ways to pose even more sexily on a beach or behind doors in their home; it just seemed somehow disturbing.

More disturbing was the weedy romance with Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Öpik, and most of all the fact that he allowed the cameras to follow them, even to Rome where they held hands in a restaurant and talked like gushy illiterate teenagers about their love for each other, and we later learn that he had proposed to her that night, at least having the decency to have the cameras switched off for that.

This led to a lot of disharmony in Gabriela’s home as her mother was horrified that Lembit didn’t have the courtesy to come ask for Gabriela’s hand first, and everyone seemed to think Lembit was rushing things. It didn’t surprise me; he was a giddy nerd throughout, saying things like he couldn’t believe that someone like her would bother with someone like him, giving off an air that he was going to grab her and sweep her off to somewhere secure before she gave the situation too much thought.

He does seem to like exposure as part of a couple. I remember seeing him and then fiancée weathergirl Siân Lloyd appearing on Rob Brydon’s spoof chat show, The Keith Barrett Show, and I hear that he went on the Al Murray programme with this second (I assume it’s only the second) fiancée. In any case, I understand (from the Guardian, can you believe) that they have now broken up as well. It’s funny how we sometimes judge someone by the company they keep….there was a time I thought he was more geekily charming than painfully embarrassing.

In any case, as I wasn’t able to read or write at the time of my illness but was full of thoughts, I ended up dictating them (into the excellent tiny Sony IC recorder ICO-UX80), which was really just talking to myself, wasn’t it. Everything’s now out of date anyway, but I don’t think I need to play back my voice from a dizzy mind spitting bitter bile about any television programmes that were bound to be dross.

And if anyone’s curious, said illness was labyrinthitis, also known as vertigo. It’s not just a great Hitchcock film (Labyrinthitis starring James Stewart), and it’s not really another name for fear of heights, but it’s a feeling of standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower and leaning way over the railing, perhaps after consuming a pint of whisky that made you queasy rather than fearless, so that the world seems to be swirling around you and you’re gripped with a sense of terror, when really all you are doing is moving your head a bit or, God forbid, trying to stand up. The illness can’t be treated, you just have to wait it out, and apparently once you get it, it will recur, so I have that to look forward to. But there are many worse things. And the doctors can prescribe a drug that helps curb the dizziness, prochlorperazine maleate, which was a good friend in the hard times. It is also used to treat schizophrenia and psychosis, so I like to think that, if I had any of that hanging around at the time, I managed to tackle that, too, in a sort of two-for-one deal.

A slight legacy of the vertigo is that I am always every so slightly dizzy, particularly if I turn my head too quickly, suddenly decide to twirl around the office, or dare to watch one of these appalling trendily shot documentaries that are determined to disorient and discourage any viewers by zooming in and out to show someone’s nostril hairs whilst they speak, and then spinning around like, as they say, a chimp on roller skates before settling the camera, out of focus, on the left tip of the left eyebrow of the speaker in extreme close-up. Riding in a car is also a terrible problem, as I recently learned when a friend drove me from near Watford in Hertfordshire to Charing Cross after a party. I was so unbelievably nauseous, I had to lean my internally spinning body against a brochure rack in the station, praying for my train to come soon so I could get settled in a seat and stop accidentally sliding down the brochure rack towards the food-covered floor.

After a short time in this state, I noticed two day-glo jackets of police or pseudo-police (ie Community Support Officers) stationed firmly in place to my right, all four eyes fixed on me for quite some time. I’ve never been sized up as a lawbreaker before, so this initially puzzled me. I then realised that they must have mistaken my suffering from shocking motion sickness for being one of those stupid binge drinking women who could barely stand up after a night on the town. Though these days, those women don’t head home before midnight (indeed, as I finally boarded the last train home, several glammed up young girls got off the train en route to some all-night clubs, no doubt). I was severely insulted, of course, although I suppose the police peeps were largely trying to ensure I didn’t just wander off with some stranger in my ‘drunken’ state. Aw, how sweet.

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