I’ve not really written too much about this publicly, but this year has been a major upheaval for me work-wise. Back in February, some stuff came to a head which then led to me leaving the company I’d co-run for the last 12 years, and it was the most painful thing ever. It’d never even crossed my mind that I wouldn’t ever not be part of the business – I’d always thought I’d be there until the day I stopped working.
Technically, I left at the end of March, but was last working in the office in February, and that was the last time I saw any of the people I worked with. It’s now been nearly 6 months since I last really did any paid work for anyone.
I’ve wanted to work in production since I was kid – I was obsessed by TV and how it’s made (I used to make TV studios out of Lego!), and even when I was at school spent a ridiculous amount of my free time filming and editing videos. When I was about 13, I even got to visit BBC Pebble Mill in Birmingham, and explore the various studios and galleries which was amazing, and just reinforced that it was what I wanted to spend my life doing.
So to then be doing the work I’d always dreamt of – I was always aware how lucky I was to do a job I was passionate about. Even though there would be bad days, and I’d sometimes work some ridiculous hours, there was always that reminder that so many people had to go to a job each day that they absolutely hated.
I thought I’d post about my holidays this year – I’ve not done it sooner because I’ve been a bit pre-occupied with health stuff!
First off, over Easter I went camping with my sister’s family in Wales. We stayed at Abererch Sands, which is on the Llyn Peninsula, just between Pwllheli and Criccieth.
We all arrived at the campsite at lunchtime on the Thursday, and went on a part of the site where both caravans and tents could be pitched. It took me quite a while to get my tent up – I’d recently been getting tired really quickly (which I later discovered to be because of heart failure!), so I paced myself with it, and Brandon and Chloe occasionally broke away from playing frisbee to help a little bit when an extra pair of hands were needed. Vikky and Andy set up their caravan on one side of the field so they could plug into a heavy-duty electrical hook-up, whereas I pitched up on the opposite side, and made use of the electrical hook-up for tents. It was the first time I’d had electricity whilst camping, and it really does make a difference! I’d bought a small powered fridge to use for the week, plus a camping kettle which mean I could boil water much quicker than usual!
So I thought it was about time I did a bit of an update as to where I am a health-wise. It’s taken this long partly due to me trying to take it all in, and also waiting until I got some more information from tests and from my consultant.
I had an appointment this week which has given me a bit more info. It turns out they now think I might have had a heart attack (acute myocardial infarction) at some point, but that I wasn’t aware of it. Basically the blood supply to the heart was temporarily blocked when it happened, and this then caused scarring on the wall between the two chambers of my heart, and this has led to heart failure. Apparently it’s quite normal to have a heart attack but not realise it. You kind of think of a heart attack being some big dramatic event, like serious pains or collapsing, but I think I was mixing it up with a cardiac arrest, which is what often leads to death if not dealt with immediately. The doctor told me that a heart attack can even be a feeling of anxiety, so how you’re supposed to know for sure is beyond me! Now I’m on a daily concoction of pills, my current status is NYHA1, which means that I shouldn’t have any limitation of physical activity, although I do find I can get quite tired if I do a lot, but that could be a vicious circle because I’ve not been as active as I might be.
I’ve been trying to think back to when it might have happened – I mean, I was feeling quite breathless last August when I was on holiday in Ireland, and I was kind of aware as I was getting closer to Christmas that my stamina was decreasing, and I’d find that even just walking up the stairs to the office would make me breathless, and my cough (which I’ve always had due to allergies etc) was getting much worse – which actually turned out to be pneumonia and fluid on my lungs. At the time I just put it down to lack of fitness, and having hurt my leg earlier that year, which stopped me going to the gym and being particularly active on shoots.
So this week, I’ve been to 2 different gigs at Edgeley Park stadium – handily just up the road from where I live!
The first one was Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott, and it was very last minute that I got a ticket for it. I saw Lee post on Facebook that he had a spare ticket available for the gig that night, so, having been a big Beautiful South fan back in the day, bought the ticket off his friend who couldn’t make it.
Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott.
I thought about walking up to the stadium, but with my health situation, took the bus instead! I met Lee outside the ground, and we went in to grab a drink, before his wife Katie and her friend turned up. It was nice to catch up with Lee having not seen him since the beginning of February, and hopefully I didn’t bore him too much talking about my heart stuff!
So back to the music, and they were really good – there are so many songs you just know all the words to! I was worried it might rain, but even though it was quite cloudy, it stayed dry. I had to have a sit down for about 10 minutes half way through because I was starting to tire a bit, but then I was fine for the rest of the gig. I only had one beer – I don’t normally drink that much alcohol anyway, but at the moment I can’t have more that 1½ – 2 litres of liquid a day, which is a lot harder than you’d think!
Here’s a compilation of some posts from Facebook covering my recent unplanned stay in hospital… I’ll post something more when I’ve had a bit more time to process it all!
Hospital update – 29th May
So, first of all, a massive thanks to Abhi who did a Tesco shop for me this evening so now I have some clean clothes / toiletries etc – I was sent sent to A&E by my GP so only had the stuff I arrived at hospital with!
I’d been to my GP on Friday because recently I’ve been so breathless that it’s just been stopping me doing anything, and also I’d noticed I was rapidly putting on weight even though I’ve hardly been eating anything.
Anyway, my doctor told me to go to Stepping Hill hospital to get a chest x-ray, and by yesterday she’d got the results and asked my to come in right away to go through it. It was showing that my heart was enlarged, plus my breathlessness has actually got worse, and I’d also started up coughing bits of blood the night before.
I was told to go immediately to A&E by Uber – not detouring via home, and leaving my car parked in the street outside the medical practice!
So once in A&E, I had some blood tests done, another chest X-Ray and then an ECG. I was told it looked like my heart is massively over-working, and a knock on from that is that less blood gets to the kidneys meaning theres lot of liquid retention around the body.
I was moved to the Medical Assessment Unit last night, and I’m still here tonight!
It’s been an eventful few weeks – and I’m not even including Christmas in that!
Last night I was at Manchester Arena to see Snow Patrol in concert, and it was a really great gig. It was quite a last minute thing… I decided to look on Monday to see whether there were any tickets left, and I managed to get a seat on one of the sides, which meant I had to sit at a bit of an angle to see the stage!
They had two supports – the first was Roe, who I’d not heard of before, but the second was Kodaline, and I’ve got one of their albums so knew some of the songs they did.
Snow Patrol took to the stage around 9pm, and they played all the classics – ‘Take Back The City’, ‘Chocolate’, ‘Run’, ‘Open Your Eyes’, ‘You’re All I Have’, ‘Cars’ – and even the ones I couldn’t name still sounded familiar… with an encore ending with ‘Just Say Yes’.
Also, just before Christmas, I saw Travis play at the O2 Apollo, and because it’s almost 20 years years since it was released, they played the entire ‘The Man Who’ album from start to finish, followed by a selection of other tracks to wrap up the set.
So, it was my birthday on Saturday, and at the start of this year I’d tried to buy a ticket to see U2 in Manchester on their eXPERIENCE + INNOCENCE tour, which fell on the same date, but within seconds of the tickets going on sale, they were already sold out which was really annoying since the only ones then available we being sold at massively inflated prices on secondary ticket sites – and I’d pretty much forgotten about it.
Then, first thing in the morning, I was looking on Twitter and saw a post from the Manchester Evening News linking to an article about the U2 gig later that day. I then remembered that someone had recently told me that with gigs like this, production ticket returns are often released for sale on the day of the gig, so I thought I’d quickly check on the Manchester Arena website, and I was able to buy a ticket at the price they originally went on sale!
A couple of weeks ago I was on holiday in Ireland again, meeting up with mum and my niece and nephew. They’d already been there for a few days, and I set off really early on a Sunday morning to make a 9am sailing from Holyhead to Dublin, followed by a 3½ hour drive across the country to Mai & PJ’s house just outside Listowel.
The following morning – we took my mum’s hire car back to Shannon airport, with me following behind, so we could then carry on in just the one car.
We carried on northwards for a bit, before making a brief stop in County Clare’s main town, Ennis, and then carried on to the north west of the county, finally arriving at the Cliffs of Moher.
Cliffs of Moher.
They’re really stunning, and you can really sense the power of the sea crashing onto the rock a couple of hundred metres below. It was really windy, and it had been quite drizzly all morning, but it did dry up for us whilst there. It was a pretty strenuous walk up a load of steps to an old round tower overlooking the sea, and we carried on walking along the cliff top until we got to a little hut selling ice lollies (which of course we partook in!).
It was crazy seeing the amount of people who’d left the path to position themselves really precariously on the cliff edge to take a selfie – I’m not sure any photo, no matter how stunning, is worth potential death!
Afterwards we went into the visitor centre, which seems to be a giant cave inside the hill, and there were quite a few interactive things which Brandon & Chloe could have a go at. Even mum decided to try out the greenscreen selfie area, although the camera they use is really low quality and the keying wasn’t that great!
I found out yesterday through Facebook that one of my best mates from school died last weekend of a cardiac arrest whilst he was just walking near to his home. He was only 44 and it really is a total shock. Sadly, I hadn’t been in touch with Anthony for about 20 years, but I spent pretty much the whole of my early life with him, doing loads of crazy stuff with our partner in crime Tom.
It was my sister’s wedding last month, and she’d decided to have a beach wedding in Aruba, so I decided that since I’d be travelling across the Atlantic, I’d also add a short USA holiday to it as well!
So I flew out to Orlando on the 6th October, leaving Manchester at lunchtime, arriving at 4.30pm local time. The queue through passport control was crazy – it took 2¼ hours to get through it, and then once my passport had been checked, I was then picked to have my suitcase examined! I eventually checked into my hotel – the ‘Holiday Inn & Suites Across From Universal Orlando’ – and it really was ‘across’, being just a 15 minute walk to the main entrance to the Universal theme parks!
After a long day of travelling, I went to bed pretty much straight away, and then woke up ridiculously early because of jet-lag! So annoying!
Anyway, I got myself breakfast from a nearby McDonalds, and then arrived at the theme park around 10.30am.
I entered the Islands of Adventure park and hit the rides straight away! I stayed there until about 2 o’clock, and after a bit of lunch, took the Hogwart’s Express from Hogsmeade to King’s Cross over in the the Universal Studios park. Generally, it was busier than when I visited in 2014, and the queues were longer, but I imagine no-where near as busy as it is in peak season!
Last weekend I was up in Scotland with Ali for Steve & Tatiana’s wedding! The wedding was on the Friday, so I drove up on Thursday afternoon and then picked up Ali from the airport, who’d taken a flight from Bristol. However, as I was driving to the airport, I got a major warning light and message on my car saying ‘system fault’ which wasn’t ideal!
I get RAC membership with my car servicing, so called them up early evening, and an RAC man finally arrived quite late, and determined it was probably an issue with my battery not fully holding its charge and causing the error message. He reckoned it would be safe to drive over the weekend but that I’d need to arrange to get it checked soon at a Nissan garage.
Anyway, next day was the day of the wedding – I’d offered to live stream it for them, since a lot of Tatiana’s family weren’t able to make it over to the UK. We had breakfast and left first thing so that I’d have time to set up kit. I was only using a single camera with a BlackMagic Web Presenter plugged into my laptop. In hindsight, I wish I’d packed a 2nd camera to plug into it, but I think they were happy that there was any kind of broadcast!
You can still watch the live stream of the service on YouTube.
I’ve just got had a knackering but brilliant few days up in Scotland at my first Edinburgh Fringe! I was basically there for 57 hours, getting home late last night, and in that time managed to take in a total of 13 shows! It was pretty intense!
I’d only decided last weekend to head up there, so the guys at Gag Reflex got me some complimentary tickets for some of the shows they were producing, and I then found some other show that still had tickets available that would fit around them.
I spent last Saturday with Jess Torry and loads of her friends making a music video! It was her birthday last month, but rather than have a regular birthday party, she had a music video party, which involved them all dancing and singing along to Justin Timberlake’s ‘September’ track from Trolls.
James directed and operated the main FS5 camera, and I had the Sony A7s on a gimble rig to get some smooth moving shots (although I’m not that practiced in using the gimble, so it was a bit of a steep learning curve!).
We filmed them in a nearby park, then in a cul-de-sac of an industrial estate, and finally back in their back garden where they performed in various bits of fancy dress.
It was quite chaotic at times, but the kids had a blast, and James even edited it overnight so that they could all watch it the next day!