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My new book "Shiver Project" is out now. For more info go to http://www.shiverproject.com

My novel, Four Minute Warning is also available at Lulu.com

Four Minute Warning at Lulu.com

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Four Minute Warning

Based on true events, FMW is the story of how during the long hot summer of 1995, I suddenly suffered a massive brain haemorrhage, aged just 14.

Recent front page messages:

last minute sort of compo related...


EDIT: FP? blimey! :D
(Thu 20th Oct 2011, 16:32, More)



(Sat 14th Aug 2010, 18:09, More)

Best answers to questions:

» Customers from Hell

PC FUCKING WORLD
Yes, I was a techie for PC World, and working so closely with the public you get to meet some fucking insane characters. This is my favourite one:

*customer bangs on the desk with his fist, I look up from the PC I was upgrading. Banging fist on desk is never a good start..

"COME HERE IMMEDIATELY!" Shouts the man, very short, about 50 with a balding head but a big beard - they're the worst

So I trot out, good as gold, noticing that he had brought his PC in a trolley, including the monitor, cables and The Sale of Goods Act printed out and highlighted the sentences that he thought would add weight to his case.

Me: "What seems to be the trouble, sir?"

Mr Twat: "THIS PC YOU SOLD ME IS FAULTY!! I SPENT OVER 500 ON THIS! (it's probably the cheapest one we sold at the time)

Me "Ok I can have look for you, what seems to be the trouble"

Mr Twat "DON'T TAKE THAT TONE WITH ME, I HAVE DRIVEN 6 MILES TO BRING THIS FUCKING SHIT IN"

Me "Please don't swear at me sir, I will help you but I won't be sworn at"

He turns a shade of purple that I didn't know existed.

"I'LL SAY WHATEVER I DAMN WELL PLEASE"

The store was quiet but a small crowd had started to gather. The security guard had gone down off his podium and was ready to press the panic buttons. I was shitting myself but was suprisingly steadfast in the face of this loony.

"Could you tell me what the prob....."

"THE RED CARDS WON'T STAY ON THE RED CARDS"

Me: "Excuse me?"

Twat: "THE RED CARDS WON'T STAY ON THE BLOODY RED CARDS!"

Yes, he had printed out the entire Sale of Goods act (about 2 reams of paper-worth) he had unplugged his PC, put it in his car, driven all the way (probably at 80mph) - because he didn't know how to play fucking Solitaire

He was still shouting when he left the store, after I had explained the rules of Microsoft Solitare, and left the car park with his tyres screeching.

There were some other corkingly awful customers but I think my brain has created a special compartment to hide them from my waking thoughts to stop me going insane. Maybe some more will escape and I'll let you guys know!

Length: 3 gruelling years before I left for a proper I.T job, 4x the salary for a fraction of the grief!
(Thu 4th Sep 2008, 20:28, More)

» The nicest thing someone's ever done for me

Many people have saved my life in every way possible
I was looking through this and was thinking "what's the nicest someone's ever done for me", and I couldn't think of anything. Oh sure there's the tiny things that make life good like the wife giving me a hug when I'm stressed etc, but nothing really worthwhile writing here.

But then I thought, "Mark, you COCK!" there are lots of people who have done the nicest thing for me...

saving my life.

You see, back in 1995, aged just 14, I had a massive brain haemorrhage. Completely out the blue. I was just sat in my room on a blazing hot summers day playing on my MegaCD (as you do) then suddenly I went blind, couldn't walk properly, dizzy and incredible pains in my head. I tried to get downstairs but fell down and lost consiousness. All in all it took about 5 minutes to go from completely normal, everyday stuff, to dying on my kitchen floor.

But I'm still here. I'm married, have travelled around the World, I own my own home and, apart from a massive scar on my head and a stutter, you wouldn't think there was anything wrong. The only way this could happen was several people doing the nicest thing anyone can do, and although you think "that's just their job" - they made more difference to my life than anyone could ever hope to do.

My Dad - who found me unconsious on the floor, choking on my own vomit, who put me in the recovery position and phoned for a doctor

The Doctor - who came out quickly and raced me over to the local Emergency hospital

The A&E staff - who fought for several hours to get me to regain consiousness

The Ambulance staff - who raced hell for leather up the M42 to Coventry Walsgrave Hospital, relaying my condition to the hospital staff.

The surgeons, anaethetists, nurses etc - who fought for 13 hours to stabalise me, get my head cut open and stopped the bleeding that was flooding my brain

The Intensive Care Nurses - who looked after mum and dad while I was lying in a coma, and helped them when I came round, despite being given a less than 30% chance of doing so.

The ward nurses - who looked after me and were patient with me when I was consious again but couldn't talk, see or form sentences correctly

The Physiotherapists - who tried to get me to sit up, stand up and eventually walk again - and wouldn't let me give up despite the pain it was putting me in.

The Occupational therapists - who got me doing basic tasks to regain my independance and lead a "normal" life

All the people whos donated blood I used - I must have used gallons of it

My friends - who came to visit me in hosipital and despite having no hair and being unable to talk to them, made me laugh and smile again

My sister - who drove miles to be by my bedside

The Speech therapists - who gave me the gift of communication back, allowing me to talk and be understood again

The hospital porters - who talked to me and put me at ease, even when I was going for a horrible treatment

The Asian lady - who always waved and smiled at me, despite her husband being in terrible pain across the ward with a massive head injury

The hospital library staff - who saved me some comedy audio tapes to cheer me up

The Hospital Vicar - who came and sat with me and didn't need to say a word to make me calm

The X-Ray and CT Scan people, and the members of the public who donated money so the hospital could have a CT scanner.

The Work Experience Girl - Who held my hand when I was crying and claustrophobic in the MRI tunnel

My school - who despite not having any disabled students usually, went out of their way to welcome me back

The school bullies - who stopped being nasty to me and started to be nice to me, even trying to be my friend (must have been the scars!)

The Sun Newspaper - who allowed me to write a column for their stroke awareness week

The Salters Nuffield Biology Unit - who chose me to be a case study in their A-Level text book

You guys - who make me laugh even when I am at my lowest

My parents - who never left my side and gave me the strength to fight on

My wife - who despite my problems and short comings, loves me completely.

There's probably thousands more who I haven't thanked but you are all in my heart.

Cheers.

edit: I'm overwhelmed and humbled by all your lovely comments - thank you all so much :o)
(Sat 4th Oct 2008, 16:13, More)

» Doctors, Nurses, Dentists and Hospitals

Starting my life again
Right.

As some of you will be aware, I suffered a massive brain haemorrhage (a rare type of stroke that kills 60% of sufferers) at the tender age of 14. It was the 28th July 1995, but it still feels like it was only last week.

I was a spotty, greasy fourteen year old, and had just finished year 10 at high school, a year before I took my dreaded GCSEs. I had been out on a bike ride with two friends in the morning, and had arranged to go swimming in the afternoon, which (luckily!), was canceled at the last minute.

I spent the afternoon alone playing on my MegaCD when, without any warning, I suddenly felt dizzy and very sick. I tried to stand up, but I completely lost my balance and fell backwards onto my bed. My vision had just become an erratic kaleidoscope of colours, unable focus on anything. My head pounded with an indescribable pain. I was able to get to my feet and stagger towards the bedroom door, and start making my way downstairs to the kitchen (I don't really know why I tried to do this, but the medicine cabinet was in there so I think it was an automatic response) I managed to get half way before my legs completely buckled and I fell the rest of the way, hitting my head and shoulders on the radiator in the hallway, but I didn't feel a thing. I managed to reach the kitchen on my hands and knees, and haul myself onto the bench where I just sat with my head in my hands, trying to comprehend what was happening. I fell off the bench a few seconds later as my balance completely deserted me and just lay crumpled on the floor, waiting to be found. I was drifting in and out of consciousness at this point; the last thing I remember was Dad frantically calling someone on the telephone before I lost passed out completely.

The time it took from me being an average 14 year old playing videogames in his room to losing consciousness on the kitchen floor, at a guess, was about four minutes.

The doctor rushed me and my Dad to a local hospital where they took CT scans of my brain and tried several responsiveness tests. I was returned to a ward to see if I would regain consciousness, but when it was confirmed that I had suffered a massive Brain Haemorrhage, I was taken then to the Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry where they performed an emergency Craniotomy where they cut a hole in my skull, clipped the bleeding blood vessels with metal clips, removed the blood that had flooded my brain and left me in an induced coma to see if I would recover. I was literally at death's door.

However I woke up several days after the operation in the Intenstive Care unit, unable to comprehend what had happened to me. I couldn't talk or form sentences correctly; the right hand side of my body was almost completely paralysed. The room I was in would rearrange itself every time I blinked. It was as if I was frozen in time while the world around me rushed by. I struggled to recognise visitors at my bedside, one minute recognising them as family but the next they were just voyeuristic strangers. I remember a mirror being thrust in front of me; but I didn't even recognise my reflection. My hair had been shaved off and I had an enormous scar running from behind my left ear towards the top of my head.

My mum tried to explain what had happened to me but I couldn't understand. I'd never even heard of a Brain Haemorrhage before, and had only heard of strokes when they happened to someone on TV.

After a few days in this confused state, I was transferred to my local hospital's children's ward, where I was able to receive visitors; this is where my recovery really picked up. My family and friends made me smile and laugh again just by talking to me. I received intensive physiotherapy to get my strength in my body back and occupational therapy where I had to perform household tasks like making a cup of tea and doing a jigsaw. I was given a wheelchair which I was only able to move slightly at first; but even this small achievement was a massive boost to regaining my independence. My right arm, hand and leg still refused to work most of the time, which was very frustrating as it meant I couldn't play with the Megadrive in the children's ward, my fingers refusing to press the buttons no matter how hard I willed them to.

I was finally allowed to go home a week later with a strict exercise regime and speech and language therapy sessions to regain my communication skills. I couldn't do much for myself anymore, and I had to rely on mum and dad for everything. I hated being so dependant on other people. I had one goal; to get back to school and be with my friends again. Thanks to the physiotherapy sessions, I had managed to regain the ability to stand and walk again which, to me, was the biggest achievement I had made. I was finally able to climb the stairs to my bedroom at home where I was finally able to get some privacy, away from the constant supervision. My speech had returned with the Speech and Language therapy, although I was still struggling to say the right words in the correct order and context. I think that being unable to express myself was the scariest and most frustrating aspect of the brain haemorrhage. It was like being imprisoned in my own mind, and as a hormone-addled teenager striving for independence; it was an excruciatingly difficult period of time.

Three weeks later, I was summoned back to the Walsgrave hospital for an angiogram, where it was revealed that I needed another operation to clip the bleed further, which was a massive blow to me as I was afraid it would undo all the hard work I'd done in the various therapy sessions I had attended. The operation wasn't as long as the first one, and I managed to regain consciousness again with most of my faculties intact. I was walking again after a couple of days of being moved from the ICU to a regular ward. Another angiogram revealed that I needed one more operation to finally clip the bleed, which was carried out a couple of weeks later. I was finally discharged from hospital in late September and allowed to recover at home. By this time, my mobility had returned and I was able to walk unassisted for increasingly longer distances.

I was finally allowed back to school in October 1995, with the strict condition that I had to be kept separate from the other students during busy times in the corridors, in case I was knocked over and banged my head. My treatment once I had returned was a mixture of compassion, indifference, fascination and disbelief. Most were kind to me and patient with my difficulties, but some people (mostly other students but a couple of teachers too) accused me of exaggerating my symptoms to "gain attention" or to get out of doing work which was really hurtful; although as apart from the big scar and speech problems, there appeared to be nothing wrong with me, outwardly at least.

I failed all of my practice GCSE exams spectacularly and was almost moved to the lower ability groups but I refused to leave; the brain haemorrhage giving me a resilience and stubbornness that I didn't possess before. I worked really hard over the remaining few months of the term before the actual GCSE exams in May 1996; where I managed to get my grades back up to pass levels which, considering the situation I was in less 12 months previously was a monumental achievement. I went on to do my BTEC and HND, pass my driving test and now live like everybody else, apart from epilepsy, aphasia and a few memory issues.

I've done several interviews about the stroke, for the Daily Telegraph and the Sun. I'm also a case study in an AS Level Biology Textbook in the Cardiovascular Disease section! Charming eh?

The NHS was absolutely wonderful in looking after me. From the quick diagnosis at the local hospital, to the long and complicated operations and tests, to the aftercare, physiotherapy to get me walking again, speech and language to help me communicate and Occupational Therapy to get me doing day to day tasks. Right down to the vicar in the hospital chapel who used to come and visit me, to the work experience girl who held my hand when I was scared to go into the CT Scanner, to the library staff who saved me audiotapes. A whole army of people dedicated to helping me rebuild my life from scratch. My treatment, including epilepsy medicine for the rest of my life, must have cost thousands.

I will always owe my life to the NHS.
(Sat 13th Mar 2010, 23:30, More)

» Rubbish Towns

Bromsgrove: An Unofficial Guide
Although I currently hail from darkest, chavviest Redditch, I wish to pay tribute to my birthtown, Bromsgrove.

Nestled between Birmingham and Worcester, in the crotch of junction 4a of the M5 and the start of the M42; a once thriving industrial town - reduced to a mishmash of expensive housing estates, charity shops, vast amounts of takeaways and "Slug & Lettuce" type bars.



The northern end of Bromsgrove High Street, at its most busy. Note the Cancer Research Centre shop and the obligatory Argos

The only affordable housing is on the estate of Charford, famous for its high crime rate, perpetrated by one single family



Charford offers luxury accommodation, with rent and utilities paid for by others who actually have to go to work

Claims to fame include:

The gates of Buckingham Palace were made here.

Bromsgrove is at the foot of the Lickey incline, famous for being the steepest railway incline in the UK; site of at least one rail crash due to brake failure



The top of the comedy-named Lickey Incline - bloody steep, innit?

Notable residents included:

Michael Ball
Richard Orford (bloke from Big Breakfast who incidentally, due to marriage, I am sort of related to)
Alfred Housman (who's statue can be seen sporting a traffic cone every weekend - the joke never gets old)

Bromsgrove's Premier Nightspot "Love2Love", where Basshunter collides with Abba on the CD autochanger every night; the Ben Sherman-clad clientelle standing on a lifeless dancefloor.



Where music goes to die

Transport links include Bromsgrove Railway Station, where one train a day (if you are lucky) stops to allow people to squeeze onto the already packed train to Birmingham.


A rare sight indeed, a train actually stopping at this deserted outpost of a town

Bus links are well catered for, with the "not at all scary" bus station with it's retro toilet facilities - when you can smell it, you know you're home.


Bromsgrove Bus Station - photo taken early on Sunday when the Post Office and bookies are closed

Leisure facilities include Sanders Park; which features an icecream kiosk which opens at least twice a year, and a mini assault course known as the Trim Trail - used only by mothers wishing to injure their children for the compensation money



Sanders Park Bandstand - with capacity crowd

Avoncroft Museum - every primary school child's nightmare destination, featuring the largest collection of retro telephone boxes (about 6) This replica of Dr Who's police box donated by local tramp and celebrity, John "Dr Who" Clews - sadly died recently of a head injury when heckling chavs pushed him outside the Asda.

news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/hereford/worcs/7110070.stm



RIP Dr Who :o(

Other points of interest:

The Bromsgrove Union Workhouse, on the Birmingham Road, was opened in 1838 and closed in 1948 and is in use as an Indian restaurant today.

Ernest Anthony Pratt (or Anthony E Pratt) (1903 - 1994), the inventor of the board game Cluedo, is buried in Bromsgrove Cemetery

Yes - Bromsgrove really is the town of dreams
(Mon 2nd Nov 2009, 22:23, More)

» Letters they'll never read

Dear Next Door Neighbour
Let me start this letter with an apology for not coming round to welcome you to our neighbourhood. I'm normally very polite and welcoming, but when I heard you screaming and shouting at your baby, then throwing a bag of dirty nappies out of the front door and into the street then I thought it prudent not to disturb you; after all you appear to be very busy caring for your newborn.

I would like to offer my appreciation for keeping me and my wife awake until 6am with your music almost every weekend since you moved in. I had turned my back on the Industrial Techno scene when I moved in with my wife so you have been kind enough to share it at a reasonable volume, just loud enough to knock ornaments off our mantlepiece and make relaxing in our own home after a hard week at work a bygone pastime.

I would also like to offer reassurance that the West Midlands Constabulary actively endorse your behaviour, by refusing to help us when we called them at 5am. The Borough council also actively endorse your behaviour, by sending us an information pack explaining what they cannot do to help us, and for sending a member of their Noise Prevention Team round to tell us that the music isn't loud enough to be considered a nuisance, despite him having to raise his voice in our lounge for us to hear him.

I would extend our gratitude to the Government who actively take a large portion of my wage to hand to you in the form of benefits to provide you with the alcohol necessary to fuel these parties. I can no longer afford to pay for such luxuries as we are busy working to pay the tax to fund your lifestyle, but hey we can hear the bassbeats, the shouting and the cheering through the wall so we can at least imagine what a such a carefree attitude is like.

Our cats would like to thank you for bringing mice into our area so that they have things to chase in the evening. The National Lottery would also like to thank you for helping their profit margins, by making me so desperate to leave our home that I spent 25 on scratchcards in the hope of winning enough to move away to somewhere quiet. I won a pound by the way.

Furthermore I'd like to thank you for saving us the time and effort of trying for children of our own, as we simply cannot afford them now. But it's ok as we have the full parental experience of listening to a crying child through our walls, while your parties rage on downstairs. You are also funding the NHS by stressing us out so much my wife is on anti depressants which at 7.20 aren't exactly free, so well done there.

Finally, I would like to wish you all the best for you and your son's future, and hope that you can find it in your heart to keep it quiet on a Sunday so that my wife and I can get a little bit of sleep before we have to go back to work to earn your party money again.

Kind regards

Hedonist
(Fri 5th Mar 2010, 14:01, More)
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