51:32:35 l0:03:22

TGI Paul

Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Brief Round-Up

I thought I'd do a quick review of my first year here in Blogland, it's been a really worthwhile experience writing on here, and I've picked up some lovely acquaintances. I can only hope you've enjoyed reading as much as I've enjoyed musing!
These have been some of my personal favourite entries;

Most Critically Acclaimed Entry;

The criteria here was a comment made to me by Troubled Diva, a great blogger and the worthy recipient of a few genuine awards!

Most Commented On Entry;

My sisters 40th birthday got the highest amount. Glad you all approved!

So Much Happening Lately

My Favourite Poem;

Not that I've written many, but I was really proud of this! Ode To Ken

My Favourite Outing;

There have been loads actually. In fact I think I've been really lucky this year on the whole. For pure once-in-a-lifetime luxury with a fair sprinkling of romance thrown in, it was probably Claridges

But I think 'Wicked!' was actually my favourite outing overall.

Most Googled Entry;

Bizarrely, the words most used on google to find my site (apart from TGI Paul itself, which is usually Vic when he's away working) were these ones...

Pointless Family Photo of the Year Award

The Person I've Loved To Hate Most;

Easily Heather McCartney Mills, couldn't you tell?

It's not been a bad year at all, I think I've achieved lots; I've moved into my own apartment, (I even had a boyf here too for a while! lol!), I'm now in full command of my own branch of The PizzaPlace, which is going fine, I've maintained friendships with some great people and made friends with a few more. There have been some great days out, a lovely Valentines with Alfie, partying with pop stars and great birthdays with all the family.

There's been some loves and some losses, but, as painful as they've been, I'm ok. I can't deny I'd like things to be different, but they're not, so I just have to live with it. 2007 can only see an improvement on that front!

I wish you all a very happy, peaceful and prosperous new year, and hope all your wishes come true!

Paul xx

Elf yourself!

I just found this on Reluctant Nomads blog, it's silly but fun!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Politically Correct Christmas Wish

Holiday Greetings to Everyone

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced with the most enjoyable traditions of religious persuasion or secular practices of your choice with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2007, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make our country great (not to imply that England is necessarily greater than any other country) and without regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishes.

By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms: This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her / himself or others and is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.

Disclaimer: No trees were harmed in the sending of this message; however, a significant number of electrons were slightly inconvenienced.

The Wisher
(printed courtesy of my fabulous friend Vic, of G&V fame)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

December 16th 2004

There are some days you will simply never forget, each detail embedded in your memory like a permanent stain. Sometimes they're wonderful days, birthdays at Claridges or The Ritz, or your first 'Pride'. Sometimes days stay in your head for worse reasons. Two years ago was one of those. This is what happened;

I woke up fairly late that day, after 11am. I was the Assistant Manager at the PizzaPlace in Islington at the time, and was going to be working the evening shift that day. I had the usual morning smokers cough; I'd been smoking quite a lot lately, and not living too healthily. I'd recently split up with a guy who I'd really fallen for and taken things pretty badly (oh, how history repeats itself!).

The cough was more vicious than normal though that day, and the pain in my chest was really uncomfortable too. Too many poppers last night probably, and the walk back from the club at 3am in the cold can't have helped.

My chest was starting to hurt now. I tried to keep still and let it pass, lying down was uncomfortable though, and sitting up just seemed to put more pressure on the cramps that I was getting. The coughing was getting worse as well. I've had heartburn before so it was a familiar feeling and I knew what I needed. I managed to get myself up, spluttering, and made my way down the two flights of stairs to the lounge.

My landlord from the time was sitting in the dining room,

"You sound healthy!" he called out.

"You know if I didn't know any better, I'd think I was having a heart attack! Can you do me a favour and just nip to the chemist? I could really do with some Gaviscon."

Thankfully, there was a chemist directly opposite the old flat, so I knew relief wasn't far off. I poured myself a large glass of water. I was really getting hot now, a flush coming over me in hot sweats and breathing was starting to get difficult. The chest pain was starting to become overwhelming.

I made my way back up to my bedroom. He seemed to be taking ages. The pain was starting to move into my arms, and I could feel my thighs tingling. The sweats were making me gasp for breath, and I hung out of the window to try and get some air. Then the water starting coming back up, and I ran to the bathroom. Vomiting pure water into the sink, it was becoming hard to stand.

I lay back on my bed, writhing, trying to find a position I could get comfortable in. I picked up my mobile and dialled the restaurants number. I noticed it was now midday.

"I'm really sorry Vania, but I'm having terrible heartburn at the minute. I don't think I'll be in tonight." God knows what I must have sounded like.

"Don't worry darling," she replied, "you just have a good rest."

At last, my landlord was back, two Gaviscons in hand which I immediately started drinking straight out of the bottle. "Paul, I've really got to get to work soon, but do you want me to call an ambulance?"

"No thanks love. I'll just let this stuff get to work. I'm sure I'll be fine."

"Where's the pain?"

"Right through my arms now, and moving down my thighs too. If it's not getting better in half an hour, I'll call an ambulance myself. Don't worry, really."

"This isn't heartburn," he said. "I'm calling you an ambulance."

Within a matter of minutes the ambulance had arrived. My room was on the third floor, right at the top of the house, so it took a little while for the two medics to get themselves, the oxygen tank and various equipment all the way up. As soon as the oxygen mask was attached I started feeling a modicum of relief. That cold fresh air was like an elixir.

They asked if I had any conditions that I was taking medication for. That's the first time my landlord knew I was HIV+ and I spotted the shock on his face. I felt so ashamed him hearing it like this, like I'd kept it a secret from him.

The blood pressure balloon was strapped to my arm, and the stethoscope was checking out my pulse on various parts of my body. Oddly, even the steely coldness of that actually felt lovely against my clammy skin.

One of the medics said they would want to take me out to the ambulance to run an ECG (electrocardiogram). Getting a feeble me, the oxygen tank and the machine down three narrow flights of stairs was a tricky manoeuvre, but the two medics were obviously dab hands at this.

Out in the street, I was helped into the back of the ambulance. One of the guys took off my t-shirt while the other started getting the electrodes out and attaching them to my chest. I was crying with the intensity of the pain, so while one medic watched the ECG monitor, the other said "I'm going to give you an injection to help with the pain."

I don't know why, but I asked what he was injecting me with.



This really is serious then. I remember when someone in the family was very ill, and my Mum said to me "Well, he's on morphine now, so you know he's pretty near the end. They only use that when it's the end" My Mothers voice ran vividly, on loop, over and over in my head.

The pain gradually started to ease off. The medic that had been watching the monitor got out at the back of the ambulance, and I could hear him getting into the cab at the front. I could see my Landlord shivering out in the road. The other one knelt down next to me and rested his elbows up on the side of the trolley I was lying on. He settled his chin on his crossed hands and very calmly said;

"We're not really meant to give a diagnosis, but it looks like you're having a heart attack. We should take you to Accident & Emergency, where they'll fill you with clot buster drugs, then wait for an appointment at the London Chest Hospital for an examination, but as we're just down the road from the Chest Hospital, my mate's on the radio to see if we can take you straight there. Just hold tight here for a minute." I nodded at him, tears on my face, and he tapped my arm for comfort.

He got the nod from the other driver, "We're off then!" he said as he started strapping me onto the trolley. My Landlord climbed into the ambulance with me. He said something, but I'm not clear what it was.

"The lights and the siren are going on, but there's nothing to be scared of."

We were there so quickly probably, but the journey felt like a long one and oddly I wasn't really scared at all. I wasn't sure if this was 'it', or what was going to happen to me. I felt numb, it was all totally surreal. Just staring at the ceiling and listening to the monitor beeping away, doing its job.

When we reached the hospital, the scene suddenly switched into total organised mayhem. I felt like an extra from ER as the trolley was whisked out of the ambulance and rushed through the swing doors. Doctors, nurses and medics crowded round me, things were being attached as clothes were being stripped. One with a clipboard started asking questions and filling out the paperwork; name? age? phone number? etc When it got to the 'next of kin?' question, he asked me if I wanted them to be contacted.

"Not unless it gets critical" I replied. After all, there was no point creating unnecessary worry. I could tell them afterwards what had happened I figured.

"Religion?" he asked.

"Why? What does that matter?"

"In case you need a priest."

"Oh hell!"

The morphine was now being administered intravenously, a huge drip on a stand next to my trolley.

"They only use that when it's the end"

I was pushed through to theatre, with other nurses carrying the drip and the oxygen tank, and another pushing the trolley withe monitor on it. I could feel injections happening at the top of my right leg, but there had been more morphine injections down there so it was a very numb sensation. Apparently the doctor was doing an angiogram; a catheter exploration of the cardiac arteries. The Doctor then said he would have to put me forward to have an angioplasty. He explained this would involve injecting two platinum stents into the blocked arteries via a catheter, expanding them and then withdrawing the catheter to leave the stents in place, supporting my heart. I was drifting now, but could just feel more prodding going on around the same area at the top of my leg. He was plugging up the hole where the angiogram catheter had entered.

"That's it!" he said, "You're all done!"

"When I will have the angioplasty?"

"No that was it. We're all done!"

I looked up at the clock, it was a quarter past two; just 2 hours and fifteen minutes after phoning for the ambulance.

I was moved to a ward where I slept, I have no idea how long for. I was still wearing the oxygen mask when I woke up and the morphine drip was still in my arm. My body had around 16 electrodes attached with wires going to two monitors. Everything around me seemed to be beeping away quite happily. I was still here then!

I tried to raise my head to have a look around my room, but a voice bellowed out of the nurses office to lie flat. A large West Indian lady came over to my bed.

"You're a bit young to be in here aren't you?"

"I was just thinking the eaxct same thing."

"You have to lie flat for 24 hours, don't be sitting yourself up young man!"

That night was one of the worst I've ever had. I woke up in the middle of the night, hazy from the drugs but feeling almost paralysed where they had plugged the catheter hole in my groin. Blood had seeped and got trapped between the dermal layers and swollen to the size of a rugby ball, a haematoma I think it's called. I couldn't move and it was throbbing like hell! I pressed the button for a nurse. One came over, saw what was happening to my leg and disappeared. A few moments later, he was back with another nurse and a contraption that was strapped round my groin, then inflated. As he switched it on, it started whiring and applying pressure to the mound of blood. I didn't get back to sleep too well after that, despite the drugs.

The next morning, they removed the contraption to reveal a deep purple bruise that stretched from my inner thigh right round to my arse cheek, and about a foot high.

It was two days later that I asked for the phone, I figured I was through the worst enough now to fill the family in about what had happened. You can only begin to imagine the reaction! Two hours later they were all next to my bed, with much tears and hugging going on. My Mum & my Sis were shaking with nerves. I felt so guilty putting them through this. Six days later I was allowed home. My flatmates had moved my bed down to the lounge so I wouldn't have the stairs to deal with, and I spent Christmas in bed there, like the Nan in The Royle Family!

Two years later, and yesterday I had lunch with Sis & Dad as an early Christmas get-together, and Dad hadn't seen my Sis yet for her 40th. They hadn't noticed the relevance of the date, but that day is one of those that will stay with me forever.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


The last two weeks really has seen a lot going on and I've not been posting as much as I used to, well I can't now I'm now back in the restaurants!

My lodger/flatmate seems to be settling in very well. I keep waiting for obvious signs of homesickness (he's moved down from Birmingham), but so far there haven't been any. We went off to see 'Casino Royale' last Wednesday, which was EXCELLENT!! Easily my favourite Bond movie to date! Daniel Craig plays Bond how I think he should be; steely, determined, tough and with a raw sexuality that the recent Bonds have missed.

The whole 007 franchise had started to turn into a pastiche of itself I think. It was all about cheesy gags, flashy gadgets and gorgeous girls. It needed refreshing, and the Blond Bond delivers! Fantastic! And as for all the usual hype about the theme tune? I can't even remember the tune of this one, and it doesn't matter; this film actually speaks for itself! Oh, and Daniel Craig is gorgeous!!
Then on Wednesday of this week it was my Sisters 40th birthday. I have been excited about this day for a while but couldn't share my plans with you as she reads here occasionally!

Months ago she had declared that she would like 'Tea at The Ritz' as her treat. I duly noted it mentally and set that as the foundation of The Day. Then I had to think what to do for the evening. Well, after seeing 'Wicked!' in September there was no competition really, so the day after seeing the show with G&V, I was straight back on line booking 4 tickets for that.

The Day started badly; I got the bus 25 minutes up to the correct underground station that I needed to get to The Ritz, and then realised I had forgotten the theatre tickets! Aaargh! I then waited, seemingly for ever, for a bus back home. I got on the mobile and booked a taxi to be waiting at my flat to take me straight to Piccadilly; I wouldn't have time now to get a tube. Traffic was terrible all the way, and I ended up hopping out of the taxi en route and finishing off the journey by tube anyway! Buses and taxi's and tubes. Oh my!!

So despite leaving on time, I was an hour late! Sadly, I had missed the part where Mum had walked, arm in arm with Sis, straight past The Ritz. "He said to meet us at the restaurant," she'd said. "It's down here apparently." They stopped to look up at the gorgeous Christmas trees flanking the doors of the legendary hotel, with 'flunkys' in top hats waiting to park guests' cars. Lisa then went to walk on, but Mum pulled her back and straight up the steps to one of the most famous hotels in the world. Tears welled up in my Sisters eyes, she looked at Mum in disbelief and just said "Really?". Mum nodded.

The tea rooms there are absolutely beautiful, as you would imagine. Cream walls with gold and cream embroidered chairs, and gilted fretwork picking out alcoves and architraves. The food came on a silver 3-tier tray; a selection of sandwiches on various breads, crusts cut off (how camp!), scones and fruitcake, and on the top tier a selection of fruit tarts. (Wouldn't that be a great description for a group of Drag Queens? A selection of fruity Tarts?) The drinks were served in individual silver pots, so we could each pick our own from the wide range of teas.

We then had some time to kill, so took a long walk through Mayfair, dreaming at the thought of owning some of the uber-expensive treats in the shop windows; a Bentley for £399,750 or a pair of Manolo Blahniks for £695 for you Miss? It's a different world eh? Then we wandered onto Regents Street to see the Christmas lights, and for a wander round Hamleys which I always feel is a 'must-do' at this time of year.

Sis still didn't know what was coming next, so walking all the way through to Oxford Street was really a ploy to throw her off the scent, then we hopped onto a 38 bus and headed towards Victoria. The bus was crowded so she couldn't really tell where we were heading. Nephew & I did a Sudoku together, and the women nattered. She didn't really click until we rounded into the station and she could see the front of the Victoria Apollo. Her and my nephew were absolutely thrilled! They had listened to the CD when they'd stayed at my place after the Scissor Sisters, and had said then that they'd love to see it; it was so hard not letting on sooner!

The show was fabulous, again! Idina Menzel absolutely knocks the socks off the audience. Of course, no-one in my family had heard of her, so when she walked on stage and got a huge cheer from the audience my Mum whispered to me "But she hasn't done anything yet!".

However, by the time she was halfway through her first number, "The Wizard & I", Mum whispered again what amazing vocal control Menzel has; "She hasn't had a chance to breath yet in this song!". I knew the best was yet to come.

And it did; "Defying Gravity" had my Sister in floods of tears, which were repeated again throughout most of the 2nd Act! In fact, by the time we reached the standing ovation, her top was actually wet through!

Afterwards, we went for something to eat and then I saw them on their way to Victoria station to get home. The Day had gone near-as-dammit perfectly, and I know she'll always remember her 40th, and thats exactly how it should be I figure!

And now, as promised, my own photo's of the day. So, as Joe.My.God would say;EMBIGGEN, MAKE PRETTY!

The Sis

The Tea Rooms

The Lobby

The Family

The Sister & I

Monday, December 04, 2006

First Day at New Restaurant

Fired one, hired one! How productive is that? ;o)

I also have three interviews lined up for tomorrow. I have no intention of hiring any of them, but the team there are very slack at the moment with attendance & timekeeping, so I just want to get them back on their toes, and it'll do them good to see me looking for new recruits.

Staff who think they're doing me a favour by turning up, even when they're 30 minutes late, need reminding they're not indespensible methinks.

Feeling Festive!

Loving the Christmas lights outside the Town hall here in Hackney Central! Well, I call them 'Christmas lights' but the blue ones have actually been up all year; I think they just couldn't be arsed to take them down last January, but thats cool because they're pretty!
Sorry the pic of the green ones is a bit fuzzy... I was on my way home from a night out and was obviously not as steady as I thought I was!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Scissor Sisters at Wembley

Saturday just gone, Sis and Nephew & I were all heading off to catch the London leg of the Scissors tour. They arrived at mine traditionally late ('I've been drving round for 30 minutes trying to park! Honest!'), so we set off a little later than we were hoping.

The journey is the same route as I've been travelling to Uxbridge for the last four months. I'd forgotten I would be doing it again the day after I thought I was never going to do it again, but with the company it was much more fun!

As we were walking along to the arena, I realised that this was a special ocassion as it was Nephew's first pop concert!

"He's been to a concert before!" Sis argued "He came to David Essex with me!"

"That doesn't count, I meant a POP concert!" I love ribbing her about David Essex; she's adored him since 1974!

The support act was Lily Allen; local Islington girl and this years 'hip young thing'. I'm not a great fan of hers but she was actually a lot better than I was expecting; confidently bouncing through a great set and helpfully reminding us that "you've got the Scissor Sisters coming on later!" Really?!? Ooh, thats nice then!

What she failed to mention though was how much later. We had an hour and a quarter between the two acts. It was 9:15 when they eventually came on and the excited moods were starting to wane.

Jake Shears soon sorted that out though once they arrived! Straight away, almost the whole audience were on their feet, and he had something to say to the ones that weren't! There was no hiding here! His energy always amazes me, but to keep it going for nearly two hours was awesome!

Ana Matronic was alot more static, but as verbal as ever! Now, I'm not sure if it was a bad choice of dress or not but I had the thought that she looked pregnant! I mentioned it to Sis, who said she was thinking the same. Wait and see... if she is, you saw it here first! If she isn't, of course, then I'm really sorry Ana. Maybe a different outfit would be better?

I enjoyed the show alot; there were no flash gimmicks in the form of graphics or sets or dancers, which gave it more of a rock concert feel than pop. One of the highlights for me came when Jake gave mention to Mike Jones; the rentboy who recently outed an anti-gay Pastor, Ted Haggart, head of the evangelical movement.

He then dedicated "Everybody Wants The Same Thing" to the preacher;

"Just remember life's in love with you but let's suppose
That God ain't gonna drop you no hundred dollar bill
You've got to question your intentions
'Cause the bad ones kill"


Checkout some great photos here by Kevin Tachman