Sunday, 27 March 2011

On faking identity

Last night my girlfriend, Vicky, had plans to go out to a gig. Some Austrian magazine's birthday party shindig featuring a bunch of DJs and bands in one location. It didn't appeal to me and I certainly didn't want to shell out the €15 for a ticket to see a bunch of shit bands and disc spinners. If I did go I would simply have to drink lots of booze, which would mean more needless expense. Vicky insisted I go though and when she offered to pay my entrance fee I figured what the hell and tagged along, quickly downing a couple of drinks as we left to get me in the mood.

Our plan was to meet a couple of friends of hers, all with pre-bought tickets, and then hope I could pick one up outside the venue.

During the journey, I managed to destroy the zip on my fly meaning I would face the night with a gaping hole there. Classy. That put me in a bad mood before we'd even arrived but whilst Vicky was fruitlessly attempting to pin my flaps together in a public bathroom, her friend burst in with some good news. She'd been asking passers by if they had tickets to spare but had found a better, cheaper solution. One girl she asked knew a name on the guest list - one Erwin Uhrmann - so we decided I'd pretend to be him and Vicky would sell her own ticket and come along as my guest. It didn't matter that none of us had any idea who he really was.

I was a little apprehensive as it was clearly not an English name and my German skills were far from good enough to successfully imitate a native speaker. especially not when a little tipsy, so we agreed Vicky would accompany me to the guestlist booth and do the talking whilst I stood with her and tried to avoid having to talk.

So from my point of view as an ignorant English bystander here's what happened: We go over and Vicky explains in German that we're the two people arriving under Erwin Uhrmann's name. The girl in the booth (whom it turns out is a friend of a friend of Vicky's) gets a little excited and replies, then looks up at me, saying something else in German. Vicky nudges me, smiles and gives me a less than subtle head nod which I understand I should imitate. I simply nod and say, "Ja." The girl say something else I don't catch. I elaborate with an "OK" on top of my "Ja". We get our wristbands and we walk away, the girl all the time gazing at me with some kind of adoration.

I then asked Vicky what just happened: When Vicky had initially mentioned 'my' name the girl had exclaimed, "You know Erwin Uhrmann?!" to which Vicky had casually replied, "Sure, I'm his guest tonight," and gestured toward me. The girl had then mentioned something about all the great books I had written and gone into detail about how one was sitting on her bedside table right now. That was when my "OK, ja," came in. Clearly I am not impressed by her admiration.

A little later, the friends we'd arrived with had gone over to their friend, ticket booth girl, and she had exclaimed to them how impressed she was that Vicky knew one of her heroes.

She also called a friend and said, "I just saw Vicky with Erwin Uhrmann! Did she break up with the English guy?!"

Of course we Googled this chap when we got home and bizarrely it turns out he was born in the same year as me, and also sports a scruffy beard and generic man hair. We also wear the same glasses.

I should apologise now. Erwin, if you're reading this for some reason, I probably didn't do you any favours in the personality department but thanks for lending me your identity - you have at least one avid fan out there. Next time I pretend to be you I assure you I'll be more charming. And I'll fasten my pants.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

On the most uncomfortable hour of my life

I'm writing this up a couple of years after the event, having happened across an outline of the event in an old email to a friend. I figured it deserved a place here.

Some background info - for the latter half of 2007 I spent six months or so in excruciating pain - I had a slipped disc in my lower back, and due it not being diagnosed early enough it was eventually accompanied by a twisted nerve, leaving me with the physical dexterity of a 90-year-old, and a whiny one at that, until February the following year when they operated on me and fixed me.

During these months I tried a multitude of useless painkillers, as well as a brief course of physiotherapy, provided by the NHS. This is the tale of my first physio experience...

It was a hot and humid August morning and a rare one in that I'd woken with the pain at a barely noticeable level - typical that this should happen on a day when I was due at hospital rather than one I could take advantage of by going for a jog or something (I have never been for a jog in my life, but that's beside the point). It was as if my pain was a sentient being that fucking hated me.

I figured I'd look like a chump if I went for physiotherapy and didn't actually have any pain for them to work on, so I decided to walk to the place, hoping I'd get a twinge at least. But in true Bramish fashion I took it a bit too easy, and got a bit lost to boot, and thus had to rush to make my appointment.

I eventually got to the hospital and announced my arrival to the receptionist, and then had to sit in an unfeasibly hot waiting room. I'm pretty sure one of the other patients was a tropical lizard of some description, although it may just have been an scaly old lady. Within five minutes, the heat, combined with the effort of rushing to get there, and the fact that I fear waiting rooms in general, had given me a big-time all over body sweat. I had no time at all to acclimatise before I was called in to meet my physio, who transpired to be a ludicrously attractive young student. She ushered me into her torture chamber and began questioning me. I'm sweating like a swine and my general nervousness in hospitals isn't helping. Then she invites me to change into my gym clothes. Gym clothes?! Nobody mentioned this to me! Horror of horrors I'm asked to just undress to my pants like a forgetful schoolboy in PE class and I'm left standing there in all my sweaty, flabby glory in nought but pants and brown socks. BROWN SOCKS!

The next step in my horrific trial was to lie down on one of those tissue covered benches as she prodded and massaged me. As I imagine the horror she must be experiencing with each touch of my slimy body, I sweat more, and pretty soon the tissue is disintegrating in parts. I have to turn over, bits of paper sticking to me, the sweat and embarrassment rising until finally my ordeal is over.

But no, she makes me sit, dripping and semi-naked as she explains the exercises I should then do at home. And to top it off, when dressed I had to sit in the waiting room again to make another appointment. I couldn't even make a quick getaway as the session had brought the pain back to its usual levels, so I had to hobble out pathetically, and I think I may have even shed a single solitary tear, although that may have just been my eyeball perspiring.