In memory of Damian Cox

Damian with a pie butty
Only in Manchester can you get a pie butty, held by the late Damian Cox.

Damian Cox was more than a character, he was an incredible outspoken figure and a joy to be around. It was a shock to hear the news that he had died suddenly.

The funeral is this week and unfortunately I’m in Maderia Portugal for ICIDS 2017 and can’t be there. Death is always shocking and scary but having been so close myself I tend to have a slightly different view on death and want to celebrate life more than ever.

Because of this I wanted to share a few of the reasons why Damian was just such an amazing person.

When I first moved up to BBC Manchester on Oxford Road I met quite a few people and I did some publicity work for the BBC as they wanted to recruit more locally. Now I don’t know for sure, but Damian claims he joined after seeing my mug shot somewhere. He use to call me the pin-up boy, which use to make me laugh, even many years later.

I clearly remember him showing me some of the northern delights like the pie butty which without realising made it to the top of the only in manchester list in buzz feed.

At BarCampMediaCity, I clearly remember Cristiano coming to me and someone else on the Saturday evening and saying, we need to talk to security because someone is clearly drunk; he was joking, laughing, touchy and being loud about everything.
I asked who (wondering) and Cristiano didn’t know his name but described him having a flat cap, northern accent and cheeky smile. Within a single heart beat, I remember saying with someone else; is it Damian Cox? Christiano looked puzzled.
Thats just Damian, he’s always like that… we laughed.

Damian was fun, full of spirit and a joy to be around. He told it exactly how it was, wouldn’t hold back and wouldn’t be without his flatcap. Even during the heat of of Hacked.io in the O2, he stood out due to that bloody flatcap!

Hacked 2013

He will be so missed by not just by his family, friends and colleagues; but BBC North and Manchester. He embodied the reason why the BBC moved to Manchester.

Rest in Peace Damian Cox

A real, honest sincere thank you Manchester

I wrote about the Manchester Arena bombing on Monday night and how I personally been dealing with things. Of course I wasn’t directly affected and I guess its not hit me as hard partly because although it wasn’t far away, I’ve tried not to keep looking at the news and social media. Well actually I’m limiting my sources and general browsing.

Everyone deals with tragic circumstances differently and its important to seek out what helps and be open to it.

This is why I love Dan Hett’s piece in the MEN about the last 48hrs after trying to find out what happened to his brother. I call it real, honest and fitting.

I know a lot of people want some level of privacy during this type of thing but I think the manner in which Martyn lived, he was such a known figure, it’s quite fitting to who he was.

I hate going into clichés but Martyn just had this completely unstoppable lust for life, it was unbelievable. He was the most memorable character you could conceive of. Annoying as f*** all day but just the most memorable guy.

Rest in peace to everyone who died on Monday night, young, old, no matter what religion, ethnic background, sex or sexual preference. Everyone deserves to live life because life is so finite. Tragic attacks like this is a reminder of this and reminder to each one of us all.

5 years ago, I was discharged from hospital

Ah the end is just the beginning

GREAT NEWS!   Ian was discharged from the hospital this afternoon!  He is going to Bristol for a while to recouperate with his family and asks that people leave off contacting him directly for a bit as he’s got a month’s worth of email/messages to get through already and his phone is playing up at the moment.  He hopes to be back to his usual online presence soon, but for now just wants to relax and enjoy being ‘on the outside’.  As always, thanks for all your messages and kind words, and you are welcome to continue leaving messages in the guestbook here.

Ian and his mum have made a formal complaint to the hospital today, and Ian wrote the following about his experience last night around 10pm:

Yes 5 years ago I was discharged from Salford Hope hospital. It was quite a ordeal the last part of my recover in the hospital. I would say this is where things went wrong, as you can read in my complaint.

The first thing I did when I left?

My mortgage adviser (Billie) came to my flat with the papers to sign. She was amazing and honestly without her persistence, I most likely would have lost my great apartment at Islington Wharf.

Then I slept and disappeared down to my parents place for a week!

Of course my thank you  and thank you 2 posts capture my state/thoughts of amazement living through something most don’t. No need to do a bad version of timehop anymore.

I’ll be celebrating with friends and family this weekend… Thank you everybody! These two tweets really got me…

Oh and I had a totally surprise to see my my email I sent (I forgot many things around that time) to the UK Wired after seeing their top 100 UK people earlier in the year.

5 years ago, The best Hello world message

While on the mend, I finally wrote my first blog to the world via dictation to my family. I remember saying the words with tears in my eyes. Of course it had to be Hello World, as there was nothing more fitting. The joke about hospital food was my injection of humour, although I have to say the hospital kitchen/restaurant really looked after me while I was there. I was given quite plain food but they kept checking about my allergies all the time. Actually far more than the doctors (as you will see in the next week)

It was great being able to talk again although I still have the trach scar, which will never go away now. I couldn’t explain how much the cards and comments meant to me and my family. I was kind of overwhelmed to know I had touched so many peoples lives and they in turned felt it was worth reaching back.

I was looking forward to moving out of ICU because this about the time when I started really getting better really fast. It was like my body was just repairing its self at a rate the hospital had never seen before. Amazing when you consider the life expectancy of people who have bleed on the brain

If subarachnoid hemorrhage from aneurysm, about 50% die within the first few days in hospital. If intracranial bleed, with/without stroke, the death rate within year one approaches 60%. Figures have remained constant for years.

I am one of the very few lucky ones and believe me don’t I know it, and there is no way I will forget it


 

[Message below was dictated by Ian this evening, no internet connection in hospital]

Ian says:

‘Hello world!  Thank you very much for taking the time to find out how I am doing.  I am doing okay.  I am still in hospital, but making a positive recovery.  Thank you to everybody who has written to me and my family and thanks for writing such amazing things.

The trach tube is out and I can speak again.  The feeding tube is also out.  I had solid food for the first time yesterday–it was horrible!  Of course it was hospital food.

Thank you for all the messages to my family.  I’m on the way to recovery.’

[Ian is due to be moved out of ICU and on to the ward as soon as a bed becomes available.]


Ian is continuing to do well and they are hoping to move him out of ICU and on to the ward soon (possibly this weekend).  He was a bit tired today and slept more, but he did spend most of yesterday out of bed and sitting up.

Ian’s flatmate Tim brought his laptop in for him, but there is not a wireless connection to use so Ian will not be online yet.

Unfortunately Ian missed some visitors today because he was sleeping.  For anyone else who is visiting, please be aware you might not get to see him if he is tired, but we do appreciate you coming to visit!

They hope to put some sort of valve into the trach tube that will make it possible for Ian to speak, but I am not sure when they’ll do this.


At the moment Ian is still in the ICU.  They had thought they were going to move him to the H.D. unit, but there wasn’t a bed available, so for now the plan is for him to stay in ICU until he is ready to move to the ward.

Ian is ready to have visitors now, but in ICU this is limited to two people at a time.  If you want to come visit, please leave a message in the guestbook letting us know what day and time you plan to come (and please leave a contact number in case we need to reach you).  Visiting hours are from 1pm-9pm daily.  They are quite strict about what can be brought into the ICU due to infection control.

Ian still cannot talk due to the trach tube so it can be difficult to communicate with him.  He is finding it frustrating, but appreciates visitors coming as he is getting bored.

People who are afraid of death are scared of life

Hector and the Search for Happiness

Disillusioned with the tedium of his existence, psychiatrist Hector (Simon Pegg) confesses to his girlfriend (Rosamund Pike) that he feels he is a fraud for dispensing recommendations to patients who never seem to improve or get any happier. He considers breaking out of his lackluster routine. Summoning up some courage, Hector gives his starved curiosity free rein and embarks on an international quest to find the right formula to bring him joy and vitality

Like About time, this film has a really good film with a core message.

People who are afraid of death are scared of life

With that message in mind, I’ll be experiencing the joys of Japan and hopefully avoiding death.

How do you say I’m allergic to… in Japanese?

A Sushi Bar in Wakayama, Japan [October 2010]

Chris broke to the news to me about a girl who died eating at Almost Famous while we were eating in TGI Fridays (yes I know I said I wouldn’t go back after dronegate which end with somebody hit in the head but it was one of our regular Friday drinks). I was wondering why TGI Fridays was taking my nut allergy extremely seriously, alot more than last time, Chris then broke the news about the death.

The 18-year-old collapsed on Withy Grove in Manchester city centre on Friday night shortly after eating at the restaurant’s site in the Great Northern Warehouse

Police have launched an investigation after a teenager died from a suspected allergic reaction following a meal at the well-known burger bar Almost Famous.

The 18-year-old woman collapsed on Withy Grove in Manchester city centre on Friday night shortly after eating at the restaurant’s site in the Great Northern Warehouse, on Peter Street, off Deansgate.

Police were called to the scene and the teenager was taken to hospital but she died on Monday.

Its tragic, I have eaten there a few times and although I don’t know what she was allergic to, it certainly focuses my mind around my trip to Tokyo. When I say I am scared of dying, I certainly was not joking!

The inquest was told that she had begun to feel unwell near the Printworks, on Withy Grove, shortly after.

When it became apparent she may have eaten something she was allergic to, she used her inhaler and her epi-pen, which gives a shot of adrenaline to treat severe allergic reactions.

But they had no effect and she collapsed after suffering a cardiac arrest.

An ambulance was called shortly after 8pm and she was taken to the A&E at Manchester Royal Infirmary before being transferred to the intensive care unit. She died on Monday.

The Home Office post mortem revealed the provisional cause of death was hypoxic encephalopathy – damage caused to the brain by oxygen starvation – due to anaphylaxis – a severe allergic reaction.

The amount of fish and seafood the Japanese eat and consume is no joking matter for somebody allergic to themt. Although I’m a fan of the new EU rules which have come into effect this is a timely reminder its not perfect and of course I won’t be in the EU.

I found some cards which someone has nicely put online.

japanese shellfish allergy

japanese nut allergy card

I still need to find the same for Beans and Peas but theres a lot of useful tips and people trying to solve the same problem.

You shouldn’t have much of a problem in Japan, as long as you can communicate your allergies and you know how the substances you are allergic to are written. Food allergy awareness is about on par with the U.S.

Oh and the answer to the question I asked is…

The word for allergy in Japan is アレルギー – pronouced a-RE-ru-gee, a loan word that’s pretty close to ‘allergy’ if you say it out loud. (It was taken from German (Allergie), as were many medical terms.)

Common regrets before dying

Regret

Lisa added this to her Facebook wall and got me thinking and writing.

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

Absolutely. Its really hard to express in words how this feels being so close to death myself. I want to die living my dreams and doing exactly what I feel is right not what others expect. This fits well with my post about being yourself.

Its also why I beat myself up about following what certain people said around me. Learned a precious lesson about following my own path and ignoring others. I’ll have the courage to make my own path through life.

I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

Yes this is going to be the big one for me and many others around me. I’m very lucky my job is also my joy. Its what makes waking up and getting out of bed a little easier. But I imagine this is going to be a difficult relationship to have when I have a partner and kids. My parents worked really hard to bring the best of the world to me and my sister. So I always feel like I should be working harder. Its a slight amount of guilt that I’m not working as hard as they have done.

However I do believe in working smarter not harder. To work smarter I need to find a path which suits me not one presubscribed by someone else. We are all so different and the idea this worked for people previously isn’t a good enough reason to keep going.

I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

Yes I was in a restaurant with a couple of friends recently and one was telling the other how he felt. I felt this was fantastic and we should do this more. As men, were brought up not to express our feelings and this is frankly crap. Ok I’m not saying we should go around crying on each other but there’s nothing wrong with saying this is how I feel about this or that. Anyone who turns against you is frankly heartless and has the real problem.

As I was saying to Jody the other day… Haters always going to hate but ultimately they hate themselves. It takes courage to stand up and express your own feelings. Specially in the face of such hatred but you owe it to yourself to pick and choose your battles. When the time comes, let them have it!

Expressing feelings will be hard for others to take, specially as its seen as a female thing to do. Which is total nonsense. But hopefully through you doing so, others will see it as a positive thing.

I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

“Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”

Yes I try my best to keep in touch with old friends and to be fair have been good at doing this to a degree all my life. I try to stay in touch even if I’ve not heard from them in many years. And for goodness sake its so much easier nowadays. The likes of Facebook really helps you to connect.

I was talking to some friends recently and they were expressing there distance between them and other friends. They didn’t want to do the chasing all the time as they may seem like they were bugging them. I asked them who cares? So you insert yourself in someone elses life, whats wrong with that? Of course if they really don’t like it, they will tell you to get lost but if inserting yourself is always a positive thing, do it!

The longer you leave it, the harder it gets. Just don’t get caught up with the fear of rejection.

I wish that I had let myself be happier.

“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”

Happiness is a choice and you need to work towards it.

I personally have made decisions recently to work towards it in different aspects of my life. I understand everyones happiness is different but what ever it is, you need to move towards it. This is self evident in my decision to go to Tokyo before 2016. Something which wasn’t very clear was I wanted to visit the city not really experience Japan as such. This might seem short sighted but frankly what will make me happy is visiting the city not the country.

I love cities and they make me happy, small towns and further a field are nice to visit once in a while but ultimately its visiting the metropolis of Tokyo which is going to make me feel most alive. I could pretend that “oh yes, the country side… the temples… etc” but it would be a lie. I’m kind of beyond lying to others. Kinda of done playing that boring game…

Is death the only way to change perspective?

Recently I’ve been pretty busy and again explain who am I and what makes me tick to new people. A part of the story is my brush with death which people still can’t believe when I tell them.

There is nothing like a life and death thing to bring your life into pin sharp perception.

2 things I saw which are related…

The story of Jonathan Schwartz on Triangulation and Derren Brown’s Apocalypse.

That change of perceptive I can certainly relate to… Just wondering if there is a way to shake people without the actual life and death part?

Steve Jobs… what more can I say?

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates

I’ve said nothing about recently Steve Jobs, his death was very sad just like anyone who dies earlier than there potential age. His cancer wasn’t just life threatening it was a killer.

Saying all that, however I do have serious problems with his late view point on the world and I have a lot of agreements.

He was a smart guy and what he did for Apple and the industry speaks for its self but…. there’s some things which I can’t help but remember…

“I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong,” Jobs said.

“I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

What on earth…? Who says this kind of thing and really mean it? Frankly I would suggest rightly or wrongly, a psychopath? This psychopathic nature is something most people ignore or overlook. I can’t, I mean can you imagine Bill Gates saying the same about Linux, with such venom? (I’m assuming not, but I’m sure someone will prove me wrong).

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Yes this is quite spooky but I’ll be honest and say death will do that kind of thing to you.

When I was lying in bed after my brush with death last year, I thought damn hard about my life and made quite a few decisions.

It sounds like Jobs had a similar thing but I can’t understand why he would hold on to his fear about Android?

As Yoda says

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

It pains/saddens me that he went to his death bed worrying about the challenge of Android. Letting go is essential and not doing so, just seems like a very sad thing.

He seemed to have forgotten his own words…

all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

I never want to go to my death bed thinking how I wanted to right the wrong of Apple. Its ludicrous… Yes I’m not a fan but you know what I’m not a fan of a lot of things including crappy fluff filled TV. I would never want to go to my death bed thinking must see a end of Xfactor or something.

Sure some of you are saying, yes but you almost went to your death bed hating Apple? Well not really, even in previous blog posts I’ve expressed happy feelings for Apple. The question should be, if I could stop Apple with all the money I owned, would I do it? Answer is a absolutely NO!

The plan was to buy the Steve Jobs book which was released but frankly I won’t really read it (plus the media has pretty much uncovered most of the book for us all) and as I said before, its very tragic but I’m personally not going to dwell.

He was a genius but also made other peoples lives hell and frankly if he was doing this still after learning about his cancer, he has certainly gone down in my estimations.

Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.

I know he strived for perfection but at what cost? The misery of others around him, was it really worth it in the end? Remember the way he treated his child? Once again was it really worth it in the end?

Life is such a precious thing and so many people never face the reality of how precious life really is…

I will remember Steve Jobs as a super smart man who was driven, who even on his death bed loved what he did, and did everything he could to building his own personal dream. I’m still convinced he was nuts to fight the opening up of the world and the more human engagement everyone is finally adopting…

RIP Steve Jobs

Thoughts on the bombings in Lebanon

I found this on Ben's blog today and needed to post up this video which really outlines so well who's really paying to price for this pointless and meaningless conflict. Someone once said, Everything is lost in war, nothing is gained. And yes its easy for me to say this from my house in South East London but you know what, like Ben I'm really getting a nasty taste of whats done in the name of a religion.

I have to admit I generally dislike the concept of any and all religions its always been the number one cause for segregation and conflict in, and is used ultimately as a control/influence mechanism for society.

I'll leave it be for now, and maybe expand on this subject a lot more in the near future.

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