Tag Archives: Misha Collins

A random act of kindness

Something amazing happened to me last week.

For those who don’t know, I’m currently totally housebound as I await an operation on my spine. I haven’t left my flat in almost three weeks (and I’m going quietly insane, by the way!). I’ve had to give up office work entirely, of course, and while I can work a little at my desk, things look bleak for the future unless I get this operation quickly. It’s very depressing.

The other depressing thing is the pain. I have sciatica, which is one of those illnesses that is so common that everybody knows somebody who has it, although many people don’t quite know what it is. To put it simply: a disc in my lower back has begun to bulge, and that bulge is pressing on the top of the big sciatic nerve that runs down my left leg. This means that I get a horrible, stabbing pain in the back of my thigh when I do wild and crazy things such as standing, walking or sitting – sometimes it even hurts when I lie down. If I don’t stop what I’m doing instantly, the pain becomes a horrible, crampy feeling in the back of my calf, and then my whole leg goes dead and I get pins and needles. Sometimes the pain is so bad that I wake up screaming at night when my drugs wear off, and no, I’m not exaggerating that. I know I’m a journalist and we like to exaggerate, but that’s the truth. I scream in my sleep. It’s a good thing I sleep alone…

In short, it’s absolutely horrible and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

This also happened to me in 2007, when I was housebound for three months while I waited for surgery (which did take the pain away, up until it started again last February). The thing is, back then it only hurt when I stood, so I could sit down and feel absolutely normal. Three months on the sofa watching TV wasn’t really that bad in comparison to this. Right now, I can’t sit on the sofa. It hurts. It hurts when I do anything, really, except lie down or sit at my desk (some days I can’t even do that).

Two months ago, I built a bed in my lounge so that I could watch TV lying down. I haven’t sat on my sofa since June: it hurts too much. This is how I spend 90% of my waking day now – on this collection of quilt and pillows that my friend Paul calls my “dog bed”:


Frankly, I’m sick of this dog bed. It’s less painful than the sofa and it’s better than sitting on the floor, but really, I’m a 41-year-old woman and I’m reduced to curling up on the floor to watch TV because I can’t do anything else. Pathetic, eh? The longer I use it, the more miserable it makes me. Nothing reminds you that you’re ill more than the fact that you have to lie on the floor to watch TV because sitting up is agonising. Bah.

Then a few weeks ago, my friend Olympia emailed me out of the blue. “If you could afford it, which of these chairs would you have if you could?” she said, and sent me a list of links to websites. It was a bit random, but I had a look out of curiosity, and didn’t see one I liked. I sent her this photo instead, of my dream chair:


Frasier’s Eames chair has always looked wonderful to me. Isn’t it pretty? So comfortable-looking, yet so stylish, even with a Jack Russell sitting on it. Way out of my price range, of course, but a girl can dream.

Last week I suddenly received an email from a furniture company telling me that Olympia had just purchased a reproduction Eames chair for me.

I’m sure you can imagine, I was freaked out. No way should anybody spend that amount of money on me! I was horrified! But when I started emailing her and my other friends in shock, I found out this:

The chair was a gift from Random Acts, a charity set up by Supernatural actor Misha Collins to do good deeds around the world. I’ve interviewed Misha a few times – once about Random Acts itself – so of course I knew about it, but it never occurred to me for an instant that I would qualify for a gift from them. It turned out that Olympia had applied for money, citing my need for a decent chair to help with my poorly back, and they’d paid for the chair. Then Olympia and my other friends Biddy, Vanesha and Tracy had all chipped in for any other costs.

It’s my birthday on 1 October. Happy birthday to me!


Incidentally, when it arrived my neighbour brought her brother round to build it for me – a man I’d never met before in my life. He built it while she got rid of all the packaging and even vacuumed my lounge afterwards. I just sat there on my dog bed and kept saying, “Thank you.” It was humbling, to say the least.

Once built, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to use the chair, as my back is so very (annoyingly) fussy these days. But I can sit without pain for about half an hour before I have to retreat to my dog bed, and then I can sit on the chair again once I’ve rested. It’s also perfect for sitting on when I use my laptop (because I rest the computer on the ottoman and lean over it, thus opening up my vertebrae and reducing the pressure on my disc). And I can eat meals off the ottoman, too, because that also means I lean over and it doesn’t hurt!

In short, the chair has reduced my dog-bed time each day by about 80%. I can’t stress how wonderful this is! And once I’ve had my surgery and I’m hopefully fixed up, it will be comfortable enough not to aggravate my back again, something my sofas have always done. This is a chair for life. It will go with me everywhere. I love everything about it: the fact it’s so smart, the fact it’s synthetic leather (I’m a vegetarian, so that’s perfect for my guilt levels), the fact it has given me more movement when I sit down because it swivels – again, good for my back – and the fact it’s just so goddamn gorgeous!

But most of all, I love it because my friends thought of buying it for me, and Random Acts made that possible. What an amazing thing that charity is; I’m always amazed at the things they do (such as building an orphanage in Haiti – far more important than buying someone a new chair!). The sheer kindness of some people is breathtaking. When I’m healed, I will most definitely find a random act of kindness to perform myself so that I can pay this forward. That’s what life’s about, really: looking out for people who are going through tough times. Hopefully mine won’t last much longer; I have a surgical consultation on Tuesday – my birthday! – so I could have surgery soon. Until then, and afterwards, I have something to make the pain go away. It’s only a chair, but it now means the world to me, and I won’t ever take it for granted.

I’ve called it Frasier, by the way. I’m resisting the urge to buy a little dog so it can sit on the ottoman and stare at me.



Filed under Uncategorized

In which Calvin gets what he wants

I just looked out of the window and saw it was snowing. Five minutes and lots of happy dancing, squealing and jigging about later, I looked again and it had stopped.


I feel like Calvin this week:

I always seem to blog these days to whinge about how busy I am (well, not whinge, considering how I’m self-employed and it’s a good thing to be busy). This month has been INSANE, however. I’m not sure I’ve made a lot of money doing it all, but I’ve certainly been rushed off my feet, so much so that when I get a rare day off I just stare blankly into space and can’t quite decide what to do. I’m looking forward to Christmas now: I finish my sub-editing stint on DVD & Blu-ray Review on the 23rd, and then I seem to have about eight days off. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I WILL DO WITH ALL THAT FREE TIME! Except possibly collapse.

My Christmas Day is shaping up to contain three things: a viewing of Aliens, which I haven’t seen in a decade because I banned myself from watching it yet again in case I ruined it (30 times has to be enough, surely?); a viewing of the Region 1 extended version of Watchmen (not very Christmassy, I know, but nice and long) and a viewing of Doctor Who, which is now as much a part of Christmas as mince pies and roast potatoes (neither of which I’m having, seeing as my festive meal will most probably be pizza). All in all, sounds like a good day! If only it would snow, though… I’d go for a walk up to Richmond Park and look at the deer if it did. Sigh.

I’m always hyper-paranoid about talking about what I’ve done workwise because I never know what things I’m allowed to talk about what things I’m not; I work for all sorts of magazines who don’t want their subject matter discussed till they hit the shelves. I will say that in the last few weeks I’ve interviewed two actors (three, once I’ve got another phone interview out of the way tonight), three film producers, one writer/director and a screenwriter. Best of the lot was Supernatural‘s Misha Collins (check out SFX in a month or so!), although our chat took place in a very large, very cold room and neither of us could believe how chilly it was. Definitely the coldest interview I’ve ever done – and he said it was his, too, so at least it was memorable in some way, I suppose!

Last month I also found myself freezing on the red carpet at the film premiere of A Christmas Carol in Leicester Square, this time under a barrage of fake snow (fake! Ha!) while my cameraman colleague filmed me interviewing Colin Firth, getting a lovely grin from Jim Carrey and having lots of amusing chats with a handful of other celebrities I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t really know (singer Taio Cruz – who was a lovely chap – and several Britain’s Got Talent or X-Factor types). Peter Andre had very warm hands, too.

Best of all, I got to hear Andrea Bocelli sing ‘Silent Night’ a few feet away from me. What a voice that man has. I’ve now heard Bocelli, Pavarotti, Carreras and Domingo singing live and I count myself very blessed, but Bocelli was possibly the highlight. Wonderful!

Here, have some pics (a little blurry):

And here’s one of the Pussycat Dolls, apparently, wearing a dress so small she must have been an icicle by the time she got in to see the film…

(I also have no idea why this picture is so big, but there you go.)

Oh, wow, I just looked out of the window again, and it’s SNOWING.


And with that, may I wish you all a Merry Christmas?


Filed under Uncategorized

A Striped Red Tomato

This week has been the most horrendous mixture of work, stress, more work and more stress, culiminating in a really thoroughly miserable Friday (barring the two interviews I did – one with James Purefoy, who amused me greatly – and a screening of Where The Wild Things Are, which delighted me greatly).

But then THIS HAPPENED, and the universe is forgiven:

I’ve been obsessed with the Starsky & Hutch Gran Torino since I had a toy version of it as a four year old. I have models all over my house. I own a Starsky cardigan and a pair of his SL76 Adidas shoes. I love Starsky & Hutch madly and finally getting to meet the car was a (slightly weird) dream come true.

I even resisted the urge to throw myself over the bonnet. Go me!

After this picture was taken I bought a very large cuddly toy Totoro, watched Supernatural‘s Misha Collins and Julie McNiven give a bloody hilarious talk and was chased around by two men dressed as the Xenomorph from the Alien movies.

It was a very weird day.


Filed under Uncategorized