Parkinson’s is a strange condition, in some ways it’s best described as a ‘but more so’ disease. It’s like getting older, earlier, but more so. It’s like being stiff after vigorous exercise, but more so. It’s like being drunk, but more so … it’s like being alive, but more so. Don’t worry, I’m not about to take the path of ‘it’s the best thing that ever happened to me’ least resistance, as if praising it could make it better. It’s shit. Utter shit. But I can, and will, suggest that it amplifies life in certain strange ways, and the way in which it goes about its business can be instructive. It does micro/macro exceptionally well, because with Parkinson’s, little things can have wide-ranging consequences.
Parkinson’s is primarily a question of balance, because this is what it fucks up more than anything else. I mean this in the greater sense, the sense in which balance runs through every aspect of our lives. This is the balance that it fucks with.
Parkinson’s forces you to reassess every aspect of your life, to try to balance conflicting forces, conflicting urges, the sense of a life draining away with the need to live at the more extreme ends of experience. To balance the knowledge that only you can really know with the desire to tell people to shut the fuck up. To balance the present and the future, especially when it comes to medication. When the stuff that really works has a limited time window of efficacy, you need to judge it right.
Naturally, physically balancing the self is difficult when one side is getting weaker at a vastly accelerated rate. And this physical imbalance hits everywhere, often in unexpected ways.
Batting is all about balance. The balance between defence and attack, the balance between bottom and top hand, the balance between front and back foot, between power and technique. All of these make a huge difference. As does simply being physically well-balanced at the crease.
Recently, I’ve been very poor at the crease, recording a series of one-stroke innings, where sometimes I’ve felt as if I’ve not known which end of the bat to hold. I’ve tried a multitude of fixes, but nothing has quite felt right. On Friday, for the authors against Macquarie University, I resorted to beginning left-handed. I hit a nice leg glance for four and a couple of singles then switched to right-handed. Another nine runs before I was done by an excellent inswinging leg stump yorker. I fell over my feet as I missed it. Unbalanced.
On saturday, I started timidly, poorly. Then a revelation. It was my helmet. I’ve been suffering from neck problems recently, the stiffness Parkinson’s gives causing all manner of problems. I noticed that I was struggling to keep my eyes level as the bowler finished his delivery stride. My head fell away, unbalancing me. No wonder I felt so awful. Then I realised at Knole and Chiswick park (21no and 15), I batted lidless. I called for my cap. Ditched the lid.
The first shot I played with my cap on was beautiful. Elegant. Classical. I thrust my front foot to the pitch of the ball and drove the ball along the ground past mid off for four; perfectly balanced. I picked off the bad ball, clumping a excellent pull shot off their seamer, rolling my wrists to keep the ball down. Last cuts, delicate tickles, flashing uppercuts. 7 fours, 44 no in a partnership of over 100 with Steve Setters.
I was balanced again.
Naturally, the cricketing gods also crave balance. We have the opposition struggling when the heavens open.
And they forget to close.
since then, 29no, 9, 29no, 11, 26no – two low scores run out forcing the pace!