What Parkinson’s has taught me about C-19

Twelve year ago, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. I was forty years old. It was something of a shock to the system. Over the years I have become increasingly aware of what such a diagnosis does to you. Not what the disease itself does (though I have also become increasingly, and uncomfortably, aware of this. That’s what the words progressive, degenerative and incurable mean), but what the act of diagnosis actually means to the diagnosed. I don’t for a minute think that what I am about to describe is unique to Parkinson’s, though I suspect it may, in many ways, be something that is largely confined to chronic ailments such as Parkinson’s. Continue reading

Who Breathes, Wins

C-19. It sounds like a far-right paramilitary group dedicated to expelling foreigners and purifying the race. The kind of people for whom the leap from deporting illegal aliens to euthanazing the disabled is more of a Sunday afternoon stroll. But Covid-19 is already forcing members of the medical profession in Italy to choose who lives and who dies – or, at least, who is given the greater chance of living. Continue reading

An Apple a Day

Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, and especially since it began to make its mark as the shelves of nation after nation were cleared of toilet paper, there has been one constant: the internet has been a greater spread of dangerous misinformation than any other source. One wonders how the virus managed to achieve such mastery of social media in such a short time. But it doesn’t have to be this way. The internet, or more specifically the global network of gps satellites and mobile phones, can do something extremely positive. Continue reading

Close, but no e-cigar

It’s 5.04 am and I’ve been failing to sleep for some time now. I’ve actually been considering how I have managed to reach the grand age of 52 and a half without much in the way of success at all. This is not what has been keeping me awake so much as keeping me company in my insomnia. It seems that if there is one area in my life in which I may legitimately call myself successful it is in failing. I am remarkably consistent in getting so far but no further. There are no laurels of victory for me, no spoils, just the nagging feeling that I have made under-achieving into something of an art form. I write this not out of self-pity or in a plea for sympathy, but more in the sense that perhaps, just perhaps, under-reaching is the default human condition. Continue reading

Sybarus in context

This is an edited extract from the prose work that will accompany the release of Dancing with Architects … It concerns ambition, intention and luck. Hopefully it will make some sense as it stands.

The opening to I, Sybarite is how every musician and artist wants their career to begin: to simply explode in the consciousness of the audience. No warning given, no real preparation possible. To just suddenly be. It’s a great contrast from the album’s opening track, Praxis. I’m guessing my rationale for putting Sybarite as track two was to confuse those who knew me and expected me to hit the ground at a full gallop and surprise those who didn’t know me from Adam. Continue reading

Crisis? What crisis?

This is piece I wrote just before my (ouch) 50th birthday. I just bumped into it again and thought it was worth a read.

‘When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I reasoned as a child. But when I became a man, I put aside childish things,’ so wrote St Paul in an email to the Corinthians. In a little-known coda, he carried on: ‘and when I reached middle age, I said to myself, what the hell were you thinking? And that’s when I reformed The Apostles.’ Continue reading

I wandered lonely as a crowd

There is a school of thought that suggests that, when in a crowd, we make better decisions than if we think as individuals. It’s an extension of Rousseau’s general will. It received its most recent iteration in 2004, with the publication of James Surowiecki’s book The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations, and is generally considered to derive from Galton’s observation that a crowd at a country fair guessed (on average) the weight of a bullock more accurately than most of the individual members. It’s an interesting concept, and naturally, it’s flawed. Its flaw is simple: no crowd ever makes a truly collective decision. Crowds are always susceptible to the loudest voice. And those with the loudest voices are often those with the least to say. Crowds simply want to be led. Continue reading

Me, myself and I(phone)

One of the classic tests regarding self-awareness was developed in the 1970s by an American psychologist, and involves observing whether the subject (an animal, naturally) possesses the ability to see itself in a mirror and know at whom it looks: self-awareness allows for self-recognition. Whether it truly measures what it purports to is another matter entirely, and it obviously wouldn’t work on vampires, but it has a certain logical aura. Of course, what is reflected is not necessarily what we would see were we able to look at ourselves, but then, who sees the world if not through a lens? Continue reading

Changing the world …

It’s an intriguing and at times nerve-wracking business being involved in a journalistic event such as the guardian’s disability diaries and the accompanying interview by Frances Ryan. One of the reasons for this is the fear of the comments section. It’s some irony that my contribution revolved around the articulation of how it feels to be fundamentally invisible in disability terms, and several comments seemed to have completely ignored both my presence and that of Craig: Continue reading

In memoriam

They say that one ought not speak ill of the dead, but with some people, it truly is an unnecessary proscription. If Simon had any faults, it was that he was too generous, too open-hearted, too damn agreeable. These are faults to which we all might aspire.

Simon was a living, breathing model of how life ought to be lived. Mortuary assistant, pig farmer, shoe cleaner, B&B proprietor, writer: his career path sounds almost mundane until you realise he established pig farms in Vietnam for a charity, ran Streetshine, a charity for the homeless and built his own tourist eco-lodge in Abene, Senegal. In between-times, he wrote two books, Squirting Milk at Chameleons and Chasing Hornbills, and numerous pieces on Africa. He wasn’t one to sit on his haunches. Apart from when sitting on one’s haunches was exactly the thing to do. It’s no surprise he ended up in Africa. Continue reading