‘Show us your legs’, the umpire said, sotto voce, as we changed ends. I was, to be fair, rather confused by this statement, and wondered whether the waltz I had conducted in order to avoid a collision at the changeover two over previously had confused the poor fellow. At the end of the game, one in which his team had finished a distant second, and we’re all lined up and shaking hands, he shapes to kick me in the leg – though obviously with no intention of actually doing so. If I’d been confused before … I ambled after him.
‘What’s with the leg thing?’ I asked, perhaps a little aggressively.
‘Nothing.’ He lied, a little embarrassed.
‘No, really, what’s with the leg thing?’
Realising that he wasn’t going to escape, he stumbled into his explanation. I was 98% ears. I’m a little hazy as to the exact words and order thereof, but the spirit of it went something like this:
‘Er, you have a false leg, right?’
‘No. What makes you think that?’
‘The way you walk. I figured services, war hero, prosthetic limbs. Everyone I know who walks like you has them.’
‘Oh.’ I said. ‘Parkinson’s, and I’m an editor and writer. Sorry to disappoint.’
The conversation then followed the usual pattern.
It’s an odd thing, this Parkiness. You’d think it would have some sort of consistent hold over the body it ravages, but no. Like Cleopatra (bear with me), it makes hungry where most it satisfies. Kinda. I played against the V&A for the Cricketers’ Club of London a few weeks back, and the match report included the following:
They also fielded three men in their seventies and one, Pete Langman, who suffers from Parkinsons. This truly admirable bloke wicketkept with aplomb and ran faster than I do unhandicapped. Long may he continue to grace the game. I commend his beautiful book THE COUNTRY HOUSE CRICKETER [ISBN 978-0-9575662-4-8], sold in aid of research into this miserable disease from which Nick Jenkins also suffers.
The report kindly left out my six-ball duck (I walked, for which I was commended at the time. Ironic), but the ability to run surprises many. Even my mother commented on it at a game I played in Sutton. It’s a similar story when I shuffle my way to a set of steps, on which I suddenly look like a normal chap. Well, normal within the bounds of me-ness.
The people it most surprises, however, are those who take the piss out me, shuffling past, laughing, sometimes even pointing. You’d think people would know better, but tanked-up youngsters rarely possess anything approaching compassion, and I’m a safe bet, going by my walk. Imagine their surprise at seeing me sprint towards them. Naturally they deny any malice but do so guiltily – I’d be affronted were I to be accused of such a thing.
The difference between walking and running in Parkies has yet to be explained satisfactorily, though similar phenomena exist, as seen in an old post on playing the guitar.
As for he who wanted to see my titanium (and let’s face it, even if he had been right, his mode of introduction lacked, well, grace), he was out for, I believe, a duck.