Almost lost for words

So, the tweet read as follows:

We’re sorry to learn Bob Hoskins has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. We’ve been asked by newspapers/radio about what this diagnosis means: http://bit.ly/QM5nB3


As a PWP, or person with parkinsons, I send out, well, what, exactly? Commiserations? Best wishes? It’s a little like not knowing what to call myself – am I a sufferer of Parkinson’s? Am I a Parkinson’s patient? I developed Parkinson’s some years ago, and was diagnosed in early 2008, at the age of 40. I don’t know what to say to Bob Hoskins, diagnosed at the age of 69, because I’ve no idea who he is (other than as an actor, naturally). But I sort of know how he feels. I understand his call for privacy, too, though this clashes with the instinct of various organisations to adopt him as a de facto spokesman. It’s a function of celebrity that everyone wants to claim you. I’ll warrant that Hoskins isn’t considering an ambassadorial role.

It’s been quite a week for Parkinson’s in the news. Bob Hoskins, a French designer, and some bloke allegedly arrested for failing to enjoy himself:

Mark Worsfold, 54, a former soldier and martial arts instructor, was arrested on 28 July for a breach of the peace shortly before the cyclists arrived in Redhouse Park, Leatherhead, where he had sat down on a wall to watch the race. Officers from Surrey police restrained and handcuffed him and took him to Reigate police station, saying his behaviour had “caused concern”.
“The man was positioned close to a small group of protesters and based on his manner, his state of dress and his proximity to the course, officers made an arrest to prevent a possible breach of the peace,” Surrey police said in a statement.
Worsfold, whose experience was first reported by Private Eye, claims police questioned him about his demeanour and why he had not been seen to be visibly enjoying the event. Worsfold, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2010, suffers from muscle rigidity that affects his face. He was released after two hours without charge or caution.
“It could have been done better. I was arrested for not smiling. I have Parkinson’s,” he said, adding that he realised the officers were working long hours and trying to control the event properly, but they had not, in his case, acted correctly.

I’m particularly worried by the similarity between the police’s reasoning for the arrest and an old Not the Nine o’clock News sketch in which a policeman’s record of arresting a black individual was questioned.

What’s it all about? Perception. When does a person not warrant the respect we like to think we are all due? When they can be usefully placed into a box with a label. Then, it seems, it’s open season. By all means talk about Hoskins’ acting, but let him have the rest of his life. Accept that Worsford doesn’t smile, but don’t infer from that that he’s about to cause a breach of the peace.

I’m not really sure what this is about, but diseases such as Parkinson’s take a lot of coming to terms with. Good luck, Bob. That’s what I want to say. Good luck.

For more on living with Parkinson’s, you can read some of my other pieces, or look at Jon Stamford’s blog, or Colleen Henderson-Heywood, or Zalamanda

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