Cricket, charity, and stepping up to the plate

I’m not particularly comfortable with, or good at, asking people for money. Last year, when I switched to batting left-handed and asked for sponsorship, the smart money was on a very small runs tally. The smart money doesn’t always win. It began unravelling for my various sponsors during my first innings, in which I scored 40 not out. Though the next few languished in single figures, the die was cast, and this, coupled with an insane quantity of games played, meant that the amount pledged racked up. Naturally, an amount failed to be given in, but this was due to my refusing to accept money until the season’s runs were scored. Continue reading

In my shoes

in my shoes

Cricket is a passion, and these are my as-yet unworn ‘season of 2013’ shoes. In these I will be travelling the country, playing cricket in country houses to write The Country House Cricketer, the proceeds of which will go directly to funding research into Parkinson’s. Parkinson’s is already affecting my game, but that just forces me to think of new ways to get round it, to frustrate this most frustrating of conditions. It’ll win, yes … but I’ll give it a damn good run for its money.

Oh, it’s all about the voice

Like many of us, I simply cannot bear the sound of my own voice, so I have yet to listen to this interview which appeared on the Danny Pike Show this Monday – it starts at 1.09 in.
I do know that the aspects of voice are many, that it means many different things, but that each one of them is down to identity. Whether it’s authorial voice, the voicing of a chord, the collective voice of a populus, or the simple result of air being moved over vocal chords, the voice is something that is instantly recognisable. Why do we not like the sound of our own voice? Is it because we don’t want to be confronted with who we are?
Parkinson’s affects your voice. It gradually softens, slurs, diminishes.
As it does so, another aspect of what makes you you slowly fades.
Eventually, the words ‘I didn’t recognise you’ will be the one I hear most.
Sometimes, I don’t recognise myself. Perhaps that’s why.
I’m truly not convinced I can listen.


For more on early onset Parkinson’s, see my book Slender Threads, available both as an e-book and a real, paper book. 30% of royalties goes to fund research into Parkinson’s.

Slender Threads – the whys and wherefores

Five years ago, on January 30th, my life changed. It changed because a consultant uttered the words ‘you have Parkinson’s’.
In the months that followed, my marriage, my career, and my sense of self took an almighty battering. Continue reading

Slender Threads

People are good sometimes. It happened like this. I’m waiting in the sorting office for the man to admit he can’t find this item, even though he hunteth hi and lo, and aa chap comes in, picks up his parcel, rips off the packaging, and reveals a good-looking tome wrapped in cellophane. he smiles, I enquire as to its type, he explains it’s a picture book, I ask  what he does, he replies that he’s a graphic designer, and I, without so much as a second thought, ask him if he’ll do me a cover for my book, for free. He looks mildly surprised, asks what it’s about, then simply says yes.

We just had a couple of pints, and what a splendid chap.

Oh, and here’s the kindle cover:

Slender threads

and the book cover:

slender threads cover final


A meeting of minds

So, this evening I travelled up to Sussex Uni to see Tim Andrews, a 61 yr-old PWP, give a presentation on his ongoing project, Over the Hill. Now, I usually begin from a point of scepticism, and I’d read about this gentleman, in the Guardian I believe, and, to be frank, I had been deeply unimpressed. But, like Keynes, when presented with new facts (that is, Tim himself and the images), I changed my mind. Readers, I was wrong. Continue reading

Lies, damned lies, and … hang on …

So, the season is drawing to a blustery close, and in my 38th innings (I know, I have truly gorged myself on cricket this year) I hit the heady heights of 400 runs. I ought to be pleased, really, considering I started by batting left-handed (and with only the right-hand available for use), a total switch of styles. Of these 38 innings, four involved me actively switching from left to right-handed after 18 runs or so. The idea was that I got my eye in left-handed, then went on the attack right-handed. I had observed that I was more difficult to get out left-handed, but scored more freely right-handed. Continue reading

Emotional anaesthesia

[first published 28th March 2012]

Last night I went to a concert at the Brighton Dome. It was the Waterboys, ostensibly flogging the new album, An Appointment with Mr Yeats. Now, the album is pretty good, and Mike Scott’s free interpretation of Yeats’ poetry creates something a little more than the sum of all its parts. His cherry-picking of lines from various poems may offend the purist, but in many ways is close to the spirit of Yeats’ own work, as he played wild and loose with Ireland’s mythic past. Continue reading

Slender threads

(first published 23 February 2012)

On such slender threads
as these are we suspended,
restrained, or mended

Something like that, anyway. Looking backwards is fraught with danger, as the temptation is to remonstrate with oneself at length over a bad choice, over a missed opportunity, over and above any suspicion of self-congratulation for a difficult decision made well. Writing what is essentially a directed autobiography, the work which I am currently avoiding at seemingly all costs, and which has sent me into a frenzy of adverbial apoplexy, is a dangerous thing for someone prone to such analysis. The book, A Young Person’s Guide to Parkinson’s, is in large part an attempt to create what I would have loved to have been able to read when I was diagnosed. I may very well not have liked it, let alone enjoyed it, but the idea of a work which traces its fingers over the outlines and creases which PD created and continues to create in one life would, I think, have stood me in good stead. <--more!-->
The problem with it is simple: in writing it, one needs must retrace not only the outlines of the disease, but those of the ripples it sent, and continues to send, through my life. Sometimes, I find myself shaking my head at my idiocy, my arrogance, my breathtaking froideur. At other times, I think I am one of the luckiest people around (within certain parameters). Both feelings are dangerous.
Recently, I’ve struggled to achieve a few things, mostly because I’m working in spite of people who have nothing vested in my success, nor any clear understanding of what form it might take. But for all the dangers of looking back, there are clear lessons to be learnt. My current silence in blog terms is largely due to the intense energy being invested in this project, which, like most of my writing, has an emotional and intellectual event horizon far beyond the singularity of its merely being written. That and the fact that I need a cup of tea. I’ve been tweaking my shoulder changing light bulbs, panicking about the subsequent pain but finally being assured that it’s only to be expected. It hurts now. I suspect that this is because it knows I’m writing about it. In similar fashion, writing about PD enhances and magnifies its symptoms and their accompanying issues. Already hyper-aware of my body, writing about its travails just perks it up. As I cast my mind backwards, whether simply to narrate the order of things, or perhaps to dig through the murkier parts of my past in an attempt to locate those vital moments where the whole thing changed (an impossible task, but one rendered all the more attractive as a result), the futility of reverse engineering becomes ever more apparent.
On Tuesday, I was driving to Bromley (yes! I can finally drive again …), and trundling around the M25 when I heard a loud bang behind me. I looked into my rear view mirror only to see a small car cut directly across the carriageway, at 90 degrees to the direction of traffic. Somehow it managed to avoid the two large lorries which were travelling just behind me at a reasonably healthy lick. Actually, avoid is an utterly misleading word. The lorries simply didn’t transform the car into a small pile of twisted metal, and the carriageway into a charnal pit. Having missed the lorries, the car drove directly up the bank at the side of the carriageway, crashed through the fence and into the field. The lorries ground to a halt, and the carriageway remained clear and free-running.
There is no clearer indication of the nature of the past. This all happened two or three car lengths behind me. A matter of, well, less than a second. Had I been travelling a little more slowly, just a tiny bit, the car would have clipped my rear. A tiny bit faster, and I would have been oblivious of the closeness of utter disaster. As it was, only the fence was harmed. I hope.
On such slender threads indeed.