“It’s one thing joining a gym – it’s another actually going.” She was a wise bird, our old GP: retired now, alas. Of my pregnancy with the InfantPhenomenon, she said: “a summer baby, how lovely! You’ll be able to sit in pub gardens.” Not my first thought but she had four children so knew whereof she spake.
I wasn’t put to the piano as a child. Refused the offer of lessons, apparently: as good a reason as any to invent time travel. But I’d really like to be able to play and, to quote Bro-In-Law – a man of infinite resource and sagacity – when someone asked him why he’d just taken up learning Gypsy Jazz Guitar, “I decided not to wait until I was younger.”
I did sort of start learning about twenty years ago but, what with teaching full-time and having two children, practice never seemed to reach the top of the To-Do list. So the enterprise was shelved, pending retirement. Which is Now.
Snazzy plain blue Mao-style disposable trouser suit on – check.
Cannula thing in left wrist artery for radioactive tracer and splint applied to keep it firmly in position – check.
Thing in vein of right arm for regular taking of blood throughout and tape applied to keep that firmly in position – check.
All paperwork signed; permission given; off to the PET scanner we go, in search of possible brain inflammation. All in the cause of Parkinson’s research.
I clamber clumsily onto the scanner trolley, which is darned tricky on account of not being able to bend either arm. How the Plarchers manage to do all the farming and stuff with non-bendable arms, goodness knows!
Stop there. Your name is not Mary; you are not calling from Microsoft – go and get a proper job. I’m busy. Goodbye.
Stop there, person that is almost certainly not called Peter. At what stage in your life did you decide to become a crook? Suppose it was your grandmother who had picked up this phone and was even now installing your evil malware? Now, I’m very busy – I need to get to the shops – go and rethink your life choices.
Hello. Now that winter’s here…
“And next on the line is Jellywoman. Jellywoman, what was your experience of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s?”
In truth, I have no idea what I said to Nicky Campbell, beyond reassuring him that only about 5% of PD is hereditary: apparently, his mother had it. By the time I was actually speaking live on air, I’d already talked about being diagnosed to the nice young man who’d answered the phone in the first place, and to the nice producer who called me back. Now all three spiels blend together under the general theme of ‘Don’t panic, Mr Mainwaring,’ which is the message I’d needed to hear on diagnosis.
“I’m a glass half-full person… I spill the rest.”
We laughed. A lot. “It’s an old joke,” said Tom Isaacs, a little apologetically. Well yes, it probably is. But given a whole new life from being told by someone with severe dyskinesia who is wrestling with their glass of water. A joke repurposed, in fact, and all the funnier for it.
I don’t know about you, but what with trying to catch up on Thursday night’s sleep; and with the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth; and with the resolution to treat the result as a personal call to arms, I’m right behind with my Rogation Sunday shopping. So here we are again, Rogation Sunday morning and I’ve barely bought my cards, let alone sent them.
Don’t you think it comes around quicker every year?
Most people don’t feel nauseous until part way round the Small World ride at EuroDisney. InfantPhenomenon proved what an exceptionally advanced child she was by throwing up the minute we sat in the float; embarrassing but classy, in its own way. So off we went to the Poste de Premiers Secours, and she rested while I read her “The Bed and Breakfast Star”. It was rather peaceful, as I recall.
I’ve told you before about my Great Uncle Stan. Mind, it was two years ago, and you’ve had a lot on, so let me jog your memory.
Great Uncle Stan kept a fruit and veg barrow on the Northcote Road. During the war, he spent a lot of time at my Nan’s; once managing to sleep right through an air-raid and waking up to find himself covered in glass from the shattered window beside him. He had a glass eye which he used to take out at night and put in a jar besides his bed, terrifying my Ma – a child at the time.
Equally terrifying is my memory of him, sitting in the corner of a mental institution in the 1970s. He shook uncontrollably; had no idea who we were; couldn’t communicate. He has Parkinson’s, the nurses told us.
“We were just wondering if you knew who’d got the job,” I asked Mr Oak, our retiring Headteacher.
The white smoke was billowing from the room above. We were all keen to know who our next boss would be: a Head makes or breaks a school and the staff with it. Were we going to be maked or breaked?
Mr Oak shook his head. “I don’t know. They’ve not asked me for any help at all with the appointment. Not with the job description or the showing round or the interview. I’ve no idea who they’ve appointed. Sorry.” He lowered his head and I crawled out of the office, conscious that my Headteacher was deeply upset, and that I’d just made things worse for him.