Margaret played first clarinet and collected the subs. In truth, we barely knew each other; I mimed with the second flutes and we rarely rubbed shoulders with our reeded sisters.
But she sent me an email in June 2012 which meant a lot to me at the time and still sits in my Parkinson’s folder, in case of wobbles.
Jim next door has Parkinson’s. They’ve suspected it for a while, Jim and Ann, and given his symptoms – asymmetrical pill-rolling style tremor; writing gone very small – I suspected it too. But they had to wait ages to see a neurologist and finally got confirmation last week.
Ann came round to tell me and asked how long it was since I’d been diagnosed. Just over four years, I told her, and tried to look jolly and bouncing with health. Which, actually, I am. Pretty much.
“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 thinking of writing my dissertation about the work of David Lewis on modal realism.”
“His idea is that there are a number of possible worlds, of which this is one. That when something happens, there is another world in which that thing hasn’t happened and events follow through from that.”
“Like in the film ‘Sliding Doors’? So there’s one world where Gwyneth Paltrow ends up with the chap who played Hugh Grant’s deaf brother in ‘Four Weddings’ and one in which she doesn’t?” I say.
“John Hannah,” says ActorLaddie.
I head into After School club to donate some cakes left over from a playground sale of … well, cakes. We’re raising money at Thrush Woods to sponsor Faith, who’s running the London Marathon next week for Parkinson’s UK. A couple of mixed infants skip up to me, arm in arm.
“Have you still got Parkinson’s?” asks one.
“OK.” And they skip off.
Although I’m a glass-half-empty kind of girl, it has to be said that I have been extraordinarily lucky with my lot in life. I’m not stuck on a mountain in Iraq, nor in a refugee camp in Gaza. And when it comes to dealing with the everyday ups and downs, I do have kith and kin who are second to none.
Incidentally, don’t you think that ‘kith’ is a great word? Madam, you have greatly insulted me, so I am going to unkith you from Facebooke.
July, last year.
“So are we going to talk about the elephant in the room?” said Mrs Jolly-Colleague.
We were at Mrs Domestic-Colleague’s house for an end-of-term splurge of good food and gossip. Mrs D-C bakes-off against the best. Her head-to-head with Jill Archer is the stuff of legends and minstrels still sing ballads to her victorious Simnel cake.