We were nearly late for the appointment. Couldn’t find anywhere to park. The only spaces near the hospital were for wheelchair users – don’t you think they could be further away? After all – they’ve got wheels.
So, the professor got me to walk up and down a bit and prodded me and said ‘yes, that’s Parkinson’s.’ My wife said ‘how can you tell just from that?’ The professor said ‘well, there are other signs too. Your handwriting has got very small, for one thing. And your facial muscles seem a bit frozen – you seem to be finding it difficult to smile.’ ‘Well, that could be,’ I said, ‘because you’ve just told me I’ve got Parkinson’s.’
“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.
1. This summer, I wittered on a bit…
“I’ve got this clear memory of being at school – it must have been more than 65 years ago – and our teacher said something about Parkinson’s. I went home and asked my mum what it was. She frowned a little, then told me it was a brand of cigarettes. So when the teacher asked the next day what we remembered about Parkinson’s…”
There is a chortle across the room from the thirty-odd Rotarians who are listening to Colin thanking me for my first ‘after-lunch’ speech. They seem an affable bunch of chaps – they are all chaps, so just me and the waitress holding up the distaff side of things. Which is a slightly strange experience, vaguely reminiscent of taking Physics A Level.
“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’ve never married an actor before,” beams the Rev Tom Holst as he smiles over his lectern.
“I’ve never married a vicar,” mutters ActorLaddie, winning him the first frown of our married life.
“It might put an extra strain on your marriage. If you become famous, everyone will want to be your friend,” warns the Rev.
A good point – and one ActorLaddie took to heart there and then by resolving never to become famous; a resolution he has kept, so far. Marrying an actor has been – and continues to be – good fun – a bit like having a living lottery ticket. But, in truth, you’re only likely to recognise him in the street if you’re a massive fan of that classic piece of American docudrama “The New Adventures of Robin Hood (not forgetting the Warrior Marion)” in which ActorLaddie played an assortment of priests, lords, villagers and sorcerers.
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?
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.
We had our own little Glee Club at Liverpool Street station yesterday evening. A dozen youngsters from the Music and Dance Academy donned Parkinson’s UK t-shirts and sang their hearts out for two hours, bless them, to raise funds for PUK. They could belt it out, those kids; a great attention-grabber even down at the other end of the concourse where I was rattling a bucket.