As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I realised that I’d been tactless. The last thing Tom needed, being, as he was, in the grip of dyskinesia (linked to Parkinson’s drugs; makes you move uncontrollably; just awful) and also having a conference-ful of important people to talk with; I’m sure the very last thing he needed was for some fool of a woman asking for his autograph on her copy of his book.
But Tom Isaacs had been a hero of mine, ever since I’d read “Shake Well Before Use” a couple of months earlier, and it was the first time I’d met him, and he couldn’t have been more warm and welcoming. Basically, I was starstruck. Still am, really. He even apologised for the writing being shaky! Him. Apologising to me. Good grief.
So much to do tomorrow… really must sleep now… all my bags are packed, I’m ready to go; standing here outside your door… no, no, no – go to sleep… all my bags are packed, I’m ready to go… must print out the map… need to check the tension on that knitting, or I might take the wrong needles… standing here outside your door … can you buy knitting needles in Denmark?… must be able to – all those jumpers – or is that Sweden? All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go…
“So there we were, scrabbling around on the cell floor in front of the Naked Rambler, trying to pick up the papers and desperately trying not to look up and not to laugh…”
It broadens the mind does travel, and going away last weekend to celebrate a school-friend’s sixtieth brought us into contact with interesting people who had interesting stories to tell and different – shall we say – viewpoints.
“At the age of twenty seven, copper-haired Maggie Hope had already foiled a plot to assassinate Churchill and blow up St Paul’s, saved Princess Elizabeth from being kidnapped, rescued a captured pilot from Berlin, taught at a school for Special Agents in Scotland and prevented First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt from being implicated in a lesbian murder scandal which would surely have led to America refusing to join in the War.”
I think it’s the gritty realism of the Maggie Hope novels that most appeals to me.
This time, we said, we are definitely going to take Considerably Smaller Suitcases.
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been planning our second Grand Tour. Autumn come she will and we’ll be hopping on and off trains with gay abandon, clutching our trusty Interrail Passes and Considerably Smaller Suitcases.
What with Manchester and London Bridge and elections, I’ve been tiptoeing around social media of late, in an attempt to avoid the slabs of pure venom which are scattered amid the good stuff. So, it was only this morning that I hit upon a post sharing the shattering news that one of my heroes – Tom Isaacs, president and co-founder of the Cure Parkinson’s Trust – died last week. His passing was, apparently, “unexpected and swift”. He was just forty nine.
“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.
Last Friday, ActorLaddie and I went to a conference organised by the Cure Parkinson’s Trust Conference. The theme was ‘Curing Parkinson’s’, which sounds a pretty good idea to me. Half a dozen experts came from across the globe to explain what is going on at the moment in the way of research.
It was inspirational.
The Agricultural Correspondent has been wheeled out again. Just as we get to an exciting bit in the storyline – has Helen Archer finally seen through Rotten Rob? – we are kept on tenterhooks by some bit of farming nonsense. So Tony and David Archer mooch around the cattle market discussing the merits of buying organic suckler cows and we are made to wait for the resolution of the TunaGate affair.
What’s good enough for The Archers is good enough for you lot. So before I tell you what was in the letter from Hammersmith Hospital, I’m going to share some gardening news. If by any chance you didn’t read Wednesday’s blog – number eighty eight – now would be a good time to nip off and do so; otherwise what follows will make no sense. We’ll wait for you by discussing fencing.