First of all let me introduce myself and the easiest way I could think of was to include a short profile which you will find here and the following video (June 2011):
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Professor D. Mark Cato – 18 August 1934 to 12 November 2012
Thursday, 9 May 2013
Holy Trinity Church, Brompton
Dr T. Michael Long
It is a privilege to be here today – to add something to the memory of this incredible man – David Mark Cato.
I am the “good doctor” of his blog – his friend of 58 years – a friendship only extended in length by that of Geoffrey Hanscomb. Sadly, following a fall, Geoffrey and Jessie cannot be with us today. We wish them well – and a speedy recovery for Geoffrey.
First, allow me to touch on a few sentinel periods of Mark’s life.
Mark had a difficult childhood, well described through his endless stories and the autobiographical writings, which he maintained throughout his life.
His mother, Nan, was 17 when Mark was born and his father deserted the family a few months after Mark’s birth, and was not seen again by the family.
His childhood was further compromised during the war and as he describes “I was sickly, underweight and bullied at school”.
This did not deter him from passing the necessary entrance examinations to University when he was 15.
Nan could not afford the university fees and Mark entered the workforce and began training as a Chartered Surveyor.
Already at the age of 15, he had addressed an international conference in Norwich on “World Citizenship” and also presented two papers in Olympia when he was aged 16 years. One was on “Project Management in Construction Contracts” and the other on “Property Development in the USA”. Mark told me that Geoffrey Hanscomb, was present at some of those lectures.
Mark said –
“It was Geoffrey Hanscomb who ‘got me going’, supplying me with a space, a desk, a telephone, friendship” and thereafter, throughout Mark’s life, constant mentoring and support.
An indication of Mark’s thinking and drive at that time is to be found in his so-called “Memorial Address” to his family written in 2000 when prostatic cancer was diagnosed and he thought he might die. This address, of course, was superseded by his incredibly productive survival for a further 12 years.
His energy and “modus operandi” at that time is highlighted by the following:
“To any young man present and in particular to Freddy and Sebastian, (as he called them then my dearest grandsons and indeed, any other grandchildren, who have been born since I recorded this message (that is to say Lara), I say this:
Forget modesty when you are young;
believe in yourself;
If this is interpreted as immodesty, then so be it. In this tough world, shrinking violets do not thrive.
As one grows older, however, this brash approach must be tempered with a degree of humility. You must realise that you are not God’s gift to the world and however much you know, you know very, very little…”.
He had qualified in 1956 as a Chartered Surveyor and was then dispatched at short notice to Australia, where he was employed for 4½ years, gaining further experience working in various professional surveyors’ offices about Australia. He then worked for nine months in Baghdad.
The next five years saw him as the sole resident partner of a British Company (Langdon & Every), Chartered Quantity Surveyors, working throughout the Persian Gulf, including Ethiopia and Somalia.
He married Alice during this period in 1963.
In 1965, he returned to the United Kingdom, working with the same firm. His experience in construction increased throughout his employment with a variety of British Construction Companies.
This was a fascinating and industrious part of his life. It proved to be the building blocks for his subsequent career in Arbitration. (In June 1989, he passed the finals of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators by examination).
It was about then, as I recall, Mark telling me that he made a vow:
“… That in gratitude for his good fortune in life, he would dedicate the remainder of his life to sharing what he had done and what he had learnt with others”. In addition, he emphasised that because of his difficult childhood he vowed that “… he would always seek to find something worthy in everyone he met, no matter how unpopular they might appear…”
To begin, he set up the “Themanus Golfing Society” – not derived from the Greek, but simply “them an’ us”, as a means of bringing the chiefs of the housing movement itself, together with their equivalents in the Government. I understand this Society continues to thrive.
He recognised the seeming poor understanding in the respective roles of the legal profession and lay arbitrators and so he became a major force in the creation of what is now “The Arbitration Club”. The Club continues with a number of branches and embryonic clubs in Australia, Cypress and Dubai. The “International Arbitration Club” subsequently evolved with his devised motto “Excellence through Sharing”.
So – another phase of his life had begun in earnest.
He commenced active practise as an Arbitrator and Consultant in Construction Disputes. He was appointed to over 400 arbitration disputes with around 55 of these going to full hearings.
As if this was not enough –
Throughout the next 10 years, he published four books dealing with arbitration. Some of which have passed multiple editions.
The other day I was idly looking through my copy of “The Expert in Litigation and Arbitration”. I recall him referring me to the appropriate chapter – “The Expert Witness in Medical Cases”, written by “Nigel Harris”. However, of more importance was Mark’s generous acknowledgement of the contribution of others to this massive tome. He quoted Montaigne:
“I have gathered a posy of other men’s flowers and nothing but the thread that binds them is my own”.
I noted also that he had dedicated the book to “my beloved grandson, Freddy” born on 5 October 1998 – “may he never require the services of an expert…”
Significant, however, for me, was his note on the front page, dated 28 April 2011
“To Mick – that is me – with grateful thanks for 56 years of friendship”, signed “Mark”.
He announced then, because of his increasing paralysis “this is the last time I will ever write – or sign my name”.
In this spirit of giving, he commenced visiting Beijing and other place overseas, to lecture on Arbitration. He gave these lectures free of charge but always acknowledged the generosity and support of the Members of The Arbitration Club who covered his travel expenses while the university dealt with those for his accommodation. More than 1000 Chinese Lawyers were to benefit from his lectures.
In 2001, he was installed as Adjunct Professor of Law, China University of Political Science and Law or CUPL, Beijing. CUPL, is the largest Law School in the world with some 26,000 law students. He was regularly re-appointed to this position, which he retained until the end.
He wrote a complete course for the university on “Dispute Resolution covering all Aspects of Commercial Disputes other than Litigation”.
He continued taking arbitration cases until 2009 when he became too disabled by the motor neurone disease.
Similarly he continued to give lectures in Beijing every year until 2010.
It was a difficult realisation for him. With the onset of Motor Neurone Disease in 2007, Mark had entered another and significant – probably the most significant – in terms of creativity and giving – phase of his life.
In spite of all odds – this period continued for a prolonged and incredible 5 years.
He became even more determined to give to others. As Miles stated in his moving Address at his father’s funeral, Mark had developed a softer and gentler outlook. Increasingly, he had to surrender his fierce and characteristic independence. I noted that I received hugs instead of handshakes – there was even more warmth in our friendship.
I heard of endless plans for his development of devices to help the disabled.
Increasingly I witnessed his great pride in Miles and his wife Kimberly, Chloe and Karl, the grandchildren Fred, Seb and Lara.
He was endless in his praise of Alice and from time to time I would have to say –
“have you told Alice this?” – to which he always replied “she knows I do not have to tell her”!
Certainly – the usual colourful eruptions continued from time to time. But overall he developed and became devoted to his blog and through it – to share his experiences with other MND sufferers and those with disabilities.
His writings were always positive and interesting, sprinkled with humour and an endless supply of jokes.
Returning now to the Australian experience:
The magic of our friendship began through the chance meeting of our mothers in a London hairdressers’ nearly 60 years ago.
Because of that meeting – when – shortly after – he did come to Australia – he became very much a part of my family.
He developed a close relationship with my mother, Mary, whom he called “mum” – along with the rest of us.
What was he like then, when he arrived in Australia?
As expected, he took Australians by storm. We found him “pushy” even “arrogant”.
He was always well-dressed – stood erect – smoked a pipe – and capped it off by driving an ostentatious red Austin Healy.
He had “flair” or natural talent. He was an incredible and continuous organiser – a ‘control freak’.
Clearly that continued and is the reason why I am now standing here today – all organised by Mark!
He had obvious intelligence and an incisive and analytical mind. All this, however, was engulfed by his tremendous sense of fun and exploration – his colourful stories, all interspersed with a great sense of warmth and friendship.
We found him infectious and we too, became caught up with his energy. We shared numerous adventures, including:
- Many ‘sometime hazardous’ flights in a Gypsy Moth DH-60, built in 1929 before either of us was born;
- 1958 he flew with me and a friend, Peter Johnson (destined to become an airline pilot) to Tennant Creek, North of Alice Springs (Australia) in a small Auster Aircraft;
- His early efforts of horse riding, were typical. He galloped off before he had learnt to walk, trot or canter – really before he had learnt to ride – with disastrous results – yet – with a vow to master the technique. He did!
- His embryonic golf experiences;
- His encounter with road rage in Melbourne.
We observed that he was writing all these events in a diary.
These writings with others persist today – as an incredible and funny record of his Australian life and subsequent events.
Over the years, these stories, grew with the re-telling and were always accompanied with great laughter and mirth.
He and they, were never boring.
We became close friends – though one as defined by Oscar Wilde “true friends stab you in the front”.
You would hear about it if he thought you had stepped out of line. Such events, though, in reality, only served to increase our bond. We seemed to be on ‘the same page’.
We missed him when he left Australia in 1960, but, we maintained contact.
The other day I noted that my first entry in the Visitor’s Book in “Lantern Thatch” was 12 June 1967.
He began to return to Australia, particularly in the 90s and we saw him regularly each year. Ostensibly these visits were to teach Arbitration – but also – in deference to our friendship – and to make use of the Australian sunshine.
His dress code was jacket – tie – lapel rose – monocle. However the default dress code was – no clothes at all.
He enjoyed nude sunbathing (and all over body shaves).
Occasionally this created problems, for my home was my office, and the staff had some difficulty coping with the sun tanning Englishman – nude – on the balcony.
Symbolically, they walled him off, with both Australian and British Flags hoisted over a clothes horse.
Sunbathing continued, even after the motor neurone disease was diagnosed in 2007.
We all became aware of the characteristic muscle twitching on the body of this deeply tanned, perspiring, Englishman.
In the evenings there was champagne or whisky and for Mark, cigars.
There was always debate and the re-telling those endless and funny stories.
We noted he was having increasing difficulty and there were occasional falls and in one incident an encounter with a Melbourne tram. Shaken, bruised and battered, he managed to laugh.
We discussed the increasing difficulty he would have in carrying on with his lecturing in China and even visiting his beloved Hua Hin, Anantara Hotel, south of Bangkok.
We resolved that all this was possible, but it would be necessary for someone, or me, to accompany him.
- Our first venture together was to Thailand. These hilarious trips always presented me with a series of crises and a sense of embarrassment – acute at times;
- He insisted on travel – in full regalia – with white coat, tie, monocle, lapel rose (artificial rose for international travel – complete with an artificial drop of water) – yet always complaining of the heat;
- Airport security was an early problem when he would characteristically refuse to remove his coat with “can’t you see I am disabled – I cannot use my hands”. Eventually the poor security people would yield, only to be confronted by further gross delay caused by an explosion of noise from the alarm because of the various objects hidden in his pockets.
- Or arriving at the hotel in Hua Hin and being asked to sign the register “I’m not signing anything – I have been here 17 times before. You know who I am…”
- On one occasion, at Hua Hin, I thought World War III was about to begin when I heard him yelling “some bloody Germans are in my sunbathing spot…”
Clearly it was not his spot and anyone could have used it. It was situated beside a lake. I recall him going to remonstrate with the offenders and to my horror, I heard him yelling for reinforcements across the lake. I rushed across to hear words such as “you are a peanut” and the near immortal words – “I am a Professor of Law I do not tell lies”!!
Eventually, I was able to settle the dispute and the “invading Germans” turned out to be a demure couple from Cornwall, John and Geraldine Barlow – and so – as with the debris of so many of these incidents – subsequent close friends.
I began also to take him on trips to my home in Sweden, where he entertained the Swedes and made many friends which expanded to include my German, Irish, Belgian and Austrian friends.
There was no alarm system and it was necessary for me to sleep on the floor beside his bed. It took some time to learn to sleep accompanied by the radio with news and music which blared throughout the night. Interspersed with “are you awake” signifying an impending toilet stop or some other request.
We shared an interest in music, including in particular, the Czech Christmas Mass by Ryba; the singing of the choir of Ramsberg, a small town close by to where I live in Sweden; music including and similar to Lacrimosa Requiem for my friend by Zbigniew Preisner, the Polish composer, we heard today – choral works and opera.
He read extensively and would quote important passages on his blog. Later he used “talking books” and this included the Classics and in particular the Classics Dostoevsky, Thomas Hardy and Dickens.
He knew Dickens as he says “backwards”, having bought the complete edition from his savings from a paper round when he was 14.
Our discussions with cigar and champagne at night were always a highlight. Whether we were discussing the life cycle of a pineapple or a banana; or John Keats and his poetry; or Keats’ friend Charles Armitage-Brown. Our discussions were always vigorous and interesting.
It did not take long to realise that when he said “I must do so and so…” it was in fact a command for immediate action on my part.
He insisted on wearing a nightshirt which seemed to have 20,000 buttons to be done up – in an instant – he would get impatient if you took too long.
I recall insisting he have a shower each day (an Australian custom),
but was advised strongly “Alice only showers me every three days”, to which I rejoined “I am not Alice – get in the shower”.
One morning at Lantern Thatch where I had been caring for him and having delivered his breakfast at 6:30 a.m. He explained – “I normally have toast with marmalade on Sundays”, to which I replied “well it’s not ruddy Sunday…” – “well Saturday then”.
The trouble was it was Friday!!
In Hua Hin, breakfast was also a problem in that he would take bags – rather – I would have to collect for him – bags of fruit, to be eaten throughout the day. This was not “really stealing” he explained but simply an “extension of breakfast”. I noted too, in the same vein, he accumulated capsules of coffee, which later re-appeared in England.
Air travel became increasingly difficult. Airlines were wonderful with their wheelchair staff and getting us quickly through security and to his seat – via the lounge – of course – where he consumed champagne and ate.
However, it was always up to me to lift him in and out of the airline seats.
In this I, a surgeon, and meant to be experienced in such matters, relied on the training given to me by (friends Barry and Denise), the family taxi drivers in Clavering.
He would slump into his airline seat with requests for champagne, earphones and immediately launch into a film.
With headphones on he spoke loudly drawing unnecessary attention –
I was always concerned about impending and inevitable toilet requirements.
Subsequently on flights, he wore a kilt in order, he said, to make it easier for me “to deal with his plumbing”. The kilt and associated regalia led to one excited Emirates flight attendant exclaiming “you are the first real Scot I have ever seen on one of our flights”.
I accompanied him to Beijing and prepared him for his teaching days. All reminiscent of the preparation required by an actor before a performance.
I was witness to the incredible lectures he gave to the Chinese Law Graduates – up to 150 in a class. They would cluster around him for more. Each day, unasked, they would deliver, from the market, a fresh rose for his lapel. Later from Clavering he would reply to their emails.
I was aware of his dealings with children and his ability to come to their level with stories and activities designed to stimulate their involvement and more. I recall one German boy, aged 10, Nils Schneider, saying goodbye to us at Stockholm Airport, only to emerge from the terminal, by himself, cross the road for an extra goodbye to his hero.
My grandson, Jack, here today from France, will never forget Mark’s fun and friendship and their time together here, in London, and also being taught the basics of Croquet.
Also in Löa in Sweden, he insisted on teaching the children in the local school. Although limited in English, the children loved him and there was no apparent difficulty in communication.
His love for and admiration of his grandchildren, Fred, Seb and Lara, could not be surpassed. I recall him consigning small messages and packages for them to encounter at various times in the future.
I presume they will turn up as he arranged.
Back in 2010 following a final night dinner on the beach generously provided for us by the hotel I recorded:
“The walk home was long and difficult. It seemed as though both friends were supporting each other. In fact they were – much as they have for more than 50 years.
Soon, though, it became clear, that one, through weakness and shortness of breath had to rest every 20 paces or so…”
Increasingly he needed more help.
Further international travel was no longer possible.
As an outsider I was very impressed with what was supplied by the NHS and in particular, (Harriett Holder and) the wonderful nurses of Ross Nursing.
His life was also greatly facilitated by Richard Morris, who set up the blog “Dying to Live” with the motto “Caring through Sharing”. It was really more about “living” than “dying”.
Many others contributed forming an incredible team of which Mark was an integral member – and not just the recipient of all this attention.
Alice without a doubt was the chief carer. Her incredible – indefatigable – constant – loving – care of Mark continued to the end. How she did it, we will never know.
From time to time, for a few days, I would try to emulate these standards, but was thoroughly exhausted in the process.
I made some notes then about ‘Caring’.
“Good Caring requires close and constant attention to the needs of another.
Anticipation is a vital ingredient.
Caring is not new – and surely is an ingredient of normal living.
Caring is a privilege and involves real sharing and honesty.
The honesty though is more for the disabled – so stark in their situation.
Caring can be fun – and overall was fun with Mark.
It involves teamwork and the ‘cared for’ is very much part of that team..”
I witnessed all this – to the highest levels at Lantern Thatch.
These concepts of caring are not new. Montaigne whom I mentioned before understood about Caring – he applied it to his friend Esteinne de la Boetie who died (of the plague) in 1593. (How to Live a life – a Life of Montaigne by Sarah Bakenall).
Yes – there were a few causalities on the way causing the Professor to be relentless in his legal pursuit. These matters devoured his time and energy – he did not succeed – though always maintained “he had made his point”!
Eventually he became virtually paraplegic, but somehow retained his dignity and humour in spite of his predicament and the need for near constant care. His mind fully intact, seemed to be in overdrive – impatient to see things done.
Last year in September, we managed a trip to the cricket at Lords to mix with his longstanding friends there. Some of those friends had attended Lords with him since 1969.
We visited his beloved, “The Royal Worthington Golf Club”, where he insisted on going to say goodbye to his wonderful and longstanding friends. He knew this would be his last visit.
Worthington was an incredibly sad affair, and he barely survived beyond lunch – although he did succeed, in triumph in finding someone’s “lost golf ball”.
On the way home he gasped “they were all coming up to say good bye – I shall not see them again.”
A visit with him to (Dr Davies at) Papworth at the beginning of October, seemed to offer a reprieve (by increasing the pressures on the ventilator). Mark set his sights on Christmas and then having achieved that the 50th wedding anniversary, for Alice and he on 16 March just passed. (1963, and in this church, Holy Trinity Brompton).
I thought he might do it.
Do you recall his last blog of 22 October 2012 (in fact posted by him the next day).
His words were those of someone very much alive and living his life:
“Autumn is well and truly with us. Cold, dank, misty mornings and no sign of the Indian summer promised to us by the meteorological office. No, this is not the time to plan those outside barbecues, … I can say, with all honesty, that I have not had occasion to question how I am, or do feel when I wake up each morning. It is not something I give time to thinking about. I wake up like most people, and would only consciously know how I felt if my wellbeing was prone to variations but that is not the case. I know that my arms are slowly getting weaker, for example I can no longer raise them to my nose, with a continually running nose, can be a real bore… arms have probably lost 90% of their movement, and only my left hand, splinted up and resting on a cleverly designed armrest, which lightens the weight of the arm is of any use…”
He goes on to describe others – Nan, his mother who is failing, and Nan’s husband Richard Marsh and the problems arising for England with people living to an older age. He finishes with his usual “click here” – “to see the difficulties facing a foreigner trying to master the English language”.
I think you will agree that Mark had it wrong – for once! – just once! – when he wrote in his so-called “Memorial Address” to his family in 2000
“I always threatened to leave a request that on my gravestone be carved the words ‘Here lies one of the world’s most successful failures’”
Perhaps it was because of the adversity of his childhood; his determination; his incisive and intelligent mind; his thoroughness; his organisational ability, all coupled with an underlying, bubbling sense of humour, love of life and his fellow man – he succeeded. There is little evidence of failure.
His tenacity of purpose was nowhere stronger than through his blog, which over the years reached millions and possibly was one of his greatest achievements. Let me share a fragment of the comments returned to Mark from his readers:
- “It’s amazing how you continue to see the glass half-full. Keep it going”, Joan.
- “I have greatly enjoyed reading your blog and see how you are keeping with the problem. My husband has MND and will not share his problem with anyone else… I wonder if you would be kind enough to communicate with him…”, Christine. Mark, of course, communicated with him.
- “… you’re allowed an occasional whinge as anyway you whinge in such an entertaining way…”, Tricia.
- “Love your blog, even though I am not terminally ill, I can identify with a lot of your problems”, Sally.
- “Wow… you are such an inspiration. I am 23 years old from Bristol and just reading your blog. I cannot really describe it. Just keep up the good work…”, Damian.
- “Your truthful comments and experience of MND are more helpful to me than numerous interviews with members of the medical profession”, Derek.
- “Hallo, Prof Cato. I am a Chinese boy living in Shanghai. The blog is great, hopeful, it moves lots of people including my friends…”, Huihui;
- “Hi, Professor. I am a young guy in China and reading your blog has really helped me a lot. I always complain when I am in some bad situation before but now you make me know how to face the trouble. How to have a positive attitude in our life, I really appreciate now I am definitely sure nothing can beat me…”, Eric.
- Or the typist, Julie Roberts, in far away, Queensland, Australia, who typed these notes – “Not surprisingly, I feel as if I have known this man all my life….your words brought tears to my eyes on a number of occasions and then laughter….such an extraordinary person….as my contribution I will not be charging for this work..”
The blog is extraordinary reading and re-reading. It remains on the web.
Those of us fortunate to have read his autobiography are similarly simulated.
So many lessons can be drawn from such a life:
- Turning disadvantage into an advantage;
- Mentoring. The importance to have a mentor or a Geoffrey Hanscomb, in your life – and in turn to become a mentor to others.
- Thoroughness and a determination of purpose.
- An ability to constantly take stock of your life.
- Friendship and all that entails.
- Endless humour.
- Honesty – except for stealing fruit and coffee.
- An infectious love of life and an ability to make the most of every second.
- A keen observer of nature; music, literature.
- A zest for learning – Horse riding from absolute nothing to become a good Polo player; or the piano to reach Grade VII (only to stop when he realised he would not be as good as Daniel Barenboim); golf; literature and so on.
With Mark I continually think of Lord Riddell writing in his diary, January 1915 about Winston Churchill:
“He is one of the most industrious men I have ever known. He is like a wonderful piece of machinery with a (big) flywheel which occasionally makes an unexpected movement.”
His critics (and Mark had some) were more conscious of his “unexpected movements” than for his “solid achievements”.
Clearly Mark’s “solid achievements” surpassed these “unexpected movements”.
Caring for others. Through Mark we have all become attuned to caring. Mark cared for others too – but increasingly – required care himself. Here “the light on the hill” so far as caring is concerned, was the unfailing work, devotion and inspiration of Alice. Mark constantly acknowledged to others his love for and indebtedness to Alice “my lovely”, often referred to in endless praise in the blog, or by his daily and precisely timed phone calls when overseas (and I might add, the cause for endless stress for the carer-finding the antiquated mobile – switching it on – dialling the number according to impatient instructions).
Perhaps his thoughts for Alice were left unsaid to Alice – though keenly felt by Mark.
Perhaps they were meant for the end – but, by then he had run out of breath and could not speak!
“She knows – I do not have to tell her” he always said,
– and –
– perhaps that is another significant lesson from his life.
Finally, in Ireland there is a famous Mission with the wonderful name – “Concern” – whose CEO and public face since its inception during the war in Biafra in 1966, Father Aengus Finucane, a friend – who died in 2009 – had as his motto – perhaps adapted from John Wesley (18th century).
It could well have been Mark’s motto too:
“do as much as you can,
as well as you can,
for as long as you can,
for as many as you can”.
In this, Mark Cato has excelled – so too has Alice.
She helped make it all possible.
Alice lives on – and so too in many ways does Mark.
Service conducted by The Reverend Judith Griffin.
Organist: Mark Underwood.
Address given by Miles Wynn Cato, Friday 7 December 2012, Clavering church.
It is a great and very personal privilege to be addressing you at this my father’s funeral. In the course of grappling with what to say, and indeed how to say it, I have thought a good deal about other funerals I have experienced and what they have meant to me. It is often said that a funeral should be a celebration of somebody’s life rather than a time of sadness. There is indeed much to celebrate about my father’s life and I know that the Memorial Service planned for next spring will give ample opportunity for grateful reminiscence. But this afternoon we have come together to bear witness to the committal of Dad’s body to the cold earth. So let’s not shy away from grief on this of all days but instead face our loss and the reality of this man who, like all of us, was magnificently cast in the image of his creator but who also, like us all, bore the flaws of his humanity.
The first funeral I can remember, and the last I came to at this beautiful church, was 34 years ago when Justin Kirkpatrick, the best friend of my childhood, succumbed to leukaemia. We were fourteen years old and, as his family’s garden adjoined this churchyard, we often played here – we even got on the roof once, much to the consternation of the churchwardens. As a child, there was something quite bewildering about the experience of his departure. On the day of his funeral, the naturally overwhelming grief of his family seemed to me to be subsumed into the fabric of this ancient building, and muffled by the rites of the service.
As an adult, it is all very different. Funerals no longer bewilder me – there is no ambiguity about why we are here. This is my third in a year bookended by black. My grandmother went first – gloriously retired at the turn of this year, after a century and, as popular parlance would have it, she had a very “good death”. A few weeks later we emerged into the churchyard at Anstey, a few miles west of here, to find a huge yellow moon shining silently over the frozen snow-covered land. Charlie’s was not a good death and at 48 it was much, much too early. To have asked any of his family and many friends why they had packed shivering into that little church on a dark Tuesday afternoon in February would have been like asking a parent why they kiss their children goodnight.
This afternoon, to complete 2012’s bleak trilogy, we are gathered for my father, each of us drawn variously by love, duty, friendship and respect. Dad’s certainly wasn’t a “good death” either, but it was long expected and we have been spared the gut-wrenching shock and pain of a life taken without warning and any possibility of a goodbye. Despite his drawn-out suffering, there were blessings in Dad’s long illness: particularly the ample opportunity to spend time with him. As the MND took hold, he had no choice but to surrender his fierce independence and, as he became less able and inclined to drink, a better, kinder, more authentic man slowly emerged. This gave me the willingness, at least to try to say something meaningful to him when fleeting chances presented themselves, in the knowledge that his breath was slowly but irrevocably draining away.
My father was an unusual man full of the contradictions and complexities, the inevitable legacy of any unwanted child brought up in a home with love in short supply. But while such a start in life so often produces a tendency towards self-destruction, Dad had that innate drive and determination that seems to be an equally powerful force in the minority of those who are born with nothing but their own God given gifts.
While we were looking through some of his papers, my mother and I came across one of my Dad’s old school reports, written when he was nineteen. It is from the Principal of the Hammersmith School of Building and Arts & Crafts. He described my father as
“possessing a keen and inquisitive mind and having considerable self-confidence, he has pursued his studies with energy and determination.”
Going on to praise his role as Vice President of the Students’ Union, Captain of the Tennis Club & Secretary of the Swimming Club, the Principal went on to say that;
“During the summer vacation he has travelled extensively in Europe without adult guidance or supervision and in consequence he has a wider knowledge and considerably more self-reliance than is common in a person of his age. To sum up, he is a keen, intelligent young man who should go far in life”
Many of you will recognise this description of the teenager as a clear premonition of the adult we knew so well: prodigiously intelligent, ready to take on new challenges at all stages of his life, with a yearning for travel and a love of sport that saw him regularly playing 36 holes of golf well into his seventies. Such were his abilities, particularly in his work, that he came to the brink of great success in the property world. Had the oil crisis of 1973 not pulled the rug from under him he may easily have created a business empire to rival the best of them. But he was always remarkably sanguine about forces beyond his control in life, just like his namesake Cato, that great Roman Stoic. Perhaps the most constant lesson he impressed upon me, during my all too frequent moans about work problems, was to just keep going and not worry about the inevitable set-backs along the way. The pursuit of wealth for its own sake never seems to have been in my father’s make up and he always identified with that very British phenomenon of the heroic underdog. It is no co-incidence that his favourite television programmes included Minder, featuring the hapless Arthur Daley, and Only Fools & Horses whose Del Boy & Rodney never failed to make him laugh. In all his businesses, my father relished every challenge and he pursued every path with an admirable honesty, integrity and that most respectable of desires: to lay down a secure future for his family.
More than any other motivation in his life, I think Dad pursued that sense of belonging he was denied as a child. This accounted for his fierce attachment to his clubs, especially Lord’s and his beloved Royal Worlington golf club – he was a member of each for over forty years. He was undoubtedly at his happiest surrounded by a large group of old friends, preferably with an ample supply of champagne to lubricate the proceedings. To Dad, his family was really another sort of Club, the automatic membership of which he relished. He was sure of his right to the patriarchal seat at the head of the Christmas table and everything this symbolised, even if there were notable occasions when he failed to comprehend that this was a Club with obligations as well as privileges.
Although he declared himself to be an atheist, I know my father’s sense of belonging extended to this church and I can see him now, over many years, kneeling here in prayer on Christmas morning. Even if he struggled with the idea of almighty God, I am sure he valued the consistency of this place and that he sensed something enduringly English and apparently unchanging here – a bulwark, in his mind at least, against successive governments seemingly bent on the destruction of our indigenous culture and the moral fabric of our Christian society.
Undoubtedly, the single most transformative event in my father’s life was his marriage to my mother. For him, it was love at first sight and I have often been struck by the fact that I never once heard him comment on the attractions of any other woman. As his illness progressed into this last year, he looked to the beacon of their fiftieth wedding anniversary next March. It was not to be, but my parents, both highly independent people,
undoubtedly came together with a new closeness in the face of Dad’s sickness. It is hard to imagine that any wife could have dedicated herself with more dutiful goodness, self-sacrifice and sheer love than my mother showed over the long five years of my father’s decline. While I have been immensely proud of the uncomplaining courage Dad showed in the face of the relentless and merciless progress of his MND, I know I speak for my sister Chloe too when I say we count ourselves very blessed to have parents who faced their greatest test with such dignified strength and quiet forbearance.
This strength was drawn not only from God but from a deep well of friendship, community and service which sank ever deeper as the illness progressed. If I was to name everyone who gave their support we would be here for hours – many of you here today will know that I am talking about you and as a family we thank you with all our hearts. We are immensely grateful to so many good people in Clavering, particularly all ‘the old faithfuls’, the Pomfrets, Trevor & Sally from the Cricketers, our beloved Pat, my father’s secretary of many years Doreen and our faithful gardener Peter. We are indebted to ‘Paul the computer’ and ‘Jayne the sheep’, to Tony Griggs and Kit Orde Powlett, to Ollie and to Barry. We will never forget the seemingly limitless goodwill and utter dedication of Harriet Ross and her team of nurses whose exemplary care often went well beyond the call of duty. The impact you all had on Dad’s last months, and the difference you made to our family, is simply incalculable.
Also among us today are the two men to whom my father was closest in his life – his mentor, and the man he looked to almost as a father, Geoffrey Hanscombe, and his very old friend Dr Michael Long from Australia. Thank you is a grossly inadequate word for everything both of you did for him and all you have done for us. If Charles Darwin was correct in saying that “A man’s friendships are one of the best measures of his worth” then by commanding the loyalty and attachment of such admirable men as these, my father succeeded in one of life’s most vital tests.
So the time has come to say goodbye to my father, as you may say goodbye to your husband, your father, your grandfather, your uncle, your father-in-law, your brother-in-law, your old friend, the man you worked for or the man you nursed. Remember him how you will – I will remember days like that one back in the early 80’s when he took my friend Charlie and I to the bottle collector’s fair in Milton Keynes. After a heavy snowfall, Charlie had hitched a ride the day before on a tractor to the nearby village of Brent Pelham, which we just managed to reach by car to collect him. The journey to the show took 5 hours by train via Euston but Dad took us because he didn’t want us to miss the event we had been looking forward to so much. That’s what good Dads do.
Now I dare to hope that my father and Charlie are both somewhere better, perhaps watching a game of celestial cricket, enjoying a cigar together, and knowing they will always be loved by so many they left behind.
The following account of Mark’s last days was written by his son, Miles, and is posted on his behalf:
One of my father’s main intentions in writing his Blog was to allow fellow sufferers and their carers to follow the course of his illness from diagnosis to death. As we all know, he did this with as much humour and diversion as he could muster and he was not one for deep reflection on his mortality and nor was he inclined to spell out the course of his suffering in great detail. Unsurprisingly, MND ultimately robbed him of the ability to see his blog right through to the end, and, although I know he would baulk at anything that smacked of of self-pity, I do believe he would have wanted those who had followed his story so far to know how it ended. Nobody with MND, and nobody who has cared for someone with this illness, will be under any illusions that it is a harsh one and so I trust that the truth of what follows will ultimately prove to be a helpful part of my father’s legacy.
With the benefit of hindsight, Dad’s last blog entry (22 October) has a cruel irony to it. He wrote about how his visitors were remarking on how well he was looking and how he thought he may have plateaued. The idea of the plateau, or remission, was never far from his thinking but the reality was that his MND, though long-lasting, followed a steady trajectory of decline interspersed with sharp and sudden steps down – never up. Blog entries were written retrospectively so that for Monday 22nd October was written on Tuesday 23rd. On the morning of Wednesday 24th he was hoisted as usual into the chair in his study and he began to prepare the previous day’s entry. Soon he began to cough and complain of not being able to breathe. He was taken back to his bed, put on his Nippy respirator and a physiotherapist was called in to work on his chest to try to steady his breathing. The doctor detected an increase of fluid on his lungs and a course of liquid antibiotics was prescribed in the somewhat vain hope that this was due to an infection rather than the general weakening of the lung system. My sister and I were telephoned in London and warned that these developments could well herald the end. Within a few hours the scene for the next eight days was set – Dad in, or initially occasionally on, his bed with his respirator, wonderful Ross Nursing carers coming every few hours and the equally admirable district nurses appearing to deal with his syringe driver at least once a day. He needed turning regularly to maintain some comfort and initially could still eat a little and take regular drinks. We even had a little time watching his favourite DVDs – ‘The Forstye Saga’ or ‘Hornblower’. However, over the coming days his breathing steadily got worse, the gurgle on his lungs became louder and he became entirely reliant upon his respirator. Eating was reduced to some occasional jelly or custard and drinking was a complex round of ‘sips’ of water, juice and even a little of his beloved champagne – all administered in short bursts while the Nippy was held away from his face. Even at this stage his spirit remained strong, or perhaps it was simply the power of denial that is such a common natural resource in the dying. My father was a bright man and of course he knew what was happening. As the doctor told him with refreshing candour “You knew this was going to happen”. Of course he did but who could blame him for holding out hope that it would pass and he would be able to return to his chair, his blog and the hope of a plateau.
As the days passed and Dad gradually grew weaker his eyes were rarely open. Yet the immediate crisis had not resulted in the death that seemed so sure to follow. The level of medical care and constant supervision required begged the question of whether home was still the best place for him. The family had been in touch with the Arthur Rank Hospice in Cambridge some time before and they were contacted again and an appointment made for a discussion on Friday 2 November. However, events overtook us as on the night of Thursday 1st one of the carers noticed that my father’s stomach had quite suddenly become hugely distended. By this time he had become very hard to hear, a combination of his full-face respirator and a very weak voice, so it was difficult to determine how much pain he was in and where (his syringe driver was delivering substantial quantities of pain killers and anti-anxiety medicines). The emergency duty doctor was called just after 10 p.m and we waited until midnight when he finally arrived. The prognosis was far from clear but a blocked or twisted bowel was suspected and, despite being on anti-nausea medication, the risk of vomiting was a real one. So we were presented with two options – accept that risk or have him taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge where he may be able to get sorted out if a tube could be inserted into his throat while keeping the respirator in place. It was, as my father rightly observed, ‘Hobson’s Choice’. However, as he knew well, to be sick with the respirator in place meant almost certain death by a grotesque suffocation, so Addenbrooke’s it was. This was by no means an easy option as we had been told he may not survive even being hoisted into his chair, let alone put onto a trolley and driven over twenty miles to hospital. The ambulance did not arrive until 2 a.m and the three paramedics who came with it were, thankfully, almost the only professionals with ‘bad attitude’ among the many good people we dealt with in the course of my father’s illness. Nonetheless, they managed, with a considerable amount of help and direction, to get Dad onto a trolley, up the garden path and by 2.30 a.m he was ready to go. The night was clear and very cold and the process caused him a good deal of pain but it had to be done. I was left holding the fort at home and my mother accompanied him on what she later described as worst night of her life. What was most difficult for them both was that health and safety rules dictated that she was not allowed to get up from her chair during the journey in order to move my father. Consequently, he was stuck in a painful position, bumping around on a hard trolley, the whole way. We all rather naively imagined that he would be seen by a doctor as soon as the ambulance completed its 40 minute trip to the hospital but in fact it was held in a queue and when finally unloaded Dad was left on a trolley for a good deal longer. When he was finally attended to the cause of his swollen stomach could not be determined with any certainty and indeed it gradually diminished over the coming days. However, it did mean that the next morning the question of whether to take him home again or to the hospice came to the fore and it was decided that it made no sense to subject him to another long journey home when it may well be that the hospice would beckon very soon. Addenbrooke’s and the Arthur Rank Hospice are only ten minutes apart and very fortunately there was a bed available – so the decision pretty well made itself.
Therefore, on the morning of Friday 2nd November Dad was admitted to the hospice and the final leg of his journey began. It is a remarkable place full of kind, generous and decent people – from the volunteers to the nurses and the management. The NHS often gets a tough press these days (and the Addenbrooke’s experience hadn’t shown it at its best) but this place shows just how good it can be. When he was first admitted Dad was still able to communicate to some extent and there was a resumption of the basic regime under which he had been cared for at home. However, as the days passed his voice was becoming fainter and fainter and he was becoming far less present. When he could make himself understood it was clear that he still retained a desire to gather familiar things around him. At one point he asked for his laptop to be brought to him but sadly he was well beyond being able to use it. Most importantly, we, his family were able to be with him most of the time. Chloe and my mother Alice spent several nights on sofa beds and Kimberly and I also undertook our shifts so Mum could get some much needed time back in Clavering.
While the hospice was exemplary in its care and definitely offered an immediacy and level of medical care that could not be matched at home, we were all aware that the question of whether Dad would remain there until his death had to be tackled. Although clearly extremely weak his repeated defiance of predictions of his demise made us wonder on more than one occasion whether he could go on like this for some days or even weeks to come. With this in mind we had a family meeting with Dr Margaret Saunders, the head of the hospice, at which she made it clear that the decision on whether he stayed or left was entirely ours. My mother was more than willing to have him home (with Ross Nursing ready to spring back into action) and so I put the simple question to my father – “Do you want to go home Dad?”. I assumed he would jump at the chance and a simple nod of the head would have set the process underway. However, to our surprise, he began to try to dictate a lengthy quasi-legal letter to the doctors, most of which we simply could not understand. As it turned out, this distressing episode was almost his last real engagement with us as the next day he woke very early and distressed and shortly afterwards slipped into unconsciousness. When Kimberly and I arrived to see him the next morning (Sunday) he opened his eyes briefly and I believe he knew we were there. I stretched out his arms for him (which he always liked as it relieved the pain in them) and when I asked if that was what he wanted he nodded his head. Although I did not recognise its significance at the time, this simple exchange was the last mutual communication that would take place between us. For the rest of the day Dad was unconscious – strangely peaceful on his back, freshly shaved and breathing steadily and slowly via his respirator. In fact, by this time, it was clear that almost all his breathing was in his throat – his chest was hardly moving and his lungs must have already almost ceased to function.
Early on Sunday evening my mother returned and shifts were swapped. Kimberly and I went back to Clavering and just hoping that Dad would still be alive when we returned on Monday morning. And he almost was. But not quite. If only I had taken a different turn and not got diverted, again. We were just 200 yards from the hospice when my mother’s name came up on my mobile and, forgetting the reality of what was going on just for a moment, we thought she would just be checking where we were. After exchanging a few words Kimberly gasped and looked at me and nothing more needed to be said. A couple of minutes later I was in Dad’s room – the nurses had put white flowers on his pillow and he was finally liberated from the respirator – that octopus-like clamp that had seemed to become so much a part of him – his head was cold and white but I thank God that his hands were still warm. He had died so suddenly and quietly that his last breath eluded even my mother who was in the sitting room next door. It was probably no different to the thousand breaths before it and in the final hours it was debatable whether he had any capacity for independent breath. But in the end, he slipped away as he had hoped he would – no choking, no suffocation and no chronic pain.
Dad said right from the start that he would opt to be one of the MND sufferers who survived for five years and he pretty well made it. If he had had the luxury of choice then doubtless he would have written his blog entry for 22 October knowing it was his last – signing off online and from his life on the same day. MND makes no such concessions but neither did Dad grant any in return. He lived up to his motto ‘Carpe Diem’ and seized every day he could right up to the end.
The following has been written by Karl Volz, Mark’s son-in-law, married to Chloe. We thought this might be of interest to some of his blog readers.
PROFESSOR D MARK CATO – OBITUARY
Born on 18th August 1934, Professor Cato emerged from an inauspicious upbringing, and travelled the world in pursuit of his fortune, spending his early adult years in Australia and the Middle East. Whilst in Aden, he met and fell headlong for Alice Nanney-Wynn, and pursued her with characteristic zeal until she accepted his proposal. They were married at Holy Trinity Brompton, Knightsbridge in March 1963. Shortly after the birth of Miles, their son, some 13 months later, Professor Cato abandoned his itinerant lifestyle and settled in East Anglia, where a daughter, Chloe, was born in 1967. He lived happily in his Essex village idyll with Alice until his death on 12th November 2012.
Initially trained as a chartered surveyor and involved in international property developments and housing charities, he began active practice as an Arbitrator and dispute resolution consultant in the late 1980’s. It was in this field that he became a pre-eminent practitioner and prolific author and lecturer, founding the Arbitration Club in 1990, from which the International Arbitration Club was later born, and having published several seminal and innovative books including three editions of Arbitration Practice and Procedure, The Sanctuary House Case and The Expert in Litigation and Arbitration. He lectured extensively both at home and overseas including in Australia, Dubai, Hong Kong, Kenya and Zimbabwe, but it was in China that his dynamic academic presentations were rewarded with his appointment as Professor of Law at Beijing University and as Visiting Professor at the Shardong Institute of Architecture & Engineering. Other accolades followed both in the United Kingdom and beyond, and Professor Cato became a popular and admired figure, renowned for his common sense and humane approach to dispute resolution and for his innate thirst for justice, as well as for his lively wit, his erudition and his amusing anecdotes.
Professor Cato exuded similar vigour and variety beyond the field of Law, being the inaugural (joint) World Monopoly Champion in 1977 and having played The William Tell Overture on his teeth on Radio 4’s Today Programme (to the great amusement of presenters and listeners alike). He became an irrepressible and regular presence at Lord’s cricket, dressed auspiciously in his MCC cap and tie, and supping champagne in the front rows of the Warner Stand, appreciatively watching a sport he singularly failed ever to master as a player! In contrast he was an excellent golfer and for 40 years played regularly at both Aberdovey, Merioneth and the Royal Worlington at Newmarket with his beloved dog, Woody at heal.
Perhaps his abiding contribution – above even this litany of achievement both professional and personal – was in his hours of greatest darkness, during a protracted debilitating illness. Diagnosed with motor neurone disease in January 2008, he resolved from an early stage to start a blog, entitled D Mark Cato’s Blog – Dying to Live, through which he sought to bring succour to similar sufferers. However, as the blog gained momentum, and acquired followers from around the world, reaching in excess of 3 million hits in the 43 months during which he shared his thoughts, experiences, madcap inventions and constant good humour, its audience broadened well beyond its originally intended scope. Through it, he provided inspiration and solace to many, and his motto carpe diem was one by which he abided with unerring grace and dignity, in even his most intense moments of suffering, until his death.
This is one I prepared earlier as the TV chefs are likely to say. By the time you read this I shall have gone, passed away, gone before, slipped away, whatever euphemism appeals to you.
Whether through natural causes or by my own hand, you will no doubt learn in time but, whichever it was, we’ve had a pretty good run over the past 57 months when the blog has received 3,120,080 hits in the 43 months it has been running.
I know, from the many responses that I have received, that it has touched quite a number of people, patients and carers, and indeed many thousands of other people who strangely found some inspiration in it. For these small victories I was truly thankful and it gave me a reason to getting up every morning and in the end the total inability to do virtually anything for myself and my severely weakened state meant that the kindest thing was to slip away.
My darling wife, who has been so wonderfully supportive since I started going downhill around March 2008, deserves a break.
My regular readers will know that I am a confessed atheist. I doubt, like Bertrand Russell, I shall have a deathbed conversion. If I do then I say to you all, God bless you, if there is a God, and I will know before any of you.
Goodbye, and thank you for listening.
It has been eleven days since the last blog entry and, as it now seems highly unlikely that Mark will be adding to it himself, we thought it timely to post a brief news update for regular readers who may naturally be concerned.
On 24 October Mark’s condition deteriorated very significantly since which time he has been in bed, almost continually on his Nippy respirator and with substantial pain medication. Over the past ten days his condition has gradually worsened and, while he has received astounding care from all concerned, it has become clear that he needed more specialist medical attention than was available at home.
This morning he was admitted to an excellent hospice which will care for him in the coming days and where he will also be able to be in the company of his family.
During this very tough time Mark has shown all the strength of character, tenacity and humour that will be familiar to followers of his blog and we are sure it would mean a great deal to him to know that he is in your thoughts and prayers.
Mark wrote his final blog entry some time ago and as and when the time comes this will appear.
With our thanks and best wishes,
Alice, Miles & Chloe.
Autumn is well and truly with us. Cold dank misty mornings and no sign of the’ Indian summer’ promised to us by the meteorological office. No, this is not the time to plan those outside barbecues, or a pizza from Jamie Oliver’s dad’s pizza oven. Instead muffle up and bend to the wind, it is going to be a long winter.
From the various visitors we have had over the past few weeks, they all remark on how well I am looking or, more specifically, how much better a look, then I did 5/6 months ago. I believe that was the time I was being weaned off the morphine and looked and felt like death. Whatever the reason behind these observations, I should be thankful for looking healthier and more robust than I did six months ago. I suppose it is possible that I have plateaued, to some extent. For how long we will not know until my health changes yet again and I started to go downhill.
I can say, with all honesty, that I have not had occasion to question how I am, or do, feel when I wake up each morning. It is not something I give time to thinking about. I wake up like most people, and would only consciously how I felt if my well-being was prone to variations but that is not the case. I know that my arms are slowly getting weaker, for example I can no longer raise them to my nose which, with a continually runny nose, can be a real bore. I either wait until someone notices that my nose needs attention. Or, if I’m really desperate I call out for help. Feet and legs have gone. Arms have probably lost 90% of their movement, and only my left hand, splinted up and resting on a cleverly designed armrest, which lightens and weight of the arm, is of any use at all. So, to all intents and purposes I am quadriplegic.
No visitors today except Neil, from Possum, who returned after his recent visit to replace the new control button on the armchair which worked only intermittently.
We were delighted to hear that, what Richard describes as a slight setback, has now cleared up. Bearing in mind that Richard had, what he described as a minor setback (heart attack), some time ago we are always wary of reports on his health. Much as we love him for who and what he is, there is always the secondary consideration lurking in the wings, as to what immediate steps we should have to take if Richard was rushed into hospital for any reason. I refer of course to my mother’s situation. Her Alzheimer’s is manifested itself behaviourally and I believe she is now only really comfortable and calm in Richard’s care. I would hate to think how frightened, she might become, in the hands of strangers. Wi the th them both in their mid-90s, we can only pray that Nan goes first, which will certainly be the least painful alternative.
Having said that I really ought to discuss with Richard a plan B, so that we are prepared for the worst scenario.. With 65% of the population of this ’emerald isle’ being over 65 years old (I think I heard by the year 2050). It is a problem facing the nation which is partially responsible for the rumbles of dissatisfaction currently being espoused by people who will be affected by the more stringent retirement rules who are clearly predominantly thinking of the effect of this situation, quite naturally on themselves. We should all thank whoever we pray to for the possibility that we can still beat this problem, whereas number of member countries in the EU had little chance of doing so, which means significant trouble ahead.
It seems entirely appropriate that I should finish today’s entry with some oddities in the English language specifically to do with plurals. Click here to see the difficulties facing a foreigner trying to master the English language.
There were no ill effects with the first of the beta blockers, I took yesterday, so we repeated the dose today. We can only be satisfied that I am not suffering from any of the side-effects until a week or so has gone by, but, so far, so good. They do not seem to have changed my pattern of sleep, which is a blessing. one way, but a burden the other.
I wake up has always around 5.00 and 5.30 a.m. now, and on this new arrangement I lie in bed until one of my morning helpers arrive which means that I actually lay awake around one hour long than previous. I am hoping that my body will adjust itself and allow me to sleep soundly through what is chronic pain emanating from my joints.
What people normally do not seem to fully understand it is that if the alarm is only an inch or two above my hand, depending on which side I’m lying, I do not have the strength to raise that hand, even 1 inch in order to set off the alarm
Both Smiler and Kimberly came down for lunch today. It was an almost unique situation as it will usually be one or the other, but rarely both. In any event, it was lovely to see them both. I am afraid Smiler, who generously offered to help me with a problem on my blog spent a very good part of his time with us trying to help me. Compare my blog diary – that is the hard copy of the blog – before it gets published with the published blog. The astute reader will have noticed that there was no 19th October entry and two for 17th. October. I have nearly sorted out and will certainly have done so by the end of this week.
There were no ill effects with the first of the beta blockers, I took yesterday, so we repeated the dose today. We can only be satisfied that I am not suffering from any of the side-effects until a week or so has gone by, but, so far, so good. They do not seem to have changed my pattern of sleep, which is a blessing. one way, but a burden the other. I wake up has always around 5.00 and 5.30 a.m. now, under this new arrangement, I lie in bed until one of my morning helpers arrives which means that I actually lay awake around one hour longer than previously. I am hoping that my body will adjust itself and allow me to sleep soundly through what is chronic pain emanating from my joints.
What people normally do not seem to fully understand it is that if the alarm is only an inch or two above my hand, depending on which side I’m lying, I do not have the strength to raise that hand, even 1 inch in order to set off the alarm. The fact is the weight of the bedclothes, is more than my weakened arm can cope with. Once bedclothes are in place and totally immobilised.
Both Smiler and Kimberly came down for lunch today. It was an almost unique situation as it will usually be one or the other, but rarely both. I felt rather embarrassed when they left shortly after lunch when I realised that we had spent the best part of their visit trying to resolve a posting problem of my blog diary. It was not as if we had been successful, even after spending those couple of hours on the problem we were no nearer resolving the problem. Smiler takes an entirely approach to this blog diary so far as he is concerned, once the day has passed anything written about that day is history and of no significance, other than the effect on the current day. I find this to be a strange response from someone with an historical bent. Truth and accuracy of the contemporary observer has to be the best evidence of what actually occurred. I use this trivial issue to illustrate the importance I place on my own approach to such matters. To me it is of the greatest importance that any report has been recorded contemporaneously and stop this chronologically.
I battled away with this problem or an hour after they have left before succumbing to the respirator, for an hour or so, as recommended by my Papworth consultant, Dr Michael Healy. There is no question, in my mind that the short bursts in the respirator,, during the day, have improved my breathing, perhaps this is in combination with the increased pressure prescribed by Dr Michael Davies.
Later, that afternoon, ‘my lovely’and I enjoyed catching up with the latest episode of Downton Abbey, filmed in Highcliffe where that other greatly series was played out last year.