I had a session today with the boys at Addenbrookes discussing the final modifications for the feeding frame. I am really excited to see the finished result although I have already worked out a more simplified, cheaper version 2, once I am satisfied that this one works. The first thing will be to get it into a hospital to be used by an elderly patient for a week under observation.
On the way back from the hospital I filled up with petrol but for the first time I was unable to lift the lever which releases the petrol cap flap or indeed, when it came to it, squeeze the petrol pump – a confirmation of my weakening hands â€“ however, I was fortunate enough to enlist the assistance of a young Latvian customer who I think was slightly bemused until I explained my problem.
Talking of weak hands I have now had tape loops sown onto to all of my boxers and underpants, one on each side and one in the centre. Where the elastic was too strong for me I can manage perfectly well by hooking my fingers into the loops, thus continuing to maintain my independence in this area.
A red letter day, or rather a red kilt day. I gave it an airing (literally!!) for the first time at the golf club today. It did cause a bit of a stir, when I first appeared and I invited them all to have a good laugh but, to be honest, they were all absolutely wonderful and there were no ribald comments. As far as the functioning of the â€˜skirtâ€™ was concerned, it was as I had hoped. Most of the members were bright enough to work out for themselves the reason for this bit of cross-dressing.
The House Of Lords today rejected Dianne Prettyâ€™s appeal for immunity from prosecution for persons assisting a suicide.
In summary, from a long and important judgment, Lord Bingham held that â€˜ Mrs Pretty cannot establish any breach of any convention rightâ€™. (Lords Steyn and Hope concurring)
I would suggest that anyone who is sufficiently interested should read this judgment for themselves, which can be found at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200102/ldjudgmt/jd011129/pretty-1.htm
I had a really bad night last night so perhaps I should say a little about the effect of MND on my normal sleep pattern. To be honest I have not slept well, by most people’s standards, for the past 30/40 years, rarely asleep for more than three hours at a time. What usually happens is that I go to bed around 10, read for 40 minutes or so, turn out the light, switch on the radio – on a 15 minute timer – and usually sink into a deep sleep before the wireless goes off. I then usually wake around 2 a.m. and catnap from then until 6.00 – when my lovely brings in the morning tea – listening to the radio for 15 minute intervals between.
Initially, this lack of sleep worried me, but then one night, all those years ago, I imagined what it must have been like in the trenches during the first world war, freezing cold, up to your knees in mud and water, and subjected to an intolerable noisy bombardment and here was I lying in my warm comfortable bed, worrying about not sleeping. That always seem to do the trick and I would usually drop off shortly afterwards.
Since being diagnosed with MND the worst part of the 24 hours is in bed at night, I had a really bad night last night so perhaps I should say something about the effect that the MND has had all my normal sleep pattern, particularly, if the fasciculations are aggressive. It’s then that one finds it hard to sleep, worrying about what the future brings. As a result the doctor has prescribed sleeping pills ( 2 X Zopliclone 3.75 mg) plus two Diazepam 5mg, which she says relax the muscles. Even with that load I still frequently wake up after one or two hours but still seem to be able to get through the next day without needing an afternoon nap.
Indeed, I’ve always considered that I was very fortunate in requiring so little sleep.
At one stage, when I was doing my Masters Degree at Kings College I was also active in arbitration and was writing one or other of my books, working something like an 85 hour week. I worked out that by getting by with so little sleep I had probably added something like 10 years to my normal life span. Spending a third of ones life in bed is such a waste of time!
After that rather boring entry I think the reader deserves another anecdote, so I have added one entitled “New Year’s Day” which I hope some people might find inspirational.
I had a good full day today which shows that there is still life in the old dog yet.
Lunch at the Oxford & Cambridge Club, with my good friend Wolf von Kumberg and a colleague of his. Then, on to Lords for the opening ceremony and first match of the 20/20 World Series. â€“ England v The Netherlands. I saw the first 50 mins. or so when we were around 90 for no loss, I then had to leave to go to Covent Garden. It seems that the English team then fell apart and were all out for 161. In the event, the Netherlands won the match, by four wickets, on the last ball from a poor overthrow. Not a very promising start for the series for the home team.
The highlight of the day was, of course, the trip to Covent Garden – the second part of my dear wifeâ€™s, 70th birthday treat, paid for generously by â€˜the childrenâ€™ -a performance of Ondine. I cannot pretend to be an aficionado but even I enjoyed this performance of a relatively modern, as opposed to classical, ballet. It must have been enjoyable as I did not fall asleep! A dash for the train and home just after midnight. Another long day but one which I had managed to survive without too much fatigue.
The trip to Covent Garden reminded me of a time, in the late 60â€™s, when I was a development director of the English Property Company. It’s predecessor (Star GB) had taken over a company called Second Covent Garden, amongst its portfolio was the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (and indeed, I seem to recall, The Coliseum).
The exciting aspect of this, from our point of view, was that the original owner, the Duke of Bedford, had included, in the original design, a box for his own use which had its own door to the street. It was no ordinary box. You entered into a dining room/sitting room – I seem to remember that there was a marble fireplace with the Duke on Bedfordâ€™s crest on it. Here, we would dine in fine style, served by our own staff, finishing a coffee, as the overture struck up and we would transfer to the front box. In the Interval there would be petit fours and Champagne. Although only a minor director, every now and then my turn would come round to invite some clients and friends to join us. The box even had its own private loo – could it have been one of the original Thomas Crapper suites? Ah, for those 60â€™s again when the property world went crazy.
The story goes that the Duke (I’m not sure which one) lost the Opera House through gambling debts and was ultimately acquired by the Second Covent Garden Property Co. I gather that when the Opera House was refurbished the Duke of Bedford’s box was retained, roughly in the same position it now occupies two levels. The box at the lower level with the dining room and loo above. It still has its own exit to the street.
Went to Lordâ€™s yesterday for match 6 of the 20/20 Cricket World Series. The Netherlands were soundly beaten by Pakistan and South Africa beat New Zealand in a thrilling finish by one run.
As a young man I always treated New Year’s Eve as a special event. As a student I used to attend the biggest celebration of all in London, the Chelsea Arts Ball. This was an enormous event and one which was great fun. I always chummed up with a few other people to create some sort of tableau. I remember, the last time I went, it was as â€˜Tramersmithâ€™ — the last tram to run from Hammersmith. We built an almost full scale model of a tram that was suitably decorated and those of us who travelled on it, I seem to recall, wore Edwardian costumes. Why this choice I cannot recall other than the fact that it was more amusing than just wearing modern dress.
This wild party tradition rather died on me when I went to Australia and found myself celebrating New Year’s Eve on a beach with a â€˜barbieâ€™ (BBQ). It simply did not feel like the New Year as it did in the UK with those dark evenings and snow-covered streets. However, my interest in celebrating was revived when I went to Aden and found that Union Khormaksar Club, which I had joined, went in for fancy dress New Year’s Eve parties in a big way. I remember that we all took our servants along to ensure that we had a plentiful supply from the case or two and champagne that each of us provided. Everybody, just everybody, was in some form of fancy dress and the highlight of the evening was the parade and prize giving for the best outfit.
I remember one year I went as a Masai warrior. I was very slim in those days; nudging six feet tall with a 29in. waist. My costume, or rather lack of it, comprised a Masai headdress, a beaded belt who in which was stuck a dagger and little else. For the reader who does not know I should explain that the Kenyan Masai very tall, slim and elegant and, more often than not, totally naked. You will often see these splendid warriors standing elegantly tall, frequently on one leg, in those National Geographical Magazine type photographs of natives in Africa. In order to achieve the right effect I had my entire body painted with orange ochre and dyed a very small pair of briefs in the same colour, so that, too all intents and purposes to the naked eye, so to speak, so was I. The effect was completed by a full-length ochre coloured cloak and a spear taller than me. It was thus attired that I joined the Grand Parade.
One obviously short-sighted elderly lady, or so it appeared by the lorgnette which she held firmly to her eyes, hissed “disgusting” each time I passed her by. Nevertheless I am pleased to say that the judges did not share her concern, as I won first prize in the individual section.
Most of these evenings finished with a cooked breakfast at four o’clock in the morning and then an early-morning as a sun rose over the horizon. Great memories.
Another year, probably around 1962, 30 of us went as ” The Pillâ€. It must have been the time when the contraceptive pill was making headlines. A large number of our party comprised the typical Victorian family, all in splendid costume. The children in sailor suits, both boys and girls, some with hoops, under the beady eye of a well-dressed stern looking nanny. This group contrasted with, and was followed by, the modern family, two badly dressed parents with one baby in a pram (which was me). The whole parade being led by one of our members dressed in a six-foot diameter pill costume. My attire on this occasion was, predictably, a large nappy, made from a full-size bath towel (I think I must have put on a little weight by then) a knitted bonnet with blue ribbons, some matching bootees and a dummy made from a piece of cardboard and a half inflated balloon. I really was a sight for sore eyes.
I cannot remember whether we won a prize in that particular year but what I do recall was an incident on the way home, something like 6 a.m. on the morning. I was driving the car down Maalla straight and we came across a group of seriously inebriated Scottish soldiers who was stoning a taxi driver who was crouching behind his cab in an attempt to avoid the rocks which were being hurled at him. I had no idea what the altercation was about but it was quite clear that had I not intervened there was a severe danger that these young men were going to do something about which they would have been eternally sorry. I jammed on my brakes and leapt out of the car in all my glory, nappy, bonnet, bootees and all and shouted, in my best military voice “what on earth is going on here”. The voice alone, thank goodness, seemed to do the trick and the soldiers suddenly looked shamefaced and put down their rocks.
I then said that they would all be on parade the following morning and sent them packing. Thank goodness, in my disguise, they had no idea who I was and clearly mistook me for one of their commanding officers, or at least some sort of officer.
What I would have done had they decided to mete out the same treatment to me as they were giving to the taxi driver, I know not. However, I think is rather belies the old saying, that, â€˜ clothes maketh the manâ€™.
More matches at Lord’s in the 2020 series but I must confess I did not see much of the action today due to a long liquid lunch, in the Harris Gardens, with my two nephews, William Garton-Jones and Jamie Grand. However, what I did see was the West Indies putting behind them their disappointing test results and comprehensively beating India. Sri Lanka had a good win beating Pakistan by 98 runs.
I shall have more interest on Sunday when England are playing India.
I have been happily surprised at how I have been able to cope with the rather long and pretty exhausting days involving quite a lot of walking and standing about. Having said that, I did have a little accident on the escalator coming home. I dropped my bag and in attempting to grab it managed to knock off my wristwatch onto the escalator floor. Fortunately I was near the top of the escalator, at the time, and managed to retrieve everything before sliding off the bottom. The problem is that every now and then things just seemed to collapse -hands and even legs.
Finished the One Fat Englishman and substituted the loo book with Evelyn Waughâ€™s Scoop, however the chapters are too long to finish in one â€™sittingâ€™, so to speak – even speed-reading.
Whilst lunching in the garden today, listening to South Africa’s magnificent win over the West Indies, I managed to drop boiling hot soup onto my foot. Again, it was a problem of collapsing wrists. I wonder how long it’ll be before I cease to be able to confidently lift anything at all?
Another Lords day, this time with Mark Jenkins and Steve Harrisson. The last before the Final next Sunday. Ireland lost only marginally against Sri Lanka by 9 runs and England had a thrilling finish against India winning by 3 runs. They just need a good win against West Indies in order to get into the semi-finals I managed to survive the whole day arriving home around 11 p.m.