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2 July 2010

Posted by DMC on 2 July 2010 in Diary |


The good Dr Long left for Sweden, this morning,  for the marriage of his daughter, Penny, in a 10 days time. Before he left I discussed with him the letter that had come from Papworth Hospital regarding my recent visit there. Basically, the difference between this visit and the previous one was  that my Forced Expiratory Volume (FEV) had dropped to 1.7 with a vital capacity of 2.5 litres (74% predicted). This was a considerable drop from the last visit when  my vital capacity was 3.3 litres. Although the doctor said that there was no urgent need for ventilatory support I am to be reassessed in two months time rather than three as before.

With the ramps having been completed I was able to get into my office for the first time since I broke my leg and spend some time with my secretary sorting out the backlog of paperwork. I actually managed extremely well, waling the ramp, using my gutter frame, with ‘my lovely’ hovering nervously behind me on the first attempt but as we saw this to be  entirely safe this is probably the way I will access the office, at least for the time being, although I have to say that the Occupational Therapists do not recommend the use of wheeled frames on ramps.

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3 July 2010

Posted by DMC on 3 July 2010 in Diary |


The day of the Great London Swim Event has arrived. Today Peter Beuchel, Clive Freedman and young Tom Osbourne are all valiantly going to swim a mile each, in the Royal Docks, on the Isle of Dogs, in their fundraising event, in aid of the MND Association –-Three Miles for Mark. Sadly, I shall not be there as I had bought tickets for the Lord’s before the boys offered to do the swim. In any event, they are all swimming at different times of the day and it would be virtually impossible for me to watch all three,  unless I was prepared to spend anything up to 12 hours by the waterside. I can do no more, therefore, than wish them all good luck.

A lovely day at Lord’s for the final match between England and Australia in the five match 50 overs, series. We lost, but the result was not significant as we had already won the first three encounters of the series.

It was a perfect summer’s day with a fully sold out Lord’s looking its finest. Barry picked me up at 8.30 and we were at the ground just before 10.00. Paul met us at Gate 6. and with a giant bear hug transferred effortlessly me from car to wheelchair, from thence I was pushed across the grass, passed the crowd in the Warner Stand to the place specially reserved for wheelchair. Patients… My guests were Monti and Karyl Nairn and they brought with them their dear little 10-month-old Baxter, who I must say is a very beautiful baby.

The day passed in the time honoured tradition with the first bottle of champagne  opened at 11.00 and then flowed liberally throughout the day, interspersed with various offerings of food. As always the days sped by, and before I knew it I was back in Barry’s car, homeward bound, weary but having a great day. The next  personal test will come later this month when I had booked to spend four days consecutive Lord’s for the England versus Pakistan test match. This will be a real endurance test even fully fit I used to find three days was about as much as I could cope with.

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A Special Entry – The Great London Swim

Posted by DMC on 3 July 2010 in Diary |

This is a one off special entry, as you can see relating to The Great London Swim, in which hundreds of generous young people will be swimming for various charities. The event is taking place in the Royal Docks on 3 July. Some members of The Arbitration Club, and other friends have very generously agreed to swim a mile each for the MND Association. They’re kindly calling this “3 Miles For Mark”. Obviously, for such a worthy cause we are seeking as many sponsors as we possibly. I have personally e-mailed a great number of people, in the UK and other parts of the world where I am known, in the hope that a few of them will support us. You can get all the information you require about this event from the following sponsorship forms: Three Miles for Mark – sponsorship form – revised 16 03 2010 Three Miles for Mark – sponsorhip flyer- 16 03 2010 From this you can see that you can either make an individual donation, or better still, download the other form and the elicit donations from friends and relatives or sympathisers of people who have had contact with loved ones who have suffered from disease. Having collected those donations yourself you can then make a single donation using the other form. This special entry will remain at the top of this blog until all the promised donations have been collected. I thank each and every one of you, in advance, who kindly respond to this appeal.

Post event Note

The swim was a great success see 4 July entry. I’m keeping this special note on the blog for the time being as we ar,e still in the throes of collecting in pledges and there is still time for anyone who has not yet made a donation, who wishes to do so to do so direct through clicking on the above link.

DMC 8 July 2010

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4 July 2010

Posted by DMC on 4 July 2010 in Diary |


I received details today, by e-mail, of the outcome of The Great London Swim Event. Congratulations to all three boys who finished in very creditable times, particularly young Tom, who covered the distance in 33 minutes  16 seconds but only just over a minute or so faster than Peter. Even more impressive was that Duncan Goodhew, the 100 m gold medallist who was only 4 ½. minutes faster. A very creditable performance, all round.. Having said that, that in no way denigrates from Clive’s splendid performance in coming 37th. in his Age Group, having  never done anything like this ever before, which puts him in a class of his own. Thank you so much, boys.

We must not lose sight of the fact that all this training and energy was for the purpose of raising money for the MND Association and the Heaton-Ellis Trust, which was specifically setup up as a charity to research into a cure for MND. Just what the final total will be, for each appeal, I am not sure, at this stage, as there is clearly money to come  from people who have made pledges, but I know that it exceeds £5000 for the main appeal and even more for the Heaton- Ellis Trust, due to a single generous donation of £7500. I will report on the final totals in due course .  .

This afternoon we watched Nadal win another impressive Wimbledon final. This time against the 6’5” Tomas Berdych, who, to his credit put up a creditable performance but never really looked like winning.

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5 July 2010

Posted by DMC on 5 July 2010 in Diary |


It was one of those Irish Tuesdays today being Monday, when the geriatric golf day was moved by a day to make way for a private function tomorrow. As my good friend Peter Murphy kindly drove me, with a name like that, I hope he will forgive the politically incorrect reference to the Irish.

This was my first visit, to the Tuesday geriatric club, since the beginning of May, a week or so before I broke my leg and it was great to be back and to see many of the old gang again, although for some odd reason there were fewer than usual, despite the beautiful weather.. I suspect many will turn up tomorrow having not to checked their diaries!. I rode around with Griggsy, in fact he actually played and I drove him in his buggy, despite my hands and arms not functioning as freely as I would have liked,  I managed, after a fashion.

Once I was at a club I used my gutter frame, which was okay  when I was inside but did not function at all  well on the gravel drive outside. However, I am having it adapted with 6 inch rubber wheels to replace the small hard plastic ones, which should make it usable both indoors and out.

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6 July 2010

Posted by DMC on 6 July 2010 in Diary |


I decided to brave the rigours of  a train journey to London today — the first since I broke my leg falling off the train at Bishop Stortford in early May.

The occasion was the Arbitration Club lunch, of the Law Court Branch, held at the offices of City lawyers, Speechley Bircham, just off Fetter Lane. Both Peter Beuchel and Clive Freedman happened to be present and looked none worse for their exertion in the Great London Swim Event

One of the members of the club, Keith Kirkwood, who actually lives at Bishop Stortford, very kindly agreed to accompany me or I suppose, more correctly, be entirely responsible for getting me there and back safely, by whatever means. I had originally thought the wheelchair would be the best option but the business of ramps at Audley End Station and again at Liverpool Street and then getting the wheelchair into one of those special taxi’s and out again, not to mention manoeuvring it about within Speechley Bircham’s offices, before repeating the whole process in  reverse on the return journey, was a daunting prospect.. I’ve never tried it and I imagine one has to give prior notice to each station visited and say precisely on which train one is travelling, so that there can be made available. . Bearing all this in mind, I decided I would attempt the whole process with the gutter frame, despite the fact that the new wheels has yet to be fitted and the small plastic wheels, are far from ideal, for external use. However, remembering the marble surface of the Liverpool Street station I relied on the skill of the pavier to have produced a smooth surface for my  walk up from  platform 6  to platform 10, to pick up a taxi.

The transition from home to station and onto the train went smoothly enough. The driver, who observed me climbing into the train on the gutter frame, very kindly left his cab, entered the compartment, where we were sitting, and asked if I would like a mobility wagon when we reached Liverpool Street Station. It was a very nice gesture which I declined as I was curious to see how my legs would hold up on what  would be one of the longest walks I would have taken since the cast was removed. In the event, it was no problem

The first taxi we tried did have a special disability seat but it was not purpose-built and did not swing out over the pavement sufficiently far for me to sit on it comfortably. In any event, I don’t think it had ever been used before as the driver was uncertain how it functioned, and worse than that it did not click into place once I was in the cab, which would have made swinging round corners very precarious for me, so we switched to one of the modern purpose-built disability taxis. Like the train driver before him,  the taxi driver was extremely helpful and pointed out that if I wished he would extend the wheelchair ramp over the pavement and then raise it to allow me to walk into the cab. However, I chose the easier option of the dickie seat swinging out over the pavement.

When we reached the lawyer’s offices we found they had a special wheelchair lift to take us down to the floor below. It was large enough for half a dozen wheelchairs and, no doubt, cost a great deal of money to install, so I believe they were very happy to last have found someone to use it — apparently I was the first.

The rest of the excursion went predictably. A modest lunch and an excellent discussion on arbitral matters before the excitement of the return journey with yet one more twist. The station attendant at Liverpool Street, seeing me struggling with the frame, asked where we were alighting and radioed ahead to Audley End to have us met off the train. Here again I achieved another first (or almost).

Audley End station had recently completed the installation of a very grand new staircase up and over the tracks with a splendid lift  at each end, which, according to the young man who met us, cost several million pounds. This railway employee was proud to announce that I was only the third person to use it. Thank heavens they had had it installed before the current round of austerity cuts had been imposed, as it would certainly have been for the chop and without it I would not have been  able to get off at this station as the stairs would have defeated me. Who would have thought that such a journey will turn into such an adventure!

I must admit I’m very grateful to dear Keith for being such a helpful and thoughtful carer, particularly when I learned that after dropped me off he had to return to London for a meeting. It’s good to know that I can still attend the odd Arbitration Club lunch, at least, for the time being, provided someone like Keith is prepared to come with me.

A red letter day in more sense than one. This blog passed 600,000 hits today

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8 July 2010

Posted by DMC on 8 July 2010 in Diary |

My second full day in the office since I broke my leg. Good old Duncan (Rix) had kindly been in over the weekend and reorganised all my office equipment so that I can access it from one sitting position. I access the place through the new ramp using my gutter frame and then onto the office chair with the electric ‘UpEasy’ cushion. This works so well that I am able to rise and stand up to grasp my frame and get myself back to the house all without assistance.

Having settled myself down I then realise that I had completely forgotten the telephone number on my second ‘ Livebox’ telephone line -after all it will almost 2 months since I last used it and it was fairly new then. Anyway, this put me in mind of the politically correct description of someone with a short-term memory loss, temporary cognitive impairment. Who on earth dreams these things up, for example, someone who is retiring is about to receive his or her benefit crystallisation. Having lived in Australia for the best part of five years, 50 odd years ago, I got used to people calling a spade, a spade rather than a personal metallic digging implement. This train of thought meant I cannot not resist repeating what a judge said in a recent case where a party is restricted from approbating or reprobating’, which means no more or less, than, blowing hot and cold.

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10 July 2010

Posted by DMC on 10 July 2010 in Diary |


A long, lingering, lazy lunch in the garden. Our guests were Julian (Critchlow) — my literary executor, and very good friend, since we were students together at Kings College London, in the late 80s, reading for our Masters degree in Arbitration Law -and his partner Lucy. As I have come to expect from this pair they were good company and the conversation sparkled well into the afternoon when my energy suddenly sagged and they kindly decided it was probably about time to go home.

As luck would have it, it was another exquisitely beautiful, typically English, summer’s day, mercifully free of the plague of thunder bugs from which we have suffered over the last few hot days The icing on the cake was that our near neighbours – albeit 100 and 200 feet away respectively, on two boundaries – with whom we have the very best of relations, were happily elsewhere with all their respective brood, so our peace was not shattered by the ‘ Violet Elizabeth’ screams that seem to be de rigueur when their little darlings are tearing round their respective gardens enjoying themselves. . (For those non-literary readers I should explain that Violet Elizabeth was a friend of William, in the Just William stories, written by the Richmal Crompton, who threatened to ‘ sqeam and sqeam, until she was sick’, if she did not get her own way,) Extraordinarily enough, I discovered a few years ago that a prominent barrister friend of mine -whose name I shall withhold to spare his blushes – had played the role of the young William for the television series, presumably in a 50’s. Following this train of thought,  I also played golf many years ago, indeed with the co-founder of the Themanus Golfing Society (see     entry ) who, in a weak moment, informed me that he was the little blue eyed, curly headed little darling, who appeared on the Pear’s Soap posters. No doubt, the younger generation of readers of this blog  will have no idea what I’m talking about but perhaps one day they may see these posters in a museum and then  understand the reference.. When I knew this ‘little darling’ he was a 6’ 1”, middle-aged gentleman weighing every bit of 15 stone. None of this of course has anything to do with ‘my lovely’s’  lunch but it does make me wonder whether I remembered to mention these two infants in the chapter of my autobiography entitled  The Very Few Famous People I Have Ever Met.

As the average person seems to have a morbid curiosity about food and drink, as is evidenced by the proliferation of cooking programmes on television -which I suspect many people watch whilst they tuck into their takeaway – I will make an exception and say what our simple meal comprised. No starter, but our main course was a bowl of Coronation pasta   generously topped with tiger prawns with a large bowl of mixed salad to accompany it. A large crispy brown wholemeal loaf was available for those who wanted it for their course and the selection of half a dozen cheeses that followed the main course. We then finished with a Waitrose lemon tart smothered in the best English raspberries and cream. On the drink front we washed away the dust of the journey with some champagne and drank, with the meal, a modest sauvignon blanc.. All quite delicious, with the minimum of ‘ pouring over a hot stove’, for ‘my lovely’. A perfect alfresco meal of which, even our erstwhile next-door neighbour, Jamie Oliver, might have approved.

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11 July 2010

Posted by DMC on 11 July 2010 in Diary |

A quiet day after yesterday’s excitement. A kind neighbour, Edward Oliver, who has generously helped me over the past two years complete my Tax Return – as I can no longer write –  came round this morning with this year’s submission. It will be interesting to see if there is any comeback from the Inland Revenue concerning the change of emphasis in my work which now includes working on inventions. Having said that there is still the updating of my Magnus Opus, Arbitration Practice and Procedure — Interlocutory and Hearing Problems, currently being worked on (I hope) by Dr Julian Critchlow and Prof. Robert Merkin, in addition, there is my lecturing and  my work in connection with the various branches of The Arbitration Club. So I suppose I can justifiably say that I have not entirely retired from my mainstream occupation, Arbitration.

It would be churlish not to mention that I did take a sneaking look at the final of the football World Cup -in the commercial breaks of the film we were watching  -despite claiming to have no interest in football whatsoever. However, such an event, rather like the opening of the Olympic Games ceremony, is almost mandatory viewing. In the event to me, not being an aficionado of the game, it seemed the unstructured and frankly a little boring.

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12 July 2010

Posted by DMC on 12 July 2010 in Diary |


Today I received a savage blow. Yet another milestone in my life is disappearing. After some correspondence with the University in Beijing we have decided that it will not be physically possible for me to go and deliver the lectures, or assist in giving the lectures, this year. Basically, the reason is that the campus is being completely reconstructed and is, in effect,  a building site. I had previously explained to  the University administration that I might need a wheelchair, but they thought that this would be almost impossible to manoeuvre it through the debris and building works.  In any event, probably the most significant problem is that until the new administrative building is completed there is no WC!. The authorities have promised that they would include one in the new building but this will not be ready by October. Even last year I had great trepidation about needing to go (as we say in English)  squatting down over the hole in the ground, which is the Eastern closet, during the lecture day. (As it happened I managed to sort this out in the hotel before I left each morning – one of the joys of being regular!). As it was, in no way, even then, 10 months ago,  could I have managed unassisted, due to my weakened legs. I cannot think of anything more undignified,  even with my dearest friend, the good Dr long, closeted in with me,  hanging on while I did my business. Now, even this will not be possible as once I sink below a certain level I simply collapsed and the whole thing would have been utterly farcical.. (Apologies to all those readers who do not suffer from lavatorial difficulties but after all this blog originally started for the benefit of MND sufferers) Add the fact that the lecture rooms are themselves on the third floor, up four flights of steps, and although I had offered, if necessary, to  be carried up those stairs, I have every sympathy with  the University decision that the whole thing would be just too much, so we have opted for plan B, the lectures this year to be delivered by my successor.

As one might expect the University expressed concern about the condition of my health and made it clear that they did not want me to suffer any inconvenience or injury for which they would feel totally blame worthy. Sadly, I am as certain as I can be that this means  I have given my last lecture in China, as at my current rate of deterioration, albeit reasonably slow, there is no way I believe I will get there next year. Interestingly, however, the University have said that they are considering buying software for remote teaching, so it could mean that next year I may be able to teach the lectures by this advanced technology.

Reading between the lines about the amount of reconstruction being carried out I sensed the University’s reservation as to how I would manage and therefore it was me who took the initiative in suggesting that I fully understood if they considered the whole thing would be too difficult. I think they were heartily relieved at my suggestion that it might be sensible if my successor were to deliver these lectures entirely on his own. The University then very kindly confirmed that they were renewing my Adjunct Professorship. This will enable me  to continue to supervise this course and possibly to mark the examination papers. There was a great sense of relief in a follow-up e-mail received from the University once I had made the decision to step down this year. In saying that my understanding of the University’s standpoint  is highly appreciated the administrator of this course  suggested that I think you may feel how upset I am when I tell you this…

I am recalling your gentleman image… and can also hear your eloquent lectures and your humorous jokes. Actually, I was moved to tears when I read your frank e-mail I think you can tell from these sentiments, how very much I will miss these dear friends.

It will almost certainly the end of the second  source of great pleasure, my visits to the beautiful Anantara at Hua Hin,  Thailand, the invariable stopping off place on the way home from trips to China and Australia (see Video section of this blog.

As I said, at the beginning, this is a very sad day, the end of an era, from which I have derived an enormous amount of pleasure and satisfaction. I have taught over 1000 Chinese lawyers the British way of dispute resolution. I shall miss all the friends that I have made over the years on my visits and the delightful hard-working students, a number of whom continue to keep in touch with me, from time to time..

This is just the sort of thing makes one realise that the end is in sight. First,  my car  disappeared, having being sold  by ’my lovely’ without even I asking me. Of course, she did so in my best interest as she considered I was too dangerous to drive. (I’m sure, on mature reflection, she was right; she usually is! — I was pretty good steering on straight roads but the bends were a bit tricky!) The next thing was me having to sleep downstairs and no longer even to visit the bedroom where I have slept for the last 46 years, in my beautiful four poster bed (admittedly, the decision that I would never be allowed upstairs again was taken after falling backwards downstairs from the top step to the bottom, twice in three days). The next thing to go, I believe, will be my fine  modern snooker table, in order to make more room for wheelchairs and general manoeuvrability.  I had it specially made for my office, 25 odd years ago.. Things are disappearing and my life is inexorably shrinking.

Having said all that, it is, of course, inevitable with MND and I do not want my readers to think that I’m becoming depressed  just understandably increasingly frustrated at not be able to do things that I know, under normal circumstances, I would be perfectly capable of doing!! That’s one of the problems with MND. You’re not physically ill, apart from feeling a little more tired than usual, just basically progressively incapacitated. Having said that I must remember, that this blog is all about Living not Dying, which I have to remind myself when I write this sort of whingeing  entry.

Now for the mundane. My great excitement today was a visit to the Saffron Walden Community Hospital for an x-ray of my ankle, which is still badly swollen but showed no internal damage and then to the dentist for a general scrape round and a hygienist  session.

Nephew, William Garton Jones, came to stay this evening in order to take me to Lord’s tomorrow. I actually knew William before I met ‘my lovely’, as his parents were living in Aden the same time as I was, when Alice came over from Kenya for his christening. I used to meet William’s parents (Mary was her eldest sister) at the officers club, Tarshyne,  in Elephant Bay, where, no doubt, I was introduced to the infant William. The

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