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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

1 Comment

  • Tricia Goldsmith says:

    Dear M.C., I do believe, as the partner of a fellow sufferer of M.N.D., that you are allowed an occasional winge, and anyway you winge in such an entertaining way! With great respect, Tricia Goldsmith.

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