Tag Archives: Alzheimer’s

The Marathon and me. Bawling, Therapy, Guilt, Bawling

When I was a kid, the only Marathon I was interested in was the chocolate bar now known as Snickers. Having said that, I was a little chubby kid and didn’t like a lot of foods, and peanuts back then were a no go area. I would hate discovering a nut in my chocolate, and couldn’t stand the fact that nanny and grandad only ever had whole nut or fruit and nut…  anyway.. I digress before even properly starting…

I did start to run as a kid and remember the first times I went out on a run. I knew I was a little fatty, and I wanted to try and do something about it. (today I measured the distance of the first run I did, it’s just over a mile). I felt very self-conscious. I still do at times when out running now. I kept up running occasionally through college, as a smoker, and in 2006 I used running as a way to give up smoking. I signed up for a marathon, and stopped smoking.

The fact I was doing it for The Alzheimer’s Society was down to my mum having been diagnosed. With Mild Alzheimer’s. That’s how you dealt with it. You say “mild”. Like as if it’s any different than if it was really strong. Or like it was going to just be a little brush with Alzheimer’s and then it’ll go away. Here’s the first instance of the symbolic nature of running. Like you’re running away from something. I think always with running, for me at least, I’ve been running either away from or towards something. Depending on how good I am at applying spin to how I’m feeling at the time it could be to/from a bad marriage, a sick mother, a smaller waistline, health, a new personal best.

This guy’s piece in the Guardian about how he HAS to run marathons is a really good example of how training for a big run can be a decent strategy for good health. It takes a good 4 months, a third of a year, to train properly, so it can be quite habit forming and you’re likely to be still benefiting a good while later.

There’s something most existential about running. Not being able to get your head round something and then going out for a run. The Forrest Gump thing. The doing of an activity for the sake of doing the activity. It helps you to breathe, to concentrate on breathing (much like Yoga). I’ve been able to think about the symbolism of a long run like a marathon. How it’s an achievement in life which might be a suitable enough replacement or substitute for no great achievements in work, love, family etc… How it might be symbolic of an understanding of the longevity of things. “A marathon not a sprint” and all that. It can be very therapeutic.

Recently I joked to a friend that his enthusiasm for running was equal only to the guilt he felt in his personal life. This is classic projection really. My own enthusiasm has diminished the further away from a bad marriage I get, and the closer I move, to a decent set up both at home and at work. I do think the amount of penance in the name of charity x or y does come from a guilt position. It’s a very public display of good-doing.

A friend asked on Facebook last week whether anyone else got all teary when watching the marathon and a few replied yes. I was one of them. Given the stuff I’ve covered above I think it’s hardly surprising. Seeing folks put in so much effort with a picture of “dad” on their backs, or similar is very tear-jerking. For me it’s enough just to see people running.

Advertisements

Troubled Water: Dementia, unhappy endings – comparing Simon and Garfunkel to ACDC

I can be a terrible music bore. I AM a terrible music bore. I had a lovely moment this very afternoon when two friends came by and said “what’s this?” to my playing Bill Callahan stuff… So I then proceeded to put on a bit too much and then try to talk them through the lovely lyrics in Rococo Zephyr.

I say “talk them through”: all I wanted to point out was how lovely was the line “I used to be sorta blind. Now I can, sorta, see”. Many times I stop and marvel at Bill Callahan lyrics and think the man can do what he wants… Here’s the song for you to listen to.

“I used to be sorta blind. Now I can, sorta, see” allows him to be almost confident about what he’s saying… maintaining a vague insecurity. It feels better than boasting I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT. It’s more modest. There’s still room for error or improvement. But he means it. He can see now, where once he couldn’t. (I think).

Anyhow. I had cause to remember recently, perhaps where I got my music bore qualities from. When I was a little tubby cherub boy my mum had Bridge Over Troubled Water on tape. I would go upstairs and play this over and over on the shoe-box tape player. Celia, and El Condor Pasa were my favourites as a kid. And finding out who Frank Lloyd Wright was later on was cool.

Mum one day talked me through the title track. It was particularly special when Art Garfunkel joined in with his special harmony. She quite specifically wanted me to hear that part. She loved it. I still do. Here’s my music bore bit: It’s like a whole crescendo that song… building right to the end… almost… not quite as marked as Hells Bells, but almost…

So I went to see mum last week and played her the song. A few in fact, from the album. Given I’m a buzzfeed dick, I have seen that video of the nice old American man who is just seemingly actually SWITCHED BACK ON AGAIN from his almost comatose state upon being played his favourite songs from his youth. (it’s here if you haven’t seen it).

me and mum

Me and mum

I can confirm that the reality (for me at least) was not quite so dramatic. Mum DID know what she was hearing and perked up a bit. Hummed/murmured along. Tapped her feet ever so lightly. It was so nice to see. She didn’t miraculously come back to life though. I think that’s what I was sorta hoping for.


Right behind the eyes

Alela Diane at South Bank 2007

Alela Diane at South Bank 2007

My friend Alex Highton has a song which starts “You’ve got the trees, right behind your eyes”. (it’s called You’ve got the trees) I like this line very much, it has immediate visual elements working on more than one level, so it opens up a whole host of possibilities. In some ways it reminded me of  a poster Luke Insect did for a show we did with Alela Diane a while back (it’s there on the left). He hid the trees in her hair. It looked great. There are trees everywhere it seems but it’s more the eyes I wanted to write about today.

If you can get behind the eyes of people you’re supposed to be able to see all kinds of worlds (do they really mean it when they say they love me etc etc… and honest guvnor, I never done nothing…)

I’ve noticed this just the last couple of days in the way my mum looks when she isn’t aware that I am watching her/taking a photo. Her eyes look into the distance and she’s apparently deep in thought. She certainly looks wise in the way that older people do. Alex Ferguson looks wise when he dramatically interviews looking away from the camera. Ferguson has got a kind of gravitas (sorry if you’re not bothered about the footy – I’m sure it would feel the same if Scorcese, or Martina Navratilova, looked away from camera during an interview), and you know that he has a depth of knowledge about his subject that is up there with the very best.

My mum is about 7 months older than Ferguson, and has been suffering and deteriorating with Alzheimer’s Diseasefor that last maybe 9, definitely 6 or 7 years. We went for a coffee Saturday morning and I sneaked these pictures of her looking away and contemplating I don’t know what.

She looks very proud and dignified and I wonder what it is she is actually thinking. Whether they are lucid thoughts which she just struggles to communicate, or perhaps the thoughts themselves come in the hotch-potch way she tells them. Either way, I do like to think there’s a bunch of wisdom still going on behind those eyes. Trees, Grandchildren, Nature, Holidays, Sons, Nephews, Sisters, Parents, Friends… A whole life in fact.


From Camp Bestival to Bexhill on Sea to League 1 and a rainbow

Up to Rochdale. Down to Dorset. Down to Bexhill on Sea. All with returns to London in between. Lots of actual fun has been had. Brilliant. Plans continue for the Rochdale Feelgood Festival, and I’m pretty excited about that – Fri 13 and Sat 14 Aug – got loads of decent stuff both old and new and suited for folks old and young… I hope the weather keeps decent and loads of folks come out. I booked Dave Sweetmore the actual Rochdale FC announcer/DJ and I wonder if he’s the booking I am most proud of. I’m excited to be up in Rochdale for The Dale’s first match in League One this weekend, and then to be back the weekend after with a quick trip to Norway in between for Oya festival. I’ll be some kind of European Festival expert soon.

The Cedars at Folk Idol

The Cedars at Folk Idol

Last weekend saw the return of Folk Idol to Camp Bestival, and it was a blast. Once again I was worried till about 5

minutes before kickoff, as the fabulous Challice Family of judges weren’t there yet, also a good few of the bands who had said they would play. After an announcement however a good numb

er of people chanced an entry and we had enough people to start the show, especially after the judges appeared, all resplendent in good old fancy dress. A pirate, a pocahontas (or similar), a flamenco

Chris Wimborne town crier at Folk Idol

Chris Wimborne town crier - needs no false beard

dancer, and an I-can’t-remember-what. So the competition was fierce and included (among others) an actual town crier, satan, an eleven year old violin playing girl, the cedars, and skinny lister.

Brilliant. I discovered the power of giving out organic veg to loads of kids, causingmini riots with each potato/onion/cauliflower etc etc… See Folk Idol on Facebook if this seems just comletely weird. Or on MySpace. Gotta thank my Folk Idol Camp Bestival companion Uncle Scanny for his help over the weekend.

Rainbow in Crouch End

Rainbow in Crouch End

Anthony Gormley at Bexhill

Anthony Gormley at Bexhill

So yesterday I had an almost actual day off. This is needed in my stupid sad over-busy life. Slept over in an excellent B+B in superb comfy bed, visited lovely shops (Bexhill has the ONLY Alzheimer’s charity shop in the UK – and it is excellent – I bought a super 8 cine camera, and some binoculars). Visited the Gormley exhibition at De La Warr Pavillion – very good. Strolled about, had some lunch, wandered about by the sea. Felt good. Day off. Gotta have them.

At the end of it I saw this rainbow in Crouch End. So bright at the bottom, the photo doesn’t quite do it justice.