I often hear loud excited voices in my head.
My perfectly normal, and uninteresting internal monologue is interrupted by ‘The Commentators’.
You must remember hearing them as a child?
I do. As I kicked a football in the vague direction of a goal guarded by my Dad, I could hear them. Dad throws the ball towards me and I take a couple of inept touches in a futile attempt to control the ball: the Commentator in my head says ‘he beats one defender, then another, now there’s just the keeper to beat! Oh I say, what a shot, there’s no stopping that as it hits the roof of the net!’ Meanwhile in reality my scuffed toe poke has bobbled goal wards and stopped in a puddle on the goal line. For a fleeting moment I wonder why Dan Maskell is covering football instead of tennis, but celebrate the goal. Maybe for you it was a different sport, describing the Wimbledon tennis final as you hit the ball against a wall, or maybe you were a singer using a hairbrush for a mic as you warbled along to the cassette tape, or a prima ballerina or whatever, but voices of The Commentators were there in your head.
They weren’t, I hear you say?
Oh well, it must just be me then…
Fast forward to 2017 via Rio 2016 for the Olympics and Paralympics and Robot Wars and Commentators are still in business . Some of the voices belong to the commentators of my youth: John Arlott, Brian Johnson, or Brian Moore. Now in my fifties (with no hope of a late call from Team GB) and having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s a decade ago (with no hope of a late call from the selectors for the Paralympics) on what are they commentating?
Daily life with Parkinson’s provides The Commentators with many opportunities.
I stand up from the sofa, at the first attempt, with no wobbling: ‘He has nailed the landing!’ screams the ecstatic Commentator as if I were Max Whitlock winning gold on the pommel horse.
The next time I wobble and take an extra step to regain my balance: ‘That’ll cost him point three’ the Commentator sighs sadly. When it takes me three or more attempts his tone is that of a disappointed Headteacher, “He’s let himself down, he’s let his coaches and teammates down…”
Then there is the Parkinson’s equivalent of the modern pentathlon. Event 1: Getting up. ‘In the first of the five events he had a tricky moment when he managed to lean on his top as he tried to push up into a seated position, got trapped causing his tremor to kicked in, but he didn’t take too long.’
Event 2 Getting dressed: ‘… and as you join us live in the Stadium Bedroomio, the plucky Brit has successfully negotiated putting his pants and trousers on, but now he faces the tricky task of putting his socks on and he is losing a lot of time here. To be fair he is tall and his feet are a long way away, but he will be gutted at being out-witted by a pair of socks for so long. What is he doing now? He’s got his jumper all tucked up behind his back and his arms are flapping like the sails of an abandoned windmill…’
And so it goes on all through the day.
Event 3 Putting my shoes on; ‘he has chosen to take the easy route through and use a shoe-horn alongside the Velcro fastening option.’
Event 4 Getting in the car and going to the supermarket: ‘… nothing flashy nor elegant about the flop technique he employed there to get in the car, but now it’s the trolley push. Remember, unlike the regular trolley events, the competitors choose a trolley at random and his seems to have a wonky wheel and a mind of it’s own, he is trying to control the shopping trolley around the tight hairpin bends but he’s taken that bend very wide but he just managed to miss the stack of toilet rolls and the woman deciding which brand of washing up liquid to choose.
You get the picture, or at least the radio commentary.
Mind you I have one “advantage” over the elite athletes. If an athlete makes a mess of their event the next olympics or Paralympics is four years away. If I start my day by being outwitted by a pair of socks my chance to redeem myself is tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow…


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