Archive for the ‘true stories’ Category
I needed therapy after, months of it, and the best money can buy.
If some big guy with a strange Irish accent, talking very fast, offers you cash for a wedding reception for 200 people, you don’t take it. For why, read on.
In the real world I worked for a certain Golf Club, which is a nice, big classy place that treated me pretty well over the months. It has several function rooms upstairs that are my responsibility as Assistant Food and Beverage Manager.
We managed to get the place ready, table plan in, removed anything expensive, locked away in the vaults, double stocked the bar, fitted as many tables in the function suite as we could safely fit, and waited for the fireworks.
We had six security guys hired for the purpose, mostly big, black and bald, nice and sinister. And even they looked nervous.
I stood on the balcony waiting, and my radio crackled to life. “The first guests are arriving.. it is a white transit van.” Shit, here we go, I thought to myself.
So they turn up by the van load.. old and young, brothers and sisters, and lots of cousins.
The guys looked like… pikeys. Trousers and jumpers, to a man. A few in jeans, a lot of nasty gold.
The old ones were pretty much the same.
The kids were wearing a curious mix of old-man suits, complete with flat caps, like they were in a school play or something.
But the women… oh my God. Most were in their early twenties, wearing dresses that barely covered them. Some looked like they were going to a Moulin Rouge theme party, except the dresses were in bright lime green, and orange and electric blue. Some wore barely-mini skirts, some in hot pants with slits cut into them. One, I will never forget, was wearing a tight mermaid dress, in perfect leapard-skin print, with a frilly skirt below the knee that shot out two feet in every direction. I didn’t know you could get dresses that tasteless. They wore more fake tan than Britain had in stock, and they had more fake boobs than Miami beach, presumably paid for in cash.
And as one, they were the rudest people I have ever met. I have dealt with pikeys before in the pub trade, but that is in families of five or ten. Dealing with 150 simultaneously was horrible.
They swore and abused the waitresses, tried to start fights with the bouncers, tried every trick on the bar staff.
We took the starters out to empty tables because they didn’t want to sit down to dinner for more than ten seconds. I poured away more soup than I took out. Half the main courses went into the bin, untouched, even though other tables were still crying out for extra food.
The wedding cake must have been five feet high, just off the floor, and it looked fit to topple over at any second.
By the time we had served the food it was only 7.00 pm and the bar was open till 12.00. They had five more hours drinking! Jesus, lucky I was due to finish at 10.00 pm. Their kids ran around, uncontrolled and hyperactive on red bull. The older ones were practicing their boxing on each other, then the walls.
The madness just went on and on, stressing us all out.
By the time I finished at 22.00 they were three sheets to the wind. I found out the rest of the story the following day. After the bar closed the bouncers hustled them out of the place inside forty five minutes, because we had all just had enough of them.
Once they were outside it all kicked off, fights, glassings, one even got a face of pepper spray from one of his relatives.
At the bottom of the drive the police were waiting to breathalyze the whole lot of them, I don’t know who they caught.
Jesus, what a night. Never again.
Today the world said a fond farewell to the Senator of Massachussettes, Edward Kennedy (1932-2009). He had been ill for some time with malignant brain cancer.
Always known fondly as Ted, he was the last of the great Kennedy brothers that shaped America in the mid sixties, and the youngest of the original nine children. His parents were Joseph Kennedy Senior and Rose Fitzgerald, the former being a US ambassador to the UK, and the latter being the daughter of the mayor of Boston, John ‘Honey Fitz’ Fitzgerald.
Ted narrowly escaped being named George Washington Kennedy, as he was born of the 200th anniversary of Washington’s birth.
He was born into a family that was hugely ambitious and Joe Kennedy ran his household with a rod of iron. His early life was one of near constant movement from one city to another as his father’s political postings changed. He spent several years at the court of St James in the UK, where his father was serving as ambassador. As he was a Catholic he recieved his First Holy Communion from Pope Pius XII himself when, aged 7, he was taken to Rome.
His constant motion from school to school made him a mediocre, or perhaps just unsettled, student. As the youngest child he was doted on by his parents, but they did expect him to do as well as his brothers, quite a tall order.
The Kennedy family has been mired by tragic death after death. At an early age Ted’s oldest brother, Joe Kennedy Jr died when his plane exploded during the Second World War. His sister, Kathleen Agnes was killed in a separate air crash. Another sister, Rosemary, had a failed Lobotomy and spent the rest of her life as an invalid.
After several years in various schools Ted was at best an average student, but a hell of an American Football player. He entered Harvard and gained a place at a winthrope house that was very sports-orientated and suited him well. It was her that he first blotted his copybook. He cheated on a spanish exam by getting a colleague to sit it for him. Unfortunately he was found out and expelled, but was later allowed to reapply.
After Harvard he enlisted in the US army with an eye of working in Army Intelligence, but somebody somewhere would not allow it. He became a military policeman instead, putting his physical presence to good use. Ted served in Europe as security for the Supreme Allied Headquarters. His father’s political connections kept him safely away from the Korean war. Given Joe Senior’s losses of two children already, his motives are at least understandable.
After two years Ted was discharged from the Army as a Private First Class.
Ted re-entered Harvard with a more mature outlook and fared better this time. He also gained interest from several professional football teams, notable the Green Bay Packers. But by now Ted, older and wiser, figured there was more to life than football and womanising. He decided to follow his brothers into another contact sport, politics.
After graduating Harvard he attended Law School at the University of Virginia and the Hague school of international law. This time he studied hard and won the prestigious William Minor Lile Moot Competition. It was here he had his first brush with automobile felony when he was arrested for driving without a licence. He managed his brother, John’s re-election campaign for the Senate in 1958 when he won by a large margin, galvanizing him to go for the Presidency. Meanwhile Ted graduated from law school with some practical experience under his belt.
It was around this time that he married Joan Bennett, a model and socialite. They went on to have three children, Kara Anne, Edward Junior and Patrick. But the marriage was not a happy one and Joan was a heavy drinker, while Ted kept up the bad Kennedy habit of womanizing.
During John Kennedy’s Presidential election campaign Ted worked hard and managed the campaign in the western states. He took flying lessons and also bonded with potential voters by taking up their pass-times such as ski-jumping and bronc riding. Amazingly, he survived the campaign with life and limb intact. And he was now the President’s brother.
Ted was a good fifteen years younger than John, and he was still too young to fill the Senate seat for Massachusetts that John had just vacated. He was 28 and he needed to be 30. Furthermore he felt he was being compared unfairly to his more intelligent older brothers by his ever-pushy father. However his father had a stroke later that year that left him without the power to speak or walk.
Finally in 1962 there was a special senate election in Massachusetts where Ted faced up to Ed McCormick. By now there were already two Kennedy brothers in high office and many thought America was becoming something run like a dynasty. But Ted had a lot of personal charisma, young good looks, and a powerful campaign machine behind him. He won against McCormick by a margin of two to one.
When he entered the Senate he sensibly left his ego at the door, and quietly set to work. He was different from his two brothers, in that he was more personable whereas John could be aloof and Bobby could be intense.
It was at this time, while in the Senate, that he was told of the murder of President John F Kennedy. It was Ted who flew home to Massachusetts to tell their father. The funeral of President Kennedy was one of the hardest of his life, and he stood to attention with his brother Bobby and the widow, Jackie, while John Kennedy Junior, still a small child, saluted his father’s coffin.
It was less than a year later that Ted his own brush with death when his aircraft crashed in bad weather into an orchid in Southampon, Western Massachusetts. The pilot and Ted’s aide were killed while Ted, himself seriously injured, was pulled from the plane by fellow senator Birch Baye. It seems Kennedys and planes just don’t mix.
While still convalescing from his injuries Ted won the Senatorial campaign for a second time, helped largely by his wife, Joan who did all his campaigning for him. He won by a three to one margin while still at death’s door.
He returned to the Senate, still with back pain and a cane, to take on President Johnson over the poll tax. He narrowly lost but he did gain a stronger legislative team from the experience. He pushed through the Immigration and Nationality Act 1965 which changed the American demographic view. He helped found the National Teachers Corps and took a much greater interest in health care.
During a tour of South Vietnam he saw first hand how weak the Vietnamese Republic’s military position was, and his message was: “Shape up or we will ship out.” Eventually, they did.
In spite of Ted’s advice, Bobby Kennedy decided to run for President against the serving President, Lyndon Johnson. It was to be something of a grudge match, as Bobby and Lyndon had never got on. The latter openly referring to the former as a snotty nosed kid.
Ted, now the head of the Kennedy election campaign apparatus, began laying the groundwork for a campaign in the west, as he had for John, eight years earlier. He was ahead of Bobby, setting up rallies in San Francisco when he heard Bobby had been shot in Los Angeles. Ted grieved heavily, his two brothers, his idols since childhood were gone from him. He must have felt very alone.
As the senior surviving Kennedy he spoke at his brother’s funeral. His words remain Bobby’s epitaph.
“My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.”
In place of Bobby, Ted was asked to front the Democratic nomination for the Presidency. But people were unsure if he was ready for the job, perhaps including Ted himself. He declined the nomination for potential vice-president as he felt he had a more important role closer to home.
Ted became the surrogate father for no less than thirteen children, including four of his own. The children of John and Bobby Kennedy looked to Ted to be a benevolent uncle, which he proved undoubtedly to be. He also became the family executor (not to be confused with executioner!), he negotiated the marriage contract between Jackie Kennedy and Aristotle Onassis, whom he had his doubts about.
It is a sad fact of life that people remember the million things you did right and always remember the few things you did wrong. And, in 1969, Ted made a tragic error of judgment.
He had been to a party on the small island of Chappaquiddick, connected to Martha’s Vineyard, in July that year. The party was a reunion for the ‘Boiler Room Girls’, a group of female staff who had worked on Bobby Kennedy’s election campaign. Also present were Jospeph Gargan, Ted’s cousin, and Paul Markham, a school friend of Gargans.
The following details are known from official testimony.
The party had been reasonably sedate (by Kennedy standards), and Ted decided to leave early. One of the girls, Mary Jo Kopechne, asked for a lift back to her hotel. No problem, Ted decided to drive her. He had had a couple of drinks, nothing major, and it wasn’t a serious felony back then. He had a chauffer present but he was having dinner, so Ted didn’t disturb him for a small errand he could do himself.
In the dark night they got a little lost in the unlit back roads of the small island, full of private estates with gated entrances. They nearly backed into a police car and took off as fast as they could down yet another dark lane. Slightly disorientated he suddenly saw two wooden poles ahead of him, these were the entrance to a small bridge. What happened next was confused but Ted somehow drove the car off the bridge, without guardrail or barrier, and it turned over as it crashed into the water.
Somehow Ted managed to free himself but Mary Jo was not saved. Ted tried several times to dive back down to save her but was somehow unable to reach her. Panicked, possibly concussed, and perhaps still slightly drunk, Ted ran back to the cottage where the party was held to alert his two friends. He told them away from the other ‘Boiler Room Girls’ to prevent a panic.
The crucial error was that neither Ted nor his friends alerted the authorities.
The other two, Gargan and Markham, had gone back to the site to try again to rescue Mary Jo, but in spite of diving several times, they were unable to rescue her. They then urged Ted to report the accident to the authorities, but he seemed confused and unwilling to do so. He went back to his hotel room to consider his few options.
He paced his room in a robe trying to work out a solution to his situation, with the most obvious choice of action somehow escaping him. At eight AM the two friends Markham and Gargan returned for an emergency meeting. The three men went back to Chappaquiddick on the ferry. Ted used a payphone to make several calls to friends for advice.
Meanwhile the car had been found by two amateur fisherman who had made an early start before the summer sun became too hot. It was they who finally alerted the authorities.
Mary Jo Kopechne’s body was discovered in the car with her head pressed up in a small pocket above the waterline. She could have survived in this air pocket for up to two hours before the air she breathed turned to carbon dioxide and killed her. Surprisingly an autopsy never took place, as everybody assumed she had drowned. A simple syringe into her lungs would have resolved the question, but this never happened.
Ted was charged with leaving the scene of an accident and sentenced to two months in prison, later suspended. His prior good character and legal nous saved him a worse fate. His wife, Joan Kennedy, who was pregnant at the time, had a miscarriage shortly after the incident.
Mary Jo Kopechne’s funeral was attended by Ted and his wife, Joan. She was later buried on Larksville mountain. She was twenty eight years old.
It took Ted years to regain his reputation. He lost the position of Senate Majority Whip to Senator Robert Byrd. Something he felt was, in a way, a blessing. He decided to concentrate on issues outside Democratic politics, such as health care reforms. He also took an interest in the ‘Troubles’ that had started in Northern Ireland. The Kennedy family started out in Wicklow before they emigrated. He described them as ‘Britain’s Vietnam’, an inaccurate moniker. There has been no conflict to compare to the Troubles in modern times.
Throughout the Seventies Ted stayed out of mainstream politics, knowing his reputation was tarnished, and he wasn’t deluded enough to try and pretend otherwise. He decided against running for the 1972 Presidential election, although polls suggested that he may have had a better chance than he actually realised.
His eldest son, Edward Junior, was diagnosed with chrondosaracoma. His left leg was amputated and he underwent a long and painful convalescence. Nonetheless Ed Junior took to the slopes less than a year later with an experimental ski leg. Nothing keeps a Kennedy down for long. Maybe Ed Junior inspired his father to get his career back into gear. However he had other problems. His wife, Joan, was in and out of alcoholic rehabilitation and his other son, Patrick, suffered from severe Asthma.
In this period he stepped up his campaign for a national heath service. He laid the groundwork for later campaigns by Hillary Clinton and the current President, Barrack Obama.
He was asked again to run for Presidential election in 1976, since the Democrats had no other strong front-runners. He declined again. His party instead chose Jimmy Carter, who turned out, against the odds, to be a winner. During the Carter years Ted Kennedy stood in the wilderness, the name seemed forever associated with drama, tragedy and occasional scandal.
He spent a number of years travelling as an American Goodwill Ambassador, a job that suited his personable, disarming character well. He visited China, and managed to get permission for a few Chinese dissidents to leave. He visited the Soviet Union several times, and many other countries on his way here and there. During these years he separated from his wife, whom was now deep in the throes of alcoholism. Although they maintained they loved each other the situation was intolerable for both and their marriage was at an end.
After clashing with President Carter for many years, Ted decided to run for the highest office during the Presidential elections of 1980. But surprisingly, his campaign was badly managed. He rambled in interviews and, naturally, the question of his actions at Chappaquiddick were dissected. He received death threats in the mail and took to wearing a bullet proof vest. By this time Ted would be forgiven for hoping he would lose, but there was an upset. He won the March 25 vote by 59 percent. Carter counterattacked with adverts questioning Ted’s role in Chappaquiddick on TV. Ted managed a second surprise victory in the Pennsylvania primary. For a second time Carter check-mated him by winning eleven of twelve primaries in May. Within a short time, the dream of a second President Kennedy was over. Ted was hugely disappointed and exhausted, physically and emotionally. He gave one last speech at the Democratic convention.
“For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”
For the next twenty years Senator Ted Kennedy continued to serve in the Senate, lionising the causes he believed in, protecting his extended family, often from themselves, and becoming a respectable figure in American politics. In the UK we have him to thank for the large contribution he made to the peace process in Northern Ireland, that culminated in the Good Friday agreement.
He became the patron of a dashing young Politician from Hawaii, with film star good looks and charisma lacking in the Bush years. Ted and Barrack Obama were good friends for many years and it was Ted who persuaded the President to buy his daughters a Portuguese Water Dog, after letting the Obama girls play with his own water dog.
In his later years he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, and it sadly took his life this week. People queued for hours outside the Kennedy Library to pay their respects.
The last of the Kennedy brothers, who lived the longest, was perhaps the one who, over a long life, contributed the most to the American People.
The Lamb Public House in Surbiton, Surrey defied the current trend in pub closures in a remarkable fashion. They have long had a fascination with board games so they decided to build a real life version of the popular board game Mousetrap.
And here is the Youtube footage in full:
All was in aid of the Shooting Star Hospice for Children. The Lamb drafted in staff, friends, regulars and volunteers to aid in this massive construction project. This is great news in a year where pubs are closing at a rate of fifty a month. It is also nice to see something of the community spirit coming back at last.
The Shooting Star Hospice provides care, support and advice for families of children with life threatening conditions. These care services are offered free of charge to families across the western half of London and north Surrey.
The Lamb Pub, 73 Brighton Road, Surbiton, Surrey KT6 5NF 08721 077077
They do an amazing pint of Ringwoods apparently. Must go sample one, and have a play on the Mousetrap one day.
It is a source of amazement to me that some of the girls we lusted after the most in the late nineties turned out, within a decade to be mentalists of the highest order. You just have to look at Peter Andre and you think ‘there but for the grace of God, go I.’
But what happened to the honeys of our youth to turn them into the psycho ex-girlfriends of our worst nightmares? Well, a lot as it turns out.
Example number one. Katie Price, also known as Jordan. She first blew our socks off in the late nineties as a page 3 glamour model of a different order, this girl had the x factor before anybody knew what it was. She used the pseudonym Jordan because association with page 3 could prove detrimental to later career moves. She need not have worried, her name was virtually her trademark.
Over the years she left behind a trail of exhausted and nervous men, including Dane Bowers, Dwight Yorke, Gareth Gates and Teddy Sheringham. But finally she met the man who would be the Ken to her Barbie. She succumbed to Cypriot-Australian Peter Andre’s charms during a reality TV show in 2003. The two were married in mid 2005.
But in recent months the two have split, with Peter citing her emotional cruelty and unreasonable behaviour. The long hours with reality TV cameras invading their every private moment dealt the death blow to their relationship She has long been generating tabloid headlines and filling the pages of supermarket magazines, with a perchant for clubbing and grabbing any pretty man who doesn’t move away fast enough. She is very single minded and a ruthless businesswoman, a T.V personality and an authoress of two books. Poor Pete is, well, a nervous wreck.
Example number two is her sometimes friend and fellow head-banger Kerry Katona. Now this lady exploded on to out screens as front woman of girl group Atomic Kitten. And what a front! Busty, brassy and blonde, this was a girl who came from nowhere and quickly grabbed everybody’s attention.
Kerry had a hard time growing up and it seems to have left it’s mark on her relationships with men and reality in general. After a brief career as a lap dancer she joined a dance troupe and then the girl band Atomic Kitten. After some success at home and in Asia Kerry left to get married to Westlife singer Bryan McFadden.
The marriage was not a success, in spite of giving birth to two girls. Bryan got a bit randy on his stag party with a couple of strippers and himself and Kerry never really reconciled. He later met Australian singer Delta Goodrem, who was calm, dignified and quietly spoken, the antithesis of Kerry.
Later Kerry met and quickly married Mark Croft, a former taxi driver and things rapidly began to unravel. Their house was burgled in 2007, with thieves taking the family hostage before making off with hundreds of thousands of pounds of loot. This terrifying experience had a profound effect on Kerry, causing bouts of bi-polar disorder. Strangely about this time the easily swayed public seemed to take against her after years of apparent popularity. She went from being voted best celebrity mum to second worst. She didn’t take the criticism lightly and hit back with statements to tabloid newspapers. Pictures of her smoking while pregnant appeared and she was forced to defend her actions.
Then came the famous appearance on This Morning when she appeared live for an interview, rambling and slurring her words, apparently pissed out of her head. Was she? No satisfactory answer has been forthcoming. Max Clifford, her representative parted company from her about this time.
For months Kerry spent periods of time in the celebrity clinic the Priory.
In spite of all that, and her apparent break up with husband number two, she has written four books. But only very recently she was dropped by Iceland, the frozen food chain. This was because she was seen snorting a white powder (presumably not Beechams) during her reality TV show. How dumb can you get?
Example three: Pamela Anderson
In common with the other two, Pamela exploded into our lives as a smorgasbord of beauty, bosoms and blonde hair. And in common with the other two she now seems nothing more than a strung out single mum with crap boyfriends, kids she can barely control while holding down a career.
Pamela is a former Playboy playmate who had her break into TV via the series Baywatch. From there she soon reached the silver screen with the dire Barb Wire. In the meanwhile she became hitched to rock singer Tommy Lee who she publicly took to tonguing.
The couple made tabloid history when a home made sex tape became available in most rental stores. Although far from classy, it did set a precedent for the celebrity sex tapes of Paris Hilton and Abi Titmuss. But once we had seen Tommy’s T-bone impailing Pammy none of us wanted his sloppy seconds, and our love affair with Ms Anderson ended there. When she spawned two sons and re-married Kid Rock none of us really cared any more. What is she doing these days? We don’t really care anymore, we have moved on.
A big well done goes out to Mike Juett who ran the London Marathon in 6 hours and 37 minutes. By 6 hours and 38 minutes he was on his second pint.
Mike, from Shepperton, near London, has been a supporter of Motor Neuron Disease Association for nearly over two years. He described his race as a surreal experience. He saw a giant blue pig, followed by two orange people, who turned out to be Peter Andre and Katie Price. He even got his arse out on Tower Bridge (thats my boy!)
So I tracked the old boy down and asked him a few questions.
How long have you been involved with Motor Neuron Disease charities?-
I wanted to run for The Motor Neurone Disease Association in the memory of my aunt who died 18 months ago. There are two main ways for a applying for the run. Either through the marathon itself or through a charity. I applied through the marathon, although didnt get in. To be succesful through this method is pretty much down to luck as it’s highly oversubsribed. I think there are something in the region of 100,000 applicants for 30,000 places. After this rejection I wrote to MNDA directly, expressing my wish and potential to raise moneyy for them, and they kindly accepted and offered me a place. This is my first involvement with them.
How did you train for the marathon?
I’m a big lad as you know, so my main goal initally was to shed some weight to help my running easier. I didn’t get confirmation of my acceptance until early January giving me 4 motnhs to prepare. First step was to cut out alcohol, I haven’t drunk a drop since new years eve. I started to run 3 times a week, gradually increasing the distance. I shed around 18 pounds in that time, I didn’t however achieve as much in training as I would have liked, time just seemed to fly by. They recommend that you should be able to run 15 miles comfortably before attempting the marathon safely, admittedly I fell well short of that. This was to be my 4th marathon though, so I knew what to expect.
Did you see anybody famous?
I saw Peter Andre and Jordan. Jordan was struggling with her knee and I went past them with a mile or so to go. I didn’t see any other celebs tho, think they had all finished by the time I had got to the end, lol.
What was the atmosphere like?
The atmosphere is just sensational, you cant fault it. Everybody is just so supportive, the spectators and your fellow runners. It’s a very special day, I recommend anybody to do it.
Was there a moment when you hit ‘the wall’?
I knew from the off that I was unlikely to be able to run the whole way, how people do that god only knows. I think “the wall” hits them more. I knew my fitness was such that I had to adopt a different startegy, so generally walked for a bit, ran for a bit. The top half of my body felt fine, but my bototm half was killing. There was a point where it felt like bones where going to burst out the soles fo my feet, I guess that was my wall.
What did you do after the marathon?
Some friends from work kindly came up and supported me, meet them 2 or 3 times around the course and then at the end Sat in the park for a bit then cautiously made our way to the tube to go home. Go home about 7.30, went straight to bed after crawling on my hands and kness to get up the stairs
How much have you raised so far and how will the money be spent?
Hoping to raise about £2,500. Have £1,250 online, and have to colelct a further £1,250 from people have sponsored me on a form in the old fashoned way, if you like. I’m quite likely to work with about 200 people whom have been very generous.
The money goes towards further research into MND and helps the families of those suffering with MND
It is still not too late to make a donation, just click the lower link.
Mike’s efforts will ensure that sufferers of MND will continue to get round the clock care and the best treatment we can provide.
Pictures speak a thousand words don’t they?
While some sufferers of terminal diseases throw their hand in and wait for their life to end, Sarah Ezekiel has declared all-out war on her illness.
She has raised funds, co-ordinated a long running campaign on facebook and now made a film to raise awareness. On top of that she has found time to squeeze in a spot of modelling and is due to visit Buckingham palace later this year.
Sarah was approached by Donna Cresswell of the MND association last year and asked if she would be interested in appearing in a short film to raise awareness of the disease. Naturally she was on-board right from the start.
It wasn’t an easy film to make, the basement was cold and hard, which wasn’t good news for Sarah. But the film wasn’t easy to make. The advert is currently being shown at over 50 independent cinemas across England and Wales.
The 90-second film tells the story of a young woman who is suddenly ‘attacked’ by MND. An actress plays the part of Sarah and as her body deteriorates, illustrating the muscle-wasting effects of MND, the actress’s head is superimposed on the body of Sarah.
This is the first time the MND Association has produced a broadcast advert to raise awareness of this fatal, neurodegenerative disease which has relatively low recognition among the general public. Its hard-hitting style is likely to shock some audiences. The aim is to stimulate viewers’ curiosity to find out how they can help the charity fight back against MND.
• MND is a rapidly progressive condition in the majority of cases.
• The cause of MND is unknown and there is no known cure.
• MND affects around 5,000 people in this country alone at any one time.
• In the UK five people a day die from MND.
• MND is the name given to a group of related diseases affecting the motor neurones (nerve cells) in the brain and spinal cord.
• As the motor neurones die, muscles weaken and waste. People lose movement in their arms and legs. The muscles that control breathing, speaking and swallowing can also be affected. The mind usually remains alert.
Imagine being trapped physically within the confines of your own body, held down by an invisible hand. Steadily, inevitably becoming unable to move or speak.
Such is the fate of those coping with Motor Neuron Disease., approximately 7 out of 100,000 people, or 5000 alone in the United Kingdom.
It does not affect the senses, or the intellect. You can still see, hear, smell and feel, and your brain will remain as sharp and focused as always. Instead it locks the person away inside their own body.
The most famous sufferer of Motor Neuron Disease is Professor Stephen Hawkins, who has, in spite of his illness, produced some of the most spectacular thesis of the modern age. He is a rare case, in that he has survived more than 35 years with the disease. Normally it is fatal within 3 – 5 years.
Strangely, twice as many men are affected as women. MND attacks the upper and lower motor neurons, leading to wasting of muscles, loss of mobility, and an inability to speak or swallow. It is not something that can be directly diagnosed, it is more a process of elimination.
Sarah Ezekiel was diagnosed with the disease in 2000, shortly before she gave birth to her second child, Eric. Within a matter of months she started to lose the movement in her arms and her speech began to deteriorate. Furthermore it ended her marriage and left her needing 24 hour care.
However none of this seems to stop her. Most recently she held a video conference for Coventry and Staffordshire Universities. The questions ranged from the technology she uses to communicate, to what bank she was with.
Her current method of communication with the outside world is her laptop. Indeed over the last eight years Sarah has become very adept with communication technology. She had a voice synthesiser with a Southern American accent – have a nice day y’awl! Nowadays she uses a chin switch to operate it, which has been causing strain on her jaw and neck muscles.
Organising and managing her own life is becoming increasingly difficult. Most of her carers are paid by cheque, and the facility of paying this is slowly being replaced by chip and pin.
Shopping is a problem, as she cannot use her arms she can neither pay or pack, so she needs her carer’s assistance for that.
From 1995-2004 I worked for a succession of top range hotels both in the UK and Ireland. Some anecdotes I would like to share with you here..
I once had my own little late-night poolside bar, all to myself. I used to dim the lights and play old soul classics, feeling like Humphrey Bogart. The trouble was the customers I usually got at the end of the night were usually drunken obnoxious salesmen with nothing better to do and nobody else to annoy.
Anyway I pick up some very drunken advice from various odds and sods. Such as:
“Three things to stay away from, Nick, Hard drugs, Homosexuality and Bungee jumping.
..and never have sex with a girl with the same name as your sister.”
One time I served breakfast to the ’ladies’ under 21 rugby team. I have never seen a more ferocious bunch of dykes in my life. Thighs like my waist. Tattoos like popeye and stubble like george michael. Remember Mutha Bacon in Viz? Exactly like her, all of them.
I met the Italian boys under 21 football team. The waitresses were drooling, you have never seen such a bunch of pretty boys. They actually brought their own chef, who was like Jabba the Hutt, and his food was amazing.
After Leeds played Galatasaray from Turkey in 1998 the turks came back to Leeds to play the second leg. Now this was the time when two Leeds fans were stabbed in Istanbul during the riots. So security was tight, I got searched several times by Turkish secret police who thought they owned the joint.
One time I was given bags to take up to a room. When I went in there was nobody there but the room was filled with camera equipment and lights. It was obvious they were filming a porn film in there. If you ever see a porn film with dreadful canary yellow floral curtains, it was filmed at my place.
One time in Dublin two old ladies came down to the bar to see themselves on the news, and they wanted me to tune the TV into the correct station. After lots of fumbling with dials I managed to find the hotels porn channel for them! Oops.. I covered the screen with my body and made my excuses. The old girl actually said “Was that me there?” I bloody hope not, love.
So if you want a hard, underpaid job that teaches you an incredible amount about people please go work for a hotel, you will love it, you sickos.
My sister is called Rebecca by the way.
“Dear Pope, I want to leave the holy order and marry a nun. Not a problem I hope.”It is not a widely known fact that I am not the first member of my family to bring down controversy on my poor belegured family. I am just the latest.. But the bad thing about being a Good Boy is that any indiscresion, no matter how small, just seems to get headlines, or at least a deluge of text messages. Anyway I used to have an uncle Patrick, a great big calm happy giant of a man, who loved me and my sister to bits. He was a male nurse, and also a monk, believe it or not. Monks, as you know are the male equivalent of nuns, a holy order who live chastely, not not always seperately from nuns. The monestry and the nunnery ofter were part of the same building, and shared laundry facilities. On one memorable occasion a nun mistook his laundry for clothes destined for a jumble sale, underpants and all. She offered to buy him a whole new set as apology and the story made the local papers. Really But Pat was getting tired of the order, I think he felt life was passing him by, and he was really close with a nun who worked at the hospital. Away from the order, at work in the hospital, their relationship was a lot easier, and naturally a lot closer. As nature intended, they fell in love.Now all they had to do was tell everybody…..To get a dispensation from the order you have to write a letter to the head man himself, at the time it was Pope John Paul II. How the hell do you start a letter like that?I can imagine him sitting down to breakfast, opening his mail when he comes across this little gem.”Your esteemed Holiness, Brace yourself.Right, I have been doing the holy order thing for over a decade now and it really isn’t my bag anymore, I want a life, family, kids, mortgage, the works. I want friday nights out with my mates, days in the park, christenings and confirmation parties to organise.So I know you are dying to know who the lucky lady is… wellIt is Sister Margaret.”At this point I can imagine the sistine chapel was pebble dashed with half eaten cornflakes. I don’t know what Latin is for Fucking Hell, but that would be the day to learn it.Nonetheless after informing the rather stunned relatives including one flabbergasted nephew (me), we all had a big wedding in Liverpool. Pat and Margaret lived very happily for nine years until uncle Pat died when I was nineteen. Naturally I was distraught, I loved the old rascal, and he loved me like his own son. He taught me how to fish, how to drive and gave me a great love of all things Irish.Never in my life will we see the likes of him again.
“Jeysus, nobody goes in there cos it is always packed.”
“I didn’t know what anal sex was till I was thirteen, I thought it was a man and a woman rubbing their arses up and down each other.”
“What happened when you became thirteen?”
“Oh I became an alter boy.”
During a minute’s silence for 9/11 “WHATS THE MINUTES SILENCE FOR NICK?”
“For all the dead of september 11th” Says I, trying to whisper.
“Jeysus darling you’re ugly enough to be my girlfriend. Don’t worry luv, you’re not fat enough!”
And they went home together..
The same guy the week earlier “Hi baby, you’re good looking enough to be a model. For Evans.”
He meant it as a compliment, he told me as I passed him an ice pack.
Me and Frank stood at the bar in a quiet period. “We buried the mother in law the other day.” After a moment I replied: “Is she dead then?”
Frank looks at his watch and says “Aye probably.”
When I hear more I will pass them on. I sometimes contribute to www.overheardindublin.com
Some of the stuff on there is priceless!