In the country of the blind…

My mum is really the only person who’s actually witnessed my getting up. Everyone else sees me when I’ve already got up – so I’m comparatively ‘fine’, if they choose to believe it…

Nowadays, I only have very few actual ‘ideas’. I didn’t have even ONE for the first 4 years post stroke. Then I GOT AN IDEA! I wanted to go on Pointless! I used to ask people and they’d say: That’s a terrible idea! And I’d say: I KNOW it’s a terrible idea. But it’s the only one I’ve got. It’s that or nothing. And like William Faulkner, I prefer grief (and Pointless)…

My brain has been damaged. Fair enough. I spent a long time talking to a neuropsychologist (who was well-meaning but not very good) who tested my intelligence before and after the stroke. They estimate it BEFORE the stroke from your vocabulary, which put me in the 2nd ‘very intelligent‘ category (of 5). Now I’m in the 3rd (just ‘intelligent’), bordering in some respects on the 4th (‘below average intelligence’). But it doesn’t go evenly across the board. So in some things my intelligence (or is it simply knowledge?) is more or less the same (notably, 40s and 50s movies!); in others (all medical things), less so.

I was actually GLAD to have the tests, because I could tell people I categorically WAS less intelligent… People who forever said: ‘Oh, he’s fine…’, just because it was better for them just to pretend not to know – so they could go on to the opera or some such…

Somehow, I think I’ve entered the 3rd act of my life (to use screenwriting theory). I’ve got enough money – just about, and only because I hardly spend anything. I listen to free music on Spotify and watch free films on YouTube. I DEFINITELY feel around 80 (but not as much as 88, which my father is. He at least is worse than me! In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king!).

Sooner or later, everyone gets here. (And to have been so much in geriatric wards at Colchester Hospital, I’ve seen it’s not pretty what happens to some 90-year-olds who have dementia…). I’ve got there sooner – which has SOME advantages, in that I’ve completely had the time to get used to the idea of retirement… Unlike the people who say they don’t want to retire and want to work forever… but – unless they die harnessed – will HAVE to…

And this is what concerns you, I suppose. It all depends on money. Maybe you have money, maybe not. You’ve got a young daughter – which can cut both ways. A lot of men would say: Right, I’ve got to EARN. But you might say, at 55: I’ve NOT got to earn; I’ve got to spend as much time as possible getting to know my daughter.

And – having done 50% childcare with the first 2 kids (I looked after them in the mornings) – it’s TOTALLY worth it. Every hour you spend with them NOW pays back infinitely. My only regret is that – after the crash of 2008 – I had to take a part-time office job in 2009, which was still going at the time of the stroke; so I never really got to know our 3rd son. (He’s now 11 and has just started secondary school… So there’s some hope I will…)

In terms of my life, 2012 – for a year before the stroke – till 2017 was AWFUL. So my late 40s/early 50s were the worst. But perhaps it was later than most for me having been a late starter. (Good wasn’t made until I was 43, and not released till I was 45… not exactly ‘most exciting new talent’…)

But above all, like me, you’re an ‘artist’, for want of a better word. By which I mean, given financial freedom, you basically would entertain yourself forever making music, writing a blog, whatever… (Only because of the stroke, I became an ‘ex-artist’, which lasted 4 agonising years…) Only one in ten (or maybe 100?) is that way inclined. Most people in their 50s that I’ve met – no matter how rich they are – are TERRIFIED of not working. Witness Rupert Murdoch, the saddest person in the world, if you ask me. Either he’ll drop dead ‘working’ – like Donald Trump! – and never get to his 3rd act (and REPENT!)… or he’ll die a horrible death, fighting it all the way…


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I had a stroke on July 26th, 2013. I was a screenwriter. Don’t do that anymore. But have found another way to write.

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