|OVER THE HILL by Roberto Foddai|
‘Alright boys, this is it, over the hill’ is the intro of the song “Bring on Lucie” by John Lennon and, although the phrase ‘over the hill’ has somewhat negative connotations, it is announced on the record in a very positive way by Lennon who goes on to sing ‘Do it, do it, do it, do it now!’ and so, for me, the title of this exhibition is optimistic despite the double meaning.
In May 2007, I answered an advertisement in Time Out from Graeme Montgomery, whom I know now to be an extremely talented professional photographer. He was compiling a book of nudes and wanted to photograph the first 100 people to answer the advert so I thought ‘why not?’ and went along and found that I was number one! Strangely enough, two other photographers advertised in the following two issues of Time Out, this time for people to pose for portraits, and they both photographed me subsequently. That was that for a while until, in February 2008, I answered an advert in our local newspaper from a student, Daisy Lang, who wanted to photograph people with illnesses for her final year’s project. Subsequently, I discovered that there were many photographers advertising on the Internet for models for particular projects. I wrote an email to the first photographer explaining that I was 57 and had Parkinson’s Disease and that ‘I wanted to continue on my path of being photographed by different people during the course of my illness’. Suddenly, as I wrote those words, I realised that I had my own project.
Since then, over 300 different photographers have photographed and filmed me and it has been incredibly interesting and exciting as I have seen the project develop day by day. I have met many wonderful, skilful people many of whom, normally, I would never have met let alone spent several hours with them.
It has been a fascinating journey. I have always loved photography but never had the patience or skill to practice it successfully. However, being a model has enabled me to collaborate with brilliant practitioners of the art and to be part of the artistic photographic process.
I decided on "Over the Hill" as the title of the project in January 2009 but I had not discussed this with anyone until I met Roberto Foddai a few weeks later to talk about his ideas for our shoot. He produced two pieces of headgear he wanted me to wear and said that one of them had some wording on it which he felt was somewhat ironic. He turned it over and on the front were the words – ‘Over the Hill’.
This project is dedicated to my wife the artist, Jane Andrews, who has taught me about integrity, truth and wisdom through acts, words and deeds all of which are encompassed in her truly wonderful paintings which can be found on www.janeandrews.co.uk
Free the people, now.
Do it, do it, do it, do it now.
Sunday, 19 October 2014
Saturday, 11 October 2014
|BEAUTIFUL DECAY by Danielle Tunstall|
Over the Hill comes to Brighton!!
56 still photographs and 8 films from my project will be exhibited as part of the Brighton Photo Fringe at Create Gallery New England House, New England Street, Brighton from 4th to 17th October next. The exhibition will feature the work of mainly Brighton based photographers although there will be a few exceptions including the stunning image shown above by Danielle Tunstall; she lives in Leamington Spa which, as we all know, is just round the corner from Brighton. Oh, alright it's not but, for God's sake, rules are there to be broken.
The exhibiting photographers are:-
And films produced by the following:-
Thursday, 9 October 2014
Saturday, 4 October 2014
A Private View
Whisper it in the breeze,
As it rushes through time;
Say it in the way you smile,
As you swallow your wine.
This gamut of emotions
Which teaches us each day,
Each hour, each minute to learn
How to kneel and to pray.
I found tonight true friendship,
So simple, so pure;
I discovered its hidden secret,
Its mysterious allure.
So come, follow me,
Come join the wars of the past.
Fill up those heaving body bags
Until it is over at last.
I am too tired to elucidate.
How much time is left to me?
All I can do is write these words
And count from one to three.
Whisper it in the breeze
As those who came before have done.
Say it in the way you smile,
As you swallow the crumb.
Take of my shoes, my socks,
My crumpled suit and tie.
Begin to play as we used to
When we had no need to die.
Sunday, 21 September 2014
|OSMOSIS by Julia Horbaschk|
There was a young woman
Whose surname was rather peculiar
It began with an H
and ended with K
If you can pronounce it, well, Hallelujah!
Seriously, though, there is a young woman called Julia who has been assisting me with the organisation and curation of the Over the Hill exhibition at the Create Gallery as part of the Brighton Photo Fringe. I wouldn't say that I could not have done it without her help but that her help has been absolutely invaluable. She has worked tirelessly at a time when she has had a lot on her plate with moving, looking for a new job and various other activities that she tells me about but, as I don't listen, I can't tell you what they are. No, seriously, she is involved with the Arts Forum and the Big Screen on the Beach in Brighton.
Her background is marketing and this has come to the fore as she has set up an interview with BBC Radio Sussex as well as with three TV stations including BBC South. She has also secured sponsorship with Bang & Olufsen in Hove where the manager, Mike Sparkes, has been incredibly helpful by lending us two super duper televisions so that the nine films being shown at the exhibition can be seen to their full advantage. She has also arranged for 4Print & Design in Hove to produce 1,000 flyers free of charge as their contribution to the event.
She is clever, resourceful, hard working, positive, intelligent and an excellent photographer as the above image shows.
So, Julia Horbaschk, thank you for everything!
Wednesday, 13 August 2014
|FROM THE EARTH by Claire Nathan|
I have a niece, Amy Samantha Andrews, known to me and everyone as Sammy. She is charming, pretty and kind and utterly adorable. She decided that she wanted to learn more about Photography and when she was performing at a wedding (she has the most beautiful singing voice), she went up to the photographer and asked her if she could help and advise her with regard to this new pastime. The photographer agreed to help and they became friends in the process. The photographer was Claire Nathan.
Sammy came to visit me in hospital just after I had undergone my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery and mentioned that she knew Claire who was interested in my project and that I should contact her. I did so after looking at her website. Her portraits were very good indeed but what clinched it for me was her picture of Sammy - it captured her lovely fresh and lively attitude to life so perfectly. There then followed a series of emails to and fro with photographic and artistic references as we slowly began to create an idea of what we wanted to achieve. For me, it was the connection to Claire and for her, it was a splash of colour, of brightness to create an uplifting image in the face a some of the awful things that life can throw at us. We needed a make-up artist and Claire said that she had worked with Alice Hopkins before and that she was tremendous.
We met at Notting Hill tube station on the morning of 13th August 2014 and she drove us to her house where I met her charming husband, the film maker, Dan Nathan, and Alice. We chatted a fair bit but eventually got down to the make up which took a while to get on. Claire was very clear as to what she wanted and Alice was very patient as she made the final touches before the shooting began in Claire's home studio. It was a very happy shoot and we all talked about good times and bad but in a way which enabled each of us to take a few faltering steps towards a greater acceptance of our lot and to reconcile ourselves to tragic events even if we still did not yet fully accept them and understand their meaning for us. People say that I was brave to have my surgery - I wasn't brave, I had no choice. When my sister died, life carried on.
And I can feel you dreaming
And I'm dreaming of you
Together slowly drifting
Into the powder blue
You expect the world to stop but it doesn't. You have no choice but to walk through those empty dark days and hold hands with those close to you and find solace there and eventually you come through to the other side. What has this got to do with this photograph? Well, everything actually. It was part of a journey where I have walked along a path which at some point crossed another path on which Claire is travelling and there we met. And there she took this photograph which, if we hadn't met, would never have been taken and the world would not have seen this part of me or this part of Claire. It is a great photograph. I have recently uploaded a slideshow of my project onto Vimeo and this song by Madness is part of the soundtrack......
So can't we just stay?
Can't we just stay?
The world is giving up
And there's just me and you
Together slowly drifting into the powder blue
Into the powder blue
Into the powder blue
Into the powder blue
Into the powder blue
Monday, 11 August 2014
Wednesday, 6 August 2014
Wednesday, 30 July 2014
|Under the Pier by Cat Lane|
The wind blew cold that day,
Under the pier.
Not with a winter's chill when leaves have dropped,
Leaving wiry arms and fingers,
Black against the grey sky.
No, the cold of a place where the sun cannot penetrate.
Nervous in front of those who also sought shelter from the sun,
You reassured me with
We had eaten together earlier.
You were nervous this time, this first time.
We talked in a desire to understand, to calm, to reveal.
We each brought tears to our eyes
But not sad enough to fall.
You cried again later when we parted in the street.
The emotion of the day, our meeting, poured out
I clasped you to my chest and told you that it was all right
strangers before that day.
The day the wind blew cold,
Under the pier.
Tuesday, 22 July 2014
|TIGER MEETS TIM by Briony Campbell|
Early in 2014, I was sent details of a forthcoming talk at PhotoForum to be given by Briony Campbell and so I looked at her website and was bowled over by her fantastic photography. She responded very positively to my initial email and began talking about shooting at our house in Brighton but dissuaded her because so many had already been done here. So, it was that on 22nd July, I travelled up to her flat in Hackney for the shoot. The lovely face of Briony welcomed me at her front door and almost immediately, I had a very good feeling about the shoot.
She made us each a delicious smoothie and toasted some muffins and we talked about the this and that for about half an hour before Briony began to get the tripod set up ready for the photographs. She had an interesting way of shooting in that she looked at the shot through the camera but she then positioned herself to the side of the camera when she pressed the shutter. Although I was looking straight at the lens and normally in those circumstances, I try to look through the lens into the eyes of the photographer, this time the photographer was connecting with me away from the camera. Just a small thing but actually quite enormous in the context of my project. But there was more. She said that, if she ended up 80% satisfied with the results from the shoot then that was really the best she could hope for and that she would be very happy with that. Well, I enjoyed our encounter so much that I wrote to her afterwards and gave it 95% as far as I was concerned. I said that the missing 5% was because, when she decided to drape the tiger blanket over me, I did wonder if it would look better if I was naked but I did not want to break the spell that had been cast as we slowly but surely crept up the scale towards her 80% mark. We also did some shots inside without the blanket and some outside on her balcony with the help of her flatmate who held the reflector. Then her boyfriend arrived and we had a coffee and I said goodbye. I hop skippity jumped down the stairs of the building thinking what a hop skippity life I was leading these days.
Briony responded to my email after the shoot saying that she had really enjoyed it too even though it seemed strange to her to be creating an image that made me part of her home rather than trying to capture the essence of me in my own home. However, she felt that I looked so good under 'Tiger' that she felt it was meant to be and this reversal of the usual scenario seemed appropriate since my project is about the experience of being photographed rather than the exercise of photographing. She had also used the shoot as part of her new project of photographing visitors to her home and I was now a member of her new 'club'.
A few days later, I received three photographs from her. Her favourite was the Tiger shot and I am very happy to go with that one although I really liked the other two. The Tiger shot has the sense of me visiting a foreign land (her flat) and the raised eyebrow says that I am king of my own little jungle in my head, in my tiger outfit, on her settee and, at the same time, the stick on the wall above my head is the shape of a "T" for Tim, Tiger Tim.
But most of all, and this is what gives me the most pleasure, this is a photograph of me by Briony Campbell, a great photographer, my new collaborator and my new friend.
Wednesday, 16 July 2014
|A SCAR IS BORNE by Peter Dench|
Some are born witty, some achieve wit and some have wit thrust upon them. Not sure which applies to Peter Dench but he is certainly a very amusing chap. I think I first came across him in the Professional Photographer magazine ("PP") and I wrote to him first of all in August 2010. As you can see, it took another 4 years to get together although, in the meantime, we kept up an intermittent email correspondence and I followed his adventures in PP as well as bumping into him (well, he was in the way) at a Mini Click event when he gave a very funny talk about his work to an adoring audience.
Then all of a sudden he was in my house with his camera photographing me and making me laugh as you can see by the tears rolling down my cheeks in this excellent photograph. No, seriously, he is a lovely jolly chap with a beautifully droll sense of humour and he knows how to photograph a packet of All Bran when he sees one. This photograph was taken a couple of months after my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery and you can see my Patient Programmer nestling above my left nipple and the scar just above it where the surgeon slipped it under my skin.
It seems strange to see me lounging around the kitchen topless - bit like the famous scene in "Ryan's Daughter" (what a film) when Robert Mitchum comes in from working outside and his wife, played by Sarah Miles, persuades him not to put his shirt on when he sits at the table to eat his lunch. Well, not exactly like it but there is a similar incongruity about it and yet that gives substance to the shot. After the shoot, Peter left and it was only a little later that I remembered that we were going to have lunch together and all I had given him was a glass of water. I wrote to apologise but Peter very courteously said that the water was delicious and surprisingly filling. I am sure he was telling the truth, aren't you?
Saturday, 12 July 2014
|WHO DID I MEET? by Natalie Adlard|
Who did I meet? I met Natalie when I went to Nottingham to be photographed by Ellen Chamberlain. Ellen had asked if I minded her bringing along a friend and I said no because I didn't and also because Ellen had already said that she was quite shy and I was aware that she probably needed some support. I wondered before when requests of this nature were put to me whether the attendance on a shoot by a friend might in some way impinge on my relationship with the photographer but I have found that, in practice, that has never happened and maybe that is because the photographer is more relaxed as a consequence.
Natalie and Ellen are clearly enjoy a very close and strong friendship and, when I asked Ellen if she minded if I asked Natalie to be part of my project, she immediately said that she didn't which very much shows the strength of the bond which exists between them. Natalie was quite quiet during the shoot as clearly she was intent on and content to take a back seat because, after all, it was Ellen's shoot. Nevertheless, I was very impressed by the photographs she sent me afterwards especially this one which stood from a collection of very good work. It is rich and clear and, unusually has captured my smile which does not appear in many of my photographs.
So, here we are - a photograph by Natalie Adlard - totally unexpected but a great addition to my project. Natalie is just starting out on a Photography career and, in my opinion, if she keeps up this sort of work, she will be very successful.
|AN OLD NEW LEAF by Ellen Chamberlain|
Sometimes, I trawl through Flickr and see what I can see. I look at someone's work which I particularly like and then go on to their favourites and then find someone else and go on to their favourites and then I find a photograph that has something for me and I look up the photostream of the photographer and get an idea of what they are about. One day, not so long ago, I found the photography of Ellen in this way. I thought it was exceptionally good and I wrote and told her so. She replied the next day, saying that she had heard of my project and was pleased to be asked to partake but pointed out that she was a shy person and had never before photographed anyone she didn't know. I suggested that we could meet before the shoot to get to know each other but, when Ellen told me she lived in Nottingham, I scrubbed that idea. She asked if she could bring a friend.
The day of the shoot was very warm. I enjoyed the train journey as I always do and I nodded off from time to time. I arrived in Nottingham and met Ellen. She was very young and slightly ill at ease - her friend Nathalie stood by awkwardly. But the day slowly unravelled before us and we began our stroll through Nottingham Town Centre which could be any town centre in any English town - Primark, Top Shop, Boots, Millie's Cookies etc, etc - it is a shame when such historic towns all look the same. We headed for the Castle and stopped for me to pose for some pictures there. Then we had a drink in the oldest inn in England and we chatted but none of us were fully relaxed. Eventually, we reached a small area of grass and we sat down under some trees and I think our more relaxed body language made the difference and we began talking more meaningfully about things and making jokes. Ellen has a lovely accent - I don't know what you would call it - a Midlands accent, I suppose - she thought mine was posh. I know I have said this so many times before but the most marvellous aspect of this project is that I communicate on a certain level with people so much younger than I am, who live such different lives and yet we are brought together by this common love of Photography and what it can do. This photograph was taken as we sat on the grass and well, it is a great photograph. The leaf is the representative of the other leaves on the ground and on the trees which provided shelter from the sun and something for us to twiddle with as we talked. It always helps to have a leaf to twiddle when you are getting to know someone.
It was time to leave and so we made our way back to the station and said our goodbyes. I was very touched when Ellen said "I know this is weird but can I give you a hug?" - it was the nicest hug.
She wrote soon afterwards with a collection of photographs from the day but I knew that it would one of those taken as we all sat on the grass that I would like the best and that is how it turned out. I have turned over a new leaf - I liked the old leaf but the new leaf is better.
Tuesday, 8 July 2014
|SELF PORTRAIT, BRIGHTON, 8 JULY 2014, 6.03AM by Simon Roberts|
All good things come to those who wait. I wrote to Simon on 13th March 2010 and, sure enough over four years later, we met on Brighton beach for him to photograph me. Actually, it is likely that that first email in 2010 fell into his Spam and he never read it. Having in the meantime moved to Brighton, I started to hear more about Simon and not surprisingly because he is a very good and a very successful photographer. I have learned that the two do not always go together but, in Simon's case, they most certainly do.
Anyway, fast forward to 2013 when I wrote again and this time he replied saying that photographing me was an "intriguing proposition" and asking me to give him a flavour of the other photographs that had been taken. I duly sent him a link to this Blog and also a link to the video of The Culture Show that had featured my project when broadcast in 2011. However, Simon is a busy man, understandably, and it wasn't until early 2014 that we finally met to chat about the shoot. It was then that Simon revealed his idea which was to photograph me photographing myself. He thought we should try the beach and maybe somewhere else but, as it happened, I took my own self portrait on the apron to the short brick pier near the bandstand and sent a copy to Simon and he agreed that that was where we should have our shoot.
Finally, we met there on 8th July at about 5.30am. As he requested, I brought my Rolleiflex with me and my tripod and remote shutter release. As I know nothing about cameras, Simon very kindly agreed to set up my shots and, as I posed for my self portraits, he took his photographs. We must have spent about an hour doing this from various angles until Simon said that was it.
I then received this one photograph and, of course, it is brilliant and will have pride of place at the show at the Create Gallery in October along with, at Simon's suggestion, the contact sheet of the photographs I took that day, some of which didn't come out too badly. But when you have one of the great photographers helping out, what do you expect?
Simon is a very nice guy. He is quite serious, particularly about his work but he has a warmth and a little twinkle in his eye which shine through when you get to know him. And he is an excellent photographer. How do we know this? Well, look at this photograph - it is full of movement; my pose and the contrasting slow swell of the sea beyond which also provides the perfect backdrop. The colours are beautifully light, the silver blue of the water, the yellow buoy, the paler blue of the sky, the rich green algae on the sandstone pier, my skin made ruddy by the sun and the wind, all combine to produce a gentle kaleidoscope of different hues that melt together to give us image that is like a magic potion poured over the page. Delicious.
Thursday, 3 July 2014
|HEAD IN THE CLOUDS by Nicola Benford|
It was with the proposed show at Create Gallery in mind that I made contact with Nicola as I thought she was still based in Brighton having initially seen her work mentioned on the University website. However, having seen the quality of her work, I also knew that she was a very exciting prospect. So, I wrote to her in December 2013 and she replied that, as she was working full-time, she wouldn't be able to shoot me just yet but she did look forward to working with me.
Eventually, we started making firm arrangements for the shoot and she asked if I has anything bright and breezy to wear. I had just come out of hospital having had my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery and, whilst I was in there, my darling brother had bought me this dressing gown made of pure silk - Nicola thought it was perfect. By now she was living in London but her parents brought her down with all her equipment and she looked through the house for a suitable spot and we tried some in our sitting room with me lying on our chaise-longue whilst listening to random selections from my 45 vinyl record collection but eventually we ended up in the room with the half-painted walls. She thought the white paint looked like clouds. At one point I dug out these glasses which I wear when I play Roger A Destroyer in my silly films and it was because of the glasses that I chose this particular image. I thought the brown frames provided just the right contrast with the other luscious colours in the shot.
Nicola was a delightful companion during the shoot and I was pleased that she was using her Japanese Bronica camera because there is something about them that is so reassuring. Not only do they make this wonderfully solid clunking sound when the photograph is taken, but also the results are so rich and deep. As I have said many times, I know nothing about cameras but I thought it was a reasonable guess at the outset of the project that about 90% of the photographers would use digital but in fact it must be about 50/50.
Nicola is a superb photographer and I was not disappointed when I received the photographs - they show what talent she possesses and that she will go far in her chosen profession. As with all talented young artists, she needs that lucky break but that will not be enough. She also needs to persevere and keep learning but having spent a few hours with her, I have no worries on that score.
Tuesday, 17 June 2014
|I'M ONLY SLEEPING by Carolyn Cowan|
When I came out of hospital after my Deep Brain Stimulation ("DBS") surgery, I felt quite odd partly because, having been institutionalised for two weeks, I was back home to a different, albeit familiar, routine. So the hospital stay had sort of dislodged everything for me and I found myself thinking that it was another opportunity for change. Also, before I had gone into hospital I had been losing more usable time each day- I have likened it to having a small area of a huge lake fenced off for me to play in and then I came out of hospital to find that the fence had been removed and now I could play anywhere I liked in the whole lake. I was very unnerved by it all and even considered making the 300th photograph (which had been taken in the hospital operating theatre) the end of my project. However, on 17th June 2014, I found myself travelling by train to Sanderstead on my way to a shoot with Carolyn Cowan.
I came across Carolyn when I was making cards and stuff for Jane's 60th birthday; I needed to find a photograph of the Sissors (sic) Hair Salon where Jane had worked in the late 1970s and, in the process of research, I came across an item where Carolyn described how she had worked there at around the same time.It also said that she was a photographer and so one thing led to another and Bob's your Uncle, I found myself corresponding with Carolyn.
On the day of the shoot, I went to her house which she had bought quite recently and it had a lovely feel about it. Her studio was in a large room with french windows leading out into a very pleasant, slightly overgrown garden. It was the height of summer and bees were buzzing and birds were singing and wasps were wasping and it felt good to be back in the swing of things. I really liked Carolyn; she is tall and striking, slightly laid-back and she has interesting stories to tell and I love her photograph of me. She had the idea of the single light bulb at the outset but we tried various poses with it and this was the one that jumped out at me when I received a selection of images soon after the shoot. A simple but very effective idea beautifully realised. It has the look of an Old Testament plate showing a man lying on top of a shroud which has fallen or been taken off his body - but I'm not dead. I'm only sleeping.
I came away from her house thinking that the project was going to continue for a little while yet. Thank you, Carolyn.
Wednesday, 11 June 2014
Tuesday, 20 May 2014
|CADBURY'S DAIRY MILK by Robert Ludlow|
18th May 2014 – my birthday and I wake up feeling not very good because not only am I going into The National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery in London today for my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery but also, over the last ten days, I have had to reduce my dosage of one of my drugs to nil in order to make it less likely that I feel psychotic once I have been ‘’turned on”. I struggle downstairs and open my presents and cards. Everyone has been so kind but none more so than Jane whose birthday it was the day before. She has been amazing in the face of what has been an incredibly worrying time for her. I mean she went through it all before when I was first diagnosed, then she had to go through it again when, suddenly, I became Superman after going on the drugs. But this was different – it was a bloody brain operation.
My twin sister, Sally, came over having recently lost her husband and so she wasn’t feeling great either but I’m afraid that, by the time her two lovely children arrived, I had had it and just wanted to get going to the hospital which had telephoned quite early on to confirm that they had a bed and expected me late afternoon. We drove up and got there about six pm but I was so bad that Jane had to help swing my legs around so that I could stand up out of the car. She asked this big guy called Abraham if he could help. His wife worked at the hospital and he went in search of a wheel chair, found it, plonked me in it and then pushed me in; one of many acts of kindness shown to me over the next two weeks. I have to say, however, that apart from all this spazziness, I was in quite good spirits.
Jane took me up to Lady Anne ward guided by a nursing assistant called Jeff whom was going there himself as it happened. I never saw Jeff again during my stay there but I won’t forget him. I had already decided to give myself up to the nursing staff and just allow myself to be looked after. I was put in a side room off the ward and assumed that I would not be there all the time during my stay but in fact I was. Lucky Tim they call me.
Jane was brilliant because she said to me that evening, “Why are you doing this?” and I was able to justify my decision to her and myself. It wasn’t difficult. I said that I was doing it because, in six month’s time, I did not want to be six month’s worse than I was now. For example, I went to lunch with Jane and her sister and her friend Jo, the day before. I was fine on the way there but I stayed too long and I could hardly walk out of the restaurant at the end, let alone walk home. My main problem is “freezing” where my brain would go to the door but my feet would stay where there were as if they had forgotten how to move. Sometimes, it took me about 45 minutes (or more) to get undressed for bed. I couldn’t turn over in bed – I couldn’t sleep if I started shaking as my head hit the pillow – my whole body but especially my neck would go into spasm. If anyone knocked the door I would struggle towards it, yelling, ”I’m coming, I’m coming” only for the person to walk off before I got there. I’m not looking for sympathy by the way; I am just explaining why the decision to go ahead with DBS was a……no brainer.
That night, I slept on my back but half way through the night, I tried to get up but couldn’t. Eventually, I rang the bell and a nurse called Joanna came in and helped move my legs and my arms so that I could struggle to the loo. She was so kind and gentle. It meant everything.
Oh, angel of the night,
I did not want you
But you answered my call
In the darkest of dark blue.
You told me your name.
You moved my legs, you moved my arms
I did not call you again.
The morning sun throws shadows
Outside on the cool brick walls;
The sounds of the city awakening
Mingle with the footsteps in the halls.
No birdsong here today
Only the incessant bleeps
Perhaps I shall just lie back
And drift into a sleep
Oh, angel of the night
Pray for me in my bower;
Cometh the man into your embrace;
Cometh the hour.
It was also the first time I met Chris, the Aussie night nurse, who, over the next few days, I got to know and like a lot. We talked a bit about cricket and I mentioned that I was a member of the MCC and suggested that he might want to come to Lord’s one day as my guest. Initially, he seemed unenthusiastic but I think this was because he had been caught out before by a patient who had done him a favour and somehow that had created a difficult situation for him. During the next day, I saw Dr Hyam, Mr Zrinzo’s registrar and Joseph, the Parkinson’s nurse and the anaesthetist whose name I regret that I have forgotten. Hyam asked me to sign the consent form for the operation which referred to the various risks including “risk to life” – gulp. I told the anaesthetist about my photographic project and asked if there was anyone who could take my photograph with the cage on my head through which they would guide the electrodes. She was brilliant because, in the end, she arranged for the hospital photographic department to send someone down to do it properly. That someone happened to be Robert Ludlow who, in 2012, won the prestigious Wellcome Images Award for his photograph of the human brain during a surgical procedure for epilepsy. He is my 300th photographer.
My brother, Anthony (officially, the kindest man on the planet) came to see me later but I was very shaky indeed and pushed my self too far by showing him two of my films. I was grateful that he had come but he knew I was tired and left and I was relieved when he did because I was basically exhausted not by him but by me and my condition.
Then - 20th May 2014 – D Day or rather DBS Day. During the early morning, I listened to my iPod shuffle and almost every song reminded me of someone or something and made me quite emotional. Then Jane arrived quite early and it was so lovely to see her. I said that perhaps we should agree that I would say something to her after the operation so that she knew that my brain was all right and, after toying with several ideas including lines from plays I had done, Jane suggested “Cadbury’s Dairy Milk” and we agreed on that.
I was given a gown to put on and some paper pants and DVT socks and so I was all ready to go by the time Jane returned from her trip downstairs for a coffee. Hugo, the porter came down for me and took me to the MRI scanning room where the operating theatre was. I was placed on the bed and the anaesthetist asked me my name “Timothy Andrews” and my date of birth “18th May 1951” and then said “You have consented to have Stage one of a sub thalamic Deep Brian Stimulation” and I said “What?!?” as if I didn’t know. Well it made me laugh. At that point Jane left me and, what seemed like five minutes later, I woke up in the Recovery Room absolutely full of myself cracking what I thought were the funniest jokes and generally getting on everyone’s nerves I’m sure. Jane who had been having kittens upstairs had come down and met two nurses in the lift who had been assisting at the operation and when she asked how it had gone, she could tell from their smiles it was ok They couldn’t let her into the recovery room however because there was another guy in there who hadn’t yet woken up. I think Joseph, the Parkinson’s Nurse, was there and said that he was going up to tell Jane that I was ok and I asked him to tell her that I had said “Cadbury’s Dairy Milk”. He called Jane on her phone and when she asked how I was, he mentioned Cadbury’s and so Jane knew for sure that I had come through it with brain (and me) intact.
I met Robert when I returned to Queen Square to have the stitches removed from my chest where they had inserted the Patient Programmer and I received the photographs from him a few days later. I have to say that, although they were taken before the actual surgery began, they make for very uncomfortable viewing but actually this was the one which impressed me most. It is so peaceful and is wonderfully composed. It says so much to me about the love and care that all the people in that hospital bestow on their patients. I shall never forget them all or my time there. They are a credit to themselves, their respective professions and the NHS.
So, thank you Robert, Abraham, Jeff, Jack, Hugo, Paolo, Ludvic Zrinzo, Jon Hyam, Sammy Jo, Hazel, Moses, Ibrahim, Ade, Joanna, Julia, Joseph, Consuelo, Maris, Tim the King, Annette, Chris, Erla, Jean, Dafina, Timothy, Clare, Sheryl, Varndir, Akaysha, Catherine, Vaughan, Nyasha, Juliana, Alberto, Debbie, Sabirah, Cherito, Amy, Alice, Tola, Elvira, Purita, Michael, Hajni and Alfredo who nursed me, fed me, cleaned my room, took my pulse and blood pressure and temperature, made my bed, (in Robert's case) took my photograph and generally and genuinely cared for me and any others whose names I may have forgotten but whose love and mercy I have not.
But and it is a big BUT, I reserve the greatest praise for Jane whose love and devotion meant so much to me. People have said some very kind things about me but I could not have dealt with it in the way I did without that love and devotion. Lucky Tim - it doesn't even come close.