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It’s Back-to-School Time

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Well, it feels like it, at least.

I just had the whole of the Christmas-New Year’s period off because of how the dates fell.

If you only have to be physically at a work venue one day a week, it will get you like that. If I manage another year, the same thing will happen.

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Feng shui anyone? (Photo by John Connor)

Sure, I worked from home as usual — I’ve been working from home for 40 years. I was an early adopter of the “now” way of doing things — why commute or pay for office space when it was just a simple walk up the stairs to my dedicated workspace?

Then, walking up the stairs stopped being simple, and my dedicated workspace became a desk by the bed. It’s a one-stop shop. I sit on a mobile shower chair-commode, and a minifridge is within easy range. Laptop, telly, WiFi, landline, and of course, the ubiquitous smartphone are all there.

Food and coffee work their way toward me at regular intervals; it’s not the worst of times.

Strangely, I’ve only had to regularly be physically at work every Tuesday. First, I ran a listings comedy column at a magazine in the 1980s, and then went on to actually work in it — all on a Tuesday. One hero of mine, theater critic Kenneth Tynan, had also moved on to create stage smash hits like “Oh Calcutta!”, had worked with Laurence Olivier during the beginning of the National Theatre, and infamously was possibly the first person to utter the F-word on obviously live British telly. I was, and indeed am, a very low-rent version. But at least I’m hanging out somewhere in the same building.

Over the holidays, I managed to make it out of home twice, including once for a mass family Christmas lunch. We were something like 40 people. I couldn’t get a black taxi, which can transport me in my wheelchair, and had to clamber in and out of minicabs. Exhausting. And then, after the festivities, there was a mass exodus to the Hastings seaside, where everyone went for a bracing walk along the esplanade. I ensconced myself with my old mate Nigel, who lives down there, in a cool café for the afternoon.

But I was really glad to get back last night into working with other people again; there was no dread of the old routine that I seem to remember from my old able-bodied life.

I think I’m very lucky to have created years ago a small, part-time job that turned out to be about perfect to manage as a disabled person. I set it up for artistic reasons, which it still fulfills. Indeed, many of the comics who do my show tell me that is indeed the reason why they do it.

Yes, all of that, but for a while, when I’m actually there doing it, I forget about MS.

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