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Taking My Cue From Two Stevens.

August 29, 2017

I’ve had a weekend of learning from two Stevens (although one of them is spelt with a “ph”).

Up until now, I believed I only had one thing in common with Professor Stephen Hawking. It’s a little known but well established fact that Hawking and I are the only two people in the UK who choose Wig Wam Bam as our karaoke song.

The last few days, Professor Hawking has been involved in a very public disagreement with Jeremy Hunt over the privatisation of the NHS. Throughout it, Hawking has maintained a quiet dignity whilst Hunt has behaved like a five year old, caught with his hand in the biscuit tin. He has tried to slap Hawking down but the Professor, confident in his position, hasn’t risen to the bait.

I was slapped down the other week, if not by Hunt, but by the Department of Health. I’d been invited to be interviewed by You and Yours and spoke about the privatisation of learning disability inpatient services. After my bit, the presenter read out a statement by the DoH which started with the slap down that I was wrong before reeling off a stream of statistics that had no bearing on anything I had said.

The interview is here, from about 15 minutes in:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b090vd4h

Ego pricked, I was cross at the public put down but watching Hawking’s behaviour reminded me that if you retain your position with humility and confidence, you achieve a lot more than rising to the bait.

That leads me to the second lesson, this time learned from Steven. I’ve written before recently that the only downside to him coming off the risperidone is that he is still struggling to cope with the speeding up of his brain functioning. The medication definitely slowed everything down and it is quite painful watching him trying to find the right words as his brain gallops at a speed he’s not been used to for over ten years.

Uncle Wayne popped in on Sunday morning to mend the broken bedroom door (don’t ask). As he was saying his goodbyes, Steven was trying to say something to him. Hands over ears, looking down at the floor and audibly running through his hard drive, Steven was stuck. I could see Wayne was keen to get off for his Sunday roast and I tried to silently convey the message to him to hold on until Steven found the right words. Eventually, after more than five minutes of mental agony, they came:

“Uncle Wayne – Shaggy sings Mr Bombastic”.

Wayne repeated it back to him. Steven gave his most satisfied chuckle and normal business was resumed.

Where’s the lesson for me in all this? We’ll, a similar thing happens to my brain after an excess of online activity. An hour on social media and my thoughts become disorderly. The ending of 7 Days of Action and all the attacks we received frazzled my brain. Drawn to the attacks like a moth to a flame, I became obsessive and incoherent. Unfortunately, my instinctive response was to be more Jeremy Hunt than Stephen Hawking.

It’s so easy to consume your head space with shit. Well, it is for me. Sunday evening I disappeared down a wormhole watching clips from that 1980s comedy series set in an old peoples’ home, starring Peggy Mount and Pat Coombs. It was a minor nostalgic diversion but an hour or so later when I resurfaced, my head was mangled.

So for now, I’m rationing. As Steven learns how to manage more whizzier brain activity, I’ve got to manage the void better. I don’t need a ruck on Facebook to fill the void.

Thank you Stephen and Steven.

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