It’s Never To Early To Plan Ahead…….
It would work just as well at Christmas!
……. Or Is It!
The Dark Horse Bar in Hill Street is a very remarkable place, I think really beautiful and more power to their elbows, members of staff are great supporters of theatre. I was there on Friday afternoon and amazed at the fantastic Christmas Tree in one corner. Normally I would be horrified at such an early celebration but it was so lovely I thoroughly approved. Well worth a visit.
And There’s More
Through into the back yard of the bar and you are into a wonderland of wall painting and onto a real adventure.
Quartered Belfast, A Love Story
Kabosh have come up with another novel production, this time they invite an audience of four and then take us onto the streets of Belfast. This is ‘Quartered, Belfast, A Love Story’. it’s presented in partnership with Outburst Queer Arts Festive during this month and it’s an intimate peep into the hopes and fears of a gay man looking at his city.
Have you ever wanted to take a walk in someone else’s shoes, the publicity asks, listen in on his thoughts of failed love, see your city through his eyes? Well that’s precisely what we do except it’s the story of his hope for a partner, realising Belfast isn’t an easy place to find a sympathetic friendship , we are exploring LGBTQ+ relationships in one small area known as the Cathedral Quarter.
Our group meet in the Dark Horse in Hill Street and then off with our guide Chris to Donegall Street, Talbot Street, High Street, Skipper Street and onto Royal Avenue. Our only equipment is ear phones and a little tape recorder. Chris says nothing, we just follow him pausing here and there as the voice in our ear talks about being a gay man looking for somewhere to feel at home and build relationships.
As we pass fantastic wall murals I bet you never knew existed, we pause by the Albert Clock where our unnamed friend tells us Belfast is ‘as straight as that clock’! The city has become gentrified he says, the gay bars are moving out of town, sure you are safe inside to talk and dance, hold hands even share a kiss but you are far from safe only a few steps away from the front door where homophobes are lurking. On the opening night of The Kremlin night club celebrations were cut short by a bomb scare but you can’t re-cork champaign he says, it ended up with patrons and drag queens spilling outside, dancing on top of police land rovers as the party moved into Union Street!
I imagine he’s a handsome young man, hurt when on hearing he’s gay, a woman says ‘what a waste’, does that mean in her world he’s useless?
As we approach the Sunflower Bar he tells us this famous hostelry means a lot to him, relaxed and at home, enjoying his drink when their eyes met and he had finally found the one for him. Look up he says and the night sky is chaos but too far away to control, nothing we can do about the black holes and the threatening meteors but look down, feel the earth and you know the world will keep spinning, this is home and he makes the choice to stay, each one of us is a single note with the power to make changes he says, but when notes join into a chord we are stronger and make even bigger and more important changes. And that goes for all of us.
The thoughtful words are written by Dominic Montague and spoken by Neil Keery and Paula McFetridge directs. Roughly 50 minutes, runs on Fridays Saturdays and Sunday until 19th November 2017 afternoon and early evenings, half an hour apart.
Bill Morrison and his wife are moving house. Always a stressful event but needs must in this case because Bill has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and living in a bungalow will make life easier in the future.
“I still drive, I go to the gym, keep busy and try to have a positive mental attitude. Exercise is important to keep the muscles active so I walk to the shop for the paper every day, it takes half an hour and although some days are good there are bad days too but I try to keep that routine going.”
In 2009 Bill noticed he was beginning to slow down, gradually thinking, talking and moving more slowly. Although he’d difficulty focusing on more than one thing at a time, unlike many sufferers, he didn’t get depressed.
Eventually he went through a series of tests to be told he had early Parkinson’s symptoms. “I was made aware of the nature of this progressive neurological degeneration but they said it won’t kill me so I’ll carry on living although I can expect that living will get pretty tough as the years wear on.”
The main symptoms are tremor, slowness of movement and rigidity and it’s reckoned that one person in 500 are diagnosed, here the youngest is just 18.
Every hour someone in the UK is told they have Parkinson’s for which there currently is no cure. Recent research has shown that drugs used to treat cancer and liver conditions may hold promise in treating Parkinson’s and Parkinson’s UK is funding research to develop gene therapy – an innovative approach looking into the role genes play in those developing Parkinson’s and hopefully to slow or halt the development of the disease.
Benny Marley is 66 and he’s coming to terms with his diagnoses. “There are wee periods when I think I don’t have it and consider stopping taking my medication but I don’t because other days I know I do have it.” For Benny it’s his speech that worries him: “Sometimes I feel removed from what I’m saying, I hear myself in a funny sort of way.”
Like Bill he has a determination to carry on in as normal a way as possible but like Bill it takes him more time to get going in the morning, dressing and preparing for the day. He lies in the bath to ease his bones, the medication helps and the support of Parkinson’s UK NI is vital, in fact he says he’s happier than he’s ever been. He’s come to terms with the shock of diagnosis and he’s facing his future surrounded by his family, grandchildren and great grandchild, he has time to enjoy them like never before.
Is Parkinson’s inherited?
There isn’t a simple answer but according to Dr. Patrick Lewis, University of Reading, probably in 90% of cases there is no form of family connection with the disease.
Bill is realistic about the future.
“I might have to use a stick soon but many 75 year olds do! The doctor tells me I’m doing well although someday he’ll have to up the medication. I may have Parkinson’s but it doesn’t have me.”
The two men keep busy and fight the symptoms.
Bill has written a terrific book, Big Hand for the Band, a fascinating look at the rock ’n’roll years, a delight for those of us who danced in the 50s, and Benny is involved in a Falls Road exercise programme and is now leading a walking group.
According to Parkinson’s UK when it comes to the vast majority of people with Parkinson’s it’s not known exactly what causes the condition. In most cases the cause is likely to be a complex jigsaw puzzle, no two cases are the same.
Recently research published by Sheffield Hallam University and Parkinson’s UK shows that people affected by Parkinson’s are bearing the additional financial brunt of their diagnosis with many families struggling with financial losses of more than £15,000 every year. These organisations are targeting the powers that be to make changes to welfare support and social care.
Nicola Moore, Parkinson’s UK Northern Ireland, said: “For the first time, this research has exposed the full financial impact of Parkinson’s and it’s shocking that people affected by the condition are being hit by such devastating losses. People are being penalised by heavily reduced incomes and forced to pay for a lifetime of mobility aids, home alterations and care costs – all while battling a debilitating progressive condition for which there is no cure.”
Finally, this message from a member of Parkinson’s NI: “Please ask people when they meet me to be patient, if I don’t smile I’m not being unfriendly I can’t move the muscles on my face, listen carefully to understand what I’m saying and please don’t stare if I’m unsteady, please don’t assume I’m drunk. I’ll tell you if I need your help. A little understanding would make my life a lot easier.”
www.parkinsons.org.uk: free helpline 0808 800 0303. NI office (028) 90923370. e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org