Tag Archives: Parkinson’s disease

Is handbag heroine Ann’s gran slam too good to be true?

10 Feb

I should have been gasping with envy after gritty granny Ann Timson’s incredible bravery in seeing off six would-be jewel thieves with her mighty handbag.

But while the 71-year-old Northampton pensioner’s amazing bravery grabbed headlines all around the world, Grumpy Old Gran is not entirely convinced that Thumpy Old Gran’s heroism was for real.

I’ma few years younger than she is – but wouldn’t have dared to have laid into those yobs in the way Ann did. Not likely. I mean, a heart condition, Parkinson’s Disease and an arthritic back are hardly suitable weapons for nailing delinquents.

It’s just that something about the all-too-clear video of the action didn’t run true. It was simply too coincidental that a camera should capture virtually every moment from the perfect vantage point.

Unlike the normal hazy CCTV images, we saw every moment that mattered in perfect focus – from the thugs sledging at the jewellers’ window and the animated manager leaping frenetically about in the entrance of the shop as the blinds came down, to Ann entering stage right, standing out in her bright red coat, jogging across the road and unhesitatingly performing a solo bag bash on the would-be robbers.

Even the passers-by looked more like film extras as they stood, virtually motionless, watching the one-woman windmill whirl reduce the gold-digging gang to a fleeing flock of frightened fools.

It was all so clinical. Like a scene from a movie. And not a sliver of resistance as the six young villains ran for their lives from a little old lady. Had it been April 1st I would have dismissed is an obvious attempt to fool the public. The subsequent interviews with the shop manager and his staff also seemed too smooth – their eloquence smacking of professional actors articulating a prepared script rather than shocked employees.

Now I am not saying any of it WAS an act. In fact, reports that most of the villains of the piece are facing criminal charges is surely conclusive evidence that Ann’s intervention was all a genuine instance of heroism in the face of real danger.

By all accounts the former market trader has spent ten years challenging violent criminals on the estate where she lives.

According to the Daily Mail, her neighbourhood, once notorious for its lawlessness, used to be rife with drug dealers, pimps and prostitutes. But Ann, it is claimed, helped turn the Spring Boroughs estate in Northampton from a ‘violent crack den into a thriving community’.

So why on earth am I so reluctant to concede that this was a very special event until a court actually convicts the gang of the offences we all saw?

Even then, no one will convince me this was not a staged reconstruction of what actually happened, rather than the real thing.

I mean, if it wasn’t a set-up, why was the camera there in the first place? It didn’t exactly look like a street full of potential action, did it?

If what we saw was the action as it truly happened, Ann is a fantastic lady – reconstruction or not.

There is no doubt she has struck a mighty blow for the credibility of a section of society that is largely invisible to Britain’s movers and shakers.

I just hope we are not going to see her reduced from a thoroughbred grey with a special pedigree to an also-Gran who was not really at the race.


I’ve got Parkinson’s Disease – so why am I still laughing?

19 Jan

Bob Monkhouse never lost his brilliant sense of humour right up to his dying day. And the late, great comedian’s legacy of laughter taught me a lesson I plan to utilise every waking hour from now on.

Because life is too short to be taken over-seriously. Even by a Grumpy Old Gran.

To most people under 40, the aches and pains of advancing years don’t exist. But take it from me, kids, old age is gonna getcha – and quicker than you think! (Though it doesn’t hurt quite so much out here in the sunshine).

There’s a fair chance you’ll end up a stooped old wrinkly shuffling your way along the streets and causing irritating queues in the newsagents as you fumble for change. And then drop your purse on the floor for someone else to pick up.

I know all about it – because I’m heading towards the world of zimmer frames myself. And it’s not pleasant.

Two years ago, I was diagnosed with angina and had two stents inserted in an angioplasty procedure to widen my coronary arteries. Now I have been told by a neurologist that I also have the beginnings of Parkinson’s Disease.

Not very pleasant, but millions of people are in far worse health than I, and hopefully I will be around for a good few years yet. I have also found a true inspiration in the unique humour of Bob Monkhouse.

Like him, I believe that the best antidote to illness and the negativity of ageing is laughter. The Monkhouse School of Mirth may not cure major ailments, but a good giggle does make even the Grumpiest of Grans feel a lot better.

When Bob knew he was dying from prostate cancer, he not only kept smiling – he incorporated it into his act.

Back in the ‘70s, I was lucky enough to see him perform live at a major London hotel function. Until then, I had always regarded him as rather smarmy and insincere, but I realised that evening that I was watching a true genius strutting his stuff.

Not long before he died in December 2003, and still looking amazingly fit despite his advanced cancer, Monkhouse quipped on Michael Parkinson‘s chat show that he had asked his doctor: ‘’How long have I got to live?’’

”Ten,’’ said the doctor.

”Is that weeks, months…?’’

”Nine, eight, seven…’’

That wisecrack reignited my belief that when old age and/or illness strike, the most effective way to fight it is to have a little giggle about life, however difficult that may be.

I half expected Monkhouse to throw in a line about his unique ‘’sense of tumour’’. He didn’t – but there’s a fair bet he is up there in his celestial home right now haranguing St Peter with his one-liners.

In the meantime, I have told my kids and grandkids I want to hear them singing at my funeral, not being just plain miserable. Perhaps a couple of choruses of ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Deathwill help – not that I’ll be able to join in, of course.

Meanwhile, life goes on for me, my angina and my Parkinson’s, with semi-permanent backache and painful hip joints thrown in as a bonus. But I’m happy because I spend most of my time in the Spanish sunshine.

I can also see a new career on the horizon. If the Parkinson’s gets any worse, they might yet give me my own chat show…