Retirement: My Very Own Blackstar
“At the center of it all” is the dignity of allowing myself to retire with grace. And it only took a world-shattering event to get me to come to my senses!
I’d been running, directing, producing, and sometimes writing (usually when comics got desperate with a 15-minute deadline. We wrote every week over the interval!) my own conceived satirical stage show at the London Comedy Store every Tuesday for nearly 30 years! The anniversary would have happily fallen next month on Tuesday, July 7.
Maybe I was just holding onto this date. My wife has said many times that I built my whole week around the show. When I started out at 32 I was a journalist, then a house husband, and finally, along with my wife, a TV casting director. When a sclerosis first struck me down, literally, in 2006, I somehow stumbled on with both for a few years. When I was finally diagnosed with MS in the summer of 2009, I gave up any pretense at casting and stuck to my one true love: my show. It was never for the money — it “washed its face” (a small business idiom for breaking even). Actually, it always did better than that. It was the best paid Tuesday gig in the country — not that we had much competition!
At first my MS wasn’t too bad. I even tried launching the show at the Manchester Comedy Store, which involved me clambering up a ladder into the venue’s sound booth. A frightening escapade considering what MS was about to do to my body. The first few gigs I walked the mile from the hotel to the venue, until one show I spent 30 minutes in the green room (dressing room for you non-theater types) stumbling about. Welcome to my first bout of MS fatigue. It was taxis everywhere from then till, er, now. Fortuitously this enterprise got nowhere near “washing its face” and I suitably pulled the plug before my body also failed.
It wasn’t the first London Store show to fail circa 200 miles north. I was in good company.
In the last few weeks, as yet another MS relapse has dragged me down, I can see the same pattern of behavior occurring. I’d spend this portion at home recuperating but if I recovered enough I’d be straight back in there.
This determination has now been taken completely away from me. I have a show that centers on six performers often cramming onto a very small stage. With 6 feet of social distancing it would look almost as ridiculous as the voting at our House of Commons necessitating a queue half a mile long!
I’m sure I could write an acerbic joke about all of this but as I’ve retired, why bother?
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.