Early this morning I travelled to Liverpool for a Tourettes conference with Leftwing Idiot and Ruth (who also has Tourettes). After a brief discussion we decided not to sit in the quiet coach.
Our arrival in the city that gave the world the Beatles was marked by the addition of several Liverpool-specific tics to Ruth’s repertoire: “Calm down, calm down!” and “Liverpool is shit.”
My contribution was “Lucy in the sky with a cautious attitude to sex.” These were shouted at full volume in the busy city centre and seemed to make Leftwing Idiot slightly nervous. He kept going over the emergency getaway procedure with us, “If I say run, we leg it.”
Hanging out with Ruth is cool and often surreal. We were trying to move discreetly around the Rothko exhibition at Tate Liverpool when our tics joined forces:
Welcome to the bizarre world of “Wan-Ker-mit.” Being green’s never been so much fun.
During this conference professionals and patients shared their experiences of Habit Reversal Therapy (HRT) which is used as a behavioural intervention for treating Tourettes. For me though, the most important aspect of going to conferences is that I meet other people with Tourettes. Ruth was the first other person with Tourettes I’d ever met. I remember looking at her to see what tics looked like from the outside.
It’s refreshing to be somewhere where my behaviour isn’t treated as unusual and doesn’t need constant explanation. But a conference for people with Tourettes is an unusual affair and you need to be a resilient speaker to keep going while strange things are being shouted at you from around the room. During one presentation Ruth started shouting that Leftwing Idiot had a big dick. He didn’t seem particularly fazed by this. However, he looked slightly less pleased when she switched to shouting that he was gay.