I remember as a child discovering that my dad regularly listened to Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. At the time I found this confusing and vaguely comical. He clearly wasn’t a woman, so why was he doing this? Of course, I realise now that you don’t have to be a woman to listen to the programme or enjoy hearing a female perspective on the world.
I trust that both my parents will be listening to Woman’s Hour this morning because I’ll be on it – in an interview with Jane Garvey which we recorded yesterday. Jane’s one of the first people I’ve spoken to who’s read my book, Welcome to Biscuit Land, without being closely involved with it.
I enjoyed hearing which parts she’d found interesting, funny or poignant. Like any book, Welcome to Biscuit Land is the culmination of a lot of hard work. It only exists because of the unusual worldview having Tourettes gives me, and that’s especially unusual because I’m a woman. Tourettes affects three times more men than it does women.
Two and a half years ago I began putting aside a couple of hours each night to write about my experiences living with the constant movement and noise of Tourettes and this daily blog forms the basis of my book.
In the beginning I worried I’d run out of things to say. I thought, ‘It’s bound to get repetitive,’ but what’s surprised me is how diverse my experiences continue to be. Before I began writing I could have told you about a few heartbreakingly horrible encounters I’d had, but I couldn’t have described the many more positive times I shared with friends and with strangers.
Writing every day has opened my eyes to a new way of seeing my life, and it’s one I feel lucky to have and am happy to share. The tiny details of yesterday say a lot about what makes my perspective different:
It’s the cab driver looking nervously at me in his rear-view mirror. It’s his body relaxing as I explain my noise.
It’s going an extra 50 metres in the rain to find a drop-kerb for my wheelchair to go down.
It’s shouting about ‘donkey balls’ in the echoey entrance hall of Broadcasting House.
It’s having remarkable conversations with people I’ve just met.
It’s Leftwing Idiot knowing me so well that he reaches out to help me before I even know I’m having a ‘ticcing fit’.
It’s the discreetly swapped plates at lunch so my food can be safely cut up for me.
It’s a toddler’s joyful mimicry on the bus.
It’s my friend Poppy grabbing a notebook to write down funny tics at dinner.
And now as I sit in my room to write, it’s Leftwing Idiot’s periodic calls from the other room, ‘Everything OK, still alive?’
It’s lying here on my bed, fighting to make my jhgfhands kkstouch the right keys. It’s watching my thoughts coming clearly onto the page while shouting at the things I can see outside my window:
“TV aerial, get a job.”
“Lamp-post, stop slumping.”
“Trees, you have got very big heads.”
I hope that, just as my dad doesn’t need to be a woman to love Woman’s Hour, you don’t have to have Tourettes to empathise with its challenges and enjoy the creative chaos and humour it brings.
If you’re interested in finding out more, check out the FAQ page. If you’d like to read more tics you can find over 4000 here. If you’re interested in their creative potential have a look at the gallery. And if you like what we’re doing make a donation, visit the shop and tell your friends using Facebook or Twitter.
Everyone’s perspective is different and I’m grateful to everyone who takes the time to think about mine.