Well, just watched the second half of the C4 documentary about the ex-Eton schoolboy, now King's Cambridge student Alex Stobbs. It was quite a hard thing to watch as his life has been so similar to mine was in a lot of ways (although of course, no Eton for me).
I recognised lots of people - the music master Ralph Allwood from Eton, who I remember from a Choral course that I did there when I was 15; and then the rather staged-feeling team meeting at Papworth where I knew all the faces and most of the names.
It is clear to me that the poor chap has it a lot worse than I did when I was 19. He's using oxygen already and the docs are saying a bad infection could kill him. When I was 19 I was busy getting very drunk and enjoying all that University has to offer. I didn't conduct the Matthew Passion, but did sing it every night for a week, starting at 10pm and finishing at 1am, on tour in Gran Canaria (of all places).
I was upset at seeing him unwell, angry that the bloody thing can mess up other people's lives and ambitions as well as mine. No, that's too strong, too bitter; my life has been pretty amazing and I am obviously extraordinarily lucky in a lot of ways, but damn it I really want to go to far flung places, windsurf, climb a mountain, sing properly again, not get out of breath playing the piano... So, yes, I cried seeing Alex coughing away in hospital - it holds up a mirror to your own problems and intensifies them, and I feel so very sorry for him not even getting it as good as me.
My philosophy, again, is exactly the same as his - do your best to be normal. I just hope that he reaches, as nice doctor Helen Barker put it, 'another plateau' and is given the opportunity for a transplant. Maybe I'll get in touch with him in a month or two once the publicity has died down.
8 months ago