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XII No.11 - Sunday June 2 - Saturday June 15, 2013


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Update by Saichon Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
Book Review: by Dr. Iain Corness
 

In the blink of an eye

(With the subject of this book being medical, the review was done by Dr. Iain Corness)
If you want an uplifting story, then “In the blink of an eye” is probably one of the most dramatic personal fights against enormous odds that you will ever read. Author Peter Coghlan finishes the sometimes harrowing tale with the caveat “Remember, miracles can happen.”
Coghlan was a young British lad, ex-Army, a fit bricklayer, who was suddenly struck down with a massive stroke, ending up in what is called the “Locked-in” syndrome. This is a condition in which a patient is aware and awake but cannot move or communicate verbally due to complete paralysis of nearly all voluntary muscles in the body except for the eyes. So for all intents and purposes, the patient is in a coma, but is actually awake, but ‘locked in’ his or her own body.
This was Peter Coghlan’s situation. Active one minute and suddenly the next minute a living corpse.
He wrote the book, as a chronicle of his rehabilitation, hoping that it might stimulate others in a locked-in diagnosis.
The book is written with alternating chapters between recollections of his past life (which included surviving a Hodgkins Lymphoma cancer against all odds) and the realization of the enormity of being locked-in in his current life.
Since the casual bystander can only see a non-responsive body, people will then tend to disregard the “unconscious” victim. Coghlan describes overhearing people talking about him with, “I can only get snatches of their conversation, words like basilar, pons and, more frighteningly, ‘vegetative’ and ‘locked-in’. When I hear these terms, their voices get lower and I can tell they don’t want me to hear them. Only they don’t know if I CAN hear.” He goes on, “Some nurses are really good, chatty and pleasant, but one or two act as though I didn’t exist, not even bothering to look me in the eye, as though I was just some object, an animal carcass with no feelings. But I can feel; I do feel; I feel everything, from the aching of my head to the tortuous spasms in my twisted hands and feet.”
He describes “ … hating the nights, long, silent deathly nights when I don’t know whether I’ll survive until the dawn. You’d think when you can’t move that nothing could happen - but that’s not true. When you can’t move, anything could happen. My trachea gets blocked so I can’t breathe. Yet for sheer unmitigated horror, nothing, nothing I’ve ever encountered compares with being locked-in! Nothing even comes close.”
However, he managed through perseverance, to walk out of the hospital six months after admission, holding the hand of his fiancée (whom he later married in Thailand). “For anyone who’s going through this, I can only encourage you to stay strong, be positive and never give up hope. And, as a former atheist, I have come to believe in God and in anything that gives you hope and comfort. Remember, miracles can happen!”
“In the blink of an eye” is available through Amazon.com as an e-book or paperback. I can wholeheartedly recommend this book. Reading it is a humbling experience.


I’m Coming to Take You to Lunch

My favorite (and closest) Bookazine is where I get many of the books for review. However, when I boldly turned the corner into the store this week, I was met with a blank wall. Renovations or similar, I suppose. And no book for the Mail’s book reviewer!
It was then I remembered that quite some time ago, I was presented with a book by its author, a chap living in Pattaya, and a chap with an interesting history. This was Simon Napier-Bell and the book was entitled “I’m coming to take you to lunch”. It was sitting, buried under papers, in the In-Tray on my desk. Forgive me Simon, I have certainly sinned! However, I am atoning for my sins in a small way by reading and reviewing your book.
Published in 2005 (Wenner Books) ISBN 1-932958-56-8, the front cover of “I’m coming to take you to lunch” proclaims that it is a “fantastic tale of boys, booze, and how Wham! were sold to China.”
It seems the fashionable thing to do today, this jumping onto the Chinese (high speed) train wagon, but Simon Napier-Bell was there with his belly-laugh and a band called Wham! while they were still laying the tracks, when Simon’s entourage reached China in the nineteen eighties!
Right from the outset, Napier-Bell lets you know that he is gay. It is part of him and his story, so is treated factually, as it should be. What does differentiate Napier-Bell is that he was living with his ex-boyfriend and his current boyfriend in the same house at the same time! What really interested me was the fact that the ex-BF, a society hairdresser, employing a publicist and to all appearances very successful, was in actual fact being supported financially by Napier-Bell.
There are 43 chapters, spanning from 1983 to 1986, and the author flits merrily from East to West and vice versa, seemingly at the drop of a credit card.
The main theme of the book (other than Napier-Bells peregrinations), is the machinations involved in getting the inscrutable Chinese to allow the group Wham! to stage a concert in mainland China, an event which would give the group world-wide publicity. How he made that happen is inscrutably amazing!
Napier-Bell’s book reminds me of Keith Richards’ “Life”, itself an interesting tale of life in the music industry (especially rock ‘n roll) from the performer’s viewpoint. However, “I’m coming to take you to lunch” deals with the same industry, but from the management viewpoint. There are decided similarities (though Napier-Bell wrote his long before Richards) and the quest for hedonism (for either) was no too hard! And “I’m coming to take you to lunch” was how much of the business was done, with Dom Perignon as the lubricant.
This book is obviously not on display in the book shops (a fickle lot at the best of times), so you may have to go via the amazon.com exploration route. If you have had even the slightest passing interest in the commercial music business, the search for this book will be worth it.


 
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

In the blink of an eye

I’m Coming to Take You to Lunch
 

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