Duet for One

I have just been to see this play. I found it very moving and Juliet Stephenson gave an outstanding and marathon performance.

It is about a violinist undergoing counselling because she is suffering from MS and can no longer play her music. It was all the more moving because I have a friend, Sloggo, who is in the late stages of the disease.

Sloggo and I have known each other since our teens. He was always an incorrigible womaniser and I think I remain one of the few women in our circle who did not succumb to his charms, despite a multitude of attempts, whether I was married or single.

Sloggo now lies immobile, in bed. He watches the television from morning until night interrupted only by visits from his carers and occasional friends from afar such as myself. His body is crippled, not only with his disease but also by the spasticity of his muscles. His legs are folded like those of a frozen chicken, with his ankles at his crutch. One of his arms still functions in a cramped manner while the other is in the same state as his legs.

With his one arm he manages to eat a little, smoke a pipe or two that have been pre-filled by his carers, and down a nightcap of single malt whisky.

If asked whether he wants to carry on with life, his whispered answer is ‘Of course!’ Sloggo’s zest for life, even life such as his, is unquenchable and inspiring. His eye for the ladies has not dimmed either. On my recent visit I arrived at the same time as a very attractive young carer, who chatted to us for a while and reassured me that Sloggo had been read all the letters I sent.

When she had left with a cheerful farewell, I remarked to Sloggo that she was a nice girl. ‘Yes,’ he gasped, ‘But she’s got a boy friend.’

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