Friday, 8 November 2013

Thank You Internet

I took on a project recently that has kept me away from the Internet and left me no time to visit my favourite blogs for a while. However, even when I have almost no time, there is one blog I always make sure I look at. It belongs to someone I regard as a friend, someone who I admire and respect and who often makes me laugh, someone who has demonstrated to me better than anyone just how powerful language really is.

That blog is called My Unwelcome Stranger and it is written by Denis Wright. I haven't been reading it right since its very beginning, but I understand that Denis started the blog when he was first diagnosed with a very aggressive form of brain tumour. His original intention was to leave some written recollections for his children's pleasure, I think. As always seems to happen with blogs and original intentions, the thing has blossomed into all sorts of areas since then and Denis has written countless posts on all manner of things, always entertainingly and with insight.

In fact, Denis is such a good writer that it takes some time to realise that he is writing against great difficulties. Although he never complains, I have gradually begun to understand - although I still can't quite believe it - that, in spite of the cheerful fluency of the prose on the web page, Denis is not tapping his pieces out with ease and speed. The words are there but his hands are not particularly willing. In fact, as far as I can tell nowadays only one of his hands is compliant in any sense and even then it is fairly recalcitrant.

And this is why Denis seems to me a lesson in the power of language - and of sheer human strength. Where others would have sunk into despair as their options for communication dwindled, Denis has dodged and woven (weaved?), finding new avenues for remaining a bright and shining member of the world of people. An unwelcome stranger has invaded him, but he has refused to let that stranger defeat his impulse to enjoy life.

Few people would be capable of Denis's dauntless persistence, (and I have no doubt that he wouldn't either, were it not for the support of his wife, Tracey, and his stepson, Christian). I feel so lucky to have met him, albeit digitally, and to have enjoyed his many wonderful posts - even in his latest, which is a description of what he thinks will be his last visit to his oncologist, he cannot resist a bit of wry self-deprecating humour: "He’s good at his job. I regard him as one of the best," he tells us, before adding, "Not that I've got all that much experience in ranking oncologists" - and Tweets (you can find him on Twitter here: @deniswright )

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