Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Carry a big stick - a book review

This wonderful piece has been written by my wonderful friend Kylie.  She is a very wise woman and I love her to bits.  So tonights guest blog is all about her book review of Tim Fergusons book "Carry a big stick"  Enjoy. xx

Book Review: Carry A Big Stick

Back when Jodie started her Febfast journey, she was worried about having to blog every day. When Mary did her guest post, I asked Jodie if she would like me to do one too. I write a book review blog called Little Black Marks  so it only seemed appropriate that I find a book about MS and write a review of it.

While cruising the catalogue at the library, I came across Carry a Big Stick by Tim Ferguson. I knew the name, I'm a long time fan of The Doug Anthony Allstars, but I never realised Tim Ferguson has MS. Perfect! A book about MS written by someone I actually wanted to read about!

Doug Anthony Allstars – Tim Ferguson, Richard Fidler and Paul McDermott

Carry a Big Stick charts Tim career, from his pre DAAS days, right through to the writing of the book. While the MS doesn't take centre stage, it does make appearances every now and then. Obviously to start with, Ferguson himself did not realise there was a problem. He simply put it down the grueling schedule DAAS kept. Anyway, things usually righted themselves within a week or two. However, as symptoms worsened (numbness in fingers, pins and needles in his right ear, loss of his ability to wiggle his ears, twitching eyelid, numb toes - you get the picture), Ferguson simply didn't want to know - didn't want to acknowledge his body was letting him down.  

"I started each one [show] strongly but after half an hour of running, jumping and jitterbugging, my left leg would slacken. By the end onf each show, my left foot was dragging...I never recorded these events or sought answers. It's only now that I look back and piece everything together that it all makes sense"

"I'm often asked why I didn't see a doctor or seek some sort of conclusive medical advice along the way. The answer is simple: I didn't want to know. I didn't want anything getting in the way of the Allstars' success...I just kept going and compensated for any weird body malfunction with exuberant disregard."

However, eventually Ferguson does seek and receives a diagnosis. He continues with Allstars', until it becomes obvious to him he no longer can. The rest of the book details his acceptance of MS and the other directions his career took, from hosting shows such as Don't Forget Your Toothbrush, writing, producing and eventually teaching.

Ferguson writes exactly how you imagine he would. The flamboyance and silliness so obvious in his Allstars days comes through in the book. He examines the effect of a transient lifestyle as a kid on his life as an adult and it's contribution towards his incessant need to be liked and successful.  

The tone of the book changes through out, following his own journey in relation to MS. From the early mentions of MS in the book, through to his denial there was anything wrong, onto his diagnosis and his belief that it should change nothing, followed by his realisation that it does and his acceptance of MS, Ferguson becomes more reflective, analytical and, for want of a better word, serious. I found the first part of the book that dealt with his DAAS days, frantic and quick paced. It jumped from one thing to another, with slight mentions of what was causing a few issues, but was under control. As the MS progressed, the writing became less frantic, but an air of confusion and hurt came through - and denial. Finally as Ferguson accepted his diagnosis and it's effect on his life, the writing becomes calmer and thoughtful.

Tim Ferguson in recent years

Carry a Big Stick is well worth the read for any DAAS or Tim Ferguson fan. For those looking for an understanding of MS, it provides a look at one persons journey with the disease. Either way, I think it's well worth the read.

This clip is from the TV show Good News Week and was the first time Tim publically “outted himself” with MS.