I’d had this gig in my diary for a long time, labelled only as ‘PSP Gig’. It wasn’t until the event was imminent that I actually found out what PSP stands for. It stands for Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, which is a terminal, degenerative, motor-neurone brain disease – often mis-diagnosed as MS. I was chatting with some families at the event and they were telling me that it affects around 10,000 people. It leaves the mind completely intact yet gives the victim less and less control of their muscular movement. Symptoms include backward falls and problems with vision, eventually, patients may lose the ability to walk, talk, see or swallow.
It sounds absolutely heart breaking. Yet its causes are unknown and there is no current treatment or cure for the condition. I couldn’t believe I’d never heard of it. Lots more information about PSP and the PSP Association can be found at www.pspeur.org or pspassociation.wordpress.com
The event I was providing music for was a fundraising evening held at Garrowby Hall. Situated in the Yorkshire countryside, it has to be one of the most beautiful places I have seen. Rolling hills, beautifully manicured lawns, horses, sheep, and a pig! The house itself was exquisite as well. We were asked not to take photographs but it felt like I’d walked into a Jane Austen novel. I was playing in the drawing room, filled with comfy sofas, a writing desk, tasteful vases of flowers and beautiful antique chairs.
For the first half of the event, the sun was shining so everybody was outside mingling, leaving my only audience – a black labrador who I believe goes by the name of Teddy – to enjoy the music alone. The organiser came and told me I may as well mingle with the guests and eat some canapés – I was certainly not going to complain about that! During the second half of the event, a lot of the guests came back into the drawing room and sat in silence while I played some Debussy and Bach for them to listen to. It’s always surprising when you go expecting to play in the background and everyone listens attentively! I felt like I was giving a mini-recital.
So, all in all, this was a most enjoyable gig, for a really good cause that deserves more publicity than it currently receives.