Now I'm not normally one to be gushing, as you know. But there is something special about the Parkinson's community that goes beyond friendship. And there is something special too about actually meeting people face-to-face even if you know their faces from the Facebook profiles or from Skype. Yesterday I met Jill and Israel for the first time in the flesh – although we have worked together for ages – and there was a genuine sense of meetings a long lost brother or sister. We hugged for what seems like an eternity and I honestly think we were all close to tears.
And in a way that emotion is understandable. We are soldiers fighting in the same cause. And it's not an exaggeration to say that, in a very real and tangible sense, we are trusting each other with our lives. I think anyone would be emotional.
Early in the morning I ran into Bob. Bob and I go back to a period before the last WPC. And it was great to see him again. I've always thought we have a particular special friendship. Again, as I've said elsewhere, there is a bittersweet feeling about meeting old friends. It's great to see them again but painful to see how the condition is taking grip.
And Bob is no exception. His tremor is worse and I don't doubt for one second he must've felt the same about me. We both resent in our own ways what the condition has done to each other. We went for a walkbefore the policy forum started and I was increasingly reassured, as we spoke, that the new shakier Bob is still the same man underneath. Still positive, still strong, and more than anything, still thinking about the ways in which he can help. We traded family news, congratulated, commiserated and continued.
And yesterday was in some respects where the battle began, with the Policy Forum – an arena for us to look at the global impact of Parkinson's and to put it in context as a health burden of the next decade or so. And at the end of the day we letterhead down a little – those of us that have had to let down – with a rather fine dinner. I was lucky enough to be in a seat between Lizzie Graham, the driving force behind the EPDA, and Bas Bloem, the doyen of Dutch neurologists. Funnily enough we talked sport mainly and finally both agreed that the best international goal ever scored is by Marco van Basten in 1988.
This is why we have these conferences.