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This isn’t the first time a similar event has happened, in the first instance I gave up my seat for an elderly Irish man on a tube train, throughout my short journey he enjoyed a little chortle each time an expletive popped out of my mouth, when we left the train at Victoria he handed me a prayer card, for those who aren’t in the know a prayer card is a typically Catholic piece of paraphernalia, usually you acquire these when you go through some kind of life event, baptism, marriage but more commonly first communion, confirmation and when a relative or friend dies or is gravely ill. So when he handed me the card I told him that I was Catholic and thanked him for the card, it wasn’t a prayer card for any of the occasions I’ve just mentioned but this one , I’m not sure if I still have it, was one that was for praying to a particular saint. This brings me back to yesterday, I got on the train at New St, Birmingham, and the train was fairly crowded and on the other side of the isle sat a very prim young Asian woman, smartly dressed, probably on her way home from work. Throughout the journey back to Coventry she kept looking around at me and staring, not in a subtle way, but quite blatantly, slightly un-nerving but I as I usually do when travelling I was listening to music and playing solitaire trying to block out any external tic-triggers. She got of the train at Coventry station like me and I started to make my way across Coventry city centre to catch my bus home. Waiting at the bus, guess who turned up? You’ve guessed it our new friend, and yep she got on the same bus as me and again sat just over the aisle from me and still founding me fascinating to stare at. When she got of the bus she handed me something, I looked at it, a small leaflet entitled “Flick the Switch” I had a little look through, it was a Christian leaflet, from a local church on the back of the leaflet there is a paragraph – “We do House call, we pray for the sick, we pray for people to get well at the church on a Sunday morning. Feel free to drop in so that we can pray with you if you are sick.”

I wonder what their reaction would be if I turned up to their church, but I’m sure they’d be happy to pop round to mine to pray for me. I however have more faith in neurology, and believe that a neurologist helping me, I’m not really bothered about the neurologists religion, they could be Catholic, protestant, Muslim, Hindu or a follower of the church of the flying spaghetti monster it doesn’t matter, I doubt if prayer alone could advance the treatment of TS, however research at Birmingham University can, prayers or no prayers. Whilst on the rain I did worry that my eyeliner had smudged and was going to ask my new pristine friend if my eye make-up had smudged, but I thought better of it and ignored her, being a ticcer I tend to attract stares, but usually from small children.

Back to the subject of Catholicism, I’m not sure if it’s the same for other faiths but the use of prayer or having a mass said for a particular cause is quite commonplace even though a logical agnostic like myself would assume that however many masses are said, trips to Lourdes or made or prayers said medicine and science is the best option. As a ticcer as well as the research that is being done into our condition, the best thing that can be done is for those around us to accept our differences, to accept that we don’t have the devil inside (have you ever seen “The Exorcist”?) we’re just like anybody else except that we have a neurological condition that causes us to have tics and in some of us, like myself are vocal tics that involve shouting obscenities. That doesn’t make me a “bad” person, I’m not looking to be cured either, I just need a bit of compassion as does anybody with TS.

On a more cheery note, here’s mass being said for Father Dougal who’s having a problem with a milk float – sorry it’s a whole episode but I couldn’t find a clip for just the bit I wanted you to see, but you can watch it from 17.05 minutes. Enjoy.

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