STORIES FROM FRIENDS AND RELATIVES
Letter from Jilly Cooper
I enclose a sweet photograph of my old boy, for the website. It was a particularly special day on May 22nd 2004. It was our daughter Emily's wedding to a gorgeous man called Adam Tarrant and we were all terribly excited about it, but I was particularly apprehensive because Leo had been diagnosed with Parkinson's a couple of years before and because we'd gone to ground and I'd been writing a book, a lot of our friends hadn't seen us since then, and I think they turned up at the wedding not quite sure what to expect and dreading that Leo would appear really ill.
I have to say that he was absolutely wonderful. He was having difficulty walking and rather unsteady on his feet, but he managed to walk all the way from the car park to our church in Bisley and after a little rest in the porch he walked Emily up the aisle. Everybody was so pleased to see him looking so well and proud. He then gave her away and afterwards hung around a little time outside the church and then walked back to the car. We went back to the house about six o'clock and he carried on until about two o'clock in the morning making the most touching and wonderful speech in the middle of it which made everybody laugh and cheered them up. I think it was the most wonderful achievement because normally he goes to bed about nine o'clock or nine-thirty and doesn't walk very far. It was a superhuman effort. It was a lovely wedding and I think everybody enjoyed it and was reassured by it.
After the wedding he settled down to write his memoirs, which are called, All My Friends Will Buy IT, A Bottlefield Tour. They are achingly funny and very touching. He had to dictate the whole thing because nobody can read his writing any more, it's very tiny and scrawled and so that was a brilliant thing to do too, as it's very difficult dictating a book. The book has had wonderful reviews. It's described by Jeremy Lewis in The Mail on Sunday as one of the funniest books he'd ever read and all sorts of wonderful reviews have appeared in the Telegraph and The Oldie and the Literary Review and all the local press have rallied round and so we're very, very proud of him, he's planning another book about early schooldays now.
So Parkinson's is certainly not the end of everything.