Deadly Nightshade



I like it when people improve a situation some may see as hopeless . Emmel innit ! Hemel Hempstead doesn’t have a good reputation . The council have done a fantastic job to change the town centre . Firstly , they fixed up the pedestrian area with new paving , water features , play areas and generally made it smarter . The nasty buildings remain and many of the shops aren’t great . All four of us visited Hemel last week , and spent time driving the wheelchair and scooting in the newly redesigned water gardens . Quality work , benches to view the gardens , small bridges . Great to see people enjoying it . Give a community something good and see how they respond . In my now very different circumstances , I love just being with my family and having so many laughs . Thanks Dacorum Borough Council .

Another example of hope is my five pound bet on Watford to win the premier league . The odds are 1,000 to 1 . I am looking forward to my £5,000 in May next year . Things got off to a brilliant start with a home draw against Liverpool and away win at Bournemouth . Hope !


Ian visited again from York with version five of the eye gaze shield, designed for outside use. It took two days to make, and uses a foam and plastic laminate material, wood, supports and many nuts and bolts. A particularly cool feature is the counterweight, which is a plastic box containing two fishing leads. It is hard to do it justice to this quality piece of work. Thanks to Ian’s employer for donating materials. Cost incurred was six pounds, and I think Tobii Dynavox users will be prepared to pay £100 per unit. It worked fairly well, and I am waiting for a visit from the eye gaze people to come to install a new mount. Then I can do a proper test. The other great thing about the shade is that Ian brought it from Upper Poppleton to the care home via a stop in Bristol, and by train. Several people on the train, who I don’t know, wished me well. I now have the Deadly Nightshade as well as the switch for outside operation.


I was amazed by the cake Valentina made for Caron’s birthday. All her initiative. Orders welcome.


A few words on our national infrastructure. I would get the rail and local transport back under the state, and I would hire expertise from continental Europe, Japan and China. Dutch railways already run some of our services. Have our decision makers travelled on the integrated transport networks in Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Scandinavia and Japan? There is no competition on most of our routes, we are very late with high speed and electrification. Even after the next round of electrification, there will be no electric trains from London to Sheffield and Swansea, and between Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, York and Hull. While we’re at it, can someone start building the third runway at Heathrow in the next few days? I’ll help. I am a pragmatic Green. What is happening with cars – end of the internal combustion engine – will one day be achieved with aviation, and our globalised world will continue.

I am seeing that the carers and nurses who support me can get satisfaction from mastering everything and doing a good job. I see that for some of them, my frequent requests are more of an annoyance. Being a carer or nurse, with twelve hour shifts, takes a certain type of person.

I will try to describe how the overheating feels. It is what I think is called prickly heat. After less than a minute in the ‘heat’ I feel my head erupting in sweat. I immediately need to itch my head, but of course can’t. I’ve worked out that the maximum temperature I can comfortably be in is about 22 or 23 degrees, with the humidity making it more difficult. Wind is very welcome. Having enjoyed living in many climates, I am now happy to be in a cool, maritime climate. Along with the farmers and gardeners, I am one of the few people happy to see Atlantic lows on the synoptic charts. I have decided that the best place for me to live in the UK is the west coast of Scotland, perhaps the Outer Hebridies.

My dad visited, and Jane, Valentina, he and I went to Chipperfield woods. Bumpy along the track, but worth it. My grandfather, Andrew, ran a drapers shop in Finchley, and it was from there that he drove his family to Chipperfield in the 1930s. Not much has changed. We heard Sebastian call out, as he rode over the Common with friends.

On the subject of communication, covered a few weeks ago, I will add three more things. Firstly, some people ask me the same question several times, even though I answered the first time. This is especially annoying when I am responding with head nods. Trust me, I am sure of the first answer and it will not change. Secondly, my social skills, to the extent they ever existed, sometimes disappear. I simply can’t say the words which oil the wheels of human relationships. Don’t be offended. Thirdly, people ask me closed questions, but the answer can’t be a simple yes or no. In these situations, I give an answer on balance, knowing that I have not told the full story. Again, this applies when I am not using the eye gaze computer.

I can’t hold it in any longer. I live opposite a private girls school, which has a huge and beautifully mowed lawn, sweeping down from the buildings to the road. The school’s own students are never seen on this fantastic area. What a waste. Never mind the pupils from the state infant and junior school down the road, whose school has no grass at all. If I understood the trend, safeguarding will be involved for external people. I would love to see the students from the girls school run up and down the perfectly cut lawn this autumn. I hope that they can collect the conkers from the magnificent horse chestnut and get a hundreder.

You may have noticed that the punctuation issues with the eye gaze computer have disappeared. I accidentally changed a setting a few weeks ago. Trying different things, I have changed it back. So, Tobii Dynavox, excuse my assertion that you caused this.


Author: Andrew Knowlman

I am a 50-year old father of two children, married to Jane. I live in Hertfordshire, UK. I was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in April 2015.

3 thoughts on “Deadly Nightshade”

  1. Andrew, Ian”s eye shade/shield looks a wonderfully practical piece of kit for you.Get it registered and see if the two of you can sell a few.
    Your previous Italian observations brought back some memories for me of how charmingly frustrating working with Italian companies can be and in particular I had forgotten about all the coffee breaks.
    Gill/John Thaxted

  2. Fascinating post Andrew, esp defining aspects of your situation. Abandoning social graces might have a charm of its own I suspect. Susie taught Valentina the other day and I was thinking that we should come and play again when I get back from Canada. If she’s up for it.

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