It’s 8 am. Which would be fine if I was where the 8 AM was, if you see what I mean. Kent, in the south-east of England. But I am in Grand Rapids Michigan where the time is 3 AM. And here is where the problem lies. I may physically be in Michigan but my sense of time is firmly on the other side of the Atlantic. As far as my sense of time is concerned, it’s a case of wakey wakey rather than sleep.

So why am I in Grand Rapids, that quirky jewel in the Michigan landscape?

It’s a fair question and it seems even fairer at 3 AM when you begin to question pretty much everything.

I, along with a dozen others, are part of the CPT (Cure Parkinsons Trust) party here for the Grand Challenges in Parkinson’s Disease and Rallying to the Challenge meetings on Parkinson’s Disease at the Van Andel Institute. The first is primarily a scientific meeting, focused on the latest advances in our understanding of the condition, while the second is targeted mainly at specific issues affecting people with Parkinson’s. But both occur concurrently and there is some overlap between the two.

But aren’t you retired from all that stuff, I hear you ask. Well, yes, I answer sheepishly. It’s true that I did retire at the end of April from the CPT after six years working for them. I hadn’t anticipated attending the meeting if I’m honest. But a lot has happened at CPT since I left, not least the passing of Tom. Tom, along with Helen, was the spiritual heartbeat of CPT, its central ethos. His unexpected loss at the beginning of May was a body blow to CPT, challenging even its existence. But, cometh the hour, cometh the man. Or, more accurately, cometh the woman. Helen, as we knew she would, took the helm firmly and steered the charity through the toughest times.

So when Helen asked me if I could help out a little bit at the Rallying meeting, it was an offer I could not refuse – an opportunity to talk science and catch up with some of my favourite people in Parkinson’s.

Yes, I am still retired.But for a few days, I’m slightly less retired.

3AM in Michigan

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