What's a tumour when there's copy to file? To my brother, nothing

I grew up following my brother's lead - and now I'm in awe of him once again

Share

In large part, I owe my career to my brother. I’m a few years younger than him, and as any junior sibling will know, many of our formative influences come from an older brother or sister.

In my case, I inherited all my early cultural reference points from my brother. Like, for instance, a passion for sport. And a love for the films of Woody Allen (early to mid-period). Plus an appreciation of juggling. And not forgetting the early works of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. More than that, however, it was he who sparked my interest in becoming a journalist.

I was still at school, and my brother was a journalist working for one of Britain’s great regional papers. His life seemed impossibly glamorous to me: he had a car, he had freedom, he got free LPs to review, and there was even talk of expenses. If I’m being honest, I don’t remember much discussion about this noble calling: the quest for truth, the fight against injustice, the shining of the torch to expose the wicked and the corrupt. In those days, we kept our swords and our shields under wraps. I was just desperate to have my own mini and live in a faraway town, claiming petrol at 15p a mile.

Even though the subsequent decades saw our careers move in very different directions – my brother, the one with cultured tones, became a radio presenter – he still is a newspaper columnist, and now contributes a weekly piece to Britain’s leading racing paper.

He has always been clever and funny, and is responsible for one of my favourite lines of all time. In a column about the enthusiasm with which Clare Balding throws herself into everything she presents, he offered the thought that, on her way to cover Crufts, she probably had her head out of the window all the way up to Birmingham. Yes, I know I’ve quoted this before, but it bears repeating. And I’m aware that a columnist writing about another writer’s column is the last refuge of the scoundrel. But that’s exactly what I propose to do now.

My brother has not had the best of times recently. In fact, it couldn’t have been much worse. Two weeks ago, he had an operation to remove a tumour, the size of which was, according to him, “like a Marks & Spencer spatchcock chicken with a Black Forest gateau for two”. (They removed the sarcoma, but left the sarcasm).

He was in intensive care for some time, and even now, in a general ward at the magnificent St. James’s Hospital in Leeds, he’s attached to various tubes and pipes. I visited him yesterday, and couldn’t believe what he told me. Yes, he was in terrible agony and couldn’t sleep. Yes, he’d had loads of new tests and scans. And yes, he’d written his column. What? It’s true. He was in bed with liquid morphine dulling the pain, and had filed a characteristically humorous piece about online betting while in a hospital bed. I couldn’t have been more awestruck. Of course, this does not rank in the pantheon of acts of journalistic heroism. But, for this reason and many others beside, he’s a hero to me.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: Outgunned by a lack of military knowledge

Guy Keleny
Ukip leader Nigel Farage in Tiny Tim’s tea shop while canvassing in Rochester this week  

General Election 2015: What on earth happened to Ukip?

Matthew Norman
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions