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

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

Manager - SAS - Data Warehouse - Banking

£350 - £365 per day: Orgtel: Manager, SAS, Data Warehouse, Banking, Bristol - ...

Web Analyst – Permanent – West Sussex – Up to £43k

£35000 - £43000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Internal Project Manager - Business Analyst, Financial Services

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: One of the best known and most pr...

SQL DBA/Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL DBA/Developer
 SQL, C#, VBA, Linux, SQL Se...

Day In a Page

Read Next
There are now half a million self-service checkouts in operation across Britain's leading supermarkets  

What's the point of paying for service if you then have to do the work yourself?

Jane Merrick
 

Our limited generosity is being wasted on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Tom Peck
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment