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

DT Teacher - Textiles

£100 - £135 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We urgently require a DT t...

Year 1 Teacher for long term roles starting in September

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Ye...

Year 6 Teachers needed for long term and day to day roles

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

Year 5 Teachers needed for various roles across Berkshire

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Prime Minister David Cameron speaks outside Downing Street after the result of the Scottish Referendum  

Scottish referendum results: And now for the West Lothian question – but resolving it won’t be easy

Rosie Millard
No supporters react to results in the Scottish independence referendum at The Marriott Hotel in Glasgow as ballet papers are counted through the night.  

Scottish referendum results: Thank you, thank you, thank you to the No voters – the Union is saved

Andy McSmith
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week