Let me assure you first off, this is not yet another political rant about the newly inaugurated POTUS. I don’t think I can add anything to that discussion which hasn’t already been said by far better informed individuals than myself
The last couple of weeks have been, well, I think bizarre is the only word I can use to describe it. But, for me, one of the most surprising images from the thousands that have been bouncing around the internet, is the one of Donald Trump and Theresa May hand in hand at The White House. Now, I’m certainly no relationship expert, but I suspect either of the duo’s most ardent supporters would agree that this apparent mutual “love in” was an unlikely outcome.
A couple of theories for the now notorious hand grab have been put forward. One of them is that Trump suffers from bathmophobia; a fear of falling down stairs and slopes.
My first thought upon reading this news was how does he cope in Trump Tower? My recollection of that edifice from my visit to New York in 2006, was that it had numerous escalators to traverse between floors; all gold plated, obviously. But, of course, he doesn’t need to use them because he has his infamous great gold elevator to spirit him up and down the 58 stories.
But, speaking of escalators, with the benefit of hindsight (how I loath that know it all Hindsight), one of the first signs that I had MS was an inability to negotiate them. This initially became apparent when I was on holiday in Singapore with my sister in 1999.We were only there for a few days but we were determined to see as much of the city as we could, and we did it all on foot. We walked for miles, and miles, and more miles.
Anyone who has been to Singapore will know that they have the ultra efficient Mass Rapid Transit system to get around. This is their squeaky clean version of our London Underground and it’s brilliant but for one thing; escalators.
Every journey on the MRT involved negotiating an escalator. And every entry to an escalator found me paralysed with fear at the top of it. What had previously been an easy manoeuvre that I could undertake without even thinking about it, became a major obstacle. I just couldn’t take the simple step from a stationary pavement, on to a travelling staircase, and grab the moving handrail at the same time.
Instead, I would stand at the top of the escalator and become overwhelmed with all the moving parts and an extremely unpleasant feeling of vertigo would come over me. It felt like if I took that step on to the escalator I would fall forward and go tumbling down to the bottom and be chewed up in the mechanism. That is the image which swam in front of me every time I stood at the top of an escalator. It completely destroyed my equilibrium.
Singapore is a bustling metropolis and the locals are in a rush to get places. My paralysis at the top of every escalator was therefore a tad inconvenient to both myself and the Singaporeans who were attempting to go about their business. I had to stand aside and let everyone go ahead of me, wait for a break in the traffic and then force myself to take a leap on to the moving staircase. It invariably caused me an initial moment of swimmy-headed nausea, but once I had found my footing and got a sure grip on the handrail it quickly passed.
My sister found this performance at every station hilarious, and so did I really. I just couldn’t understand how this had suddenly become such a major issue when I had never had a problem with escalators before.
In order to apply some justifiable logic to this new phenomenon, I convinced myself that these escalators were much faster than British ones and the steps were made for tiny Singaporean feet; they were much narrower and not made for my huge size 7 plates of meat. And so every time I plucked up the courage to take that leap, my toes were hanging over the edge of the step which increased my feeling of instability.
My sister said I was talking rubbish, the speed and size of these escalators were exactly the same as any at home and I had just turned in to a gibbering wreck overnight for no good reason. I wasn’t convinced.
Now I know that she was partly correct. I probably was talking rubbish and the Singaporean escalators were perfectly normal. But, in my defence, there was actually a very good reason for my inability to traverse them.
MS causes scarring on the brain, these scars or lesions are what prevent the messages getting through, like faulty electrical wiring. MRI scans have since revealed that I have a scar on my cerebellum. This is a small but very important part at the back of the brain which controls movement, co-ordination and balance; all the components required to get on an escalator! My damaged brain simply couldn’t cope with the stuff being thrown at it and there was a very real reason why I froze at the top of every escalator. My computer said NO!
Now, I’m not suggesting for one moment that Donald Trump has MS. To my knowledge there’s only been one American President with MS, and that’s the brilliant (but fictional) Jed Bartlett from The West Wing. But, if he does have a fear of falling down stairs, then I have some sympathy with him. Although, just to contrast slightly, I have escalaphobia as opposed to bathmophobia, which is allegedly what Mr President suffers from.
The White House has denied this claim, stating that Trump has no such weakness. The reason why he grabbed Mrs May’s hand as they walked down that slope was because of his renowned chivalry; he was simply being a gentleman.
I make no comment on that, you can draw your own conclusions.
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