Parkinson’s Awareness Week

SJB Teaching

Parkinson’s – that’s the one that Michael J Fox has got, right? It’s that one where you get the shakes?  Well, yes and yes. But there is so much more to it than just shaking. It creeps up on you. Quite often you don’t even realise you have it until the symptoms get quite severe. My nan had Parkinson’s. By the time she was diagnosed with it, the doctors said she had probably had it for 10 years.

So, if it’s not just shaking, what else is it?  Well for starters, it’s sometimes not even shaking. Not everyone with Parkinson’s develops tremors.

The condition is caused by a deterioration of the nerves that carry messages to the brain. Sufferers find that they slow down because it takes longer for the body to relay messages to and from the brain. They can be unsteady on their feet, stumbling around as if…

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W is for…

W is for…Writing. There are already lots of tips in this A-Z of learning for making your writing better. Have another look at A is for…Adjectives, C is for…Connectives, O is for…Openers, Q is for…Quality and Quantity and V is for…Vocabulary.

However, the best thing you can do to become a good writer, besides practise, is to read. If you haven’t already read R is for…Reading, have a look at that now. When you read, have a notebook next to you and if you find any words or phrases that you like, write them in your notebook.  This will help you to remember them and then you can use them in your own writing. This isn’t cheating (as long as you don’t copy a whole story into your book)!  It’s called being a magpie (because magpies like to take anything they like the look of and use it themselves).  If you tell your teacher that you have started a magpie book they will know exactly what you mean and they will be impressed that you have taken a big step towards improving your writing.

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V is for…

V is for…Vocabulary.  One of the most important things to help improve your writing is a thesaurus. This isn’t a type of dinosaur, but a book of words. It’s written in alphabetical order, just like a dictionary, but instead of telling you what words mean, it gives you a list of other words that mean the same thing.

Most classrooms have them, but if yours doesn’t, think about asking your parents or carers to buy one for you. You can pick them up quite cheaply in bargain bookshops – sometimes for as little as 99p. It’s not cheating to use these in class (apart from when your teacher tells you that it’s a test)! In fact your teacher will be really happy that you are making an effort to improve your writing.

When using a thesaurus you just need to be careful to choose a word that makes sense. When you look at word up in the thesaurus you will see each word has n or v next to it. This tells you whether the word is a noun (object) or verb (doing word) and will help you decide which words to use.  Have a look at these sentences, each of which have the word ‘help’ in, and see if you can choose an alternative word from the ones below that will make sense.

  1. Can you help me with my homework?
  2. I’ve eaten 20 chocolate biscuits today. I just couldn’t help it.
  3. The charity gave help to the victims of the earthquake.

aid assist resist

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True Beauty

She arched her back and shook her blonde silky hair, putting on a show for the paparazzi lining the shore. As her manicured hands rubbed in more sun lotion, she wondered whether they would notice the fake engagement ring. She stretched out smugly on the yacht’s sundeck, knowing she was the most beautiful creature here.

Beneath the surface, a carnival was taking place. Large neon fish chased smaller ones into the dancing coral, while sea anemones waved their brightly-coloured skirts in the whirling currents. All of them went about their lives, unaware that they were in the presence of such beauty.

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Wedding Jitters

“I can’t do it!” Frances steadied herself against the car.

“You have to.” Beatrice took her hand and gently led her towards the wooden doors.

“No!” Frances’s lip trembled and her eyes filled up. “I can’t. You’ll have to go in there and tell them it’s all off.” She picked up her skirts and took a step back towards to the beribboned car.

Cara blocked her way. “Listen, I’m not going to let you do this. Inside that church, the man you love is waiting patiently. He’s probably wondering what the hell is going on but…” She leapt back, but not quickly enough.

“I’m sorry.” Frances wiped the remaining strands of sick from her chin with a white, lace-edged handkerchief.

“OK, so perhaps it’s best if I don’t follow you down the aisle after all, but I’m still not going to watch you ruin your life. You and Andy were made for each other. You’ve been planning this day for ages. Now take a deep breath, hold Bea’s hand, and get yourself down that aisle.”


“You can.”

“C-can’t…take….deep….breath….c-can’t b-breathe…”

“Is there a problem?” The vicar stood in the doorway, a look of concern on her face. “I think there’s a paper bag in the vestry. I’ll be back in a minute.”

Two minutes later she was back with a paper bag and the groom.

“Darling, what’s wrong? Are you OK?” Andy sat on the church steps beside her and wrapped his arms around her. “Whatever it is, we can sort it out.”

The vicar handed the bag over. “Breathe into this. It’ll calm your nerves. I’ll leave you two alone now. Come inside when you’re ready. She went back inside, followed by Beatrice and Cara.

As soon as they were out of earshot, Andy’s fingers tightened on Frances’s arm. “Don’t you dare make a fool of me. Get on your feet, and get yourself down that aisle. Now! And put a smile on your face.”

The congregation fell silent as the organ started up, and then, as the party made their way towards the altar, the whispers began. “So romantic! She was too overwhelmed to walk down the aisle until he went to fetch her. Don’t they look so in love?”

After the vows, Andy kissed his bride and everyone applauded.

Not one of the guests wondered why she had insisted on a high-neckline and long sleeves for a summer wedding.

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Total Eclipse

The dark is my friend. At night while the world sleeps, I come out to work – visiting the most affluent homes and liberating pieces of jewellery, mobile phones, iPods, iPads, and anything else I think I may be able to make money from. I don’t see it as wrong – I’m not physically harming the people I take from and they can claim the money back from the insurance companies who charge extortionate premiums. They are the real villains. Not me.

I have developed excellent night vision and I can spot an open window from the other end of an unlit street. Dressed in black, I have perfected the art of blending into shadows, slipping unseen and unheard into people’s houses. The dark is my friend.

Today is a new opportunity. A total eclipse of the sun. People are gathered in parks and town squares and on beaches. It’s a time of darkness in the middle of the day – a bonus for me.

I find a large group of office workers in one of the squares, chattering excitedly about what is to happen. They all wear special dark glasses to protect their eyes. I don’t need them. I won’t be looking at the sun. As the crowd oohs and aahs over the eclipse, I concentrate on slipping wallets out of pockets and dipping into handbags. When I have as much as I can carry, I leave.

But I’m curious. I can’t help raising my eyes to see what they’ve all been watching. It’s so beautiful – a perfect black circle with a perfect ring of light. I shouldn’t have looked. Even when almost completely blocked out, the sun’s light is too bright. My retinas burn, leaving me blind.

Unable to see, my job as a thief is over. The dark is no longer my friend.

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Shattered Dreams

We congratulated ourselves on finding the ideal home. All our lives we had dreamed of escaping the city, and finally we had a beautiful cottage: views of mountains from the front window and the peaceful lap-lap of the ocean behind.

Everything was perfect…until the night of the storm. Towering waves slammed against the windows, and seaspray leaked through the thatch. Fearing for our lives, we huddled together and prayed. The sea raged mercilessly all through the night, eventually calming as the sun rose.

The extreme weather meant we spent the next week clearing the detritus from the garden, before putting the cottage on sale.

This piece is writing is part of the 100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups.

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