#12 – Hilary Lister

This is the face of a woman happy not to be watching Jeremy Kyle

“Come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me” – Styx

Imagine being stuck in a room with just a television that’s showing a 24-hour long highlights reel of Anne Robinson scowling and a clock showing you’ve so far been watching for 35 seconds. You’re in hell. Luckily, there’s a TV remote 3 feet away from you so you can change the channel. Unfortunately, as this is hell, you have no use of your arms or legs. This is undoubtedly depressing.

Luckily for you, this is just a nightmare scenario. (I mean, what seriously demented person makes a film about Anne Robinson’s scowls?) If I were quadriplegic, this would be the depressing life I’d probably lead; bored to my skull with Deal or no Deal and Loose-fucking-Women, wanting to just end it all but with no means or ability to do so.

One person who saw light at the end of the tunnel (and boy that tunnel is dark, have you seen Jeremy Kyle recently?) is Hilary Lister. She developed Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy in her arms at the age of 15, and in the space of four years it had spread to her legs. This would be enough to drive anyone into a spiral of depression, and in an interview with the Telegraph in 2009 she said so herself in so many words.

Personally, I would not be happy unless my straws looked like this

However, rather than fall deeper into the clutches of Trisha Goddard and internal torture, Hilary was introduced to sailing which gave her a new lease of life. How does a woman who can’t move her limbs sail, you might ask? I did, anyway. It’s something called a ‘Sip and Puff’ system, where there are a number of straws in front of your mouth, say one for steering, one for the boom, etc. Sipping and puffing cause opposite effects to each other and allows you to manoeuvre a boat in water. Bloody brilliant technology, really.

In 2005 she became the first quadriplegic to sail solo across the channel. This in itself is impressive enough; I can barely sail for 2 minutes without dropping a rope here or knocking someone off the boat there. Hilary though went further; four years later she became the first quadriplegic woman to sail solo around the coast of Britain. Just look at that sentence again; it really puts a damper on anything you think you achieved today.

Today’s actual booking of a haircut is nothing really, and I rarely get around to anything. Still, at least I didn’t spend all morning watching Homes Under the Hammer or Cash in the Attic… I’ll hide in the corner now.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s