For some, extreme sports is leaping into a canyon attached to a rubber rope or swimming with sharks. For others, it is opening the front door and walking out.
I am nearer the latter. After 18 months in my attic, followed by a couple of months touring UK bookshops, I am back in the business of touring the world with Professor Brian Cox. My job is to interrupt him at moments of audience peak confusion and occasionally read a poem. I have gone no further than Belfast since March 2020, but now there are far wider seas to cross and it is making me anxious.
Like many in lockdown, isolation and lack of distraction led to a discovery that was staring me in the face for decades but which I had managed to elude. In August last year, Jamie Knight, co-host of the podcast 1800 Seconds on Autism, contacted me. We had never met, but he had been following my work for a while. We had a long chat after which he said, “You do realise that every answer you have given strongly points to you having ADHD.”
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It is something audience members have been saying to me for years, but I have brushed it aside out of the fear that it would look like I was showing off. At the same time, as Jamie broke it down, it made total sense on many levels.
It provided a moment of strenuous clarity. I thought I’d better tell my wife this had been suggested. I expected her to be unimpressed. Instead, she welcomed it.
Her reaction was, “That would be brilliant. See, because I’ve always thought you were bipolar.”