(Page 14) Resource sheet 4

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Christopher Nolan has cerebral palsy, yet by the age of 21 he had written two books - one of poems and the other the story of his life, Under the Eye of the Clock, from which these extracts are taken. He calls himself Joseph Meehan.

He had been at a special primary school, but he realised his dream by being accepted by the local comprehensive school. The following passage describes some of his life at school. Two boys were assigned by the headmaster to look after him.

The boys and their new classmate set off down the corridor. Joseph was schooling his body to stay calm, whilst the boys were negotiating how they'd manage to curtail his arms. "We are bringing you to the music room for singing," confided Peter... Eddie eased the wheelchair into the room and class began. Seeming curious, cheeky-faced Joseph moved his gaze from one student to the next, while they, anxious not to seem afraid, quickly swerved away when his eye fell on them. He smelt their utter fear but was anxious not to add to their worry by getting tense and grimacing wildly as facial muscles twisted askew in spasm.

Joseph was happier now than he could convey ... his pals talked to him and he communicated with them. They had discovered the secret by which to chat with their silent friend...It became completely natural for them to relate to his eyes...his lifeline with their world... they learnt that youthful adventures interested him just as much as able-bodied them. So did misdemeanours beckon him as he realized he could now bank on pals to help him make his getaway Masking Joseph's cries of excitement and chortles of laughter by placing their hands severely over his mouth, they helped him to suppress his nervous reaction. By silencing him thus, they enabled him to join them as they hid from teachers, fellow students or even the headmaster.

Writing was his way of expressing his feelings. He was able to type with a rod attached to his head and with which he hit the keys. This enabled him to do his school work. However, this was not always easy.

As the deadline of night drew near, so his crippled body drew out its deadliest snares... a headlocked stance over his machine.. His mother would wheel him back into the kitchen while his student sister Yvonne would try to ease his plight by brewing a cup of coffee for him. But the relaxation would be short-lived. The moment he crossed the threshold of his study, back would come his body rigidity. However...as dawn crept in the windows the Meehans crept up the stairs to bed - he had mastered his body and finished his essay.

From Under the Eye of the Clock by
Christopher Nolan (Weidenfeld and Nicolson).


R3-M3-PAGE 14

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