Honorary President of the National Tremor Foundation, Lord Julian Fellowes, who lives with essential tremor, writes his annual message to the NTF.

"For all of us, this has been the year of Covid 19.  There can't be much doubt about that.  I was in New York in March working on my new series, The Gilded Age, when suddenly, at the end of an afternoon, we were told that we were all headed home, and I was on a flight at 7.30 a.m. the following morning.  Lockdown started a day later, which I spent in Dorset with my wife and son.  Like so many others, we tried baking and walking and revisited old films, taking Emma through Lawrence of Arabia, the Bridge over the River Kwai, Doctor Zhivago and The Leopard, none of which she had ever seen before.  I worked in fact, writing scripts for Gilded Age and for a film, but mainly we survived Covid, which we all had and which I probably brought back from New York, and we survived Lockdown.

"Then, after a short holiday in Greece, I eventually returned to New York to continue working and two months later I whizzed back to England, in an action replay of the earlier part of the year, and landed at dawn on the day of the second Lockdown, so I was driven down to Dorset where, trapped in my own version of Groundhog Day, we began all over again.

"But although there was a certain amount of monotony in all this, and although there were times when you felt ready to shout in frustration, still, for me, anyway, there was something about an experience that everyone, old and young, rich and poor, from the north or from the south, everyone, was having to go through.  A real shared experience, more than I have ever known before.  Of course there have been shared moments where the whole country is joined in the same conversation, Royal weddings and anniversaries, or some sporting final, but this wasn't just one day, it was a long period of our lives that we had to get through, in circumstances over which we had no control.  I do not compare it to the war, which was obviously a great deal tougher, but I think it gave most of us a greater understanding of the generation of men and women who came through the war.

"And, for me, one of the positive elements has been that my essential tremor definitely took a back seat while everything else was going on.  Of course I still have it and, as a matter of fact, I think it may be getting worse, but it seemed rather trivial compared to what was giving the whole world a thorough shake.  I found it didn't bother me much when I started to shake in public, even when I would throw drinks in my face or over the table, even when I couldn't write a legible word (still, one of the hardest aspects of it, I find), because all that seemed so unimportant, and I noticed that as I stopped caring about it, so did others.  I didn't have nervous friends whispering, white faced, to my wife, about my Parkinson's.  They must have figured that if it didn't bother me, it needn't bother them.  And this, I hope, is a lesson that will stay with me, when the vaccine has set us free again."

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