COMMENT:I was saddened to read about Billy Connolly's diagnosis with Parkinson's disease in 2013.
He was diagnosed with it, most unusually, by a fan who pointed out his walk showed distinct signs of an unusual gait which can indicate an early onset of the disease.
Connolly took the fan's tip, got some tests done, and found out all in the same day, that he also had prostate cancer for which he later underwent surgery.
The double whammy diagnosis didn't seem to put him off his stride too much - he said at the time he wasn't feeling many symptoms and he felt good. He continued his charity and comedic work.
Then lo and behold the other day we read a headline out of the mouth of former UK talk show host Michael Parkinson, that Connolly's brain's been "dulled". That he had an "awkward" encounter with him, that he wasn't sure Connolly recognised him, and that he was saddened by it.
Apart from finding this particular piece of news dreadfully sad, I also found it most bizarre.
Why would Michael Parkinson be saying such a thing?
Even if you thought it, and you knew the illness he was suffering, why would you tell the world that someone's brain had been dulled?
I found it odd, and as it turns out, so did Billy Connolly, who yesterday hit back at the claims saying he'd "recognise Parky if he was standing behind him in a diving suit".
Connolly's NZ-born wife Pamela Stephenson called Parkinson "a daft old fart".
She said Billy was "doing great and still as funny as hell.
Producers working on TV projects with him also came to the party, saying "he's on top form, as sharp and hilarious as ever" - so what was Michael Parkinson thinking?
It would seem the only awkward bit of all this was Michael Parkinson himself.
But it made me think about how we treat people with serious diagnoses like this.
Can we not appreciate, or at least try to understand, how tough it must be not just for them, but also for their families.
What a daily battle it must be to try to maintain dignity and hope.
How each public event must take a toll and be a challenge all by itself, far less without a headline from someone claiming you're losing it.
Pointing out what you think of someone's brain power, or otherwise, is rude at the best of times. Even more so when you know that person is suffering.
It's a good reminder for us to be more considerate when we speak, especially if you're taking it upon yourself to publicly address someone else's suffering.
Which to be frank, was none of Michael Parkinson's business in the first place.