In September 2014, Edwyn Collins spoke to the Guardian about his miraculous recovery from two catastrophic strokes:
Young filmmakers Edward Lovelace and James Hall have helped tell Edwyn’s story with immense grace: there are very long shots, resembling stills in their intensity and framing, of a just-moving stag, say, or a wash of colour from gorse you can almost smell. I felt that I was watching a simple understated celebration of the sheer joy of living, the taking of uncomplicated pleasure in every fresh dawn.
Grace, from her comfy position on the floor pouring coffee, grows unaccustomedly quiet as she looks across to Edwyn. “Yes,” she muses. “You’ve said it for nine years now. Over and over again. Edwyn goes – it just hits him, he’s overwhelmed by it – and he just goes: ‘Oh God, how glad I am that I’m alive. And how close to… not being here.’”
“You mean,” Edwyn interjects, “to death.” Huge bark of laughter.
We talk about the months after the stroke, and Grace prompts Edwyn to tell me how it was. He looks me directly in the eye. “Well, terrible! I couldn’t talk, couldn’t communicate, no language. The words I could say were ‘yes’ and ‘no’, and ‘the possibilities are endless’. I had to learn to read again through… Lady… Ladybird books.”
Grace adds: “He would get stuck on a phrase. For a while it was – ‘the situation is… the situation is’. And then, suddenly: ‘the possibilities are endless.’ No one’s quite sure where it came from. See, Edwyn could sometimes repeat things. The doctor would come and say: ‘Hello Edwyn’ and he could manage a hello. Then the doctor would ask: ‘How are you feeling today?’ and Edwyn’d just go: ‘Ah. Ah. Um… Grace Maxwell, Grace Maxwell.’ He barely knew who he was.”
“But I knew I was Edwyn,” says Edwyn. “I knew that was me. I knew Grace, and my son.” But, I ask, who “was” Edwyn? “Me. I knew that, and that was important. I was Edwyn, as opposed to… Euan.”
Did you know you had been a musician? “Hmm – yes, I did. But they were very bad months. I would have a thought and try to pin it down. But it would… evaporate.”
It takes him a good time to say this word but he perseveres. “To help me, I used a book. I still do.” The book is one of the banes of Grace’s life: she’s tried to buy him a new notebook, but he insists on the old, knows every twitch and scribble of it. Nine years of phrases and words, scrawled and rescrawled every which way, all done with the left (wrong) hand. It tells the slow jumble of a brain regaining.Read the full Guardian article here