New research shows that cerebral palsy sufferers have stopped development at the point of learning how to turn over, stand up, &c. Many years later they cannot perform certain actions because their mind has restricted them: they can go back into a fetal position. It does not affect their intelligence or growth in other areas. Nolan’s favourite words – casting, crested, cradled – reveal someone limited by a body that cannot obey the wishes of the mind. The compacting of his sentences is not simply the result of his method of composing with the ‘unicorn’ – dropping the articles, inventing new words, rearranging traditional order; it comes from a great rush to get things said, an intense urgency governed by his disability and by the strains of time (the eye and the clock) to get it all out. So what if his mother edited or added? It seems almost inevitable, considering the method. What is at the core – in the beauty of the descriptions of friendships, family and happiness, and in the unique poetic sentences – could only come from one person out of hardship. It is surprising how little actual hardship is dwelt upon, yet it is the unseen base out of which all of this develops. But we still have it at the very end and are left in no doubt.
Entry in Notebooks, 6th July 1989