Music

Billy Connolly’s thoughts on dying as he has bracelet reminding him of death

Sir Billy Connolly has said he believes in the afterlife as he continues to battle Parkinson’s disease.

The 78-year-old – known as the Big Yin – admitted the thought that we simply “turn to s****” after death is too grim to bear.

The condition has robbed Billy of the ability to perform, write and play banjo – and he wears a bracelet of plastic skulls to remind him of death.

Asked if he felt angry about the prospect of dying, he revealed: “I do feel that. Cheated, in a way? But it hasn’t happened yet. So how can I have been cheated? And who knows?

“It might be so lovely on the other side you don’t think about that. I’m sure there’s something. In recent years, I’ve just got a feeling there is. That we don’t just turn to s****.

"Maybe this is my refusal to accept something so mundane… that I’ll be squashed, like any other garden mite, and that’ll be the end. Well, that can’t be what happens, can it?”

The comic likes that the skulls on his bracelet are vivid colours, as the brightness “takes the scare away”.

And Billy, who lives in Florida Keys and was diagnosed in 2013, said his Parkinson’s means he now struggles to get in and out of chairs.

He said: “What works on a Monday, to get you out of a chair, doesn’t always work by Wednesday. It can be a cruel disease. Sometimes I think of it like a strange animal.”

The comedian is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential stand-up comedians of all time, beginning his career in the early 1970s, singing in a folk band before deciding to focus on comedy.

His physical condition has slowly worsened and he has retired from live performing.

The brain disorder causes the sufferer to shake and causes difficulty with balancing and coordination and as it progresses it becomes harder to walk and talk.

On The Graham Norton Show, Billy spoke from his home in Florida about his struggles.

"I have lost the ability to write, and it breaks my heart as I used to love writing letters to people.

"My writing went down the Swanny and is totally illegible, so I had to find a way to record everything, but then the recorder didn't understand my accent so it kept collapsing and my family would have to sort it – it was a club effort!"

He continued: "I'm doing okay and have good days and bad days. It's creeping up on me and it never lets go.

"I walk like a drunk man and have to have help. So, life is different, but it is good."

Billy spoke during the Edinburgh TV Festival in August this year about his illness: "The challenges lately have been medical. They are getting worse."

"I will have to weigh it up and see how bad it gets. Play it by ear."

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