It started with my brother. He is a few years younger than me and when I was away at college I was told he had been taken into hospital. He had had severe pain all over his body and just lay on his bed at home, unable to move or sleep. After a week of this he was totally exhausted and his doctor called the ambulance and off he went. This happened twice to him and I thought poor sod . . . Then a few years later I woke up one morning and when I tried to get out of bed I had this incredible pain in my hip and I thought oh . . . four years later I finally got the diagnosis too. Well it gradually progressed up my spine in 'classic' fashion, and when it reached my neck in 1977 I was desperate for proper help. I finally got a referral to a proper rheumy clinic and while I was there the doctor asked if I would like to attend a new AS research clinic at another hospital, and so my treatment passed to the doctor there, Alan Ebringer.

He had started the clinic with the hypothesis that the cause of AS was molecular mimicry between HLA B27 and some bacteria or other in the bowel. But which one? Klebsiella soon came under suspicion and we patients would turn up at the clinic with some of our faeces in sample pots, our blood was analysed in four different labs and then came the dietary trials . . . the first one was three months low fibre (and constipation!) and next came the low starch . . . so here we are.

I took NSAID's for over twenty years, sulphasalazine as well, but now I follow the diet I don't need anything. And my brother? He eats a low starch diet but cannot resist a small potato and a small piece of cake. But when his iritis or pain becomes troublesome he follows the diet more strictly.

'Then you should say what you mean,' the March Hare went on. 'I do,' Alice hastily replied; 'at least - at least I mean what I say - that's the same thing , you know.' 'Not the same thing a bit!' said the Hatter.