As this journey progresses, I'm becoming a true believer in fate. Things have been happening which I could never have planned and these aren't just individual occurrences, they seem to happen all the time.
My good friend Ken, Senior Warden of the FreeWheelers Motorcycle Lodge No.9991 (it's my blog, I can plug them if I want) !! Also, the man that can literally get anything done, had sourced me a new MCF sports top and had arranged for the very professional overprint of said shirt. A bit of background, the shirt I'd been wearing since New Years Day when I embarked on this bimble around the coast was an old design, it had also done 1000 miles so was battered and looking scruffy so needed replacing. Chris F, the secretary of the aforementioned Lodge, FWL 9991, had got me a new style shirt and got my name printed on it, and hand delivered to to me personally at Flamborough Head back in March. However, the new shirts only had the MCF logo printed on the back, useless to me carrying a big rucksack on my back but since then I'd also been privy to the customisation of these shirts by the very inventive Masons in Northumberland, and this needed copying.
So, Ken sorced the shirt, designed and orchestrated the overprint and posted the prototype to Helmut, The Provincial Communications Officer on the Isle of Man to be passed on to the model, moi... 😎
The best place I could think to meet Helmut where it would be easy for him to park was the sea terminal where he and the other guys had met me when I first arrived on the island. Bear with me, I'm getting there I promise.
Two days earlier, while standing in Parliament Square in Douglas waiting for the bikes to come screaming past, I overheard a spectators radio, it was a live interview with someone at the Grandstand in Douglas who was talking about a 'Baton of Hope', which was to be going on a tour throughout the UK and was to be the biggest mental health recognition and suicide prevention initiative ever. I made a mental note to look this up. Fate interviened so I didn't need to.
I was sat in the coffee shop in the sea terminal waiting for Helmut when I noticed a commotion in the terminal, a bloke standing with a big shiny baton, looking very similar to the Olympic Torch (did I ever tell you I was an Olympic torch bearer in 2012 ??), remind me later and I'll bore you with that story...
The guy with the baton was Mike McCarthy, the former Look North and then Sky reporter who tragically lost his son to suicide in 2021. His son Ross, had suffered with depression for many years, he sought support from the NHS and was put on a six month waiting list for therapy. He took his own life 2 weeks into that wait, aged just 31 leaving behind a young son and fiancé. Can you even imagine how devastating that must be ? I try to but I can't... 😞
Another tragic story to add to the list of tragic stories I've listened to on my walk, another young man struck down in his prime and then a father, a family, doing all they can to make a difference, in the name of their lost loved one.
I'm going to try to meet up with the baton on its tour around the UK and I urge you to look it up, follow and share this story, let's all join this conversation and help to change this bloody nightmare, so many people are having to live with.
Did I show you my new shirt by the way ???
You can blow that up and pin it on your bedroom wall if you like, Michelle won't mind... Thank you Chris F for the prototype and thank you Ken B for the finished article, I am now walking around a much more upright and proud Lincolnshire Freemason with thanks to your hard work. 😉
So, ferry back to Heysham, I decided it wasn't fair for Michelle to drive all the way to Lancaster for 1 night, an 8 hour round trip, it would be easier for me to jump on a train back to Lincoln and have a weekend off, at home. I was knackered, my kit was stinking and I needed to sort this chesty cough.
Despite my near death state, I was a sexual god to my long suffering wife, I'm sure it has been a very long time since I've managed to put a smile that wide on her face... 😃🤩
I had a lovely family weekend at home, a meal out to our local pub where all 3 of my amazing children were able to be together at the same time, a rare occasion, they were great but nothing, compared to my 3, even more amazing grandchildren.
My fog is slowly clearing... I'm starting to see what is really important... these beautiful people who love me and put up with me in equal measures, through my dark times, they were always there but I couldn't see them, I was supposed to be the one looking after them, it was never their job to look after me.
I went with Michelle to pick the grandkids up from school, play park time, ice cream time, water pistols in the garden time...
Without any doubt, the best weekend I've had for years... completely unplanned, I was never meant to be at home so this was all unprompted but something else is changing.
I'm changing... I'm slowing down, my mouth is shut, my eyes and ears are open and I'm learning what's really important. How the hell did my world change that much, I completely lost sight of all the things that are the most important, because my brain decided to do its own thing.
This photo, will always make me cry. Why ?? It's not a sad photo...
I'm learning, I'm healing, I hope my inane rambling can help others if they are lost, like I've been lost for such a long time.