30 and 20 years ago … and a rant

30 years ago today (5th December), I crashed an Austin Mini, which I had rebuilt from the chassis up, into a telegraph pole.

I spent all summer welding, repairing, engine refurbishment, modifying, painting etc. Then, on route to my first official date, with a girl I would marry and have 3 wonderful children, I skidded on black ice, losing control, although I thought I had saved it, hit the kerb, went airborne and bang.

I recall a friend at the time, the passenger, shouting me. I looked up through a seemingly crystal clear windscreen. The iced up windscreen seconds before was no longer intact. My head had gone through it. Blood covered my left eye. I panicked thinking it would catch fire as I couldn’t get out.

The passenger was incredibly lucky that he got thrown clear. His legs would’ve been crushed if not. The passenger side door pillar now residing where the gear stick was.

I remember kicking at the door, swearing. Then I was in the ambulance. No other memory.

A passerby who was going to the pub we were meeting in saw my car. The rumours spread that I was dead. After getting stitched up at A&E and getting home, John arrived (escorting my date and her friend to my house – he was a gentleman). First thing he did was rustle my hair. A cherished sign of physical tenderness. I yelped, I had numerous cuts from the windscreen beneath my ridiculous Manchester style mop top.

Next week it will be 20 years since John passed away. We, a few close friends, are marking the occasion. Gonna be a tough day, but looking forward to seeing my friends. Been way too long.

20 years is a long time. Time heals, however I am still troubled by John’s passing. Firstly, I did not give him the support that I should have. I was living away and had started a family. It is a shit excuse. I should have made more time. I have beaten myself up for leaving such a troubled young man to fight his issues without the support that he needed. It was cowardly of me.

Secondly, he died a tragic death. Jumping in front of a HGV, surviving short term on life support. That is a truly horrendous way to depart the planet, where he felt he could no longer exist. What were his inner most thoughts? He was a tortured soul. Was he seeking peace or angry at his situation.

We cannot change the past. We can only move forward and learn the hard lessons that will hopefully shape us and make us better people.

Society conspires against us being better however.

We (generalising) strive for material wealth. Show our success, our blessed life, on social media to massage our egos. Utter bollocks.

People are dying crossing the channel for a better life and some people see this as an invasion. Vile bastards trying to stop the RNLI from rescuing them. Open our arms and welcome these poor folk who have seen more tragedy than we hopefully ever will.

People sleeping on the streets whilst we worry we won’t get the nicest food in Tesco for our Christmas dinner, which we will scrape a significant proportion into the bin.

People are taking their last breath because others are bored of covid and convinced that a vaccine is there to steal their liberty. Boys died in the trenches to give them the freedom they enjoy now.

Lots of people idolise celebrities. Some who have done nothing besides being gifted a ‘perfect body’ (defined by media) and managed to get a place on a reality TV show.

People’s bodies should not adhere to some bullshit stereotype. Beautiful bodies include those that have endured child birth, cancer … Scars of lived experiences, sacrifices, heroic or traumatic events etc.

We should idolise the people that save/change lives, firemen, medical/care staff, compassionate leaders. Not egotistical attention seekers

Life is an odds game. The lottery of birth being the first hand you are dealt. How you look, your chances of a good education, a healthy and safe upbringing.

What the hell has this got to do with John? He understood the world and had lots of compassion. He didn’t worship celebrity … Recalling when we saw Robbie Williams in a local night club and John casually spat beer towards him as said wannabe pop star was seeking the attention for an ego boost. It sounds horrible of John in hindsight. It really wasn’t. 😁

John rarely wasted his time in front of the TV. He wanted to be out, doing stuff.

I am not pretending that I am some kind of saint. Christ no. I am however saying I have, like many others, got so much room for improvement. Navigating this capitalist centric world is tough. Mental health, providing, the need to be perceived as doing well etc.

We measure ‘doing well’ on mostly material things … House, cars etc. On that scale I am far from doing well, although my salary/job title would perhaps say otherwise. We should be measuring doing well on our ability to make a difference and our happiness levels.

On that note, my grand daughter is visiting for the first time this morning and I have lots to do (my house not been remotely suitable for visitors. One room is almost habitable… Almost and I have 2 hours!!!) These are the moments I must and will cherish.

I promise I will cover bike related shenanigans soon!!

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