Deep breaths… If only

Sometimes you are faced with situations and exposed to information that makes you question many many things. Your initial reaction is to want to scream and kick out. Mine certainly was.

However, with the calming words of those that you value more than anything and some internal mental wrestling you can see the situation from a more rational place. Gain comfort in knowing that doing the right and proper thing is not always the easiest, although ultimately the best thing to do, regardless of how some, who have no real idea of the situation, might perceive it.

One man captured this very well…

If—

Rudyard Kipling – 1865-1936

If you can keep your head when all about you
   Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
   But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
   Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
   And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
   If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
   And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
   Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
   And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
   And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
   And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
   To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
   Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
   Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
   If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—
   Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

I am far from the man portrayed in this poem, however I am trying and learning.

22 years is even longer…

22 years ago today I heard the news on the radio that Joey Dunlop had been killed racing in Estonia. I was away in Devon.

If you do nothing else after reading this Google Joey Dunlop if you are unaware. He was an incredible man. Road racing legend and very much loved by all who met him.

He apparently never signed contracts, a handshake was enough. He worked on his own bikes… He was a world champion and 26 times TT winner, with works mechanics at his disposal, yet he got his hands dirty and his understanding of motorcycles was incredible. A different breed.

When it came to drinking the black stuff … For a wee fella apparently he had an insane ability to drink lots and show few signs of the affects.

He hated human suffering and would drive alone in a big van, full of donated clothes, to eastern Europe to orphanages that were in desperate need. He would sleep in freezing temperatures in his van. Not one for creature comforts.

I remember shedding a little tear at the time, yet so pleased that he lived his life to the fullest. He was my TT hero and still is.

Godspeed William Joseph Dunlop!!!

2 years is a very long time – from despair to a happy place

Only a handful of people know this and writing it has been difficult, however when I realised the date today I felt compelled –

After the back of a great solo motorcycle trip we were forced in to a covid induced lock down. Lock down was hard for many, my family included. My son went AWOL, work life changed for all my team and myself. It was a scary and difficult time.

The continued stress of a long standing tax dispute, work, marital issues etc. It all got a bit much for me. 2 years to the day, Saturday 20th June 2020, after another argument with my wife, I told her my state of mind and I went, desperate for an exit from my overwhelming situation, or my perception thereof.

In the event of my death, with pension and life insurance etc. I figured, in my irrational mind, that they would be ok. This option ticked a lot of boxes. I was fucking done. Never felt so hopeless.

I didn’t want to die, I just couldn’t carry on. I was trying so hard, working all hours, looking after others, doing what I could to keep it all together.

I sat under a tree. Head in my hands, phone buzzing away. I was planning my next move. 2 lads, probably 18 or so, saw me and started mouthing off, sensing my weakness I would guess. I told them to leave me alone. Relentlessly they carried on, one mentioned he had a knife. I didn’t believe him and I didn’t really care. I stood to up to go and one squared up to me. I didn’t want this, I was all out of energy.

I got my phone out to video them, saying I will report them and they should leave me alone. One of them then punched me in the face, my right eye. Blood all over the place. Not a bad punch, but nothing that was going to floor me.

I just stared at him, as to say is that your best. I had nothing. Ordinarily I would have retaliated in a big way. I tried to clench a fist. I was weak. Drained. I wiped the blood from my face and looked at it. I smiled a sad grin and stared back at him.

He looked less confident now, probably realising what he had done. They walked around me and then once a distance away started to shout back at me.

I slowly walked home amongst picnicking families on the open grass land and down my street. Neighbours stood opened mouthed. My daughter screaming from the drive. Seconds later the police arrived. They had been called prior. They interviewed me. I had to tell my family to leave the room. I needed to spill without distraction. An ambulance then came as they were concerned about eye socket fractures or a detached retina. I assured them that I was fine, they wouldn’t listen. The ambulance dropped me at A & E.

I sat in A & E on my own for what seemed like an age. Covid in full flow. I was on empty. I got my eye checked and then they went into the full on mental health analysis. Was it just today that I had ideations etc.? No, if I was honest. Probably a few months of thinking what if … Everyone was struggling, I was not going to burden anyone else with my issues. I should have. I really should have.

Those 2 delinquent little shits may have saved my life. The A500 and HGVs was top of my list but I didn’t want to hurt anyone else, the train line not far from that as another option. I needed a quick ending. I was calm. I thought I was helping everyone else in the long run. Wrong.

With a perfectly rational mind, I know my children, parents and close friends would have been massively impacted and not at all feeling free from burden.

I have lost people to suicide and I should have known. Trust me when the walls close in, like never before, which the “suicide is selfish” brigade clearly never will understand, your thoughts are that you are doing the world a favour. Nothing selfish. In fact sacrificing your tomorrows for the sake of others. That was my headspace anyway.

I got my head together pretty quick. Spoke to a mental health crisis team on the Sunday. Spoke to my parents. I went to work on the Monday as normal. Said nothing to anyone. Told a lie about my very back eye and carried on. I could not afford to not work. Main bread winner and all.

I spoke to some very close friends, who I owe so much to, and MH professionals.

2 weeks later after another argument, my wife and I agreed that we were done. I started thinking about what I should do. Work was rubbish and I didn’t know where a potential job move would take me. If it was not for covid, I was packing a bag and riding my bike in search of myself. Eventually, once I was sure my job had a bit of a runway I put an offer in on a doer upper. In the village that I grew up in. I am sure psychologists would have a field day with that decision.

After 11 months of sleeping on the sofa I got the house. In that time my daughter fell pregnant and Darcie Doo was born a month after I moved in to my house.

It was tough at first. However my head was in a much better place. I had got my fight back. I was content in my knackered house. It was my sanctuary. I could do whatever I wanted. Mostly DIY. The future was not even on my radar. I still don’t plan or imagine too far ahead.

I was certainly not thinking about relationships. On a night out in Whitby talking to a very good friend he said that I would find someone one day. I laughed and said I am ok as I am thank you.

However only a month later I was on a first date … The rest is not for here. However fate had dealt me a very very good card in this instance, and my god I am so grateful for my life now.

Don’t ever, ever think that there is no light at the end of your dark tunnel. I found glorious sunshine and someone to share it with.

Sunshine and smiles, mostly…

Summer is coming!!!

I have secured the lockup mini garage for my bike as previously mentioned. Got a solar trickle charger and some 12v lights. Security is as good as it will ever be. Got a ground anchor just for extra measure however. Just need time to sort it all out and move my bike from its current stable.

To get out for an hour or so and scratch around the peaks, and get in the zone will be great.

3 days, 2 nights at the iomtt is less than a few weeks away… Time going fast in some regards, in others, much slower. It has been postponed for a while due to covid. Looking forward to it, although I am so glad it is a short stay and not the 9 days originally planned.

I was, in my mind at the time, destined to be single forever more and would not be thinking about leaving someone for a week or so. I still make excuses in mind to why I should cancel going… Last night it was the weather.

I need to find all my camping gear and essentials. I have no idea where some stuff is due to house move etc. The day of my return (midnight ferry arrival) my granddaughter will be 12 months old!!!

The last 12 months have been crazy. Yet amongst the madness and chaos I have found something truly wonderful – myself

Sitting in a dirty old house for the first night, alone, fearful and distraught, with your (very few) possessions surrounding you, makes you realise a few things. Nobody is coming to sort your mess out. It all rests on your own shoulders. Dig in. Change is the only constant in life.

A the risk of descending into some virtual signalling nonsense… I will refrain. This is not a motivational, ego massaging blog. However, life can be hard and emotions can be intense.

Having someone to listen to you is an absolute blessing. Some things are very difficult to discuss, however best out on the table regardless. I did not realise the value of this 12 months ago and the connection it ultimately provides.

We have planned a walking holiday later in the year. Never done this kind of thing before and I am so excited. Over 20 miles walking in a day somedays. I have no idea why I am so excited 😉

Opportunity to get fit and kick start some better lifestyle habits. Not as though regular pub visits and a temporary relapse into tobacco is a bad thing at all, especially the former.

I am sure after 7 days and hours of walking and listening to my inane ramblings, ‘T’ will be ready to push me from a large height 😁.

Bessy Boo

It dawned on me today that after some devastating news that I have never mentioned my k9 soul mate Bess in my blog.

Bess is a 16 year old border collie. She is not in good health and has struggled on for the last 3 or months. In 8 hours time she will be free from her pain and torment.

A dog who was so full of life and joy, recently reduced to the indignity of not being able to hold her bladder due to advanced kidney failure.

She stayed at the family home when I left 9 months ago. It was the best place for her and she was surrounded by love and care.

We got Bess as a very frightened rescue dog when she was about 12 months old. She had not had the best start and I very strongly suspect was mistreated. She would jump a mile if I moved my feet quickly. Someone had kicked her in the past, I have no doubt.

She soon acclimatised to being loved and being the centre of attention.

She was the best dog that I have ever known. Fearless yet so loving and needy at the same time. So smart too.

She has dodged a few bullets. Injuries, cancer and tumors. She never complained. Always up for a walk as soon as she could.

When I was living in the same house I would walk her everyday, often twice. No matter the weather. We would often be the only dog walkers out. Howling winds and torrential rain.

Our morning chats would sort me out. I would talk to her. Squat down and cuddle her. If I was not happy she would stay and press against me. If I was happy she would run off and dig a hole or just play.

She could run for miles. A 3 mile weekend walk for me would be a 10 mile walk for Bess. She would run so far ahead and then run back to me and off again. Always exploring.

I often claim to have no regrets in life … Utter bollocks. One regret is not buying a motorcycle and sidecar so that I could take her with me on a ride out.

Tonight I got the call that I had been dreading for a while. I went straight to her and cuddled her. Told her how much I loved her and would miss her. She knew.

Goodbye my beautiful girl. Thank you for being amazing and giving so many such joy.

The time is now …

Things can change quickly. 2 years ago we had just gone into covid lockdown. Just before then I had been scratching around Spain and Portugal as free as a bird. Plans of more travels, bike related business ideas, excitement in general.

The now is a very different place… Read back through previous posts to get an idea of how things have changed. The past is gone. A whole pile of lessons. The future … I once thought that I had an idea how things would play out. I was so very wrong. Just have to roll with the “now’.

“Regrets, I’ve had a few” … Sinatra. Don’t we fucking all Frank!. They don’t serve us however unless we understand why and change accordingly for the correct reasons. We will all be judged on our past, especially by people who have no desire to understand, emphasise or who are just full of hate.

I am accepting of change, in circumstance, in others and in myself. We have to change otherwise we are not growing. Change can be towards the negative however. Circumstances create stress, anger and resentment. Not a healthy place to be in, yet we all need to have a bit of fight in us. (My default mode when I was younger was to fight and be correct/heard … Egotistical prick. Much less so now. Either maturity or burn out )

Sunnier days are coming and I have a dilemma. I am spending time at a house with no place to keep a motorbike. I have been promised a very small lockup unit about 1.5 miles away, not walking distance before a ride to work. It won’t be available for a few months either. Not ideal but better than nothing.

The odd thing is, my sanctuary, my alone time, riding around in big circles with my head in a fibreglass dome, feels much less of a priority. I have no burning desire to escape for a few hours. I don’t feel I need to. A prime example of change.

It is not because that I can no longer just decide on a whim that I am downing tools and heading for the hills as my bike is metres away. It is something very different.

Also, although this might sound morbid and counter intuitive, when I am in a happy place, my own mortality becomes way more on my radar. Bikes can be dangerous, especially when sharing strips of tarmac with cagers who are distracted (I am one of them sometimes).

Of course this will probably all change when it is warmer, others are scratching around on their bikes. I have been here before. The voice in your head is not always telling you the truth. Now, I could happily sell my bike and spend the money on experiences … Yet I can see me wanting a bigger bike for traveling in the future. One of the many battles my over active, crazy mind has with itself.

Probably something that I need to ponder after a few hours on a bike 😉

On a different note, I contacted a certain sales guy via Facebook who I mentioned in the below post. I sent him a link and explained why I had not been to thank him personally. The response “It made my day”. Lovely man.

Time to get wise …

Things can change pretty fast. Trying to control and plan is sometimes futile. One has to just react, like a ship sailing through icebergs … Did I mention that the captain of the Titanic came from my home town.

We also have zero control over people’s reactions and emotions … Again we need to empathise and manage these on the fly.  My family has seen some very big changes in the last few years aside from a pandemic. Thankfully it has bought us all a bit closer together in many regards. Amongst work, house renovation, my personal life etc. I try and see my children whenever I can. They need to see me as much as I need to see them. We need each other. We are all in unchartered waters … their views and wisdom help me make sense of things. 

I am seeing things and people in a different light. Actions not words  reveals true colours. 

I am often exhausted yet I find the energy to do the things that some would consider optional … Spend time on your own happiness. 

I have a calmness that I have never really had as a default. Why is this? Is it because the vast amounts of shit that I have faced has absorbed so much energy I have no anger left? Is because I have found my inner Zen and I am about to shave my head and walk the earth preaching my mind over matter mantras? It is obviously a no. We don’t run out of anger and I am so full of shit and have no inner Zen to teach about. 

We are shaped by the people who we choose to spend time with. They, often without conscious intent, influence our mood and views of the world around us. That is why I feel calm. I recognised this the other day when I questioned why the hell I was not getting angry at something that I would have previously flipped my shit over, reacted very badly and made things worse.

My old man had a similar experience. He, on occasion, was an angry soul and would have altercations or outbursts of rage. When he got to his 40s/50s he mellowed in a big way. Don’t get me wrong, he will still react when prodded enough with the wrong stick. It is not genetic however, his dad, “whacker”, justified his nickname until his later years. I will ask my Dad what triggered his epiphany like life change, it was stark, even to a younger me who had little emotional intelligence at the time.  

I have a mountain of stuff to do, yet I am lying in bed spending valuable time brain dumping my thoughts into a blog. It is important thing for me to do. I don’t care who reads this and if they find value in it, it would be lovely if they did, yet not the purpose. I need to observe my thoughts and actions and this helps me do that. It is also pissing down with rain and I don’t want to get out of bed. 

I am craving a sunny Sunday where I jump out of bed, look at Google maps and get out on my bike for a few hours. My obsession with bikes is waning slightly however. Just don’t have the bandwidth. Many unread magazines. I will try and follow motogp this season and embrace the new era of incredible riders. 

My IOMTT trip is still on, cut shorter than originally planned due to prioritising my time. I did initially book it when my head was in a “It’s just me now. Bikes and adventures” type mindset. I was never going to find love again … I love how the universe changes your hand when you try and plan long term. What a shuffle the last hand was. 

I get back from the IOM in the early hours of my granddaughters first birthday. An event to celebrate. It will be strange to see all fractions of a divided group of people (numerous separations etc.) in one place.

  Time to get up … 

Summer is coming … Following the rainbow

The thought of hot balmy days, mooching around with people who are fun to be with, is something to really look forward to. Forget about the bullshit for a few hours and soak up the sun.

“Calm waters never made the best sailors”

Life is changing pretty fast at the moment for lots of people that I know. Some very difficult times and challenges ahead. However, the direction of travel for most seems positive. It is worth noting, helping those that you can by being kind is good for your soul and receiving kindness is a lovely thing #bekind.

I need to get out on my bike again. It’s been cold and miserable recently. When life goes fast, go for a blast to slow it all down. No time to think about stuff apart from the next bend. Sanctuary and meditation in a crash helmet.

My motivation for work, DIY etc. has been waning. This is not because I am depressed and lacking joy in things, the exact opposite. I have much better things to do. I appreciate quality time with those that I enjoy.

Who are these ‘people”, My family. My children and granddaughter. My friends (small network). My …. Big drum roll … Partner.

I am not one to discuss my private life, especially not on social media, however this is blog is pretty low key and anonymous.

I will refer to her as TK. We met online. Those apps are horrendous (I only used one). Lots of people trying to promote themselves with a few words and photos only to be swiped away like someone choosing home decor.

I was almost ready to call it a day after literally a few days of curious scrolling. Then I saw a very pretty lady with a cheeky smile. Her profile was honest and not superficial. I sent her a message thinking it would be ignored. It wasn’t. Weeks of getting to know eachother followed, where I flatly refused to meet her “I came looking out of curiosity, not to actually find a date …”. She laughed at me, still does. Anyway after talking for hours on text and being completely intrigued by her, we nervously met.

I was gobsmacked that someone like TK would even like me, nevermind want to see me again. Anyway … Almost 4 months later here we are, seems like so much longer.

I annoy her. I know that I do. Apparently I talk a lot and ramble on. Me?!. Wow!! 😁

I don’t believe in fate. I do believe in coincidence and making your own luck.

TK met two of my children a few weeks ago on the basis that they would ask to do so when they are ready, not forced upon them. It went well (see previous post). Child (adult) number three is playing a gig next week and we are both going to watch. Very excited. TK will also meet a very close friend. No concerns here. I have discussed them both at length with each of them.

Although not a biker, TK, is willing to go on the back of my bike. Her suggestion not mine. I tried to put her off. The responsibility of taking a pillion is a big one to me. However some exciting times lie ahead, bike related or not.

Lots of adventures beckon. Enjoying the now.

Inner peace and the jigsaw puzzle that is life …

I have had a few conversations with various people about this recently. The old me would always be ready to fight and argue until the issue under discussion was exhausted and the other person probably as frustrated as I was.

Through lack of emotional energy, self preservation and the realisation that I need to make my happiness a priority, I am slowly changing my approach (in some instances, it is far from a constant).

Recently something came to light that annoyed me, yet I didn’t engage and appeared quite calm. Most people that I spoke to said that they would be fuming and actually were on my behalf.

The outcome to everything should not be to feel frustrated, angry, upset etc. Yet our initial reaction typically achieves just that.

Reacting angrily to said situation would have been inflammatory all around and made the situation worse. I am slowly learning to not fight every provocation and that in doing so, is not weak but actually the opposite.

That said I did lose my patience on a work call recently and swore at someone for being rude. I was correct to do so in this instance. The result was an apology.

The next layer of this is I guess understanding that others may react in anger or whatever negative emotion yet you can make allowances for them and show understanding and empathy. They are not wrong, they just do things differently and may be in a totally different headspace.

It seems that some of the inspirational quotes that appear on your social media timeline are not bullshit. Inner peace is something truly worth focusing on, IF you need to.

Anyway enough of my virtue signaling zen nonsense for now …

Yesterday was a big day for me. I introduced someone who is very important to me to some of my close family, who are also very important to me too.

My nerves and anxiety prior were natural yet not justified. It was a beautiful occasion and I am so grateful to all for being themselves and making it such a lovely thing. It was all fine and very reassuring, although reassurance was not required.

My daughters response afterwards bought a tear to my eye. Her genuine happiness in seeing me happy is something that I will cherish forever.

It is like lifes jigsaw puzzle is becoming clearer.

I have some big stresses in my life at the moment, yet the people that I choose to talk to instill so much calm in me. A few words in a text message or call can sometimes be enough to create a smile or remind you what is truly important.

The beautiful thing is that said people are mostly oblivious to what they do for me. I hope that I do the same for them sometimes.

A lovely tribute

So we met at the crematorium and paid our respects to a legend that the world is worse off without.

Soon after we gathered in a near by pub. Lots of photos showed and stories shared. One thing is for sure, John was very much loved. He touched the heart and souls of those that knew him best.

I would give so much to be able to give him a hug right now. Hopefully the love shared today will reach him in some way. I know he was not one for sentinel nonsense, however he would be so honoured to have seen the love and respect that he received today. He bought together people that had not seen each other for a long time and that in it’s self is a lovely thing.

Pat, John’s Mum, paid for the first round and TW gave a beautiful speech that had me fighting back the tears (which I saved for when I was I at home).

I sat with Hannah, John’s niece, who was 4 years old, when John passed, and talked her through many photos and stories and she laughed with so much joy in her heart. An uncle she never really had. However , she clearly had inherited John’s love of chaos and adventure.

Dave, John’s brother, was also intrigued, by some of the many stories that were shared.

It is difficult to imagine anyone who would attract so much love after being gone 20 years. John was that man. I an absolute legend in so many ways.

I have privately sobbed today. More than once. However, what an absolute privilege it was to know John and his friends. I often feel that I need to move on from the level of grief that I have. However, on reflection why the fuck should I? Grief is just love that you can no longer transmit to those that are no longer here. I am content to break down and hold my head in my hands and sob every now an again.

Hold those that matter most very close to your hearts and let them know how much they mean to you.
It is not the most masculine of things to do on traditional values, however it is about fucking time that we forgot those ridiculous stereotypes and openly showed our love.

Peace out x