How Long’s A Piece Of String?

Anyone who has ever been an athlete knows the score. How long do you wait before you come back after an injury? How long is long enough? Or more importantly, if you attempt a comeback too soon and you break down, then do you go down a dirty great big snake from 73 back to 27 and start the rehab all over again. I’m somewhere in the middle of that lot.

Having a wife who’s qualified in massage doesn’t half help however, because not only can she help with accelerating the repair, but when she’s working away, the reaction of my damaged quad tells its own story of where the repair job is at. Earlier this week, I would say it really wasn’t very far on, judging by the way I jumped when she hit the sore bit.

This is all a bit of an issue because next week, Thursday to be exact, I want to be out on my bike again. It’s a special one-off gig. My mate Iain McGovern, who doubles up occasionally as the nicest bloke on the planet, is currently part way through a 352 mile walk from Merthyr Tydfil to Glasgow: or to be more precise, Celtic Park in Glasgow. Two years ago, when Iain was walking in the other direction, I managed to catch up with him for a few miles on the road between Abington and Johnstonebridge on the old A74. Next Thursday his tribe are walking that very same stretch of road, but northbound. I intend to be there.

Iain’s team are walking in honour and memory of his good friend Jonathan Thomas who died from cancer almost a year ago. The story is special because Iain suggested that he and some friends should walk from Jonathan’s home town in south Wales to the home of his beloved football team, in support of the various charities that Jonathan himself had supported throughout this life. Y’see Jonathan may have been born in Wales, but his heart lived in Glasgow. He got the whole charity thing: bigtime. But that’s not what makes this walk special. It’s special because of the timing. Walking every step of the way with Iain is Sian Thomas, Jonathan’s young widow. Sian and Jonathan had made plans to get married before he was diagnosed eighteen months ago, and as his condition deteriorated, so the wedding had to be brought forward. The last words that Jonathan spoke before he died were his wedding vows to Sian.

This is an epic gesture that Iain has organised, not that he needs any competition in that regard. A hero of many a Celtic themed cause for charity, from the Celtic Foundation to Simba, from the Oscar Knox Appeal to Eileidh’s Journey, Iain is one of those people that you just hope will get recognised one day for the amazing work that they do in the community. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he sleeps out overnight at Celtic Park shortly after the walk is complete because he took part in that last year. That’s a gig to raise awareness and funds for the homeless.

My plan next week is to dump the motor in Abington and ride south to meet Team Jonathan on the road. As they’re rattling 25 miles a day, I reckon that a couple of hours on the bike should find them. I wonder what the record is for pushing a bike home? However if the old war wound isn’t up to the job, and I’ll know that from Jane’s poking about in the middle of the week, then there’ll be no bike and I’ll walk out to meet them instead: and if that’s the case, then there’s definitely a need to pull a Highland March style ambush by hiding in a ditch or behind some trees and giving it “U-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r” as they go past. Schoolboy humour: it’s never goes out of fashion.

Wristbands have been prominent this week. I know that Gail’s got a batch up the road, that we bought with a small percentage of the proceeds of the first lot we bought. Then last week, with only teenage ones left in my supply, I ordered another three hundred so we are now, finally, able to do mail order every time someone wants to make a donation to Eileidh’s Journey via Paypal. Wearing Eileidh’s band, in her favourite colour, is as good as it gets in terms of everyday support. I’m especially proud of the fact that I wear Oscar’s band on one wrist and Eileidh’s on the other. They complement each other so well.

But that’s not the best bit of the wristband story. When the Gabby’s were over fae Brizzy a few weeks ago, they took the last of my remaining stock back over to Australia where they sold out in no time. So when I put it to Amelie, who’s LCFN admin at the Aussie end, that I now have a new supply, she asked for fifty. They’re in the air as I’m writing this. As I mentioned to her on Messenger, what I should have done was make a special batch for Adelaide because they came from a factory in China. Next time… Amelie never ceases to amaze me: getting shot of fifty wristbands is no mean feat, especially when the money is going to a wee tot on the other side of the world. But Ammie comes from good stock, many of whom will read this and feel duly proud. You’re all heroes, the lot of you: Missy, Ben, Pamela, Alan, Barbie, Davide, Lucilla, Anna and Laurati. I do hope I didn’t miss anyone.

Staying with the Amelie connection, she is quite likely to wake up next Thursday morning with a virtual ear to the airwaves ten thousand miles away in Glasgow. Y’see at about the time Straya will be doing breakfast, a few of us from LCFN will be at a Lisa Hannigan gig in the west end of Glasgow on Wednesday night. The time difference is currently nine and  half hours I think. Glasgow is the only Scottish date on Lisa’s world tour. I’ll hold my hand up and say that I’d never come across her work before Amelie wrote Puddles, and it was only when I enquired about her musical influences that I discovered that Lisa Hannigan is Amelie’s inspiration. They met briefly at a gig in Adelaide a few years back when Lisa spotted that Ammie was wearing a similar dress (I have the photo somewhere and I must dig it out before Wednesday) but the real highlight for me (and Amelie) will be when I get Lisa to autograph both of Amelie’s Frank Loves Joan CD’s. I know that will make our songstress very, very happy.

Oh, and the Flag’s going to the gig too. That was always a given.

The great unknown, and I’ve asked on about three separate occasions, all through social media, is whether Lisa will cover Puddles as a one-off tribute to both Eileidh and Amelie. If my messages got through and she does it, I guarantee that there won’t be a dry eye in the house. It would be the crowning moment, not just in Amelie’s songwriting career, but in the long adventure of this bike ride too.

I haven’t done an update on the whole LCFN global appeal for a while, and for the purposes of this story, I’m going to lump the Strava Million Mile Challenge in with the Facebook LCFN group to broaden the story. From humble beginnings in the wee town of Stewarton (in Ayrshire) in Scotland, LCFN is now being followed in the USA, Canada, Mexico, all of the the UK, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Slovenia, Romania, Italy, Turkey, Palestine, Iran, Sri Lanka and Australia. In a world where awareness is so absolutely important in parents being able to recognise the symptoms of childhood cancer, the LCFN bike ride is still trying to get the message out there.

The good news on the Puddles front this week is that basically, there isn’t any. Eileidh is home, after months of gruelling treatment in hospital in Aberdeen, and the for the next wee while, she’ll be continuing with her treatment in the comfort of her own home, her own bed, and her own family. It’s not just Eileidh I feel happy for at this turn of events: it’s Gail too. And Cerys. And Callum. The three of them have had to deal with the shitty end of the stick while Eileidh’s been fighting for her life this time around, and it’s lovely that they’re finally back together in one place. Long may it last.

And that, basically, is it for this week. Another one with zero miles from me, another one when I’ve felt like a fraud while the autumnal weather has been fantastic. How long will this rehab take?

How long’s a piece of string?