Living Puddlian

It’s not uncommon to arrive at Friday without a theme or an idea in my head. If nothing has seeded itself by Thursday, I’m usually scrambling around trying to concoct something that will work. Today, I needn’t have worried. It landed in my lap: almost literally…

It’s been a bit of an Amelie week. When I got back from Liverpool last week, there was a very large parcel waiting for me. It was from Australia. It was from Adelaide. It was from Amelie. Actually it was from Frank Loves Joan, which is Amelie.

Not one CD but two. And a nice note.

When I was a kid, I always remember being wary of liking a song too soon. The same goes for an album. Liking it on day one was always a sign that you’d be sick of it soon enough. So it was good that while I was working away on Friday, alternating between the two CD’s, I never quite ‘got it’, yet at the same time a couple of songs jumped out at me.

If you like your music artistic and quirky, then FLJ is for you. If you loved Sinead O’Connor and want to hear her voice updated in 2016, then FLJ is for you. If you want to hear a bit of Edith Piaf and some solo multi instrumental stuff, then FLJ is for you.

Have I sold it to you yet?

Amelie is a focal point of LCFN and all that it has come to stand for. She’s admin at the Aussie end of the operation, and a little bit of me knows that Eileidh Paterson has changed her life. Forever.

The Puddles track on FLJ’s second album has had over 22,000 hits on Facebook. But here’s a thing right: almost 28,000 people have seen the post that carries the video, yet 5,000 haven’t clicked the link. I don’t get that. I just don’t get it. It’s not like you’re being put off by the heartbreaking content because you haven’t watched it yet. How does that happen?

So… it’s almost midnight in the UK and in a few minutes time, Amelie and her magic, super talented record producer Ben Abercrombie will be live on Radio Adelaide ahead of FLJ’s official album release on Saturday. Puddles is track 3 on the new album About A Girl. The girl is Eileidh. This is serious stuff. Please understand that wee Eileidh is featuring on a CD written and recorded 10,000 miles away by a singer/songwriter none of us had ever heard of at the turn of the year. I owe Missy Fay one massive, massive favour for it was she who shared FLJ on Facebook and the rest is history.

If there is one thing that I could wizard to make Eileidh’s wee life complete, even at this young age, it would be for us all to crowdfund an airline ticket for Amelie to jump on a plane from Adelaide to Aberdeen to walk into her hospital ward. With her guitar. With her violin. And a borrowed keyboard. The serenade to end all serenades. Who knows Richard Branson (he rides a bike!) or Mr Quantas? It would be utterly surreal. Really.

Anyway, ahead of the radio gig, to matters of the bike, or should I say bikes…

Big Steve Abraham is still racking up enormous miles in pursuit of the world record for the most miles cycled in 30 consecutive days: he’s been averaging close on 220 miles for each of the last 20 days and is still on course to break the record. But as it was with LCFN and the 25K target, it’s never over till it’s over. Stevie boy, we’re all with you, willing you on. Those aren’t just Guinness Book of Record Miles: they’re Million Mile Challenge miles.

Now I know I drive you all mad with my stuff about awareness, but in this, September, it’s more important than ever that people get the message. This is our banner opportunity. And by the way, my golden nails are still in mint condition 23 days later. Big shout out to Hannah fae Stewarton who did them for me. Same gig next year hen!

But get this: I started the Million Mile Challenge on Strava when I hit 25K because I couldn’t just stop. At first it was just me and Stevie McLuskey. That’s the way it stayed for a good few weeks. Then Mouldy came onboard and he brought a few of his Road To Lisbon guys to the table.

Now we’re 43 riders, and the team spans the UK, Canada, Mexico, Italy, Turkey, Romania, Ukraine and Australia. Every one of those riders has learned something about neuroblastoma. What’s neuroblastoma they ask? Cancer of the nervous system in young children comes the response. The group is growing organically by word of mouth and personal contact through social media. There’s been no advertising. People are with us because they want to be. I used to think that the 25K challenge was the best thing I’d ever done but this has the potential to top that. It’s never about what you’re going to do, it’s about what you have done and what you are doing. LCFN isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but hey, there are plenty more fish in the sea.

Do you remember when Mouldy, Kev, Robert et moi cycled from Forres Mechanics FC to Celtic Park last year? Well on that first day, big Callum Finlayson was our guide on the road out of Forres. Callum kept us safe in those early miles. The big man admins the Pedal Strokes charity which helps people affected by stroke and sarcoidosis. Callum himself came back from a stroke to win the Scottish 100 mile time trial championship in 2014. That is a measure of the man.

Well this week, the Big Man has taken on the North Coast 500 mile challenge. As the name suggests, it’s 500 miles, and as folklore confirms, it’s as hilly as feck. Well, for the benefit of the rest of us mortals, Callum has been doing a series of on the road the videos and they confirm that this is a challenge for the bonkers: thousands upon thousands of feet of incessant climbing, and that’s before you factor in the wind. And hell, it doesn’t half blow up there.

To quote the man himself “I’m burst”. Knees wrecked. Left leg wrecked. Arse wrecked (am I allowed to say that?).

Spirit not wrecked.

Spirit intact.

Spirit of a champion.

Champion.

Note to self: once I’ve retired (?), get a 28 sprocket on the back and spend a week on that road. Do it before it’s too late.

Inspired by Eileidh and inspired by Callum’s exploits, I kind of got sucked into a bigger effort masel’ this week. It’s been hellish windy but that just means yer gotta use it to your advantage. Hedgerows are good cos you can hide underneath them on the drop bars: then deploy the mainsail for the trip back home. Use the head. Always plan with the head.

I can’t remember how many 200 mile weeks there have been: it’s been so long since I did one. It’s in the high 60’s somewhere. So a solid 25 on Monday was just that: solid. 26 on Tuesday kept it going. 25 yesterday set the scene for the ton, but in reality all it did was kept the two ton on the back burner. So to today: a lovely day. My work brain really wasn’t on the case today and I won’t bullshit anyone, anytime to I clocked off at lunchtime and headed out on the road. 35 brought up 111 for four days and now the scene is set. It’s down to how much I want it. Simple.

No one else does my miles. No one else can. It’s like no one else can fight Eileidh’s fight. Only Eileidh can. It’s down to you. You…

I’m not going to promise you a 200 mile week. I’m just saying that I’ve given myself the chance. Never, ever underestimate the stress that a 200 mile week puts on yer body. And mine’s an old one. Also, the weather forecast for Saturday is shit so that should make things interesting…

I want to end this week where I spend most of it: wondering how Eileidh is doing. She’s been undergoing round after round of chemo of late, which would be enough to floor an adult, but this is Puddles we’re talking about: Eileidh of the permasmile. As I commented on Facebook today, this young lady is remarkable. She has touched people across the world, and I’m sure I’m not alone in waiting in with baited breath for what will come next. This is not Corrie. Neuroblastoma is not some six week outpatient gig that the ITV soap would have you believe. That’s not reality TV for a reason: it’s not reality. Eileidh’s life is. She’s been living it now for the past 30 months: and she’s still only four.

I am proud to say that Eileidh has captured my heart.

I’m a living Puddlian.