My mate Tommy is a quiet unassuming guy…
“Wunznae me guv: I just did it cos it was (and still is) the right thing to do”.
Ever heard that phrase “After The Lord Mayor’s Show”? You can Google it and you’ll get a definition that’s not very endearing. So I’m gonna give you another one, cos I’m like that. My definition reflects on those people who stick around after the main event and remain true to the cause, long after everyone else has left for home.
When I stepped out at Celtic Park (v Inverness) in November 2014 with Vanessa Riddle, Vanessa told me that she once had 250K followers on Twitter. Then when she faced up to neuroblastoma not once but twice, that number dropped to 100K. That always stuck with me. If you’ve followed someone’s journey through thick and thin, why would you just walk away?
And see the week after Vanessa and I did the flag gig at CP? This appeared in the LCFN blog:
I’d be lying if I said that meeting Vanessa didn’t inspire me. It did. She was one of the reasons I started out on this long road and to share Celtic Park with someone who has beaten neuroblastoma not once but twice was bound to leave a lasting impression. And she’s lucky to have such a wonderful family fighting her corner with her. The Riddles are a top bunch.
I kicked off with a 47 and followed that with another. And another. A puncture on the way into work on Wednesday was more of an annoyance than an issue so by the time Thursday arrived, I was as well set as I’d been back in June. The schedule for a Holy Grail (250 miles in a week) demands an average of 50 per day and I was 9 down after 3 days. Thursday was going to be a huge day on the back of that: don’t lose any more!
The forecast was dreadful. A howling south easterly from 6am with wall to wall intermittent rain was not a good prospect. And the weather duly delivered. I got a soaking on the way in but the real challenge was waiting on the Fenwick Muir on the way home. There’s a stretch of the road that goes straight, downhill past the dump at Newton Mearns to the motorway bridge carrying the M77. Downhill… 7mph! Yes, you read that right: seven miles per hour. I toyed with the idea of hanging a right at the Little Loch Fisheries to avoid the worst of the wind but that route is 2 miles shorter and not exactly what I needed. So the Muir it was. It was basically a case of getting the head down, selecting a gear that I could turn without getting blown off the bike, and just doing it. And with wee Oscar, the spotlight that sits second from the right, leading the way, I got a result. Or maybe I should correct that: we did, Oscar and I.
Four 47’s left 62 to do today. I’ve done that several times on a Friday, but never on the back of 188. And not in a strong headwind either. But I got a tweet from one of my best supporters last night that read “it is better to have tried and failed than never tried at all”. And at the end of the day, that tweet got me over the line. There was a lot of clock watching of the speedo as the miles ticked by, and if I’m honest, it wasn’t much fun towards the end. I took a big enough detour on the way home that there came a point where what I still needed to do was the distance to home, plus one mile for insurance. But by then it was downwind so despite all the pain, it was done deal.
You don’t forget those days, you simply lose the intensity of how bad it was. Maybe that’s old age, I don’t know.
Anyway, I was late in coming to the party. My bad.
Vanessa was already winning (if there is such a term) by the time I started LCFN and I felt a bit embarrassed to have not been there in her hours of greatest need. Ditto Oscar: I was just starting out when Oscar relapsed (he was the in the moment reason that LCFN started) and if there is one legacy that wee Oscar has left to me, it is that (a) you never give up (b) you never do walking away when you think it’s over.
It’s never over.
Cue Tommy Melly…
Tommy probably first came to my attention in 2015 cos of Mouldy. Back then (through to this day), a lot of people thought I’d turned away from Inverness Caley towards Celtic because of my connections with these guys. Nope, they simply didn’t get it: I’d aligned with folk who’d devoted their lives to supporting a child with cancer. Simple as. That child was Oscar. And when Oscar didn’t make it – and this is the critical bit – they didn’t do walking away.
Tommy was a fundraiser then, he’s a fundraiser now, and yer know what: I suspect Tommy will be a fundraiser forever. Because of Oscar.
Tommy always sets his stall out at the start of the year and lines up half a dozen races: 10K’s and Half Marathons, and he does it in the pink Solving Kids Cancer strip with his Wee Oscar memorabilia.
That’s what sets Tommy Melly apart: Tommy didn’t do walking away. If Tommy had been a Vanessa supporter (he may have been, I don’t know), then he would still be one of the 90K. That’s Tommy, right there.
Tommy, if you’re sat there reading this with a Friday night beer…
You. Are. A. Fucking. Legend.
And I know you’ll deny it, as in “Wunznae me guv: I just did it cos it was (and still is) the right thing to do”.
So why is all of this relevant?
Because Tommy never let go.
When we came back from Napoli five weeks ago, I was at rock bottom. Our mam had passed away then Eileidh had passed away. Three weeks between them. Didn’t expect one, didn’t anticipate the other. A bit of an emotional mess.
Cue Eileidh’s spirit. It comes from Gail.
Yeah, there were messages flying back and forth but at the end of the day, you are the person that you are. Walking away was never even on the radar: but what was more important leading into August was that I could see a few weeks of working fae hame ahead of me: and, courtesy of a couple of weeks to get my head back in gear, I was on it…
Two years ago, I labelled the big months: 1000 miles is Gold. 1100 is platinum. 1200 is titanium.
I set my stall out for a Gold August. I just didn’t publicise it because that can leave you looking stupid. I much prefer to deliver then justify it. August has been a slow burner: I know from experience that you cannae go fae 0 to 60 and not expect a kickback: so the key has been in managing the miles: six 200’s in a row…
202, 230, 240, 288, 220, 201 and counting.
Recovery is key, and there’s only been one week of that. So yeah, I’m a bit on the edge. But hell, I’m sitting here tonight, knowing that I’m going away on business on Tuesday (the 29th) and that that will be it for August. Anything that happens between now and Monday will happen because just like Tommy, I ain’t planning on doing walking away. Quite the opposite in fact.
Puddles has inspired my August, and the longer it has gone on, the more intense it has become. Today the weather was sh!te: lashing rain and wind, but not cold: that was the saving grace. But on the back of yesterday being the highest daily total of 2017 (three rides, which included a there and back on wheels for a Ruby Murray five miles away), today posted the longest single ride of ’17.
200 miles done for the sixth week in a row and the 84th time in all, but more important than that, August sits on 916 miles. Gold is a given: park that. Third place on the LCFN podium belongs to 1041: I see you. Beyond that, and probably out of sight, is 1093: consider yourself lucky.
I have three days in which to do something. I didn’t fuel this rebound from emotional adversity: Eileidh did. And I wasn’t the first guy to react to the loss of a loved one with such a reaction: Tommy did it before me. Finally, I get why Tommy does what Tommy does….
So tonight, we are all Tommy Melly. #SaluteYouSir