I had a visit this week from a guy who, until I saw him on the dig at Lullworth Cove, I hadn’t seen since 2007 on our tour of Helmand Province Afghanistan. We used to call him “Rage” because it took so little to wind him up and watch him go which was always amusing. On his last tour of Afghanistan he sustained a head injury resulting in one fifth of his brain not functioning which causes him to also have memory problems and he suffers from strokes. He stayed for nearly three hours, it was not just great to catch up but was also amusing as periodically we would both be trying to remember something but would result in both of us saying; “Not important I guess!” His visit got me thinking and put something very important to me in to perspective. Someone whom I had not seen for so many years until a chance meeting put us back in touch with each other after a gap of SEVEN YEARS, had made a trip despite his ailments to come and visit. This had been decided mutually as I had said I would meet him but he wanted to drive and so as I said, the visit had got me thinking.
When I was in hospital after my accident I used my Wife’s Facebook account as it was a way I could let people know how I was getting on, I didn’t use the Facebook and so I didn’t have my own account and people who knew me relied on my Wife to `post` about how I was getting on. Eventually though, when I got home, I did get my own account. I asked around eight people to be `friends` and then felt that if people wanted to know me then they could ask. This would basically ensure that anyone who asked to be a `friend` was doing so as they wanted to stay in touch with me, or at least perhaps naively that is what I thought. I had request from a guy who I went to school with, I accepted and he wanted to come to my bungalow for a cuppa and a catch up. This was quite nice as I hadn’t seen him since we left school 23 years ago. Now I have to be honest, I wondered why he would want to catch up for a cuppa after making no attempt after 23 years but I thought why not. He did indeed come round for a brew and stopped for an hour, nothing heard since and that was over a year ago. Seemed to me like it was a case of come see the guy in the wheelchair and job done.
I looked through the people on the list labelled “Friends” and looked at who they were. Many were from the Battalion, many I had trained when they were recruits. Many were those who I had been on tours with. Some were people I had met but ultimately most were people who I had not heard from for a very long time. And so I got to thinking that my circle of friends has without doubt changed. Those who I would do anything for at the drop of a hat even though the favour would not be returned no longer want to be in touch as no longer am I able to go out at 3 in the morning to collect those who are too pissed to be in a Taxi. I am no longer able to come and `rescue` someone whose car has broken down to tow it back. No longer able to help build a shed or help someone move some stuff in short I have become, to some, no longer any use and as a result no longer a `friend`. I know that this will read as someone feeling sorry for them self but please, this is not the case and people who really know me will know the things I used to do for people and those people are no longer in touch.
My circle of `friends` has changed dramatically as I don’t have things in common with them anymore. So the visit from “Coops” (formerly known as “Rage”) prompted a `clearout`. I realised that it is far better and important to have fewer truer friends than people who are but a name on a list and so over two hundred names that had requested to be a `friend` were deleted, some being people who I had really not wanted to lose touch with and hoped we would be as close as we had been before my accident. So many who had said that if there was anything they could do but had just said the words because it is the done thing to do, many of which for who the realisation that paraplegia is not a bug and is permanent and therefore it is a chance of being asked to help me at any time for the rest of my life assuming we are friends and in touch. I have new associates now who I have met in hospital, on trips and activities and days out and whilst they are not people I can class as good friends they are people I do chat with by messages and the occasional phone call which is more than some of what were my closest friends do which is why they have been `deleted` not just from the `friends` list but also from the contacts directory on my mobile phone.
Tom, Darren and Tabatha sorted out a surprise BBQ to celebrate my Wife’s Birthday for yesterday afternoon. My Son had stayed with me on Friday night and so I took him home to his place and stayed for the BBQ so I could cook. I really enjoy cooking at BBQ’s and as I can’t go running around or pissing about like the rest of the `grown up’s` (using the term loosely of course as we are talking about Tom and my Brothers), it makes sense for me to sit and do the cooking. It was whilst I was finishing up the last of the cooking that I received a message asking if I fancied going out for a beer. Last night then I went out for a few beers with one such friend who has stayed as a friend, “Dobbsy” messaged to see if I was up for a beer and as his Brother kindly bought him over to my place so we could go out to a pub in Chard. It is not easy for him to get out as his Wife works also and the timings are rarely kind enough to ensure that they are home together but last night was one such time and so a beer, arranged last minute dot com, was a go! It was great to catch up with him, to see what he had been up to and how he was, I hope that it is something that will happen again in the not too distant future but as I am able to get in to his house I can go round one evening to visit him, something that I am not able to do with many of the people I know as their houses are not accessible for me.
I am arranging my three peaks team too. I have sent the details to a few people who were interested before and spoke to Gina last night who had expressed an interest. I have to speak to a Captain at the Army who was also hoping to get involved and so I really hope that this time the support will be much greater than the last time. The 23rd Of October when people have finished work on the Friday I am looking to leave for Snowdon. We’ll attack Snowdon first thing on the Saturday morning and will go from here to Ben Nevis to attack it on the Sunday and finally Scarfell Pike on the Monday. Something that you’ll never comprehend is how frustrating it is having to rely on people to do things. Whether it is my wanting to do the three peaks or just wanting to go out to the forest in the Overlander. Wanting to go for a bike ride or simply cut the grass, it is a balls ache. There are many paraplegics who are able to do a lot for themselves because they are able to do larger transfers, they are able to go cycling on their own. Able to go swimming and so many other things and whilst I have not written these things off completely, I know that it is only practice that will give me any chance to do these things, but to practice, I need to rely on someone to help me which makes the circle a full one. I was really looking forward to going out on my cycle today, my aim was to cycle to Ilminster, through Donyatt and back to my bungalow in Chard. I know it will be hard work for me but it would be an achievement that I could tick off and then use as a base line time to try to improve on leading to further distances as I feel more comfortable and feel my strength has improved to a point that I can do the longer distances, but I have not been able to go out today due to my help for today being unable to join me. Still, something to look forward to when I can arrange for next time I guess.