My brother sent me this piece he had written, it arrived in my email box this morning. It really is very funny and as I giggled my way through the vision of him fighting for survival with the rain lashing at his helmet, his motor bike splashing through puddles and the tryst with the pigeon, I wondered for which charity he was riding for. So I emailed him.
She was the 14 year old daughter of my brothers friend. She had been bullied. The charity he was riding for was the Severine Hobbs Charity. (the link takes you to the newspaper article in which Severine's mum tells her story).
As a parent I loathe bullies and bullying, some kids sadly fall through the net and find themselves so low they turn to taking their own lives to end the misery. Having lived through bullying myself as a child, from a wicked step mother, and then to cope when my children were bullied; my son for his dyslexia and ADHD by the adult in charge of the Primary School, her duty of care being only to the statistics of her school and how well that reflected on her role as Headmistress. My daughter from the boys in her year group when she was 13/14, for her big blue eyes that now attract those self same boys now she is 18 coming up 19. I am lucky my kids pulled through and have become wonderful adults both of whom abhor bullying in any form, reading stories like Severine's just makes me realize how lucky I am and how easy it is to lose a child.
Extract from a bikers diary... (11)
It began like most days, the sun cresting over the horizon with the hollow sound of the morning wood pigeon echoing through the still morning air as I raised the garage door.
Coffee in hand, I went through the ritual of check-listing a bikers survival kit for short and long treks: watch - thrown in bin, duct tape - found on wife’s side of the bed, tool kit - carefully compiled over the years so that it can strip most of a bike by the road; fits neatly into compartment the factory provides for their version - the ‘chocolate tool kit’, waterproofs and wallet.
The weather forecast was 52% chance of rain, so I made the decision to gear up for the inevitable. Bike warm, coffee gone, it was time to ride out of the garage. Destination 8.5 miles away, the first meet point, just enough time to adjust to being awake…WHAM!
Guess the wood pigeon had not had his coffee! 65mph banked over plus 3lb of bird in flight - not a great combination. Twenty three years of riding experience kicked in. I was a passenger for the next few seconds as man, machine and beast fought to survive.
Only two prevailed.
First meet point reached. Time to check for damage and to look up and say thank you again to who ever was looking down so early.
It wasn't long before it transpired that this was just the beginning of what was to be a challenging ride. A test of skill to survive.
So cometh the rain delivered by Poseidon himself.
By the time we returned, 197 miles later, one man had fallen to the road, I had been swiped on a roundabout in rain so hard no one could see; we had witnessed and ridden through what happens when a Corsa head-butts a camper van, add ankle deep road water and one fallen tree, found on a blind country bend while making ‘progress’..... Words cannot describe what was lived through on this day.
It did not cease to rain. It fell in sheets so thick that the sky’s deep black hue was only being lit by the strikes of lightening that followed the deafening thunder that seemed to be directly above us. Water had penetrated every layer, every crevice, and within the first 30 minutes we all discovered that this was not going to be the charity ride we thought it to be.
We did not abate. We road hard. We road determined to move forward. Streaming through traffic with the single file accuracy of a bullet traveling 85mph through the tail of a hurricane.
If I was to choose how I die, I would want to die on a day like today having loved my family the night before, kissed my boys goodnight at bedtime and hugged my wife.
Time to turn about and return. One day, maybe, I will experience the balance of moving forward for longer tests of what a person can endure.