With less than eight weeks to go until I set off on April 3 from the front door of our Wychcroft home in Cirencester (Sue, as a writer of books on the Old Ways, wanted to call our new home Witchcraft, but that really was a step too far), it’s time to start blogging more regularly on the preparations.
Not that there are many followers yet, but I’m hoping that might improve (and thanks to you personally, dear friend or colleague, for being here right now), since one of the aspects of the bike ride first to Moscow and then down through China that I’m most looking forward to is this blog.
You might think that entirely predictable for a former hack with 30 years of foreign reporting and editing experience.
But in fact, for this ex-journo to enjoy the prospect of writing is something of a first. Or rather, a second, given that blogging, to my great surprise, was one of the most enjoyable parts of my last long bike trip to Budapest and back in 2008.
For 30 years at Reuters and the BBC, I quite rightly when writing always had to respect my trade’s principles of fair and balanced exploration and exposition of all available evidence, without inappropriate intrusion of my own emotions.
And, for the past 10 years as a psychotherapist, there’s been the need to respect boundaries with clients and supervisees, and the possible impact on the therapeutic process of inappropriate therapist self-disclosure.
(Which said, as my clients know, I probably tell those I work with too much at times about my own passions and perspectives – for most, it works, but for some, it doesn’t, and bearing in mind that the therapist is there for the client, and not the other way round, it’s sometimes a fine line that has to be trodden.)
Blogging is, and needs to be if it’s to be of any interest, a very different matter – unashamedly personal and free of fear. So now that I’ve a) set aside conclusively my journalist’s identity, and b) am setting aside for seven months my hat as a therapist, I’m giving myself permission to write what I really believe and feel and think. As far as I can tell, that is.
That will include musings on:
- the environment and climate change (you don’t have to read it if you find it too gloomy…);
- relationships (you probably won’t read it if you’re Sue, my wife….);
- on the meaning of life (yawn later, please, not now);
- on the joys and otherwise of cycling along for weeks on end through Europe, Russia and China;
- and most probably, quite a lot, on health.
For, as a soon-to-be-62-year-old babyboomer (born 1950 after all), I’m discovering all too painfully that physical health just isn’t to be taken for granted any more.
Cliché, yes, but until you experience pain yourself, and the wear and tear of oncoming old age, it’s impossible to imagine what it’s going to be like.
So, prepare yourself for bulletins on:
- My knees (right one has had two arthroscopies to trim back a repeatedly tearing meniscus, and swells up at times disconcertingly);
- My neck and brachial plexus nerves (cervical spondylosis, or in plain English arthritis of the neck, which massively exacerbated by sleeping comatose in a contorted sleeping position one drunken night in Dublin in 2010 gives me at times horrible shoulder and arm/hand nerve pain);
- My waterworks, perhaps – something men, and their women, need to talk about much more, and in my case hugely improved after what’s known as a TURP in early December 2011 – a Trans-Urethral Resection of the Prostate. Clearing a blockage that had built up for more than 10 years, and while thankfully benign, changing my life as I no longer need to dash to the loo twice in just one client hour… (More anon – too much detail?);
- Teeth. As a babyboomer brought up in the days before fluoride in the water and in toothpaste, my teeth were drilled-baby-drilled as a child and filled like there was no tomorrow by a Norfolk dentist who made his fortune from the NHS by doing fillings. The consequence now is a mouthful of expensive crowns and some moments in the past couple of years of spectacular tooth pain. I have to hope that such pain doesn’t strike again somewhere in deepest Russia – but if you’re a babyboomer yourself reading this as I go on, I suspect my stories will resonate.
- Achilles tendon? That one nearly scuppered my last ride to Hungary four years ago, and I will set off on Tuesday April 3 acutely aware of the need to stretch every morning lutside my tent before pedalling off.
- Injuries. Perhaps. After all, last September when negotiating a lock gate on the Grand Union Canal in Birmingham I managed to half fall in, my descent braked by a sharp crack of the left shin on the top of the gate as I went down. The result, a nastily infected and rather large wound which, with the help of Big Bazooka antibiotics, took a worryingly long three months to heal.
I think that’s enough. Another rule of blogging – don’t let it go on too long. Much more to say, especially when there’s actual travel to report, so do sign up if you’d like to be emailed automatically when I post some new thoughts.