Mention in Despatches

On Monday afternoon I took a first recuperative walk since being discharged from hospital, embarking on a short meander to the end of the street and back. Only a few hundred yards in distance and undertaken on flat terrain, it was hardly Hannibal’s trek across the Himalayas; however I was heartened to witness an improvement in my energy levels from Sunday. A day when I acquired a family nickname of Hitchcock*** after Fitbit recorded my daily walking output as a woeful 39 steps.

*** – For the uninitiated, the 39 Steps is a classic 1959 Alfred Hitchcock thriller.

At this point of my recovery, with every new dawn I seek marginal improvements in energy levels without pushing things excessively to the detriment of my health. Mine are less physically intensive types of marginal gains to those sought from his charges by Sir Dave Brailsford as GB cycling coach. However, an eventual return back to full health will mean every bit as much to me as the attainment of gold medals were to the knight’s Olympic cycle champions.

The physical vulnerability I felt walking this often tread route re-iterated to me how much my cardiac arrest had sapped my body of energy. My fatigue levels so high I wouldn’t have been surprised to pass a neighbourhood kitten wearing a ‘I feel as weak as a Gary Strachan’ t-shirt.

Regardless, though, I’m encouraged by today’s mini recuperative milestone. I’m a long way from winning the war, however on Monday afternoon I reigned victorious in a minor and strategically important battle. There’s no medals being handed out yet, but maybe I’ll get a wee mention in despatches for my efforts.

Mention in Despatches Oak Leaf

My son Jonny called this afternoon to pick up my car, which I’m loaning him for a month while my health scare bars me from driving. Prior to his departure, while sitting in the passenger seat, I guided my boy through dashboard controls, the Sat Nav (GPS), along with important contents within the glove compartment and trunk.

My offspring listened attentively as I tutored him on the workings of windscreen, indicator, and air conditioning of my 59 plate Vauxhall Astra. During my instruction he didn’t speak, his only responses being the occasional nod to indicate he understood my advocacies.

After finishing the lesson Jonny started the engine in preparation for departure. While climbing out from the passenger seat I was somewhat concerned to be told “Cheers for the loan of the car, Dad……. Incidentally, you don’t know the phone number for We Buy Any Car, do you?”

I intend to partake in another short walk on Tuesday to maintain momentum of the recuperative process. Like on Monday afternoon, I’ll probably be accompanied on the short sojourn by my spouse Karen.

Sadly for my beloved and I, the brief duration of the walk doesn’t allow her time to yet again furnish yours truly with ‘fascinating’ childhood tales such as 1973’s Birtley Bus Stop Closures*, or the Great Eighton Banks** Shoehorn Shortage of 1969…… Small mercies for which I thank the Lord.

* – Birtley – The County Durham town from whence Karen originates. Twinned with a kebab shop in Minsk, the borough is renowned for crane manufacture, it’s municipal swimming baths and nine hole golf course.

** – Eighton Banks – No relation to Gordon Banks, goalkeeper of England’s 1966 World Cup winning team, Eighton Banks is a neighbouring village of Birtley. Childhood home of ex-footballer Norman Hunter (a member of England’s 1966 World Cup winning squad), one of my childhood heroes from the great Leeds United team of the late 1960’s/early 1970’s.

Anyhow, it’s time to conclude this monologue to shower, dress and embark on a second pedestrian paced wander to School Lane and back. As it stands, I don’t intend increasing the distance of today’s walk, although am contemplating ways the physical challenge can be slightly increased.

One certainty is I won’t be upping the walk’s degree of difficulty by acquiescing to Karen’s notion of giving her a piggy back while undertaking the task!

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