Bridge Over The River Aire

As I’m unable to drive until Friday, this morning my mum cadged a lift from family friend Jo to visit yours truly, her eldest offspring.

No doubt frightened she’s been missing out on something in the week and a bit since I last saw her, on arrival the old lady interrogated me at length about my post-heart attack lifestyle. This ‘interview’ included checking the fridge and kitchen cupboards for signs of currently off-limits fat laden comestibles.

She seemed approving of the fact her investigations revealed no signs of my guilty pleasures, such as beer/wine, cheese and crisps. Luckily for my already nattered ear drums, I’d inadvertently left those indulgences under my bed after their starring role in the previous evening’s midnight feast.

Once she’d convinced herself I was eating healthily, mater (Maggie) returned to the living room, reclined at the opposite end of the sofa to my wife Karen and proceeded to slurp on her swiftly cooling cuppa.

“Are you managing to avoid stress then, Gary?” she well-meaningly questioned after taking her first swig of tea.

“Yeah, I’m not doing too bad on that score, mum.” I responded chirpily.

“Are you sure. Because stress could set off another heart attack you know!” she fussed with concern.

“I know that, mum…… I’ve been making really concerted efforts to avoid anything that would add strain upon my heart.” I calmly sought to re-assure my worried mater.

“You can’t be too cautious!…… Harry Binkfield in our village died recently due to not effectively handling his stress levels!….. I just want you to be careful, love!” Maggie continued caringly.

“Yes mum. He didn’t have a heart attack, though, he jumped off a bridge into the River Aire!” yours truly countered; rather baffled at the comparison.

“Yes but it just shows what being overly anxious can do to a person’s health.” Mrs S senior countered.

“I know the negative connotations stress can have on a person. However, I’d venture there are few parallels between Harry Binkfield’s suicide and my current cardio-vascular issues.” I argued unconvincingly. After all there actually is a link, as in they’re both life threatening events are related to mental strain.

 “If your dad was still alive he’d say the same.” Maggie then felt moved to natter further.

“I know, mum. But like you, he’d have no need to worry as I’m following a sound stress avoidance strategy….. Honestly, I’ll be fine.” I re-iterated with uncharacteristic serenity and eloquence.

“What does this strategy entail then, Gary?” mater questioned. Annoyingly, refusing to let this flipping subject drop.

“Spending as much time on my own, avoiding people, news stories and situations that’ll potentially wind me up.” I still calmly sought to clarify.

Yes, that’s not an exact science though, Gary. Even with the best of intentions it’s still possible to become stressed out.” mum proffered; apparently disinclined to conclude this verbal engagement.

“Mum, honestly I’m doing just fine. I’ve barely suffered from any anxiety since leaving hospital three weeks ago.” I continued in my attempts at re-assuring her.

“Yeah, but that’s what Harry Binkfield told old George in the village chippy the day before he jumped!” Maggie felt the need to point out.

“Honestly, I’ve absolutely no intention of jumping from the bridge on Lower Briggate into the River Aire, mum.” I tersely informed my old lady.

“I just worry, Gary. It frightens me that you’re not a natural handler of fraughtful situations.” mum well-meaningly, but irritatingly, refused to let the discussion die a death.

“Mum, please don’t worry, I’m fine. Having a heart attack has calmed me down considerably and given me a new perspective of life.” I advised through the gritted teeth of a man slowly losing his patience.

“Well, I’m sorry but I don’t believe you, love…. In fact your body language you’re displaying now is that of someone under strain.” mater felt inclined to inform me.

At this I took my phone from my pocket, dialled the contact number and on being answered asked the call recipient “Hello, Roadrunner cabs…. Can I book a taxi from Colton to the bridge spanning the River Aire on Lower Briggate, please?!”


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