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Rock Maze
  • Writer's pictureNeil

Hovercraft and Finding Furniture

Two big events happened in the summer of 2006. Not trivial things that much of this blog consists of but two really big things. On the 23rd of August Tricia and I got married, well we needed an excuse for a party.

It turned out to be one of the last major events my mum went to before she died. I wanted her to know that for me this wasn’t simply 3rd time lucky but a well thought through family strategy. And of course we had our really good party, with plenty of food, a jazz band in the afternoon, a clown for the kids at that boring time between the daytime event and the evening party, more live music in the evening and into the night and unsurprisingly lots and lots of champagne. Oh, and only one neighbourly complaint.

For those of you that have been to our house, you may have seen a life size picture of a younger slimmer version of someone who looks a bit like me. It’s my eldest brother Jon. The reason my brother’s picture has been kicking around the house for the last almost 15 years is because he was the second big event in the summer of 2006.

Just a few weeks before our wedding Jon collapsed at home with an embolism in his noggin, a stroke! This was a big deal, Jon was proper poorly. He was transferred to St George's Hospital in London where, not to put too fine point on it, they saved his life. He was allowed one visitor at a time, not that he remembers anything, but I was acutely aware that when I visited I might have been saying goodbye. He was, at the time, 50. When I heard this pretty grim news I was with Abbi at a horse show at Fraddon. I don’t remember who phoned me but what I do remember was the hole that opened inside me. The prospect of losing a brother was unbearable. He wasn’t well enough to get to our wedding so I shoved him on a stick. He had a fine old time photo bombing!

I’ll just park that thought for a minute and bring this post up to date.

This is the part of my treatment cycle that I start to feel bleddy rotten. This is my struggle weekend but I’m not half as rotten as I expect. I’m actually having a good few days and I hope it lasts.

My new medication is Farcebook Marketplace. I’m selling and acquiring. So far I’ve managed to sell 40 shelf brackets, two kayak hoists, two car trolley jacks and I’m about to sell a winch and other stuff I’ve got kicking around. Meantime Tricia’s selling some of her mother’s furniture. (It’s ok her mum is in a care home and the house is being sold to pay for her care). Despicable but true.

So what has sparked this selling frenzy? Because it's all good fun and it's the time of the year to have a tidy up. Well.... it’s definitely the time of the year to tidy the shed / man cave / pavilion / summer house, it's been my winter dumping ground. For the last few years we’ve had some plastic furniture designed for out

door use but it’s been in the shed. Recently we were given a little red leather sofa. Ideal for the building at the top of the garden. In the afternoon the sun streams into the shed through the side which opens. So I got to looking for two smallish chairs to accompany the sofa. We have two little Ikea tub chairs in the house which will actually fit the bill perfectly. So with the aid of Farcebook Marketplace I started to look. Low and behold in Stithians there were two tub chairs, identical in shape if not colour, free to collect. So off we went on our essential furniture collection journey. When we got the chairs home I discovered one was too damaged to use but ever resourceful I pulled back the upholstery and with the aid of plenty of screws, glue and scraps of plywood I fixed it. We stripped and washed the loose covers only to find a busted zip on a cushion. Fortunately there was a spare unusable cover from which I removed the zip. Now I need something or someone capable of helping me resolve this sewing challenge.

I think being busy, finding solutions and fixing things is pretty good medicine. It’s what I and all my brothers do.

Ok! let’s get back to Jon.

His recovery took a long time, but recover he did which was just as well. We’ve all got used to having 4 brothers around. Anyway Jon recently posted a tenner, a photo and a note to me. The tenner, a donation to our Bowel Cancer UK fundraising page.

The note “found this photo I feel a blog coming on.” and the photo of a racing hovercraft. This is where Jon expected me to focus on hovercrafting. What I will tell you is that the hovercraft in the picture was, at the time, the fastest 250cc hovercraft on record. I’ll also tell you that hovercrafting is not as straightforward forward as it might seem. With characteristics that resemble boats, planes and a supermarket trolley on a water bed, flying these machines is an acquired skill which I don’t have now and I didn’t have then.

What I can also tell you is that it was built by my colleague and I while we were teaching at Poltair School. The photo, taken by me, was at Kempton Park in West London.

There is a whole hovercraft post in the making here, but not for today.

Jon reminded me what I felt like when he was gravely ill and I thought 5 brothers would become 4. That was 15 years ago.

15 years later, it’s happening.

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