Well at the time of writing this, its 0200hrs saturday 24th September 2016, currently in my good mate Bri’s VW T4. I’ve Just got back, from what can only be describe as a life changing/defining holiday.
I am writing a blog all about it and will post more in a few days. But I feel after today I need to write a post about Judging a book by its cover.
The book is me and the cover are my scars & tattoos .
But first here is how the journey At Lisbon Airport, Portugal last night started.
I was waiting to go through security with an amazingly funny mate of mine called Rob.
A few of us had been away for 8 days .
Im no longer allowed to travel on my own, my better half’s orders.
This was down to my 5 seizures at the rugby, in march this year.
Rightly so.. Well for now.
There was this young lad working hard to keep us all safe, in this day and age of terrorism.
But he had a face like thunder and was aggressively putting trays down.
As I got closer to him and our turn, I could see and hear there were people moaning!!!
About having to take their BELT off, or separate electronics from their hand luggage.
I was called forward by him. He again slammed the tray down. So I thought I’d try to cheer him up and proceeded to say the following . “HOLA, INGLES Y ESPANYOL.”
In major cities in Portugal, I have found out and been told by a nice taxi driver, that most Portuguese can understand Spanish and vice a verse. He looked at me and in english grunted “BOTH”.
I simply smiled and replied. “WELL THANKS FOR WHAT YOU DO, BAD DAY HEY” he looked surprised and cheerily said “YES” he then picked up my boarding pass, looked at the time of boarding and said “YOU’VE GOT AGES YET. HAVE A SAFE FLIGHT.” I replied “MUCHO OBRIAGADO” (Thank you very much)
A grin from ear to ear appeared and he simply said “THANKS” I winked and replied “ DE NADA” you’re welcome in both Spanish and Portuguese.
Right the point to the blog.
Boarding the 21:05 Monarch Flight xxxxxx Lisbon to T1 Manchester. I was wearing my urban camouflage shorts, short sleeved top, my scar on my head was also on show. Wearing shorts meant both legs, which are quite badly scared from my near fatal bike accident in 2004 .
Wearing my short sleeved top, it showed my tattoo on my left arm. A sleeve telling my story, of rising from the ashes, knock after knock, beating my terminal diagnosis of 3 months to live.Although after my first 8hrs session. I still need another 18-20hrs in the chair. 11th November cant come quick enough.
Along with what was on show was also the tribal design on my right shoulder.
I took to my seat and relaxed. An elderly gentleman approached me, looked at the seat number, saw it was next to me and rolled his eyes and shock his head. Clearly he didn’t like the look of me.
He took his seat, pushed my elbow off the centre arm rest . Along time ago, I would have made sure, I made his flight hell. But that would just reinforce his opinion of me. Which couldn’t have been further from the truth. I decided to humiliate him with… Kindness.
He took his seat and the conversation went as follows….
Me-“ HI SIR, HOW WAS YOUR TRIP, WAS IT BUSINESS OR PLEASURE “ To which looking slightly startled by my calm and respectful tone, replied “ Errr YES AND IT WAS PLEASURE”
To which I smiled and said “THATS GOOD, WHERE DID YOU GO?” Not really wanting to speak to me replied “ SANTA????? “ To be honest I wasn’t really listening or interested . He uncomfortably said “ WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?” I proceeded to tell him I’d been north to Fundão, roughly 3 hours on a train, north of Lisbon. Regardless whether he wanted to know or not and I strongly suspect he didn’t. I proceed to tell him about MERKABA, one of my closest friends retreat on the side of a beautiful mountain. How it helps people to distress and overcome issues from their past, assist others going or been been though serious illnesses such as cancer depression and addiction. Not once mentioning my cancer or how I came by my leg injuries . I saw the look on his face and can only imagine how bad he felt.
I then got up as he slowly removed his arm from the arm rest. Irony really he tried to make me uncomfortable and know the tables had been turned. I needed the toilet, plus my friends were near the front.
I’d book on this trip late following my excellent results at my last appointment .
As I spoke with Bri and said how it annoys yet amuses me, how we get judged.
This wasn’t the first time on this trip. Everywhere we went in the surrounding areas around Merkaba, we were stared at made to feel like a freak show but none of us cared.
These villages are like out of an old movie, really old buildings , elderly women dressed in black and white slowly walking with a hunch. I even said its like when the lost amazon tribe first saw western people.
Bri, claire and myself all have stunning tattoo sleeves done by an award-winning artist Called Jo Talbot.
Bri and claire have a few tactful and nice piercings, but I digress.
After a chat I went to use the toilet, where the air hostess called Nicola smiled at me.
I politely explained i’d paid for extra leg room and while it was next to a fire exit, with my leg not being able to bend properly it was really uncomfortable. To be honest this was the truth, it was really effecting my back being twisted.
I asked if it’s not too much trouble, could I be moved. But not to worry if it is. She looked at my legs and said I will try I can’t promise, to which replied ‘LEAVE IT, I DONT WANT TO MESS ANYONE AROUND” proceeding to enter the toilet. On exiting, she said informed me I could sit in the premium economy, just in front of my mates Bri, Claire and rob .
To be honest, all it was a lot more leg room . I thanked her . She asked for my details and address in case anyone complained . I wrote them down and then said , if you do get in trouble I can definitely give you a good reason .
I explained my story and terminal diagnosis. She looked shocked and said “YOU POOR THING.”clearly feeling sorry for myself.
I quickly informed her that I was on top of it and managed to reverse it. The focus was now keeping it at bay .
She smiled, then told me about a friend they work with, but was off at the minute. Her husband had a brain tumour “ONE OF THOSE SPIDER ONES, THAT ARE VERY AGGRESSIVE” she said.
I gained a few more details, I can’t be sure but I think it was a GBM4. I explained about my Website, Blog and Facebook page. I told her to get her friend and husband to have a look. If they want to contact me via one of those outlets if they need any advice or just cheering up about his diagnosis. I don’t claim to know everything but having spent nearly 2 years and 5 months in this world I’ve picked up a fair bit.
Nicola thanked me.
I used the toilet and I was told its fine to move into premium economy right in front of my friends. Too be fair it was only extra leg room, but it least I’d be comfy on the rest of the 2hr 45 minute flight.
I returned to my seat collecting my bag and presents for my wife and kids . I bought the kids a quadcopter ( drone). I think it’s really for me but Shhhh lol.
I said to the gentleman ,”YOU CAN HAVE THE 2 SEATS TO YOURSELF NOW,IVE BEEN UPGRADED” I hadn’t as I had paid for extra leg room. I smiled and told him it was nice to meet you, and for him enjoy the rest of his flight.
I could tell by his face he felt horrendous inside as he said thanks.
I took my new seat and relaxed .
After a few minutes the food & drink trolley came down with Nicola and another hostess Rebecca.
I asked if she had a piece of paper and pen . As I wrote all my social media and websites down, Nicola said to Rebecca this is the amazing guy I was telling you about .
We chatted for 5 mins I ordered a drink, as Rebecca went to go past she knelt down and asked about chemotherapy. I explained my experiences of being hospitalised 3 times.
Now I can’t go into details for obvious reason, but she knew someone who was struggling / going through Chemotherapy for a rare type of chest cancer. I told her to pass my details on and again any advice they needed to contact me.
She thanked me and continued the drinks service. I put their details in my phone. To remind me to write a letter to Monarch, informing them what a credit their staff are to the company.
Unfortunately that’s the last time I saw my phone. somewhere between embarking the plane and getting through passport control its been lost.
At the end of the day it’s just a phone. I’m due a an upgrade, but what really hurts and upset me is all my photos ,from this amazing summer I’ve spent with family friends, including videos that are lost. O well …… I still have the memories in my head. For now anyway .(Joke)
Write basically the moral or point to this story is…..
Why do we make snap judgements about people on Appearance in this day and age of supposedly equality?
Hey I’m not perfect, actually very far from it. But as long as you learn those past mistakes and continue to grow, then that’s fine. That’s life.
On 3 hrs sleep on returning home, I had to race to a good friends house, the other side of Manchester. His mum, who I knew well was seriously ill and had driven to comfort me, from the lake district when I was lost, just waiting to die on the couch, having given up back in the early days. I wanted to give her a few things and to get her fighting using my own story. I was struggling to get a lift so contemplated the train. By chance an amazing guy called Matt ,who I had met /helped at Merkaba. Facebook messaged me ,asking if I wanted to meet up for lunch as he was in Liverpool . Basically he wanted to say thanks for helping him with a person who he loved. They had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. He had flown back home to be with them. so I had only spent 2 days in his company.
He knew this women but not her son. Straight away he said he would take me.
On the journey there he kept me talking as I was trying hard to stay awake. 2 coffees later ,(sidenote,I don’t drink coffee ,cant stand it so that’s how shattered I was)
On the way he told me how because he was in yoga pants he was getting abused by the locals shouting homophobic words at him.
Take the security guy at the airport on the scanners. He was being moaned and shouted at for doing his job well. We are in an age of terrorism and extreme violence . Seriously taking your belt off and removing electronics out your hand luggage, takes seconds .
I’d rather due that, than blown up at 34,000ft .
The gentlemen who took one look and clearly thought I was a thug, with my scars and tattoos.
It happens to a very good friend of mine I’ve witnessed it. He is one of the cleverest blokes I’ve met and are friends with. He has even done a TED talks. He to like me, has tattoo’s dresses in shorts has a beard. I’ve witnessed it myself. He is a Dr of sports science runs a 50 million pound sports lab, at Bolton university. Ive been sat in his office when someone walks in looks round. He looks at Col then me and walks out, only to return moments later to ask to see Dr Robertson . It makes us smile.
You don’t know what people are going through behind that smile or frown.
Treat people how you would want to be treated, or at least how you would want someone to treat someone you love.
You really don’t know what people are going through in their own world , behind the smile or frown.
It does not matter the colour of their skin ,gender , sexual orientation, if they have a disability, what they work as.
At the end of the day we are all the same in my eyes, all made of matter. It’s the person inside you should see .
This is a time of War , famine , heart ache , large atrocities.
Buck the trend, be the change and make someones day x
and as always
X Behind every dark cloud, the sun still shines bright X