Still Clunking

berwick1Here’s proof that I really did meet Pat Nevin at the Active Berwick Awards. Well, I was supposed to be having surgery today but as you can probably tell, I haven’t had it. The NHS managed to bugger up my appointment, which I’m not very surprised about. So I’m now having the operation on 19th February instead, and I have to keep clicking and clunking until them. I’m currently just keeping as fit as I can up to the op, and have started working with a new strength and conditioning coach which is going to be interesting – only problem is that he’s a Makem!

Fab Fifty Six

I’m on this orange oblong
riding four wheels. Ready
to muscle along through
the clinging city traffic. Placing wheelchair
facing rearwards with back
against the backrest, brakes applied.
I face onto iPods in ears and
mobiles in hands and ice from eyes
and mouth – everybody googling or facebook locked.
The outside seems warmer
than inside this shell. Then in their own seclusion
a young couple shyly express their love for
each other. A busker of little English
bundles on with collapsible stool and
hand accordion in tow, he eagerly
organises his coins in preparation for a busy night.
He asks the time off his distant neighbour, who pops
out an ear-piece to give a quick glance of his watch
with no words to offer back. As all aboard prepare to
jump ship, the busker asks if this is the city –
‘Yes, it certainly is’ I say.

Active Berwick Awards

On Friday I had a nice trip up to Wooler in the depths of Northumberland to speak and present awards at the Active Berwick Awards night. I’ve been to Berwick plenty of times but never to Wooler, and it was a hell of a journey along a windy A road. Was a good night though and ex Scottish footballer Pat Nevin joined me to present the awards, it was an honour and a pleasure to meet Pat who was one of the first ‘intelligent’ footballers having attended University before signing for Chelsea, he’s a great guy.

Things went smoothly apart from the official photographer obviously not reading the pre-event press release and thinking I was a member of the archery club that me and Pat were presenting a Lottery cheque to – I suppose not everyone knows who I am just yet. A great job is being done in north Northumberland in developing sport with it being such a sparse and rural region, 200 people turned up for the awards which just shows how strong the sporting community is up there – well I’m sure they didn’t turn up just to see me. Will post some pictures when I get them.

On another note, I had a not so nice trip to Blackburn the day after Berwick, I probably don’t have to explain that one, as Newcastle got stuffed 3-0 at Ewood Park in the freezing cold, I really don’t know why I bother. However, staying with football I noticed that Stevie Black has been brought in by Lee Clark to work with Huddersfield Town. Steve was controversially sacked by Newcastle Falcons a while ago and certainly has interesting ideas on physical training and the mental aspect of sport – the latter is often overlooked. So I’ll be interested to see how he gets on at Huddersfield.

There’s a saying I like which is from a French film called ‘La Haine’, which is ‘its not about how you fall, its about how you land’, and after the year I had last year I’m starting to appreciate this phase even more. Because sometimes  things happen which are out of your control and you can’t prepare the way you would have liked, however it’s still possible to get the best out of yourself when you really need it – hence having a good landing. Preparation is a bit like falling, you are just getting ready for the crucial moment, but when you are preparing do you think ‘so far so good’ or are you never satisfied?

I know what I am.

Love and Fear

Looking through this
emptying glass. I’m aware
how dangerous a business
this is – being human.
I wonder
will we destroy ourselves,
but I know that beyond
all the greed and jealously
and hate that sits in us all
from time to time, there
is a strand of love and fear
that knits through us,
and continually saves us.

The Last Word

Ok, just to draw a line under the honours saga – here’s an article by Steve Cram, which hits the nail on the head I think. Not just because he sticks up for yours truely (thanks for that Steve, even if you are a dirty Mackem), he brings to light the embarrassingand petty bickering going on between our Olympians and Paralympians over what they got and what they didn’t get, which is undermining the whole honours system.

As for myself, in the past I’ve had to blow my own trumpet, but it’s nice that I can finally let other people do it for me – I know too well that you don’t get anything in any walk of life without a lot of support and recognition from others.


Another Day Of Sky News

Weak from the years, and
with too much baggage to
be burdened with. Joe
sat uncomfortably, with
the afternoon Sun
lighting up another dull day. His two
eroded eyes had already
taken in the day’s events.
Sadly, he had seen it all before,
and with his passage almost ready,
he knew it was time for a new generation
to suffer.

Happy New Year Honours

Wow! It’s the scandal of the year already, and everyone is talking about it – no it’s not the crisis in Gaza, it’s about the new year’s honours list. There’s a particular st0rm in the North East about my omission from the list, as so many Olympians and Paralympians were honoured. The Sunday Sun ran with a story about it, after Tanni Grey-Thompson alledgedly made comments about the inequalities of the honours system. To some people it may look like I’m banging my own drum and stirring things up, but apart from writing a quite sarcastic Facebook status after the list was announced, I haven’t done a lot. I guess it’s very nice to see how much people value my achievements – especially in my very own north east. However much getting an honour would be a tremendously great thing for me, it isn’t something I aspire to achieve as I set my aims against things within my control – namely my performances. Any awards that come my way are an unexpected bonus, so I would never try to campaign to get an award, although I can’t stop others from campaigning for me.

I must admit I was surprised at the number of Olympians and Paralympians on the honours list, and like others, I worried that a very big rod had been made for the Government’s back – especially as for many of the athletes honoured Beijing was either their first games or their first success at a games. I don’t think the honours system should be devalued, but that is what is happening because we are in a situation where every Olympic/Paralympic gold medallist expects to be honoured now, regardless of their career or service to sport in general – surely that isn’t right.

Nearly every day I think about the competition in Beijing and how things would have been different for me had I managed to win. But the more I think about it, I don’t think it would’ve been much different – as Tanni said, only multi-gold medallists from the Paralympics were honoured. Tanni was also correct in saying that being in the public eye helps, more and more the honours are becoming a politically motivated tool. Yet that still doesn’t stop it chewing me up inside, I’m an extremely competitive person and hate losing anything – even mini golf on the Wii – so losing in the Paralympics hurt like hell, even though it was a great performance.

I’d like to thank all the people who continue to support me, your support gives me extra strength and belief to go on to better things. It’s been a tough time lately both in and out of sport, but I’m determined to come out of it stronger and hungrier than ever.