Smile Through It II: The Next Chapter

Chasing dreams, because I can

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The longest day

Posted by Oli on Thursday 21st February, 2008

Today was, hands down, the longest and most tiring day I’ve had since my release, but seeing as it did a trip down to Guildford to visit C, my other Godson, it was completely magical.

I used to visit him quite often (at least every major school break), but gradually I slipped backwards as I became more unwell and my annual trips to his birthday parties in the summer came off the rails and I began to rely on his parents bringing him up to see me at my mum and dad’s, where they could handle the catering and things and I just had to focus on having enough energy to play board games with him all day and even that was often a stretch.

So it was an experience beyond comparison to be able to drive down today and catch up with him properly – take him out for lunch, explore some bits of Guildford and generally have a totally awesome day.

We were up at 8 and out of the house by 9 (no more 2 hours of treatments to clog up the morning), making our way mostly cross-country to the big G thanks to rubbishness on the M25.  K ably navigated us off the motorway and through the brilliantly named Egham which has some of the most sumptuous and gorgeous houses this side of Ascot.   Although it takes a little longer, K and I often prefer the country routes to the motorways for all the little gems you find along the way.

Bizarrely, as we slipped through the traffic into Guildford, K spotted on the pavement a friend of hers from school she hasn’t seen in 6 years.  Small world doesn’t even begin to cover it.  We managed to pull over to she could chase her down and catch up, before strolling on to C’s house just the other side of the town centre.

With everyone else either at school or work (his brother’s school had half-term the week before – parental nightmare or what), we had C all to ourselves, or rather he had us all to himself.  Or whichever way round works.  After a quick cuppa, made in brilliant team-work between me and C, we set off to find an indoor climbing centre where we had decided to try out C’s bravery and my new lungs.

Disappointingly, there was nothing on their website to tell us that pre-booking was a must, so we couldn’t actually climb, which came as something of a relief as the sheer size of the indoor walls (the full height of the industrial warehouse which housed the centre) made me slightly concerned that C’s bravery would entirely show me up.  Although, being a grown-up, I managed to artfully hide my near-panic at the potential mess I’d gotten myself into, I have to confess to feeling pretty much precisely the same emotions as were written all over C’s angst-ridden face as we stood and gawped at the men dangling precariously from the over-hangs.

We vowed to book ahead for the next break and to take it on together, however scared we may be.  We moved on, instead, to the Electric Theatre in the centre of town to the altogether more sedate but brilliantly enjoyable Doodle Wall.  Set up in one of their function rooms was a 6ft high wall of paper which ran the length of the room, on which anyone could come in and leave their mark in whatever fashion they liked.

It was a brilliantly simple concept, but brilliantly great fun.  Something we thought would be a quick 10-minute stop-over on the way to something more exciting turned into almost 40 minutes of intense, concentrated art-working and we all came away pretty chuffed with what we’d managed.  Being that I can’t draw to save my life, I instead chose to add a nice big block of colour to the wall.

Once we’d doodled ourselves out, we headed up to Jo Schmo’s – a restaurant of C’s choosing – which supplied me with the world’s biggest burger (since the one I had at the Burger Co in Carnaby Street), which I once again managed to demolish with my hands and by minorly dislocating my jaw in suitably snake-like fashion.

Hardly able to move post-burgers, we settled on spending the rest of the afternoon sharing turns on the Wii back home, including the new Lego Star Wars game which had both K and I bickering about who killed who and weren’t we supposed to be a team, much to C’s amusement.  Once his mum got home we then rocked a bit of Cluedo, which I managed to gmable on and lose spectacularly by trying to out-wit the other three and jumped the gun at hazarding and accusation.  I found myself much more suited to Wii bowling, in which I found my niche after being destroyed by Chris on both Golf and Tennis.  Lucky we didn’t do the Boxing or I’d have been even more humiliated.  By a 10-year-old.

After catching up with Mum, Dad and big bro once they all got back in, we eventually shuffled off about 7pm for the 2-hour drive home, again using up a mix of motorway and back-roads once our patience with stop-start M-way traffic wore too thin.

Arriving home at 9pm, we had just about enough energy to sack out in front of the TV and catch the recorded episode of the outstanding Extreme Dreams we’d missed that evening before kicking our keks off and jumping into bed.  I don’t think I’ve fallen asleep so quickly – or so early – for a long time, but when it follows a day like today, it’s not only very welcome, but sleep arrives with a wonderful wave of the most delightful contentment with life, the universe and everything.


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