Magical Mystery Tour

I am one of those (superstitious?) people who believe that our lives are already mapped out before us and that our role is merely to play the part that has been scripted for us. Finding out what’s in the script is called life, in much the same way as it is when you can’t put down the next episode of The Sopranos or Breaking Bad. You crave the next episode. This has been one such week in the infinite journey of LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma, although in truth, if I really stop to think about it, it goes a lot, lot deeper than that. This week was meant to be: and more than that: today was meant to be.

But in order to make this story believable, and to give it some credibility, I need to turn the clock back seven days. Like the supporters of the vast majority of Scottish clubs, I was basking in the afterglow of Dundee United dumping the SFA’s team in their own back yard when a tweet appeared on my timeline announcing that Tyneside No 1 was planning to walk from Celtic Park to Anfield in memory of the 96. I sat up and took notice. Not only was this a football fan with a conscience, this was a football fan with a conscience doing what the Caley Thistle Highland Marchers do: except he was walking further than any of us had ever walked, and he was doing it solo, albeit with support. And what support…

If you’ve been with me from the start, you’ll know about the Oscar Knox connection. Oscar Knox is the wee bhoy from Belfast who beat neuroblastoma and united a country. He is the wee bhoy who stood tall on a desk at Stormont, with Martin McGuinness holding one hand and Peter Robinson holding the other. Oscar Knox has inspired not just a nation, he has inspired a whole generation: and more.

But the neuroblastoma came back and now those same people who were inspired by everything that he did are lighting candles the length and breadth of the country. As they say in social media circles #WeAreAllOscarKnox.

And so it was on Monday that I saw the tweet about Tyneside No 1. People who know me will also know that I always do web handles in preference to Sunday names: so Tyneside No 1 will always be Tyneside No 1 (to me), just as Wullie Broon will always be Jas Cameron. Anyway I digress…

I was fascinated by the walk. I thought back to the Highland Marches that we’d done as ICT fans and I just thought, “I want to be part of this. I want to help this guy get down the road if I can”. If I wasn’t so busy as work right now, I’d have turned up unannounced at Celtic Park on Wednesday and walked day one. And maybe day two as well. But I thought “hang on a minute, those are the easy days when the adrenaline’s pumping: let’s leave it till the end of the week”. Regular readers will remember that when my rota days finished a couple of weeks ago, they were replaced by four and a half day weeks. Opportunity Knocks… leave work at midday on Friday, knock off the LifeCycle miles on the return leg home, get cleaned up, jump in the motor and batter on down the M74 to find our hero. So that’s what I did. Cue this bloke (who I’d never met before y’understand) walking slowly along the B7076 between Beattock and Johnstonebridge and me rolling up behind him, sliding down the window…

“Excuse me mate, do yow have a permit for using the public highway for a good cause”. Well we laughed. A handshake was exchanged through the open window then T1 (as he shall now be known) explained that his support entourage was away down the road at the Services in Johnstonebridge. “I’ll find ‘em” says I, “then I’ll come back and walk the last few miles wi’ya”. Well they weren’t there, or at least I couldn’t find ‘em. T1 had told me that they were in a white Golf but there was no white Golf in the car park (actually they were in petrol station round the corner). So, I parked up, and ignoring the sign that said you only have two hours before Plod writes you a ticket, set off on foot back to find T1. A couple of roundabouts later, I was back on the road back towards T1 4 miles back up the road when I thought “I know, I’ll hitch it: I haven’t hitched a ride in 20 years but that doesn’t matter. It’ll save some time and then if I get lucky, I’ll have more time with the man”. So that’s what I did. Then I heard a car coming up behind me (first car, mind) and was just about to stick out the obligatory thumb when I noticed that it was a…. white Golf! By now I was waving frantically and the motor stopped. The window came down and I think we both said at the same time “are you….” “yes”. And the rest is history. I got my lift back up the road, T1 got a pal to see him through the last few painful miles to the end of the day, and I got to learn that the lady driving the motor was one of the driving forces behind the whole #TeamOscar thing at Celtic Park.

A lot of good things have happened this week, along with some sad ones, but this episode stood out like a beacon of hope above everything else. It was meant to be. I would like someone to explain to me how it came about that on Monday I didn’t know that T1 was planning to walk from Celtic Park to Anfield, yet by Friday I had had the privilege of meeting some of the people who had been instrumental in defining and promoting the Team Oscar support effort. That’s just not real. That’s so unreal it’s spooky: so spooky in fact that I’m going to wrap it up there and leave you to think about how this week, and in particular today, came to be.

Through necessity, this has been a short blog. But it’s a blog that defines everything that LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma is about…

It merely confirms that life is a Magical Mystery Tour. Just like a walk to Liverpool.

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