Chris Eubank may or may not be able to confirm as keynote speaker at my party, but either way I'm glad I had the chance to meet him. And he gave me a lift to the station in his Humvee - cool!
The meeting was set up through a mutual friend, who gave me Chris Eubank's number and told me to give him a call. Nervous or what?! We had a brief initial chat on the phone, and Chris asked me to call him on Thursday to confirm. On Thursday I couldn't get through. 'No, you won't', said Mutual Friend. 'He's in court. Call him this evening'.
Come the evening, and I was working late at the boatyard installing electrics with Robert Tait from 7E Communications. I rang my mother to find out the verdict. Absolute discharge, but 6 points on his licence and GBP450 costs.
I made the call. 'I won't keep you long', I said, 'I know you've had a trying day.' Robert cracked up. Oh no, unintentional pun. Doh! Fortunately Mr Eubank didn't notice my gaffe. We arranged to meet at what turned out to be a very chic hotel in Brighton. He was running late, but left me a message to let me know. I thought famous people reserved the right to turn up offensively late without feeling the need for explanation or apology, so I was impressed.
I'd been going through agonies trying to decide what to wear to meet Britain's Best Dressed Man, and in the end had to settle for the only outfit that fits after my startlingly successful pre-race podge-up. He turned up immaculate in slacks and tight-fitting t-shirt, still vee-shaped and powerfully toned.
We talked about the party, and he asked a lot of questions about my row. We ended with him saying he wants to help, but needs to check his diary. Then Mr Eubank left the building.
I gathered up my things and followed. His Humvee was still parked outside. I smiled in the general direction of the dark tinted windows. A window glided down. 'Where are you going?' 'The station.' 'Would you like a lift?' WOULD I???!!!
The conversation on the way through Brighton was less formal, more interesting. More Chris Eubank, fighter and philosopher. Just before we parted he recited the code of the warrior, which sounded like a quote but I think was probably his own. I wish I'd had a voice recorder running, because I don't have it word perfect and I don't want to misquote him. But anyway, it made me more sure than ever that he'd be the perfect speaker for my party. Really hope he can make it.
Also hope he doesn't get any more points on his license. Would be a shame to see the Humvee languishing long term in the garage.
An evening this is like a soothing balm to my itchy feet. How could I possibly wish to be anywhere other than England on a perfect summer evening?
Sitting here in the Central Lobby of the House of Commons, Saints George, Andrew, David and Patrick gazing down at me from their mosaics, and Lord Gladstone (known to the security guards as Old Baggie) on his plinth to my left.
The guard in the white shirt is Brian, who in a previous incarnation as a traffic warden once issued a parking ticket to Chris Eubank, and lived to tell the tale.
Speaking of the monocled one, he's just been confirmed as the speaker for my party on 5th October. Love him or hate him, he's bound to be entertaining.
Yesterday I was talking with Victoria Humphries (nee Riches) who in 1998 with her mother formed part of the first all-female team to walk to the North Pole. 'Apparently,' she said, 'if Scott had taken 10 extra steps a day, he would have got to the South Pole ahead of Amundsen.'
We're not sure if this is truth or myth, but the principle stands.
Sir Clive Woodward gives motivational talks based on his experience of striving for sporting excellence. He cites an example of finding that something extra - he heard of eyeball exercises, the idea being that with training the eyes can be made more responsive and more able to, for example, track a fast-moving rugby ball. So in addition to training legs, arms, back and chest, he had his players training their eye muscles. Did it make the difference between success and failure? Who knows for sure? But if it helped engender a BELIEF that they were the better prepared team, and a CONFIDENCE that they would win, it must have been a contributing factor.
Note to self to remember importance of this. Fortunately Victoria's message of support will keep reminding me.