• A Memory of Terry

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    Once again, the tight head has some words of wisdom for you all.

    ‘What are you going to do for your stag weekend Stu?’ Bishop mused.

    ‘Oh, I don’t know, few pints with the lads, bit of dinner; the usual.’ I replied.

    Two weeks later, I found that the PBRFC machinery had cranked into gear and the ‘Cork Tour’ had, in fact, become my stag weekend.

    As a member of the three judges, otherwise known as the ‘Three Wise Men’, I felt I was pretty safe with regards to the Kangaroo court. I hadn’t counted on the machiavellian abilities of one T. Anderson.

    As you will note from this picture, I am wearing an orange bed sheet, a Fez, a green apron and a pair of pantaloons to preserve my modesty.

    At the time of the photo I had been so attired for 48 hours, and as you may note, was really looking forward to the next 24.

    How did I get to such a pretty pass I hear you whisper? A man of my implacable will, exalted judging credentials…

    ‘Smithee, enough of this Wise Old T@@t stuff, you are the tour Fag.’

    Slave for the weekend; get the beers, serve them, wake everyone up, get them hither and thither, drink any spare fines. (This, at least, I was modestly good at.)

    Vintage Anderson, and all this from a man wearing a wide brimmed floral hat and carrying a purloined road sign.

    If you were in this photo and have donated, Merci Chef, if not, then I advise you to do so lickety spit, otherwise Me, the Fez and the orange sheet may gatecrash a dinner party of yours soon.

    And that would be, to use a Bishopism, not nice…

  • No Sherpas?

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    “So, just to confirm. We walk twenty plus kilometres each day. On our feet. We stay in hostels. Not hotels, but hostels. We wash our own kit and carry it with us every day.”

    Sitting in his dining room in Malahide, Stuart sensed this was a key moment.

    “Terry was like that. Determined and self-sufficient.”

    I whimpered, defeated.

    “Fill that glass up.”

    The die was cast. We were walking, with everything that we might need on our backs. A line was drawn at camping. No front row forward has the intelligence or manual dexterity to put a tent up.

    A quick glance at the many “Camino” internet fora yielded up hundreds of threads on the importance of keeping the pack as light as possible.

    In the picture is my life for a week. I’ll be wearing some of it and carrying the rest. Traditionally, I would now list every item along with its weight in grams. Unless you start donating – I may well phone you personally to talk you through each element and its weight dry and wet…you have been warned.

    Threats notwithstanding, thank you for donating already. Four middle-aged Barbarians are very grateful.

  • FIVE! The team is growing.

    A fifth man has joined the team. (It is alleged)

    As is the way in communication between forwards, the message is somewhat confused, however, we believe that our numbers are now swelled by the addition of a back.

    Take a bow, Germain Gouranton.

    Being A. A back, and B, not a lunatic, Gigi plans on establishing a basecamp in St Jean Pied de Port, from where he will raise a glass in salute, wish us “Bonne chance” before sensibly retiring home to his warm bed.

    Naturally, as a French back, he will mysteriously re-appear at the end of the pilgrimage, in a clean shirt, not a hair out of place and take centre-stage in the photos, before graciously conceding that

    “You know, the forwards, they played well, mostly they kept out of my way. It’s normal in France.”

    The Black Duck (Laurent) has been given the all clear by the Cardiologist to walk with us – we are unclear as to the doctor’s opinion on the filterless Camels.

    So – turning into quite the mini-reunion.

    Speaking personally, I know that the thought of 25 km uphill the next morning will serve as an effective brake on my drinking – but I’m certain Terry would approve of a fortifying glass of wine before the off.

    Even in the Himalayas, El Tel was not averse to a swift half…

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    A week on Saturday, we will gather in SJPDP and fight for the right to the bunk bed rather than half the double. Sunday morning, packs on and walk.

    “Which way?”

    “Up.”

    How bad could it be?

  • A word from our sponsor

    The title is not accurate. YOU are our sponsor, the Hospice will be the recipient of your generosity.

    As some of you reading this are rugby players, I’ll say it a different way. YOU should click on the link in the sidebar – or even HERE, this will take you to a page where you can make a donation small or large to this incredible hospice where Terry was so well looked after.

    PLEASE, PLEASE take a moment to make a donation. Otherwise, please be advised that Stuart Smith will track you down…and talk at you.

    Stu and I have, over the years, presented several plans to Terry. I thought you might like to see his reactions.

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  • Distraction

    Don’t get me wrong. I am extremely lucky to have so many distractions.

    I write this post from a beautiful spot in Cyprus, where I have been swimming every day and playing golf, watching my wife get better and better at the game. It’s only a matter of time until she beats me.

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    This photo was taken on a rare dry moment in a practice walk around Howth, near Dublin.

    At stuartlennon.comI have been posting about another distraction. I’m looking forward to a week walking in some gorgeous countryside with friends old and new. We are hoping to raise some money for a hospice. If you can spare a couple of euro, then please donatePlaces like Our Lady’s Hospice are very special. As my friend and co-walker, Stuart Smith (in the featured photo) wrote “he passed away in a loving, caring, pain-free environment.” Read the rest of his post here.

    In order to bring some sort of order to my days, I am experimenting with both the Best Self Journal and Bullet Journal, two systems that I will write posts on soon.

    Writing is getting done around all these brilliant distractions. It’s all about editing at the moment, getting feedback from my writing buddy and tightening the prose. Methodical, detailed work…all the things that do not come naturally to me. So, short concentrated bursts work well.

    My long-suffering Writing Buddy is doing her level-best to keep me on task, but frankly, it’s a bit like herding cats.

    Nevertheless – I’m confident that a book will get published.

     

  • “Do this in France; you die.” Nearly.

    “Stu. Laurent is coming.”

    “Good for him. Who’s the lucky girl/boy/goat?”

    “No. Muppet. He is coming on camino.”

    I dropped the telephone.

    I had last seen Laurent in Bayonne, during the Rugby World Cup. As is a hooker’s wont, the Black Duck had gone slightly off on a tangent. Completely on track, Basque hookers can be a handful, off on a tangent, nobody else was going to go near him.

    The Front Row code was invoked and the two props were sent to see if a course adjustment might be possible.

    “Here’s the plan Stu. We have a few beers, then over dinner we tell him to get a job, stop smoking and drink less.”

    “Brilliant. So, pint in hand we tell a Basque nutcase to stop drinking?”

    “Got it in one!”

    Smith is nothing, if not the eternal optimist.

    “Right-o.”

    I am nothing, if not easily led.

    The Basque having been severely admonished by Drunk and Drunker, all retired to bed, promising to meet to watch France – Ireland the next day.

    Ireland rather put the sword to the French, and we felt that this, combined with the eloquence and persuasive oratory of the previous night explained a rather muted hooker. As he slunk off, Stu and I ordered a celebratory carafe of almost undrinkable Cote de Rhone. (Almost, I said.)

    Several hours later Stu’s phone beeped. And beeped. And beeped.

    We slept.

    “He’s had a heart attack.” Stu intoned.

    “No, I’m fine.” I responded.

    “No, the Duck is in hospital.”

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    Not exactly the outcome we were looking for.

    He assures us that he is feeling much better now.

    How bad could it be?

  • “Wait! I’ve got an idea…”

    A word from the Tight-head.

    “A stroll, you say…”

    I was visiting Terry on a weekly basis at the Blackrock Hospice, doing what I do best, spouting inane drivel, wittering on about this, that and the other. Those of you who know me can vouch that this is an unrivalled skill set. I have no idea what he was getting from it, apart from probably a headache, but he didn’t kick or punch me, which for Terry was a strong hint of friendship.

    Then one day as I was relating the latest disaster to befall Northampton RFC when he cut across me.

    “Smithy, let me tell you this, even with all the crazy, wonderful things I have done in my life, I am happiest and at peace right here right now”.

    I held it together for another 20 minutes until he kicked me out (pure El Tel, that). I was overcome and the pure humanity and strength of the man knocked the stuffing out of me. The “Yes, he was a grumpy Old Man, but he was our grumpy old man” trope seemed less sure or right. We didn’t delve like that again, and he seemed content in my company, and I began looking at him in a completely different light.

    Almost 6 months ago to the day he passed away in a loving, caring, pain-free environment.

    I know, I was there.

    I knew I wanted to remember him other than at a funeral, but what to do?

    I’d promised myself that I would stay true , like he did, till the end, but then what?
    Enter Colm Brady, a friend and all round fitness fanatic who casually mentioned over a little light supper that he was walking the Camino with some pals. I’d like to say the Eureka moment was mine, but it really was Mr B who turned on the switch.

    From there it was a short hop to “I’m not doing this on my own, what other idiots do I know?”

    I phoned Stuart Lennon.

    “Stu!  It’s Stu. This camino, it’ll be a short walk and we can raise some cash for the hospice.”

    He has spent 6 months on the logistics and managed to pick up a couple of Frogs along the way.

    I even managed to entice him over to Ireland for a bit of training, which for once we took seriously; 37KM and it rained for almost 7 hours around the formidable Hill of Howth. We were led by Raymond ‘Ultra Marathon’ Buchan and aided and abetted by Wini Gallagher, Emma Jane Finnegan and Decorator and joined by Lil and Saoirse and friends of Terry back at the finish line for a cheeky bit of grub.

    It was the first, and only time EVER that Lennon and I have stared at an open bottle of alcoholic grape juice and uttered the immortal line ‘No thanks, I’m a bit tired, I think we should hit the hay.’

    That, my friends, is one hell of a legacy for Terry Anderson.

  • Then there were four.

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    As any second-row forward will tell you, a front-row is just three fat blokes without the support, power and agility of a good second-row. (You should understand that second row forwards do talk a load of nonsense.)

    Concerned that the Front-Row were likely to get lost without adult supervision, a brave second-row forward has freed up his calendar to get us across the Pyrenees.

    Three is now four. Welcome Jean-Christophe Poussou.

    For any new readers – we four are walking a week of the Camino de Santiago in memory of our great friend and prototype grumpy old man – Terry Anderson. Lucky for you – there is a link on the sidebar of this site where you can donate a few Euros to a magnificent hospice in Ireland who were a huge help and comfort to Terry and his family. Go on. You can afford a few Euro.

    To give you an indication of just how much the team is strengthened by JC’s addition, he once came into the bar, looking perplexed.

    “Hi JC! What’s up?”

    “I just came to see if I was here…”

    We are now truly invincible.

    How bad could it be?

  • Credencial

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    Those who complete the camino, may receive a certificate. The certificate is awarded in Santiago de Compostela after an interview and a review of the credencial. Pilgrims can get their credencial stamped in hostels, restaurants and bars along the Way. To qualify, a pilgrim must demonstrate that they have walked 100km or more to reach the cathedral. The one above is the Irish version. In a beautifully Irish twist, Stu already has a couple of stamps – one being from the Guinness storehouse.

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    This one is issued the English ‘Confraternity of St James’. My first stamp will be in St Jean Pied de Port – our starting point for the sensible shoes camino.

    While you remember – if you can, bung a few euros onto the Just Giving page. The link is in the sidebar of this page.