A month on – life with a heartthrob.

Find below the lovely Linda’s latest literary update. At first glance, it appears that as she writes so eloquently, she is even cleverer than her  employer ( me ).

I must point out that whereas I write my posts in minutes, and plan none of them, nor even read them back to edit/correct, she spends literally days writing and correcting and altering hers.

Once you factor in the above, it is sadly still clear that she is indeed cleverer than me….

Anyway, Wotevs, here it is :

( by the way, it was me that made up the title of the post – well she may be smarter, but I’m still funnier, and better at spelling )

LAST SEEN LEAVING by LusciousLinda

Sitting in the departure lounge at Heathrow Airport with a happy heart and a slow sweet slide of excitement. It’s not necessarily because I am leaving London, or running away from Russ, just that airports are my happy place having spent 12 years as a commercial pilot in Africa. All is familiar to me, customs and queues, security checks and misplaced boarding passes, the sights and sensations of a busy airport life where everybody, no matter who you are, is going somewhere. There is no standing still here, no procrastination or treading water, you will move and quickly once those Rolls Royce or MacDonal Douglas engines fire up. I love the energy here and, at the other end of my flight today, my beautiful daughters will be waiting for me……

Somehow, suddenly a month has passed since my last flight bringing me to London, to the unknown world of my new job in a new city and country. It was surreal to be transplanted, almost teleported, from the hot African summer sunshine to the overcast English winter where I have already seen my first snow. Luckily I leapt before I could give too much thought to the fact that not only did I not know my new boss or anything much about him I didn’t know a single other person in his world either apart from my friend Sandy who was leaving as I arrived. Of course I had read Russ’s riveting blog but in the 10 days I had to pack up my life and come to London I didn’t have time to read it all, which is probably just as well…..

In the last week, before my first scheduled “weekend off” tempers have flared and irritations arisen between Russell and I, most specifically over my inability to clean the house to his specifications. I freely admit to this ineptitude. In Africa, no matter the income bracket, we have help, lots of help. Ours is a post colonial world of maids and cooks, gardeners and drivers, special people who’s job is to serve and who are among the privileged 5% who have jobs in Zimbabwe so are always cheerful and energetic in the face of all kinds of hardships at home. My cleaning skills therefore are not great but I didn’t lie about that on my job application and quite frankly have skills that are better suited to his hectic lifestyle and diverse demands than cleaning. Not that we live in a dirty house, I disinfect everything daily, make sure Russ has clean ironed sheets at all times and wash the dishes at least once a day. But I must admit would rather clean the the wheelchair than the windows or the bike than the bathtub and it can understandably make Russ a bit tense….!!!

When I feel overwhelmed or under appreciated I message Russ’s group of friends and the replies are insightful, intuitive and instant. These people are a framework of strength around our paralyzed friend and I can best describe them as the planets moving around the sun, each with their unique characteristics that make up the incredible solar system that is Russ’s support group. Of course I just called Russ the Sun which maybe isn’t so clever but stay with this analogy for a bit. I already love these people. From the moment I walked in the door they opened their hearts to me and made me one of their own. Who gets to do that? To supposedly land on a different continent alone and afraid yet find that like the proverbial Alice you’ve landed instead among a plethora of ready made friends. It’s like the stuff of fairy tales but let me assure you this is no fairy tale. In our story the Knight in Shining armor fell off his white horse (aka carbon bike) and broke his back and now all the princes and princesses, witches and wizards, fairy godmothers and soothsayers alike cannot heal his broken body yet work day and night to heal his wounded heart and shattered spirit and it is an honor and a privilege both to be counted among these magical people who move in harmony and grace around our sun, Russ. We live for his smile, we move heaven and earth in our trajectories to hear him laugh and we find food for our soul in the next adventure that lights his infectious personality up like a Christmas tree.

I feel compelled to describe here the effect and efficacy of this analogy of planets. Come with me a while to a world where galactic comparisons prevail and try to imagine where you might fit into our interconnected solar system of support for the man who is the centre of our universe.
Pia is the ethereal planet Earth. Russ’s soul mate, she truly gets him and grounds him in a way nobody will ever be able to reproduce. She is his water and air and can make him dizzy with delight or oxygen deprived anger alike. I have yet to meet her husband Cliff but I like him already for the freedom and understanding he gives his wife to torment and entertain Russ.
The mercurial Mark would have to be the fastest moving planet Mercury, whizzing around that sun 4x quicker than anyone else. His bike rides with Russ to the RGS can easily be physically placed here, as can his quick inquisitive mind and interest in all the things that influence our world and solar system.
Chris first met Russ after his accident at the edge of a pool. Russ said he was going swimming and could Chris hold down the back of his chair. He then fell head first into the pool and didn’t resurface. An alarmed Chris leapt in to bring him up and asked him “Have you ever done that before mate?” To which Russ replied of course “No”
This man would be the rock steady Jupiter, one of the largest orbiting planets, unchanged in atmosphere for 300 years and as regular as the rings around it. Chris phones Russ every single day and will think nothing of driving in from Bristol to watch the rugby with his friend and catch up on the latest Welsh insights.
Cherie would be the fiery planet Mars. There is water on Mars but it runs so deep beneath the volcanic rock and fires of the surface. Cherie will rage at Russ like a madwoman when he shows any form of self pity or tries to leave her in his latest suicide attempt yet she will leave home at 5am to come across town “on her way” to work to show me how to do his physical therapy session. I love this woman. She is the epitome of “still waters run deep” and is steadfast in her determination to make her friend as independent as possible even if she has to use outright blackmail to do so.
Toby would have to be Neptune, not so much because he looks a bit like the God of the Ocean but because Russ says he is the most intelligent person he knows and his absolute port in any storm as well being just about the only person in the world who can beat him at Balderdash. When Russ needs advice ( more often than he will ever let you know) he goes to Toby. Seeing as Neptune is famous for 1846 discovery as a result of a combined Newtonian physics and numerological scheme that later was proved to not exist we will assign the intelligent Toby to this third largest of the planets ( not to mention its 10,000km wide atmospheric storm which describes Toby if someone upsets his friend Russ).
Beautiful Jo is the newest planet Chiron, the wounded healer. Light and lovely she melds her own magic runes of karmic quiet and energy healing. Every Sunday evening driving an hour across London to make Russ a fruit salad bursting with nutritious health, play bananagrams and watch Californication with her forever friend before leaving late to go back home.
Cressida would be the lovely planet Saturn, steady and symmetrical on the outside but with a deep core able to withstand atomic pressures and, of course, 19 moons which you can make of what you will but probably refer to the different personalities she takes on through her stage alter-egos and the equally engaging relevance of them to Russ’s current crisis.
We have Lady Jane as the planet Venus. I have only met her three times but this lady is the epitome of the goddess of beauty and love. There is nothing she would not do for Russ and while her planetary orbit is not able to enter our solar system often when it does we are bathed in light and laughter, gentle adoration and selfless support.
Lily, Amber and Ella, the beautiful sweet stars in Russ’s nighttime sky. A message, a visit for tea, help with an essay or an evening of Balderdash, all light up our erstwhile hero in ways only our children can.
There are many more in this circle of support, people who would not normally socialize with each other but who’s common bond ensures that the man at the centre of it all is constantly entertained and engaged. He may be partially paralyzed but Russell has the energy (and sometimes personality!) of a toddler and commands as much attention. Dickon and Roy, two wonderful men who were with Russ at his accident almost five years ago came across London for breakfast last week and to discuss and motivate him to train for another cycling trip in September. These men look at Russ with unveiled respect, warmth and love and Russ glows under their attention.
The beautiful Annie keeps Russ up late at night happily engaged in the latest show or music gig or simply sharing a bottle of wine over board games while Charlie calls regularly from Hong Kong to check on Russ, an old University friend, still in touch.

This is Russ’s Tribe and they are the most dynamic, proactive and genuine collection of people I have ever met. Some have known him since school, some through his children’s school and some only after injury but each and every one is consumed with a will to better Russ’s emotional life, these kind of friends are treasure indeed and I am honored to be welcomed into this inner circle and valued for the new dynamics I bring to their friend whatever method these may undertake and notwithstanding my poor housecleaning skills….

So yes I am flying away today but I will be back, refreshed and renewed and have to marvel at the completely altruistic attitude of a boss that does mind me going, is once again rendered powerless (a state he doesn’t do well with) over who comes in to care for his most basic needs yet will let me go anyway because these are my needs and he respects my right to a happiness all of my own. Meantime we have the lovely young Romanian, Krisztina, in to care for him while I am away and it is my greatest wish that this relationship blossoms and develops so that she and I can care for Russ between us and he will always know who is coming in next – whether it’s the lovely young quiet Continental girl who cleans the house well or the bossy Zimbabwean refugee who doesn’t shut up and wears all his clothes….

Khalil Gibran said it most eloquently almost a century ago in his epic book “The Prophet” I quote : “Work is love made visible. If it doesn’t serve and make the world a better place, it’s not work.”
This blog then is my thank you to Russ’s friends who make my work a little more like Khalil Gibran’s love made visible and to my boss who shows me in his own strange way it may not always be so visible but he does value my contributions too…


3 thoughts on “A month on – life with a heartthrob.

  1. Wow Linda – what a lady! Not only has she got the measure of Russ in a very short time (witness the badge which I hope he’s wearing), she’s also sussed all his best mates too! And has so eloquently described them that we regular readers who know all the names now know personalities and characters too. Linda, thank you! And Russ, make sure you keep this special lady in your immediate orbit and don’t let her crash and burn like Beagle 2!!


  2. Linda you are awesome! No wonder he is under your spell…. let’s hope old friends new friends you in particular and obvs Pia can make him realise he’s an arse you can’t help but love! As a person, he’s an exceptional and brave human…. and one whom has more to offer than he realises… and has already given so much of himself. We can only guess how many people he has saved along his traumatic path… He is funny, witty, dark, caring and just being in his company I find an honour… I know his paralysis is nothing I can understand fully… the frustrations particularly with the simple things we take for granted when not confined to a chair or walking aid or device of some kind can even begin to comprehend… but we can help educate the populace… it seems disability is now encouraged in the Work place… people don’t see disabilities they see the person living with it… kids aren’t told to not stare any more… or at least as much as when I was I little girl of 3-4 speaking for my daddy cos he is profoundly deaf…. oh the stares! But this isn’t about me it’s about a truly wonderful person I’m so proud to say is a friend… and as such am bloody pissed off that the London buses, first ones to accommodate the wheel chair user is failing abismally… and in such a disgraceful tone… beggars bloody belief! Disability isn’t fun, it’s not an excuse and it doesn’t go away… the only changes come from outside! Education is key… ask questions… we should all be doing this with each other anyway… no more turning the other way, waiting for someone else to take the initiative… do it! Say something! Stop that bus, say hello, ask how? Engage… you never know, you may learn from it… and you’ll make someone isolated feel less so….. x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *