Updated: Jun 15
Author: Martin Sims
3am picture on a wet 44 mile overnight walk
I never meant to do this. It sounded like a good idea, the cause was a great one.
If something I did could help someone not leave a parent in a hopeless mess, then all good. Worth a bit of pain, I thought.
First question is:
‘How many miles is it?’
Some very vague answers come back from a Reading fan living in Ireland and a Fulham fan who seems less keen on walking it than me!
I’d done a few practice walks in the Wiltshire countryside. Twenty miles, at most.
Sitting on the pavement in the pouring rain, near Twyford, less than 7 miles out of over 40, thinking that this was not such a good idea.
The support of others means you start to believe you can do it.
Maybe the beers in the Madejski bar and the pasty from the garage were all questionable choices.
You walk on. Rain had fallen from the first moment and would continue until nearing the river at Fulham.
Aaron Paul (BBC Radio 5 Live Reporter) was not a particularly vocal man. He arrived, summoned by Lee in the early hours, produced a tray and proceeded to provide us with hot tea and biscuits on the roof of his Golf.
I don’t know much but I know I owe Aaron. Without that pick me up, I would not have made it. End of.
We talk about the journey and the experience but really it isn’t so difficult. Listening to someone sing ‘Lady in Red’ on repeat for hour after hour, now that is where the challenge really is.
What becomes clear on a Walk with like-minded people, is that actually say what you like, say little or say nothing, either way, it’s fine.
Good boots, a practice walk in what you wear and not carrying too much ‘stuff’ are tips well received and passed on.
Standing in a ‘Reading’ pub tucked behind the Premier Inn just off the bridge, once it was all over, you forget about Slough Bus Station at 3am in the rain or some of the worst jokes I have ever heard or said.
Your attention turns to lads who get what the Walk was for, applaud the fact it was done and look to get involved themselves.
Since I walked, I have supported other walks, providing (tea) that give that boost in the dark hours and also I have seen, with some pride, how sheer enthusiasm has seen more exotic walks in Scotland, Birmingham and Chesterfield(!?)
I would recommend everyone walks and talks. Even if they share just the first or the last mile.
Being part of this is a privilege and, although, thankfully, the profile of Mental Health is rising from taboo subject to one of mainstream coverage, it still needs to find a voice and provide the events that build friendships that go far beyond an 8am fried breakfast.
Walk the walk and always Talk the talk.