It must be said, I’m positively disposed to folk called Alan.
When I was growing up I had a friend called Alan – who was commonly known as Barney since he looked like Barney Rubble – er, which he didn’t.
However, even with that confusing background, young Barney and I grew as friends, sharing a hippyesque view of life. For him this included new and improved ways of getting me to imbibe cannabis without coughing my guts up (I was an athlete at the time, dontcha know).
One of my favourite moments was when his mum came home saying, “Oh Alan, how lovely, you’ve been baking…”
We also colluded in home brew. He kept a 40 pint barrel fermenting away in the corner of his room for some years. He was different, quirky, imaginative, funny…my kind of guy…time has passed and I’ve let him slip through my fingers a bit….
But we’ve flown him 20 thousand miles to be with you tonight….
Calm down, not quite….
As I walked into Kinlochewe I became aware of the “Whistle Stop Cafe”.
It being breakfast time, I fondled Stewarts recent donation in my pocket and walked in thinking, “Well, it would be rude not to…”
I was met by the delightful Alan who furnished me with a full Scottish plus extra juiciness, fine banter and good company.
He lives in Torridon – 10 miles up the road – which is the main reason for his leaving Linlithgow (just outside Edinburgh ) – he waxed more lyrically than I could about the loch, the mountains, the wildlife, the breathtaking beauty combined with the different way of life to be found here.
He listened to my story and slowly gave me flakes of his…
Last year his brother, 24 years old with learning disabilities, died.
Well, no. It could have been then – it could have been 50 years time. The thing that touched Alan most was the huge turnout of folk at his funeral.
His brother had made a social life for himself visiting the local Chinese takeaway every evening – meeting folk – having a blether – touching lives.
0ver 300 people came to his funeral – folk Alan and his family had never met.
Alan took his death hard – he’d experienced anxiety attacks in the past – but he found it hard to reconcile the belief he had in God with his brother dying at the ludicrously early age of 24. What kind of God…?
A friend of his suggested it was better to live a happy 24 years than 90 odd in misery – an answer to his dilemma.
It made me think of the old Nepalese saying, “It is better to live (insert short time here) as a lion, than to live a lifetime as a sheep”
Both of the above, for me, push the ‘be the change you want to see in the world…” mantra.
Which brings me back to the delightful Alan. It was his job to give me breakfast – instead he gave me a warm welcome – insights into his life and the world – and then he gave me my food and drink on the house.
It might be a strange positive prejudice to have, but there it is, proof that folk called Alan are deserving of respect, love, care and compassion when you meet them…
Er, a bit like the rest of us really.
Walk a mile