When I started the ramble in April 2011 I was terribly indulged with gratuitous hospitality.
A woman stepped off the bus on the north side of the Forth Road Bridge – the first stranger who shared the story with – and she thrust £10 into my hand telling me to get a meal in the hotel in North Queensferry – a woman in the hotel bought my tea telling me to keep my tenner…
Then, of course, the lovely Lou, her friends and family adopted me giving me safe passage right up the East coast.
Tom and Pete have ensured I get my medication, Karen and John and so many others with hospitality and kind words all the way.
But what is England going to be like?
Today I allowed myself a little doubt. What if nobody helps? What if I get moved on when I put my tent up? What if people don’t reach out?
Today I walked into Maryport – determined to get something for my lunch.
I was looking at a menu outside a hotel when a woman came up behind me and said,” You don’t want to go in there,” she pointed, “You want to go to the lifeboat inn…it’s lovely…”
I’ve a history of being terribly obedient, so I did as I was told.
And I was glad I did – I handed on my none-business card and the chap behind the bar told me my Cumberland sausage and mash and pint of shandy was on the house.
He was very busy – but I did the chance to ask what folk in these parts did should they experience a mental gear slip…
“You’re asking the wrong guy,” he said
Probably the right guy if I wanted a typical man in the street picture of mental health services.
I got chatting to some folks opposite, an older woman from the area meeting up with her mum and a friend for lunch – I told the tale – and was furnished with a quick whip round of £4.
So there is such a thing as a free lunch…
I’ve been in touch with a guy I played football with 30 years ago – I’ll be passing through his town and I’ll get to see him…
A friend of a friend is offering somewhere to stay – as are a couple I met a hundred years ago on Ardnamurchan…
I’ve been on the radio – in the paper…it’s all picking up…
To be fair, it was never dropping down…
England’s going to be just fine.
Walk a Mile