Man-flu and thoughts.
Yes, that is the start of this article.
This weekend myself and Viv (for those Pit Crew readers she is not only my good lady but now my photographer) are spending the weekend at the Brean Rally with Chris Wheeler and his lovely lady Kirsty.
Now, I had always intended to write a blog on our three days in Brean and I wanted a special build-up, but that was somewhat rudely interrupted by that awful pandemic called man-flu. Yes, I can hear the good ladies of our lives now sighing and tutting at just the mere mention of that hypher-nated symptom.
Though scientific tests have proved it is real, I know this because Google (c) told me so.
I had been feeling rough the last few days (there goes that collected female sigh again) and today I went home early to continue dosing myself up with remedies (Is he still going on? Cry the ladies of our lives). Whilst sitting here feeling sorry for myself (Collected groan) I decided that fresh air was needed and seeing as the coastline is, say, two minutes walk from the door, I decided to liven myself up a bit, get some fresh air. (Man-up for crying-out-loud!).
I wandered down to the sea (full puffer-coat, hat, gloves….the works) and was met by the sound of the rippling waves splashing against the shore. This is where the blog takes a turn.
I stood and listened to that sound. I rolled my shoulders and watched the gulls and the birds swoop in to take advantage of the receding tide which now bore the rocks and pools it left behind. It was at this point my senses became used to my surroundings. I could no longer hear the splashing of the sea upon the shore, it was more of a calm hiss. The birds did not squawk, they sang. The sea was of glass, it was like it never moved really. I looked out beyond the shoreline and there was a mist covering the sea. In the distance I could hear the sound of a ship sounding its way through the unknown. Behind the mist was the horizon which I could not see and this is when my thoughts turned to the rally weekend.
When we first arrive at Brean there will be noise, just as there was when I walked to the seafront earlier, but then our senses will become accustomed to the sounds and we will relax. At the rally there is also a horizon which cannot be seen, by those competing. The one which none of us, whether driver, pit crew, fans, friends or family can see. The horizon of opportunity across the sea of tranquility.
This all sounds very idyllic and easy. It’s not. Beyond the hissing, calming waters are waves. Beyond the mist there are dangers. However, that is the adventure. What really does exist behind that mist?
When I decided to arrange this weekend with Chris in the garage at the Brean Rally, the initial idea was to document the story of a team at an event so that everybody could read and see (through Viv’s photographs) what it was like. That was the plan, but standing at the shoreline today looking out into the unknown made me re-evaluate the weekend ahead.
It’s not just going to be about the race weekend. This story has much more to it. The horrific crash Chris suffered last year, his comeback, the willing sacrifices of his friends and family, his loving lady standing by his side with support and utter enthusiasm. The will to succeed, the need to go on, the desire to be the best that you can be, even if you are unable to see beyond the mist.
It dawned on me right there and then as I gazed out across the glassy waters that this weekend is not just a ‘jolly’ to write a story or to watch drivers do things with cars we can only ever dream of. No, it is much more than that.
Myself and Viv are being invited along to share the dream of another person, to participate in a part of someone’s life and to experience their absolute desire. That, right there, is a privilege. So this blog has taken another turn, like the tide I watched earlier which revealed some unexpected images.
I forgot about my man-flu because I was mesmerised by the sea of tranquility and the unknown beyond.
This weekend is a special moment for Chris Wheeler and his loved ones. We are honoured that you have allowed us to share it with you.
See you at the dirty chequered flag.
Neil Simmons and Viv Gillings
Neils’s Twitter: @world_racing
Viv’s Twitter: @viv_simmons