Dear Jeff, 

Hi, it’s Wes. I bought and read your e-book the other week. The one about writing and being a writer etc. I started doing a bit more writing. It inspired me quite a bit. I even wrote about reading the book. Thanks!

I did a lot of thinking about writing and planning in my head and then I did exactly what the book said I might do and found lots of reasons not to write and thought myself out of writing.

I thought about what I might write about and then thought it wasn’t quite good enough and thought I’d wait until something better occurred to me. Then I thought it wouldn’t be any good anyway. Then I thought there wouldn’t be any point to it and that nobody is going to read it and generally went in a negative spiral like that. I made a cup of coffee and did a massive sigh and looked out of the window at the shitty grey sky and the rain against the window and little brown birch leaves that had stuck to it and picked my nose.

I went to visit some friends in Cumbria. You probably don’t know Cumbria, Jeff. It’s an area in the north of England that has lots of big hills and lakes and famous poets used to hang out there. It’s where people go to go hiking and it rains a lot. It’s beautiful and inspiring to a lot of folks.

I love it as I love all places where there are more trees than people and I have some friends in a tiny village up in the hills who I like to visit and catch up with. We sit by the fire and go to the pub and watch films and eat food and drink wine together. 

So, I went there to do some walking. I thought: ‘maybe I can write something about how privileged I am to be able to do this and about my week when I come back. I’m not going to take my laptop and I can’t write with a pen in a book! so I’ll write when I come back. I’ll just enjoy it, and think about how to write about it.

On my first day there, after a day of heavy rain the skies cleared and I set out to walk around a lake called Ennerdale. No, Jeff, not ‘Emmerdale’. No, you’re getting confused with the long running but now ended English soap opera set in the fictitious village of the same name. This is Ennerdale, a lake by the village of Ennerdale Bridge.

I set out early, full of porridge (I think you call it oatmeal?) and joy at the prospect of a day in the sun in that beautiful scenery. An hour and a half later, on the rain slicked stones along the lake shore, during a few seconds of distraction by some approaching walkers, I slipped and twisted my ankle horribly, first one way and then the other.

It hurt so much that I felt sick. I sat on a nearby boulder, trying to convince the concerned couple who had stopped to check on me that I was all right as I felt the blood drain from my head and the tears well up in my eyes.

I hobbled along, resting every few minutes, alternating between anger and upset. Suddenly the beautiful day had turned sour and all I could think was how that once I managed to get home (which was a long way off) I would be sofa bound for a at least a few days and definitely wouldn’t be walking up Scafell Pike,  the highest peak in the area, with my friends on Friday. I was angry because one of my life’s great pleasures had been taken from me in a moments distraction. I was upset too, with the pain I was feeling but every time I sat down to have a moment of self-pitying sorrow some fully agile walkers came past. 

Knowing I was hours from my car or even the possibility of a thumbing a lift I pressed on, wondering what lessons I had to learn from this and whether it might be a good thing to write about. I wrestled between feeling screwed and in pain and on focusing on the beautiful sunlit slope on the other side of the lake, the delightful autumnal colours.’ It could be worse, right?’ and so on.

“Ow, ow, ow, you IDIOT!  The stream is so clear! Ruined, the hole week is ruined! Those larch trees look wonderful with the sun behind them up on that ridge I can no longer climb up!” …

I refuelled on some fruit and nuts I’d brought with me. I wondered if bathing my ankle in the lake might help reduce the swelling and as I did so found a strong staff to help me hobble on.

Two hours later a family began to pass me like this; a grimacing staff wielding walker. They stopped to ask if was OK and offered to walk on and return with their car to drive me to mine. I gratefully accepted their kindness and as they all moved on at their comfortably fully mobile pace young Connor stayed behind to keep me company.

I think Connor was actually just bored and tired of walking and was hoping for a lift too be he kept me distracted and entertained with conversation as we kept moving slowly along the lakeside path.

Connor Liam O’Shea was 9 years old and did not like walking. I told him I didn’t either when I was his age but that I loved it now but that’s no kind of consolation to a 9 year old.

He’d been away on a sailing holiday with his family last week but he didn’t like it as much as his brother. He told me how he and his Mum spent a day off the choppy waters and that he drank 5 bottles of water as they waited for the rest of the family to sail around the peninsular. 

He told me how his Mum’s hand was broken on a wing mirror by a thief in a stolen car before he was born and that they were able to find the driver by his DNA..

He told me there were 5 wasp nests outside his school classroom and that they were not allowed to open the windows because of that.

The time passed quickly and my self-pitying misery evaporated in Connors company and Mr O’Shea turned up along the dirt track in his Vauxhall Corsa in no time with Connor’s brother and their friends piled in the back. We rode back to the car park, boot (‘trunk’, Jeff) open and holding two boys and Comet the dog wearily trying to keep up.

When we got to the car park we realised that it wasn’t the one I was parked in and Mr O’Shea dumped the boys and took me further around the lake to find my car. It was a long way away and I don’t know if I’d have made it before dark.

I was very touched by their kindness and can only hope it gets paid back to them in some way. I didn’t know if it was appropriate to ask for some contact details – what would I do, offer them a few £s petrol money? Send a thank you card? I just let them know I was very grateful and decided to leave the rest up to karma/the universe etc

The next few days I spent on the sofa, having drinks and food brought to me, hopping to the toilet and feeling very invalid. ‘I could write about this’, I thought. But, maybe I should wait, the whole experience, the week isn’t fully over. Maybe there will be some insights I can gain…

Then I found myself with a stinking head cold, developing to include a double eye infection and persistent cough. Lovely. Perhaps the result of all my white blood cells concentrating around my swollen and blue-ing ankle and leaving everything else open to infection. Either way, this didn’t help with my motivation to write – my general disposition being very fed up and gloomy. Woe was me. 

I suppose it was slightly funny that my friend thought she had a walking stick to lend me but actually found a spade in her wardrobe she did not know was there. I used this to get around one day. You could hear me coming.

A few days later I felt fit to drive, albeit in some discomfort, as I had a gig to play with my covers band. So, I can’t write that day, right? I have to drive and then play the show. And then I’d better wait until this cold has shifted completely before I get my head around writing. Then I have some rehearsals in the week and I have to go and see my folks, and I really want to finish that book…

So, Jeff, I guess I lost momentum. And it wont be the last time. You told me so!

A week later I’m still fighting this cold off and my ankle is the colour of blueberries. I’m grumpy and fed up but at least I’m up and about and don’t have to do stairs sitting down.

I’m not sure what great lessons I’ve learned from all this. There’s a few things that have been re-learned I suppose, but here, I’m writing. Yep, it’s pretty lame (pun and self put down intended). all about ME, still fairly direction-less and searching for my ‘voice’, but at least I’m DOING it, eh?

thanks again Jeff, and I hope you’re well,

wes