Flushing out the Truth of Brexit – and most other things too.

time-reveals-truth

So the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has been found holding back, and people have foolishly assumed she has no cards of value in her hand.  Criticism from left and right has been piled on her for NOT giving away her intentions … and thankfully she has resisted the temptation, nay, the manipulative bullying, to do so.

Well done her, for she knows that ‘Time Discovers Truth’ as Seneca observed – and it is doing just that. How different are today’s commentaries than those of just six months ago! Even the BBC is subtly shifting its approach.

The bullying EU presidents are becoming more conciliatory as they get over their pride and have to face the power of democracy.  The mandarins are slowly changing their minds (and their jobs), relearning the meaning of the two words ‘Civil’ and ‘Servant’.  The economists are now making excuses for the (terrorising) forecasts they declared. And the europhile politicians are realising that the horse they were flogging is now beyond resuscitation. A sensible realisation in the light of the arrival of far more useful means of transport.

Except a few like Blair and Clegg who, for whatever reason, are finding change personally difficult. They are paying a high price in terms of lost credibility, though still raking in their millions I notice, Mr Socialist Blair.

Waiting takes the vanity out of things

It has been good for us to wait these last six months.  Yes, I personally longed for Article 50 to be invoked immediately in July, but I can now see the wisdom of not doing so.  I’m a naturally impatient person, but I know the very world we want to do business with post-Brexit is watching, and we need to be – and be seen as – trustworthy, law-abiding and thorough. The prize, I think, will be worth the wait.

Time discovers truth in my coaching practice too.

It may take years of discomfort for a potential client to finally accept that they cannot blank things out for ever, or fix things on their own.  The cracks get wider, the unhappiness can no longer be shouted down. Truth will out.

Time and again, that’s when the call comes – “Andrew, I think I need to come and see you” – and for my part, waiting for that moment makes working with that client so much more successful. The inner protests, the denials, the confusion, the medication, the disappointment are now revealed as what they are: cover-ups, painkillers.  The need to discover – or accept – the truth overtakes the embarrassment of having a need that cannot be satisfied by short-term, shallow fixes, or toughing it out. The painkillers are no longer working.

Thankfully there comes a time when the waiting is over, when the truth has become evident, when the cracks no longer respond to Polyfilla or being papered over.  We’re beginning to see that in the EU as outgoing president Martin Schulz said today that the EU is “hamstrung”.

If you feel like that here at the beginning of 2017 (or know someone close to you who is) it may be time to do something about it.  Here’s the number 0777 163 1945 or email me at andrew@powerchange.com.

And have a Happy New Year.

Andrew.

 

 

 

 

To Believe or not to Believe.  That is the Question.  TEN Reasons Why I Believe in God

Charlotte Gyllenhammar’s ‘Double Bind’ in Gothenbourg’s art gallery  illustrates the tension some people face about believing in God. A Double Bind in a relationship is where a person is caught in a trap of contradictory messages.  

In the absence of any ‘proof’ either way, I have decided to simply believe. Here are my …

Ten Reasons Why I Believe in God.

1. It’s so simple.

For me it is the most obvious thing, and anyone can do it. For 60 years I’ve listened to people duck and dive around the simplicity, thinking it is far too easy to innocently ‘accept’ the honest possibility of a Designer/Creator. I’ve heard all the “Who created God, then?” arguments. In the face of such design intricacies and interlinked complexity in the natural world, simply to accept that there might be an Eternal Being who was and is the Source of it all seems so obvious to me. Why fight it?      Here’s the next one…

2. I have someone to thank, thank God.

Yes, someone to blame for all the GOOD stuff. The atheist’s most embarrassing moment is when she or he feels supremely thankful  for something and doesn’t know who to thank. Beauty. Love. Health. Sleep. Life. Children. Hope. 

3. It inspires faith.

I love the fact that you cannot prove God doesn’t exist.  Or does, of course. Believe it or not, it’s a choice! (Yes, I know this argument is rejected by all the logical people in the world who question whether we have choice or not. They rather miss the point methinks.) This doubt-ridden world is crying out for the beauty of simple trust.  Who better to trust than a loving  Creator?    OK, here’s my next one …

4. It’s healthy.

It is now well established that belief in a benevolent God has physical, emotional and psychological health benefits. They live longer, have better relationships, are more socially contributing, less stressed,  and healthier. He has to be a benevolent God though.  Malevolence has the opposite effect.

5. I’m never alone. 
Allowing myself to sense the presence (pre-sence?) of an Eternal Spirit who is interested in me and ready to connect with the deepest part of me is massively reassuring. It means that I always have someone to share my life with, who loves me unconditionally and listens to my every heartbeat, wherever I am, whatever I’m thinking, in good days and bad. 

6. It answers the question “What’s the Point?”

It has been said that the two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you found out the purpose of that event. I personally am happy to accept that there IS an objective reason for my existence – which gives a sense of fulfilment and purpose beyond the decision of a couple of people to mate and have a baby. Belief in God may be subjective, but if it is true then he is ‘beyond’ us in so many ways.  I think human beings need that ‘something, someone beyond ourselves.’ 

7.  I haven’t found anything better.

I’m talking about an all-forgiving, kind, all-powerful, GOOD God here, not a legalistic, authoritarian, punisher of human wrongs who spends his (or her, of course) time dreaming up nasties for bad behaviour.  Mine is a God who accepts me and loves me just as I am, no strings attached. ‘Love personified’ describes him well. There is nothing I can do to make him love me more … or love me less.

8.  Heaven and hope.

The God I love has prepared a perfect home for my spirit the other side of death – heaven. Bring it on … in due course, needless to say. He knows the perfect time for my transfer from this world to that one, and has it in his control.  This conviction provides deep reassuring hope.  Self-deception? Maybe. How will you or I know? (Frankly, I don’t care. This works for me.)

9. I feel deeply deeply safe.

As in ‘deeply’.  I still feel insecure sometimes, and occasionally afraid, but the safety I’m talking about is much more profound than that. It runs very deep, the reassurance that whatever happens to me physically or emotionally, spiritually I’m safe.  Secure.  It’s an all-encompassing awareness that this God is absolutely on my side and that it will be, not just alright in the end, but unimaginably amazing. To quote that 2012 classic Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (sorry!) “It’s going to be alright in the end, so if it’s not alright, it’s not yet the end.”   I love that line!

10. History.
When I was sixteen I had a stunning experience that changed my life. I may tell you about it sometime. For me it was my personal entry into an understanding of God that has affected everything. There have been hundreds of similar moments since. Some people might call them coincidences, or lucky moments, or the ‘universe’ looking after you’, or just flukes. They may be right, but that doesn’t work for me. I think such moments have a spiritual origin. They are the Creator actively participating in my daily life.  I like that.

I’d LOVE you to comment on this.  Feel free to add your honest (but polite please, or they will be taken down!) thoughts.

Experiment.

You need this invitation … to experiment.

Every day, every moment of your life contains uncertainty.  No one knows what the future holds, even the future just a short few seconds away.  As I write, and you read this, neither of us knows what is just around the corner. Your corner. My corner: joy or sorrow, good or bad, life or death, ‘win’ or ‘lose’.  No one knows.  Life – each and every day – is an experiment, with billions of ‘unknowns’.  Everything – everything! –  we think about the future is speculation to one degree or another.

Find the (slightly) mad scientist in your heart.
Find the (slightly) mad scientist in your heart.

 

Navigator.

Yet we manage to navigate our way through these exploding billions of predictably unpredictable happenings, learning from them, adjusting to them, taking advantage of them, and even enjoying them. And as we grow up, we begin to recognise and react to these patterns, noticing how things happen, together and in order, and how we can profoundly rely on them to guide us through our never-twice-the-same inner and outer worlds. And how something we do seems to affect what happens around us. A baby’s physical hungry cry produces real actual milk spilling from its mother’s breast (how does that happen?) or perhaps a warmed version of nutritious something in a plastic bottle!

"Hmmm... I wonder what is going to happen?"
“Hmmm… I wonder… ?”

Experimenter.

Reflecting on this recently (experimenting, not breast feeding!) I thought about how I can be more the Experimenter than the experiment.  I’m not a fatalist.  I don’t accept that we are all caught up in a hopeless universal inevitability, because I don’t believe it’s true. I believe that to some extent I – each of us – can significantly influence what happens around me, and what happens beyond that. There’s no such thing as a failed experiment, just an unexpected result. I also believe that I am first of all a spiritual being, in a different realm from that perceived fatalistic inevitability, and that the spiritual part of me has huge unknown power. It breathes with the creative freedom-giving breath of its Creator.

Butterfly in Brazil? I swimmer in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Butterfly in Brazil? A swimmer in Rio.

Creator.

Once I understand that a butterfly in Brazil can cause a hurricane in another part of the world, then choosing to alter my habitual behaviour today, given time, will indeed make the world different from what it would have been. And I believe that everything is connected in some way. You, me, that butterfly, everyone else and the Creator. Flapping my wings differently (or choosing not to) will just as inevitably change things somewhere. We cannot NOT communicate.

So how is that going to affect what you think, say and do today as you leave this blog?

Experiment. You cannot fail.

(Then let me know what happened.)

Supporting One Another

SnapnDrag626
Supporting one another.

Yesterday I was in Brighton.  It is a fantastic city, with just everything in it.  Including Hove.  And on the green down by the sea, close to Meeting Place Cafe, I stood entranced by six quiet gymnasts from Brighton Acro Yoga. (Yes, I know.)

I was fascinated as I watched them playing and practicing, happy for anyone who cared to stop and stare. I took a video and a pic or two, whilst allowing the sheer beauty of the moment to infiltrate my thoughts.

I loved the trust, the gentle collaboration, the humility of these kind people – so evident in what they were doing. The flow of movement, the occasional shakiness of the less experienced members as they held position and allowed their muscles (and trust) to develop and strengthen, the discrete coaching from the more experienced members and …

Isn’t being trustworthy and trusting just so important? It’s true these ultra-flexible fit women had little distance to fall (and I did notice one of them accidentally stood on someone’s face!) but they trusted their teachers as they guided them sensitively, asking for help and support as they needed it – and that trust resulted in a delicious flow from one well-stretched position to another with grace, skill and lots of self-control.

Learning to 'fly'?
Learning to ‘fly’?

Me? I engaged appreciatively with the process, spellbound from afar – a few short metres anyway – and allowed these artists to show me just what they can do. Then I decided to tell you about them. (Sadly these two iPhone pictures don’t do them justice, but I expect you’ll get the idea.)

Then I thanked God with a full heart that they can do it, even though I can’t.

Flexibility. Beauty. Trust. Humility. Flow.

I rode my Burgman 400 home asking myself…

“Who do I need to support so they can fly?”

I’ll support you if I can and you’d like me to – within the bounds of time and energy,, that is, and NOT with my feet!

Call me though.  Who knows?

Feel Like You are on a Lead?

The only reason, it seems to me, that we tame an animal is for our benefit. To have it work for us, feed us, entertain us, rescue us, protect us, guide us – or for use as a pet, a cuddly toy, or a plaything, or to bet on its performance. Of course we look after it and care for it, but it has no real choice.

‘Tamed’ is for animals …

SnapnDrag619
Feel like you are on a lead? Trapped? Tamed? That isn’t what you were designed for. (c)www.dailymail.co.uk

… NOT people. How many men and women do you know who have been tamed – by their wife, partner, husband, children, parents, boss, school, college, or professional body?

Tamed: Brought into line. Forced to comply. Bullied into submission.  “So break their spirit. Trick them into being controlled. Without them realising until it is too late.”

And there is always a plausible excuse: Order. Safety. Control. The Money.  “It’s for the best.”

How have you been tamed?
Emasculated. Enslaved. Indentured. Dehumanised. Handcuffed to a job, a way of life, a habit, a culture, a partner, a pay cheque, a trauma, a professional body, a thought pattern. Brought under control. Subject to the will, whim or pleasure of another. Tamed by greater power, physical violence, pain, fear, psychotherapeutic drugs, a court, money. Think about it.

In people, tame is not good. You were designed to be free, able to choose at least something of your destiny, without others interfering, limiting, cracking the whip, or writing an unnecessary prescription. Designed to be free, not impoverished or imprisoned, or chemically coshed.

Weakness tames us, whether caused by any of the above, or by poverty, ignorance, violence, shame, or injustice.

Powerchange, on the other hand does the opposite. The Powerchange team is here to strengthen, liberate, and educate you. To free you. Our therapeutic coaching moves people out of the grip of shame, injustice and life-taming drugs (however well-intentioned the prescription) and, yes, clients ARE shocked when they realise how straightforward it was to ‘come free’, and how staying free is not a burden.

If this blog echoes with you, if you have found yourself on a lead, living a tamed life, surrendered, snared or struggling to resist (or snarling behind the bars) then please call me. Call me on my Direct Access number: 07771631945, or email andrew@powerchange.com.     Let me help you find your hidden power.

And if you are free but have a friend or colleague who you suspect is being or has been tamed, whisper the word ‘Powerchange’ into their ear. Whisper it slowly “P-o-w-e-r-ch-a-n-g-e”and link us up – you’ll know how best to do that.

What I do when I am DESPERATE.

Know the feeling?

SnapnDrag573

From time to time life takes a turn for the more challenging, and I face a situation that I don’t have an obvious answer to.  I am a ‘natural’ at living on the edge and that is when the unexpected makes me either ‘jump’ or tempts me to ‘blind panic’.  The first is OK, but the second can make matters a lot worse.
At these moments, and I’ve had a good few of them, I’ve learnt a simple procedure that definitely makes a difference…

1. PRAY.

This is not about running away, but taking one step back for a few minutes and opening myself to higher things.  Personally I believe that God is, and likes to be, involved in my life, but evidence shows that even if you don’t believe, prayer and meditation (often called ‘mindfulness’) still has a substantial calming effect on you and will reduce the damaging sense of panic that can ensue from difficult situations. Negative trauma damages your brain, pressuring you to basic fight-or-flight ‘limbic’ behaviour.

Prayer and meditation have been shown to have real and measurable benefits in times of stress.  It is handy for me to have some favourite quotes in my memory ready to lean on and recall as I pray. One reason I’ve meditated on verses and stories in the Bible over the years is so that I’m resourced with ancient, proven, calming, wisdom when things go belly up. It’s “in there” and and the bits I have taken onboard come to the surface when needed. It has also provided me with a reliable guide to what I believe to be fundamentally important for us humans, helping me to prioritise action.

2. SMILE.

Right. Now you’ve prayed, you can smile. You are not your crisis, but the one person who can initiate change within it, so smile – not least at the irony!   Smiling, and even laughter, changes the chemistry of your body for the better, stimulating the release of empowering hormones to help you deal with the difficulty.  A good reason to smile is that as you look back on this situation in the future you will find all sorts of good in it. The biggest threats to us have within them the biggest lessons – of courage, self-control, and humility. People who look back on some of the most difficult times say they would not swap them for an easier life.

3. PHYSICALLY ACT.

Act towards a solution.  In fact ANY action is better than no action. Your sense of panic has been taken out of circulation, and you’re smiling. The next stage involves PHYSICAL ACTION (mental action will not do), for instance, phoning or emailing someone, going to the bank or supermarket, getting your stepladder out of the garage, or going to the hospital, doctor, head teacher or boss. Act towards a solution.  Start the invasion and watch what happens.

If you’re facing a serious situation alone, or simply want to move beyond the irritating or confining status quo, that’s what I’m here for. Call me.  I’ve got space in my diary for you. We can work on it (in confidence) together.

Andrew

0777 163 1945

andrew@powerchange.com

So far to go?

I was mentored for three decades by Campbell McAlpine, an amazing man who I met when I was 24 and he was 56. I looked up to him as a role model, and a second father in many ways.

The epitome of a wise man. Gracious, perceptive, gentle, strong.
The epitome of a wise man. Gracious, perceptive, gentle, strong.

He was the father my old Dad could never be – however hard he tried! Campbell was amazing.  He accepted me just as I was and was kind enough not to leave me there.  Campbell died in 2009, but his spirit lives on in my head and my life. He taught me so much, and you’ve benefitted from his wisdom … and yes, you’re about to benefit from it again!

Campbell loved words. He was a persuasive public speaker, had several books published, recorded sets of CDs and thousands of tapes. (Yes, cassettes. It was a while ago, remember!)  Here are some of his favourite sayings that have impressed themselves on me.  Choose one for yourself and let it sink in:

1. “The room for improvement is the biggest room in the world – and I’m in it.”

2. “Andrew, go for influence, not prominence.”

3. “Live like a leader.”

3. “Andrew, have you got five minutes?” Yes, Campbell?  “Clean the car!” (My car, not his! He was a stickler for valuing and looking after things you have.)

But the one that was a challenge for me was “The thing is, I’ve so far to go.” (said in a Scots accent:  “…faar ta goo.”)  What, Campbell?  The most saintly person I knew?  If he had so far to go, I thought, I haven’t started yet.  But I have grown to realise that ALL of us, however far we’ve come, have faar ta goo. I don’t take this on board as a challenge that taunts me with an ever receding horizon, but simply as a reminder that I’m not in a situation where I can brag about my ‘arrival’ in life. We are invited, not to reach some impossible ideal perfection, but simply to keep walking and to get up when we fall. I’m invited to remind myself and others that the next mile is worth it, has never been travelled before (by anyone) and has something to teach me, something for me to experience that will enrich my life if I let it, and will enrich others’ lives when I share it.

… as I just have. Now its your turn to share Campbell’s legacy, and my legacy, and now your legacy. What you are discovering, plant it into the life of another person, and make the world a better place.

Coming Home.

This story continues from last year’s Christmas blog. If you’ve not read it already, it might provide an enjoyable minute or two. If you did read it at the time, pop back for a second visit before you read Part 2.

Here is Part 2 of the story…

Mrs Winchester never slept like a baby normally.  The doctor had described her early wakefulness in various ways, and diagnosed ‘Marriage Anxiety Syndrome’ (DSM-IV 326a) resulting in an ‘over-active sense of responsibility’. She lived with that subtle underlying anxiety of one who cares a lot for the needy – and there was no doubt that Max came into that category. She was, in her words, a light sleeper.  Max, on the other hand was having the time of his life.

Having recovered a little of his decorum following his stumbling across baby Jesus and his teenage parents in the stable, he grabbed his iPad and began writing his journal. He recorded every last detail: the clothes the shepherds were wearing (‘headgear like a tea towel at home’), the state of the stable (‘warm, though smelly’) and discretely omitted Mary’s struggle with feeding Jesus for the first time (he had quietly nipped into the inn for that bit). It was only then that he realised he had a bar or two of Wifi (it was free in the inn), so promptly whizzed off an email explaining where he was and what was happening, to Mrs Winchester, who was duly dumbfounded. She phoned the Community Support Officer again to tell her she’d found Max and heard her snigger for the second time.

Max headed for a hour or two of sleep. He dreamt he heard angels singing, Max 35. Angels.but was wakened finally by the revving of cars in the road below his window. Three massive blacked-out limmos were parked on the curb, complete with their minders and an escort car or two. He slipped his shoes back on and headed for the stable again, there to find a selection of eastern dignitaries gathered round the manger/crib. They were chatting quietly to Mary and Joseph as Jesus slept, and he noticed them handing the young couple some little gifts wrapped in the poshest of wrapping paper.  Max took a picture with his iPad and emailed it home.  “Bethlehem” he thought to himself, “will never be the same after this night, and neither will I.” He proved to be right on both counts.

It was a few days later he decided to head home. Boxing Day had come and gone, and he’d been able to sleep off some of his weariness. It was with a palpable sense of relief that he pressed the “Go Home” button on his TomTom, and waited (ages) while it planned his route through Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary, into Austria and Germany and back to the Channel. Bluewater seemed a long way away.

He only got lost six times, and broke down just the once – as he was driving round the southern edge of Lake BalatonBalaton – about half way home. Most of the time he slept in the Fiesta, but occasionally he allowed himself the comparative luxury of a comfy bed in a wayside inn.

Max’s final stop was at the side of the road a few miles from his house. He pulled into a little car park on a hill overlooking a beautiful view – you know the sort. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to go home, it was just that he was overwhelmed by an inexplicable desire to cry. For a few minutes he managed to contain himself, but finally he surrendered.
For the first time in thirty eight years, he sobbed and sobbed, calmed himself and sobbed some more. Wave after wave of tears engulfed him.  He was shocked to find he couldn’t stop. His body ached with the emotional outburst. Somewhere within his brain he remembered something about the symptoms of PTSD, but he couldn’t care less right now. He knew something deep was happening to him and continued to cry.

When finally his tears ended he noticed the sun was setting – the huge red orb making its way inexorably towards the darkening horizon.  As he sat quietly he felt a sense of peace begin to trickle under the door of his heart. Max put his head back on the headrest. All he could think of was that baby. Somehow the peace he felt was connected to the little newborn child resting innocent and contented in that grotty stable, though he found it impossible to figure out quite how.  He remembered a couple of lines of a T.S.Eliot poem about Magi going to see Jesus, and how they felt. “We returned to our places, these kingdoms, but no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation...” He would look it up when he got home. He felt like that too … no longer at ease … old dispensation. Weird. He started the engine.

Mrs Winchester was delighted to see him back. He was even quieter than normal – which is saying something. Preoccupied. Contemplative. Stronger. More relaxed in a way. Nothing seemed to matter to him in quite the same way, and despite her efforts she couldn’t get him to open up. “I’ll tell you all about it sometime, my dear,” he told her.

And one day he did.

Canon excel themselves in customer service

Remember my post “For the want of 5p“? Well, I’ve another story to tell you.
On my Big Trip around Europe I lost my camera. It fell off the bike somewhere in the north west of Greece, up by the Bulgarian border, and I had to get another one in Thessalonikii. I chose Canon again – a red IXUS – and loved it, snapping away merrily for a year. I took it to the Arctic too. Somehow it didn’t quite take the strain and stress of my adventure lifestyle at the time, and passed away finally when I got back and was taking some photos in church. The zoom feature was damaged and I repaired it with my Leatherman, the glass of the LCD screen cracked, the casing had seen better days and eventually the shutter button fell off as I was framing the vicar (so to speak).

It was months out of warranty, but I decided to send it back, not least so Canon knew that their little cameras go to interesting places and they could evaluate the wear and tear. I sent it to the MD of course, (customer service departments rarely have the flexibility to be generous) with an entertaining description of its short life, and with the ready acceptance that it had not been looked after very well and they were not obliged to be kind to me. I also said it didn’t seem so strong as my other Canon cameras (I’m on my 4th) which was true.

Guess what? The short story is that Canon are mending it free of charge! The lovely lady in Customer Care sent me a warm and fun letter, entering into the spirit of the entertaining exchange, and Canon went onto my list of companies who know how to treat customers well. The camera hasn’t arrived yet but it will, and comes with another six months warranty – and a wise little warning not to try it again! Now THAT is up to Apple standards of customer care. Well done Canon. You’ve won my heart and go to the top of the class.

How do you look after the people in your life? Canon overlooked my humanity and were kind. They’ll be remembered for it.

Bilbo camper conversions won’t. The sad and uppity lady at the huge NEC mobile homes exhibition told me off for photographing her camper vans to get ideas for my own conversion. How silly! All the others were complimented by my interest, pointing out the features, chatting happily away and wishing me well. One guy said how people came back having converted their own camper and often bought a brand new one from them because they loved camper van life so much – for £32,000! Needless to say he WANTED me to take photos to remind me of how good his vans are.

And Canon didn’t expect the blog in their honour either. Want a good camera? Buy a Canon. The service is great and they love their customers. I really like being loved, don’t you?

The Parable of the Two New Toys.

I’ve got two new toys parked outside.  Yes, I suspect that if you know me you’ll assume that they have two wheels, and … OK, you’re right. I bet they’re not quite what you expect though.

“One upon a time a man had two new toys.  One was huge and brand spanking new. It had lots of posh gadgets, was sprayed a smart silver, went very fast and cost £20,000. The other had no gadgets at all, was a bit ‘used’, went very slow and cost £320. Oh, and it was yellow.

But the big, expensive toy didn’t belong to the man.  It was loaned to him for the night by a local motorcycle dealer, and the man would only be able to play with it for a few hours, then back it would go.

The other toy, the little gadget-less one, the one that cost so little and went slow? It wasn’t on loan.  It belonged.  The man had paid his own money for it. He had already had it for a week and used it lots of times.  It knew that it would serve an important purpose and had nothing to fear from the big posh expensive toy. Had not the man already lavished time and love on Saturday morning cleaning the grime and old oil of it’s chain?  Had he not already made his bottom sore riding it up hill and down dale?  Had he not taken his car to Wiltshire to find it, rescue it from the dark and crowded garage of his nephew, fold it up neatly, bring it home, and give it new life? And had he not spent hours on the internet to find the very best saddle? Had the man not already, even today, ridden it down to Waitrose and back to collect a slice of salmon for lunch? 

Tonight it sat folded up contentedly in the shed, listening to the rain outside, knowing that already it was treasured – and would be able to reward the man for many years to come. Today it had rewarded the man with aching limbs, and the important knowledge that he wasn’t as fit as he pretended. Perhaps in a few months time the man would look back with deep affection and gratitude, with the knowledge that he was now fit and healthy, and that his bum no longer noticed every bump in the road.

Brompton enjoying its first trip to Chichester.

The big posh brand-new 1600 BMW motorcycle listened to the rain too – and felt it bouncing on its bodywork.  It was too big for the shed and would never ever fold up and go in the boot of the car. And it had a drink problem the other little Brompton would never suffer from. It liked petrol. Lots of it. And tomorrow it would be stuck once more in the showroom with a “For Sale” sign attached, waiting to belong.

As the man prepared for bed that evening, he remenisced, thinking about the two bikes. It was ironic that the bike he desired most was not the posh big one. It’s size and complicated electronics were no longer his desire, however fast it went with its fly-by-wire throttle, and clever engine management system. He loved the little Brompton with its rusty pedal and worn pannier bag. He knew it had already snuggled into a place in his heart – regardless of its ‘bracing’ demands on his energies, its unpretentious presence on the road, its honest revealing of his lack of fitness, and his tender…,  er… yes, that too. But the new saddle will soon wear in, and his fitness improve.

The truth was, and is, that the Brompton was his. It was adaptable, convenient, and demanded nothing but his energy and a little care. It could accompany him all over the world if he so wished. Folded neatly it would fit in a car boot, on a train rack, and on a plane without complaint or protest – even from the check-in staff.

And it would teach him that time can be used in different ways, that beauty can be expressed in simplicity, that there are different ways to travel in life.”

(And that riding a push-bike is fun.)