I am dragging my feet here. Already Tuesday and the page is still blank. I even thought about giving it a miss and no blooming wonder. Never one for fiction, reality is just too messed up and writing about it too depressing but … I started so I’ll finish, 2021 at least!
Let me just get this off my chest first: apparently, there are three professional dancers in Strictly who refuse to have the vaccination. Their choice. However, there has been uproar claiming that the up close and personal nature of the programme demands that those involved should declare their vaccine status for the welfare of others … and here we go! The intrusion of privacy is not only unacceptable but, moreover, surely unnecessary? Anyone who has chosen to, has been vaccinated/protected from the virus. Must they still live in fear? Rather than a criticism of the unvaccinated, the backlash is, in truth, a vote of no confidence in the vaccine; a vaccine which does not prevent one catching the virus nor transmitting it and, from which, the immunity derived is, seemingly, short-lived. Uncertainty. Who knows? Ongoing. No evidence to suggest – yet. This will not go away, the fan-fuelled ‘war’ of the vaccinated versus the unvaccinated because of the aforementioned. As the media continues its fixation with the virus, maintaining the fear, trust in the miracle vaccine is also undermined. The necessity for boosters – after six months – evidence, itself, never mind the rollout for 12-15-year-olds, at minIscule risk, for the greater good. Stop focusing on those who have made an informed choice to abstain or delay; cease the blackmail and the bullying. They are nothing more than fall guys belying a lack of confidence in the unknown.
So, to the weekend and Edinburgh. No better place to people-watch than George Street on a Saturday afternoon and I am ‘pleased’ to report that I wasn’t disappointed. The ‘material’ is vast – slightly ironic as most are vast and the material minIscule! George Street is littered with outdoor seating now and the once elegant street – home to architecture of note – is little more than a hub for drinking and hen dos. Hen do. Explain why that terminology has not been taken to the cleaners by the Woke brigade? Rhetorical. The Woke brigade are of the same breed (so to speak) to be found staggering down George Street, en masse, on a Saturday afternoon! To be seen and heard from a great distance, close up, one is struck by the terrifying masks of make-up requiring of a chisel to remove. Reminiscent of a cloning once seen on Star Trek, the bride-to-be is only distinguishable from the brood courtesy of the compulsory veil, while her accomplices, meanwhile, model the pink sash over the skimpy crop tops and mini skirts which once fitted them pre-puberty. Perfect, as is the ‘sprinkling’ of all-over fake tan giving that coveted ‘healthy glow’ or just back from Benidorm or Faliraki look. Oh, boy! (Is that ‘allowed’?) Is this it? Is this, really, the level to which we have sunk? Where, once, there were high-end shops, now there are just brash bars and pick-up joints from which the drunken clientele spill – in every sense of the word – seemingly 24/7 every weekend. Quite honestly – if one has the stomach – from time-to-time, I consider it worth the exorbitant parking fees just to sit and watch Saturday’s pavement activity. In fact, it is a spectator sport worthy of tickets! A coffee’s worth was sufficient for me, this past weekend, and divine retribution ensured that most of it spilled all over my white jeans. Touché!
No sign of the little green men in search of intelligent life, by the way, but, then, I think you might have guessed that. They’re in therapy!
On a more sobering note, last night saw us watching the newly released Netflix documentary, Schumacher. Gosh, I knew it would be sad but, in truth, it was a tribute to a guy who is no longer here. Reminiscent of Senna, it charted his life and his legendary success, winning the World Championship seven times – twice with Benetton and five in a row with Ferrari. I remember his 1994 rivalry with Damon Hill as though it was yesterday and still in its box, in storage, is the Scalextric set Manny received for Christmas, one year soon after, with these two drivers and their cars. Almost thirty years on, it is something of a collectable but I have a feeling it will stay in the family …
The documentary was addictive with amazing footage of both his racing and private lives, affording a glimpse of the man behind the driver. That man seemed always to be smiling and loving life; living it to the full. He married young and was, clearly, devoted to his wife and two children. Poignantly, it struck me how they, unwittingly, strove to capture the years, the love and the fun abundantly evident in a wealth of beautiful, natural photographs alongside reels of film. Photographs and memories. Beyond precious now.
Something else one learns – he was a team player in the true sense of the word, never believing that his triumphs were his, alone. He worked alongside the mechanics, often late into the night, when he could so easily have been the first to leave. He knew them all by name – and their families – treated them as friends and was always kind, polite and grateful for their part. Extremely focused and competitive when it came to the track, his reputation belied the private man: a genuinely nice guy. He fulfilled his dreams and was happy but who is to doubt that life can be cruel?! The film takes one up to his ski-ing accident in 2013 but, although his wife and grown-up children talk of how much they miss him – Corinna saying that he is here but different – there is no update on his health or progress. Eight years on, he remains at home in Switzerland in the warmth of his family and the care of nurses. There is much renewed speculation in the papers, now, as to his true state but his privacy is fiercely guarded by his loved ones and few are granted visiting rights. Said to be paralysed and in a wheelchair, unable to communicate, there can be no fate more cruel for this courageous man and the irony is glaring: all these years in the most dangerous sport which could have claimed his life in the blink of an eye …
His son, Mick, aged 21, is part of the Ferrari Driver Academy and this year drives for Haas. He talks, in the film, of how much he misses his Dad and, particularly, the loss of the relationship the two would have had today; their shared love and language of motorsport. He imagines the conversations they could have had for which he, poignantly, says: ‘I would give up everything just for that’.
Michael Schumacher is considered, in the world of Formula 1, to be the greatest driver of all time. I think, somehow, the depth of love and devotion shown by his family and friends surpasses even that accolade. In the end, we are, all, just footprints in the sand but those of this man are more lasting than most. His story, however, serves as a reminder to each and every one of us that the book of life is brief and the hand of fate indiscriminate. Never forget, for one moment, all that matters …
‘Sometimes we forget
Trying to be so strong
In this world of right and wrong
All that matters when we’re gone
All that mattered all along
All we have that carries on
Is how we love.’
Beth Nielsen Chapman, ‘How We Love’.
This is Trish, signing off.