Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"Spirit In Motion"


In July 2004 I was involved in a motor accident in Montpellier, France: I was in a (hire) car and the other party was a motorcyclist, who was badly injured.

The case went to court in France, but I wasn't obliged to attend. I was charged for 'failing to look right at a junction', fined very lightly (65 Euros - then about £40) and banned from driving in France for two weeks. Since I lived then, as now, in London, and the court knew that, this last was no penalty at all. It seemed over all that I'd been given just about the lightest penalty possible, so I assumed, though I did not know, that witnesses had confirmed the lights at the junction had indeed been green, as I'd told the police, that the motorcyclist had jumped it, had maybe been going too fast, had maybe occupied the wrong lane of the carriageway (these things were hinted to me, but never confirmed). All I heard about the motorcyclist was that he had been in and out of hospital for most of the year that followed, maybe would not walk again. It was a hard thing to think about, and mostly I tried not to.

I've never forgotten what happened, of course. I've never forgotten what I saw of the motorcyclist's injuries, and how often I'd asked if he'd be OK and him crying, in shock and pain, 'You didn't have the right of way'.

I still have a folder - 'Accident' - on my computer, documents I'll never delete.

But as summers passed, nearly ten of them, I rationalised I'd hear no more about the accident, the 'case', the motorcyclist.

I didn't feel entirely sure of that, to be honest.

*

Well, last night at about 8:30pm the motorcyclist called me and left a message, in English, on my phone (an 'international number', I'd ignored the call, thinking it was one of those spam competition things we get plagued with in the evenings).

He 'didn't know if I would remember him' (!)

He wanted me to know that before the accident he had been a rower. He wanted me to know that it had taken him two years to learn to walk again after the accident, never mind to row. He wanted me to know that he would be rowing in the French coxless 4s team at the London 2012 Paralympics. He wanted me to know that he 'did not make a judgement'. He wanted me to know that he would be sending me two tickets and would like me to watch him. If he didn't hear back from me, he would send them anyway, and I could do what I liked with them.


*

This afternoon I spoke to him.

He is sure he wants to do this.

He wants to know I am there watching him do this.

So I am going on Friday - to the first of the heats at Eton Dorney: how can I not?

['Spirit In Motion' is the motto of the Paralympic Games]

27 comments:

  1. wow this has sent shivers down my spine huge well done to the motorcyclist lets hope he does well

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  2. Love this post - says so much about the human spirit - sometimes beyond what my mind can comprehend - thanks for posting.
    Got it via Claire Balding on Twitter!

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  3. Thank you. It says a lot about one man's courage, is certain.

    I didn't expect this to be picked up way beyond this small corner of the internet where mostly we blether on about old records, so I hope people will respect the gentleman's privacy.

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  4. Wow. That's good. Enjoy Dorney - the atmosphere was incredible during the Games, sure it will continue to be the same.

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  5. What a life affirming story, well done to both of you. After all accidents do happen but they don't have to define you. Ruth

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  6. Zut, alors! The infamous Priorité à droite.
    Smashing tale our kid. Thanks for sharing it. You should have an unforgettable day.

    He's a strong character - but then, so are you.

    Shame he lost his cox!



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  7. will be thinking of you both on Friday x

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  8. sportsmen and women have discipline that is wider than just the sport: the mind and spirit are to be trained as well:
    his determination to do what he loves despite the repercussions of that minute at the traffic lights:
    his will set to GO and for you to move along too:
    how amazingly selfless:
    x

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  9. Wow, an emotional ahead day for you both. What an inspiring story, thank you for sharing it and good luck to you both x

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  10. Fucking fuck. There's a lot to think about there Mr H.

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  11. we'll be holding your hand all the way dear pal
    x

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  12. An Olympic event for both of you - keeping 'em crossed for Friday.

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  13. I think this means he cares about you as much as you care about him, he's giving you the opportunity to put the incident to rest in a positive, enlightening and hopefully joyful way. Peace be with you DavyH. xx

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  14. This is an incredible story, very moving. It will be one hell of an experience for you both.

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  15. Been following you for a while now, but first tine to comment (I think) - inspirational story. Humbling, and I would aspire to demonstrate the same strength of character if in a similar situation to the motorcyclist.

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  16. Philippe ChouvelAugust 30, 2012 9:42 am

    Well, for me too, it is a very moving story, the most stunning thing is that he kept your phone number for all these years, and hat the spirit to invite you to come and see him rowing. I love this story.

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  17. Now this by and large leaves me speechless ... this bloke gives character a completely new definition!!

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  18. The tickets arrived this morning. I don't think we will meet at the event, but he has hinted that he would like to, at some point.

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  19. Sure this isn't going to end like an episode of 'Tales of The Unexpected' with a knife and a cackling laugh of 'So we meet again Mr. Davy!'

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  20. great story dave. have a great time. for everything revelaed somethings concealed etc.

    excellent remarks from dick and lee it has to be said

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  21. Factual correction: mixed coxed four.

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  22. Reading this gives me chills. What a difficult thing to have in your life. I am so glad that he contacted you. I hope you both find some peace. x

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