Before I left home my friend Cora gave me some of her late husband Eddie’s travel books to peruse. One of them, “Overlander”, featured Ethiopia and particularly caught my imagination as Michael Palin and his team set out from the North Pole with the intention of travelling along the 30 degree line of longitude all the way to the South Pole without ever setting foot on a plane. Shirking the quickest, most convenient and safest means of travel for no apparent reason and involving more than a hint of insanity; it sounded like my kind of trip! (As it happens, they did fly at times as there was no other feasible option but I loved the idea of it.)
When you watch Palin on the telly you might get the impression that he makes these trips on his own, just himself and a hardy camera man but in the books he openly acknowledges that there is a whole host of people with him on the journey making it all possible. They work away diligently in the shadows, doing untold deeds, greasing things along so Palin can go out front looking smooth and charismatic and glamorous and in control. Everyone on the crew has a valuable role to play to help the journey go more smoothly. He explains, in the book,
“The word fixer is often mentioned. Fixers are professional organisers whose job it was to ease our passage through their countries.”
Well, I’m definitely not on this journey alone either and there have been so many “fixers” for me. I have a veritable army of people along with me and to paraphrase St. Patrick, they go before me, to lead the way when I’m uncertain. They’re on my right and my left and as a friend confirmed to me recently they are even there waiting with me at that bus stop in the mornings. They’re there when I lie down at night to take rest after another difficult day at work and some of them are so kind as to distract me so that I fall asleep before the rat starts making too much noise 🙂 They’re there when I sit down to do a bit of work and when I get up in the morning to face another day. There are others more difficult to catch sight of but I know they are there lurking around in that shadowy place doing good.
Therefore, I can really only pity the fool who, at work or elsewhere, may take a virtual swipe at me as I wonder do they really realise just who they are dealing with and just how many in number we are?
There are fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, librarians, students, nuns, politicians, dieticians, teachers, friends, friends of friends, strangers, husbands and wives, the silent prayers of three people whom I know pray for me daily (!), cards, messages, packages, emails, amazing volunteers, support staff, Ethiopians, neighbours, aunts and uncles, cousins, scouts…there may be even a butcher, baker and candle-stick maker in there too.
Aren’t we a motley crew?!
Things aren’t brilliant here at the moment but I sense that both myself and the blog will return to normal before long, most likely with a fascinating, tantalising, awe-inspiring, shock- inducing, heart-rending, never-before-to-be-seen, (never-to-be-repeated-again), blow-by-blow account of “The Healy Family Holiday to Ethiopia 2013: A Very Unorthodox Christmas”.
Until then, I’d like to dedicate this post and this song to all my “fixers”. Ye are the only reason it is possible for me to be here. Thank ye all so much for yeer support. Sorry I’ve been incommunicado for a while. I hope ye had a brilliant Christmas and that 2014 will be good to us all. Is go mbeirimid beo ar an am seo aris.
Let Palin have his team of fixers! I got mine 🙂
“Life is an ocean and love is a boat; in troubled waters, it keeps us afloat”