comments iconDay 24: The Wheels Come Off in Stoke


Today walked: 18.60 miles

Total walk:  30.00 miles

Today raised:  £0.00 + ¥ 1,263.00

Total raised fund: £  8,898.38  + ¥ 53,858.45

If I was asked to sum up a personal philosophy of life then it would be this:

‘Do the right things and you get the right results’.

I should confess that this wisdom is not mine but that of the legendary Liverpool football manager, Bill Shankly. It was a philosophy of football which placed emphasis not on the end result but in getting each individual touch of the ball right in the knowledge that if you did that for 90 minutes then the results would look after themselves.

Why do I tell you this? Well I think that the events of today brought that into question.

I was walking up from Stafford to Stoke. It was my seventh day of walking. I was feeling very tired. Nearing the end of the day there was a torrential downpour of rain and Xuelin was concerned for me and so set off to come and get me. On the outskirts of Stoke the warning lights started flashing on the dashboard and when she pulled into a garage at the junction of the A34/A500 she found that she had a flat tyre.

Our car doesn’t carry a spare tyre so we have to call breakdown assistance. When Xuelin called I was about a mile north on the canal path but decided to turn around and take my life in my hands by walking down the A500 in a rainstorm. I arrived about 30 minutes later and all I had to do was to call the breakdown assistance and it would be kind of ‘problem solved’– well not quite.

When I eventually managed to speak with someone having been on hold for 15 minutes they told me that our cover had expired 10 days ago. The renewal notice would be on that huge pile of mail waiting in the hallway of the flat after we set out on the walk three weeks ago. I was told that I would have to call membership services to renew and then call back for assistance. I tried but membership services were closed.

Enter the hero of the day Mark Mabey:

We had met Mark the night before in Stafford at the event organised by Dr Kai. Mark’s daughter had attended the Ariana Grande Concert at the Manchester Arena the night of the terrorist attack that killed 22 people and 120 were injured though unhurt she and the family had been traumatised by the experience. This personal encounter brought into sharp focus the purpose of the walk The UK Solidarity Fund seeking to provide support for victims of this and other terrorist attacks.

Mark lives in Stoke and had offered us accommodation for the night. In the midst of the frustration of being held in telephone queuing systems Mark arrived at the BP garage and suggested we leave the car at the garage and come to his home where he and his wife Clare had prepared a meal for us. It was the right call we went back to their home and got out of our wet clothes and sat down to a beautiful meal. We were so grateful for this kindness.

At 9PM the roadside assistance team arrived at the car (having renewed my subscription online). Mark drove Xuelin and I to the garage. The man from the assistance arrived was extremely helpful and suggested that our best chance would be to reflate the tyre and take it to Kwik Fit in Newcastle under Lyme who might be able to fit a new tyre in the morning. Agreed.

We dropped the car off and Mark drove us back to his home as we did so his car hit a kerb that came out into a narrow part of the road and burst two of his tyres. We were in disbelief at the chances of such misfortune. Xuelin and I felt responsible for the misfortune we had brought.

It was like learning that the ‘Good Samaritan had been mugged after coming to the assistance the traveller who had who had been mugged.

Xuelin suffers a puncture because she is concerned about her husband caught in a downpour of rain.

Husband fails to renew his roadside assistance because he is on a six week charity walk to raise funds for the victims of terrorist attacks.

Mark comes to aid of well meaning couple and suffers double puncture in the process.

Where was Bill Shankly’s wisdom in this?

As if I am sitting the Liverpool team dressing room in I can hear great man’s reply:

‘Aye lad, but the games no over yet!’



One thought on “Day 24: The Wheels Come Off in Stoke

  1. Mark Mabey

    We were delighted to accommodate your good self and Xuelin an amazing charity and venture and a small thank you for both doing such amazing charity endeavours!!
    Good luck lack of sore feet and tireless energy sorry poor joke
    Fondest Mark

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