We start by thanking all donors for their generosity. Without your support and encouragement ZANE would not exist.
Jane and I started walking a fews days early. We thought it prudent to whirl our old limbs up a few hills to see if they could, once again, stand the strain of a new long distance walk in support of the poorest of the poor in Zimbabwe.
So we have just finished trialing ourselves in South Wales, in fact on the plain where SAS recruits are driven to the point of collapse by their granite jawed trainers. I am an old soldier and like so many of my aged colleagues I fantasise that all I have to do is some tough training walks and runs, a few goes round the gym and the years would fall away like a waterfall and I could join the SAS. Dream on sunshine! I am gone with the wind and aches and pains come and go so with such regularity I know that if I am not hurting, I’m long since dead!
We walked about eight miles and to my astonishment we appear, when taking our antiquity into account, to be reasonably fit. When I checked with the the doctor I asked him: “If I was a horse would you have me shot?” When he said he would keep me a while longer at grass and gentle trotting I asked if it was at least worth my while even starting to read “War and Peace? ” He thought for a while and answered “yes” – I have to say without much conviction – so off we go, no more excuses. Since we started the walks in 2010 we have walked well over 2000 miles and consumed at least six pairs of boots and eight walking sticks. Walking addicts might be interested to know that the best walking poles by far are made by “Traveller Carbon, LEKI” with dinki little hand supporters. They are light and flexible. And avoid all cheap boots, they wear out and are uncomfortable. Remember there is no such thing as a bargain. The best boots by a country mile are (inevitably) German and called MEINDL (with Teutonic quality like that, goodness knows how they lost the war!). They are expensive but as tough as a Tiger tank, and comfortable with it.
Markus , our excellent driver, has now arrived hot foot from Bulawayo. So off we zoom to Bournemouth and here we come!
Recently, a friend invited me to address the prisoners at Bullingdon nick in Oxfordshire. I was shown around by an enthusiastic and caring woman from Oxford’s St Aldates Church.
When I arrived at the chapel where my address was to take place, I met the service organiser. He took one look at me and simply vetoed my talk. I shrugged and sat down to wait…
When my friend asked him what the problem was, he replied as if I wasn’t there: “Just look at him! There’s nothing the likes of him could say to the prisoners that would even begin to be relevant!”
I was stung into defending myself. “I do know the difference between the Bullingdon Club and Bullingdon Prison, you know!
The organiser looked suitably unimpressed. Then I had an idea.
“Do you happen to know Oliver Benyon? (He worked as youth pastor at St Aldates for eight years.)
“Oh yes,” said my critic, “a great man!”
“He’s my son.”
The atmosphere defrosted immediately. “Oh, in that case…”
I was quietly furious.
I spoke well enough and have been invited back. The circle has fully turned.
It goes without saying that Oliver thought this was the funniest story ever…
Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word…
It’s hard to apologise, and even harder when you aren’t particularly sorry.
But it takes even more grace to say sorry when you know that offence has been given but you haven’t the slightest idea what the dispute is all about…