“The ghosts still haunt the waves”
I used to be terrified of flying. Petrified. The tiniest touch of turbulence and I’d be white knuckling the seat handles, my eyeballs resembling a pair of those massive, white, vascular gobstoppers you used to get out of any good newsagents. I’m a little better these days, having had many hours on airbuses and airplanes since being 19; my catastrophic projections calmed by actual realisations that, although not impossible, plummeting back to land or into the briny is a very, very improbable possibility.
The above words, written by the late Phillip Chevron in his song Thousands Are Sailing, are something I like to tell myself whenever I feel like I might be starting to lose my shit whilst in the air. A lot of my travelling has been done to take part in various tournaments across the world, Judo being a weight controlled sport means that a lot of that travel time is done dieting. So, if I’m ever getting anxious or pissed off and need to get over myself whilst on board, I like to think about Chevron’s story, of the 19th century European immigrants desperately trying to make it across the Atlantic in brittle coffin ships for, the hope of, a better life in the Americas. These images help me to remember just what a lucky bastard I really am, to journey in such comfort and safety and, ultimately, see so much of the earth as I continue to do something that I’m still so fiercely fucking passionate about.
I’m typing these words sat in the window seat on a flight to Canada, just off Ireland’s west coast, en route to my first international competition of 2019, the Montreal Grand Prix. I smashed my ankle back at the beginning of January and have been out in the process of getting fit and healthy ready to fight again. Thanks to all that have helped me in recovery and that continue to support me in everything I, and we at Camberley Judo Club, do. It feels great to be on the road getting after it once more.