A few years ago I found myself hanging by my fingertips over a mighty precipice in the Austrian Alps. The next move was more difficult than I’d ever made previous whilst leading a climb and I was struggling to keep my mind focused on ‘I can make it’ as opposed to ‘I’m about to take flying lessons down a 3,000ft cliff face’.
Well I made it, obviously, but not without a little heart fluttering and my legs going all Elvis in the process. The reason I mention this is that I found myself contemplating mortality on an Austrian mountain due to a 5 minute chance meeting with a guy a few days previous. He’d told me about this epic climb 10 miles to the south of where we were standing, and I followed it through and in the process opened up a new chapter in my life. These chance encounters whilst following your passions are just one of the events which can enrich and shape the future.
On a more prosaic note, but of no less enrichment, happened yesterday as through a friend of a friend of a friend sequence of events I found myself standing in the middle of the Warwickshire countryside outside an old shed taking to a guy about re-covering the seat of my Triumph Tiger.
The man in question was a life long upholsterer, and he worked alone, having spent over 40 years in the trade. His workshop was like an Aladdin’s Cave of foam, piping, 100 year old sewing machines and the like. As I stood there surveying the room, with it’s half build antique settee’s and chairs, it was like being transported back in time to a place where a craft and skill meant all and getting a quick buck out of the customer didn’t even figure.
The time and effort he spent in measuring, advising and making little notes as he went about his business were as if he were building the second Empire State Building, as opposed to freshening up an old seat.
It didn’t compare to the drama of climbing in the Austrian hills but it was just another one of those moments where I felt – you know, isn’t life great. And all because I wanted my motorbike seat re-covered.