Maybe it was ten years ago. I was driving back from Glastonbury Festival. I didn’t keep this blog back then, so people couldn’t stalk me like they can now. (It’s all lies). This means the phone call was serendipity. Because I didn’t know what I’d be doing for the next month and didn’t hold much hope that I would be acting gainfully. My half brother rang me up out of the blue with a crazy plan.
My half brother… One of three. Now sadly one of two. I was taught to call them all brother, those guys. They were the big boys. Jamie, the oldest, my friend, the artist with the musical creative practical splintered brain. He was suddenly hit and eventually dismantled by Parkinson’s disease. Extremely young. I wish we understood the brain better. It seemed so unfair. He was blessed in that he had a loyal and diligent woman in his life, who loved him deeply. She sacrificed a lot but she brought him endless joy until the day she died, and protected him as things fell apart. I respect her hugely. I miss him hugely too. Then Jeremy, the youngest, an artist like me but with paint. He has so many children. It’s almost like children kept happening to him when he wasn’t paying attention. Some of them come and stay in my flat when they’re in London and they’re great. He is off in Thailand now, earning a necessary salary teaching art. I see a similarity in our eye for calling out people who are putting up fronts. We both cut through them. But I often wonder if the fact that I’ve avoided kids has been borne out of seeing how it damaged his artistic practice. His kids are adults now and brilliant humans. Life brings what it brings.
And then Rupert, the one that phoned me coming back from Glastonbury. He’s made an extraordinary life for himself through hard graft over years and a remarkable partnership with an extremely driven and glorious Peruvian woman. He understands numbers. And he also has brilliant grown up kids. Some months before Glastonbury he had sent me an invitation with sticky-out letters through the post. A significant birthday party. In Lima, Peru. I had long ago dismissed it. I could neither afford the flight nor the time. But then the phone rang and he’s on my hands-free on the way into rainy London.
He’s booked a trek into the Andes for a load of people. It’s a week. He’s booked mules so everyone’s walking without a pack. And he’s organised tents along the way, with cooked food. (Money). But he’s got a spot for me. I don’t have to pay and he’ll cover my flight. Extremely generous. This is suddenly the most remarkable offer I’ve ever had. I’m driving towards a month of emails and frustration. It’s an easy “yes”.
We walked out to Choqueqirao. It was only a week walking. It was an amazing week though and the weather was perfect. Trekking. Without a pack because of the mules. Chewing coca leaves with baking powder. Seeing the Andes. Visiting a relatively untouched Inca town. Styling it up.
It was remarkable, and nothing to do with what I’m contemplating doing from France to Spain. I’ll have a big pack and I’ll sleep in shit. But one of the people I walked with back then got in touch with me today. Up until then she had been pretty much invisible to me on Facebook. Suddenly I messaged her and immediately got a load of backed up notifications about how she’d engaged with stuff I’d been posting. I hate hate hate how it filters my friends. I actively want everyone to be treated evenly. I’m way too changeable for the algorithm to work. But she messaged me and I remembered that week of walking. And even if it was easy as pie back then, I reckon I’m not that much more unfit. I’m gonna be fine so long as my teeth don’t go. It’s only a month…