Its 9.30am Saturday November 10, 2018. Terrible night. The cold was jolted by what seemed like hurricane force winds. Two sleeping bags and four layers of clothing became redundant. Submerged under the covers I peek through a little slot to see if anyone is in sight. Still too easily embarrassed. Once I see the road is clear I rise....in what felt like world record time I scrunch up my belongings into two black garbage bags and dump them into the bin behind the shed. Off to the warmth of the respite. I cant wait to get there. But first I have a 25 minute walk. Time to think and organize my thoughts.
No word from the politicians, York University, Canada Soccer, or the Canadian media. I have lost respect for Tom Harrington and Neil Davidson. They both have two eyes and brains. They can decipher what has gone on here. But they choose to sit on their hands. Like so many others. Some country we live in. I detest living here. We are a disgusting nation. I wonder what they are thinking in their independent war rooms. Let the fucker die. We'll scapegoat him. No. Better to gauge the public reaction. If he gains sympathy and people start poking around we can memorialize their cause and his actions. Far cheaper for us. Less messy. We'll pretend we care. We have enough evidence we can turn into gold dust. He was a crack addicted mentally ill Canadian citizen. Its sad. A tragedy.
We should mandate Canadian Military service is my next thought. One year military service for all men and women. At the very least like France we should consider it. Future generations of politicians will then have a greater appreciation of how real tough life can be. I have a vision of Adam Vaughan in a pair of shorts.
I think of Ashley and Max. I arrive at the bedroom. Ashley working in the morning. I must be quiet. As I slip in I see she is on her side, eyes closed. Along side her is Max. In the identical same body position. His head is on the pillow as if he is me. I think for a second I will have to disturb him. But I just cant. I retreat into the living room and onto the couch. Ashley's right. Max thinks he is human.
I remind myself I have to close my bank account and send Mike Young a finalized "Will". "You aving a laff".....I hear PJ strutting. We have absolutely nothing and you're writing a Will.
I wont get to see my mum, dad, sister or Tristan.
I'm on the couch at Julie's in Oakville. Its the winter of 2016. I thought I would break the monotony of my life so I was going to stay for a couple of nights while Ashley stayed in Toronto. For some reason I requested to look at my scrapbooks and memento's. My sister delivered the news she had thrown everything out in the garbage. I felt my cheek twitching. My body began to float above myself as I tried to come to terms with what she had just said. Ten minutes later as my father was driving me back to the Oakville GO train station I told him to pull over to the side road as I got out of the car and slammed the door. My dad left me a parting shot as he wound down the window shouting that I was fucking sick. I walked five miles to the station. I was happy to be back home with Ashley.
It's December 2017. Second meeting with Bob Rae. I had turned him down a few days earlier. I was still on hunger strike. And I was brutally thin. I didn't trust his motives. More importantly. PJ didn't. On this second occasion Bob pulled out all the stops. "I disagree with all of York's decisions. I disagree with the decisions of the court system including up to the Supreme Court of Canada. You have been treated very very badly. And with the Singapore episode in your life.....You were in a no win situation. Which ever way you went - it was destined to be a traumatic circumstance for you through your career and life. At some point towards the end of the meeting Bob shakes my hand, looks at me in the eye and says he will not let me down. I agree to end the hunger strike providing he permits me to assist the indigenous communities when it is all over. He smiled done!
Not let me down? Well you could have fucking fooled me is my last thought as I arrive at the respite. I walk in. Its deathly quiet. But it is a full room. Five men sprawled on the floor in different contorted positions. I squeeze myself in by the far lockers to make it six. I put my head on my bag and stretch my legs and close my eyes.
I think of Bob Rae sliding me the tissue box in an untimely moment of sarcasm, either that, or Rhodes scholar humor. I think of his ultimate brilliance. I hear Adam Vaughan's staple comments in 2015. Life is tough. Life is not fair. You must just pick up the pieces of your life. Fellow MP Deborah Schulte. He deserves everything he has gotten. Is he still using. How long has he been clean. James Malone. He is paranoid.
My magic carpet ride this day is sullen. I'm edgy. I'm tired.
I see Robin Chan from Melbourne Florida. Tough to ever meet a kinder, more beautiful human being than Robin Chan. I see the kindness he poured all over me when I stayed with him in 2010. It was still personally a devastating period. I was totally lost and terribly hurt from my obliterated soccer career. Paralyzed at what was happening and what had happened.
I see myself running. Its 1.30am. December 2010. I'm staying at Channy's. He is in England for the Xmas holidays. I'm running seven miles out and back on a 14 mile run - a distance in the all these years I hadn't run before. 30 minutes in I see two Police Officers out of their cruisers drinking coffee. As I pass they smile, "Wow. Good for you. Where you off to? A bit early isn't it? " PJ shouts the truth into my head, I'm going to pick up some crack". For a nano-second I thought of telling them, as a joke. Thankfully instead, Paul took control, "I'm training for a half marathon". "Good for you", I could hear from a distance.
Its March 1999. San Salvador in El Salvador. Canadian U17 team vs El Salvador. 52,000 packed stadium. I'm Otmane Obrir's assistant. I'm nervous. We haven't done a lick of fitness in 6 weeks. Maybe Otmane knows something I don't. Bernard the captain calls all the players in a huddle. In unison they start reciting the Lord's Prayer....Our father who art in heaven.....as they conclude the christian prayer I get a nudge from Kevin Muldoon our goalkeeping coach with his appropriate scouser accent for the moment of unique wisdom, "Well son. We'll need more than the fucking Lords Prayer to get us through this one". 90 minutes later we had lost 4-0.
I can feel myself smiling. I'm also losing my capacity to meditate thoughts as I fall asleep.
"I'm going to cap your fucking arse you nigger" I open one of my eyes. The fighting "locker-door man" is back. I was always intrigued why one black man to another would use the word nigger. Like an addict referring themselves and their peers as addicts. Can they not see the dreadful stigmatized destructive labeling. As the decibels of the shouting "locker-door man" increase I get on my feet and like a zombie I proceed to shower and clean up.
As I leave the facility I look at the clock. Its 3.30pm. I arrived at 10.10am. I had some decent sleep which propelled a skip into my step as I made my way to the internet cafe.
Must close my bank account. Its open tomorrow. I still have time. Wonder if my "tool box" is still where I lay it in 2015? It will still be there.
As I open my emails. Bill's friend has taken offence to my reference of him in the previous blog. Even though it was anonymous, harmless and short his response was disrespectful, stereotyped, insulting, cutting, clumsy and game ending in terms of any further relationship. In as few words as possible I politely let him know. I told him his coat would be left at the internet cafe. One of life's truths. Never accept gifts from strangers. Certainly not from enemies. The previous day he has mentioned the coat and that it was off his own back.
As I scan a few other emails I see one referencing that Frank Woods - former Canadian international from an earlier generation than myself - was in town. Oh no, is my initial thought. I call Kevin. He says nothing but it now makes sense why he would be in downtown Toronto. He too had left a message saying for me to call him. "You're with Frank Woods aren't you?" It is hard to ever get frustrated with Kevin. Besides there's more involved in this circumstance.
Kevin tells me he's at Starbucks at Yonge and King. I run out of the internet cafe, now without a jacket and so the cold is an edge more cutting.
I eventually get on a street car. "I only have a bit of change" is my appeal to the TTC driver. It was not a Caucasian male and so he signals its okay without ripping away my dignity at the same time.
As I sit in the seat I think of Pep Guardiola. Its his first season in the Premier League. He states early in his reign that he will never change his methods of possession football. True to his word he didn't and hasn't. Letting the opposition know however caused him initial some pain and anguish as the opposition take advantage of his known tactics. In one interview after a surprising defeat and a run of poor form he looks and is shaken. He states to the interviewer that he was not going to be in management of football for much longer. It was a shock statement made by his chimp not Pep. I thought controlling the mind is everyone's greatest challenge as Pep - days later - corrects his moment of inaccuracy delivered by "PG".
I think of Tom Harrington and Neil Davidson. I've said it before to PJ but he sometimes forgets when tired and under pressure. These two persons have always been so kind and loyal to us. They have our best interests at heart. They are Canadians to be proud of and have been brilliant for us. We owe them.
I look out of the streetcar and think about Frank Woods a former Canadian international soccer player who played in an era before I did. I've always had older friends in my life. I advised my nephew Tristan to seek out persons from different generations "their wisdom will be invaluable to you but you must be very respectful of them". I momentarily think of my relationship with Bob Rae.
Along with Frank himself Les Wilson's and Tony Waiters influence is written all over this. I get a sudden lump in my throat thinking about their last minute emails. I think as a nation, as a soccer industry....have we recorded history in the way history should be recorded or have we once again been polluted by Bad Politics?
As the streetcar passes York Street, Pep re-appears. His observation on the inhumanity of nations who will imprison any of its citizens who try to help save the lives of refugees trying to swim ashore. 11 over dose deaths in Canada; the increased death rates from 2006-16 as a consequence of mental disability; sudden mass murders; the Rob Ford fiasco and real tragedy - we clearly have a problem. Soccer hall of fame inductee, nine hunger strikes, willing to give his life as a soldier of war and politicians/media and establishment apparently don't give a damn.
As I arrive at Starbucks I see Kevin but Frank is hidden behind a pillar and so I go behind him tap him on the shoulder.
"Frank Woods its an honor to meet you". As he turns I could not help but notice that it really is a man's world....similar to Bob Rae, Frank proves men age well. I see in his eyes and aura he is the right man to get the job done at this stage. I momentarily think of Les Wilson's reference to team work; Tony Waiters tactical abilities and Sharon Bearpark's pure and beautiful humanity...
to be continued......