The Long-Suffering Spouse

If there’s one thing that is worse than depression it must surely be living with a depressive.  Apart from having to put up with my moodiness, my endless rounds of self-centred clap-trap and the hours I have been known to put in under the duvet, there’s the having to be nice to me.

Mrs Lovely (not her real name) has made huge sacrifices since accompanying me to my G.P. and then psychiatrist, when I first became ill, back in the Spring of 2001.  It brings to mind the sacrifices that René Vietto made for his team leader Antonin Magne in the 1934 Tour de France.

By that time teams had been introduced, albeit without the bike mechanics to support them,  cyclists still had to change their own wheels.  Teams did have their stars, and team members were expected to act in the role of domestique, supporting the team leader in their efforts to win.  So, when team leader Magne crashed on the Portet d’Aspet in the Alps buckling a wheel, the twenty year old Vietto turned round, rode back up the mountain, and gave his team leader his own bicycle, sacrificing his own chances of overall victory.  He did, however, win the King of the Mountains competition, which had been introduced the previous year.

There is a famous photograph of Vietto, in tears,  waiting for a replacement bicycle by the side of the road.  However, I have chosen a picture of him climbing The Tourmalet in the Alps during the first post-war tour in 1947.

Viet47 1

How many nights out together has she given up to sit home with the life and soul of the party, because I couldn’t face leaving the house?

The Tour de France takes place over three weeks every July.  There are two rest days included in these weeks.  Cyclists have a chance to have a lie in, and then go for a training ride.  Yesterday, my G.P. gave me another sick note for three weeks.  That will take me into October, ten weeks since my boss asked me three times during the course of one morning if I was feeling alright.  On 1 October I have an appointment with a Community Psychiatric Nurse (C.P.N.) who can refer me to a psychiatrist. Until then I’ll try to keep Charly Gaul in mind, keep swallowing the tablets and crunch through the gears as the hills rise under my pedals.

And finally, here is an offering from John Keats, who, as far as far as I know, never rode a stage race in his life.

When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
Before high piled books, in charact’ry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain;
When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love;—then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think,
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.

John Keats

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