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I had started to write a piece on fear of death, of cancer and cure by interferon (Interferon works by activating natural immune cells such as killer cells and macrophages) when an incident came to mind that turned into a snippet.

I will continue to write the interferon piece in the hopes that it might help someone starting out on that journey but first…..

And I hope i don’t sound judgemental. 

People can be puzzling.

And odd (I include myself in this)

‘We will miss your oddness’ was a comment made recently when I informed my colleagues at work of my recent decision to change floors.

But there is odd and ODD!

Would you, for example, buy a house in france if, you were living in dublin, were retired and were planning to spend every other long weekend in your new french abode and were absolutely terrified beyond compare of flying?

Would you go through that fear (the fear that you feel when you are about to die ) every ten days? A fear that would last two hours (and that didn’t include the time you chose to be fearful on your way to the airport)?

Would you think it fine to keep your eyes shut as your fingers clutched the arms of the plane seat so tightly that your knuckles turned white for the duration of the flight?

Would you think it ok to be hardly able to straighten your tensed legs on landing?.

Would it occur to you that you were more likely to die from a heart attack from the fear of the flight than be killed in a plane crash?

Well I met someone who was that fearful and yet who bought a house whereby she would spend quite a few hours a month being in that state.

And she was lovely and didn’t seem in the slightest bit odd.

I even had the pleasure of having a meal and wine in the beautiful house she had bought in the tiny village of Montolieu in the montagne noir in the south of france.

It was the year I had recovered from cancer and had come to the end of a wonderful months cycling from the atlantic to the mediterranean and I was preparing to fly home.

We happened ( My fearful friend and I)to be booked on the same flight and we agreed we would meet in the airport in carcassonne.

I had no idea of her fear at this time.

My main concern was finding a box or a bag to fly the yellow bicycle home in.

I had flown over with aer lingus and followed their stipulations to a T.

Lowering the saddle and handlebars. Deflating the tyres. Turning the pedals inwards and packing the whole shebang neatly in a large cardboard bike box that I had begged off my local bike shop.

They made a small fuss in security as the box would not fit through the xray machine and they had to lug it downstairs somewhere to a machine that would scan oversized luggage.

Otherwise it had been a straightforward procedure.

When I had arrived in bordeaux I had binned the box, my plan being to pick up another one on the french side and repeat the process for the homeward journey.

But there were no boxes on the french side, only very expensive bicycle bags which proved too small to fit the bulky yellow bicycle so I was stymied.

I did have a day left to figure it out so I wasn’t panicking (things had a way of working themselves out I always found) and was cycling through a small shopping area in Carcassonne when I spotted a fabric shop

I went in, not to solve the bicycle thing, but because I loved fabrics.

Wandering down the aisles admiring the silks and cottons and linens. I spied a colorful bolt of strong vibrantly coloured material

‘My mother would love to make a tablecloth from that’ was my initial thought.

Then it struck me. I could kill two birds with the one stone!

i could wrap the yellow bike in it like a sort of makeshift bicycle bag and then give it to my mother when it had done it’s duty.

Hauling the heavy bolt over to the cashier, I waited patiently while a dapperly dressed elderly man had the shop assistance measure out ream upon ream of gold ribbon.

‘Every week he comes here!’ the shop girl whispered to me confidentially in french as we watched the man disappear out the shop doors with a spring in his step. He was whistling gaily the brown paper bag tucked neatly under his arm.

‘Sometimes it is silver ribbon he wants. Sometimes it is blue or pink or green! But always it is meters and meters….Mais pourquois? Je ne sais pas’ She shrugged her shoulders in a gallic fashion and turned her attention to my bolt of material.

I left shortly afterwards, my fabric also in a brown paper bag along with a spool of strong thread, a scissors and a needle.

That night in my hotel room, I laid the fabric out and, placing the yellow bicycle on its side on top of it, I wrapped the cloth around as neatly as I could. (not easy after three glasses of the last bordeaux I would have on french soil).

Then threading the needle with difficulty (did I need glasses?) I sewed it together.

Fashioning a sort of handle, I leant my ‘bicycle bag’ against the wall and went to bed.

The next morning half lifting, half dragging it, I successfully got my strange looking parcel from the airport bus into the airport.

‘Its a harp! No! its a rocking chair’ People argued in hushed tones as I joined the check in queue.

I smiled mysteriously.

‘Qu’est ce que c’est?’ the handsome stewart asked me politely

‘C’est un vélo’ I replied

‘Un vélo jaune!’

He nodded in a bored fashion, as though being presented with yellow bicycles, poorly sewn in colorful fabric, was a common occurrence in his line of work.

Running a scanner quickly over it, he placed it effortlessly on the conveyor belt where upon my colourful bundle was whisked away out of mine and the curious onlookers sight.

Ryanair did not blink an eye and I was relieved at their nonchalance.

My phone beeped from the depths of my panniers.

A message from my friend!

‘I’ve kept a seat for you in the departure lounge. I saw you come in’.

It was then I discovered her fear.

She was quaking!

‘I’ll be more in danger of dying cycling home from dublin airport in the traffic’ I laughed trying to cheer her up.

‘Have a glass of wine or something stronger to steady your nerves’ I looked around for a bar.

‘But I can’t drink’ She said sadly ‘I have to drive home from the airport and I don’t want to risk being caught for drunk driving.

‘Who cares about been caught for drunk driving if you are planning to die in a plane crash!’ But I kept my ironic thought to myself.

‘ Hey Ho’ I said to cheerfully to her up as we hit some turbulence crossing the alps.

‘See nothing to fear’

The other passengers were reading magazines or looking out the window.

‘Did you hear the one about the…..?’ I said happily as the plane gave a few bumps ( a normal occurrence when flying over where land mass meets sea)

I was running out of ‘Paddy the irishman jokes’ when the plane thumped down roughly at dublin airport (I had actually repeated a few of them but she didn’t realise it)

She stood from her seat as pale as a ghost and gave me a hug.

‘I don’t know how I would have got through that rough flight without you.’ She said shakily.

I didn’t say that I thought it was actually quite a smooth one but asked her instead when she was heading out again.

Her face brightened as some color returned to her pale cheeks ‘In two weeks time’ she said eagerly ‘And I can’t wait!’