Everyone has people they look up to, possibly folk who will never even know. After all we’re often slow in the handing out compliments department, or because we will never ever meet them.
Michael Palin was one of those for me, I was captivated by his every word when he first set off around the world. Jeremy Bowen another, and I was lucky enough to get the chance to spend a few days in his company.
Since Two Fat Laddies kicked off I’ve discovered other quite remarkable people, the likes of @P2P2011 riders, @mrmarkbeaumont, @sarahouten, @runwithmark, Lee Peyton and Garry Mackay (@garrymac) (@leepeyton) to name a few.
Some of their stories are nothing short of breathtaking.
Our very own Producer Clare, aka @ClareCarswell, is another I draw inspiration from each time she recounts her story of grim determination in bravely finishing the Berlin marathon despite suffering a serious injury.
Or when she jumps on her bike and travels from Oban to Perth just for something to do, as she did cycling the Scottish islands solo.
Such strength sapping tales of endurance from one so slight leave a simple city boy like me in awe sometimes.
As does Iain.
His transformation from, frankly, lazy git to fitness fan has been an education in sheer determination. Each day he talks about getting on that bloody rowing machine just guilts me back into the gym.
Especially when you see how he’s clearly benefiting in mind, body and soul.
Which is why we are both so lucky to have Paul the Trainer on board. Encouraging words from the big guy have played a key role in getting us this far. He gives us the confidence to keep plugging away.
But today I’m a little bit nervous.
I’m meeting someone who not only inspired me beyond belief, but helped mould the very person I’ve become. A former teacher who’s guiding hand kept me on the straight and narrow in my formative years.
Over the piece I was probably a decent student compared with some, but even back then I was a bit of a chancer relying on a youthful gift of the gab, unflappable humour and flirty nature to negotiate my way out of trouble.
But shamefully I confess to at least one pretty ugly occasion when he had a choice to expel me from school. I remember to this day sitting in his office, sick to the pit of my stomach, staring at the paperwork.
I was aged about 16 and stupidly reacted to a fellow student stealing from my gym locker and catching him red handed by giving him a doing. Locker doors and a headbutt may have been involved.
And no, I’m not even remotely proud.
Only my teacher’s faith in the fact that I was actually a decent enough kid spared me that day. I still don’t know why. The decision had been made by the Principal. My teacher, as the one dealing with it, for some reason had a gut reaction and changed his mind.
His specialism was sport and I repaid his trust by throwing myself at it – basketball in the main, but football, badminton, judo, conditioning, all of it.
Basketball was, perhaps uniquely for an Edinburgh school at the time, more popular than even football among us older kids.
Twice a day five days a week, break times and Saturdays we’d be on court practicing free throws, jump shots, picks, fades. Then we had the games.
Even now I can remember him teaching us how to shoot a basket: bend the legs, jump with both feet, extent the arm fully and finish limp wristed for maximum effect.
Twenty years have passed since I last saw him. I suspect he’ll be as trim as ever and who knows what he’ll make of me now, hence the nerves.
We’re meeting for other reasons, but perhaps he may impart some words of wisdom when we meet again today on how Iain and I might want to progress.
As I said before, some people prove inspirational in life. But not too many can leave an indelible mark on it as well.
DC is one exception to that rule, and I’ll thank him because of it forever.