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News Bulletin

 

SKI and BRIDGE 2023

Join us 16 to 21 April in Sierra Nevada

 

SIERRA NEVADA 22/4/22
SIERRA NEVADA 22/4/22

Non skiers can enjoy the views in the warm spring sunshine.

(Picture below taken same day as the one above!!!)

Beautiful views above Granada 21/4/22
Beautiful views above Granada 21/4/22

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Superman-bridge4disabled
BRIDGE for the DISABLED

 

SUPERMAN

Christopher Reeve

 

This recollection of a brief meeting with the great man is my personal tribute to  

a truly SUPER and GENUINE HERO

 

Even in his new home, he continues to be for us all an  

IMMORTAL INSPIRATION

 

I have never seen a superman film in my life. I wouldn`t be surprised if Christopher Reeve didn`t have time to watch movies either. By all accounts, he was too busy helping the disabled and, in particular, the terminally ill.

As a testimonial to his heroic charitable work, here is a true story that I have never before put in print. Yet I have told it thousands of times. Albeit only to handicapped and very sick people and their families. Usually at the end of their very first bridge lesson!

I am telling it now because, if it were not for my meeting with this super person 40 years ago, I would not be alive today. Logically, this means Chris must now be using supernatural powers from another world. Presumably to keep me alive long enough to tell this story before I go and join him.

In return for him saving me from certain death four decades later, I owe it to him and his Foundation to publicly tell the story now. To help inspire future generations to carry on his good work. So here we go:

 

Around the year 1980, I was one of the Immigration Officers sent from Dover to work for a month at Heathrow Terminal 3. To help resolve the problem which was all over the front pages of the newspapers. Namely the waiting times of passengers coming off transatlantic flights early morning. In some cases for longer than it took Concorde to actually fly across the Atlantic.  

My shift started at 05h30  After saying “howdy” about 150 times and putting a similar number of visitor stamps (visas) into American passports, I was wilting and dying for a tea break. That was partly because I had been required to try and explain 150 times to angry passengers why they had waited so long at passport control. As readers can imagine, it is embarrassing and depressing trying to explain the inexplicable.

But just when I reached the point where I wanted to kneel down on the floor and hide from disgruntled passengers behind my desk, I looked up and there he was. And the big fella was smiling. Unbelievable.

He could see I looked visibly shocked for whatever reason. Which meant he ended up being the first one to speak. But it wasn't “howdy” that he said. This is how that conversation went:

Christopher Reeve: Are you OK?

Trevor: Yes. Welcome to Britain Superman

CR (looking genuinely concerned): Are you sure you are OK?

T: Yes. In fact I am very very well now I have met you. I was lost for words simply because it is me who ought to be asking you that very same question. Sorry, but I was just trying to work out how long you must have been queuing.

CR: Three hours. And before you ask, I travelled economy class 

T: Really? If you don`t mind, I will call you Chris and ask why Superman is not travelling by Concorde so that he can bypass these queues on arrival. 

CR: Because I want to meet real people. Like you.

T. Well Chris, it is very nice of you to say that. I can see now that you really are a super man in real life. Hopefully therefore you wouldn`t mind staying an extra few minutes at my desk to fill in a duplicate landing card. So that I can take it home for my little kids. All under ten.

CR: Of course. But only if you fill in one for me to keep.

T: Why do you want that Chris?

CR: Because I like to remember all the nice people I meet. What is your name.

T: Trevor. And, by the way Chris, it is very kind of you to say that as well.

CR: Here is the card for your children Trevor.

T: And here`s mine if you really want it. I will never forget this conversation Christopher. Not least because you are the first American I have ever met who speaks the Queen`s English better than me. Not only that, you are about four inches taller than me and even better looking.

CR. (laughing) I will not forget you either. For your welcome. I never forget my friends.

And whilst he was saying that jovial farewell remark, I put the stamp in his passport and sent him merrily on his way.

By the time he left I was, unsurprisingly, reenergised to the extent that I no longer needed my tea break - except to note on that treasured duplicate landing card exactly what he had just said. So that I would never forget him.

But when I was writing those notes,  little did I know what fate would have in store for the two young men involved. Nor how poignant that accurate written recollection of our brief meeting would prove to be in my later life.

I am sure that his family, friends and fans can, even today, easily visualize him standing there in front of me and saying those exact words in his perfect English accent

As at the movies, part 2 of this epic Superman story follows. Entitled,.of course....

 

SUPERMAN 2

 

Despite meeting quite a few celebrities in my job, I immediately cherished that particular conversation with Chris. Not just for the obvious reasons, but because I discovered that the real life superman was not only a wonderful man, he was also polite, intelligent, articulate and quick witted. Above all, he was clearly optimistic and cheerful by nature. If everyone was like him, this would surely be a happy world for everyone.

Nevertheless, it was not until I learned his full CV ten years later that I realized he must have been that nice to all the people he met.

In the immediate aftermath of the tragic accident that paralysed him, I was tberefore able to find comfort in the fact that, even though he couldn`t express his thoughts, he would be lying there thinking about all the disabled and terminally ill people to whom he had brought so much pleasure.

The fact that he had asked for that landing card with my autograph, and the nature of our conversation at the passport control, took on a new poignant meaning for me. In his silent world, he would not only be thinking of me now and again, but the empathy he displayed meant he would know I was thinking every day about him. 

As I followed his life story post accident, it was those thoughts that led to me finding the energy and enthusiasm to punch far above my own weight when it came to the skills needed to empathise with the same people Chris helped. Instead of grieving for him, I was inspired by him.

For those millions of fans who still grieve for him, let me try to offer some consolation by speaking from my own experiences. If my theory is correct, he did not suffer as much in his final years as many people feared. My reason for saying that is partly to be found in the story below. But mainly in a very sensitive and very personal article that is necessarily taking a long time to prepare. Superman fans will enjoy reading that one as well in a few weeks time.

To give you a clue to what it will include, let me just say it deals with bridge playing - but sometimes terminally ill - adults and children from 1956 to 2019. The makeshift card tables were nearly all in hospitals!!! 

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Bizarrely, the fact that I was able to report that story so precisely more than three decades later, led to me being wrongly diagnosed as psychotic. That happened after I was bludgeoned (almost) to death in May 2017.

In case anyone tries reading between the lines and thereby draws the conclusion that there was suffering involved,  let me confirm right now that I was at no time distressed during the ordeal. Certainly not as distressed as I sometimes get at the bridge table when my partner keeps giving opponents Christmas presents. 

That is all because the Superman factor came into play in those direst moments a few years ago. When things are hopeless, logically they can`t get any worse. If you are intelligent, alert, and determined, you will find a way to manage a seemingly impossible situation. Given that Christopher Reeve had all those qualities, I mimicked the only conceivable way I felt he could have managed his own seemingly dire situation. But in my case, with a miraculously happy outcome.

Thank you Superman for fixing it for me. Thanks for your inspiration in not just pulling me through, but for inspiring me to do it by keeping a smile on my face every day. A smile just like yours. 

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

 

SUPERMAN  3

My superficial head injuries were so severe and extensive that the ambulance staff who carted me off to hospital were disbelieving of the fact that I could relate such a story in such detail under sedation - and with blood all over the place. Yet I had only told the superman story to brighten up their day.

What happened on arrival at casualty was that, unbeknown to me, the ambulance staff had reported my “strange” behaviour. As a consequence, my behaviour was to be monitored by a senior consultant and an administrator.

With hindsight, I realize that I ultimately put the nails in my own coffin. Firstly by going round the ward (when I was fit enough to walk) in order to repeat the story to bring a smile to the faces of the kiddies who were suffering. Then later, by saying something I certainly should not have said to the consultant in reply to his observation that my injuries had repaired so much quicker than he would have expected. Foolishly, I threw my arms in the air and shouted out 

"You see doctor, I really am Superman".  

For someone who was a good chess player, in chess terms that was not a good move

 

The next move by the person opposite me was to transfer me to a psychiatric ward at a hospital in the middle of nowhere.

"Check but not checkmate, mate".

was my instant reaction to that move**

 

**I was born in Islington which is roughly the same area in central London where Chris was heading when I met him. The immortal Superman would have laughed again at that remark with the second "mate" (a sarcastic version of "my good friend"). An expression which every stoical cockney comedian might use to report the situation at that tricky point

To see what happened next, curious readers will have to wait. But be warned. It is going to be a little bit harder for me to camouflage some of the details for those who are faint hearted.

Things got a lot worse before superman intervened to sort it all out.