It still amazes me that with my brain tumour and subsequent surgery that I can struggle to remember dates, peoples’ names and obvious words but at the same time I so clearly remember memories from my past.
My most vivid memories take me back to the early 1970’s when I was just a young whippersnapper. Like the excitement and novelty of getting our first family car when I was 10 years old. It was a second hand fawn coloured Austen 1100. I can still remember the evocative smell of the polish as I used my elbow-grease to buff the leather seats and the choking fumes blasting out of its old exhaust.
I would pester Mum or Dad to let me fire her up and when they gave me the green light I was Sterling Moss racing my way around Brands Hatch thrilled by the sound of the engine as I put the petal to the metal and gave it more gas. Sue, my younger sister, reckons I did in our pet guinea pig in the process, but I swear blind she imagined or made this up!
The Matthews’ family were able to pile into our old Austen 1100 and head away from our modest three bedroom semi-detached home in Strood in Kent and go anywhere we pleased. Mum was driving on her learners licence and as such she was meant to drive with a senior driver, Dad took that role but given he was totally blind I’m not sure that would have swung much weight with the local constabulary had we ever been pulled over.
I also have clear memories of Dad and I going to the Priestfield Stadium in Kent to see Gillingham FC, our local team. This was our special father, son bonding time and we went a number of times from when I was 8 years old. Given I still had some useful vision, I would act as Dad’s eyes trying to identify the players and explain what was happening. Although, to be honest my eye sight was fading by then so it was a bit of a case of the blind leading the blind.
In 1971, at the age of 10, I fell in love with Chelsea football club, when I watched Chelsea win the FA Cup final in extra time. They then followed this up the following year when they vanquished the great Real Madrid in the European Cup Winners Cup final. These memories kicked off a forty-six year and counting love affair with “The Blues”.
I can still see in my mind’s eye the striking contrast of the bright blue Chelsea kit against the bold green pitch. The atmosphere is electric and actually seeing Chelsea live is always incredibly exhilarating.
So, as you can imagine how incredibly surprised and completely chuffed I was last week to receive a letter in the post signed by the Chelsea Team Captain, John Terry, as well as a card signed by the entire Chelsea team sending me a personal message offering me their best wishes in my recovery.
What a motivator to keep striving toward my goal of keeping well, then kicking cancer into touch and getting to see my team play again before too long…
Until my next blog…
Rob Matthews MBE. Paralympian