Fantasy Bob recently participated in a series of conversations with a group of people from various walks of life. Hopes and fears for the future were closely considered as were the challenges of doing anything to make the fears less likely. At one point in the conversations, the subject turned to the stresses members of the group encountered in their everyday life.
There was a member of the police service who described how as a trained hostage negotiator she was regularly deployed to speak to distressed individuals in difficult situations. She recalled how on one occasion she found herself on the top of a tall building trying to persuade the young man who had threatened to jump to return to safety. It was dark, freezing, windy; the rain was horizontal. The slates flickered with the reflected streetlights. The shivering young man was ill-attired in a thin tee shirt. English was not his first language. The street was a long way below. The discussion seemed to be moving to a positive outcome when, as he moved towards her, his foot slipped on the wet slates. He grabbed at a TV aerial but it couldn't hold him, and he slipped over the edge.
The group was silent, imagining the range of feelings that must have gone through their colleague's mind. Feelings that would only have been partially relieved by the knowledge that, amazingly, the young man survived the fall.
Then a former army officer told how one night, with 3 colleagues, he was on patrol in an armoured vehicle in Helmand province. As they moved down the road, there was an almighty explosion - the vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device. It cartwheeled, turning over a couple of times before coming to rest on its side. Our officer was concussed and seriously injured. He came to to find he had been dragged from the vehicle which was now on fire. The heat was causing the ammunition in the vehicle to go off. There was also the sound of small arms fire.
FB felt humbled. He realised, not for the first time, that in his long and undistinguished professional life he has had it shamefully easy. There are heroes who continually and repeatedly put themselves in danger on behalf of their fellows. FB has nothing but admiration and gratitude for them. By comparison, the most difficult circumstance FB has to encounter is going into a meeting in which someone might disagree with him. Or the coffee has not arrived.
The group now turned expectantly to FB. They wanted to hear from him about his heart-stopping moment - when time stood still and danger was all around. FB racked his brains. How could he match these shattering experiences?
The room fell quiet. Then it came to him! He felt his blood run cold at the memory. In a faltering voice he began, 'I had just started my innings.....I had dealt with the first few balls......there was a bowling change.......... I looked up........ the new bowler was an 11 year old leg spinner...........'