Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Sleepless in Bolton

I HAD a sleepless night last night. And while I lay awake, I remembered I wanted to share something with you…
It is – and has been for years - a constant source of much amusement in the office that the list of my Top 5 Films of All Time features the sugary-sweet Sleepless in Seattle, as shamelessly sentimental a movie as you could wish to find.
To be honest it would probably be in a list of my Top 1 Films of All Time. I’m shamelessly sentimental too. Rom coms are my guilty pleasure – but not guilty enough that I feel I have to make any apologies or excuses for. I love 'em and don’t care who knows it!
But there’s something very special about Sleepless in Seattle. It’s been one of my favourites since I first saw it. But this year it seemed to take on even more importance for me.
So settle in. Here’s the story…
A lot of you will be aware of the “plot”. Tom Hanks plays an architect struggling to come to terms with the death of his beautiful wife to cancer and at the same time tasked with easing the pain of their young son. To try to build a new life away from the places that remind him of her, he moves from Chicago to Seattle but the sense of loss is still as strong as ever. Except, in Chicago, it didn’t rain quite so much.
One night the young boy tricks his dad into speaking to a late night radio show to talk about his loss.
In a gentle, quiet scene, Hanks’s character Sam talks of how he is trying to cope. He tells the radio host: "Well, I'm gonna get out of bed every morning... breathe in and out all day long. Then, after a while I won't have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breathe in and out... and, then after a while, I won't have to think about how I had it great and perfect for a while."
That line has come back to me a lot this year. I like Sam. I like the way he put this. Because it’s how I felt this year after losing Diane in February to cancer. How perfect I had it. How lucky I was. How much of a struggle it is to do without something that great.
I talk a lot in this column about Diane still being with me. Of course she is. As I’ve said many times, she’s with me when I run a race, I still feel her hand in mine and I still hear her voice in my ear. But her not physically being here does take its toll, all the same. I miss watching her sleep, I miss her scent, I simply miss her being there.
So I know where Sam, my fictional partner in grief, is coming from.
And last week I got a call from a lovely woman called Alison Butterworth who hosts a late night radio show across Lancashire and Manchester and who wants me to come on and talk about how I feel, and why I’m running this marathon in April in Rotterdam, the city where Diane grew up.
I’m hoping I get the chance to do that before Christmas. I’m definitely going to be on there on Thursday January 9 - just after my first half-marathon near Preston on January 5 - to talk about my weight loss and transformation from couch potato to distance runner in less than a year.
But I am also hoping to join her before then to talk about the Running With Diane campaign. I might even retell this story. It would seem appropriate on a late night radio show. Just like Sam did.
But there’s another reason why this film is forever in my heart. Back in 1993, when Diane and I were starting to see each other, the first film we saw together at the cinema was Sleepless in Seattle.
She loved it, too. And every time since then that it has been on TV we’ve smiled, had a little hug and thought back to that day when we were just starting out on our journey together with no idea where it would lead.
I’m so lucky to have been blessed with knowing her.
Like the man said, I had it great and perfect for a while…

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