At 4 o’clock in the morning my alarm went off. It’s time to fly to San Francisco, on United Airlines, with Shannon and Jeremy Henn from LHS Colorado.
I have to admit I was sleep walking though the security checks and as soon as I was on the plane I was asleep. I didn’t even get to put my seat back. I slept in the takeoff position all the way to SFO.
We drove through San Francisco, and began heading north to Santa Rosa. Shannon asked me about my blog, the drug Ibrutinib, and Google searches the manufacturers – Pharmacyclics. Shannon got a number from their contact page and began the process of trying to find out more. It’s strange, but the company will not put us through to anyone without a name despite Shannon asking for their PR or Marketing department. We Google a name and call back, the receptionist puts us through and Shannon leaves a message. We have yet to hear back from them.
About 30 minutes after we have driven over the Golden Gate Bridge we pull off the road to find something to eat. We stop at a place in Cotati, CA called the Redwood cafe (just off the 101). I’m almost run down by a guy reversing out of a parking bay. The guy jumps out of his car and I think “oh no” but instead it’s “Mike Peters from The Alarm….. What are you doing here in this part of the world?”.
Eventually, we get to the Marmot offices and I am greeted by Tom and Andy the marketing directors who are very welcoming to us. Marmot are a great firm with superb values. ‘For Life’ is their motto and they take their clothing and public persona very seriously (a bit like a band… in fact I might have to incorporate ‘For Life’ into The Alarm
‘s merchandise for next year). They show me the place where all the clothing that is ‘For Life’ is mended and sorted out for the people who are making use of the lifetime guarantee Marmot offers on all their products be it jackets or tents. The customer care is second to none. It reminds me of an outdoor adventure clothing version of The Alarm
‘s MPO office.
All the staff are assembled in the communal garden area and Shannon makes an introductory speech. I’m up next and elect to tell the story of how my green jacket came to be. When I was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma in 1995, I decided not to follow my doctors advice and have a bone marrow transplant, but instead head out on tour to the USA. Ridiculous I know , but it was an instinctive act on my part. Just before I boarded the plane, I was persuaded by a friend to speak with a faith healer who told me that ‘green’ was my healing color. The same friend also sent a book called ‘Spontaneous Healing
‘. At some point across the Atlantic ocean while reading the book and it’s inspirational stories about people who had healed themselves through positive thinking, I resolved to buy a combat jacket and green fatigues and wear them until I too was healed.
I went to an surplus store in Connecticut and kitted myself out in green army fatigues ready to fight cancer in my ‘Psychological Combat Zone’. I told my wife Jules that these clothes were not coming off until I was healed and resolved to wear them 24 hours a day onstage and off. Upon my return to the UK I was discovered to have reversed all my negative blood count readings and was declared to have undergone a spontaneous remission. To me and Jules it was a miracle and even though my doctors now think that I had Leukemia all along it’s still a miracle to me because, as my Doctor always reminds me, if I had gone through with the transplant back then my life would not be the same as it is today.
My green combat jacket has taken me into some extreme situations in life and I explain to the staff at Marmot that we have a lot in common because they make clothing for people who have to go into extreme situations in their outdoor life and so now they know why we always ask for ‘green’ color coded items when they are kitting out our ‘Rocks’ mountain trekkers when they head for Everest, Kilimanjaro or some of the other mountains we go to in the name of Love Hope Strength. I sing some songs and take photos with the staff which includes Bob and KC who are huge Alarm fans (KC had ‘Walk Forever By My Side’ played at her wedding so I play that for her). It’s extremely hot so we wrap up the session with a group photo and say our goodbyes before heading back to San Francisco for the flight back to Los Angeles.
On the way back to the airport we stop by the Golden Gate Bridge which is covered in fog (still jump out for a photo though)…
As we negotiate the San Francisco traffic, Shannon, Jeremy and I discuss various Love Hope Strength
initiatives like the possibility of hosting the world’s longest ever donor drive somewhere in the USA next year (food for thought), and the Rombello Festival Cruise to the Carribean that we are taking part in with LHS on November 1-5 http://www.rombello.com/festival/lovehopestrength
. I have to tell Shannon that I can’t be at Rombello as I will be on tour with Big Country in the UK. The words of the Stranglers song ‘Peaches’ spring to mind “There goes the charabang…. Looks like I’m gonna be stuck here the whole summer…. Well what a bummer”.