Thursday, 19 March 2015


Tomorrow, Friday 20 March, at roughly 9.25am on the Outer Hebrides islands, off the west coast of Scotland, a solar eclipse will take place. It will be around 98%, with a full solar eclipse happening on the Faroe Islands about ten minutes later.

I have only seen one solar eclipse, which was back in March 2006 when I traveled to southern Turkey. I can say that it made the hairs on the back of my arm stand up and was altogether a very eerie experience.

It is little wonder, I thought at the time, that the ancients interpreted it as a sign of impending doom.

By coincidence solar eclipses have occurred at times of battles, when one side was victorious over another; they have occurred at the time of a meteor impact; and attempts have been made to firmly establish the date of Good Friday, interpreting the darkness that fell suddenly at Christs crucifixion to be that of a solar eclipse.

But a solar eclipse can also be a sign of a coming momentous and joyous occasion. A new beginning almost, quite literally, a new dawn.

About six years ago I sustained an injury to my right foot, in particular the big toe. Over the years my body grew additional bone around the damaged area, and six years on the flexibility is limited to 5% downward and 10% upward movement. It has also been gradually forced out of line. As the years have gone on the pain level has increased, and it has prevented me from certain activities such as hillwalking and skiing, primarily because I cannot get the boots on.

I was told two years ago that the only thing that could be done was to fuse the bones, thus reducing the toe movement to zero. This would eliminate the pain. I decided to hang on and persevere for as long as possible with some movement. However, by summer last year, the pain attacks were becoming unbearable and would keep me awake most of the night. At that point I had a consultancy with an inspiring surgeon, who convinced me he could carry out three operations that would bring the toe back to 75% normal, and pain free.

In much the same way that auspicious events in the past have coincided with a solar eclipse, at around the same time tomorrow morning I will be in theater, for what I hope will be a new beginning for me and my outdoor pursuits.

I suppose I'm hoping the eventual outcome will eclipse all expectations.

Do you see what I did there?

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