Pete Ak – Llewellyn’s Chair

Llewellyn’s Chair

When I was young, about twenty-two or three

Feeling fit and powerful, there was no stopping me.

At school the Phys-Ed teachers said I was built to compete

Said I had the body of a perfect athlete and I must admit

I thought the world was at my feet.

Me and my best friend Llewellyn – we were just the same

(Well he wasn’t quite as good as me!)

But he’d be there in every game

Competing energetically.

We trained and played, sweated guts and blood

Laughed and lost and wept and won

I grinned with pride every time

I proved better than the rest

Llewellyn only smiled

when he tried his damnedest; did his best.

I complained and scowled on those days I didn’t win

Llewellyn was unhappy if he couldn’t make it training.

But then came the tragedy

For Llewellyn that is; not for me.

On a training run in the Winter of 1983

A drunk at his wheel fell asleep

Mounted the kerb, crashed in the street.

He got out of the car with a cut on his face;

Llewellyn was left numb from his toes to his waist.

This was Llewellyn; my friend, it wasn’t fair

How could he be so broken,

even prayers could not repair?

While I could stand and pose, athletic, strong and ripped

Llewellyn played dead in his hospital bed

And couldn’t even shit

Without help from a nurse…

Who, as it happens was also pretty fit!

But Llewellyn it occurs

was now completely averse

To those young man dalliances.

Lustful, empty, young man romances

That, just like a bubble, will float and burst.

Llewellyn looked and acted

As if he were waiting for his hearse.

While I got distracted by my rock ‘n roll years

And put strength and athleticism to the best of use.

I scored awesome goals (and girls!)

And racked up some cracking tries.

I breasted the winning tape

Delivered knock-out blows and masked (with lies)

The fact my brain was out of shape.

I chased good times and glory

Collecting titles, medals and kisses

Was hard facing the reality

Of Llewellyn’s paralysis.

So while my fuse burnt fiercely

I heard about Llewellyn occasionally

And from the depths of his melancholy

He began racing in his chair apparently.

Now I’ve never watched much of those Paralympics

To be honest I’ve always felt them slightly offensive.

I thought them patronising – another ‘P.C.’ trick

But I was strong and powerful and a pretty thoughtless prick!

As my career unfolded to cheers, applause and ovations

I was strong, but not quite strong enough

To fulfil my sporting ambitions…

Or was it, ‘just not strong enough, not fast enough

Or unlucky?’

There had been times

I should have trained

But I complained

I was feeling yucky.

So I didn’t go.

There were times I know

I could have won

Had I prepared myself with care.

But I took my gifts with nonchalance

Not like Llewellyn in his chair.

He trained and raced and worked like a demon

Honed his muscles and his mind to perfection.

When we met I hardly recognised

This paragon of application

With a glint in his eyes

Who didn’t quite know how to say,

He could sense my dissatisfaction

As my sporting life lurched toward inaction.

Complaceny and laziness had by now conspired

To drain the body powerful

Of athletic spark and fire.

Yet, deep behind Llewellyn’s eyes

There was no dullness or lack of spirit

Whatever it was that I never had,

Llewellyn was crackling with it.

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