Befriending

Empathy is difficult. It’s harder when the person with which you’re trying to empathise has a brain wired in a way that’s not only completely different to yours, but limited in its ability to perform certain socially crucial functions.

Picture yourself stood amongst a roomful of senior Oxbridge neurophysicists, engaging in a pacey debate as to some incomprehensible intricacy of molecular mechanics: the wrenching awkwardness you’d feel being faced by an impenetrably complex social event – you hardly dare attempt an approach, never mind offer up conversation.

I’m sure you’ve got the gist, but we’re going to go a little further.

Imagine that this roomful represents the overwhelming majority of people in the world you live in.

Every interaction is too fast; manner of speech too complicated; subject matter too complex.

Outside of your family, the people you engage with are mostly paid to do so.

Those with whom you try to engage are often awkward and the conversation fleeting.

Where do you even start?

Being a person on the autistic spectrum and/or with an intellectual disability is difficult.

To better word that statement: people on the autistic spectrum and/or with an intellectual disability find it difficult just ‘being.’

Stuff we don’t even think about: crossing the road, putting on a jumper when it’s cold, eating when hungry, reading signs, following conversation, picking up on social cues, speaking (!) – all of these essential and, for the majority, automated functions are hugely trialing for these people.

For more than a year, I’ve been hanging out with a guy facing such daily struggles as part of the ‘Befriending’ scheme organised by Autism Guernsey and Guernsey Mencap.

His name’s Mark, and he’s a few years older than me, likes cars and bikes, loves a chat and loves life in general.

In point of fact, we’ve both a penchant for head-banging to heavy metal (aggressively and in unison), trying out new activities, spending time exploring out and about and just talking about anything and everything: we’re perfectly similar friends. But, from a purely intellectual standpoint, couldn’t be more dissimilar.

The biggest thing I had to get over before signing up to the scheme was my pretensions as to people with disabilities that are ‘invisible’ – “Won’t it be awkward? What do I say? Should I speak slower? Christ, isn’t that condescending?” And so on, ad infinitum.

Mark and I ate some lunch and wandered about the harbour in our first outing in June of last year.
Mark and I ate some lunch and wandered about the harbour in our first outing in June of last year.

One can find such pretenses build themselves in to a mental block – “I could never do that!” “I just don’t know how you do it!”

It’s completely illusory.

I count Mark as one of closest friends. He has the same outlook on life as I: it’s too short not to be doing something or talking to someone, so you’ll find me doing one or the other. The salient difference is just that you won’t find him writing or articulating that sentiment. Or understanding the word ‘sentiment.’ So what, eh?

An intellectual disparity doesn’t cheapen a friendship. For me, it’s cemented it: the infinitesimally small ‘problems’ you have to overcome, the anxieties you discuss and assuage and the fun times you have together mean more because it isn’t straightforward. (Disclaimer: it can be a fecking nightmare!)

Mark, unlike many on the island, has a loving family and network of supportive people (I swear the boy has a fan club), but he didn’t have something that you don’t crave unless it’s missing: the ability to just ‘be’ with somebody the same age and gender as you. Chill out. Chat shit. Listen to music. Burp. Laugh. Chirp. Be silly, have fun, feel good.

Mark5

A relative of his said to me that, “it is great for him to be spending time with someone who isn’t related to him or paid for it!”

This is the crux of the issue. The onus should be on us, as able-bodied and able-minded individuals, to give people like Mark a quality of life experience equal or at least akin to ours.

I just rattled out these few hundred words whilst emailing, phoning, texting, talking, buying, eating, typing, writing and whatever else (not quite all at once). I’ve had more interaction, activity and engagement in the last couple of hours of my life than too many autistic Guerns my age would get in a week (or more) of theirs.

You can change that.

Selling volunteering by relying purely on the philanthropic, or charitable, instinct of people doesn’t work (I intend to write a piece on why that is).

So, I’m going to tell and sell some of my side of the bargain too. It’s going to sound preachy, perhaps insufferable to some, but it’s going to persuade at least one person to take the plunge and sign up to this so I couldn’t give a flying shit.

NO LONGER GIVING A FLYING SHIT

With the wider perspective afforded by watching a person struggle through simple tasks – I mean so simple they’d only ever comprise one of a three-part multitasking effort – you start caring a bit less.

The unreliability of the Wi-Fi connection in the coffeeshop this afternoon has frustrated me. Enough so, despite being a British national, that I went to ‘have a word.’

Now, I think of how frustrating it must be to have something to say and have not the vocabulary or capacity to word it.

Worse, still, if you have nobody to say it to. How cripplingly lonely and hopeless must that make a person feel?

Perspective: widened.

Shits given about how you [look/sound/smell/didn’t rake in half as many likes as Claire’s picture despite taking about fourty of them to find ‘the one’]: lessened.

People who are struggling to live a life that has meaning and joy matter more to me than how I appear to other people. I don’t care that what’s-her-face said something about me, I don’t care about the snooty stare a pinstriped prick’s just shot me on account of my head tattoo and I care so much less about people taking the piss out of this article than the small band of people who act upon it and change someone’s life, and their own, immeasurably for the better.

Superficiality is fucking meaningless.

Despite being fairly active on Facebook, I can only recall twice sharing anything in respect of my volunteership. Mostly because it used to piss me off sensing the severity of narcissism when Clive you went to school with posts some self-indulgent bull about how he shaved his pubes for charity, raised fifty quid and the profile of some already-established charity, thinking he’s fecking Bono.

With the liberty of keeping my flying shits, I don’t mind championing a charitable cause at risk of sounding self-righteous or holier-than-thou. I’m certainly not holier than anyone and I really, really don’t do a lot – the bare minimum (having your girlfriend come home after a seven hour nonstop shift supporting the severely disabled has taught me that much).

I just spend a few hours a week making a mate’s life much more enjoyable. Why would you not sacrifice an hour of your Sunday to do that?

Today's piece in the Guernsey Press
Today’s piece in the Guernsey Press

GIVING A FLYING SHIT 

Woaaah, but dude, you just said the opposite thing?! PATIENCE.

Knowing the plight (I hate to use that word, but it is perfectly appropriate) of those born with differently wired brains or intellectual capacities to mine matters to me.

My family matters to me, my friends matter to me and Mark really matters to me.

Many a shit will be flown on their account. Not because of guilt or glory, but because I actually care about somebody other than myself now.

Volunteering’s a choice, I want to help

Give it a shot and you’ll develop that want too.

Mark’s taught me too much to ever do justice in a couple of hour’s worth of hungover typing, which I assure you is only being done on account of (a cocainesque caffeine high and) the debt I owe this man for having given me something more important than any lottery winner or Dan fucking Bilzerian can buy.

My greatest life achievement will be persuading one of you to befriend someone through this scheme.


If you would like to find out more about the Befriending scheme or wish to sign up, ping an email to befriending@autismguernsey.org.gg and the Befriending Co-Ordinator (delightful and inspirational lady) will be glad to help.

You commit four hours of your month (say, an hour a week) for a year, you’re trained by experienced professionals and then ‘matched’ with a ‘befriendee’ after having met them and mutually agreed to said match. Personally, I started with an hour or two on Sundays which increased to a couple of hours on Tuesdays, few hours on Sunday and whatever pops up in between,

If you’d rather just chat it over, feel free to ping me an email on liamapollodoherty@gmail.com

Just liking and sharing this piece on social media will be massive help.

Thank you in advance, have a lovely evening and Happy Tuesday x

@ApolloDoherty

What’s Left? Thanks To Jez, What You Damn Well Make of It.

Democraton: A democratically elected and operated vessel incorruptible by personal conviction if at the expense of an informed public vote or sentiment.

Seeing old-school lefty Nick Cohen’s diatribe (which I suggest you read to make sense of this piece) against, well, other old-school lefty and (lowercase) new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn made all and no sense to me.

I won’t say I agree with or condone all of Corbyn’s past, current or future affiliations or views, but that ignores the beauty of his dedication to democratic leadership: he can be formally swayed by the public opinion – and may well have been in his EU stance – and, much more apparently, he’s the best out of an institutionally and uniformly dire situation.

Attributing extremist commentary and criminality to a ‘Corbyn left’, as if Corbyn himself retains any modicum of responsibility for their behaviour, isn’t a good start by Cohen. Quoting BTL Guardian trolls as evidence of a ‘menacing’ force behind Corbyn’s wholly democratic success and operation is what’s ‘ridiculous’. Not to excuse the behaviour, but it’s endemic across the political spectrum.

He asserts that those on ‘the left will head for the right’, which may be the case for Blairites and those occupying centrist (read: contextually rightist) ground, but why would those with true left-wing views opt to squander their support on a government as far right as Cameron’s, as Cohen suggests? Why on earth would those on the left opt for austerity over renationalisation of public services; war and confrontation over peace and rapprochement; an Etonian automaton over a legitimate human being; a stuck-up douche over a genuine and self-declared democraton?

Cohen paints Owen Jones (who’s article he seems to have ignored) as having ‘abandoned journalism’, acting as ‘Corbyn’s PR man’. Though I shan’t excuse shoddy journalism, which I don’t find Jones guilty of domestically, I think he is performing a public service that, in the long term, will benefit our country more than actively defaming Jez will. He’s the best of a rotten bunch in many respects and by a long, long shot. By all means, we should comment, criticise and call Corbyn to account, but discrediting the first meaningful opposition this country’s produced in my whole lifetime isn’t going to get us very far. That Cohen’s highlighted the issue of people swaying to the right whilst instigating exactly that in the same column speaks much of his conflicted principles – which we will get to.

The Spectator's cover cartoon
The Spectator’s cover cartoon

‘The left is why’ people on the left ‘leave the left’, Cohen says – and he’s right. The left isn’t fun, leftist politicking isn’t enjoyable and you will forever have turncoats of all (mostly pin)stripes. ‘Better the centre right than the far left’, they used to say, but now Cohen reckons they’ll say ‘better the centre right than the far right.’ I think this is a misinterpretation of the political landscape, shot through with Peter Hitchens-esque defeatism: a misunderstanding of what is happening, what is now possible and what needs to be done en route to making ‘it’ happen.

The Overton Window (the realm of acceptable political debate, often decided as history is: by the victors) is already aligned in such a way that all the general public can accept, or even see, is right wing: Ed Miliband, proposing modest caps on energy bills whilst still conforming to the politics of austerity, was painted as a communist for crying out loud. Corbyn’s offer of a democratically constructed and accountable alternative to the current Establishment should be lauded and nurtured, not dismissed on account of his personal political beliefs or affiliations, given they don’t intrude on public policy – an unmanageable caveat for the consensus of politicians.

But Corbyn doesn’t go by the consensus, hence his cumulative momentum. He is the first vessel for a legitimate democratic overhaul of the Establishment there has been in several decades: he could represent his personal convictions but he has openly and commendably chosen to represent the public instead – democracy’s paramount. This is not something to be rubbished, it is something all disenfranchised should treasure dearly. He seems incorruptible.

Sadly, being incorruptible isn’t enough in the UK, where Murdoch holds sway over a disproportionate amount of British media.

Sorry, caps on bene-whats? I can't hear you over this communist's silence!
Sorry, caps on bene-whats? I can’t hear you over this communist’s silence!

The Conservatives weren’t elected on account of compassionate policymaking or competency – that’s for fucking sure – they were elected pursuant to a mass, coordinated media campaign forced through mainstream channels down the throats of people undecided as between voting for Cameron (austerity with some credibility) and Miliband (austerity-lite with zero credibility). And the rest is Horrible Histories.

Corbyn’s people politics (trolling the Tory party conference – inspired) is an attempt, perhaps mindful, at bypassing the bollocks of mainstream media (or “MSM”) and empowering the masses through old-school demonstration and protest. He’s not giving the media an awful lot to latch on to…

Respectful silence during a monarchist anthem whilst you reflect on the military service of your deceased parents and others with whom they served?! FASCIST!
Respectful silence during a monarchist anthem whilst you reflect on the military service of your deceased parents and others with whom they served?! FASCIST!

The more humanity and normality he radiates, the MSM’s attempted counterweight becomes evermore desperate, ridiculous and a lot of people (are at least starting to) see right through it.

He is a run-of-the-mill, standard-issue person, supporting normal people in a room full to the embroidered brim with privately educated, corporately connected and publically disconnected politicians ensuring their ilk become richer at the expense of those below the upper crust of our increasingly unjust and unequal society.

The politics of hope has finally returned: we should be on the streets commemorating and demonstrating and celebrating a voice that has vowed to speak in the interest of voices that have gasped for democratic air for too long.

Why throw this chance away?

Well, let’s address this issue in as pragmatic and reasonable a manner as one can (because nobody fucking else is). The essence of Nick Cohen’s exception to Corbyn is his historically dubious affiliations, or, rather, his preference to engage, reconcile and avoid confrontation, verbal or otherwise. Cohen, in turn, makes the assumption that an affiliation is an endorsement (does this cheapen Obama’s rapprochement with Cuba and Iran?).

cubaus-150x150
Something many didn’t see coming…

Ethically, it’s not an ideal position to be in, but Corbyn has no intention of putting principle before practicality when it comes to his politicking, he wouldn’t be shelving his personal views for those democratically directed he did.

Cohen gives a series of strong examples. I won’t lend credit to the affirmation that ‘the Labour party has just endorsed an apologist for Putin’s imperial aggression’ because of an appearance on RT, and I’ve not the time, patience or knowledge to trawl through each, so I’ll talk a little on one which I do – Iran.

Without delving too deep, the Islamic Republic of Iran is a huge, ancient, populous, predominantly Shiite and Persian (not Arab) country that’s been historically humiliated by the UK (and US) for more than a century. It was ruled for a quarter-century by a savage Anglo-American-installed dictator who was in turn overthrown during a beautifully authentic popular revolt known as the Iranian, or Islamic, Revolution of 1979. It was, like too many revolutions before and after, hijacked by a band of megalomaniacal cronies before democratic implementation could take its course. Since, it has suffered the most grotesque attacks upon any non-combative nation ever (Iran has never invaded any nation): diplomatic, economic and military assaults include being dubbed part of an ‘Axis of Evil,’ having murderously crippling economic sanctions inflicted upon it for decades and having cyanide gas exploded on its civilian populations by a Western-back dictator (you may have heard of) respectively – all directly or indirectly instigated by the US and UK. (Had you heard the rest of the world’s version of Iranian history before?)

US Military Bases surrounding the Islamic Republic of Iran

Corbyn’s position on Iran is consistent with his position on other countries with entire societies scarred by colonial hangovers and economies razed by western sanctions (that have been shown not to achieve what they are meant to (factually, the opposite viz. Iranian discontent with the West, Ahmadinejad support, public rallying around nuclear issue)) – the carrot rather than the stick; conversation rather than confrontation; let’s aim to be friends rather than foes.

In view of the current British government opening an embassy in Iran (surely more of an ‘endorsement’) whilst our militaries increasingly deepen cooperation in respect of the Iraq and Syrian situation, all the while selling state of the art arms to the arguably more brutal and repressive regional competitors about the Middle East, what’s Corbyn’s sincere approach in comparison? Is it too lacking in cynicism? Or too lacking in the self-defeating ‘us or them’ approach that Cohen, and the late Hitch, would advocate with such regimes? It achieves nothing more than a token feel-good pride at the expense of the innocent who continue to suffer (if anything, worse so).

Compromise with unsavoury regimes is never ideal, but it’s much better an approach than the current government employs and  the hypothetical cultural war Cohen and Hitch would have had us wage. Some do.

I fucking despise theocracy. I’ve a visceral hatred for the Iranian Mullahs and particularly regret how they opportunistically counter-revolutionised gains popularly made in 1979; I doubt they much impress Corbyn either, but we’ll be in a better place ten years down the line on account of politicians like him cooperating with regimes like this rather than ‘confronting’ them. (Or should Obama have bunker-bombed Qom instead?)

Something I certainly didn't see coming a few short years ago
Something I certainly didn’t see coming a few short years ago

It’s not a nice place to be, but it works – and it’s working. Even the US has made compromises throughout its negotiation with the regional power: at no point did Kerry say, ‘Fair terms, this could immeasurably improve the geopolitical scene and global stability, but as I’m opposed to the IRGC’s conduct, I believe we shouldn’t cooperate on this or other issues.’ (By the by, who on earth would cooperate with the US or UK on anything if this was the standard?)

It’s frustrating that principled stances come at the cost of meaningful dialogue or political practicality; that’s why the German’s coined the term ‘realpolitik.’ Realpolitik is the reason the US is too chummy with Saudi Arabia, the UK too cosy with Kazakhstan and the otherwise unlikely relationship between China and Pakistan exists at all. Realpolitik is the reason behind the shutting down of the French Riviera for the Saudi royal family’s visit and the UK’s tallest and most superfluous skyscrapers having Qatari owners.

What you can be sure of, is that the UK will be taking one helluva more principled stance in both domestic and foreign policy if Jez ever takes the helm. (I could link to evidence ad infinitum, but I can depressingly assume you’re well aware of the British penchant for selling billions of pounds worth of state of the art war machine to countries on its own human rights blacklists.)

What Cohen wrongly accuses Owen Jones of doing – being a PR man for Corbyn – is what I will be accused of for writing these words. I’m a cheerleader for Corbyn because he’s the best of what’s Left, a sad and happy thought in many respects and contexts, but the best he still is.

The dichotomy between the left of peace and rapprochement and the left of principle and argument (read: self-defeating confrontation) is clearer now than ever before. Why force the split, indeed any split, with the potential of a man with a self-declared committal to entirely democratic service having a possible, palpable, shot at governance?

Why ‘resign’ and defeat yourself and your cause rather than work to change what you can with your dwindling democratic clout? Why would such a vociferous proponent of free speech squander this most important of liberties on account of a democraton’s relentless dedication to diplomacy?

God forbid he 'endorse' the Mullahs with this daring stance!..
God forbid he ‘endorse’ the Mullahs with this daring stance!..

I was wrong to have expected Cohen to cheer Corbyn, I’ve read enough of him and the Hitch to have known better. It saddens me to see that he hasn’t supported Jez We Can, if not agreed with all of Corbyn’s personal affiliations and beliefs.

Looking at the demonstrations, hearing his Prime Minster’s Questions, feeling the hope he’s inspiring across generations – why try to deflect the first ray of (genuine) hope felt by anyone in decades? (The warmest ray I’ve had the nonpleasure to feel was shone from Russell Brand’s ass during his Newsnight tirade.)

For all of the leftist ‘movement’ across the EU, for all the (evidently fatuous) social media offensives and headless chickening in general, I cannot find a true British lefty having achieved anything close to a feasible revolutionary atmosphere in several long and miserable decades.

Jez has in a few short weeks.

Jez's more compassionate and, I daresay, principled stances are at odds with British politicians and media.
Jez’s more compassionate and, I daresay, principled stances are at odds with British politicians and media.

It’s been sat in British air for too long: a heavy, heady mist of highly combustible public discontent that mainstream politicians have been uneager or unable to ignite, instead allowing it to collect frustratingly on our persons. We stink of it. I fucking reek of it.

So, if Cohen could excuse so many of the outrageous views of the Hitch, what’s the issue with old Jezza?

Well, principle comes at a price. Cohen and the Hitch knew this better than any of their journalistic contemporaries before, during and especially after beating their war drums along with the MSM march on Iraq. Cohen was happy in attempting to rally an unwilling and unprecedentedly demonstrative British public behind creating a Mesopotamian atmosphere heavy with the mist of depleted uranium and thermobaric cocktail. Who the fuck is he to take this domestic atmosphere from that same war-weary British public?

Jez illustrates the dichotomy here nicely: “We should be for human rights, not military interventions”.

Cohen will die on his sword, as he was happy for too many to do in Iraq at the expense of he and his fellow armchair generals, writing toward a fairytale war: flitting through an unfeasibly diverse and ancient land, ‘flash some phosphorous here; win some hearts and minds there.’ A dying breed with notions naïve.

Corbyn’s spirit and cause, however, is imperishable. Sure, compromises need to be made, but fewer will be made by his hand and with far fewer ethical implications.

The leader of the first politically legitimate and democratically accountable opposition in a quarter-century: I reckon in five years time he’s either going to be assassinated, which can be realised in more than one sense of the word, or Prime Minister.

But, as Cohen wisely states, “prophesies are for fools”.


Do you agree or disagree with these words? Perhaps you like some more than others? Why not like, comment, share and criticise them on social media.

Ideally, I’d like Nick Cohen to see this piece so he can respond; if you could tweet it to him @NickCohen4, it would be hugely appreciated.

liamapollodoherty@gmail.com

@ApolloDoherty 

Jack Falla Racing – Burning Treads and Turning Heads.

Jack Falla

Jack Falla is the highest-flying, fastest-driving Guernsey sportsman you may not and should have heard of.

He has shot from zero to sixty in as short a time as one could feasibly manage in a sport where champions are incubated at ludicrously young ages: Lewis Hamilton – coming off the back of a commanding win at the Italian Grand Prix this month – was racing competitively at eight years old; Jack’s very first experience of circuit racing was at twenty-two.

He’s spent twelve hours travelling the length of the country after a gruelling weekend racing in Scotland before this interview; I expect a modicum of patience to be lost with me for my ignorance with respect to his career and sport, especially as I open with the tedious “how did you get in to…” question.

Not so. On holiday to Australia in 2009, fate steered Jack toward his future profession in romantic fashion: “My friend owned a Formula Ford team”, Jack starts, a little nonchalant, “he was testing a load of drivers and he said to pop down to the track, so I borrowed a helmet and drove a racecar for the first time in my life.” Shortly thereafter, a driver in the team dropped out with two races left in the season; Jack was asked, “do you fancy jumping in?”

“And that was that; my holiday in Australia was over!” Jack laughs animatedly. And so it was, with only a handful of hours’ experience driving a supercar, Jack was offered his seat – his debut. Against all odds and in miserably wet conditions, “I came ninth out of a thirty car grid having never raced or trained properly in my life” – a seemingly modest but contextually outrageous feat, moreso as Jack went on to finish eleventh out of another thirty car grid in the following race, proving the first was no fluke.

Jack battling Ryan Cullen round a Belgian circuit
Jack battling Ryan Cullen round a Belgian circuit

It’s in the context of the sport’s ferocious competitiveness, in which entire lives are consumed to shave off that make-or-break tenth of a second, that Jack’s casual ascendance can be realised for what it is: nothing short of astounding.

“From 2009 to 2013 I did nothing. I did those two races”, Jack tells me with an understandable annoyance; raw talent wasn’t enough to capitalise on his success without being ‘in the know’. “Then in 2013 my friend said to me, ‘have you not done anything with your racing? We’re running GT3s in Australia soon, would you consider driving?’”

Jack’s initiation in to GT3 racing wasn’t so much romantic as grounding and grafting. The romance was certainly lost in the initial test circuit after his four-year hiatus, run in preparation for his first season in Australia’s Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge 2013. With his new teammates clocking laps of a minute, Jack’s first lap reflected his lacking experience: he was fifteen seconds slower, which may as well be light-years at this level. “It was that slow, it wouldn’t have even qualified me to race”, Jack says, laughing. “I spent everyday that week down the track learning to drive this car. It was a completely different beast”.

Jack paints a toilsome picture before saying, “by the end of the week, I was just off the track record for a GT3 car and finished the season fifth in Pro Class”. First season, age 24, no experience and already finishing just out of reach of the podium; it would beckon Jack after a season of near-miss finishes in the podium’s shadow as he went on to finish third overall and first in his class in the Perth 300 endurance race; “a great memory” and vindication after a hard first season in the deep end.

Jack’s work ethic is exemplary and his regimen comprehensive, which he paints as necessary to have a puncher’s chance at ‘making it’ in circuit racing with his relative “lack of experience”. I ask what it is he thinks gives him the edge over his peers in terms of training, Jack pleasantly surprises me with, “things like visualisation, mindfulness, yoga, meditation; I think they’re as important to me as actually being in the car and training.” We agree on the underappreciated benefits of such techniques – and that we can’t envisage many of the more party-prone F1 drivers employing them.

Though Jack made head-turning inroads during Australia’s Porsche GT3 2013 season, the commute to and from the land down under proved unsustainable. Jack bowed out of the 2014 season, racing only thrice, again with a fifth place finish in the frustrating downwind of champagne spray. The travel is arduous enough without the cross-hemisphere travel, Jack tells me, “it becomes a chore very quickly. Moving to three hotel rooms a week, it gets lonely; you miss the normality of family life; seeing Kirsty and the boys”.

Finding Tenths
‘Finding tenths’ (figuratively) on the road

Jack, perhaps unlike many sporting stars his age, is a dedicated family man. He tells me the support from his partner and four-month and seven-year old boys, Otto and Seve, has been steadfast despite the obvious risks – ever-present with recent deaths in the sport – and “ups and downs of racing”, which are as dramatic as they are unforgiving. “They want me to succeed as much as I do. Otto’s too young to know what’s going on, but Seve absolutely loves it. Kirsty knows the risks involved but she trusts me. You can’t jump in a car thinking of the risks and ‘what-ifs’; she knows I’m a clean driver and I rarely make mistakes”. This is evident in Jack’s consistent finishing down to the consistency of his lap times; Jack sums it up with: “I treat every lap like my qualifying lap”.

Jack didn’t lose the momentum he gained throughout 2014 as he did in 2009. He was contacted by Porsche Carrera Cup GB 2014 winners, Redline Racing, with an invitation to drive a test circuit for the 2015 championship, and the rest is history: again in fairy-tale fashion, Jack’s test was behind the wheel of a car he’d never driven, in torrential rain, around an unfamiliar circuit. Despite this, he was the first driver signed by any team for the Carrera Cup GB 2015 season, to last season’s winning team no less.

“My relationship with Redline is like family”, Jack says in no uncertain terms or tone, “there are sixteen other team members; it’s these guys who don’t get enough credit for the work they do. My personal mechanic is like my best friend, he ensures my car is on the grid every race and he will do whatever it takes to fix any damage caused regardless. He’s the guy who belts me up and the last person I have physical contact with while I’m sat on the grid before the race. We have a strong bond”. One can sense the intensity, the sheer anticipation; become infected by the adrenaline’s potency.

Consolidating one and a half seasons-worth of experience; securing hard-won sponsorship deals and advanced training equipment; backed by the Porsche Carrera Cup GB 2014 winning team; and racing circuits just one short flight rather than several long-hauls from Guernsey – the world’s his oyster.

Indeed it remains his oyster, but despite a first season studded with stand-out performances and several podium finishes, it has been beset by setbacks. “It’s a heart-breaking feeling when you are working so hard for the finish you desire and deserve”, Jack admits matter-of-factly, “but I look at the positive and realise not many people get four podium finishes in their first year”. Hugely creditable, with the liberty of context, but as it stands, Jack sits in an unrepresentative fifth in his class of ProAM1 (he overqualified himself for the more rookie-appropriate ProAM2 with a blazing test circuit) in the knowledge that he could, should and would have been higher were it not for a plague of bad luck.

Written Off
The remains of Jack’s metallic stallion

He’s suffered four major and unavoidable setbacks this season already: the first courtesy of a backmarker (a racer who’s been lapped) wiping out Jack whilst he was running seventh overall; the second, in which he was leading his class, the driver in front lost control before Jack collided with him at pace, resulting in his car being written off, missing the next race (the third setback) and suffering a severe concussion; the fourth, the weekend before I meet Jack, he was battling for second in his class before the competing car span through a corner and wiped Jack out. He was sixth-tenths of a second off of pole position – first overall.

So there’s a large and well-weighted asterisk above the fifth place he currently occupies; a position in which he risks being downwind of the champagne he deserves and has worked so hard to be spraying. Jack seems cool and unfazed – “I’m not going backwards, that’s for sure”, Jack reassures me, perhaps as much as himself. “That’s racing. Knowing I could have done nothing to stop what’s happened”, shrugs Jack, “I leave the track, and if there’s any negativity, I leave it on the track”. Wise words, easily talked but harder to walk.

So where from here?

Jack maintains a sustainable, though not always ideal, balance between his career and his family life (and sanity). “I would literally love to pack up everything and escape the chaos, the stress, the highs and lows of racing”, Jack tells me longingly, implying there’s much more to be achieved before he does. I ask Jack what he does to decompress, or if he’s any hobby with which to wind down. “I love motorbikes. Building and restoring old bikes; it’s very therapeutic’, Jack assures me, with my eyebrows raised; the intricacies of mechanical construction after a day’s work don’t strike me as ‘therapeutic.’ “Hmmm, Kirsty can feel a little neglected”, jokes Jack, “I’d like to play tennis or golf too but I’m just consumed by everything else – especially kids!” Jack’s good humour should surely be flashing on reserve after the weekend’s collision and full day of driving, flying and sailing.

The ecstatic podium peaks can contrast taxingly with frustrating troughs; “It always feels, just as I’m taking the next step up the ladder, something takes me down three steps”, Jack says uncharacteristically. “Well, that’s racing!” That’s more like it. “I believe if I’d have finished every race, I’d be in the top three, without a doubt. I still do have time to be in the top three, but it doesn’t give me any room for error – I have to be perfect”.

Podium
Imbibed after the race, Jack assures me…

With perfection the goal, where Jack goes from here is by no means set in the stars, but gauging his boundless determination, dedication and enthusiasm, I’d say it’s undoubtedly up.

You can catch Jack competing in the penultimate round of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB next weekend on ITV4 and support him by liking, commenting and sharing this piece using the social media icons below.

Jack Falla can be followed on:

Twitter – @JackWilliamGF

Instagram – @falla87

Facebook – www.facebook.com/fallasport


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Thank you for the continued support, enjoy our dwindling days of sunshine over the weekend and Happy Friday!

@ApolloDoherty