What is courage?

As some of you may know my love life can be best described as tortuous and most of my relationships seem to last about as long as a snowflake in a microwave. So yes, I’m single again. My last girlfriend got on my nerves once too often. Now I’m the last person to overreact but she pushed me too far – so I strangled her, cut up her body into small bits and fed her to the dog. That’s a lie of course. I don’t have a dog.

Anyway, I’m back in the dating game (again) and this week I’ve been talking via the internet to a lovely lady (aka victim). To protect the identity of the poor lamb we’ll call her Bernard. So anyway, Bernard and I have been talking. I’ll say one thing for Frenchwomen – they’re brave. Or stupid. Or both. Perhaps Bernard is like the English who buy houses to renovate (aka ruins) here in France – a triumph of hopeless misplaced optimism – the idea that you can take a wreck and make something decent of it. Perhaps, having read my profile, Bernard sees me as a challenge. I have done my best to reassure her that I’m not an axe wielding maniac by telling her that it’s weeks since I’ve killed anyone and that my latest medication seems to be working quite well – so far.

I digress. We, well I, was talking about courage. Well, there was I telling Bernard about my ‘big walk’™. Why not. After all, I’ve been busy boring the arse of just about everyone else talking about it so I thought it was time to bore some French people about it as well. Fairs fair. Bernard said that I was ‘brave’. My initial thought was that she was being kind. I think she’s just trying to sweet talk me so she can take advantage of my lithe muscular young body (the brazen hussy).

Courage. Bravery. Well I certainly wouldn’t associate these words with what I’m doing. It’s not as though if it all goes tits up I’ll get shot at dawn is it? If you ask me – yes I know you’re not asking me but I’ll tell you anyway – if you ask me, there are all sorts of courage. A young soldier preparing to go ‘over the top’ in WW1. That’s courage. Or a fighter pilot during the Battle of Britain knowing that the next call of ‘Scramble’ could easily leave him dead in less than an hour. That’s courage. But there are other types of courage. What about all those people working shitty jobs on zero hours contracts just to keep their family going? That’s courage.

Courage is not giving in, not yielding, not going under. One of the most humbling examples I’ve ever read is that of Philippe Croizon. Philippe was electrocuted in an industrial accident which literally left him welded to a ladder. He lost both arms and both legs. Many of us would have given up wouldn’t we? I’m pretty bloody sure I would. Philippe didn’t. He had an ambition that he wanted to realise and in 1994, sixteen years after his accident, he realised his ambition. Equipped with artificial legs and fins Philippe swam the English Channel. As I write this I have tears in my eyes. That, my friends, is courage. And what I’m doing is just a bit of a walk in the park by comparison.
Philippe Croizon
And that, my friends, is true courage

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