|When Steve Rudd said, at the end of Two Returns to Arran, the final volume in the original Arran Diaries trilogy, that he was going to give up writing about Arran, at least for a while (no doubt to resounding cheers from Lochranza down to Kildonan, from Lamlash across to Catacol Bay) little did he realise that fate was to take him at his word, and put into place a chain of events that made it impossible, in the short term at least, to go back on that promise.
He didn’t intend to forsake Arran as a destination, the idea was to continue to go there on holiday, just that, while he was there, he would do something more useful and productive with his time, than merely scribbling in a notebook!
It was then that Big G, the man upstairs, decided - four days before he was due to set off for Arran in July 2010 - that he was going to have a brush with The Grim Reaper, instead, and he ended up spending six months in hospital and coming out as a (seemingly) permanent user of a wheelchair. As he said: "I spent the summer of 2010 looking at a hospital car park rather than Kilbrannan Sound and The Mull of Kintyre, and I know which I prefer. In fact I didn’t need to do it to find out that – I already knew which one I preferred!”
Release from hospital was only the start of a long and painful road to coming to terms with trundling through life on a set of wheels, and dealing with the often baffling bullshit that comes with the territory of being officially "disabled”.
Eventually, he considered the pros and cons of going back to Arran, albeit in a wheelchair. But would it be the same? There were obvious emotional concerns for him, but the practicalities at least seemed possible. He’d already established that, because the camper van has rotating seats, it was possible to push him up two metal ramps and into the body of the van, then for him to transfer using a "banana board” on to either the front or the back seats. So all that remained was for Debbie, his long-suffering wife, to bundle Steve and the dog and several weeks’ worth of provisions, and the kayak, and the kitchen sink, into their various billets inside The Arran Silkie, and then trundle off to Ardrossan. However, although the generally received wisdom is that you can do almost anything in a wheelchair that you used to be able to do when you could walk, life doesn’t always work out that way…