Aliveandrunning2013 July 30

Running around Cambridge with the Cambridge and Coleridge Running Club this evening. We are scheduled for fartlek training which is much less disgusting than it sounds. It means speed play ie we run at different speeds and varying duration. The weather is still warm and I will be taking an electrolyte drink with me to prevent dehydration or worse. I bought a powder to mix up at our best local running shop, Advance Performance, Cambridge. It seems like a sensible thing to do but rather expensive. I’m not sure it’s necessary although I accept at least half the value is in the placebo effect.

I ventured into the outer ring of Cambridge today and was again struck how lacking in vitality, fitness and general healthiness a large proportion of people 50+ appeared to be. They seemed to want to rush into age related physical slowness. I feel fit and like to walk reasonably fast but I’m clearly in a very small minority. Unfortunately most people have an inbuilt resistance to exercise appropriately despite all the accessible research recommending it for a healthy lifestyle  over the last 40 years or so. If only they could organise themselves into neighbourhood running groups! I don’t mean clubs because they are too competitive and take themselves too seriously. Although more people than ever are running or taking up a sport, I think the numbers are still relatively small. So many of us rule ourselves out. That’s a great pity.

If only the Pope had mentioned running, fitness or exercise when he addressed the press corp on his way back from Brazil yesterday. Instead he decided to hone his skills as a stand up comedian and indulge in light banter. Amazingly, he commented “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge? The catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says they should not be marginalised  because of this (orientation) but that they must be integrated into society.” The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered” which is a mildly condemning term compared with earlier descriptions of “evil”. No-where is there any acceptance that homosexuality is a biological imperative. The mindset of the Catholic Church concerning sexuality, whether heterosexuality or homosexuality, is clearly intrinsically disordered. It is a haven, protector and apologist for it’s sexually, physically and emotionally abusive clergy. Organised and institutional religion tends to be self serving and essentially focused on the preservation of power. It discredits its own controversialists who dare to speak the truth. See Guardian





Aliveandrunning2013 July 22

Daytime temperatures over 30C today so I went for an early run just after 8 am. I limited the distance to 2 miles because I had an appointment at Addenbrookes Hospital to have a 24 hour heart monitor fitted  later in the morning. This was just a routine test arranged by my GP and no big deal. Walking around the hospital I was struck by the large number of obese people in wheelchairs or shuffling around or just looking disconsolate. I also visited the restaurant/cafe area to marvel at the presence of a McDonalds restaurant and view people eating junk food. That’s really thinking outside the box! I’m sure they’ll  reintroduce cigarette machines soon or grant a concession to a tobacconist. Why not? It would make sense to managers who see no contradiction in cashing in on producers of damaging nutrition at the same time  their hospital services are fighting a losing battle with the consequences of junk food consumption. It’s a bit like drug rehab premises renting pitches to dealers in their waiting/reception area.

The tabloid press headlines always provide a sobering reminder of the priorities and interests of a very sizable chunk of the populace.

The Sun : WHAT’S THE STORY, LIAM?  This is a reference to Liam Gallagher’s marriage break-up.




Daily Star : MY EVIL SEX PLOT TO WIN BIG BRUV  This is a reference to a reality show contestant and her strategy to triumph

Gawd help us!

Aliveandrunning2013 July 19

An hour’s run, on Monday July 16, along the river Cam in part. I was slightly wary of passing a swan sitting on the bank tending her four signets. I was not able to take a wide birth but she decided I wasn’t a threat and merely fixed me with her beady eyes. I think swans are altogether more sensible and reasonable than geese who will frequently attack if they are in anyway disturbed and deliver vicious pecks to the tenderest parts of an unsuspecting person’s anatomy. A bit like your average Tory, really, although I will have to do a lot more work to make the comparison succeed.

Tomorrow, I’m marshalling not running in the Cambridge parkrun. I prefer to marshal because it’s so interesting seeing widely differing running style, ages and abilities. Of course, I’ll try to give priority to my arch rival Mike ; pull people over for non existent infringements, send them running off course, trip them up as they go past. I have the authority to do this. I will be wearing a high viz orange jacket.


Aliveandrunning2013 July 13

Hot day for running. The 5k  parkrun starts early at 9 am but it was still very warm. My arch rival Mike beat me by just 9 seconds but I was pleased by my performance. My partner Lorna did well in the heat at 14 seconds below her personal best. Well done! It goes to show what can be achieved if you don’t chat your way around the course!

Good to see the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt appreciates irony. What else could explain his decision not to go ahead with requiring cigarette companies to use plain packaging thus making lurid packs less attractive to the young and impressionable . I don’t believe it’s because plain packaging might cost jobs in manufacturing or retail or encourage illegal tobacco trading or cost the Exchequer up to £6 bn.  Jeremy is so clean cut and innocent looking and has attractive, glittery, swivelling eyes. It is so irritating when people accuse him of putting business interests before measures to reduce the mortality caused by a historical, traditional but lethal product.

Aliveandrunning2013 July 12

Another good club training run on Tuesday July 9th. We jogged down to Lammas Land in Cambridge and did 4 X 1500 metres. Very warm but enjoyable. Yesterday I did a 5k race in the evening  with my arch rival Mike. He beat me by 24 seconds which is a margin I’m happy with. It was a lovely course which included narrow paths through over arching trees and bushes, trails and grass land. The race was full and I only got an entry through Mike’s wife deciding not to compete.

I now have my copy of Jeff Galloway’s The Run-Walk-Run Method which may allow me to do a future marathon if I can discipline myself to master the technique.

I was greatly shocked to learn that G4S and Serco have been defrauding the taxpayer of “tens of millions” of pounds by billing the government for tagging convicted people who have died or finished  the term of their tagging or were never tagged in the first place, in some cases for years. Why would for profit companies do that? Surely they would tender at reasonable levels to ensure they made a reasonable return. Otherwise it wouldn’t be fair! And is Serco or G4S  involved in providing out of hours GP cover? I think I heard a rumour they are involved in tendering for local authority library services. If so, they could use their extensive portfolio of  expertise  to tool up short contract librarians with Tasers, so useful for keeping threatening borrowers under control or tagging children for practice.

Aliveandrunning2013 July 7

Good running day yesterday. I got a new personal best at Cambridge parkrun, two years after the last one. The weather was good, I felt fit and I think the rest after the daily Juneathon was helpful. I beat my arch rival Mike by two seconds (a massive margin in my eyes). I could feel his hot breath on my neck and just managed to pull away over the last 50 metres. Of course it’s just a social run and not competitive at all so beating him really has no significance. I don’t know why I’m blogging about it. My finger is near the delete button….

Oh dear, I’ve left it in. Anyway, Lady Luck turned against me in the afternoon. I accidentally put milk in my lapsang souchong, an egregious act of sacrilege in the tea community.

I saw a wonderful but outrageous ad on ITV4 the other day. I was loitering on this commercial channel because I sometimes follow the coverage of the highlights of the Tour de France. The ad showed alternating scenes of a group of young lads hanging out, playing computer games, listening to rap music and contrasted it with a single man in his sixties playing old fashioned swing type music on vinyl, having a traditional game of snooker and generally having nothing obviously in common with the lads’ generation. Until their paths converge at Macdonalds where they all tuck into their burgers and tacitly acknowledge with a knowing look that they have a mutual appreciation in tasty food. Very clever and also subversive because the implication is that the older man possesses  old school standards and integrity. A really creative way to sell junk food! Note to self : watch more ads.

Aliveandrunning2013 July 3

Yesterday, I had an enjoyable run with the club. We did a time trial followed by intervals of 3 minutes followed  by 3 minutes recovery. The amiable coach counselled against “sandbagging”, that is under performing deliberately to gain unfair advantage or to save energy when effort is required. We were advised not to “brick it” which is to experience such alarm that the unhappy individual defaecates in their pants! This is all lad’s stuff, of course. It was like being back at school. There is frequent banter about times, distances achieved, cross training, injuries, races and expectations. Most of this has limited interest for me. I’m not a technical runner. I usually just run as fast as I can. The running fraternity is a broad church and I tend to gravitate towards the less competitive people who have a life outside of excessive exercise. However I heeded their warnings. I neither sandbagged nor bricked it. The latter condition, had I succumbed and driven home, would have required the car to have a deep clean.

Today,I scanned the headlines of  the print papers in our local supermarket. The Sun and Mirror led with the “scandal” of Coronation Street soap stars endorsing “fake” products, the Mail told its demographic that at last a radical cleric would soon be deported, the Star explained that a  Big Brother reality show contestant had received a death threat [surely par for the course} and the Express revealed that a mother of 11 had been allocated a “mansion” worth £500,000 by a council or housing association that was being paid for by “us” i.e. tax payers.

Wow! It must have been a slow day for grown up news. But everyday is a slow day for the tabloids.

Theresa May, Home Secretary, has announced a 6 week consultation over the future of police stop-and -search powers. She told MPs that black people were still seven times more likely to be searched on the street than white people. “If it’s being used too much or with the wrong people, then it’s a dreadful waste of police time,” she said.

Putting aside the issue of “wasting police time” { which translates as black people having the audacity to walk openly on the streets thus provoking officers to stop and search them needlessly}, this racist behaviour has been controversial for decades and was previously known as the sus laws. Since the police remain institutionally racist, things will remain unchanged.

Another item mysteriously absent from the front pages of the tabloids was the National Audit Office report that tax officials have failed to collect £9.6bn of VAT returns in 2010-2011. Clearly the government priority is to persecute benefit claimants and drastically cut health and social services rather than pursue lawful revenue streams from their business allies. More about this in a future blog.

Juneathon Day 30

The last day of Juneathon! I found some extra energy and ran faster for my ultimate 2 miles than I have done in the previous 29 days. I ran after my main meal of the day following a round trip of 256 miles to collect my daughter from Brighton. She and her uni friends vacated their rented  house and decanted their belongings into parents’ cars or transferred to another house.

It was an interesting afternoon. The girls had cleaned for several days and awaited an inspection from the landlords with a view to having their full deposits returned. It didn’t go well. The landlords prided themselves on providing accommodation to a high standard of cleanliness and presentation. They expected it to be signed off in the same condition. They did not employ professional cleaners. The onus was firmly on the outgoing tenants. In theory this doesn’t sound unreasonable.

The reality was rather different. The landlords employed the role of firm but fair parents who took the moral high ground in dealing with insufficiently responsible tenants who needed to buckle down and really do some proper cleaning. They didn’t employ a  professional cleaning service because tenants should return the property in the same condition they found it. They were exacting in checking everything and put a money value on scratches, scrapes and small areas of damage. Where there was dust identified they cited the need for a” mini-clean” at £10. Of course they had everyone over a barrel! The deposits needed to be returned and any significant dispute would mean possibly prolonged delay and arbitration.

The other parent, myself and the girls then undertook an intensive 2 hour plus cleaning to get the house up to an “acceptable” level.

I have known a number of landlords,some good, some bad and I have been a landlord myself. My father rented a number of properties. But I have never met such a greedy, grasping, sanctimonious couple who dressed up their appalling behaviour by a patronising, lecturing manner designed to assist the girls to act more responsibly. Their real motive,of course, was to screw out every penny they could from them and this scenario is probably played out each time there is a change of tenancy. I found it  extremely difficult to keep my temper but it was necessary not to make the situation more problematic. I’m grateful to the other parent for remaining calmer and getting things in a more positive perspective. The girls took it in their stride and were sensible and mature.

I resisted the urge to get my needles out and fashion a couple of voodoo dolls out of clay when I got home.