RantRantRantRant…..probably not running enough !


This Is a clever card on several levels. It encapsulates a British 1950’s sentiment of wholesome perfection, middleclass values and almost religious rapture. It identifies three modern activities which are associated with relaxation, fun or enjoyable self indulgence and, more darkly, a suggestion of medical treatment. And then reveals the existence of hidden and shocking aggression. Of course this description robs it of all humour which is recognisable instantly at first reading. Never mind! It still has the ring of truth if taken literally.

What it highlights is the common existence of feelings of passive aggression and an urge to exact physical retribution with no clear reason why. The right wing and gutter press are full of it with their emphasis on free loading benefit claimants, rhetoric against migrants, lukewarm belief or outright scepticism of asylum seekers and rubbishing as outmoded socialism, or trades union extremism, any policies which are designed  to benefit the majority rather than appeal to the personal gain of individuals. What you get with the evil Tories are clearly defined groups which purport to  threaten, steal, sponge or unfairly gain at the expense of ordinary hard working people, huge business subsidies and tax breaks to benefit their own class, and worthless but convincing reassurances like “The NHS is safe with us”.

Add to this the relatively recent vogue for extended news coverage of titillating emotionality (victims’ statements, views of neighbours expressing incredulity, people demonstrating extreme grief, shock or distress and highly charged press conferences), it’s all too easy to feel emotionally manipulated, diverted and  deceived. You think you are caring to feel upset but in reality it’s a passive, contrived experience which exploits both the grief stricken and the viewer. Not all the time but a lot of the time.

Thank God some great people have the capacity to keep it real. Dead pan humorous  real. Kanye West has just announced his bid for the 2020 American presidency thus giving a lie to the stereotypical view that Americans don’t get irony.

Not too much happening on the running front. Last week I went out with the club and we did a fartlek around Cambridge. I enjoyed it. The newer coaches are trying hard to be inclusive of all running abilities and I feel they are succeeding. It’s not easy to cater for fast runners in their teens, 20s and 30’s as well as slower people in their 60’s and coming up to 70. But the will is there. I think the key is two coaches per road running session so the less fast runners don’t feel neglected or a drag.

I marshalled at Cambridge parkrun on the weekend which I always find an education. My position allowed me to see the start of the race. Those lads at the very front are labouring under the misapprehension that parkrun is a race judging by their stance, concentration, and ability to filter out all extraneous distractions including encouragement as they hurtle around. At the other end of the spectrum are the runners struggling to improve despite carrying an awful lot of weight but wanting to succeed. And they are!

Jeremy Corbyn, prospective leader of the Labour Party has spoken about introducing women only carriages on some trains. I support this. I know this proposal has been roundly condemned by a sizeable proportion of talking heads but speaking on behalf of the male population, we really can’t be trusted to consistently behave ourselves appropriately. Everyday sexism and hormone inspired conduct is still rife. A compete indictment of male behaviour? Certainly.



What’s this, then? C P Snow’s eleven novel sequence of novels,. Strangers and Brothers, Penguin editions published between 1962 and 1982 (not original published dates). Two missing but easily obtainable. I have read several of them decades ago but I will now read the entire sequence. They follow the life and career of Lewis Eliot from a provincial town in England to London lawyer, Cambridge don, wartime service in Whitehall, senior civil servant and finally retirement. The novels were published between 1940 and 1970. They encapsulate a previous age and culture which I find absorbing. Otherwise I wouldn’t be reading them, would I? The paperbacks are quite old and the pages are tanned. I think these aged Penguins are a marvel. Estimated time to completion : 2017. So many other things get in the way.

An increasing circle of running friends


Last Saturday at Wimpole Estate parkrun. The weather was excellent, we all had a good run and then had coffee and homemade cake to celebrate a 100h parkrun.

Six years to the day, today, since I had my heart attack at 58. Within 3 hours, I was stented, returned to the ward, spent two nights in hospital, discharged home to the care of my wife, Lorna and began a period of recuperation and recovery. I attended an excellent rehab programme at Addenbrookes hospital in Cambridge consisting of a series of cardiac, diet and lifestyle talks and later physical rehabilitation in the hospital gym where it was a sobering sight seeing very ill or disabled people struggling to recover. Concerning the national uptake for cardiac rehabilitation, Addenbrookes was one of the highest at 46% (that is, 54% of suitable cardiac candidates declined the opportunity). 12 planned sessions of increasing, monitored activity. I enjoyed these sessions and had complete confidence in the experienced staff (cardiac rehab nurses, sports scientist and dietician).

My only serious criticism of the Addenbrookes cardiac care path was the absence of psychological and emotional focus in the rehab programme and particularly the impact on close family. Probably my experience of a myocardial infarction wasn’t typical. I quickly self diagnosed I was having a heart attack, I didn’t experience pain, I wasn’t frightened, I had complete confidence in the ambulance crew, the paramedic and the hospital staff. Unfortunately it was very different for Lorna who wasn’t with me at the time and had to make her own way to the hospital and wait a long time for information about me. It was a far more traumatic experience for her. Subsequently, the rehab programme seemed to marginalise the family and didn’t appear to recognise that some patients were depressed, anxious or frightened,

Overall, I feel lucky to have had a cardiac episode in the Addenbrookes/Papworth Hospital area. Even when I made a discreet complaint (to the cardiac rehab nurse) about the arrogant and rude attitude of a registrar at an out patient appointment, it was sorted out quickly and without fuss.

Six months later, I discovered Cambridge parkrun which had started 5 weeks previously and I’ve never looked back. Running didn’t stop me having a heart attack but it furnished me with a level of fitness that allowed me to recover and continue running at a satisfactory level which includes 10ks and half marathons. That’s more than good enough.

Fast Fruit?

19977742704_199b0fd649_b [287532]

Wimpole Estate parkrun. I look like an escaped banana pursued by smoothie bounty hunters but this astute and discerning photographer saw through the comic potential and recorded this classic, timeless running image. And to top it all, I was the first person to come in at number 76.

The weather was very kind on Saturday, the cows with their scary pointy horns sat around playing Monopoly, forsaking their menacing poses and ignoring the runners  and even the sheep, famously daft, kept out of our way. Three of our friends from deepest Essex, came up to run with us and we gave a lift to another pal who usually runs at Cambridge. Post race, we had coffee and a bite to eat in the National Trust café and sat around chatting for an hour. A brief visit to the pre-loved bookshop yielded only three old OS maps despite being horribly tempted by serendipity, and then home.

Gorgon Brown, ex Labour prime Minister for a month or two after Tony Blair, gave a speech today containing a “coded message”, warning against choosing a Labour leader who would be divisive and make Labour unelectable at the next election. Using skills gained during a visit to Bletchley Park several years ago, I rapidly decoded the hidden message and concluded he was referring to Jeremy Corbyn. This is the same Gorgon Brown who, as Chancellor of the Exchequer so proudly boasted of light touch regulation of the banks and financial institutions which allowed them to run amok. The same Gorgon Brown in the Blair government that was utterly determined to pitch into the Iraq war with the Americans. The same Gorgon Brown, who along with all the other Labour heavyweights and the Miliband shadow government, utterly failed to address the evil Tories’ onslaught of rhetoric which continually blamed the Labour party in power for all the debt and economic ills whilst affecting a “we care about the common people and your NHS” stance. An extremely poor judge, to put it mildly!

DSC_0161 [307646]

This pic features Ms Alive and Running establishing whether or not it was safe to go near to the edge. This was an independent decision, undertaken without my consent. I’m sure if I had done this, severe  criticism would have ensued.

DSC_0122 [307884]

Part of the Seven Sisters, East Sussex between the Birling gap and Beachy Head, the coastal bit of the South Downs. Very hilly. Excellent running country. Useless for high diving or cliff top homes.

Cambridge Half Marathon, end of February 2016 : interest registered.






















Wimpole Estate parkrun nearly two weeks ago. This shows the courtyard tower and below ye old spinning lady creating yarn and ye old knitted items to buy. National trust, so guaranteed to be an interesting parkland course, very middle class, frightening to aficionados of modern architecture and to have plenty of sprightly elderly  volunteers who enthusiastically inform you of the history of the stately home and its grand rooms. I think the vast majority of runners will feel grateful to have the opportunity to run in such an environment (as long as they don’t dwell to deeply on issues like social equality, class experiences, the have and the have nots etc. Come to think about it, weren’t many of our most proud cities built on the proceeds of slavery and exploitation?) It’s just that kind of thinking that can be very distracting and slow down your parkrun time. So my advice is to forget the past. It’s literally dead in the water. Thinking too much can raise all sorts of awkward questions. You start to question everything and then things can really go awry. Look at all those people hell bent on supporting Jeremy Corbyn’s bid to lead the Labour Party. The Loony Left (as defined by most of the Labour Party and the entire evil Tory Party) clearly think too much, question too much and as a result will cause the Labour movement to implode. So, the lesson to be learned is be socially aware and compassionate up to a point, listen to moderation, don’t be seduced by attractive but totally unrealistic policies and accept the banks and poorly governanced capitalism are sometimes not run in the best interests of everyone but ultimately and mysteriously create maximum wealth for society as a whole. Does it really matter if the Tories fool most of the people most of the time? They seem to have a handle on most things. And they’re absolutely brilliant at evil.

Anyway back to running. Recent parkrun controversy. Complaints were made concerning a fast runner or runners (unknown) pushing aside a slower runner as they lapped them on the narrow woodland course. This happens only occasionally and is entirely unacceptable. If identified, the culprit should be returned to evil Tory Party Head Office and re-programmed. No-one was identified, there was a lot of condemnation of the egregious behaviour and a lot of emphasis on parkrun being a run not a race. In fact it’s a time trial! Of course this would carry greater weight if the results weren’t organised from the fastest time to the slowest in a clear hierarchy (as in a race). Luckily, we all know it’s a run (except the ones who persist in believing it’s a race). I must acknowledge the run director handled the issue very adeptly and very fairly. It’s not easy managing to please 400 plus people charging around a narrow two circuit course.

I went running over the South Downs around Brighton in Sussex this week Lovely, undulating trails which allowed me to do a bit of hill work denied to me in Cambridge.

Warning : this blog contains irony and litotes. Reading is undertaken at your own risk!!!!