Photo by John Wilderspin
Cambridge parkrun today. I feel the pain caused by the eyes boring into the back of my head as I desperately attempt to stay in front. Should I gel my hair back, should I get it shorn ? Or shall I grow it, with a beard, so I am indistinguishable from Saruman the White (later of Many Colours). I’m talking Lord of the Rings here, of course. No contest! It might take me a couple of years but I’m sure I could find fame as the Wizard of Cambridge parkrun. A further omen was clearly given to me when I noticed that Heffers bookshop front window displayed a full range of wands, real magical broomsticks and other wizard paraphernalia. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
I’m getting over my third cold this winter and still haven’t fully recovered from the food food poisoning that stopped me doing Cambridge half marathon two weeks ago. My appetite hasn’t returned to normal, I still feel queasy several times a day and my taste for sweet foods is diminished. None of the above is having a beneficial effect on my running. Moan,moan moan! Roll on the warm, dry weather.
I occasionally buy the weekly magazine New Scientist if there’s an interesting article. Today, the reason to buy it was a piece on placebos. The first few paragraphs made me laugh out loud. A woman with irritable bowel syndrome for 15 years saw a TV ad recruiting participants for a new study. Desperate for help she signed up despite learning that the potential treatment she would be offered consisted of either nothing – or pills filled with nothing. Needless to say, her condition improved considerably. She’s hoping to sign up for a similar new trial and she’s been trying to get hold of more of the pills filled with nothing ever since the old trial ended. I laughed because it’s so counter intuitive. The placebo works even though the recipient is fully aware that it is a placebo. This is now an accepted given. There’s now loads of evidence that placebos work and many of the medications we are prescribed are little better than placebos, with much greater side effect profiles You couldn’t make it up.
A computer programme, Alpha Go, has beaten a top Go master (human). Oh dear! I used to play Go with an old chum but no longer. I miss the game and unfortunately there’s no-one around me that plays it. Cambridge has a couple of Go clubs but they look rather intense. I don’t think I would fit in. You can’t take these things too seriously.