Winter running. The cold, the wind, the mud. It’s predictable, like Tory sleaze.

Two daughters and one boyfriend ran the Cambridge 10k the day before I ran the half last October. It all went very well. It’s satisfying that all my five children have been running at some stage and will return to it when their circumstances allow. Running. Who wouldn’t want to do it, huh!

I’ve managed to run consistently since my last post in November 2021, without injury, and covering 30-35k weekly. I now have a new running chum whom I meet weekly in an adjacent village. This has resulted in new running routes, which is very welcome, since I have relied on just two for years. It’s also added a new dimension to running, namely, chatting. Having been a lone runner for decades, I wouldn’t have guessed this would be conducive, but it is. Of course, our weekly runs aren’t competitive. My strategy in any races we do together is to encourage chatting while I listen attentively and then pull ahead towards the finish, using the reserves of breath I’ve held back. It’s a fool proof wheeze. Possibly.

I’ve also returned to parkrun on an occasional basis. Occasional because of the covid risk but also, since the sad demise of Cambridge parkrun at Milton, because of the travel involved. Storey’s Field, Eddington, a new town on the edge of Cambridge, is my chosen parkrun at present. It’s very well organised and there are plenty of familiar faces, yet I still pine for Milton.

Under two weeks until the Cambridge half marathon. I’ve now done two training 21k sessions and feel set to go. The last Cambridge half was in October 2021, deferred from the previous March, so now it’s back to its original time of year.

Prime Minister’s Question time, broadcast live on the BBC each Wednesday, never fails to be an education. Boris Johnson, having won the last election with a vast majority, has proved that you can fool most of the people, most of the time. Huge swathes of traditionally Labour voters were persuaded to leave Europe based on government cultivated xenophobic anxieties regarding immigration, loss of British jobs to foreigners, loss of British sovereignty and jurisdiction and the assertion that the haemorrhage of tax payers money to the EU would cease and go directly to boost the NHS. What is it about the British electorate that provokes them to regress to uttering simplistic demands about “wanting their freedom back” and instancing minor examples of European law and bureacracy?

The Ukraine crisis has proved to be a get-out-of-jail card for Johnson, allowing a diversion of attention away from the government’s handling of Covid and the scandal of numerous social parties organised by the government during the lockdowns, egregiously breaching their own rules, and showing contempt for ordinary people. Johnson clearly revels in playing an inflated role as the elder statesman on the world stage. He does this well, with confidence, conviction and powers of persuasion instilled in him by his class and education. That’s how the Tories excel. They project and amplify emotions that target the electorate’s fears, anxieties, prejudices and sense of being disadvantaged. They shamelessly use their own statistics to demonstrate success, relying on a credulous electorate to be impressed. Think about the thousands of extra nurses, doctors and billions going into the NHS. Don’t think about the previous lack of investment and cuts to services and loss of hospital beds. Do be awed by the repetition of billions of PPE items obtained during the pandemic and regular announcements of further billions of pounds being expended on the NHS. Don’t mention the government reacted slowly to provide equipment, or abandoned care home residents to die in their tens of thousands. Or that a a large scale excercise concerning management of a pandemic a few years earlier pin pointed exactly what was needed to meet such a contingency, but had its findings and recommendations ignored.

This is what the Tories do best. They are, collectively, a master class in expert, nuanced manipulation directed against a softened up, beguiled public in thrall to posh boy politicians and hard nosed, cruel female counterparts.

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