Johnson’s Tories still banjax Great Britain. Local elections could help to change balance of power if our cognitively impaired electorate wake up.

Music courtesy of Philip Glass

Yes, rotating wooden balls fixed to metal rods. And why not? It’s relaxing, quirky and has a retro feel. You know where you are with a wooden sphere. It’s entirely complete and uncomplicated. But are a cascade of moving, swivelling balls art? Of course. Art encompasses great technical skill, possessed by relatively few people, who execute a visually realistic interpretation or an advanced creative depiction that few people would seek to question as a high art form. But art can equally encompass non traditional forms which appear low on the spectrum of high art but include elements which pose questions and challenge preconceptions or express dissent or shock. Is there a line that needs to be drawn when you talk about art? Who gets on their high horse and why? Why do art installations appear to polarise opinion? Do left and right leaning people like radically different creative styles? If you are over seventy, are you much less likely to enjoy or appreciate abstract and modern art? These aren’t original questions and what constitutes art encapsulates myriad discussions and nuanced argument. Do I care? Not really. I accept art is all things to all people What’s more interesting is the vehemence, prejudice and passive-aggression with which views are expressed. Or the absence of active interest in art or creative activity. Poor, unbalanced people!

Music courtesy of Philip Glass

More musical balls.

I last posted in February, two weeks or so before the Cambridge half marathon. This went well, in the main. No surprises, a steady pace and a bit slower than the last Cambridge half in October 2021. I also did the nearby Cambourne 10k in April and met up with some old running pals. I used to see them regularly when parkrun was on at Milton Country Park but with the demise of that venue {gnashing of teeth} contact is intermittent. Still, I’m continuing to run 30-35k a week so I’m doing okay. This includes running with my Cottenham pal ,Rob, in an adjacent village.

Boris Johnson’s luck has yet to run out which, with a bit of reflection, isn’t surprising. Has has no moral compass and he has surrounded himself with supporters that either can’t tell right from wrong or don’t care or have no qualms lying through their teeth. Whether its blithely denying participation in illegal lockdown parties, explaining why they sent thousands of elderly patients from hospital back to their care homes, untested for covid, and causing tens of thousands of preventable deaths, pretending they a have any sympathy or understanding for the ordinary working man or devising schemes to transport refugees/migrants to Rwanda permanently (out of sight, out of mind, cost undisclosed, plaudits from xenophobes, racists and fascists everywhere), you can always depend on the Tories to convincingly defend the indefensible and without a hint of shame or remorse.

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.

Still running and still shocked by Tory bigotry

First post since last January. I’ve remained well, avoided covid and continued to run consistently. Parkrun returned over four months ago but I’ve only attended one so far. Unfortunately our local parkrun in Cambridge, Milton Country Park, decided not to host the event any more, a controversial decision that was extremely disappointing and taken for unclear reasons.The loss of Milton parkrun means I don’t meet up with running chums consistently and I’ve reverted to being a lone runner . I have, however, had more contact with a person I previously saw once a year at a local school run, which is good. They say friends and socialising is essential for robust mental health. I agree but I’m an introvert at heart. I did do Cambridge half marathon and three local 10k races and I’m currently running 30-35k each week. The Cambridge half took place late, in October, and I’ve signed up for the next one in March 2022.

Perhaps it’s a positive and protective behaviour that we don’t generally share our views and beliefs lightly with acquaintances, or that we do, much more whole heartedly, with people we know better or have reason to understand we will receive a sympathetic response. On the other hand, the unavoidable views of people who express clear opposition and animosity to our core values and standards produce a baleful effect and constant dismay. The Tory party, and Boris Johnson in particular, are the obvious examples. They have clearly demonstrated that elitist showmanship and entertaining guff can win hearts and minds. Unfortunately these skills and abilities are used to gloss over aggessive and cruel policies, blatent corruption and an obvious appeal to their credulous electorate. Their supporters thrive on the Daily Mail diet of fear, outrage, condemnation, predjudice, xenophobia, sentimentalism, thinly disguised racism and anti wokeness. They don’t appear concerned about sleeze, financial irregularities with tax payers’ money, the cavalier and fatal disregard for care home residents in the first covid wave or the plight of refugees dangerously crossing the Channel. Boris Johnson got Brexit done, they crow. We can be in control of our own affairs, stop immigration and forge our own way ahead. We can consider new ways of doing things, like pushing inflatable boats back to France and transporting illegal immigrants to centres abroad to be processed out of the public eye. The supine electorate laps up the big numbers the Tories claim to be spending on the NHS while fogetting that they ran it down in the first place. Rant, rant, rant. It’s not easy taking the moral high ground but this government of doesn’t make it hard either. What can you do when the Tories daily prove they possess no humanity and a sizeable chunk of the population just shrug their shoulders.

What have we learnt over the last year?

 

It’s a very broad question and, of course, we all learn differently. So what have I learnt? {Yes, it’s all about me. me, me}. I have been deeply impressed by the kindness, forebearance and bravery of others, particularly in the context of the Covid 19 pandemic. The suffering and loss has prompted deep compassion and continuing, everyday examples of innate humanity, despite the backdrop of an incompetent and complacent government. But, then again, that’s what I would expect because most people, under the most trying circumstances, would endeavour to act responsibly and sensibly and follow rules designed to alleviate the current crisis. The severe restrictions may have brought financial hardship, increased poverty, unemployment, loss of movement, prevented social interaction with family and friends and  stopped activities we took for granted but life, although curtailed, carries on. Nevertheless, the cost to many is huge.

So far, so positive. I don’t find the above remarkable. It’s what I expect. It’s not an eye opener. But some of the responses to the Covid pandemic and the American presidential election and its aftermath do turn a spotlight on a number of disturbing beliefs and an apparent willingness to act upon them.

Covid and Trump’s America have exposed and highlighted the existence of a willingness to embrace fantasy as fact and condemn unacceptable facts as fake. Both Trump and Boris Johnson trade in arousing negative sentiments and heightening emotions to influence people. Trump in particular is skilled at exploiting resentment and amplifying feelings of loss, unfairness, anger and hatred. He points the finger and creates targets for the aroused masses to focus their attention. In America, Trump has been able to sidestep reality and construct his own elaborate conspiracy theory to explain his defeat. He blithely faces down any kind of fact based argument, rubbishes anyone who disagrees and tramples democratic norms. In the Uk Boris Johnson doesn’t have to go to such lengths because the levels of anger and seething bitterness in the UK are much less virulent. We tend to fall for wealthy right wing stand up comedians to pull the wool over our eyes instead.

Why do so many people fall for politicians like Trump and Johnson? Why are they able to marshal such negative passions in so many of us? Their supporters are not psychologically minded. They are primed to react, to be aroused, to release their anger, aggression and sense of losing out, of being tricked. Their focus isn’t on community or fairness but on loss and identifying  who has taken it from them. They don’t think, they feel. That’s the nature of right wingers. Even if you feel I have presented an exagerrated caricature the evidence in both America and the UK is that the middle of the road conservatives will hold their noses and still support a fascist narcissist or someone who makes them laugh. Theses politicians are able to stir the deep well of aggression and negative emotions a lot of us obviously possess.

Phew! Back to something less controversial. Despite my dodgy right knee I’ve managed to run around 32k each week. That’s three 9ks and one timed 5k. My knee is still weak and stiff but running isn’t problematic. Part of my run is along an old Roman Road called Mere Way (currently threatened by the construction of a waste water treatment plant}. It’s exceedingly muddy for most of its length. We’ve had a lot of rain and the ground is saturated. It won’t be drying up any time soon. We are still in partial covid lockdown and there are no races on the horizon yet apart from Cambridge half marathon scheduled for October. Entry is by competitive ballot this year. I’ll do it if I can, Covid allowing.

I’ve just had a phone call from my GP surgery offering me a Pfizer vaccine. It’s the only advantage to having heart disease. Yippee!

 

British Understatement : 2020, a funny old year

 

Or rather, not funny at all. Certainly not funny ha ha and funny peculiar hardly describes it. But humour is a complicated thing and frequently misunderstood. I tend to spontaneously half gasp, half chuckle when I hear something outrageous or emotionally upsetting as related to me by others talking about their own unfortunate experiences. Surprisingly, no-one has ever found this response disrespectful or upsetting because they recognise my empathy and sense of outrage on their behalf. I reacted strongly because of my sense of unfairness and appreciation of their emotional hurt. Professionally, when I was working, I did a great deal of half chuckling, half gasping, sometimes even laughing out loud. I heard many accounts of emotional suffering, often spoken with sadness and resignation and they were never less than shocking. My responses never caused offence.

And now, in 2020, I’m still unable to stifle grunts, gasps, sharp intakes of breath, groans, sighs and bewildered expressions. I spend a lot of time feeling incredulous and disbelieving. While I’m at it, throw in pained expressions and open-mouthed shock as well.

Am I exaggerating? Of course, but not greatly. The events and behaviour, provoking these reactions are all around. Boris Johnson’s UK and Trump’s America provide countless examples of right-wing cultivation of people’s fears and prejudices which produce unkind, cruel and partisan policies .Both are populist governments heavily reliant on the populations’ deep reservoirs of anger, resentment, xenophobia and sense of betrayal. Lip service is given to the needs and welfare of the community and individual vulnerable groups. Maximum emphasis is placed on loss, damaging cultural change and ethnic groups or countries taking unfair advantage.

Brexit is a prime example in the UK. Another was the UK government’s determination not to fund free school meals for the children whose parents lost income during the pandemic restrictions or would normally be eligible if schools were open. The government, in the first pandemic wave, was responsible for the wholesale neglect of the elderly in care homes which resulted in many thousands of deaths.

The Trump administration demonstrates that absolute power can corrupt absolutely and how the normal checks and balances embedded in a democracy can be found wanting. He has wantonly and effortlessly degraded the office of the President, given succour to racists and the extreme right wing, run rough shod over normal and decent values, crudely whipped up violent and disruptive groups and lies without compunction. Trump is a single individual who has contrived to prove fascism is not only alive and kicking but can also accrue widespread support. A shameful, vicious and extremely embarrassing episode in American politics.

On the positive side, Covid 19 vaccinations are over the horizon, crazy anti vaccinators notwithstanding, and my running is stepping up. Despite my right knee remaining puffy and a tad stiff, I can run every other day. I can do 5k and 9k without obvious problems and I recently did 15k successfully. That means a half marathon is within range and I’ve pre-registered for the Cambridge half which is scheduled for October 2021. I’ve got high hopes that parkrun will recommence by the Spring when the vaccination programme is up and running.

Last gasp of summer as second covid wave arrives

The little sunflower is still intact but summer in the UK came to an end today with plummeting temperatures and rain in the south. It’s coinciding with an upsurge in positive corona virus infections, a growing increase in hospital admissions, more severe restrictions on social interaction, limiting pub and restaurant opening times and government advice to work from home (again) wherever possible.

It’s pointless to speculate how a Labour government might have managed the impact of covid 19 on society and the economy. We only know and experience how the present Tory incumbents are handling the unprecedented challenges. We know, for example, that substantial lockdown measures were introduced far too late in March, that the Tory government abandoned test and trace measures around the same time and care homes, along with their vulnerable residents, were disasterously left to fend for themselves. Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, famously asserted that he had thrown a “protective ring” around the care home sector, a claim that was competely hollow and a willful, cynical misrepresentation.

The government mantra is they are led by the science but the measures they announce to combat the virus are political and with an eye to their popularity.

Governments worldwide are having to manage unprecedented circumstances and formulate contingency plans. In essence, it’s a balance between saving lives and saving the economy. At present, without an effective vaccination available, in any given population, there are loud voices giving  emphasis to personal and family risk while many oppose severe measures because of the resultant loss of economic demand and consequential unemployment.

This UK government has a history of spin, bluster, slick presentation and dependence on feel-good bromides and platitudes. They are massaging the covid statistics and their “NHS”test and trace programme is not fit for purpose. Boris Johnson has the temerity to give it give it the prefix NHS but in reality it should be termed Serco test and trace. Led by Dido Harding, it’s a good example of Tory nepotism as is her appointment.

Currently, the running has come to a dead halt. Until recently I was running 9k every other day and my weak, stiff knee was coping well. Unfortunately I pushed it bit further by adding a 5k session in without sufficient recovery. Result? A painful unrunnable knee. Now having at least a week’s rest. Oh dear! But I can walk. Phew!

 

 

Covid -Fools rush in where angels fear to tread (where you exert personal choice). Or are obliged to take risks and return to work with inadequate safeguards?

It’s a great advantage being very near to the Emmaus Cambridge community, a charity which accommodates homeless men and women and runs a substantial social enterprise accepting donated goods and selling them in their large store. I picked up this wonky glass flute, just right for this peperomia. Perhaps it’s too near. More than half our furniture came from Emmaus. It’s a good source of everything including books.

I’m running along Mere Way, a Roman Road near my village. This continues to be my current running route and is so much more enjoyable than pavements. Access to it is from a long farm road cul de sac with few cars and occasional large farm machinery. Fairly well used by runners, cyclists and walkers, it’s currently under threat by proposed A10 rerouting plans which would go right through it and the surrounding farm land.. Possibly this might call for militant environmental protest in the future. We’ll see!

My knee injury seems to have improved. I gave cycling up because it was too time consuming and running feels so much more time efficient and natural. I was doing 12k every other day but I found this knocked me out a bit. I am now doing 9k every other day with a 12k occasionally and this seems to work well. My problematic right knee remains a little swollen, and feels stiff initially when I get up but causes no problems when running. So, good result. If I put too much pace in, I do feel it aching at night but not enough to wake me. Additionally, with this running regime I have lost weight, around nine pounds and this has helped my knee.

Of course, the temptation when running is going well is to do more and I have revived an interest in fell running. I have never done this before but the urge to travel to a suitable fell is almost irristable. The nearest would be the Peak District national park, about two hours drive away or the Lake District, about four hours. It goes without saying I would need fell running shoes like Inov8s. At least I would be seen to have the right kit when I break my ankle or my knee snaps in half. For the moment I’ll just watch those very seductive fell race you tube videos.

Indoor plants have taken over the model making at the moment and I like to customise my teraccotta pots.

wp-1596378248372.jpg

We visited the Henry Moore Studios and Gardens in Hertfordshire recently and it was wonderful to see the monumental sculptures in an open grassland setting. The house was shut but most of the outside studio spaces were open and there was plenty of room to socially distance. A beautiful, creative place for thinking and relaxing.

Do say : What a phenomenally talented, innovative man that Henry Moore was.

Don’t say : What the bloody hell does it all mean? He’s an odd fish and no mistake!

Right wingers, Conservatives, Republicans white supremacists, fascists. Oh, and throw in the Christian Right evangelicals (a genuine oxymoron} They are all characterised by xenophobia, homophobia, racism, a fear of loss, anger, a huge sense of their own entitlement being under threat and an overwhelming concern with their class welfare alongside an absence of empathy for society at large, other cultures and vulnerable minorities. It’s a long sentence but could be longer. These people and some groups share these characteristics to a greater or lesser extent. For examples, see any of Trump’s outbursts/tantrums/tweets. For the the UK Tory goverment take the example of how the elderly in the care homes were abandoned by the goverment during the Covid pandemic and died in their thousands. See how the government was forced into a U turn by footballer Marcus Rashford after they were shamed into continuing food vouchers for the poorest families during the school holidays. Or how a Syrian asylum seeker, working in a hospital in East London, made an impassioned plea, on behalf of immigrant NHS workers shockingly excluded from the government’s bereavement compensation scheme and forced to pay a premium to use the hospitals they were risking their lives to keep going. Boris Johnson U turned the next day. Just everyday cruelty courtesy of the Tory party if they can get away with it.

A different reality now. I’m grateful to be able to run

Under the UK Covid -19 restrictions we are allowed a daily period of exercise, up to an hour, and within a reasonable distance of home as long as the journey does not exceed the period of exercise. I am in the lucky position, living in the countryside, of not having to negotiate my way past people on narrow pavements and maintain social distancing. It’s much easier to run around walkers by running into the road now that there is much less traffic. The density of population is far less so there are fewer people around.

Nevertheless there is a heightened fear and anxiety, in some,  of runners spreading contamination by coughing, spluttering, spitting and heavy breathing when they pass. particularly if they do not give a wide birth. All runners and cyclists have a responsibility to behave with care and consideration, especially at the present time. There is a running etiquette to observe and this includes not alarming people. In previous times it was good manners not to startle pedestians by passing too closely or by coughing to announce your presence if there were few peope about. Coughing, of course, is wholly inappropriate now but all runners need to think ahead and behave sensibly.

My knee injury is coming up to a year old. It’s still stiff, weak and a little swollen. My appointment at the Musculo-skeletal clinic is on hold indefinitely. Nevertheless I am able to run up to 8-9k every other day without experiencing discomfort or pain. So it has improved and unless I ask too much, hopefully it will continue.

We may feel we are hunkering down and waiting for the Covid crisis to pass but there is no justification for suspending our critical faculties. You would hope that your government would act with integrity and in good faith. That they would take timely decisions acccording to need and necessity and the process would be transparent.

The daily government, medical and science press briefing are a wonder to behold. Boris Johnson, before he became seriously ill with Covid-19, was gung ho, up beat and clearly didn’t take matters seriously enought to practise social distancing. The government maintained the fiction that he was only mildly unwell and still fully in charge up to the point he was taken to ITU.

Each  briefing brings an avalanche of numbers concerning items of personal protective equipment suggesting the government is meeting supply needs despite the clamour from hospitals ,nurses, doctors and others anxiously reporting the complete opposite.

The care homes appear to have been abandoned in terms of PPE. Not only do they have an appalling lack of PPE, the government has failed to include their high level of mortality in the numbers dying from Covid-19.

Covid-19 have caused a disproportionate number of deaths among the black, asian and minority ethnic population. The goverment was very slow to acknowledge this fact. They have also substantially under recorded the number of deaths among health care workers and people working in health care. Their preferred focus is on doctors and nurses to whom they readily pay lavish homage. Porters and ancillary staff don’t quite cut it.

The press/media questions after the briefing do not bring any clarity. The minister of the day, flanked by medical and science experts either do not answer the relatively tame questions or resort to generalities, spin, platitudes or just plain praising their own efforts.

I believe the government was very slow to react to the virus threat initially and several weeks were lost. I think a lot of decisions are made which are politically inspired despite the mantra that they have always been led by the science.

Covid 19 has changed everything

The Cambridge half marathon took place on the cusp of more Draconian measures to combat the corona virus, on March 8th. So quickly have we been conditioned to self distance to protect ourselves, it feels unsettling to see these images.


Cambridge and Coleridge come in first and second (middle and right side C and C’er respectively). There should be a law to ensure they are putting in maximum effort and suffering at all times. I know this is the start of the race but they still looked composed at the end of it.

 No family member took part this year. I’ve still got a dodgy knee and my eldest son was unwell and had to forgo his place

In the UK, at present time of writing, we are allowed to exercise once daily, outside our homes, and appropriately observing social distancing requirements. My knee is still problematic, and my referral to the muscular-skeletal clinic has probably fallen into a black hole but I’m able to run short distances each day. The roads are very quiet and lots of people are walking around who wouldn’t normally be on the streets. Plenty of us are running. Personally, I feel the fitter I am, the greater resilience I will have if I contract the virus. I’m in one of the vulnerable categories because of heart disease so I am particularly careful. I feel fit and my lung capacity must be good. I don’t feel at risk but, of course, I risk others’ health if I become ill.

The middle class are about to discover the cruelty of Britain’s benefits system

The coronavirus crisis ignites a bonfire of Conservative party orthodoxies

Coronavirus exposes society’s fragility. Let’s find solutions that endure once it’s over

It takes a whole world to create a new virus, not just China

The above links are to Guardian or Observer articles and offer analysis to these drastically changing times. It’s ironic that the Labour Party’s manifesto, before the last Uk election in December 2019, was roundly criticised for its profligacy on spending plans to transform British society. We are in a crisis now and there doesn’t appear to be a shortage of financial help. This may be vital to maintain confidence in our economic system and prevent societal unrest and civil disorder. But the same Tories have presided over swingeing cuts to the NHS, education, social services, children’s services and local goverment for well over a decade  I had an argument with an idiot in a hospital outpatient clinic who kept on repeating “Where’s the money coming from?” The right wing have done such a good job in subverting the concept of public good and replacing it with fear and condemnation and personal threat, a large number of people can’t see the wood for the trees.

So galling seeing the Tories and their scientific and medical friends, standing at lecterns which proclain” Protect the NHS”, during the daily press briefings. As if they believe that.

I believe there will be a reckoning when this present emergency subsides and hopefully the evil Tories won’t succeed in spinning their own version of events.

Pity the poor Americans. Trump living on another planet and unable to string a coherent sentence together and suffering  wholly inadequate health care and social benefit systems. Where’s the humanity?

The Loneliness of the Long Injured Runner Assuaged Only By House Plants

Running marathons could help you live longer – but how do you start?

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/shortcuts/2020/jan/07/running-marathons-help-live-longer-how-do-you-start?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_WordPress

The call of the marathon! Seductive or easily dismissed? There have been lots of articles recently on how running is beneficial to your health. It joggles the brain nicely to ward off dementia, creates new brain cells and neurone pathways, strengthens joints and aids mental health. You don’t have to do marathons or even run. Exercise and activity are the fundamental components. Since my knee injury has stopped me running more than 5k, and at a more relaxed pace, I’ve been walking more and very enjoyable it is, too.

But it’s running I want to get back to. No Cambridge half marathon this year and no 10k race entries (yet). My knee remains weak and puffy but I think there is a slow improvement. My running fitness has appreciably declined, unfortunately. It will return, hopefully, when my knee is stronger.

Hold the front page! I’ve just returned from a five mile run and my knee held up. Not sure what it will be like overnight, but that’s hours away. At the moment it’s okay. New plan: register for 10k races immediately. What can go wrong?

I appear to have become obsessed with house plants (note that I am implying that this has been imposed on me from above. I am just a helpless plaything manipulated by a higher intelligence to enact their whims). Someone or something has pressured me into setting up nearly forty plants and it’s a real headache trying to provide the right amount of light they require in a cottage that’s on the dark side. These first world problems are really under appreciated. Additionally, it’s very easy to overwater, one of the main causes for plant death or terminal decline, and, conversely, to under water. I’m still feeling my way forward. It’s not too difficult as long as you consider the individual plant’s needs on a DAILY basis. Like having children, really, except they don’t talk back.

Politically, we’ve fallen into the Dark Ages again. Boris Johnson has a cabinet of poodles and absolute power. Like Trump he is able to sidestep integrity, truthfulness, consistency and any authentic concern for the needs of people outside his own elitist class. Like Trump, he has a large number of angry, prejudiced, uneducated and disillusioned voters who succumb to hard line, nationalistic policies which identify culprits and demonise minorities. Their styles are very different. One is a bullying white supremacist, the other a stand up comedian. But their nasty, vicious,cruel outlook is shared.