Cambridge half marathon and Tate Britain

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This is not the Cambridge half, of course. This is Cambridge parkrun the day before. And very muddy it was, too. Photo taken by Rob Moir who is able to twist around, whilst running, and take a good quality picture without falling arse over tit, before accelerating off. Thanks Rob.

I was very lucky to run the Cambridge half. Four days before I did a bit of light lifting without an obvious problem but overnight my knee became painful. The following day it was very sore and stiff and I thought this might be the second Cambridge half in a row that injury or illness would stop me running. The next day, Saturday, I did parkrun but the knee held up and for the rest of the day. Just over three miles is one thing but thirteen miles is something else. Nevertheless, I did the half, and miraculously, with no ill effect to my knee except a little aching and stiffness. Phew!

I’m not running very consistently at the moment and not for very long either. I did run my fastest parkrun this year, yesterday, but I’m still catching up on last year’s times. Today, I ran the Swavesey 5 miler. Swavesey’s a village 10 miles from Cambridge surrounded by very flat fenland fields and when the wind blows, as it often does in the fens, there’s no protection. It was windy today but the temperature was mild. Nevertheless I ran in my jacket to avoid the wind chill. I came in 22nd out of 69 but two and a half minutes slower than last year.There was also a half marathon at the same time in which 134 ran. Another half was a temptation but physically I don’t feel 100%.

After the race, as I was leaving, I came across a gaggle of St. John’s Ambulance standing alone in the wind. They asked me how my race went. I revealed it went okay (this is not fake news!) and I said their presence was very reassuring to me because of my heart disease (they also had a couple of bikes out following the runners). Good people (does Trump use this phrase, it sounds familiar).

And so to the Tate Britain gallery, Millbank, London to see the David Hockney exhibition. Well worth visiting to see all his iconic pictures and pictures of various periods. Very enjoyable wandering  around the galleries again and absorbing the wonderful creativity.

Lorna is contemplating Jules Olitski’s Instant Loveland. There’s more going on in this picture than appears at first sight, particularly in the lower left hand corner. Thankfully there is no danger of Lorna being overwhelmed by a kaleidoscope of lurid colours. Actually, I am sympathetic to this type of art but I still find it highly amusing.

This is Edward Halliday’s Christian and Hopeful Arrive Before the Celestial City, 1926. I’ve read Pilgrim’s Progress and I don’t remember it as a naked journey.

I walked into Cambridge’s premier bookshop, Cambridge University Press, with confidence and purpose. I found the hardback book I had seen in the window display and optimistically scanned it for the price. £60!!!!!!!! I staggered back, weakened in body and spirit. The staff were familiar with such reactions, helping me to sit down and wafting smelling salts under my nose. They gently prised the £60 tome from my immobilised hand, glanced at the price and offered the standard treatment response. “Don’t worry, sir. This title will be issued in paperback in two months at less than a third of the cost. I’m sure you’re  feeling better already, aren’t you? I was!

 

 

 

Cambridge half marathon next Sunday

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Not the most flattering picture of me running towards the finish line at Cambridge parkrun recently. But, on the positive side it does show me ahead of my arch rival Eric (in red). We are both running below par at the moment. I haven’t got a good excuse but Eric has. I hope he regains his previous level of running fitness and I hope I can keep up with him.

Part of my problem is I’m running less and going to the gym more. My all round fitness has probably increased but at the cost of running speed. Not that this matters, of course. Speed is a false god ect,etc. Nevermind, I should be okay for the half marathon although my long runs peaked several weeks ago. I’m also booked for the Swavesey 5 miler later this month, the Cambourne 10k in April and Wings for Life in May (starts off in central Cambridge and the idea is to outrun a celebrity in a car). This was very enjoyable last year. Did around 7000 take part? Very nicely organised.

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Oh dear! I seem to have taken up clay modelling. These are a couple of basic prototypes which are part finished. I’m afraid there’s going to be a lot like this and hopefully with more finesse. Interestingly, it has prompted a newfound fascination with wire (the armature within) and wood textures (for the base).

I blame Kevin Spacey and the House of Cards series for Trump and his self serving, manpulative and fascist policies. We’re quietly working our way through th 50+ episodes on Netflix and there’s a fifth series starting in May. Kevin Spacey is excellent as the dangerous snake who becomes President and given that the series aired years before Trump was elected, there are some very eery parallels.  He’s currently (Kevin) spending billions on creating jobs to ensure popularity and has excluded critical elements of the press from attending White House briefings. I’m certain Trump has devoured this series and has adopted Spacey’s President Frank Underwood as a positive role model. God help America!

As I write, the House of Lords has just defeated the government over the rights of EU citizens. They’ve voted in favour of guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens living in the UK after Brexit. Wonderful. Unfortunately, it’s likely that the nasty Tories will be able to get a reversal at a later point. Arch nasty Tory Lord Norman Tebbit voted with his nasty party, of course and in his little Lord’s speech rhetorically asked why everyone was getting worked up over “foreigners.” This attitude sums up Tories in a nutshell!

Trump vows running community will pay for wearing out sidewalks (and by the way, runners are losers).

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Cambridge at night and approaching the Garret Hostel bridge over the river Cam. Strangely no tourists in sight which is a pity because the weather made it super spooky. It’s only around 7.30pm and there were very few people around.

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Trinity Lane also deserted apart from vaporous apparitions passing through the dank walls. You can just make out a couple of them in this shot. We did decide to take this route but with Lorna walking forwards while I walked backwards. Just as a precaution.

Tip : BBC, Taboo, 9pm, Saturday, two episodes gone, six to go. Wonderfully atmospheric thriller set in early nineteenth century London. Top cast, top production (Ridley Scott).

Did a bit of Cambridge half marathon training yesterday. I ran 9 miles in the most dreary of weather – cold, miserable light and raining. Didn’t see anyone running until I got to the river and then came across around 20-25, some in groups, some running alone. Most returned my passing acknowledgement, some got their salutations in before me, some looked straight through me. The latter group tend to be young and fast. No bitterness intended! Anyway, good to get the training out of the way. If I can do 9, I can do 13. It’s at the beginning of  March and there’s plenty of time to do some occasional long runs to remind my legs what they are in for.

My times at parkrun are still on a downward trajectory. I put this down to building up muscle at the gym. If this carries on, I’ll look like Arnold Schwarzenegger but come in with the tail runner. No matter. In two weeks it will be Cambridge parkrun’s 7th birthday and I’ll be running my 306th parkrun. I first ran it at #5 in 2010 when 88 took part. The current maximum field is 558. Another 10 years and walkers will be an endangered species!

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My haul of Christmas books. The Lonely City is about the spaces between people and things that draw them together, about sexuality, mortality and the magical possibilities of art. It profiles some odd but very creative people.

Emily Witt’s Future Sex is a non titillating investigation into different modern expressions of sexuality. Could be challenging to some, hilarious to others.

Permaculture magazine. A kinder, natural, way of growing and living with land and nature.

Writers’ and Artist’ Year Book to kick start my writing mojo (again).

Zealot – The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, 2013 (controversial) biography of Jesus.

The Trial of Lady Chatterley’s Lover by Sybille Bedford. This is a short, contemporary  account of the DH Lawrence book Lady Chatterley’s Lover which was published in its unexpurgated form in 1960 by Penguin and resulted in a famous trial for publishing obscene material . A very entertaining description, and the prosecution’s case is wondrous to the modern ear (as in the prosecution barrister asking the jury “Is this a book you would wish your wife or servant to read?”

Finally, The Big Watch Book, £6. It’s full of images of obscenely expensive watches. The manufacturers and purchasers of said items should be subject to prosecution under conspicuous and extravagant display of wealth laws. Unfortunately I am beguiled by these objects and their descriptions and this type of advertisement book is a guilty pleasure like the occasional buying of the Saturday Telegraph.

The more I see and hear Donald Trump condemn, pontificate, insult, sneer, lie, insinuate and intimidate, the less faith I have for people in general to make a reasoned judgement of what conduct is required to govern a country with wisdom and compassion. He’s a high functioning narcissist with a pronounced cruel streak (and by the way, he’s in charge of America!)

 

 

 

 

2017 – my goals, resolutions and other possible fiction

 

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Cambridge parkrunfirst timers briefing on January 7th. Another large field – 526 turned out to run in muddy conditions. To put on this parkrun takes around 30 volunteers and it was time for me to join their ranks. I chose to marshal. I enjoy marshalling because it’s so interesting watching the different running styles. Many people respond to the clapping and encouragement and for a substantial minority, it really is an impressive achievement. All in all, it’s a very positive experience for everyone concerned.

I’m not sure if Cambridge parkrun can continue to grow. The paths are narrow, there is a repeat circuit and parking appears to have reached capacity. There have been rumours about a new parkrun but nothing has come to fruition as yet. I spoke to someone a couple of years ago who was involved with an abortive attempt to get a new run off the ground. I was surprised how difficult the process proved to be and how much time and effort was required. I know how much a commitment it is for a core team to put on a run each week.

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Rather eery weather in Cambridge on the weekend. This is Trinity Lane arond 7.30pm.

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This is approaching Garret Hostel bridge over the Cam. I sent Lorna over first. She can deal with anything!

My goals, resolutions and aspirations?

  1. Be more consistent.
  2. Focus on creativity.
  3. Allow myself to be more eccentric.
  4. Create towers of books.
  5. Have a go at vlogging – subject reviewing book reviews with a view to describing their particular enjoyment.
  6. Take some things very seriously but take most things not too seriously and some “serious” things as  only worthy of spontaneously laughing out loud.
  7. Continue writing my crime novel at a much faster pace.
  8. Run and run and run.
  9. Pray Trump implodes without causing too much damage.
  10. Find someone with whom I can play chess and Go.
  11. That’s enough for the present.

Cambridge half marathon in 8 weeks. Time to start training.

 

 

 

 

 

Autumnal running and America on the brink

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Photo courtesy of John Wilderspin

Cambridge parkrun on November 5th. Chilly so I wore two running tops and tracksters. The following day I ran the  Bonfire Burn 10k at Histon. Four years ago this race took place in the worst weather I had ever run in. It was very cold, raining and windy. The race was delayed and I was underdressed. I couldn’t get comfortably warm until two thirds of the race was completed and I seriously considered abandoning it half way through. So yesterday, with rain forecast and low temperatures, I took no chances. Two running tops and a heavy duty cycling jacket, super efficient gloves, tracksters and a hat in a sidepocket just in case. Toasty warm before I started, I marvelled at the large numbers of men in shorts and singlets shiveringing the wind. Of course the sun came out immediately, the wind died down, the temperature went up and no rain materialised. It proved to be a lovely day for running in the Autumn sun in shorts and short sleeved top! No matter, I don’t mind running hot, either in winter or summer and the Bonfire Burn weather is always hard to predict. Better hot than cold!

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Post run amble to Milton Country Park cafe for coffee. Nicely coordinated with our colours, aren’t we. This is no coincidence, of course. We spend an hour before parkrun frantically Skyping until we get it just right and everyone is in agreement with our kit. It’s not easy being a runner!

OMG! It’s the horror of the American election. Please let sanity prevail. The spectacle of millions of Americans voting for a not so thinly disguised fascist who openly insults, abuses, belittles or intimidates those opposed to his beliefs or approach is truly disturbing. Trump’s politics demonstrate, not so much that you can fool most of the people most of the time but rather by demonising groups or individuals and overtly pandering to the dispossessed and economically left behind, you can easily incite their capacity for cruelty, absolute self interest and collective denial. So, despite camera recorded appalling behaviour and views over a long period of time, Trump’s supporters continue to instance his ability to speak plainly, take on vested interests and make America great again. Tonight, in one of his last speeches, the billionaire Trump asserted he was the champion of the working classes. This reminded me of the Tories and their Labour speak out doing the Labour Party in their concern for the working man. Trump appeals to the credulous and those lacking empathy, who want to rise again at the expense of others. Please American voters, don’t let him become 45th President of the United States of America.

 

Running made simple

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At present I’m running between two and three times a week. Typically I’ll do parkrun locally,  a two miler and a 11-12k longer run. This seems to be more than enough to keep me ticking over and retaining a reasonable level of running fitness which allows me to do the occasional 10k race without extra training.

I’m missing club running but not enough to rejoin. I do have to remind myself that 67% of the reason for leaving was because I was pushing myself too hard (possibly) for someone with heart disease. Research is suggesting that running too far, too often and at an elevated pace is not heart friendly. Research also suggests drinking from the right mug boosts confidence and self esteem. I’ll give it a go.

Cambridge parkrun numbers are still growing. The last two runs have seen record numbers at 546 and 558. Since the course is over a couple of laps and a smaller loop most of which are narrow woodland paths, there’s a lot of congestion at multiple points. This must be a central reason why the parkrun core team has now decided that dogs can no longer run alongside their owners/carers. In short, dogs are now banned. Cue controversy!

We’ve taken to going to London for the day and walking 10-12miles. Recently we explored the development at the back of Kings Cross station which includes a temporary Skip Garden and a reasonably secluded open air swimming pool. It will all be gone in two years and the area will be built on. A great pity because this is the kind of project which gives a place soul and a creative, natural feel. There’s no money in it for the developers, of course.

Still, there is the Regent’s Canal nearby (hopefully no plans to fill it it in) and you can stroll (or run) along most of its  length. We walked from Kings Cross through to Camden Locks and on to Regent’s Park. From there you can leave the canal and walk up Primrose Hill and enjoy a panoramic view of London. That’s the wonderful thing about canals that run through cities and towns. Built two hundred years ago, they bring a feel of history and countryside and calm to the densely populated and over built areas they meader through. Thankfully, they are still around.

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Richard Neville, co-founder of Oz magazine, has died aged 74. Neville, Jim Anderson and Felix Dennis were charged with obscenity and conspiring to corrupt public morals in 1971 and the high profile trial was the subject of Tony Palmer’s book,  The Trials of Oz. Well worth reading on a number of levels. Very funny too, with a host of defence witnesses making fast and loose with the po faced prosecutors. John Mortimer QC defended with Geoffrey Robertson and defence witnesses included George Melly, Hans Eysenck, Edward de Bono, John Peel, Marty Feldman Ronald Dworkin and Feliks Topolski.

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You can get this for a song on Ebay. Take a chance and immerse yourself in 60s/70s counterculture colliding with prevailing conventions and conservative society. Hilarious.

Running in Romford, Rowing and Referendum. We are sent reeling in Brexit Land

Raphael parkrun June 18 2016

A bit of parkrun tourism last Saturday. We went to Raphael parkrun in  Romford, just beyond the outer reaches of East London. We met up with our friends who live relatively locally and are involved in the organisation of parkrun. And a lovely run it was, too, around a local authority maintained park within easy walking distance of Romford market, where we had breakfast in a Wetherspoon’s pub. We like Wetherspoons. They’ve got nearly a 1000 pubs in the UK and most are reconverted from old cinemas, banks and other old pubs.

I think Romford is typical Brexit territory and sure enough, we saw a Leave the EU car and van cavalcade wending its way through the streets. They want their country back. They want to drastically curb immigration. They want to be in control of sovereinty and decide our own laws. They frighten me. Please let us Remain!

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Cambridge Bumps time a couple of weeks ago. The Bumps comprise of college rowing teams competing on the river Cam. On the last day, a Saturday, they set off together, spaced at intervals of possibly 100 metres and attempt to catch the boat in front by “bumping” into them ie having physical contact. The race for both boats ends at this point. There are a number of races during the day and alternate female and male races. It’s great fun, quite exciting at times, a spectacle to behold, very British and not social class neutral.

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I ran a 10k Hoohaah at Hatfield Forest, Essex on Sunday. I didn’t go all out but I still put some effort into it. Very enjoyable and had coffee with good friends after the race.

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