Top man sees red in print


It’s Sigmund Freud, of course, smoking a cigar as usual. Is it symbolic? Well, as the top man said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar! That’s just his opinion. Certainly it must have contributed to, if not caused, his cancer of the jaw. Was he a runner? I doubt it. Missed out there then, didn’t he.

I’m trying to get my running back on track. Today’s parkrun was a reasonable time for me at the moment and tomorrow I’m running a five miler in Swavesey. There’s a half marathon going on at the same time but I’m not up to that distance at present. My ex arch rival, Mike, will  be doing the five miler and he’ll be around four minutes faster than me. Another rival, Kerry, will do the half. Having missed the recent Cambridge half due to illness, my next half will be the Flaming June, which unsurprisingly, is run in June. I’ve got various 10k races in the pipeline. Training with the club seems to have taken a backseat and I don’t think I’ve been out with them since I injured myself during the Wimpole half marathon last October.My enthusiasm for training in a group waxes and wanes and currently I still prefer to run alone.

Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, has resigned over Osbourne’s Budgetary  cuts to to benefits received by people with disabilities alongside tax cuts for the richest. He stated that the cuts were “simply not fair, not right” and it was wrong to finance tax cuts for the better off by “taking money away” from those with disabilities. David Cameron professed himself to be “puzzled and disappointed.” George Osbourne is left with egg on his face. They’ve all got blood on their hands as far as I’m concerned. It’s more of a case when thieves fall out. Iain Duncan Smith is hardly a man with a conscience.

Nearly forgot. Did the Freud print at my print making class. It looks okay but the quality is poor. The point is that the more you practice the better you become and this is only a first try.



Aliveandrunning January 29 2015 Janathon Day 29


I bought this book after listening to Joanna Bourke talk to Laurie Taylor on BBC Radio 4’s Talking Aloud (on podcast). It discusses how  military imagery and acceptance of violence is ingrained in society, along with dependence on jobs and expenditure on research in industry and universities. The UK’s annual expenditure on military expenditure is around £69 billion, the fourth highest in the world. I’ve just dipped into it (the book not the £69 billion) It makes for sober reading.

Too many people, I think, are excited by violence, righteous destruction, punishment, use and appearance of weaponry, controlling nation states and manipulating them economically. I could go on but I’ll leave it there.

So often, there is an apparent absence of empathy and unwillingness to respond to the suffering of others at the most basic level. We just cut ourselves off  from it and focus on  our own narrow interests. This Tory government is very adept in this respect, imposing   thousands of cuts on the NHS and putting services in the hands of private providers.

One of the most important features of a civilised and humane society is the degree to which it provides practical, financial and professional support to the physically disabled, to people with mental health problems, those with learning disabilities, to the vulnerable and to children. So much lip service is given to this segment of society’s needs and so many cost saving cuts inflicted upon them.            

Yesterday’s Guardian (Society section) had a report on delays and problems with new disability claims  and a feature on the Haven project, a service for people with personality disorders which is now under threat following the ending of central funding and the local clinical commissioning group deciding it’s not value for money . The tax payer can breathe a sigh of relief and protected, subsidised and tax break corporates can laugh all the way to the bank.

So, back to running! I haven’t done any today. I ran out of time. I could run a couple of miles even now, in the dark, but I won’t. Deep down, in the murky id sediment of my mind, I know that a bit more rest after my glute injury is probably a good thing. I still have to sit down and get up carefully but otherwise it feels OK. I’ll run 2 miles or more tomorrow and parkrun on Saturday. If all goes well, the longer runs will start next week.

Janathon total for today : 2 mile dog walk.

Aliveandrunning January 21 2015 Janathon Day 21


“Ouch….ouch….ouch” I’m quoting myself  here and I could have continued with with significantly more ouches. This follows last night when I fell to the ground after tripping on a curb at the track. I was walking at the time, selflessly thinking about the needs of others because I’m that kind of guy. My judgement is second to none and I decided to go running with the club as planned since there seemed to be only minor discomfort to my right bottom area. I followed this up with warm down stretches and returned home. I had difficulty getting out of the car. It was painful on movement for the rest of the evening.

This morning, however, it felt much better and has further improved during the day. Certain movements are still painful like stooping or crossing my legs but full recovery is in sight. Just a bit of bruising, that’s all. My decision to run yesterday is thus fully vindicated and I remain infallible.

Nevertheless, I decided not to try to run today and went for a brisk walk with Ms Alive and Running. Around 2 miles. I’ll rest for a further day tomorrow and see how it is on Friday. Because I sometimes have the power of seeing into the future, I know it will be fine and I will do parkrun on Saturday.

Radio 4, File on 4, 20.1.2015, last night at 8 pm on benefit sanctions and claims that the system punishes or penalises vulnerable people, particularly the mentally ill. The claims ring true. Should be available on podcast.

This pic reminds me of last year’s London marathon. Looking forward to spectating again.


Aliveandrunning October 30 2014


This is Rupert. He’s a dalmatian. It’s a little known fact that dalmatians’ spots have the ability to change their position overnight. Sometimes they align themselves so he looks more like a zebra than a dog. He has a number of habits, one of which is particularly disconcerting. If I meet other dog walkers and we stop for  a chat in the field, he may well cock his leg up against you and pee. Generally this is hilarious unless you have the misfortune to be the recipient of his largesse. It may take several seconds for you to realise what’s going on and to react promptly ie jump out of the way. I’m considering teaching him to do it on command to people who annoy me.

Not much running going on this week. Following a jaunt to south west London on the weekend, I went down with a heavy cold. In the olden days I would have found the strength to continue running, at least for shorter distances, but now I am Mr Sensible of Cambridge. No runs for a week now. I’ll do a 5k parkrun tomorrow and I’ve got a 10k race on Sunday. If parkrun is a struggle, I won’t do the Sunday race. I’ll still go along and take some pics because us runners love to see ourselves in action.

It’s very dispiriting when the Government and the Great British Public, in the pre-election period, work hand in hand to reach out to the electorate’s  lowest common denominator. There’s clearly an insatiable need to condemn, demonise, vilify and hold in contempt those in society who have the least or whose life chances have been destroyed or sabotaged at a very early stage. At the moment politicians are falling over themselves to articulate in reasonable terms the cruelest of policies. Here’s an excellent example of a scandalous disregard for the value of human life. When the new Foreign Office minister Lady Anelay gave a written answer in the House of Lords at the beginning of the week she announced that our Government would not be supporting future search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean (designed to save drowning, abandoned, sinking illegal migrants escaping to Europe). They die in large numbers already despite rescue services but the British government feels such humanitarian acts serve only to encourage migrants to make the dangerous crossing.

Of course, this absence of humanity will be applauded by large numbers of UKIP voters, Tories and right wingers in general who will accept the logic behind the statement and want other swingeing cuts to go further, either aimed at immigrants or benefit claimants. But they won’t take this logic and apply it elsewhere because it would be election suicide. What about stopping treatment of liver disease, obesity, lung cancer,and  heart disease  for drinkers, over eaters, smokers and non exercisers respectively on the grounds that this medical safety net only encourages them and others to continue their damaging habits. Migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are the parasitical  class (again). So much for empathy and Christian values!

The travails of the Naked Rambler continue! Stephen Gough has long believed it should be a given human right to walk around naked in public. To this end he has walked the length and breadth of the UK naked and has been prosecuted and imprisoned on numerous occasions. In fact he has spent a lot of time in prison because he’s in frequent contempt of court (he simply continues to walk naked as soon as he leaves prison). This is just nakedness. It’s not sexual, exhibitionist or threatening. Just unusual. Prison is is cruel option to a non problem. The UKIP/Tory perspective? He’s only got himself to blame. If you let him get away with it, everybody will be at it! If only. 

Aliveandrunning October 27 2014


And so to Richmond this past weekend, staying locally and taking part, Ms Alive and Running and I, in Richmond parkrun. Richmond Park is a large open area in south west London, adjacent to the Thames. The course is one gently undulating circuit along established paths and it’s common to run past large deer. Being an intrinsically brave person, I held my nerve as I passed very near to a giant specimen with a frightening array of pointy antlers, which to my untutored eye, seemed to have been deliberately sharpened for maximum damage. It met my gaze and started to run along side of me. I resisted the urge to run screaming with terror in a non parkrun approved direction and held my nerve. Thinking quickly, I shouted out that I knew for certain that most people running behind me loved to eat venison and that he should draw his own conclusions. I saw him pull up and stare malevolently at runners to my rear. Ten seconds later, I heard cries of surprise and alarm but I judged it best to run on. Didn’t they have marshals to sort this kind of thing out? I would be crazy to jepardise my time by assisting the injured and traumatised.

Overall, Richmond parkrun went well. It’s described as challenging although I would be hard put to argue  how it merits that description. You go down long inclines and go up them as well but they aren’t severe. It is, however, a lovely course with views over London and there are runners and cyclists everywhere.There were 354 runners and I came in at 104. Before we ran, the run director drew our attention to someone who had completed 250 parkruns and was wearing the coveted gold emblem tee shirt. How we drooled with envy! It’s akin to Charlie winning the golden ticket to Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory.

This giant poppy, commemorating those killed  in war since 1914, is displayed at Kings Cross station.


This platform on one of the stations we stopped at between Cambridge and Kings Cross, London, is out of use. The sign on the red background says “Do not alight here.” This is clearly good advice unless you have a strong interest in platform based plant life.


This is St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel which retains the outside Gothic facade and inner Victorian architecture. It’s joined to St. Pancras railway station which is a stone’s throw from Kings Cross. We had a little spare time and went into the reception area for a coffee. They waived the minimum £12.50p spend per person since we were going to simply drink coffee for a short while rather than have an endless business meeting. Very interesting environment, expensive, lots of security to make sure the right people get in. We gained admittance because we were harmless non-spenders who met their diversity and inclusiveness criteria. I spied a security guard ticking a box as we left. Am I being unfair? Probably.

We walked along the Thames by Putney Bridge. Beautiful houses, plenty of money, lots of conspicuous spending, no poor people in sight. How clever of rich people to have their own political party to disparage and shame those who have the least resources. How clever to mention that ordinary, hard working taxpayers feel “swamped” by immigrant alien cultures who either take our jobs or claim benefits money out of the pockets of ordinary, hard working…etc, etc. How reassuring that bigotry is alive and well in the Tory Party. Grrr! I think I’ll go for another run.



Aliveandrunning August 4 2014


Cambridge Junior parkrun  last Sunday, a 2k run for children between the ages of4-14. This is the start and the girl on the left won it in a time of 7 minutes 36 seconds. A  fantastic run. 87 took part including some young ones running with their parents (who are not included in the numbers.


These three walked the 2k, explaining they were a caterpillar and couldn’t be hurried.

I was a timer again (one of two). This is fairly straight forward when the numbers running aren’t high and the children aren’t hurling themselves en masse at the finish line. Cambridge adult parkrun (5k) regularly attracts nearly 400 so timing requires much concentration when they come in densely bunched up and overtaking in the finish tunnel before they receive their position tokens. I did it a couple of years ago, in winter, when only 186 ran. The temperature was low and I didn’t have gloves. My hands were numb with cold. Two fingers snapped off. I didn’t stoop to pick them up; I merely carried on recording the times, selfless as ever.

Saturday’s parkrun was OK. I ran 24 minutes dead (if only I had run a second faster, I would have dropped into the 23’s and my self esteem would have survived intact. Note to self: work on losing that highly significant second).

Yesterday, I dropped off my daughter Sophie at Cambridge Station, parked and went running in the City. Or rather I ran up and down Mill Road, the “bohemian” part of Cambridge before heading for the dark interior, sucking in tourists like a black hole. Mill Road is nearly a mile long and has many interesting independent shops. At the end furthest from town, a big, new mosque complex is going to be built on a derelict site. No work started yet.

As described before, it’s curiously satisfying weaving in and out of the crowds in Cambridge. Although I’m not running fast in any sense of the word,  you feel oddly powerful and nimble negotiating the throng.They move so slowly and you have the impression of  occupying a different time frame.  I seemed  to cover a lot of distance because Cambridge is a small city. I ran around 5 miles before returning to the car, leaving many dozens of people in my wake gasping with the excitement at having witnessed a local running god (albeit in low gear).


Oh happy days! I found fresh Brussels sprouts in Tesco today. Where were they grown? Don’t know. Probably Tasmania and clocking up about 200,000 air miles. But never mind, they were delicious and on a par with raspberries. Yummy.

The Guardian reports today on loss of provision and funding crises experienced by Women’s Refuge Centres. The ability to blithely cut, or cut out, these type of essential services, in the name of austerity savings demonstrates what a bunch of shits local and national politicians are. If the public gaze is currently far away from domestic violence, then politically it’s worth taking the risk to cut funding along with other important, humanitarian services which have a low public profile. These politicians have a passion. A passion for putting the boot into small groups  of vulnerable people who have negligible voting power.






Aliveandrunning March 1 2014

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Cambridge parkrun today, albeit 4-5 minutes slower than I would  normally hope to do it in. Why? Because I enrolled on the If You Have An Injury, You Too Can Make It Worse Course For Idiots earlier in the week. Having strained my intercostal muscles (rib cage – my diagnosis) by throwing stuff onto a skip, I went road running with the club after first doing some painful stretching exercises. The following day I still continued chucking stuff on the skip. I despair of myself and will administer a severe reprimand when I’m in the mood to accept it. The end result is that it will take possibly weeks to heal. Certain movements are quite painful, like vacuuming, getting from sitting, lifting, leaning forward and breathing deeply. The good news is running doesn’t seem to make matters worse although speed is capped by increasing discomfort. Tomorrow I’m doing a 5 mile race and next Sunday it’s the Cambridge half marathon. 

Actually, because focus wasn’t on speed and effort today, I enjoyed the run more. I was also lapped by several runners. It was rather sobering when the winner swept past me with an eventual time of 15 mins 53 secs, nearly twice as fast as me. I’ll have to up my game. I usually place myself mid way in the 250-350 strong field, among the sturdy squires and minor landed gentry which are behind the running royalty and aristocracy. Today I moved back a bit further and mingled with hard working tax payers and no nonsense types not in receipt of benefits. And very enjoyable their company proved. Lorna volunteered again, as official photographer on this occasion, and took around 400 great snaps.

The top photo is the start of Cambridge  parkrun. The weather was overcast and misty this morning and the course is still very muddy. 256 runners took part which is a small for Cambridge. I seem to have successfully seen off any adjacent runners at this point and came in at 28 mins 7 secs.

This link takes you to an article in the Guardian concerning the tragic death of a mentally ill man whose benefits were stopped following an ATOS assessment which found him fit for work. He starved to death four months later. Who cares? Not the coalition government, surely, otherwise they wouldn’t award contracts to mercenary for profit companies only too willing to find any grounds to stop the benefits of the most needy people. It’s a many pronged attack on vulnerable people experiencing serious mental illness. The contraction in community services and support will ensue more incidents like this will occur. At the very least we’ll be entertained by tabloid stories of mentally ill people eating tins of dog food. Thanks David, Nick et al.