Aliveandrunning October 8 2014


Hoohaah half marathon at Wimpole Estate last Sunday with young Jonathan leading for Cambridge and Coleridge (he eventually came second). I had a place in this race but my family felt running 3 half marathons in relatively quick succession was excessive given my heart disease. They threw research at me and I acquiesced! However, I went over to Wimpole with chum Kerry, watched the race and took a couple of hundred of pics.


Unfortunately, the lure of this bookshop in the courtyard of Wimpole House resulted in me returning to the finish line late and failing to see the first three runners come in. Just out of camera shot, to the right , in the pool of sunlight, sits an old woman in period dress weaving yarn on a spinning wheel. Very evocative of a lost, bygone culture. This nostalgic cameo was only slightly undermined when, last year, faced by a large crowd of parkrunners blocking the entrance to the court yard, the spinning lady reversed her Mercedes estate more than a tad too fast, scattering said parkrunners in fear of their lives. She wasn’t a happy bunny.


These are my running pals from Fen Edge running club. Mike and Kerry have only been running for a couple of years but they are during parkrun in 21-22 minutes. Over a longer distance like a half marathon, I can get within 2-3 minutes of them but incredibly they are still improving.

Parkrun went OK the day before but I couldn’t drop under 24 minutes. I collected the signage after the run. This volunteering task is enjoyable and relaxing. It’s very pleasant to walk around the deserted course. I sometimes see Peter who is in his mid 80s, walking the 5k  course but in the reverse direction. Not seen him recently, though. I do hope he’s well.

I went to Addenbrookes Hospital yesterday and felt mildly murderous when I smelt cigarette smoke from someone walking behind us as we approached the entrance. Stupid or what? Of course there’s more stupidity inside the hospital and this time it’s sponsored by the management. Burger King and other fast food outlets in the Food Court. So empowering to facilitate obese people to ignore dietary and health advice and conveniently enable them to gorge on high fat, high carbohydrate and high salt food to their hearts’ content.

We sought advice at the Inquiry Desk.

“How may I help you, my dears?” smiled the volunteer receptionist.

“Firstly, by desisting from addressing us as “my dears”, I replied.”Secondly, by appreciating I have a fear of split infinitives unless their utterance is Star Trek related. Thirdly, I want that person disappearing down the corridor to be arrested and charged with causing  environmental damage by smoking on hospital premises. Are you able to accommodate me?”

Of course there was no response because this little encounter happened in my imagination but it was a close run thing.



Aliveandrunning July 21 2014



Following last weeks wildly successful parkrun at Brighton, when, as a Cambridge parkrun tourist, I unnerved the local opposition by storming the finish line at position 96, this week I again donned my tourist hat and ran parkrun at Gorleston, with Lorna, just outside of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. I came in at number 51, so (maybe) twice as successful as the previous weekend! A very nice course along the cliffs and lower coast promenade. The start began on the cliff top level and finished on the promenade. It comprised two loops with one steep but short incline. The weather has been very stormy in recent days and we were lucky it held for us. Or rather, luck played no part. I made various sacrifices to the rain gods and my mortal interventions successfully resulted in a rain free race.

By good luck, at Gorleston I bumped into the two daughters of a man whom  I met in Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge five years ago. We both had heart attacks and we were both marathon runners ( the doctors mentioned I was the second marathon runner that day as they put the stents in). Roy also ran Cambridge parkrun but has now moved away to Norwich. He’s still running and is now concentrating on cycling.

Great Yarmouth! What can I say? At the very least it was a cultural shock. Like a lot of British coastal towns, it has suffered substantial decline and neglect. This description could also apply to many of the residents and visitors. Its both shocking and sobering to see such large swathes of people who are grossly overweight, smoking and eating rubbish, often accompanied by children. If they are  able to obtain employment, it will be in low paid, insecure jobs. The town itself had many fine buildings, now  sorely neglected and disrespected. I took a number of pictures on my phone which will feature in a subsequent blog.

We stayed at Winterton on Sea, about 10 miles from Great Yarmouth and lived in one of these Hobbit Houses for a few nights. They overlooked sand dunes and the sea beyond. Lovely, little, basic, quirky accommodation.




Aliveandrunning Janathon January 5

Day 5. After yesterday’s high level of social intercourse, I decided to treat myself to a lone run to the far end of my village. This carried the risk of bumping into people I know and deciding to run on thus leaving them with a feeling that I don’t love them enough to stop and chat. This only applies to non runners, of course. I ran for 26 minutes in total and it was far from incident free. My end of the village is populated by normal, reasonable people like myself. Beyond the crossroads is the other half of the village where, on the weekends, one has to look out for marauding gangs of Townswomen Guild and local interest groups who detain innocent pedestrians and press gang them into serving the cause. I easily ran past an origami club because they saw me too late but I had a close call with the campanologists, and the yoga club distracted me by striking bendy poses which I forced myself to ignore. I ran free and fast. My generous spirit attracted a large heron who flew alongside me on my return journey and scattered the shock troops hell bent on enforcing membership. The heron requested me to stop on my “safe” side of the crossroads and proceeded to lecture me on my folly in running through an area populated by zealots, knowing the dangers. Mea culpa I admitted! He flapped away, shaking his beak as if he was admonishing a wayward youngster.

This episode left me unnerved. It might explain my understandable error committed  when I prepared the evening meal. I was convinced that yellow split peas were grown up lentils but they didn’t cook like them. We had a very chewy absent-lentil wannabe dahl. I also cooked enough to feed half the village. Guess which half!

Aliveandrunning December 30

Yes, I ran for 46 minutes and 53 seconds yesterday. I ran to the river but not along it. At the point I turn around, I touch a railing as the river footpath rises onto a bridge. Failure to touch the railing would result in me falling into an alternative dimension where running is illegal and everyone has to consume a gallon of corn syrup each week by law to ensure good health. Naturally the BBC is regarded as a terrorist organisation. So you see, I have to touch the railing or I am imperilled. On the return journey, nobody gave me a friendly acknowledgement but a robin hitched a lift on my shoulder for 700 metres and gave me the latest ornithological news. He also recommended adding worms to my diet for “balance.”  “No,” I gasped,”that’s strictly for the birds.” He flew off with in a huff.

Pedestrian observation : I’ve eaten too much over Christmas and unhealthy food to boot. How to make reparations ? Shall I order a hair shirt on line or indulge in a bit of verbal flagellation ? No ! I’ll eat less and return to a healthily discriminating diet. And I will up the running until I reach such a peak of fitness and performance, it causes Usain Bolt and Mo Farah to look anxiously over their shoulders. Tomorrow I am doing the Ely New Years Eve 10K. Unfortunately the weather prospects are grim – no sun but plenty of rain, wind and cold. These conditions are not conducive for a comfortable run. I’ll do my best and explain to hundreds of my fans lining the course, that I am a below par running god now regaining his fitness. This will be received as shocking news given their belief I was infallible.

I read in the Murdoch owned Sunday Times yesterday that the World Health Organisation (WHO) is considering halving the recommended sugar consumption people should have in their diets. This is following increasing numbers of studies which conclude that sugar plays a major part in obesity and heart disease. The article predicts, predictably, “a robust response from the multi-billion pond food and drinks industry.” The manner in which our food and diet has been degraded for financial and commercial reasons  over past decades is truly shocking. Your degree of shock and awe is usually proportionate to how much interest you have shown in how food is sourced, grown and manufactured which for the large majority of people is zero. The mindset and conduct of the food and drinks industry is unlikely to be radically different to the tobacco, alcohol, armaments and pharmaceutical industries in successfully pulling the wool over our eyes. As I write, the TV sound is off but I looked up to see Rock Hudson and Patrick McGoohan each lighting up a cigarette in Ice Station Zebra (1968). It could have been worse. At least they weren’t munching Krispy Kreme doughnuts on screen.

Egregiously, I saw a Krispy Kreme delivery lorry outside my local Tesco store. I shot the driver a withering glance and my upper lip curled up in the manner of Clint Eastwood showing contempt for bad persons in the Dollar films. It had no noticeable effect because the delivery person carried on taking this dangerous foodstuff into the store. In hindsight the reason for this may have been I was 150 metres away when I executed these devastating facial movements. Must try harder.

I’ve had a few ideas about  the development of a new cult/religion. I really like the concept of karma and reincarnation. I think this idea has legs. What about ? For a fixed yearly subscription, my personal self serving  registered charity/cult/church would guarantee a return to this world in greatly enhanced circumstances compared to your previous life. No- quibble money back if not fully satisfied. How do subscribers attain this goal ? They embark on a policy of tolerance, generosity, kindness and acceptance towards others even if they wear strange clothes and live in other countries. I’ll produce the guidance and develop lots of esoteric waffle, they pay their subscriptions and accrue the benefits in this life and the next. It’s a win-win situation. I’ll also make them start running.



Aliveandrunning2013 October 22

Surely I must be fully fit now ! My calf feels back to normal and it’s sending signals to my brain indicating it wants to start running again. No, not just indicating but demanding. No, not just demanding but vehemently urging. OK, I give in. I’ll (probably) wait until the weekend and do parkrun. If I don’t wait, I’ll go for a two mile run in a couple of days. But, Mr Calf, if I have any further problems, I will never speak to you again.

Half watching The Great British Bake Off : The Final. Like other well produced mainstream food programmes ,the focus is on appearance and taste not health. There is seldom any mention of calories or sugar, fat and salt content. Are these over produced confections healthy ? Will they provide the roughage that my bowel requires? Will my customary good quality poo be compromised if I eat a Bake Off diet ? Importantly, what effect will it have on my calf ?

Interested in sugar ? Read Robert Lustig in today’s Guardian.



Aliveandrunning2013 October 12

I have not been running since I did parkrun exactly a week ago. My right calf  strain hasn’t fully recovered but I decided to do Cambridge parkrun today and see how it goes. The race was OK. My arch rival Mike beat me by 47 seconds but a secondary arch rival Darien came in a second behind me. Disappointingly, my calf felt sore and slightly painful when pressed. Perhaps I will have to promote this injury from mild to moderate. It didn’t stop us from having coffee with friends which included new pal Maurice and some of us eating homemade cake offered by two chums who were celebrating running 50 and 100 parkruns each.

I’m having difficulty finding T shirts to fit me in national stores like M&S and John Lewis. Supermarket T’s are similarly problematic. They are predominately large fit, unshaped and long. It’s clear these are aimed at men who are overweight and probably have a sizeable paunch or at least an ample waistline. Which means they will have a large mass of visceral fat around their organs. That’s not at all good. It’s very bad. Do they know? Do they care? Someone’s got to buy the cronuts !

Aliveandrunning2013 September 29

Cambridge parkrun went well. No problems with my right calf muscle and I was only 22 seconds away from a personal best. My arch rival, Mike, beat me by 17 seconds but ” vengeance is mine, sayeth the runner” and we go head to head next week in the Wimpole Hall Estate Hoo Haar half marathon. Lovely, sunny weather for the 5K parkrun. Lorna volunteered, scanning finishers’ barcodes and, after the race,  we had coffee, with friends, outside in the warm sun. Why wouldn’t you do parkrun at 9 am on Saturday morning? Staying in bed often results in feeling lethargic during the day and susceptible people are at risk from Krispey Kremes or other dangerous sugar and fat confections if they don’t take active steps to wake themselves up. If you are feeling down in mood, running and particularly social runs can help you to manage your mood or positively alter your mindset. Runners readily form communities and everyone can belong. There are so many more available races these days and it can work out fairly expensive in terms of entry fees. Soon, people will be turning to crime to fund their running habit. But parkrun is free! They only ask you to volunteer occasionally (and this is fun rather than a chore). It gives an insight into the amount of organisation required to stage a run and allows you to contribute to its success. Parkrun is very inclusive ; parents frequently run with babies in buggies, carry toddlers or run with older children. You don’t have to be a “serious runner” or particularly fit but it will motivate you to think about what you would like to do regarding levels of fitness and how you could realistically achieve those goals.

At the moment, I think I will be sufficiently fit to do the Wimpole half marathon. I have done very little training, due to injury, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that I will be able to complete the course without calf pains. If I feel uncomfortable, I will stop running. After more than 30 years, the penny has finally dropped. DON’T RUN ON AN INJURY ! It’s so tempting. How easily we can delude ourselves and become  unrealistically optimistic. We find we can run the race and the pain hasn’t been so bad. Then we discover, at our leisure, that we have compounded the injury which might have cleared up in a third  of the time  it will now take. Anyway, that’s the theory. But if I’m just ahead of Mike and my calf starts to twang, no way am I going to pull up and let my arch rival beat me so easily. In fact I will redouble my effort and push on, even if I need to be stretchered off at the finish line.

Today, we spectated at the Bourn to Run 10K where Mike and Sue were running. Both ran well over an undulating trail course and their young daughter, Emily, did the 3K race. A second excellent day of weather with unbroken sunshine and early Autumn warmth. We met loads of running friends of all abilities and it was an enjoyable way to spend a Sunday morning. Again, why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that? If you experience problems with your mood, here’s a gold standard activity (running or volunteering or spectating) to mitigate and manage those difficulties.

Chief Constable Mike Barton of Durham Police has called for the decriminalisation of Class A drugs and advocates the care and treatment of addicts rather than criminalising them. He argues that the  disappearance of the criminal element of drugs removes the income stream of criminal groups, erodes their power and influence and allows for a “controlled environment” for the dissemination of addicts’ drugs, possibly administered under the auspices of the NHS. This approach has been implemented, or part implemented, in a few other countries. I don’t know what the outcomes have been but it is a dramatic change of tack that is increasingly being discussed. Unfortunately these kinds of controversial measures are laden with political risk for the party bringing in the appropriate legislation. The government would be denounced and pilloried by the right wing media whose demographic comprise the frightened middle classes, unthinking people, bigots and the mindset that requires all transgressions to be punished. I presume the coalition, or rather the Tories, won’t genuinely address the issue or will dismiss it.

Lorna pointed out a statistic in yesterday’s Guardian. “For 36% of Britons , a tidy home is a greater pleasure than a holiday, a night out or sex But the study showed that woman still do most of the tidying).” Source : survey of householder appliance manufacturer Beko. Ye Gods! What inferior kind of holiday, night out or sex are these people having?

Random pictures of books in our home. Reading a book, of course, is a greater pleasure than keeping a tidy house.

photo (4) photo books12photo5

Aliveandrunning2013 September 16

Entirely missed the Great North Run on TV yesterday. We journeyed from Cambridge to Barnes, South West London, to see my sister-in-law’s cottage located a stone’s throw from the Thames. The London  traffic was horrendous. It took us 3 hours to complete 74 miles but it was worth it. We had a lovely meal and then walked around the area. Excellent places  to run, particularly along the side of the Thames which is still wide at this point. Barnes Bridge is the finish for the Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge.

Technology was primed to record  the Great North Run but declined to cooperate when the time arrived. No matter, Lorna has registered our interest in entering the ballot for the race in 2014.

Note for pedants : the use of “tremour” instead of the modern variant “tremor” in my previous blog  was deliberate. I personally favour the archaic spelling, thanke ye verily muche!

Small article in the Guardian’s G2 concerning the commencement of the UK doughnut wars. Dunkin’ Donuts are going head to head with Krispy Kreme. The former company plans to open 150 restaurants in the UK. Apparently there are 49g of sugar in each a single donut. This is clearly good news for diabetic and obesity hospital services, the diet and weight loss industry and funeral directors. Thank you, Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kremes for safeguarding and creating UK jobs.

The media is currently full of reports of sexual abuse and exploitation, sometimes historical, with national celebrities, priests, senior clerics and many individuals involved with adolescents in care homes, being charged or investigated. There seems to be a complete absence of any discussion or debate about the nature of male sexuality and power, how widespread this behaviour appears to be, whether or not these sexual proclivities are a congenital part of male sexuality, why cultural norms of acceptable sexual conduct are so frequently breached, what can be done about it and the psychological and emotional development which can lead to these outcomes. Society at large is adept at reporting and describing taboo and destructive  sexual behaviour (when it eventually finds out) but only utilises it as drama and entertainment. We gasp, condemn and move on to the next shocking breaking news. There’s precious little analysis of the wider issues. That’s a pity.

Aliveand running2013 August 9

I’ve only got four weeks to the Grunty Fen half marathon so I need to do some training. It’s a flat, open course and last year it was both hot and windy. I did just over an hours run today which included the footpath of the River Cam. It’s always pleasurable running near water. Rivers. lakes, seas and streams all have their own personality. You almost feel you are in close proximity to something which is alive and has its own sense of self. Although we are mid summer now, I haven’t seen many boats, neither narrow boats nor the white fibreglass cabin cruisers. I’m a narrowboat man! The cabin cruiser owners tend to be smartly dressed, look smug and their boats appear immaculately clean. They have the air of traditional Conservatives. Not that I am being judgemental of course. Invariably a male is at the wheel looking superior. Anyway, as my runs get longer I will get nearer, and eventually into, Cambridge. On the weekends I will see the rowing eights practicing and when the colleges return there will be many more eights on the river.

I’m still swinging my one 8 kilo kettlebell around on a daily basis. I do think it’s helping to improve my core strength. Is it really? I don’t know for definite but if I think it is then I can be assured that the placebo effect certainly is leading to improvement. Even as we speak, men and women in white coats are providing hard evidence that the placebo effect is a powerful psychological force and competitor for physical treatments with drugs or surgery. For depression, for example, some studies have found that placebos are as effective as anti depressants and without the side effects. Furthermore even if the person is aware they are taking a placebo, research has shown that improvement in some conditions take place compared with a control group that is given nothing. All you need is to believe or want to believe! And this would apply to most people, of course.

I went shopping to Tesco today and was forced to make a citizen’s arrest on a parent who, unbelievably, took two Krispy Kreme doughnuts out of the cabinet of shame and placed them in his basket because his son declared his love of them! I explained that I was taking this action to protect the health of his child which was being jeopardised by the consumption of high fat, high sugar, over refined, nutrient depleted pseudo food. His mouth dropped open and his eyes bulged. He violently knocked away my hand that I had placed on his shoulder. I hastened to explain that my actions were intended to be a little instructive drama to emphasise the unhealthiness of the product and lead him to question the wisdom of purchasing it. I didn’t want to take it any further. I hoped I had made my point. He reacted by bellowing out to the nearby security person. Despite my best efforts to offer further explanation, I was firmly escorted out of the store. As he left me by my car, the security man said “Best not do that again, sir. People have every right to buy Krispy Kremes. I sometimes have one at lunch time and I know my lad likes them.” He had forced my hand and I wasn’t going to back down. “OK,” I cried, placing my hand on his shoulder,”I’m making a citizen’s arrest for the same reasons I gave that other negligent father.” He laughed, gently took away my hand and said “Go home,sir, make yourself a nice cup of tea, sit down and read your Saga magazine. You’ll feel a lot better.” As he walked away I didn’t feel I had got my message across very effectively but I will return. Oh yes! I have a new strategy. I’m going to get some tee shirts printed and merely stand by the Krispy Kreme cabinet. I’m not fully decided on the large bold text but it will be along the lines of KRISPY KREMES ? A WISE CHOICE FOR TYPE 2 DIABETES or TUCK IN AND DIE EARLY or OBESITY…..IT’S THE NEW THIN.

HM Revenue and Customs have reissued photos of high profile tax dodgers including large scale tobacco smugglers. It’s a case of the biggest drug dealer squeezing out the smaller ones.

Aliveandrunning2013 August 7

Running with the club yesterday evening. We ran down to Lamas Land just outside Cambridge City centre and did 6 X 3 minutes with 3 minutes recovery. It doesn’t sound much but you know you’ve been running when you finish. Temperature around 20 C. This common ground has pasturing rights and we were very close to the young cows on several occasions. These cattle were more habituated to walkers, runners and cyclists and took us in their stride, unlike last week when we caused a minor stampede in Granchester Meadows. Another beautiful Cambridge evening with the added bonus that I didn’t get trampled to death.

I’m trying to be more sociable when I’m running with the club but it’s uphill work (pun unintended).  When I arrive at the track I immediately employ a faulty strategy. I stand alone rather than join a group and wait for someone to approach me. Most runners, but not all, are intrinsically friendly. The problem with club runners is that the majority of them want to talk about running and associated topics such as injuries, times, distances and training schedules which seem to constitute over training. I struggle to take it seriously. It’s difficult to make the right kind of approving gestures and noises necessary to remain in the conversation.  I don’t tend to try that hard. I do speak to an increasing number of people, however. Apart from one or two people, there is no discussion outside of running. For all I know I could be chatting to paid up UKIP members or Mail readers. A known unknown!

I know I’m going to cause an incident in Tesco one of these days. I can’t stop myself from examining the nutritional values of convenience meals and all types of desserts. When I discover how much sugar and fat is used or the amount of salt lurking within, it doesn’t seem right to silently contain (note split infinitive) my shock . I sometimes mutter aloud “They are trying to kill me” and I mean it. The latest outrage perpetrated by Tesco is their installing a Krispy Kreme cabinet near  the entrance. These gooey, shiny,high sugar confections are between  200 and 400 calories each and still incorporate trans fats. I truly believe they and the other dangerous foods described above, should be displayed behind solid sliding doors ( like tobacco products in supermarkets ) to protect the vulnerable, the credulous and unthinking tabloid readers.

It’s so much easier for us sandal wearing, Guardian reader, wet liberal types to identify the enemy when they communicate their thoughts and beliefs clearly, unequivocally and without dissembling. Godffrey Bloom, UKIP MEP caused controversy by referring to £1 billion pounds in aid a month going to Bongo Bongo Land, a reference to Africa and Third World countries where corruption is rife. Ridiculing the aid programme in this grossly racist and patronising manner seeks to persuade us that such a huge sum of tax payers money would be far better spent on deserving causes at home (where charity should begin). If £1 billion does go to aid monthly then it won’t be for altruistic motives. This country, as with all other aid giving countries, expects a big return which will include arms and trade agreements, exploitation of natural resources, political or intelligence support and a host of other highly favourable outcomes possibly including backing for the ruling party.