Aliveandrunning December 20 2014

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My new Hi Viz running jacket! Actually it’s a cycling jacket. I couldn’t find a Hi Viz running top which I liked, at a reasonable price and had sufficient protection from cold and chilling wind. Very competitive people may remark that it’s on the heavy side for running but that runs the risk of upsetting me. In this eventuality, I’ll challenge them to a duel of my choosing – a contest to see who could eat the most Brussels sprouts in twenty minutes, for example. The loser would have to sit very close to a naked flame for an hour. It gives me the jitters just to think about it!

I assume it’s the blood thinning aspirin I take for heart disease that makes me so sensitive to cold. The weather, particularly winter weather, wasn’t an issue before I had my heart attack but it is now. Previously I ran almost naked in Arctic conditions. Currently I’m so upholstered, people call out”There goes the Michelin Man.”

Cambridge parkrun today. The course was muddy and trail shoes were essential. Consequently my time was relatively slow. I looked up my brief personal record of runs for this time last year and my times showed little difference to today when course conditions were similar.

Most of my running chums went to Wimpole Estate parkrun for their 100th anniversary. Ms Alive and Running and I were due to go but family circumstances dictated otherwise.

Must sign up for Janathon (when I undertake to run and blog every day throughout January). This is very manageable if the runs are not too long and I don’t spend too long trying to be clever writing this blog. And the gods are willing to support me with drinks of ambrosia along the way. And the water nymphs along the River Cam don’t try to delay me as I run by. And the sun shines.

Mandy Rice-Davies (who has just died of lung cancer, aged 70), Christine Keeler and Stephen Ward, were central figures in the notorious Profumo Affair in 1963. They were stitched up by the British Establishment and class system. Still a very interesting and informative example of how powerful vested interests protect themselves. http://gu.com/p/44bqc

 

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Aliveandrunning October 30 2014

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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. http://bit.ly/1tGscI7

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).   http://gu.com/p/42zcp 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 August 4 2014

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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.

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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).

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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. http://bit.ly/UOw4Z3 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 June 15 2014 Juneathon Day 15

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  May Bumps, always held in June, on the River Cam, Cambridge. Teams of eight, plus a cox, row to catch the crew in front and “bump” them. The two boats then retire to the side as others race past them, intent on bumping the boat in front of them.

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It was good, upper middle class, English fun. Everyone who participated or spectated were hard working tax payers (or will be) and everyone believed in solid British values. No-one was selling Socialist Worker. No drones buzzed overhead and blew anyone to smithereens.

To satisfy Juneathon’s  exacting requirements, I ran just 2 miles today. I see from my running record that last June I was up to a minute faster than this year for the same distance. No matter, it’s the run that counts, not the time.

The BBC should know better than to allow that sanctimonious and unctuous Tony Blair airtime to pontificate on the current crisis in Iraq. He showed utter determination to go to war with Bush and not allow any argument or opposing views or facts to impede him. His body language at the time illustrated his desire to ingratiate himself with the Bush team. Bush came across as a no nonsense, macho avenger. Blair revealed himself to be poodle and faithful lapdog. Both men are professed Christians, of course. As if!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aliveandrunning February 6 2014

Nearly a week since the end of Janathon and I’m back to my normal running regime. Two days ago I went out with the club and we did 3 x 3mins 30secs x 2, that is running for 3 minutes 30 seconds (timed by a whistle), 90 seconds recovery and two further reps then 5 minutes recovery followed by another set. Not a great distance but good speedy interval training. And in the dark!

Today, I ran 10 miles before the weather deteriorated in the early afternoon. It was gloomy and damp and the sun refused to come out to play. I ran down a main road through a village which was closed off to traffic because of resurfacing. One of the men was operating a white line machine in the middle of the road, using both hands, and had a lit cigarette between his lips! Not even one of those absurd e-fags that the credulous and impressionable openly flaunt. I did what any reasonable, level headed young man would do. I sprang off the safety of the pavement, onto the nice new tarmac and snatched the burning white stick of compressed tobacco from his mouth. Theatrically, I threw it down and ground it underfoot Grinning to indicate friendliness, I told him I did it for his own good and paused for a response. He looked startled, dismayed, angry and murderous in that order. He then noticed his machine had deviated and laid down a long bendy line across the road where no bendy white line should be. At this point I divined that my life might be forfeit if I lingered and abandoned my intention to deliver a “working towards a healthy lifestyle” explanation. He roared and lunged at me at which point I discovered I could run backwards. This seemed to enrage him even more. I think he would have nabbed me had not Zeus, observing my predicament from one of the rain clouds, snatched me from danger and set me down 200 metres away. “Lad,” his deep baritone voice boomed, “choose your battles more wisely and don’t forget to remain hydrated on your longer runs.” “Thanks, Zeus,” I spluttered, ” Give my regards to your good wife Hera and don’t spare the ambrosia.”

Unsurprisingly, I chose a different route on my return. It was incident free.

Tomorrow, I’ll have a rest day. Saturday is Cambridge parkrun. I’m running and volunteering (post race clear up) and on Sunday I’m doing a 10k in Greenwich Park, London with four of my children (I never thought this day would come).

The Vatican response to the damning UN committee on the rights of the child report which gave recommendations to the Roman Catholic church on the steps they have failed to take but now should implement, concerning child sexual and physical abuse, was provisional but  typical of their refusal to appropriately acknowledge the problems. In fact the church is a law unto itself in the context of protecting priests who commit crimes. It dispenses its own canon law which is self serving and protects the the reputation of the institution. The new Pope Francis is nice and smiley and very good at public relations but heads a corrupt organisation. Paradoxically it has many thousands of good members but its administrative and spiritual heart is hollow and pitiless.

Aliveandrunning Janathon January 29

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Day 29. This is the type of meal that sustains me during Janathon. The sharp eyed among us will notice the life enhancing Brussels sprouts and broccoli which feature prominently on my plate alongside chicken cooked in tikka masala paste, brown rice and peas. Yummy not yuk! Tip : similar meals should be served on a polka dot table cloth to get the best out of them. And why shouldn’t I photograph the meal I’ve created? If I could do this on a daily basis, I would certainly assemble an e-book to give to family, friends, or any grandchildren that might come along. Just imagine the excitement and joy as they click through months or years of mouth watering nosh. I’d have to be prepared for a clamour of requests for hard copies to frame and display. Phew!

I’m still running in the dusk or in the dark. I’ve noticed that when I leave regularly just before 5 pm, it’s getting lighter. I’m seeing the same man walking his dog at that time (in dark clothing) much more easily rather than coming across him in the blackness and making us both jump. Tomorrow I should go for a long run despite the forecast of rain. It’s just over five weeks to the Cambridge Half Marathon and these daily short runs aren’t going to help me do 13 miles in one go. Last year was very cold and I felt very cold at the start and waiting for family and friends  to come in after I had finished. This year I’ll be running with a double duvet wrapped around me and a belt of hot water bottles around my waist.

Well done to Nathan Filer, psychiatric nurse and writer, who has just won the 2013 Costa book award for his debut novel The Shock of the Fall. Narrated by the central character from the age of 5 to his early 20’s, it’s an account of the development of his schizophrenic illness following the loss of his brother.

This is an interesting article concerning the record numbers detained under the Mental Health Act for treatment ie against their will. The Care Quality Commission criticised many aspects of psychiatric care and standards including unavailability of beds and inadequate staffing levels.      http://bit.ly/1aIispA

Aliveandrunning December 28

200th parkrun at Cambridge today and I have run 148 of them plus another 10 at Wimpole Estate. The weather was fine – sunny and not too cold – but muddy in many places. My arch rival, Mike, was marshaling which left me competing with No. 2 arch rival Diane. As usual I could hardly contain myself. I felt like a rocket in a silo waiting for the FIRE button to be pressed, I was a torpedo restless in its tube. Someone said go and I took off like a particle whizzing around the CERN Large Hadron Collider. Knocking people aside without pity, I broke free from the pack and took on the mantle of front runner only to have my dream shattered. The race had not started yet. I was a highly strung thoroughbred and when a couple having a conversation near me included the word GO I responded instinctively. Boy, was there a copious amount of egg on my face ! Ashen visaged, I apologised to my fellow runners whom I had pushed into a ditch or into muddy puddles and retook my position farther back as a penance. It didn’t go very well. No. 2 arch rival Diane overtook me around half way and I had no gas left in the tank to catch her up. I was startled when a very small child went past me. I’m sure I’ve seen larger tadpoles ! As is the nature of small, young fast children, they suddenly speed up then dramatically slow up, simultaneously weaving from side to side and repeating this strategy. It’s hilarious if you are limited  to running responsibly as a grown up (unless you succeed in getting tripped up). After cutting me up several times, he took off and I was history. He probably complained to the run director that too many old people are cramping his style. Lovely run despite coming 135th out of a field of 336.

Tomorrow I hope to do a 45-60 minute run and on New Years Eve I’ve got a 10 K. Possibly on New Years Day I might be doing one or two differently convened parkruns. As I write this it does seem a tad excessive (for me). It will definitely blow out the tubes and hopefully get me running longer and more frequently again.

Cambridge parkrun is held in Milton Country Park to the north of the city. The course is mainly grass and trail with some narrow paths. I’m sure the trees are closing in at various points. Quite a lot of them look surly and resentful  as we pass by. I’m convinced they’re not happy with the  resultant pounding of over 300 pairs of feet every week. I’ll try to speak to the wood nymphs and reach an accommodation. I saw  Spielberg’s Poltergeist and I don’t want to be plucked off the run path by a malevolent maple.

Alan Turing has been given a posthumous pardon for his conviction following homosexual activity. He committed suicide after being required to undergo  “chemical castration”- experimental hormone therapy to dampen down homosexual urges. The type of work he had been allowed to undertake subsequently was limited because of the supposed risk to security linked to his sexual orientation. There’s plenty of criticism to the pardon under a Royal Prerogative of Mercy which notes he was convicted under due process of the current laws in 1952. Some people argue it’s unfair on the thousands of ordinary, consenting gay men who were convicted under the same laws whose convictions still hold. My view is that all men (and women, if any) who were sentenced under these vicious “moral” laws should be pardoned. Moral panics, and particularly those of a sexual nature, may last for decades or centuries or even become embedded into the culture. In kinder and more enlightened times, I feel it is very important to revisit those nasty, ignorant and bigoted laws and expose their cruelty rather than merely state they were a product of their times. Alan Turing , along with many others at Bletchley Park, shortened the war and saved thousands of lives. The “laws” he transgressed had no right to be laws of the land and contained no justice, only sexual fear and prejudice.

New Year resolutions :

1. Research science fiction literature over last 100 years with view to developing a cult/religion.

2.Consider options to monetise said cult/religion.

3. Complete Janathon (run and blog daily) for month of January.

4. Keep an eye on Pope Francis!