I REMAIN SUBSTANTIALLY CLOBBERED. IT’S NOT MY FAULT. I BLAME THE EVIL TORY GOVERNMENT.

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Six days ago, I came a cropper during the Hoohaah Wimpole half marathon falling heavily on rubble. My left thigh took most of the impact. I picked myself up, dusted myself off and started all over again (thanks, Nat King Cole). I fell at just over  a mile in and continued running for the next 12 miles. By the evening I was hardly weight bearing on my left leg leg and couldn’t bent it at the knee.

Now it’s six days on.There’s clearly been some improvement but it’s slow. I think I’ve had an impact injury to my quadriceps (and specifically to the rectus femoris), the type that footballers get when they get kicked in the thigh. I can walk but not jog, I haven’t been able to drive and I’ve got limited movement in my knee joint because any kind of stretching movement hurts.

Today is parkrun day and if I didn’t do it, I know I would have been subjected to a torrent of hate mail, Sinton-Hewitt would have been on my case and people would have openly wept in the streets of Cambridge. I don’t want that kind of attention so I decided to walk it .Usually Cambridge  attracts around 450 runners and more often than not a few people are walking most of it. Unfortunately, no-one walked it today although I wasn’t too far behind the people in front of me. Cambridge junior parkrun provided all the volunteers , including the 13 year old run director Chloe who gave a very confident pre-run  address to the assembled crowd. I was accompanied by tail runner 12 year old Ben who was very supportive to me and gave vocal encourage to the myriad runners who flashed past us. I hope he didn’t hear me grinding my teeth as I watched them recede into the distance. I came in at just over 48 minutes which, interestingly, is exactly twice the time I do it on this course when I go full pace. Young Benji, who has cerebral palsy, started late and came in a minute behind me. He ran with his mum and came in strongly to enormous applause.

Hopefully, I may be able to gently trot around Cambridge parkrun next weekend and then the subsequent one will be my 250th. It won’t be a PB!

Recent reports show the NHS in dire financial straits, suffering financial mismanagement, imply inefficiencies, experiencing poor staffing levels, missing targets and spending mountains of money on agency staff. If you treat the NHS as a market economy, require it to compete and make a “profit”, continuously emphasise poor financial governance, cut staff levels, employ dodgy borrowing devices with the private sector, continually reinforce the private sector has the nous, nerve and expertise to do a great (and cheaper) job and create standards which are designed to fail because of under funding, then it’s an inevitable set of outcomes.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/oct/09/chain-failings-led-death-charlotte-bevan-newborn-baby-coroner-rules

This is a very, very sad coroner’s report of the death of a mother and her newly born baby. She had a long history of mental ill health, sectioning under the Mental Health Act and had stopped medication in order to breastfeed. Tragically, she left a Bristol maternity hospital unchallenged and killed herself and her child shortly afterwards.

Reading the coroner’s comments and conclusions, it’s hard to comprehend the apparent complete lack of joined up, considered care for a patient who is so obviously at risk.. Vulnerable mothers with a history of severe mental illness have been having pregnancies and births for decades in a health system which is a aware of the level of input required to ensure the safety and well being  of mother and baby. I don’t think this event occurred because of a lack of understanding of the health requirements. I think it’s much more likely to be due to staff shortages, cost and unavailability. These days, I can’t accept that general hospital staff are so out of touch with mental health issues that they are capable of willfully ignoring them.

 

 

 

Alive and Running March 26 2015

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The Bridge of Sighs, St. John’s College, Cambridge. I had to follow the Tourist Route through the College which doesn’t allow plebs over the bridge but at other times access is granted. Possibly St. John’s has the biggest grounds of all the Cambridge colleges. It’s undeniably impressive and the Bridge of Sighs is a beautiful structure. Must go for a punt soon!

The Naked Rambler, Stephen Gough, who for years has been fighting for the right to walk about naked in public, has been refused permission to appeal against an earlier decision by the European Court of Human Rights that his repeated arrest, prosecution, conviction and imprisonment for public nudity did not breach his human rights. He is currently serving a two and a half year sentence after he walked out of prison only wearing boots and socks following a previous prison term. I presume this extreme punishment is a result of repeated contempt of court. What a sad and ridiculous situation. I don’t think this eccentric man is regarded as a threat in any shape or form other than his willful determination to walk around unclothed. Possibly the authorities feel it could start a trend, or worse, a fashion. Surely, as a caring and compassionate society, we can accommodate a few naked people walking around and not feel so disturbed by it we are compelled to lock them up. Who wants to break a butterfly on a wheel?

I remain only an intermittent runner at present. Last weekend I ran the Swavesey 5 miler although I could have taken part in the Swavesey Half Marathon. I ran it 2 minutes faster than last year which pleased me until I read in my little running log I was getting over an injury at that time. Still, I did enjoy it and the weather was kind.

Club night two nights ago. We ran 6 x 700 metres at varying paces with a recovery jog back to the start. I was the second slowest runner in a group of around 20 but we broke into small similar speed groups and it all seems to work for everyone.

I ventured into the Cambridge University Press bookshop in the Market Square, Central Cambridge this week and cast my eyes over some beautiful books with eye watering prices (available on Amazon but at no reduction in price). No purchase made but it was a close run thing. I might return naked. I suspect they wouldn’t bat an eyelid!

Finally, Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, was speaking about her career and the development of the teenage brain on The Life Scientific on Radio 4. Well worth listening to via podcast or Radio 4 Listen Again.

 

 

Aliveandrunning January 29 2015 Janathon Day 29

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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 http://gu.com/p/45876/sbl  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 http://gu.com/p/456db/sbl . 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

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“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 January 9 2015 Janathon Day 9

DSC_0319 Wimpole Hall, a National Trust property, in all its glory. They keep the front aspect of the house clear of plebs, poor people, lower middle class, New Age travellers and children not attending fee paying schools. Luckily, the grounds are extensive and us parkrunners don’t have to encroach on the upper class gravel. We are allowed to run freely over the undulating park land, however, and visit the lavatories when necessary.

But tomorrow’s dream parkrun at Wimpole is now a shattered aspiration. It’s been cancelled because of the expected gales. No run, no visit to the second hand bookshop, no National Trust rock cake , jam and coffee in their cafe. At the moment Cambridge parkrun at Milton Country Park hasn’t been cancelled and a decision will probably be made tomorrow morning around 8 am.

Another 2 mile run in the dark tonight but unlike the previous couple of runs, I didn’t set out on a full stomach. It was windy, although not excessively, and very mild. I think those Scottish winds will increase during the night so the fate of Cambridge will be in the hands of the Gods.

The NHS spending on children’s mental health has fallen by more than 6% in real terms since 2010, according to official figures. This equates to nearly £50m and was disclosed by NHS England in a parliamentary question. These cuts have been made against a background of decades of chronic underfunding. Who says we live in a civilised society? Who cares, anyway. It’s not a high profile service, there’s probably not enough money in it to attract private interest and most parents will be grateful for any level of help. Let the children suffer.

Aliveandrunning August 7 2014

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The big wheel on Brighton sea front. No reason it’s in this blog other than I like it and I don’t have any other suitable pics at the moment.

OMG! What have I done ? I completely forgot to compete in a club race tonight. It would have meant a 40 minute drive to get there and the club would have gained a point. I had committed myself to do it  and had offered someone a lift (not taken up). I’ll chastise myself seriously for this oversight. I’ll buy and read the Daily Mail or make myself say something positive about the Tory government. That’ll teach me not to forget.

My next half marathon is September 14 which is not far away. I’ve got another one in October and a third half in November. Note to self – start running longer distances and get half marathon fit. I have a plan but it’s formulated in seconds. I run for an hour and then about I hour 20 minutes and then run a training 13.1 miles and that’s it. In between half marathons I’ll do one or two 10 mile runs plus parkruns and club training. This regime is good enough to get me round but not good enough to get a good time (for me) or a PB. But I don’t care. I’m beyond all that competitive stuff. PB worries are so last century. I might even run backwards. I might evolve into an anti runner who, confusingly, runs. I might just implode.

Yesterday, I visited the Forest Farm Peace Garden in Hainault, Essex.   http://bit.ly/X51WKT  It’s a community garden specialising in eco therapy, food growing, community volunteering, education, outreach and special events and permaculture gardening. Several acres in size, there are both communal and individual plots, a pond, a polytunnel, portacabin loos and various sheds. On Wednesdays, the main focus is on providing gardening as a therapy and rehabilitation for people with mental health problems. Everyone was friendly and working industriously. It was a lovely, relaxing environment that  many people had contributed to creating. Ben, the stand in head gardener showed us around and answered the many questions I threw at him. They had a very inclusive policy and while we there, we saw a mum and toddler group taking place among the flowers and foliage. My 87 year old  mother accompanied me on this little field trip and really enjoyed the visit.

I’m considering creating some kind of gardening project in the field to the rear of our cottage and the Peace Garden seemed to provide an excellent model. I’ve contacted Cambridge MIND and they’ve shown some interest. I’ve also been in touch with a local councillor to explore what permissions need to be sought. The idea is to set up a charity and attract some funding although I don’t think a huge amount of money is needed. So, watch this space.

Aliveandrunning July 13 2014

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Brighton, Sussex. This pic was taken as the sun went down. The light was fading and people were becoming silhouettes. The beach had a dreamy and languid feel which gave the remnant of the the destroyed West Pier a romantic aspect. We were in Brighton for my daughter’s graduation and to collect belongings  from her accommodation. This went well, despite the poor weather, although very emotional for her.

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The bonus to our little trip to the South coast was being able to take part in Brighton parkrun (Preston Park) on Saturday morning. Unlike Cambridge parkrun which is along narrow woodland paths, the Brighton course is on tarmac paths on open park grass land, with 3 loops. Very enjoyable.

I arrived alone and maintained a cool insouciance throughout. They knew I was an unknown quantity, a stylish outsider that possibly had what it took to blow the local running talent to smithereens. I took my place on the front line and saw the fear in their eyes. Two of the young bucks had the temerity to look me directly. I faced them down with my steely alpha male stare, forcing them to lower their gaze in submission. A quick gesture by swivelling my eyes indicated they should move back to the secondary line behind me. They complied, ashen faced and shaken. I went off like a rocket and remained well ahead of everyone for an easy 20 metres before running out of steam and eventually coming in 96th out of 244. Oh well, you’ve gotta aim for the stars!

 

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Today was the inaugural Cambridge junior parkrun, a 2 kilometre run for children aged 4-14. It was very successful with 97 children ( plus some accompanying parents) taking part. It didn’t rain during the race but there were plenty of puddles to run through and the children clearly loved the whole thing. It took 25+ volunteers to stage it and the plan is to run it (pun intended) weekly which is quite an undertaking for the event and race directors who are, of course, volunteers. An added difficulty today was the Alzheimer’s 10k and 5k sponsored walk through the park which was scheduled to start at the same time as the juniors set off (at 10am). There were 500 of them! It got sorted. We delayed our start time by 15 minutes and this didn’t result in any problems. It’s wonderful to see the joy on the faces of the youngest children as they put everything they’ve got into running. I’m sure  it will continue to be very successful.

If the Daily Mail was to cease publication overnight, the mental health and well being of the nation would increase significantly with immediate effect. It’s raison d’etre is to cause maximum angst and existential stress in it’s readers who can’t get enough of its dystopian outlook. And that’s putting it politely.

The Sunday Express headlines? The Queen is worried about the possibility that the Red Arrows team  (acrobatic aviation jets) will be disbanded. Our Queen must not experience this kind of perturbation. Mr Cameron, please allocate an increase in funding to safeguard these brave flyers and prevent our monarch from suffering continuing mental unease. After all, there’s plenty of money sloshing around in the mental health services budget and they can’t shout very loud. And libraries, too, when I come to think about it.