Johnson’s Tories still banjax Great Britain. Local elections could help to change balance of power if our cognitively impaired electorate wake up.

Music courtesy of Philip Glass

Yes, rotating wooden balls fixed to metal rods. And why not? It’s relaxing, quirky and has a retro feel. You know where you are with a wooden sphere. It’s entirely complete and uncomplicated. But are a cascade of moving, swivelling balls art? Of course. Art encompasses great technical skill, possessed by relatively few people, who execute a visually realistic interpretation or an advanced creative depiction that few people would seek to question as a high art form. But art can equally encompass non traditional forms which appear low on the spectrum of high art but include elements which pose questions and challenge preconceptions or express dissent or shock. Is there a line that needs to be drawn when you talk about art? Who gets on their high horse and why? Why do art installations appear to polarise opinion? Do left and right leaning people like radically different creative styles? If you are over seventy, are you much less likely to enjoy or appreciate abstract and modern art? These aren’t original questions and what constitutes art encapsulates myriad discussions and nuanced argument. Do I care? Not really. I accept art is all things to all people What’s more interesting is the vehemence, prejudice and passive-aggression with which views are expressed. Or the absence of active interest in art or creative activity. Poor, unbalanced people!

Music courtesy of Philip Glass

More musical balls.

I last posted in February, two weeks or so before the Cambridge half marathon. This went well, in the main. No surprises, a steady pace and a bit slower than the last Cambridge half in October 2021. I also did the nearby Cambourne 10k in April and met up with some old running pals. I used to see them regularly when parkrun was on at Milton Country Park but with the demise of that venue {gnashing of teeth} contact is intermittent. Still, I’m continuing to run 30-35k a week so I’m doing okay. This includes running with my Cottenham pal ,Rob, in an adjacent village.

Boris Johnson’s luck has yet to run out which, with a bit of reflection, isn’t surprising. Has has no moral compass and he has surrounded himself with supporters that either can’t tell right from wrong or don’t care or have no qualms lying through their teeth. Whether its blithely denying participation in illegal lockdown parties, explaining why they sent thousands of elderly patients from hospital back to their care homes, untested for covid, and causing tens of thousands of preventable deaths, pretending they a have any sympathy or understanding for the ordinary working man or devising schemes to transport refugees/migrants to Rwanda permanently (out of sight, out of mind, cost undisclosed, plaudits from xenophobes, racists and fascists everywhere), you can always depend on the Tories to convincingly defend the indefensible and without a hint of shame or remorse.

Winter running. The cold, the wind, the mud. It’s predictable, like Tory sleaze.

Two daughters and one boyfriend ran the Cambridge 10k the day before I ran the half last October. It all went very well. It’s satisfying that all my five children have been running at some stage and will return to it when their circumstances allow. Running. Who wouldn’t want to do it, huh!

I’ve managed to run consistently since my last post in November 2021, without injury, and covering 30-35k weekly. I now have a new running chum whom I meet weekly in an adjacent village. This has resulted in new running routes, which is very welcome, since I have relied on just two for years. It’s also added a new dimension to running, namely, chatting. Having been a lone runner for decades, I wouldn’t have guessed this would be conducive, but it is. Of course, our weekly runs aren’t competitive. My strategy in any races we do together is to encourage chatting while I listen attentively and then pull ahead towards the finish, using the reserves of breath I’ve held back. It’s a fool proof wheeze. Possibly.

I’ve also returned to parkrun on an occasional basis. Occasional because of the covid risk but also, since the sad demise of Cambridge parkrun at Milton, because of the travel involved. Storey’s Field, Eddington, a new town on the edge of Cambridge, is my chosen parkrun at present. It’s very well organised and there are plenty of familiar faces, yet I still pine for Milton.

Under two weeks until the Cambridge half marathon. I’ve now done two training 21k sessions and feel set to go. The last Cambridge half was in October 2021, deferred from the previous March, so now it’s back to its original time of year.

Prime Minister’s Question time, broadcast live on the BBC each Wednesday, never fails to be an education. Boris Johnson, having won the last election with a vast majority, has proved that you can fool most of the people, most of the time. Huge swathes of traditionally Labour voters were persuaded to leave Europe based on government cultivated xenophobic anxieties regarding immigration, loss of British jobs to foreigners, loss of British sovereignty and jurisdiction and the assertion that the haemorrhage of tax payers money to the EU would cease and go directly to boost the NHS. What is it about the British electorate that provokes them to regress to uttering simplistic demands about “wanting their freedom back” and instancing minor examples of European law and bureacracy?

The Ukraine crisis has proved to be a get-out-of-jail card for Johnson, allowing a diversion of attention away from the government’s handling of Covid and the scandal of numerous social parties organised by the government during the lockdowns, egregiously breaching their own rules, and showing contempt for ordinary people. Johnson clearly revels in playing an inflated role as the elder statesman on the world stage. He does this well, with confidence, conviction and powers of persuasion instilled in him by his class and education. That’s how the Tories excel. They project and amplify emotions that target the electorate’s fears, anxieties, prejudices and sense of being disadvantaged. They shamelessly use their own statistics to demonstrate success, relying on a credulous electorate to be impressed. Think about the thousands of extra nurses, doctors and billions going into the NHS. Don’t think about the previous lack of investment and cuts to services and loss of hospital beds. Do be awed by the repetition of billions of PPE items obtained during the pandemic and regular announcements of further billions of pounds being expended on the NHS. Don’t mention the government reacted slowly to provide equipment, or abandoned care home residents to die in their tens of thousands. Or that a a large scale excercise concerning management of a pandemic a few years earlier pin pointed exactly what was needed to meet such a contingency, but had its findings and recommendations ignored.

This is what the Tories do best. They are, collectively, a master class in expert, nuanced manipulation directed against a softened up, beguiled public in thrall to posh boy politicians and hard nosed, cruel female counterparts.

Still running and still shocked by Tory bigotry

First post since last January. I’ve remained well, avoided covid and continued to run consistently. Parkrun returned over four months ago but I’ve only attended one so far. Unfortunately our local parkrun in Cambridge, Milton Country Park, decided not to host the event any more, a controversial decision that was extremely disappointing and taken for unclear reasons.The loss of Milton parkrun means I don’t meet up with running chums consistently and I’ve reverted to being a lone runner . I have, however, had more contact with a person I previously saw once a year at a local school run, which is good. They say friends and socialising is essential for robust mental health. I agree but I’m an introvert at heart. I did do Cambridge half marathon and three local 10k races and I’m currently running 30-35k each week. The Cambridge half took place late, in October, and I’ve signed up for the next one in March 2022.

Perhaps it’s a positive and protective behaviour that we don’t generally share our views and beliefs lightly with acquaintances, or that we do, much more whole heartedly, with people we know better or have reason to understand we will receive a sympathetic response. On the other hand, the unavoidable views of people who express clear opposition and animosity to our core values and standards produce a baleful effect and constant dismay. The Tory party, and Boris Johnson in particular, are the obvious examples. They have clearly demonstrated that elitist showmanship and entertaining guff can win hearts and minds. Unfortunately these skills and abilities are used to gloss over aggessive and cruel policies, blatent corruption and an obvious appeal to their credulous electorate. Their supporters thrive on the Daily Mail diet of fear, outrage, condemnation, predjudice, xenophobia, sentimentalism, thinly disguised racism and anti wokeness. They don’t appear concerned about sleeze, financial irregularities with tax payers’ money, the cavalier and fatal disregard for care home residents in the first covid wave or the plight of refugees dangerously crossing the Channel. Boris Johnson got Brexit done, they crow. We can be in control of our own affairs, stop immigration and forge our own way ahead. We can consider new ways of doing things, like pushing inflatable boats back to France and transporting illegal immigrants to centres abroad to be processed out of the public eye. The supine electorate laps up the big numbers the Tories claim to be spending on the NHS while fogetting that they ran it down in the first place. Rant, rant, rant. It’s not easy taking the moral high ground but this government of doesn’t make it hard either. What can you do when the Tories daily prove they possess no humanity and a sizeable chunk of the population just shrug their shoulders.

British Understatement : 2020, a funny old year

 

Or rather, not funny at all. Certainly not funny ha ha and funny peculiar hardly describes it. But humour is a complicated thing and frequently misunderstood. I tend to spontaneously half gasp, half chuckle when I hear something outrageous or emotionally upsetting as related to me by others talking about their own unfortunate experiences. Surprisingly, no-one has ever found this response disrespectful or upsetting because they recognise my empathy and sense of outrage on their behalf. I reacted strongly because of my sense of unfairness and appreciation of their emotional hurt. Professionally, when I was working, I did a great deal of half chuckling, half gasping, sometimes even laughing out loud. I heard many accounts of emotional suffering, often spoken with sadness and resignation and they were never less than shocking. My responses never caused offence.

And now, in 2020, I’m still unable to stifle grunts, gasps, sharp intakes of breath, groans, sighs and bewildered expressions. I spend a lot of time feeling incredulous and disbelieving. While I’m at it, throw in pained expressions and open-mouthed shock as well.

Am I exaggerating? Of course, but not greatly. The events and behaviour, provoking these reactions are all around. Boris Johnson’s UK and Trump’s America provide countless examples of right-wing cultivation of people’s fears and prejudices which produce unkind, cruel and partisan policies .Both are populist governments heavily reliant on the populations’ deep reservoirs of anger, resentment, xenophobia and sense of betrayal. Lip service is given to the needs and welfare of the community and individual vulnerable groups. Maximum emphasis is placed on loss, damaging cultural change and ethnic groups or countries taking unfair advantage.

Brexit is a prime example in the UK. Another was the UK government’s determination not to fund free school meals for the children whose parents lost income during the pandemic restrictions or would normally be eligible if schools were open. The government, in the first pandemic wave, was responsible for the wholesale neglect of the elderly in care homes which resulted in many thousands of deaths.

The Trump administration demonstrates that absolute power can corrupt absolutely and how the normal checks and balances embedded in a democracy can be found wanting. He has wantonly and effortlessly degraded the office of the President, given succour to racists and the extreme right wing, run rough shod over normal and decent values, crudely whipped up violent and disruptive groups and lies without compunction. Trump is a single individual who has contrived to prove fascism is not only alive and kicking but can also accrue widespread support. A shameful, vicious and extremely embarrassing episode in American politics.

On the positive side, Covid 19 vaccinations are over the horizon, crazy anti vaccinators notwithstanding, and my running is stepping up. Despite my right knee remaining puffy and a tad stiff, I can run every other day. I can do 5k and 9k without obvious problems and I recently did 15k successfully. That means a half marathon is within range and I’ve pre-registered for the Cambridge half which is scheduled for October 2021. I’ve got high hopes that parkrun will recommence by the Spring when the vaccination programme is up and running.

UK renamed Mordor by Johnson government as Tory-orcs run rampant

This is a pic from the top of the Tor at Glastonbury, overlooking the Somerset Levels and taken last summer when the evil Tories weren’t so blatantly evil.

The Bridge of Sighs, St. John’s College, Cambridge, taken just before the UK General Election, and prior to the onset of Perpetual Shadow Tory Rule.

With the self destruction of the Labour Party, I should be running frantically and often to contain my fear and anxiety concerning an extreme right government. Unfortunately I remain injured, not seriously, but sufficient to impair speed, distance and frequency. I have been doing parkrun consistently but my knee still feels uncomfortable and weak. On New Year’s Day I did two parkruns, ninety minutes apart, 5k each run. On the last kilometre of the second race my right knee felt very odd and my left calf started to hurt. For the rest of the day I could only walk stiffly and gingerly. Nevertheless, I’ll do parkrun again tomorrow and probably walk most of it.

So Brexit, xenophobia, racism and outright stupidity won the day. The Right don’t really think, they feel. They feel anger, resentment, hate contempt, fear, sentimentality and prejudice. They tend not to have any arguments. The emphasis is on keeping what they’ve got, increasing it and making sure there’s minimum sharing or redistribution, particularly to the vulnerable or economically unproductive.

The Left tend to have arguments and explain, often with a historical perspective and with nuance. They employ concepts like inclusiveness, empathy, fairness and a sense of community. They look outwards and are not threatened by all and sundry. I could go on but I’m watching Shrill at the moment.

Hopefully I’ll write a few more blogs before Trump causes a nuclear war.

Would you Adam and Eve It*? UK General Election and I’m still injured (but not quite as much)

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My first attempt at kokedama (moss balls fashioned around a plant and bound to keep the moss and growing medium in place.) I’ve bound it crudely, with thick green garden wire. This will be replaced by less visible finer wire.

My first open top terrarium. My daughter has made a succession of closed terrariums and has give me advice and equipment to make my own. Better get on and do it then!

My relation with house plants has dramatically improved. Like many people I have tended to neglect them and their overall health goes into a slow decline. This is no longer the case. I find I’m much more motivated to care for them properly. I suppose nurture wouldn’t be too strong a word. Why is this? Well, plants enhance the environment. They’re natural, alive and respond to attention, creating a sense of being in control and achievement. Fascinating in themselves and their various forms, they give enjoyment and a feeling that you have a small bit of nature in your own home. Much less demanding than pets but more difficult to take for a walk.

I wasn’t running when I wrote my last blog two months ago. I am running now, tentatively, but my knee is weak and I’ve lost a lot of fitness. The NHS physiotherapy assessment appointment came through eventually, and was thorough. It was established I had a mechanical, not structural, injury and I was given a set of physio exercises. By the time of the assessment, my knee was improving very slowly. Despite being theoretically highly motivated to do physio exercises, in practice I didn’t take them up. I started parkrunning again (5k) but didn’t run during the week. My knee has continued to be problematic. There is continuing slow improvement and I want to run during the week. Strangely I am now motivated to do the prescribed physio exercises. Doh!

Regretfully I’ve missed a number of half marathon and 10k races and I won’t be doing the Cambridge half marathon in March 2020.  I think thirteen miles of hard road won’t be good for my knee. Possibly the following year. I’m pleased my son Dan has got a place so I’ll be able to spectate, cheer him on and hopefully keep my envy in check.

The UK general election is set for December 12th and party electioneering is in full swing. The evil Tories and the Brexit party are in bad tempered alliance, Labour has failed to gain the upper hand ( riven party and too many Brexiteer voters) and the Lib Dems, somewhat in the ascendancy, but probably not enough to make a difference. If Labour and the Lib Dems formed an alliance, there mght be some hope but that is not likely at the moment. Possibly the SNP might help labour keep the Tories out. It’s all up in the air! I don’t feel Jeremy Corbyn has put any effort into being personable and attractive to voters. He’s clearly anti European and the party is dangerously split. A substantial minority of Labour voters are xenophobic, racist and anti semitic. It’s not looking good.

*Cockney rhyming slang. Adam and Eve = believe it.  (American readers might associate the London cockney accent with Dick Van Dyke playing Bertie the chimney sweep in Mary Poppins in the 1964 film. This would be a grave mistake) Of course, Brexit is the modern version of the biblical Adam and Eve creation myth. When the evil Tories agreed to a referendum, the period of debate and day of voting was akin to eating of the Tree of Knowledge. It brought forth all manner of lies, deceit, self advancement, bigotry, xenophobia, nationalism, prejudice and hatred which hitherto had laid dormant. To mix metaphors, the genie was out of the bottle, Pandora’s box was opened. I’m sure you get my drift. On a daily basis we hear ignorance, anger and plain stupidity being voiced by people with the narrowest of interest for society at large but possessing a large range of cliches and jingoism to support their unkind, aggressive views. The Brexit debate has been very revealing and wholly disturbing.

Why do the Europeans seem so much more sensible than us Brits? Probably because they are.

 

 

 

 

Whitby, Cropredy and a persistent running injury. And Brexit?

WHITBY

Four days in Yorkshire. We visited Whitby where Bram Stoker’s Dracula landed on a deserted ship and bounded up the 199 steps, in the form of a large black dog, to the ruined Whitby abbey on the cliff top. Whitby is now a port of call (pun intended) for all Goths, past and present. These two Goth girl were hardly out of place.

 

Very atmospheric. The weather was warm and sunny but on a cold, misty, gloomy day it would be easy to appreciate why Stoker knew Whitby was the appropriate location for Dracula to disembark from his cursed ship.

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Cropredy, Oxfordshire. Fairport Convention hold an annual reunion festival here. They are a folk rock band which originally formed in 1967 and they are still going with original members and old members regularly returning. They have a loyal following which is just as well because the weather conditions were testing for long standing fans. Except we weren’t standing much. Such is our collective advanced age camp chairs is de rigueur even if the weather is good. This time around we endured a chilling wind, low temperatures and bouts of rain. It felt God was attempting to cull us!

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I’m being persecuted by another chicken. She turns up each day waiting to be fed then does giant poo which we duly tread on. She even became violent, pecking Lorna’s unprotected toes. We’re trying to become predominantly vegetarians but she’s trying our patience.

I’m alive but still not running My knee injury is still persisting and I’ve stopped running altogether. Still not sure of the exact nature of the injury. I had assumed it was a tear or bruising to the miniscus but now I’m not so sure. I’ve had a couple of private physiotherapy sessions and still awaiting a NHS referral for physiotherapy for which there is a fourteen week waiting list. This is not a service. Such a timescale for assessment and treatment will ensure that either the average person’s  problem will have resolved over time or will have become chronic. How has the physiotherapy service allowed itself to become so degraded and marginal? My GP, appparently, is not able to refer me for a scan to accurately diagnose my knee injury. That responsibility is now devolved to the physiotherapy servce, who if they feel a diagnostic scan is required, refer me onto another team who then make that decision. This will take forever. It is taking forever. A good example of NHS cuts and resource rationing. or softening up the NHS for private providers. Or simply dropping a treatment option. Is the NHS safe with the evil Tories? If you are credulous, yes, of course.

Brexit! Divisive or what? Remain or leave, your preference strips bare a predictable set of values and beliefs. In general the remainers live in a world with balmy weather and warm breezes where good humour and friendliness, co-operation and fairness are the norms and everyone is accepted without prejudice. The leavers, in general, inhabit a gloomy, sunless world, permanently chilled and inhospitable, where xenophobia, meaness of spirit, absence of empathy, lack of charity and self interest are endemic. Oh dear!

Manchester trip, Cambridge Pride and a proper running injury

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We ran into an Extinction Rebellion children’s march in Manchester a couple of months ago. It was heartening to see young children and teenagers taking to the streets and making themselves heard. I think their parents should br very proud.

We went to the first Cambridge Pride event. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t great and the attendance should have been higher but we felt it was successful. Very friendly and relaxing. Hopefully it will be bigger next year and they are able to secure sufficient funding.

Did I say in my previous blog my running is going well at present? Unfortunately it went downhill a short while after and became very uphill. So uphill, I’ve stopped running altogether for the past eight weeks. Previous to that I had been having problems to my right knee

and an ill advised hard training run with Cambridge and Coleridge AC in May resulted in a substantial injury. Oh dear! I thought I might have arthritic wear and tear but an x-ray didn’t suggest this. A physio assessment pointed to a minscus injury and I’m awaiting further investigation. In the meanwhile my knee is feeling better but not running better. Tomorrow I’ll do Cambridge parkrun and walk most of it. The above pic is me a month ago walking parkrun although I may have broken into a little trot at this point. I didn’t do myself any favours.

Trump’s attack on the four Democratic congresswomen at a rally in North Carolina branding them as “hate filled extremists” and a follow up to his tweets earlier in the week advising them to “go back” to other countries (based on their skin colour), is a shockingly good example of contemporary fascism. Successful fascists are highly adept at inciting large crowds by employing mockery and humour and outrageous lies. The cruel, unfeeling bigots lapped it up. God save America, pretty please.

Boris Johnson is apparently set to become the UK’s next Prime Minister and his head is all ready up Trump’s large colon. The Eton educated Tory chancer and full time stand up comedian is greatly loved by those who can’t distinguish entertainment from politics and don’t really care anyway.

Note to God : save America first and then help out the UK.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Running, races, interesting injuries, recovery and Brexit sadness

Here I am, running to partial victory (I would have won if I had succeeded in getting ahead of the several hundred people in front of me). This is the Cambourne 10k, just outside Cambridge. It was overcast and cold but good running weather for most. I should have worn gloves. More importantly my right knee and hip held up well. At the beginning of March I ran the Cambridge half marathon, a hard road surface and about ten days later my right knee and a right finger became swollen. I self diagnosed osteo arthritis. I was advised not to take ibruprofen because of my cardiac medication but I could take Voltarol (diclofenac diethylammonium,a topical gel, which I did. Result? Both knee and finger swelling quickly reduced. Like a lot of people of a certain age I get occasional arthritic local flareups particularly in my hands and they often disappear. But my swollen knee ACTUALLY STOPPED ME RUNNING!

I’m now back to running fairly normally and regaining lost form. I also took the decision to rejoin Cambridge and Coleridge Athletics Club (C&C) and went training with them this week. I gave up C&C nearly three years ago because I thought I was getting too slow to do the type of training I wanted to do with them, mainly road running. I’m still the slowest in the group but I’ll see how it goes. Some sessions will be more suitable than others and I’ve always got the option of doing track sessions instead.

 

Two running chums. Both beat me in the Cambourne 10k. I eat my banana, place the skin on the edge of the pond, my pal steps on it, skids and falls in. It doesn’t happen.

Brexit. It’s a Pandora’s box. Mostly we gravitate towards people whose views are similar to our own, if we know or suspect them. A lot of the time we don’t know people’s views and they may not know mine but because little clues suggest they might be substantially different, we avoid argument or friction. We get along by not challenging each other we don’t fall out because certain issues are avoided.  Brexit has sidestepped this pragmatic arrangement and frequently lays bare a range of beliefs, attitudes and values which are shocking.

I’d find it more than acceptable if the arguments for staying or leaving the EU revolved around economic or business considerations but I believe the majority of the peope who voted to leave Europe did so for racist and xenophobic reasons, underpinned by their anger at the  bewildering pace and changes of modern life and aided and abetted by the  fascist Daily Mail.

To put it mildly, it’s utterly dismaying to hear people rubbishing Europe, wanting to leave at any cost, desperately fearful of immigration and the loss of “Englishness” and feeling we are helpless under the weight of crazy European laws usurping our British (superior) sovereignty. The Little Britain mentality of most Brexiteers are in extreme contrast with the the humanity and common sense emmanating from the Europeans. Bring on a second referendum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

400 parkruns and a lot of long straw

Cottage getting a rethatch

I ran my first Cambridge parkrun in February 2010, six months after a heart attack and now I’ve passed the 400 mark. Two other running chums who are both in their late 60s and have had heart attacks are still running. Moral of the story? Stay fit and prosper after a cardiac event. Unfortunately I saw many people attending cardiac rehab who were overweight, didn’t do any exercise and regarded their heart disease as a considerable handicap. At that point, only just over 4 in 10 were taking up the offer of cardiac rehab and the takeup was lower in other areas. Oh dear! I don’t know if rehab uptake has improved much.

Cambridge half marathon in under two weeks. I’m trying to do a long run of 12 miles every week and , by and large, I’ve managed it. It takes some effort and focus but I feel so much better afterward, a sort of good, healthy tiredness.

Finished

I just read that the British teenager who absconded to to the Islamic State group in Syria when she was 15 (she is now aged 19 and has just given birth to her third child), has now had her UK citizenship revoked. She is currently in a Syrian refugee camp and wants to return to the UK. This is a complicated issue on a number of fronts but it is very disappointing that the Tory Home Secretary has placated the credulous and knee jerk nitwits of the Tory electorate who are unable to objectively evaluate any complicated issue. Compare and contrast with Tony Blair who was determined to go to war with George Bush on the flimsiest of pretences, shared responsiblity for tens of thousands of deaths and destabilised whole regions.