Aliveandrunning April 30 2014


Someone sent me a draft hard copy of the forthcoming UKIP general election manifesto. It’s not light comedy but you’ve got nothing to worry about if you are British, white, bigoted, racist, unkind, stupid, 100% heterosexual, xenophobic, thoroughly prejudiced, thrive on condemning others, attack minorities who are non British, like “cheeky chappies” who drink and smoke, and have a tendency to predict the end of society as we know it when the assumption is British culture is under attack from foreign forces.

I went running with the club yesterday evening and very pleasant it was too. We road run from the University Sports Track which is on the edge of Cambridge city but only a 15 minute walk to the city centre. It’s adjacent to countryside and fields and also a big new University development. We ran a couple of kilometres to a village and did 4 x 6 minutes at faster than 5k pace with 3 minute recovery times. It’s timed by blowing a whistle so the fastest among us can go further and then we run back in the direction we just came from. The slower ones get overtaken and this doesn’t matter because we are all timed by the whistle and everyone is tested no matter what your ability. There were around 25 of us and about another 35 chose to do training on the track. I always chose road running because it’s so varied and this includes running in darkness in the winter. We are a sociable crowd but it’s also OK to just run or stand alone if chatting amiably is difficult as it is for some people. I am able to chat comfortably when I want to but the conversation tends to be running dominated (race times, Garmin stats, training plans, races coming up, injuries, club news). In the past I’ve tried introduce topics of interest to me, for example UK lamp post design between 1910 and 1933 and convey my passion for lichen but it never seems to capture their attention sufficiently. Still, I’ll persevere.

I like walking around Cambridge, even when it’s packed full of tourists clogging up the small streets. They are particularly good at clogging the pavements when they move around in groups and there is a lull in their itinerary. My inner  sheepdog comes to the fore and I feel I want to run rings around them so they trot into the nearest place of interest in double quick time.

I went into John Lewis to claim my monthly free coffee and cake in their cafe. The counter was double ended and two identical queues of about 15-20 people  clutched their coupons. We all appeared to be in our 60’s. Of course some people didn’t have their coupons and had to pay with real money. Boy, did we laugh at them. What losers! Anyway, I got served just before I lost the will to live and sat down with my Americano, scone and butter in little plastic containers. Unfortunately the task of getting butter onto scone proved a challenge too far. I completely failed to break the thin plastic seal and lift it off. The corner of the container partially broke but stubbornly wouldn’t pull off. My fingernails were useless as was brute strength.Minutes of hard effort yielded no results. Sweat broke out  on my forehead as I attempted to cut the seal with the serrated knife that waited patiently to spread the butter within. I couldn’t do it. The little butter pot had defeated me and I ate the scone dry. I’m sure I heard one of the cash payers laugh cruelly at my plight. I’ve learned my lesson. Next month, when I return with May’s coupon, I’ll be carrying my Swiss Army penknife. No contest!