Janathon Day 21 It’s all about the image, man

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In the spring or summer I hope to do a bit of trail or fell running somewhere in the UK. Never done it before. I’ve only taken in occasional steep hills or undulating countryside. We’ll probably try to identify a race that’s manageable for an inexperienced fell runner rather than opting to run up and down something that should be tackled with ropes, crampons and ice axes. Nor do I want to be in a race with ultra tough looking fell men that eat ice when they need a drink and run up as fast as they run down. There must be something suitable for a soft Southerner (living in the East).

I’m currently doing a screen printing course for complete beginners, during the daytime, in a local college. It’s in a large art room/studio full of much used art equipment, paint stained sinks, racks, screen print benches of varying sizes and everything to support multi media. Second session tomorrow. It’s a bit like being back at school but more relaxed and with a benign teacher.

Another night time run. Didn’t really feel like it initially. After 5 minutes I came alive and felt much more alert and energetic. That’s the thing with running – it wakes you up!

Parkrun on the weekend. We’ll do Wimpole Hall Estate. It’ll be muddy and slow but we’ll be with friends, have a nice mug of coffee post run and the bookshop will beckon. Heaven.

 

Janathon Day 16 Drama on the start line

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Picture by John Wilderspin

Cambridge parkrun and they’re off! Well at least two of them are. The man in the orange with folded arms is clearly sulking and thinking about it.

Chris in the blue top is showing serious intent and goes on to win it (I mean he completes it first, it’s not a race of course). Nice pose by Paul who sets them off with his horn (except the sulky guy who’s not playing ball).

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Picture by John Wilderspin

Here I am, lost in my own world, slightly open mouthed and fully attired for freezing weather. Compare and contrast with the near naked elite on the start line. The temperature is around minus 1c which is cold enough to wear  my warmest jacket. Trail shoes were essential. There was ice, broken ice, mud, frozen mud and water lurking everywhere so one had to concentrate or one could find oneself coming a cropper.

Post run we had coffee with our good friends and very enjoyable it was, too. Tea was also taken.

Despite the cold and frosty weather, the sun held most of the day and we went into Cambridge in the afternoon. How lucky are we to live close to such a beautiful city which is really no bigger than a medium sized town.

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Here is the still spooky Trinity Lane.

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And here is the last of the Saturday sun shining on the righteous.

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One last pic. Cambridge University Press is currently having a book sale. All softback/paperbacks £3 and hardbacks £7. CUP academic books are notoriously expensive. It’s a big sale and goes on for three weeks with books being added daily. It’s beyond excitement. I’ll be back!

 

 

Into 2016 with 3 parkruns in 2 days

 

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Boxing day Cambridge parkrun. It’s all over and we are forced to eat rather rich brownies to celebrate Pauline’s and Linda’s joint 200th runs. I’m on the brink of falling asleep, my daughter Isobelle  has fallen asleep and my son Dan is thinking about it. Young Angus, who has just completed his 100th run, is about to puke!

We look unscathed but it was a very muddy race (sorry, I mean run. It’s important to maintain this fiction apparently). Slow times all round, thanks to the gloop but it feels good crashing through the puddles. I had a quick word with pal James, 65-69 category, who had a heart attack earlier this year. His new consultant is concerned about his low heart beat because it  fell to 36/37 per min during tests. Hitherto he was doing 5k in 20 minutes. We wondered if everyone was put on the same NICE medication guidelines for post myocardial infarction. One size fits all, it seems.

Locally, we’ve got two parkruns, 90 minutes apart, on New Year’s Day (with a bit of travelling, it’s manageable for everyone)) and our own at Cambridge the following day. We’ll be doing all three plus a New Year’s Eve 10k at Ely. This will help me get back to running fitness, hopefully.

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A few books that strong armed their way into my life recently. I’m trying to read Dead Scared, a crime novel set in Cambridge but NeuroTribes by Steve Silberman has taken over. It’s essentially about the history of autism and society’s mainly poor response to the condition. Very readable and very humane. Before that, I part read  Adult Bullying. It’s not a pretty picture! I had to suppress thoughts of buying a Taser Gun (again).

We Go To the Gallery by Miriam Elia is a very clever parody of the Ladybird reading scheme. It’s hilarious although the mildly rude bits could cause offence to people who trip over themselves to be offended. That’s not fair! I accept the oldest generation might find it vulgar and in poor taste but as for the rest? Tough titties! Ladybird Books took great exception to the breach of of copyright but it didn’t stop them publishing a number of spoof copycat titles inspired by We Go To The Gallery.

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Here’s one I made earlier. I do like to make a loose wreath at Christmas. It’s so mild in Eastern England this winter, the daffodils are out two months early and some roses are still in bloom. All the hellebores are in flower.

 

My 250th parkrun completed at Cambridge on Saturday

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Here I am, with my family and family friend Jemma, posing with my 250 balloons after everyone has left the cafe. We all ran, the rain held off and we had plenty of cake to share with friends. It was also Dan’s 50th so it was a double celebration. I’m still returning from injury and continuing to regain my running fitness. My time was only about a minute over what I would be happy with so I was satisfied. 5k is a do-able distance but I’m not up to 10k or more at the moment.

It’s really gratifying that all my family are doing parkrun either on a regular basis or when they can. It’s such an inclusive and positive movement. People who refuse to participate should be subject to the full force of the law. Three parkrun refusals and you get a custodial sentence. Possibly this is going too far.

Dan came up with some interesting stats. There are 1,286,246 parkrunners in the world (824,624 in the UK) and I am the 366th most experienced. It puts me in the top 0.03%. Unsurprisingly, I rather like these stats They have the ring of truth!

I enjoy listening to Radio 4’s The Bottom Line with Evan Davis. He discusses business issues with leading figures involved in specific areas ranging from branding, the arts, and start ups to finance, fashion and banking. It’s a direct and no-nonsense approach and often fascinating. This week I listened to a discussion on sponsorship which was, admittedly, less interesting than I anticipated. I did learn however that Castrol withdrew their sponsorship of the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin because they didn’t allow an LGBT contingent to march.

I’m currently compiling my wishlist of books for Christmas. Eight so far, two fiction, six non fiction. Keep felling those trees!

 

Everyone is running except me! It’s criminal!!!!!!!

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Good witch and tailrunner Diane tries to give me the evil eye as she accompanies this 80-84 category parkrunner at Wimpole Estate yesterday. I was marshaling by a long straight stretch adjacent to the lake and combined this sacred duty with taking a couple of hundred photos. That’s so like me. Just selflessly working on behalf of others without a thought for my own needs or comfort. Well, all that’s gonna change when I recover from my already-one-month old injury. It’ll be about me me me from then on. Still unsure when “my time” commences. Having fallen heavily on rubble and then run 12 miles on a quadriceps injury, it’s slowly getting better but it really is at a snail’s pace.I haven’t attempted to run over the last month because bending my left knee has been painful and movement is limited.

Anyway, I have a cunning plan! I start running prematurely and to my intense surprise and shock, re-injure myself. Obviously I wouldn’t be that stupid, would I? Unfortunately, it’s a great temptation. It’s sooooo frustrating watching Lorna and my running chums take part in races that are currently forbidden to me due to a ridiculous injury. I blame the farmer for laying down rubble to give traction to his heavy farm machinery during muddy weather, gravity for pulling my foot down causing me to stumble headlong, my running shoes for not thinking out of the box and warning me of impending danger and the weak megaphone which caused me not to hear the race director’s specific mention of the section of dangerous terrain (I was warming up at this point). In  a nutshell, my accident wasn’t my fault and I had to de-friend someone who suggested I don’t pick my feet up sufficiently. Condensed version of the above : I don’t like being unable to run.

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Lorna powers ahead to finish our local Bonfire Burn 10k while I languish like a beached jellyfish on the sidelines.

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These are runners. They have run 10k. How lucky are they?

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This is Diane, hardworking race director at Wimpole Estate parkrun addressing the throng and again, with a young parkrunner.

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Small compensation in the Wimpole pre-loved -but- now -wickedly -discarded -and -crying -out- for -an appreciative -home book shop.

I rest my case. Good night!

Books, bookshops, a polytunnel, running, Tories scupper Humanity, an old door.

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The Oxfam bookshop in Durham, where we stayed, and a short train journey from Newcastle and the Great North Run. Second hand books on three floors. Lovely shop, huge selection of books but substantially more expensive than any other comparable shop.

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Oohh… look!  A load of orange Penguins and old Pelicans.

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I toyed with the idea of hiding in the shop overnight but decided against it. The sheer volume of all these pre-loved  books weighed heavily upon me. I didn’t want to risk overdosing on the written word.

Back to the running world. I’m doing a half marathon on the Wimpole Estate in 8 days and only started training for it 5 days ago. In those 5 days I’ve done two 10 mile runs without any problem and I’ll probably do another 10 or 11 mile run and a parkrun before the half. This should be adequate for me to get around the course without the pressure of going all out. It’s nicely undulating and mainly trail. The last time I ran it (2013) I came in at 1 hour 55 minutes. I anticipate 2 minutes longer this time.

I often run along the river Cam, which, depending on the time of the season, is littered with anglers. As a rule, they never acknowledge anyone passing and continue to stare vacantly into the water in the forlorn hope of catching a luckless fish. They are invariably alone and occasionally smoking. All appear to have a sense of humour bypass otherwise they would be continually laughing at the notion that fishing is a sport. Anyway, for the first time in 16 years of running by the river, one of the fishing people actually turned around, smiled and said hello. And then, to add to the sense of unreality, he made a comment expressing surprise that a group of young lads who just  passed us were not in school. I responded in kind and had to stop myself commenting that he wasn’t following accepted protocol governing angler/runner interaction. I ran on, light in heart, relishing our transgressive behaviour. If I see him again it’ll be my turn to take the initiative. I hope he hasn’t been cast out of the fishing world for unauthorised contact with a runner. Only joking (mildly).

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My polytunnel is up and running! This is Guy who masterminded the construction. Green Minds, my fledgling therapeutic gardening project is progressing very, very slowly. The actual site is being developed by friend and charity trustee, Rebecca and myself but referrals to Green Minds have yet to materialise. The timescale for things to happen is a lot longer than I had anticipated. It will happen, I’m sure, and I’m very grateful for generous financial and plant donations from friends Elaine and Robert.

This Guardian piece on the “downfall” of Cambridge’s Addenbrookes hospital is worth reading for its perspective on so called “failing” hospitals.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/22/cqc-jeremy-hunt-nhs-hit-squad-addenbrookes-hospital

Strangely enough, here’s another Guardian article, this time on the baleful nature of drug pricing. Beyond dismal. Sort it out Jeremy!http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/sep/23/uk-cancer-patients-being-denied-drugs-due-to-inflated-prices-say-expertsents-being-denied-drugs-due-to-inflated-prices-say-experts

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Finally, here’s a lovely old door, currently attached to Durham Cathedral. What’s behind it, God only knows!

RantRantRantRant…..probably not running enough !

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This Is a clever card on several levels. It encapsulates a British 1950’s sentiment of wholesome perfection, middleclass values and almost religious rapture. It identifies three modern activities which are associated with relaxation, fun or enjoyable self indulgence and, more darkly, a suggestion of medical treatment. And then reveals the existence of hidden and shocking aggression. Of course this description robs it of all humour which is recognisable instantly at first reading. Never mind! It still has the ring of truth if taken literally.

What it highlights is the common existence of feelings of passive aggression and an urge to exact physical retribution with no clear reason why. The right wing and gutter press are full of it with their emphasis on free loading benefit claimants, rhetoric against migrants, lukewarm belief or outright scepticism of asylum seekers and rubbishing as outmoded socialism, or trades union extremism, any policies which are designed  to benefit the majority rather than appeal to the personal gain of individuals. What you get with the evil Tories are clearly defined groups which purport to  threaten, steal, sponge or unfairly gain at the expense of ordinary hard working people, huge business subsidies and tax breaks to benefit their own class, and worthless but convincing reassurances like “The NHS is safe with us”.

Add to this the relatively recent vogue for extended news coverage of titillating emotionality (victims’ statements, views of neighbours expressing incredulity, people demonstrating extreme grief, shock or distress and highly charged press conferences), it’s all too easy to feel emotionally manipulated, diverted and  deceived. You think you are caring to feel upset but in reality it’s a passive, contrived experience which exploits both the grief stricken and the viewer. Not all the time but a lot of the time.

Thank God some great people have the capacity to keep it real. Dead pan humorous  real. Kanye West has just announced his bid for the 2020 American presidency thus giving a lie to the stereotypical view that Americans don’t get irony.

Not too much happening on the running front. Last week I went out with the club and we did a fartlek around Cambridge. I enjoyed it. The newer coaches are trying hard to be inclusive of all running abilities and I feel they are succeeding. It’s not easy to cater for fast runners in their teens, 20s and 30’s as well as slower people in their 60’s and coming up to 70. But the will is there. I think the key is two coaches per road running session so the less fast runners don’t feel neglected or a drag.

I marshalled at Cambridge parkrun on the weekend which I always find an education. My position allowed me to see the start of the race. Those lads at the very front are labouring under the misapprehension that parkrun is a race judging by their stance, concentration, and ability to filter out all extraneous distractions including encouragement as they hurtle around. At the other end of the spectrum are the runners struggling to improve despite carrying an awful lot of weight but wanting to succeed. And they are!

Jeremy Corbyn, prospective leader of the Labour Party has spoken about introducing women only carriages on some trains. I support this. I know this proposal has been roundly condemned by a sizeable proportion of talking heads but speaking on behalf of the male population, we really can’t be trusted to consistently behave ourselves appropriately. Everyday sexism and hormone inspired conduct is still rife. A compete indictment of male behaviour? Certainly.

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What’s this, then? C P Snow’s eleven novel sequence of novels,. Strangers and Brothers, Penguin editions published between 1962 and 1982 (not original published dates). Two missing but easily obtainable. I have read several of them decades ago but I will now read the entire sequence. They follow the life and career of Lewis Eliot from a provincial town in England to London lawyer, Cambridge don, wartime service in Whitehall, senior civil servant and finally retirement. The novels were published between 1940 and 1970. They encapsulate a previous age and culture which I find absorbing. Otherwise I wouldn’t be reading them, would I? The paperbacks are quite old and the pages are tanned. I think these aged Penguins are a marvel. Estimated time to completion : 2017. So many other things get in the way.