Don’t jump in!

DSC_0269

Trinity Hall’s Jerwood Library, completed in 1998 and opened in 1999, just 649 years after Trinity Hall was founded in 1350. That’s a long time to wait for a decent library. I was a little anxious about the vaguely Alfred Hitchcockian man gazing down at the punt about to pass beneath him. I had a vision of him vaulting the railings, landing on the punt and crashing through the wooden floor.Needless to say, it was all in my head and no punt related incident or tragedy occurred.

I am now a returned club runner having virtually stopped attending from October last year. Yesterday was a pleasant, sunny day in Cambridge (see visual evidence above) but when I left home at 6.10 pm it was overcast cold and raining. By the time we road runners left the warmth and shelter of the Cambridge University Athletics clubhouse it was raining hard and continued to do so for three quarters of the session. Of course I under estimated the severity of the weather and didn’t wear the right jacket. I got thoroughly soaked and if the temperature had been lower I would probably have given up. However, after warming up and running the first of 4 x 1500 metres, I felt much better. On my return I had a shower and tasty meal and overall I felt energised, alert and more alive. So that’s my advice. If you’re feeling tired, lethargic and generally lackadaisical, go for a hard run (in the rain preferably) and you’ll find yourself on top form again (disclaimer : you need to have a certain amount of running fitness or you might go from bad to worse, and this approach  might only work for me. Has this advice been helpful? I’ll leave the world to decide.

I saw something relatively unusual today. A man and a women, probably in their mid seventies, passed by me riding a tandem tricycle. They weren’t sporty and didn’t look as if they were fitness advocates.They were cycling together, out in the sunshine, enjoying themselves and going places. The tandem tricycle was stable and they didn’t have to continually focus on balance. Marvellous!

I’m reading the third book, The Conscience of the Rich, in C.P.Snow’s Brothers and Strangers sequence. I think it’s the right one. They weren’t published in the right sequence and I’ve managed to mislay a number of them after I was forced to tidy them away. Note to self : begin to stack books in towers throughout the house so they are ever at hand.

 

 

RantRantRantRant…..probably not running enough !

IMG-20150818-WA0000

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.

wpid-wp-1441054110231.jpeg

 

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.