Normal running resumed (almost)


Nice couple of lips on the go! I’m spending a lot of time thinking about modelling/sculptural ideas and execution. I’m particularly exercised by problems concerning improving the bases and ensuring a high standard of finish. Subsequent to these two examples I’m preparing some old reclaimed wood I bought at an exorbitant price from a reclaimation yard with a view to cleaning, sealing and waxing rather than painting.

Running has been a bit neglected over the last 6-7 weeks. My hamstring is still twinging occasionally and I haven’t been doing any runs over 50 minutes to test it. But I have been running reasonably consistently, albeit shorter distance. Parkrun is okay despite not doing the times I managed a year ago. It’s only about 60-90 seconds slower per 5k parkrun so not truly shocking. I have had a nice cup of coffee with running mates after, though. Plan: to slowly up the weekly mileage. I’ve got a half marathon coming up in October so I need to know I’m properly fit for that.

Too much egregious world news to comment on just before I go to sleep. Suffice to say that Boris Johnson, ex British Foreign Secretary ridiculing traditional Muslim female dress in the right wing press is vicious, divisive and cruel. It’s a typical extreme right wing Fascist technique. In this case hidden behind the mask of a clown.

As for the Catholic Church and the Benedictine Order and the damning report into decades of sexual abuse at two “leading” Catholic schools, Ampleforth and Downside, it’s a searing indictment of the corrosive and self serving nature of religion.

Aliveandrunning October 20 2014



A Porter cake made with Guinness and a banana cake with dates and nuts. I baked these for my 200th parkrun on Saturday at Cambridge. I’m the first Cambridge person to get to 200 and fellow runners finally had incontrovertible evidence that they had a senior running god among their number When my milestone was announced at the address by the run director, a huge cheer went up, men avoided direct eye contact out of deference and women fainted with excitement. The crowd appeared dazed and unfocussed. Luckily for them I kept my head and led them, stunned, to the start line. As soon as the air horn started the race they snapped out of it. Outrageously, 135 people reached the finish line before me thus creating a huge disrespect issue. Consequently, none of my cake passed their lips! All the more for runners who were able to persuade me they came in after position 137.

The  woodland path course was muddy in places and the going was soft. It was also surprisingly warm for October. All these factors ensured I didn’t dip below 24 minutes as I did last week. I also suspect that my forward progress was impeded by the celestial breath of a mischievous Greek god but it’s notoriously difficult to prove. Still, the cake went down well and people said kind things. Onwards and upwards to parkrun 250 when I will receive a hoodie and tee shirt and further adulation.

In the afternoon I went for a walk, with friends and others, on the National Trust Wimpole Hall Estate. Very enjoyable and it gave me an opportunity to rescue a few books languishing in the Courtyard second hand bookshop. I don’t take this level of responsibility lightly. Someone has to step up to the plate. These books were heavily traumatised and are currently undergoing debriefing. It’ll be sometime before they can sit on my bookshelf, feeling at home and relaxed.



Started half marathon training yesterday. I ran for 1 hour 2 minutes in the afternoon when I thought my big bowl of porridge was sufficiently digested but my stomach still felt a bit queasy at times. St. Neots half in 4 weeks and a 10k Bonfire Burn in 2 weeks.

I’ve just sent off a request for pre-application advice for planning permission concerning my proposed therapeutic gardening project. This should result in an allocation of a named person to guide me through the process and determine whether or not I will will require planning permission. I’m arranging to visit a horticultural project in Saffron Walden (not too far from the excellent Oxfam bookshop) and I’m wading through the requirements to set up a charity. This means I will have to up my level of focus and concentration.

Could rant about the latest human rights violations perpetrated by the Catholic Church (recent small payments for abused boys attending a seminary decades ago and the cardinals watering down a more accepting text on recognising and welcoming gay people into the church). But I won’t at the moment. I’ll save it



Aliveandrunning July 13 2014


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.


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!



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.



Aliveandrunning June 5 2014 Juneathon Day 5


Oh no! I turn up to compete in the prestigious Kevin Henry 5K series of club runs (this particular one held at Newmarket, the horse racing town, 16 miles from Cambridge) and someone pointed out that I was still wearing my trusty, much loved and comfortable old slippers. How embarrassing. What a crazy, absent minded dude I am! What did I do ? I ran in my bare feet. Did I really run bare footed? No. Did I forget to wear my trainers? No. I made it all up. It’s called artistic licence.

But I did run at Newmarket, on the the Rowley mile where they they train race horses. Five clubs take part and probably around 220 runners came along this evening. The weather was fine and sunny and the course is over one big, flat perimeter circle. You can view the whole 5k with a slight sweep of the head. I ran it in 24 mins 27 secs which was OK for me (the going was soft to firm).

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I listened to Radio 4’s The Life Scientific where leading figures in the scientific community are interviewed by Jim Al-Khalili on podcast this morning. He spoke to Professor Sir Michael Rutter, the UK’s first ever child psychiatrist, about his lifelong specialisation in the field of child development, both as a practising psychiatrist and as an eminent researcher. This was very interesting in itself but I was particularly struck by his description of himself as a non-theist Quaker – that is he wasn’t required to believe in an infallible supernatural  entity and an afterlife. It sounds like a contradiction in terms- rather like UKIP or the BNP/English Defence League shrugging their metaphorical shoulders on hearing that sharia law is going to piloted throughout Essex and EU immigration to the UK is going to be encouraged and funded by the taxpayer. There is a non-theist Quaker website and an organisation for non-theist Christians. I think the emphasis is on the moral guidance and teaching provided by religious bodies rather than an all powerful supernatural being. That’s something those charming Bon Secours nuns in Tuam, Western Ireland, need to consider. A complete absence of feeling and humanity.

The Life Scientific on Radio 4, Tuesdays at 9 am and podcasted, Excellent. You don’t have to be scientifically literate, it’s not technical, it’s not hard or boring, just enjoyable. Listen to it.

Aliveandrunning April 27 2014

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Ickworth House, Suffolk, owned by the National Trust, and can be visited by any undistinguished plebeian during opening hours in exchange for a small fee. And you can belong to any social class. They don’t turn away even the lowest. Anyway, I digress. The Ickworth House Estate provided the course for today’s 10K race and very enjoyable it proved to be. We ran along country paths, through woods, estate roads and by the sides of fields. The weather was much better than expected. The rain held off and the temperature was fine for running (albeit a little cold when you finished). The course included a couple of long steepish hills which took the stuffing out of me. I didn’t feel like an immortal god at this point and genuine Greek gods don’t get colds. I got in around in 52 minutes 42 secs on an undulating course and not feeling 100 % so I shouldn’t complain. I was thrashed by my arch rivals but only by a few minutes so there’s still room for a cunning plan.

I ran with a Cambridge and Coleridge vest and Lorna has joined a very sociable and friendly new club, Fen Edge Runners. 10 K is too far for her at present but she’s making plans for a 10 K in the near future. We know most of the Fen Edge Runners and tend to socialise with them which always adds enjoyment to any race.


This is a pic of some of my C & C chums. I am the uncoordinated one in yellow. The runner in pink is a Fen Edge Runner who is lurking around hoping to pick up running tips and inside information from loose C & C tongues.

I’ve just seen a news item concerning today’s canonisation of John Paul 11 and John xx111   The ritual involved a container with a vial of John Paul’s blood and a container with a sliver of John’s skin. As my son Nick said “they were thinking ahead.” So these body parts were preserved in the expectation that one day in the future, possibly decades away, they would be central to a saint making ritual. Nice forward planning, Vatican!

The ceremony seemed entirely populated by elderly men with sufficient wealth to clothe themselves in very expensive fancy dress and some great hats. Didn’t see many women participating either. I’m sure that nice new Pope Francis will reform the millennia long habit of the Papacy to cross dress and add further layers of spurious gravitas to their ridiculous theatre which greatly helps to pull the wool over so many eyes.

To end on an even more depressing note, I think the English growing season for Brussels sprouts has ended!

Aliveandrunning April 26 2014

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We finally tracked down a photo of my son Nick, (who did his first Cambridge parkrun last week)  on Flickr, courtesy of Bruce Grimley. Nick’s the one on the right of the picture, of course. The chap leading is my chum Maurice who has  a happy disposition when running unlike my own photo which catches me with an expression between extreme constipation and utter desolation. I have tried to smile for the camera occasionally but usually look like I’m deranged. In my head I’m more akin to the young  Clint Eastwood or Paul Newman or even Brad Pitt, gliding along with a cool detachment and causing less stylish runners to jump into ditches lest they impede my progress.

Today’s Cambridge parkrun was slow but I ran with a cold so I wasn’t displeased. Tomorrow, I’ll be doing the Ickworth 10k just outside of Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk with loads of friends and acquaintances and Lorna will be taking pictures. My arch rivals will lord it over me because I’m not fully fit but no matter. I will arise like the phoenix from the ashes next weekend when I’m doing four races ( 2 x 5k, 1 x4.5 miles and 1 x 10k).

Very well done to son Dan who came third out of nearly 200 at Valentines parkrun in East London. I came 165th out of  405. How the mighty have fallen. Once I was a young running god and drank ambrosia from Waitrose. Now it’s tap water (although I sometimes indulge in a little tea ritual but that’s another story).

Just time for a couple of rants. I’m feeling increasingly sorry for the check out staff in my local Tesco who obviously have to follow a tight script with each customer. They are now obliged to thank customers for waiting if there is more than one in the line irrespective of how long the wait is, even if it’s only a few minutes. The other day the security guard caught my eye as I left and said “Thank you”. For what? Not shoplifting? Not starting a brawl? I’ve managed to stop myself screaming hysterically when a (usually young) checkout person implores me to “have a nice day” but it’s only a matter of time before I succumb. I’ve begun to long for the days when staff avoided eye contact and said nothing or were even surly. I tend to chose the oldest check out people because they frequently go off script and sometimes moan. How refreshing!

Pope Francis is due to canonise John Paul 11 tomorrow in St. Mark’s Square, Rome. Is this one of the Popes who successfully ignored the growing sex abuse issues concerning it’s own priests, took no remedial action, allowed them to carry on abusing children in other dioceses and effectively put the interests of the Catholic Church before the interests of the victims. I listened to an apologist speak on BBC Radio 4 (Saturday PM). He spoke about John Paul’s piety and holiness and instanced his assistance in overthrowing Communism and inspiration of young people to be Christians. How credulous people are! He was CEO of a ruthless, self serving organisation devoted to it’s own ends and wealth but obliged  to maintain the fiction of having the ultimate moral compass. Just like the pharmaceuticals and armaments industries but with added divine pretentions.

Aliveandrunning April 11 2014


     I decided to post this  snap of Rupert despite his objection that it didn’t flatter him. I countered this by asserting it was in the public interest to publish. It wasn’t everyday that you saw a dog with 5 “o” clock shadow! He growled something about entitlement to privacy and me acting like paparazzi but I overruled him.

Tomorrow is Cambridge parkrun. Last week I restricted my food intake Friday evening, hoping this would result in a better than usual time but this wasn’t successful. Tonight I’ll be eating up to midnight  and so I’ll be able to contrast and compare.

It’s Lorna’s birthday next week. Her Achilles tendonopathy continues to improve and she’s back running. Her joy at running again was reflected in prematurely ripping open her wrapped present, extracting the Garmin 10 from the shredded paper, immediately charging it up and then running in small circles, grinning inanely when the readout informed her that she was below the set pace.

On Sunday we’ll be spectating at the London marathon. The weather is expected to be reasonable ie not cold and not raining, and we’ll go to Canary Wharf in Docklands which was a good spot last year. Amazingly we saw a number of runners known to us.

“Pope Francis asks forgiveness for child abuse by clergy” is one of the items on BBC News. The report shows a great pic of the Pope looking as if he is overcome by overwhelming sorrow, contrition and empathy for the suffering. Nice piece of acting  by the caring Pope who is frequently puffed up as the man of the people destined to bring about real reforms. The Catholic church, like other long established religions, is as self serving as wealthy conglomerates such as the pharmaceuticals and armaments industries. The only real difference consists of the involvement of millions of good, reasonably well intentioned people who still, inexplicably, are motivated to have the wool pulled over their eyes.

Aliveandrunning February 6 2014

Nearly a week since the end of Janathon and I’m back to my normal running regime. Two days ago I went out with the club and we did 3 x 3mins 30secs x 2, that is running for 3 minutes 30 seconds (timed by a whistle), 90 seconds recovery and two further reps then 5 minutes recovery followed by another set. Not a great distance but good speedy interval training. And in the dark!

Today, I ran 10 miles before the weather deteriorated in the early afternoon. It was gloomy and damp and the sun refused to come out to play. I ran down a main road through a village which was closed off to traffic because of resurfacing. One of the men was operating a white line machine in the middle of the road, using both hands, and had a lit cigarette between his lips! Not even one of those absurd e-fags that the credulous and impressionable openly flaunt. I did what any reasonable, level headed young man would do. I sprang off the safety of the pavement, onto the nice new tarmac and snatched the burning white stick of compressed tobacco from his mouth. Theatrically, I threw it down and ground it underfoot Grinning to indicate friendliness, I told him I did it for his own good and paused for a response. He looked startled, dismayed, angry and murderous in that order. He then noticed his machine had deviated and laid down a long bendy line across the road where no bendy white line should be. At this point I divined that my life might be forfeit if I lingered and abandoned my intention to deliver a “working towards a healthy lifestyle” explanation. He roared and lunged at me at which point I discovered I could run backwards. This seemed to enrage him even more. I think he would have nabbed me had not Zeus, observing my predicament from one of the rain clouds, snatched me from danger and set me down 200 metres away. “Lad,” his deep baritone voice boomed, “choose your battles more wisely and don’t forget to remain hydrated on your longer runs.” “Thanks, Zeus,” I spluttered, ” Give my regards to your good wife Hera and don’t spare the ambrosia.”

Unsurprisingly, I chose a different route on my return. It was incident free.

Tomorrow, I’ll have a rest day. Saturday is Cambridge parkrun. I’m running and volunteering (post race clear up) and on Sunday I’m doing a 10k in Greenwich Park, London with four of my children (I never thought this day would come).

The Vatican response to the damning UN committee on the rights of the child report which gave recommendations to the Roman Catholic church on the steps they have failed to take but now should implement, concerning child sexual and physical abuse, was provisional but  typical of their refusal to appropriately acknowledge the problems. In fact the church is a law unto itself in the context of protecting priests who commit crimes. It dispenses its own canon law which is self serving and protects the the reputation of the institution. The new Pope Francis is nice and smiley and very good at public relations but heads a corrupt organisation. Paradoxically it has many thousands of good members but its administrative and spiritual heart is hollow and pitiless.

Aliveandrunning Janathon January 17

Day 17. I must have some bat DNA in me. I am consistently only getting around to running at  dusk or when it’s dark. Not too much DNA, I hope. I don’t want to find myself  scanning for insects and running with my mouth open.

Longer runs are eluding me at the moment. I’ll have to start soon because I’m in the Cambridge Half Marathon in less than 8 weeks. Running alone, along the banks of the Cam towards Cambridge, is my preferred option but I’m spoilt for  choice. Cambridge and Coleridge Running Club organise long runs on Thursdays and club members run together informally in a group on the weekend. Fen Edge Runners, a new, local club are also offering long social runs.

Tomorrow, my new trail shoes will have their second outing when I do Cambridge parkrun. Last week I was lucky I didn’t lose my right shoe in the mud. This time I’ll make sure the thin cord laces are  sufficiently tight. Next week we are going to Walthamstow parkrun, East London to meet up with old friends and run with them, as well as two of my children.

We hope to buy a super duper new camera soon and this will enable us to take a load of images at races and particularly parkrun. I will also be taking pictures of my bowl of porridge, lichen and trees, alleys and ghostly passages. I could use it at political demonstrations and shoot video of the police taking video of the demonstrators. I inadvertently came across a demonstration and march, meeting in central Cambridge a couple of years ago. It was held up for around 20 minutes because the police photographer was late arriving. Oddly they never seem to record their colleagues behaving badly.

Interesting article on the Vatican’s attitude and responsibility for global Catholic priest sexual abuse in the Guardian.

Aliveandrunning2013 December 11

I continue to run but I have mislaid the Winged Sandals given to me on loan by the Greek god Hermes. I’m not flying along effortlessly and I can no longer kid myself that it’s still late summer. A 45 minute run a couple of days ago was a lacklustre affair and drew no comments from passersby like “Wow, you strongly remind me of Usain Bolt” and “There goes a top class runner we are proud to have living in the Cambridge area.” I missed an outing with the club yesterday and instead heard Ian Rankin. UK crime writer interviewed in a rather lovely church in central Cambridge. See my other blog for my very brief review and my view on Scientology following a Supreme Court ruling in London today. Scientology, you couldn’t make it up ? Or could you ? The Catholic Church appears motivated to set up a high profile commission of experts to fight clerical sex abuse but, as explained in this article and another the previous day, the Vatican has refused to give a United Nations panel information it requested on clerical sexual abuse. Additionally there is still no clear plan to examine the issue of bishops’ accountability in clergy abuse cases. You would assume that a religious organisation that has caused, and allowed to continue, so much harm would be highly motivated to make whatever amends it could. Unless that organisation was so thoroughly self serving and saturated with hubris that it decided to continue to minimise the impact of abuse and make an industry out of lip service and crocodile tears.

I have a cunning plan to encourage myself to be more sociable. I will invite more people to come around for coffee or (in exceptional cases where the person is very discerning) lapsang souchong. At the point of invitation I will give them a card stating the maximum length of time they may stay eg I hour, 2 hours, 3 hours etc. They know where they stand and the whole thing has a nice manageable feel for all participants. It also gives a chance for people to increase their favour with me and receive subsequent cards of longer duration. It can’t fail.