Drabness with knobs on – beyond dreigh!

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Extremely dull weekend. Grey blanket cloud, drizzle, sleet, occasional cutting winds, temperatures around zero. The poor light affects my mood so even more reason to go running.

I ran around 7.5 miles this morning. From where I live it’s  3 miles to the river Cam and I ran about 4.5 miles along the river path. Loads of runners out, mostly training for the Cambridge half marathon. After the A14 flyover a dozen or so university rowing eights were on the Cam with all their support personnel. They looked cold! I think there’s a lot of hanging around. I suppressed an urge to advise them to retire to their refectories or libraries and have a game of darts in the warm. Instead I wove a path between oars and the coachs et al and sprinted on into the gloom, my bravado unacknowledged. 25 minutes later, I met up with my own support team (Lorna) who picked me up at the Green Dragon pub. This run was an outward journey only. Oh yes, and a first tryout for my new shoes. Loads of standing water and mud on the path. They felt very good.

Yesterday the conditions were very muddy at Cambridge parkrun and trail shoes were essential. Again, very overcast and cold. I wore suitable kit to combat the weather but it was still uphill work. And that’s saying something on a totally flat course.

The pic at the top shows the Shard tower and to the right the giant chimney stack of the Tate Modern gallery. The rectangular building on the right is a recent extension, Switch House and you can see the outside viewing level just below the top. This viewing level attracted much criticism from the residents of multi million pound flats who were overlooked by the gawping proletariat determined to enjoy all aspects of the 360 degree panarama.

I have some limited sympathy. Some of the apartments  have visible blinds. But I also assume that buying such transparently open accommodation fits in with their comfort zone which includes living in a goldfish bowl. I didn’t actually see anyone moving inside or much evidence of clutter. Or books. That’s outrageous.

You can access the sandy foreshore  of the Thames when the tide is out ( not recommended when the tide is coming in). To walk along the beach feels exciting and remote and very different despite being within a few metres of the madding crowd.

Back to the Tate. We saw The Radical Eye exhibition of photograhy including Man Ray and later this month or next, we’ll see the David Hockney retrospective at Tate Britain. In May, the Alberto Giacometti retrospective opens, he of the magical elongated pointy men (and women) figures.

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By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46682587

In my mid teens, I wandered around London on Saturdays and often visited Giacometti’s sculptures at the original Tate (now Tate Britain). I still find them beautiful, mystical and mesmorising (other adjectives are available).

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                                                             Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1268495

Mr Giacometti moving his stuff around while munching a ticket.

The Church of England has received substantial criticism from 14 retired bishops over failure to provide leadership concerning gay relationships. It’s expected that the general assembly synod will approve a recent report from bishops in post which upholds the traditional teaching that marriage is a lifelong union between a man and a woman. The church insists that gay clergy must be celibate and clergy are forbidden from conducting same sex marriage services. An open letter rebukes the former bishops’ successors for marginalising the views of LGBT members of the church.

It’s these kinds of beliefs and and thinking that reveal the wilful ignorance and lack of compassion and humanity of organised, traditional religion. It doesn’t recognise healthy sexuality as a fluid spectrum or as a biological imperative. Far better to rely on a dodgy set of scriptures for guidance. God help the LGBT community.

And finally, the Tory goverment can’t help reverting to type. The nasty party abandons it’s commitment to unaccompanied refugee and migrant minors. Such a good idea to let them fend for themselves. I read a comment that the tabloids relinquished their support for the policy after pictures of teenagers benefiting from this programme were published last year appearing to show some of them as looking like young men. So it’s justified, then!

 

Janathon Day 9 We’re gonna be famous for 15 seconds!

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A very enjoyable Cambridge parkrun this morning. We had a record 504 runners and BBC Look East came along and filmed the whole proceedings. This picture shows our mate Kerry (who ran his 100th today) being interviewed by Jonathan Park. Kerry’s standing by a supply of cakes and a photo montage of Kerry centred pictures. Just out of shot is a couple of hundred drooling runners being held back by volunteers and gagging to devour the confectionery.

The run was very muddy, as anticipated, but the weather held. No rain and surprisingly mild. The camera man and interviewer Jonathan (who also ran) were very friendly and to blended in comfortably with everyone. They appeared to take possibly ninety minutes of film which might be edited down to a few minute or less. We’ll know on Monday evening when it’s scheduled to air. Hopefully it won’t feature me running with my mouth open and looking as if I’m about to collapse (my default appearance).

We tend to mark 50th, 100th and 250th runs as well as significant parkrun dates, and birthdays, with cakes at Cambridge. We also tend to take a lot of photos. Are we narcissistic? Obviously! Do the majority of other parkruns do this? Hopefully!

After the run we queued in the cafe and then enjoyed a lovely cup of coffee to further reward ourselves in good company. Next week, we’re off to Wimpole parkrun (cancelled today because of water logging)to celebrate their 3rd anniversary. For more of the same.

Perusing my wood pulp hard copy edition of that middle class, bleeding heart liberal, wooly, comfortable, arm chair lefty Guardian newspaper, I came across  an article :

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/08/church-of-england-fears-talks-on-gay-rights-could-end-global-anglican-communion

It discusses the high degree of likelihood of continuing fundamental disagreement in the world wide Anglican communion over gay rights and same sex marriage. As a humanist, I can only continue to marvel at the intrinsic lack of humanity, wilful ignorance and vicious, self serving prejudice in an organisation whose mission statement has something to say about love, tolerance, inclusion and diversity. And there you have it! It doesn’t say that sexuality is on a spectrum, varies within that spectrum for many of us and is often a biological imperative. So centuries old prejudices and sexual fears and anxieties are maintained and justified supernaturally. The church, with the clear conscience of the self righteous, can condemn and preside over the persecution of anyone outside of their definition of God approved sexuality. I think it would be more useful to return to the old, less cruel practice of estimating the number of angels who could stand on the head of a pin!

Sermon over.

I think these summit delegates would benefit from going for a 5k run before they begin to pontificate.

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 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.

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 http://oscardiamond.wordpress.com/ 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 ?

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/05/pope-francis-approves-panel-fight-clerical-sex-abuse 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.

 

Aliveandrunning2013 October 15

It’s not easy being a runner when you are injured. Not so long ago, my friends called me the Cambridge gazelle. I ran like the wind (note combination of metaphor and simile), I leapt over any obstacle, I ruthlessly cut a swathe through inferior runners who fell away in awe as I swept past at a super hero pace. In short I was acknowledged as a running god. But no more. The sun has set so far North it won’t rise again for several months. The legend is tarnished, the glitter slides off, the celebrity stumbles. I am beset with failed body parts. Well, one primarily. My bloody right calf ! It’s going to require much longer to recover and I haven’t done myself any favours by running on it before it was fully healed. I’m metaphorically chastising myself right now and it’s not pleasant. Parkrun is out for the time being and a 10K at the beginning of November is in jeopardy. Or is it ? A possible scenario. A week before, I decide my calf strain has gone and I am fully fit. I successfully run the Bonfire Burn 10K but shortly afterwards my calf starts to ache then hurt. Two days later I am hobbling around, my calf badly bruised and swollen. My injury enters a chronic phase.

I did contact my GP surgery to discuss my calf sprain because there was a  very small chance that I had developed a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). I spoke to the practice nurse and my self diagnosis was confirmed. She rang back 10 minutes later having discussed it with a doctor and said I should have a blood test to definitely rule out a DVT. I had a blood test 2 hours later. An excellent service. Thank you.

We watched Stephen Fry : Out There in which he reflects on how much improvement there has been for gay people in his lifetime. It included positive examples like civil partnerships and individual celebrities coming out and shocking instances of proposed laws in Uganda to allow the death penalty for homosexuality. He interviewed a rabidly homophobic church minister who supported the measure and a Government minister for Ethics and Integrity who supports the death penalty. He also spoke to a lesbian who had been “correctively raped”, aged 14. I like Stephen Fry’s approach. It wasn’t that difficult to coax homophobes to spout their sexual fears and hatreds. It’s always dismaying to hear their total absence of empathy and lack of common humanity.

The police are getting some very bad press at the moment. The Independent Police Complaints Commission has questioned the honesty and integrity of police officers who met with Andrew Mitchell MP over the Plebgate row. After the meeting they misrepresented his views at a pre-arranged press conference. But Conservative Andrew secretly recorded the meeting. Eight people, including four police officers, have been arrested and bailed over the September 2012 row at the security gates to Downing Street. The row occurred when Mitchell was told by police not to take his bike through the main gate and  exit instead via a nearby side gate. In a short outburst, he swore at the officers and allegedly called them “plebs”, an interesting class slur.The pleb jibe (alleged) hurt the thin skinned police officers which Mitchell has consistently denied uttering. The police position is becoming increasingly weaker as evidence is amounting that individuals are making up evidence, much like they did following the Hillsborough Stadium  disaster when they blamed the football fans’ behaviour for the deaths of 96 people crushed to death. It seems clear that they have failed to “fit up” Andrew Mitchell and their image is further shredded.