Drabness with knobs on – beyond dreigh!

dsc_1060

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.

357px-lhomme_au_doigt_alberto_giacometti

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).

photograph_of_alberto_giacometti_by_cartier_bresson

                                                             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!

IMG_20160109_101302932

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 December 28

200th parkrun at Cambridge today and I have run 148 of them plus another 10 at Wimpole Estate. The weather was fine – sunny and not too cold – but muddy in many places. My arch rival, Mike, was marshaling which left me competing with No. 2 arch rival Diane. As usual I could hardly contain myself. I felt like a rocket in a silo waiting for the FIRE button to be pressed, I was a torpedo restless in its tube. Someone said go and I took off like a particle whizzing around the CERN Large Hadron Collider. Knocking people aside without pity, I broke free from the pack and took on the mantle of front runner only to have my dream shattered. The race had not started yet. I was a highly strung thoroughbred and when a couple having a conversation near me included the word GO I responded instinctively. Boy, was there a copious amount of egg on my face ! Ashen visaged, I apologised to my fellow runners whom I had pushed into a ditch or into muddy puddles and retook my position farther back as a penance. It didn’t go very well. No. 2 arch rival Diane overtook me around half way and I had no gas left in the tank to catch her up. I was startled when a very small child went past me. I’m sure I’ve seen larger tadpoles ! As is the nature of small, young fast children, they suddenly speed up then dramatically slow up, simultaneously weaving from side to side and repeating this strategy. It’s hilarious if you are limited  to running responsibly as a grown up (unless you succeed in getting tripped up). After cutting me up several times, he took off and I was history. He probably complained to the run director that too many old people are cramping his style. Lovely run despite coming 135th out of a field of 336.

Tomorrow I hope to do a 45-60 minute run and on New Years Eve I’ve got a 10 K. Possibly on New Years Day I might be doing one or two differently convened parkruns. As I write this it does seem a tad excessive (for me). It will definitely blow out the tubes and hopefully get me running longer and more frequently again.

Cambridge parkrun is held in Milton Country Park to the north of the city. The course is mainly grass and trail with some narrow paths. I’m sure the trees are closing in at various points. Quite a lot of them look surly and resentful  as we pass by. I’m convinced they’re not happy with the  resultant pounding of over 300 pairs of feet every week. I’ll try to speak to the wood nymphs and reach an accommodation. I saw  Spielberg’s Poltergeist and I don’t want to be plucked off the run path by a malevolent maple.

Alan Turing has been given a posthumous pardon for his conviction following homosexual activity. He committed suicide after being required to undergo  “chemical castration”- experimental hormone therapy to dampen down homosexual urges. The type of work he had been allowed to undertake subsequently was limited because of the supposed risk to security linked to his sexual orientation. There’s plenty of criticism to the pardon under a Royal Prerogative of Mercy which notes he was convicted under due process of the current laws in 1952. Some people argue it’s unfair on the thousands of ordinary, consenting gay men who were convicted under the same laws whose convictions still hold. My view is that all men (and women, if any) who were sentenced under these vicious “moral” laws should be pardoned. Moral panics, and particularly those of a sexual nature, may last for decades or centuries or even become embedded into the culture. In kinder and more enlightened times, I feel it is very important to revisit those nasty, ignorant and bigoted laws and expose their cruelty rather than merely state they were a product of their times. Alan Turing , along with many others at Bletchley Park, shortened the war and saved thousands of lives. The “laws” he transgressed had no right to be laws of the land and contained no justice, only sexual fear and prejudice.

New Year resolutions :

1. Research science fiction literature over last 100 years with view to developing a cult/religion.

2.Consider options to monetise said cult/religion.

3. Complete Janathon (run and blog daily) for month of January.

4. Keep an eye on Pope Francis!

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.

Aliveandrunning2013 July 30

Running around Cambridge with the Cambridge and Coleridge Running Club this evening. We are scheduled for fartlek training which is much less disgusting than it sounds. It means speed play ie we run at different speeds and varying duration. The weather is still warm and I will be taking an electrolyte drink with me to prevent dehydration or worse. I bought a powder to mix up at our best local running shop, Advance Performance, Cambridge. It seems like a sensible thing to do but rather expensive. I’m not sure it’s necessary although I accept at least half the value is in the placebo effect.

I ventured into the outer ring of Cambridge today and was again struck how lacking in vitality, fitness and general healthiness a large proportion of people 50+ appeared to be. They seemed to want to rush into age related physical slowness. I feel fit and like to walk reasonably fast but I’m clearly in a very small minority. Unfortunately most people have an inbuilt resistance to exercise appropriately despite all the accessible research recommending it for a healthy lifestyle  over the last 40 years or so. If only they could organise themselves into neighbourhood running groups! I don’t mean clubs because they are too competitive and take themselves too seriously. Although more people than ever are running or taking up a sport, I think the numbers are still relatively small. So many of us rule ourselves out. That’s a great pity.

If only the Pope had mentioned running, fitness or exercise when he addressed the press corp on his way back from Brazil yesterday. Instead he decided to hone his skills as a stand up comedian and indulge in light banter. Amazingly, he commented “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge? The catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says they should not be marginalised  because of this (orientation) but that they must be integrated into society.” The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered” which is a mildly condemning term compared with earlier descriptions of “evil”. No-where is there any acceptance that homosexuality is a biological imperative. The mindset of the Catholic Church concerning sexuality, whether heterosexuality or homosexuality, is clearly intrinsically disordered. It is a haven, protector and apologist for it’s sexually, physically and emotionally abusive clergy. Organised and institutional religion tends to be self serving and essentially focused on the preservation of power. It discredits its own controversialists who dare to speak the truth. See Guardian http://tinyurl.com/pzp2zmq