Cambridge half marathon a fortnight away, walking along the cam and those evil Tories again.

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A cold, sunny Sunday in Cambridge yesterday. Plenty of eights on the river powered by the gilded youth, loads of runners and cyclists to knock you flying, hordes of couples mooning  around (St. Valentine’s Day) and shoals of tourists shimmying from one photogenic setting to another (it can be such uphill work getting people to believe you’ve actually visited somewhere unless you are able to show evidence of yourself in a snap with relevant backdrop).

I’m a creature of habit when I go into Cambridge. I always go into WH Smith to look at the magazines and usually buy one or two, I often go into Heffers bookshop or Waterstones, walk around the market square and visit the second hand book stall and take photos on a particular bridge over the Cam. Out of preference, I like to have a nice coffee and a tuna and cucumber baguette in the marvelously anonymous Eat cafe and possibly wander around John Lewis, a rather civilised department store. I like to trip through the extensive cosmetics area in a vain attempt to identify any of the sales operatives who have abstained from caking themselves in their own products. They are always immaculately turned out and attractive but wearing no or minimal makeup doesn’t appear to be an option. Are they contractually obliged to over do it?

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These grand and beautiful trees are on Jesus Green. How lucky are we?

Cambridge half marathon is only two weeks away. I haven’t done the training I would like to do because other things have got in the way. Nevertheless, it’s good to know that despite not having put the mileage in, my overall level of fitness enables me to step up quickly to do 13 miles. It’s speed that suffers, of course, but if speed is your objective you are following a false god! The very shallowness of the concept of speed! Does anyone really care about this over valued aspect of running? I rather like these fall back arguments when you’re getting slower and slower.

Anyway, I did 13 miles today and 9 miles a week ago plus a 5 miler and a parkrun since the beginning of the month. I might do two more parkruns and a couple of long runs up to 10 miles and that will be that.

A government task force has published a report, A Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, which is very critical of the state of Engand’s mental health services, click here to read Observer article Today’s Guardian headline is NHS vows to transform mental health services  with extra £1bn a year. The report talks about a sharp increase in the number of suicides, estimates three quarters of people with a psychiatric condition do not receive help and documents that children are being sent all over the country to an available bed that may be hundreds of miles from their families.

The Tories and the coalition government have presided over savage cuts to bed availability, support services, staffing levels and overall funding of mental health facilities. Cameron in his ever so reasonable, we have learnt lessons, we must all pull together and defeat stigma, senior Tory style is presenting the spending announcement as an innovation and Tory triumph. David Cameron and his mates are duplicitous, fraudulent, own class supporting, unfeeling,  and lacking in basic humanity. They appeal to the voters who share their values – the cruel, the selfish, the self centred. May God help decent and vulnerable people.

 

 

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Janathon Day 26 Bleakness and gales

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I decided yet again not to run with the club tonight but go for a solitary long run during daylight. The sky was overcast and it was very windy. I usually love running by the river but the light was poor and there was a very strong, sustained  headwind. At times it felt like I was making little forward progress and the wind chill made me cold. As a matter of habit I run towards Cambridge (and, of course, the river Cam goes through Cambridge) but I decided to turn around and not complete the intended distance.

With the wind behind me I made better progress and decided on a footpath, which I rarely take, towards Ely, still along side the river but with open views across the fens and cultivated fields. Despite the openness, it was less windy but the dismal, grim light remained. There was nobody about and it was , bleak, bleak, bleak.

I ran up to Bottisham Lock and felt so lonely I was compelled to talk to this motorised sluice gate winding gear as I stood staring at the unyielding landscape. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t respond. I regurgitated the one joke I know. Still no response. I gave up and moved on.

Total distance : 5.76 miles

The Guardian, today, gives headline prominence to statistics obtained by the Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb which reveal that deaths among mental health patients has risen by 21% over the last three years, from 1,412 to 1,713. There has also been a large increase in “serious incidents” – involving unexpected or avoidable deaths, serious harm, injury and abuse. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jan/26/rise-mental-health-patient-deaths-nhs-struggling-to-cope

These outcomes are linked with cuts to mental health service funding and the consequent degradation of services in the community and  hospitals and the substantial reduction in hospital beds. You’ve got to be a Tory not to care!

 

Janathon Day 22 On the way to being the next Lichtenstein

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It’s incredible! Print Making course, second week in, and Tate Modern in London and Tate Liverpool have been in contact, Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst have messaged me and I’m being lauded as an exciting new talent. Here’s more –

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Despite this recognition, my fellow students failed to point out that I had a big blob of turquoise acrylic paint nicely positioned in my hair, just above my forehead. Luckily it came to my attention when I went to the loo before leaving the college. I was able to remove some of it but it looked very messy. I had to do a big shop in Tesco with very visible green highlights. Never mind. All in a day’s work to a creative like myself.

In the morning, before it went all kerflooey (this word was brought to me by dictionary.com : word of the day), I went for a run in a bitter wind and light, driving rain. Not my first choice of weather for running but it certainly made me focus and feel alive.

Change of plan for tomorrow’s parkrun. It’ll be Cambridge, and not Wimpole Hall Estate, the former probably the muddier of the two. Possibly a long run on Sunday.

Reasonably realistic and sympathetic depiction of puerperal psychosis/bipolar disorder relapse in East Enders at the moment. This is a soap being sensitive and responsible. The only dud note if you’ve been watching it is the time taken for East End characters to appreciate her level of illness and their capacity to accommodate her severe symptoms. Tonight she received treatment!

Janathon Day 17 At least the dog’s warm

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We made Rupert cosy last night. Instead of shrugging off the blanket, he fell asleep immediately. He was still asleep in this position when I brought him a nice cup of tea at 7 am this morning. He likes his soft toys as well and often carries them around with him.

The temperature hovered around 3-4c when I went for an afternoon run. I ran through an adjacent village and picked up the river Cam at a different point. Saw plenty of other runners and some odd people just sauntering (okay, walking). I ran just over eight miles and feel better for doing a longer distance. I could have carried on quite easily but you can’t spend your life running, can you? Can you

 

I REMAIN SUBSTANTIALLY CLOBBERED. IT’S NOT MY FAULT. I BLAME THE EVIL TORY GOVERNMENT.

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Six days ago, I came a cropper during the Hoohaah Wimpole half marathon falling heavily on rubble. My left thigh took most of the impact. I picked myself up, dusted myself off and started all over again (thanks, Nat King Cole). I fell at just over  a mile in and continued running for the next 12 miles. By the evening I was hardly weight bearing on my left leg leg and couldn’t bent it at the knee.

Now it’s six days on.There’s clearly been some improvement but it’s slow. I think I’ve had an impact injury to my quadriceps (and specifically to the rectus femoris), the type that footballers get when they get kicked in the thigh. I can walk but not jog, I haven’t been able to drive and I’ve got limited movement in my knee joint because any kind of stretching movement hurts.

Today is parkrun day and if I didn’t do it, I know I would have been subjected to a torrent of hate mail, Sinton-Hewitt would have been on my case and people would have openly wept in the streets of Cambridge. I don’t want that kind of attention so I decided to walk it .Usually Cambridge  attracts around 450 runners and more often than not a few people are walking most of it. Unfortunately, no-one walked it today although I wasn’t too far behind the people in front of me. Cambridge junior parkrun provided all the volunteers , including the 13 year old run director Chloe who gave a very confident pre-run  address to the assembled crowd. I was accompanied by tail runner 12 year old Ben who was very supportive to me and gave vocal encourage to the myriad runners who flashed past us. I hope he didn’t hear me grinding my teeth as I watched them recede into the distance. I came in at just over 48 minutes which, interestingly, is exactly twice the time I do it on this course when I go full pace. Young Benji, who has cerebral palsy, started late and came in a minute behind me. He ran with his mum and came in strongly to enormous applause.

Hopefully, I may be able to gently trot around Cambridge parkrun next weekend and then the subsequent one will be my 250th. It won’t be a PB!

Recent reports show the NHS in dire financial straits, suffering financial mismanagement, imply inefficiencies, experiencing poor staffing levels, missing targets and spending mountains of money on agency staff. If you treat the NHS as a market economy, require it to compete and make a “profit”, continuously emphasise poor financial governance, cut staff levels, employ dodgy borrowing devices with the private sector, continually reinforce the private sector has the nous, nerve and expertise to do a great (and cheaper) job and create standards which are designed to fail because of under funding, then it’s an inevitable set of outcomes.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/oct/09/chain-failings-led-death-charlotte-bevan-newborn-baby-coroner-rules

This is a very, very sad coroner’s report of the death of a mother and her newly born baby. She had a long history of mental ill health, sectioning under the Mental Health Act and had stopped medication in order to breastfeed. Tragically, she left a Bristol maternity hospital unchallenged and killed herself and her child shortly afterwards.

Reading the coroner’s comments and conclusions, it’s hard to comprehend the apparent complete lack of joined up, considered care for a patient who is so obviously at risk.. Vulnerable mothers with a history of severe mental illness have been having pregnancies and births for decades in a health system which is a aware of the level of input required to ensure the safety and well being  of mother and baby. I don’t think this event occurred because of a lack of understanding of the health requirements. I think it’s much more likely to be due to staff shortages, cost and unavailability. These days, I can’t accept that general hospital staff are so out of touch with mental health issues that they are capable of willfully ignoring them.

 

 

 

Alive and Running March 29 2015

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Wimpole Estate parkrun yesterday which explains the appearance of these three Penguins I rescued on the 30p table which sits outside the second hand book shop, in the open but under the over hanging court yard roof. Any further description would require a little drawing. Suffice it to say they should be kept in a warm but well ventilated room not partially exposed to the elements. I also rescued this orchid (Phalaenopsis) earlier in the week. The garden centre was selling it for £3 because part of it had rotted and the leaves were sparse and damaged. It may or may not survive but it’s a magnificent thing despite being poorly. It looks like a bookish plant so it’ll be in its element.

I wasn’t displeased with my parkrun time. The grass course was mainly dry and firm and the temperature reached 10-11c which meant I had to take my running jacket off during the race. I did this by executing a series of elegant manoeuvres and rakishly tying it around my waist. I walked up the short but vicious hill and avoided getting pranged on the horns of the long haired cattle the National Trust has imported to intimidate runners. I managed to nod my appreciation or actually articulate the words “thank you” to the encouraging marshals including the one who said “well done, you’re still looking fresh.” Clearly this was the opinion of someone whose judgement in these matters was extremely suspect. I ignored the urge to stop and remonstrate with him. I make looking as if I’m about to collapse into an art form. I can’t have people randomly commenting I look “fresh”.

Carol Morley is the director of a new film called The Falling which is out in the UK at the end of April. She has a fascination with mass psychogenic illness (mass hysteria) and her film tells the story of a fainting epidemic. The article in the Observer http://bit.ly/1IIfFsX is well worth reading.

Cambridge junior parkrun this morning. Unfortunately the loss of an hour with the clocks going forward combined with the rain more than cut numbers in half. Nevertheless, as usual, the children and adults had great time.

There had to be a down side to today. Tesco had entirely run out of Brussels sprouts. I narrowly avoided exhibiting The manager should fall on his sword!

 

Aliveandrunning January 16 2015 Janathon Day 16

DSC_0268Back to Wimpole Estate parkrun tomorrow where they’ll be celebrating their second birthday. Along with Cambridge, they cancelled last week because of the high winds. It’s expected to be below freezing and there could be snow so I will have to dress sensibly. That comes so easily to me because I am innately  sensible. We are taking arch rival Kerry with us although he hasn’t run since last Saturday when he was blown off his cycle into a ditch. I presume he was badly bruised and just needs a couple of weeks off to fully recover. He’s coming along to spectate, not run. I’m running so that makes me the winner, doesn’t it?

Another 2 mile run today. It was cold, dark and I had eaten too much.

Breaking news brought to me by Ms Alive and Running! Wimpole are warning that they may cancel tomorrow because of the icy conditions. What!!!