I Battle Very Wild Animals……..and Win!

my bottom in the polytunnel

Why am I in this undignified position quite unsuited to the running dynamo/Greek god reputation that others have bestowed upon me? I’m looking for a bird which found its way into my polytunnel and couldn’t get out. The quest to free the bird was a grade one challenge because I planted the tomatoes and sprouting broccoli much too close together. As a result its turned into an almost inpenetrable jungle. Conclusion : bird successfully flushed out to freedom and I got greater insight into what its like to be a young tomato growing up in near darkness.

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“Spending too long in the polytunnel….seeds in the wrong place” said my mother. Thanks, mum! I’m only striking a new mindfulness pose as part of my preparation for Brandon country parkrun. We did a bit of parkrun tourism because the venue for Cambridge, Milton countrypark, is undergoing a restoration of its paths.

Brandon is grass and trail with some mild ascents and woodland paths studded with tree roots. A lovely two lap course and a very good cafe for coffee and food. We had drinks and something to eat with both old and new friends and I scored more socialability points. I also had a chat with an 80 year old+ runner who usually runs at Cambridge. I saw him come in and I was concerned that he was obviously struggling in the heat. However his daughter was very attentive and he soon recovered his balance. How marvellous is that, to be able to continue running into your eighties on a regular basis!

I’m running a bit more at the moment, in fact, five times in the last six days. I did an 11k, a 5k and 2 miles x 3. Periodically, I’m attracted to running on a daily basis and this seems to fit in better with commitments. A default 2 mile jog only takes 18 minutes and can reasonably be accommodated even if the rest of the day is full.

Polytunnel wildlife update : three further birds and a couple of butterflies escorted off the premises. Stop press! Wren made a quick exit when I turned up.

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Gratuitous picture of typical Daily Express good news health headline. Not such good news for refugees, unfortunately!

 

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Janathon Day 6

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I thought I would include a few cutting edge health tips in this blog although this is an October 2015 edition. Nevertheless, I’m sure it’s as true now as it was then. The Express has an endearing habit of leading with good news health stories (as in trumpeting a cure for arthritis or cutting heart disease by 110% or predicting everyone will be able to live until they are 127 years old within the decade). It currently has a daily paper circulation of around 450,000 compared with the Guardian’s 185,000 and the Independent’s 61,000.

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The Daily Star (sample front page above) has a current circulation of around 425,000, the Sun just under two million and the Daily Mail about 1,680,000.

What’s all this got to do with running? Not a lot. It’s just a continuing source of fascination how our British papers pander to specific demographics and it’s not a pretty sight. The tabloids, particularly, specialise in provoking hostility and anxiety, prejudice and condemnation or providing fantasy and sexual titillation. Several of them don’t meet the criteria for being regarded as newspapers. They are adult comics pretending to have gravitas.

Anyway, I managed to suppress my habit of snapping the more hilarious or outrageous headlines in Tesco today. I’m sure it’s not a healthy behaviour so I’ll try harder to restrict it to the most egregious examples (another positive New Year resolution).

I ran my default 2 miles today having run around 9k last night with the club. I feel I’m running well at the moment but not swiftly. I’m roughly five to six pounds over weight and it’s winter. Presently, the light is poor, and particularly today, when I felt obliged to switch on my SAD lamp. Having spent a lot of money on this lamp, obviously it works for me! So my investment was successful. I also need to stretch much more and do upper body work (that’s an aspirational New Year’s resolution).

Great North Run 2015 : Part 2

Abject apologies to the entire blogging world. I accidentally pressed “publish” instead of “save draft” yesterday. I failed to notice this until Jeremy Corbyn, the new Labour leader’s media team contacted me and said Jeremy had commented that he was sure I wanted to say a bit more in this blog. He was right! Thanks Jeremy.

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The Great North Run in Newcastle last weekend. 47,000 runners gathered on a closed motorway and ran to South Shields on the coast 13.1 miles away. I wasn’t running but I was there as a spectator and supported Joe, my daughter’s boyfriend and a family friend, Sue and her friend Abi. Also spectating were Ms Alive and Running (Lorna) and Mike, Sue’s husband, previously an arch rival but now so fast even Mo would tremble at the mention of his name. A great race and a great atmosphere but not such a great transport system. We had huge difficulties getting back to Newcastle and my daughter Isobelle missed her connections back to London. Nevertheless it was a good running day, the weather could not have been better and the previous day we had a great meal with Joe’s lovely family who live in Newcastle.

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We stayed in Durham, a short distance from the magnificent Cathedral which dates from the eleventh century. A hauntingly beautiful building, a monument to religious worship and complete indifference for the human condition as lived at the time.

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We climbed to the top of the Tower which called for a great deal of effort. I didn’t feel any closer to God despite the spectacular views. A wonderful, spiritual building and a reflection of man’s hubris and vanity all in one. It’s full of male commemoration and eternal respect for the great and good but I didn’t see many  women represented. Am I being unfair, casting a twenty first century cultural eye over a medieval society? No, I’m not that kind of guy. Perhaps I over think these things. No, you don’t!  Yes, you do!

Out running with the club yesterday. We went over to the American Cemetery to do some hill work (you really have to seek out the hills around Cambridge). It was completely dark by the time we returned to the University athletics track. Some of us were wearing head torches which are very helpful if the beam is strong enough. I’m considering getting one. It will only be worthwhile if I start running in the evenings, of course, because if you wear them during daylight, people are not greatly impressed.

I’m happier with the club at the moment. They are trying very hard to introduce new training runs and are seeking feedback and runners’ views. This is good. I also feel they are considering slower runners’ needs which can be a difficult balance, on the road, when there is such a disparity of speeds.

So Jeremy Corbyn is the newly elected Labour Party leader. Despite all the media scorn and high level of spite from his own colleagues, despite the vicious condemnation from the political pundits and various stupid people, he won the contest overwhelmingly. There will be spin and compromise and economies with the stark truth but nothing like the degree of falsity and degradation of values under previous Labour regimes. It’s widely predicted Labour will be unelectable at the 2020 election. I don’t believe this.

Coming next on the blog………pictures of a bookshop (actually inside the bookshop as well) and old wooden doors. It’s that exciting.

RantRantRantRant…..probably not running enough !

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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.

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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.

Aliveandrunning January 23 2015 Janathon Day 23

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I sauntered into the surgery displaying a devil may care attitude. Booking in for my annual cardiovascular checkup, the counter staff were obviously struck by my charisma and magnetism. I wandered over to look at the reading matter table and it all fell apart, big time. Carpworld had escaped from Tesco’s shelf and wormed its way into a GP’s surgery! This is really toxic stuff which deserves to have its front page covered. It’s peddling lies. Are we expected to believe this is a real fish? Surely it’s inflated with air! If it is real, could this clearly elderly man summon the strength to pick it up? And why is he looking at it as if he’s holding a great, great grandchild? Completely bewildered, they led me to the clinical room containing the Health Care Assistant who spoke to me gently and did her devilish tests. Her top advice? Stay away fro angling mags, Oscar; they seem to work you up.

Following my fall, the pain in my butt continues to improve and I thought I would go for a little run to test my fitness. I ran my usual default 2 miles without problems and 3 hours afterwards, it’s fine. That means I’ll do Wimpole parkrun tomorrow. Hopefully it will be warmer than this morning’s -6c at 8 am.

The Guardian’s Lost in Showbiz is worth reading today, particularly if you are a fan of asterisks being called upon to part censor dangerously rude words in Sun world. http://gu.com/p/4557x

Stop press : Cambridge United has just held Manchester United to a draw at Cambridge in the FA Cup competition. Think David and Goliath.

Aliveandrunning January 14 2015 Janathon Day 14

WP_20150114_003 Unlike the North the weather was sunny in Cambridge today and not excessively cold. I didn’t get out until the afternoon when it had started to cloud over but running conditions were still very good. As a result I was more motivated to run further and did 9.8 miles in all. That took me 1 hour 36 minutes 50 seconds including four stops to take pics.

Unusually I was not accosted by seductive water nymphs, and the lonely river side path bathed in sunlight gave me the perfect opportunity to try out a new running strategy which undoubtedly will catch on like wildfire. I ran backwards for 10 to 30 metres at a time interspersed with what I now call old fashioned, conventional running. I felt quite comfortable with this new style and only experienced a mild sense that possibly I might bash into someone, despite knowing there was no-one in sight. I now urge everyone to give it a go. You’ll find yourself running as a toe striker and have a good view of where you’ve run from.

The success of this revolutionary running technique spurred me on to try another unconventional method. I turned around 360 degrees as I ran. Exhilarating or what? I did this several times and it went well. I almost felt I could fly! Pushing it a bit further, I did two 360 degree turns in succession, made myself dizzy and nearly fell into the river. Back to the drawing board on that one.

I saw 7 runners while I was out, plus a gaggle of 25 walkers, kitted out, unbelievably, for walking. Why would they be walking when they could be running? Funny people.

Aliveandrunning December 6 2014

DSC_0829  Look what I’ve got! Don’t get distracted by the pretentious pile of reading matter or the plate of iconic Brussels sprouts or the original 1949 Rupert annual or the porridge in the cornflakes bowl. No, I’m referring to the SAD {seasonal affective disorder) light box which is therapeutically emitting its 10,000 lux power onto my visage. Will sitting in front of this light box alleviate the mood shredding effect of the dank, grey cloud blanketed  days of the UK winter? Will it send me high as a kite? Time will reveal the truth. This is a candid, unrehearsed snap of the third day. I’m using this basking time to reacquaint myself with Rupert Bear and his chums because I’m considering rejoining the Friends of Rupert Society (currently adults only at the moment: the junior section is suspended). It’s a top notch organisation that even plebs can subscribe to (although, understandably, they are limited to 1.7% of the membership}. So clearly all are welcome!

I’m back to running more consistently but not as speedy as before. Cambridge parkrun today and my slowest for a long time. It was very cold (for me) at around -2c or -3c. I was well wrapped up with long sleeve top, heavier duty jacket, trackster bottoms and gloves but I didn’t warm up to the point of feeling that the cold wasn’t an issue. I think this is caused by the aspirin I take (note to self : request placebo aspirin from GP). Only 20 seconds outside last week’s muddy course so not too bad really. Afterwards Ms Alive and Running and I had a tasty cup of coffee with chums in the cafe and rounded off an enjoyable running focussed morning.

Milton, Cambridge Tesco is only a stone’s throw from the parkrun course and we ventured in, risking existential angst, to transact purchases vital to keeping body and mind in harmony. I always cast a superior eye over the magazine and newspaper shelves and my gaze fell upon this –

WP_20141205_003Of course it’s very easy to poke fun at this sort of thing and at the people who read them and get vicarious pleasure from immersing themselves in the antics of celebrities lives. Compared with this ridiculousness, my interest in Rupert is sublime. Bloggers of the world, you may ask me any Rupert Bear related questions! Go for it!

 

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