My mother living the wildlife!

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My mother at Christmas. I can’t say she wore this giraffe mask for the entire festive period but the motivation wasn’t lacking. I clearly see where my genetically driven urge to be daft originates!

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January sunshine on Jesus Green. And heart warming to see the wild life enjoying the lovely weather on the river Cam.

Last week I ran two 9 milers which is probably enough preparation for the Cambridge half marathon in March and the next one in 2018. I went to the gym once and did Cambridge parkrun yesterday. The conditions were similar to the week before. Dry and cold. The field was 540 and it took 30 volunteers to put it on. Icy puddles were a considerable hazard on some parts of the narrow path and small stretches needed to be coned off. By one churned up muddy/icy patch in the centre of the running line yesterday, a volunteer stood continuously calling out for people to run around him to avoid catastrophe in the slippery gloop.

It’s a big responsibility to minimise the risk to a large number of runners in limited space in such conditions and cancellation of the run is a practical option. As far as I am aware it all went off very successfully on both consecutive parkruns. Very nicely managed.

Trump continues to behave beyond the normal reaches of parody (and by the way, it’s only a couple of days into the new administration). Apart from his stream of consciousness, I’m not-going-to-allow-anything-to inhibit-me-because-I can-easily-contradict-myself-tomorrow utterances, he has a fascinating range of facial mannerisms and hand gestures. He’s trying to convey sincererity, straight no nonsense talking, charm, flattery, personal recognition of the underdog’s predicament and personal one-to-one communication. He’s the genuine article (not). Try and catch the footage of Trump talking about his last, apparently triumphant, meeting with the CIA.

 

 

2017 – my goals, resolutions and other possible fiction

 

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Cambridge parkrunfirst timers briefing on January 7th. Another large field – 526 turned out to run in muddy conditions. To put on this parkrun takes around 30 volunteers and it was time for me to join their ranks. I chose to marshal. I enjoy marshalling because it’s so interesting watching the different running styles. Many people respond to the clapping and encouragement and for a substantial minority, it really is an impressive achievement. All in all, it’s a very positive experience for everyone concerned.

I’m not sure if Cambridge parkrun can continue to grow. The paths are narrow, there is a repeat circuit and parking appears to have reached capacity. There have been rumours about a new parkrun but nothing has come to fruition as yet. I spoke to someone a couple of years ago who was involved with an abortive attempt to get a new run off the ground. I was surprised how difficult the process proved to be and how much time and effort was required. I know how much a commitment it is for a core team to put on a run each week.

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Rather eery weather in Cambridge on the weekend. This is Trinity Lane arond 7.30pm.

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This is approaching Garret Hostel bridge over the Cam. I sent Lorna over first. She can deal with anything!

My goals, resolutions and aspirations?

  1. Be more consistent.
  2. Focus on creativity.
  3. Allow myself to be more eccentric.
  4. Create towers of books.
  5. Have a go at vlogging – subject reviewing book reviews with a view to describing their particular enjoyment.
  6. Take some things very seriously but take most things not too seriously and some “serious” things as  only worthy of spontaneously laughing out loud.
  7. Continue writing my crime novel at a much faster pace.
  8. Run and run and run.
  9. Pray Trump implodes without causing too much damage.
  10. Find someone with whom I can play chess and Go.
  11. That’s enough for the present.

Cambridge half marathon in 8 weeks. Time to start training.

 

 

 

 

 

Daffodils barred from leaving the flower bed

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It’s Day 6 following poisoning by cheese cake and my forced withdrawal from Cambridge half marathon. I haven’t run since then until today when I jogged a couple of miles. I can recommend food poisoning (in my case) for first class nausea and vomiting, an over riding urge to lie very still, weird fluctuations in temperature,subsequently knocking back my appetite, occasional mild nauseous feelings and loss of interest in sweet foods. It’s around 359 days to go before the next Cambridge half but I’m guaranteed to remember not to eat New York vanilla cheese cake the night before.

Good news on the two runners who went into cardiac arrest near the finish line. They received very prompt treatment and are now said to be recovering well in Addenbrookes hospital.

The weather looks cold and wet tomorrow for Cambridge parkrun. I won’t have any problem doing 3 miles and I’m volunteering afterwards by collecting the course signage. I don’t find this task onerous. It’s very pleasant walking around the deserted woodland trail path and only takes 17-18 minutes.

Very interesting article in yesterday’s Guardian on narcissism It’s surprisingly difficult for people to disguise or hide narcissistic traits on social media although most are not motivated to do so. It seems to be deliciously tempting to reveal you’ve been for a cup of coffee, or a restaurant and so easy to become adept at making inane comments and compliments with the intention of having them returned. I blame ourselves, the facilitating social media platforms, cultural dumbing down, lack of emotional and psychological awareness and, as usual, the Evil Tories (although I haven’t refined their particular responsibility yet but I’m working on it).

 

Janathon Day 27 A walking day

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Sun coming up over Wort’s Meadow a few days ago when it was frosty.

Didn’t manage a daytime run today and unusually I didn’t feel like running in the evening. but I did fancy a walk and listened to BBC Radio 4 podcasts. It was pleasant walking in the dark. I became aware of the Cambridge lights around 4-5 miles away. The red lights at the top of the tall new constructions were particularly prominent . Distance walked : two miles .

I’ll be doing Cambridge parkrun on Saturday. It’s their 6th birthday. I intended to volunteer as a marshal but the rota is now full so it’s deferred until the following weekend. That’s good because parkrun will be my penultimate Janathon jog.

 

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.

Everyone is running except me! It’s criminal!!!!!!!

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Good witch and tailrunner Diane tries to give me the evil eye as she accompanies this 80-84 category parkrunner at Wimpole Estate yesterday. I was marshaling by a long straight stretch adjacent to the lake and combined this sacred duty with taking a couple of hundred photos. That’s so like me. Just selflessly working on behalf of others without a thought for my own needs or comfort. Well, all that’s gonna change when I recover from my already-one-month old injury. It’ll be about me me me from then on. Still unsure when “my time” commences. Having fallen heavily on rubble and then run 12 miles on a quadriceps injury, it’s slowly getting better but it really is at a snail’s pace.I haven’t attempted to run over the last month because bending my left knee has been painful and movement is limited.

Anyway, I have a cunning plan! I start running prematurely and to my intense surprise and shock, re-injure myself. Obviously I wouldn’t be that stupid, would I? Unfortunately, it’s a great temptation. It’s sooooo frustrating watching Lorna and my running chums take part in races that are currently forbidden to me due to a ridiculous injury. I blame the farmer for laying down rubble to give traction to his heavy farm machinery during muddy weather, gravity for pulling my foot down causing me to stumble headlong, my running shoes for not thinking out of the box and warning me of impending danger and the weak megaphone which caused me not to hear the race director’s specific mention of the section of dangerous terrain (I was warming up at this point). In  a nutshell, my accident wasn’t my fault and I had to de-friend someone who suggested I don’t pick my feet up sufficiently. Condensed version of the above : I don’t like being unable to run.

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Lorna powers ahead to finish our local Bonfire Burn 10k while I languish like a beached jellyfish on the sidelines.

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These are runners. They have run 10k. How lucky are they?

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This is Diane, hardworking race director at Wimpole Estate parkrun addressing the throng and again, with a young parkrunner.

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Small compensation in the Wimpole pre-loved -but- now -wickedly -discarded -and -crying -out- for -an appreciative -home book shop.

I rest my case. Good night!

Still injured and no running on the horizon. It’s an Existential crisis. Help!

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This is the best front page I have seen on a running magazine. It’s the current November 2015 issue. I suspect that most of the front page females (and the occasional male) runners are models, at least in the most popular mags and are hardly representative of the mass of people running. This picture shows an undeniably overweight young woman, enjoying herself and showing good running form. She’s overweight but looks fit. It’s a cliche but I’ll use it. She’s inspirational and this image will give positive encouragement to legion other potential runners.

It’s two weeks since I fell at the Wimpole half marathon and injured my quadriceps. Recovery remains slow. I can still only go up stairs one at a time and I’ve only started to drive locally a few days ago. I did walk Cambridge parkrun last weekend (in 48 minutes) but in hindsight, it was a mistake and set me back several days. In hindsight, it was a mistake to continue to run 12 miles after I fell and also a mistake not to be doubly careful running over large rubble stones which really should have not been there in the first place. I can hear women all over the world mutter “typical male decision making”.

I marshaled at Cambridge parkrun today. Very enjoyable. I spoke to Mary Holmes (75-79) who is still getting sub 30 minutes and asked after Peter Chaplin (80-84) who used to run at Cambridge but is no longer coming. That’s a pity. He’s still physically able to take part, I think. These two people are excellent role models and demonstrate that age need not be an insurmountable obstacle to running and physical exercise.

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I came across a few Ladybird books in the loft recently.The Old Woman and her Pig and The Magic Porridge Pot are beautifully surreal stories and finely illustrated, much superior to the Disney-fied later editions. They were cheap, hardback, had pictures every other page and could be easily read in one sitting. Parents, seek these out on Ebay! But beware of the The Record Breakers (1970) which shows various sporting records. There are 19 text pages and 19 facing illustrations of superlative achievements by men. There is one page and picture of a female long jumper whose Elfin appearance makes her look like a young boy. So, no female role models in this Ladybird reading scheme. If you must own this edition, keep it under lock and key and show it to no-one, particularly children.

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!

 

Alive and Running February 23 2015

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And so to Londinium last Friday. This picture was taken in Foyles on their new site on Charing Cross Road. As my daughter Shanti commented, it’s like Borders used to be before they imploded.

Is anyone familiar with the old Foyles and their particular way of doing business? You took the book(s) to a counter without a till, a receipt was given to you with details of book(s) and price, you toddled off to someone in a booth, paid your money, your receipt was stamped and you took it back to the counter where your book(s) were crying their eyes out because they felt so lonely and abandoned. The pay booths were often a good way from the counter where you left them so you might have to traipse (relatively) long distances. Fittingly, Foyles was the setting for my only episode of book rage around 35 years ago. I had already undergone their payment rituals when I noticed I’d been overcharged. I went back to the first counter (without a till) and then returned to the payment booth for a refund, despite showing signs of exhaustion. The cashier who had served me had changed and had gone to the top floor along with her money. I would have to find her to obtain my refund. Not surprisingly, I couldn’t find her, the red mist came over me and burly security men suddenly materialised displaying an appropriately burly attitude. Readers, I got my refund but it was a messy business. See Foyles in Wikipedia for a fuller description of this quirky, exasperating, labyrinthine vast shop in it’s prime. I miss it as I do Borders.

What’s happening on the running front? A very muddy Cambridge parkrun on Saturday morning with a slow time to match but I will be improving once the weather is kinder to me. On Sunday, it was Cambridge junior parkrun and it was good to see the first lady come first over the line. I was official photographer and took around 250 pics. 139 children took part in muddy conditions (they run part of the adult parkrun course) and a good time was had by all, thanks to the volunteers and supportive parents.

Today was my last long run before the Cambridge half in just under 2 weeks. I did 11.6 miles and it felt fine. It didn’t rain as previously forecast but there was a strong, bitter wind blowing that frequently slowed my pace. I’ll probably go out with the club tomorrow evening and have a rest day on Wednesday.

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DSC_0571 Thanks be to the Greek gods there are still some wonderful book sellers around. These four are in Cecil Court or Tottenham Court Road. You’ll be able to get any book you desire through these shops but a deep pocket is essential. It’s not Poundland although a good proportion of these fine books will have originally been under that price or not much over.

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Cecil Court still has (possibly) eight or nine bookshops offering fine or first editions, and they are generally much better lit nowadays giving the impression of cosiness rather than the gloom of a single low watt night light. They also appear to be open for business rather than closed to a snooping public. In the past, they seemed motivated to appear unwelcoming.

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Finally, here’s Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Frith Street, Soho.

We had a lovely day simply walking around London, from Euston Road, down Tottenham Court Road, into Soho and China Town. I took a load of pics and could have taken a million more.

 

Alive and Running February 16 2015

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Cambridge junior parkrun yesterday morning. They’re off, just over a hundred of them, running in muddy conditions and loving it. I volunteered as timer but this changed to photographer (or one of them).

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Seems to be rather a lot of adults running with their offspring and some of them are checking their watches. Good job it’s not competitive, isn’t it? You can clearly see how enjoyable it is for the children and they are constantly cheered around the course.

10366205_869057729799568_7495588904252193199_n On Saturday we went down to East Londinium and did Valentines Park parkrun in Valentines Park on Valentines Day for their 4th anniversary. Follow? I’m standing next to Joe who is marginally taller, marginally younger and marginally faster than me. You could say I’m living on the margins! We met up with some old work pals and friends from Cambridge, ran the race, had coffee in the large park cafe and then walked to a Wetherspoons pub in Ilford for a brunch. The food was surprisingly good and inexpensive.

We liked Valentines parkrun. Gill (not in the picture) also runs there. She is the sister of my Cambridge ex running rival, Mike and coincidentally someone I vaguely knew at work when I lived in East London (and had yet to come across Mike). Gill is also known to three of my children who also run sporadically at Valentines.

It’s Cambridge half marathon in 3 weeks. I’m back to full fitness but not running speedily. This is due to –

1. Being slightly overweight.

2. The cold weather.

3. Inconsistent running.

4. Taking my cardiac medication at different times before the run (possibly).

However on the longer runs I’m finding it easier. Yesterday I did 11.25 miles  comfortably and didn’t feel tired afterwards. As I loped along I thought how lucky I am to be able run such a distance, run regularly and take part in races despite having had a heart attack four and a half years ago. Since I was fit before my cardiac “event”, I regained my fitness levels relatively quickly. Of course I was highly motivated, my family were completely supportive and in Cambridge, the cardiac rehabilitation service was excellent and I had received treatment very quickly. But I was surprised that the take up rate for rehabilitation was only around 44-46%. Apparently this is regarded as a high. It consisted of a series of specific talks and physical rehab in the hospital gym conducted by cardiac rehab nurses, a sports scientist, dieticians and others over a period of several months. I found it extremely helpful. Why wouldn’t you take it up unless you had your head in the sand! Ah…there’s the answer.

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                                                                   Cambridge in the summer. Please bring it on…..quickly.