"for the happy, the sad, I don't want to be, another page in your diary"

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Something Spooky

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It is somewhere near the top of L’s bucket list to go to Greenland, so we could have been at the Polar Circle Half Marathon in Nuuk today. Although that does look a bit of a serious undertaking weather wise. There’s a more terra firma based one in August that might be more appropriate for us. So no Nuuk this year, so we’re at Worksop instead which isn’t quite so exotic but almost as challenging weather wise. They warn us of puddles on the course which was a massive understatement. I have to alternate between breaststroke and front crawl as we pass through one of them.

Worksop is a very popular race despite the horrifically spooky t-shirt and it’s packed at registration. Parking was also a little fraught in the centre of Worksop even though it was a Sunday morning. I thought I’d done this before but it turns out I hadn’t. L certainly has.

It’s all on closed roads and takes in a large chunk of Clumber Park where I find myself reprising sections of the Clumber Duathlon run course. Whereas it’s quite a twisty route inside the park there are quite a lot of long straight section outside of it.

Apart from that, the overriding impression is that the whole thing seems to be slightly uphill from the start right through to mile 12. At which point the course does most definitely descend to the finish. Any other downhill sections mid-course we’re clearly very subtly indeed.

To take your mind off all this they have a quarter mile section just after mile eight which is littered with numerous humorous signs. After which you lose your humour completely as it goes uphill again at mile ten.

After a good start and sub 8:00 miles, the terrain wears me down and I’m hitting close to 9:00 by the time I finish in a time of just over 1:50.

L seems to enjoy it and says she ‘floating’ afterwards. Blimey. What a turnaround.

(Sunday 27th October)

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Rave Reviews

While we were in Portsmouth, Daughter and her +1 dog sat for us. To compensate for putting up with the boys, L made them a cottage pie and I made them a lasagne which got rave reviews. I'm sure L's cottage pie was divine too.

I return from Portsmouth with a bad throat which I blame on the hotel room being too warm and which I seem now to have passed on to L. She’ll probably give it me back in due course. Although in the meantime I take it to a meeting with me and give it four chaps to take back down to Taunton with them.

I swap my dogging night to Tuesday as there’s a match on Wednesday which Derby win 1-0 with a goal in stoppage time.

The Lad adds to L's woes by catching her fingers with his rather sharp teeth. Talking of the little brute, it's fascinating to watch him on Dog TV. Today he’s snuck a ball into his bed (you never know when you might need a ball) but now he can't lie in his bed because of it. He does eventually move it. No disrespect to MD but I’m not sure he’d have thought of that.

By Friday L must be much better. She says she can taste her tea, that’s always the acid test, and we both make it to the gym. Yes even me.

On Saturday we’re at Derby Book Festival. We go see a talk by Nicci French which intrigues me because Nicci French is\are two people. I loved their ‘Beneath The Skin’ but then their Frieda Klein eight book marathon defeated us both and we didn’t get to the end. Although I got further than L.

Before that we see Kamal Ahmed who gives a fascinating insight into his life. Ahmed is a journalist who worked for both The Observer and The Sunday Telegraph but is now Editorial Director of BBC News. His mother was from Rotherham and his father from Sudan. He tells us what it was like growing up a mixed-race Brit in Ealing in the 70s and 80s.

While we’re there we go do a touristy bit by seeing the Knife Angel that is on display in the city centre.
  (Saturday 26th October)

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Show Us Your Money Amazon

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On Saturday we take the 9.45 train down to London on route to the Great South Run in Portsmouth. This involves a hop across London on the Victoria Line and then a journey on Southern from Victoria to Portsmouth. First Class is again pretty non-existent on the trip down to St Pancras. The new East Midland Railway franchise seems to have cut back on this service even more than East Midlands Trains did. While Southern have just a little separate seating area for First Class, which is a bit like being quarantined, and may or may not have been worth the extra £8.

Then it’s a pleasant amble of about a mile from Portsmouth & Southsea station to the seafront and our Holiday Inn which is right by the start and finish area for Sunday’s race. Then we’re down on the Esplanade so that L can reminisce about her younger days spent here and for us to meet up with her sister and her sister’s other half.

We have booked a table for the four of us that evening at the Old Customs House in Gunwharf Quays, close to The Spinnaker tower. It’s a Fuller’s pub so it would be rude not to hydrate with a few jars of ale. Sadly the 4.8% HSB isn’t on so I have to upgrade to the 5.5% ESB.

The next day it’s a ridiculously short amble from our hotel to the race start. It’s the 30th year of the Great South Run but my first time here. L has ran it once before in 1999. Now that’s a while ago...


The race is started by Timmy Mallet and Jet from Gladiators (Diane Youdale) in a nod to its 1990 start date. The course is largely flat and takes us through the Historic Dockyard and past the HMS Victory. Although amazingly some runners appear to have failed to have seen this rather large boat or the man on the start line with a big purple and yellow mallet. I guess they were just too focussed.


I have a good run and lock into a 7:45 per mile pace which I manage to hold for most of the distance as neither last night’s beer nor the Steak & Ale pie are successful in holding me back. I am aiming to get under 1:18 after a pre-race research survey, that both L and I did, goaded me to beat my target time and dangled a £10 Amazon Voucher in front of me if I did.

I am on target as I hit the last two miles of the race which is all along the sea front. Despite an 8:10 final mile, I cross the line in 1:17:54. Show us your money Amazon!

The very same survey told L she wasn’t going to hit her target time and to give up, or something like that. These were supposed to be different motivational techniques.

I collect my goodie bag which I didn't even need to open to know what is in it or rather what isn't in it e.g. something suitable as a post-race snack amongst the flyers, flax seeds, breakfast cereal, tuna and sachets of piri piri sauce. Great Runs... don’t you just love them... and I've done three of the buggers this year. The Great Aberdeen Run, the Great North Run and now this one.

Those race names never tell you what the distance is and nor does the medal or the t-shirt. I know my running buddies aren’t a great fan of the t-shirts either, which only go as ‘small’ as small and which is massive on most women. So probably won’t get worn.

I head up to the massage tent knowing I probably won’t get one. I don’t get one.

After the run L’s sister has to rush back home and to work the next day while we head back to the hotel to chill out and have a few beers with the elites. Our hotel is so conveniently placed that all the officials and elite athletes are also booked in there. We are very quickly rubbing shoulders with the likes of Brendan Foster and Eilish McColgan.

McColgan won the race, breaking her mother’s 10-mile Scottish record, in a time of 51:38. She was nearly four minutes in front of the rest of the women’s field. Marc Scott won the men’s race in a very impressive 46:57. He was probably there too but we didn’t know what he looked like. While Chris Thompson, who had won the race for the last three years, came in 12th and started his excuses with ‘At my age...’. He sounds so like me.

Then we have a wild night out in Southsea with a few ales in the Barley Mow before going for a curry at Spice Merchants.

(Sunday 20th October)

Friday, 18 October 2019

The Nature Of A Deterrent

It appears that someone ‘acting suspiciously’ was very in vogue yesterday as there was an incident at the Birmingham Half Marathon too. Unlike ours their race did go ahead but the route was diverted away from Cannon Hill Park cutting almost two miles off the distance.

L expresses frustration at this happening in Birmingham rather than Peterborough because eleven miles was what she was looking to run before calling in the services of Jeff and Darren, who could have still got their lie-in had we opted for Birmingham.

At home someone seems to agree with her as there seems to be a chewed Peterborough race number in the hall which means someone's had their paws up on the kitchen worktop.

At Birmingham though, there are still people not happy and while perhaps an offer of a small reduction off next year might be in order asking for a full refund when you’ve already walked off with the t-shirt, medal and goodie bag is a bit rich.

Meanwhile, just as I'm poised to scour Sainsbury’s for sexier bin liners in preparation for our next wet race L tells she’s on a mission for ponchos instead. Either purchase will mean they're never needed which is the nature of a deterrent. Until you forget them of course.

I bike on Tuesday because the previous night’s weather forecast had promised a fine day. Unfortunately it wasn’t entirely accurate as it rained the whole way but I’m still glad I made the effort.

Later I’m off Dogging while L does a hill session with Daughter. I believe it was a speedy one because they had to make it back for Bake Off.

Wednesday is Thunder Run sign up day but no one around here seems to be suffering from
FOMO over it. Instead we enter the Flying Fox 10 Miler, which L says is much more exciting.  Although it’s only Stoke...

I bike again on Thursday which is dry but rather chilly and I was late. I’m always late but I wasn't as late as I expected because the traffic was quite light for once.

On Friday we have visitors for tea as we have invited Daughter and her +1 round. So I cook a Thai Curry and lay on a few drinks. Basically we’re softening them up for dog sitting duties, not that we expected them to drink us out of beer and wine.

(Friday 18th October)

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Cleethorpes (Or Is It Grimsby)

On Saturday we head up, with MD and the Lad, to Cleethorpes (or is it Grimsby) to visit a friend of ours whom we met years ago when she owned Doggo’s twin brother.

On the way, of course, we do a parkrun but no one’s obsessed, honestly. We go to Cusworth Hall parkrun, where it’s only the second running of their event. This is near Doncaster, so it’s approximately halfway. 

Once in Cleethorpes (or is it Grimsby) we visit their new house, take the dogs for a walk and afterwards try, but fail, to get on the beach.

Then on Sunday we drive down to Peterborough for their Half Marathon, also known as the Great Eastern Run, which turns out to be a bit of a wasted journey.
The weather was absolutely foul and has been for some time. It was still raining quite heavily as we assembled on the start field that now resembled a paddy field. Having delayed heading to our respective start areas for as long as possible we were then informed of a delay due to what we were told was an obstruction on the course.

So we had to wait it out dressed in our rather unattractive bin liners that weren't affording much shelter from the elements. As the delay stretched on I sheltered first under some trees which wasn’t very effective at all and then having seen that a lot of people had disappeared I went to find out where they had all gone. It turned out they’d found some buildings with porch areas that gave better shelter.

After half an hour of this I was very cold and fearing that I would pull something if we did ever start. That's pull as in cold tight muscles rather than something in a sexier bin liner than me. 

Then came the announcement that the race had been cancelled. This actually went down rather well, as I think hardly anybody was still in the mood to run. The official reason was a ‘man acting suspiciously’, which was wonderfully vague but organisers really can’t take any risks these days.

I meet up with L again, who's not looking too shabby in her bin liner, and we wade across the paddy field to pick up our t-shirts, medals and other post-race goodies. They have generously offered us a full refund as well.

So L didn’t get her training run which she was planning on doing with Jeff (or was it Darren). Well they could have both had a lie-in, in fact we could all have had a lie-in.

Despite the lack of a race we still have the post-race night out and also go for a meal in Paste.

(Sunday 13th October)

Friday, 11 October 2019

Everything But Roller Skates

On Friday, I'm off to a gig at Rock City.

Having seen the Psychedelic Furs last year for the first time in 27 years, excellent as they were, it seems a bit rash to rush back to see them again so soon. In fact I may not have bothered had a certain Wendy James not been announced as the support act. It is an odd combination indeed but obviously a tempting one as I am here.

James' picture adorned many students’ bedroom walls back in the day. Not mine though, she was on the ceiling as the poster was almost life-sized and was too large for the wall. My partner says she always wanted to be Wendy James. I thought she was Wendy James, that’s why I asked her out.

After two huge albums, 1988's Pop Art and 1989’s Velveteen, their record company refused to release their third album in the UK and they split in early 1992. Since then James has had another band called Racine and a few solo records.

Now 53, she reckons it’s exactly 30 years since she stood on this very stage at Rock City. My diary says she’s not quite right. I reckon it's 31 years and a day, as it was the 10th October 1988. I was there.

Tonight’s set is a mix of her back catalogue - solo songs, Racine songs and of course Transvision Vamp songs. There are also some songs from her yet to be released new album 'Queen High Straight' due out next year. James now writes all her own stuff, practically everything Transvision Vamp was written by their guitarist Nick Sayer, and it’s hardly sedate. In fact it’s just as rocky as the old stuff.

The only criticism here would be that a lot of the material is unknown to the crowd. Even a couple of the Transvision Vamp tracks she plays, 'Bad Valentine' from 'Velveteen' and 'If Looks Could Kill' from that third album, are quite obscure.

Despite that she goes down a storm as she can clearly still bang out a tune and of course there are still the biggies of ‘I Want Your Love’ early on and ‘Baby I Don't Care’ which closes her 45 minute set with an almighty 'Waaaaaaaaaah'.


I may not be the only one who’s at a Furs gig again because of Wendy James. Original Furs’ guitarist Roger Morris is back again. I thought his inclusion last year was just a one off? Clearly not. It's good to see you again Roger.

Whereas last time he only played on material from the first two albums, this time he’s also learnt some of the ‘newer’ (post 1981) ones too. We’ll most of them, by next year he could be playing on every track.


The Furs are mightily impressive from the opening ‘Dumb Waiters’ with it’s strangled saxophone courtesy of Mars Williams, through classics like ‘President Gas’, to the closing ‘Heartbreak Beat’ they don’t put a foot wrong. It’s a brilliant run through of their back catalogue which surprisingly only yielded two UK Top 40 hits ‘Heaven’ and ‘Pretty In Pink’. By the way Transvision Vamp had seven. Go figure.


There are a few interesting set changes from the last time I saw them and it's particularly good to hear 'All That Money Wants', 'Like a Stranger' and especially ‘There's a World Outside’ once again.

They even play a rare new track called ‘The Boy That Invented Rock & Roll’, one of only a few new songs by the band since reuniting in 2000. There is talk of a new album next year which would be their first since 1991.


They’re not the chattiest of folk although I think Richard Butler feels it’s best to save his breath for singing in that distinctive voice that has survived the years.

After a 15 song set they leave us before returning for a riotous stomp through India. A great night.



Having turned down Wendy’s offer to talk about old times over a coffee at her place, I head home.

(Friday 11th October)

 

Thursday, 10 October 2019

London Marathon Rejection Day

The Lad so far has failed to repeat his gate scaling antics of last week. Maybe he landed on his head and he’s learnt his lesson. There’s always a first time.

I manage to bike to work on Tuesday, which given the horrendous traffic was clearly much preferable to driving or being on the bus. I assume something must have happened on the A52.

L meets her parents for lunch, which is apparently cottage pie followed by apple crumble, all off the children's meal at £3.90 each.  No wonder they don't cook much.

I'm dogging in the evening while Daughter takes L on a Fartlek session. Scary. This is despite her dodgy arm which her GP, in a phone call, assures L isn’t infected and says it should go away in a few weeks. Although she's already had the problem for quite a few weeks...

Her boss takes a look at it and says it’s infected. So off she heads to see her GP to get antibiotics.

I’m on the bike again on Wednesday which is also known as London Marathon rejection day. L’s sister gets hers first and she’s probably really relieved. Then Daughter gets hers followed by me. So perhaps L got lucky? Nope, hers follows soon afterwards. A full house then.

My latest beer delivery doesn’t arrive in time for us to drown our sorrows and is listed on the courier's website as damaged in transit, which sounds messy. It’s gone back to the retailer and they’re having to do me a new box.

Taking of beer, we spend Thursday evening at the Nottingham Beer Festival drinking our way through some interesting beers and eating a curry from Mem Saab’s mobile van (which is oddly more expensive than eating in their restaurant). I have a steak and stilton pasty for dessert but L doesn't join me in that.

I manage nearly 11 units while L only manages 6. Someone clearly wasn’t trying.

(Thursday 10th October)

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Send For The Military

On Saturday we parkrun at Alvaston, which may be boring but it’s about the best surface (all tarmac) if it's wet and it’s been exceedingly wet recently.

It is Daughter’s 80th Parkrun. It would have been my 86th if I hadn’t forgotten my barcode or even my 87th if they hadn't done me out of my first ever one at Conkers for reasons I was never made aware of.
 
Afterwards I am at the match while my two fellow parkrunners get the train down to L’s sisters where they will both be running the Standalone 10k tomorrow. I’m not going as I’m on Glastonbury ticket duty. Having seen a sneak preview of the Standalone t-shirt, which is bright pink, perhaps it's a good one to miss. 

Then the boys and I have a night on our own. We order out for pizza.

The next day we’re all up early to apply for Glastonbury tickets or rather to just look at the holding screen for half an hour.

My colleague from work gets in (again) but then he’s part of a large syndicate who all apply for each other every year. Consequently they have been for the last nine years. This is what it’s come to. You need either huge luck or a military operation to get tickets. As L says I’ve blocked off my entire weekend for nothing. Apparently there will be a ballot for 50 pairs of tickets but I’m not holding my breath.

After that my day consists of mainly ball throwing and cutting the lawn, which bizarrely it’s dry enough to do.

Later we’re all by the gate waiting to welcome L home in our own individual ways but I'm the only one she invites to the pub later. I drown my Glastonbury sorrows in the Organ Grinder and the Borlase.while she celebrates her run.

(Sunday 6th October)

Friday, 4 October 2019

Never Felt The Urge

A friend of L's from Australia tells her that she's waved at her on Facebook Messenger but L doesn't have a clue what she's talking about. So she asks me. As if I’d know. I do know that such ‘waving hands’ do exist but I don’t know how to wave either and I’ve never felt the urge.

We’ve lost the Lad, at least he’s no longer visible on Dog TV. I pan the camera around and still can’t find him. Then suddenly we see a little face the other side of the dog gate. That is the newer, taller, Berlin Wall-esk dog gate.

After months of searching I finally find a reasonably priced hotel in Tokyo for the Olympic Games, so I book it. Reasonably priced meaning something only double its usual price rather than triple, quadruple or any other multiplying factor they think they can get away with.

I bike to work on Wednesday but there’s still no squash which now seems to be on indefinite hiatus. My opponent wanted two weeks off for his staycation but that’s now finished. So I’m assuming either he doesn’t think his back is up to it or he’s put on about three stone during his 'holiday'.
  
L has been using a technique called ‘Jeffing’ in her races, this is basically a mix of intervals of running and walking devised by Olympian Jeff Galloway. There’s also ‘Darrening’ but I’m not going into that and anyway the origins of it seem to be shrouded in secrecy.

Now apparently we have Mafetone Magic, which I thought were a band I saw playing as a support act sometime back in the 1990s. Apparently not. Someone has posted on Facebook that they are using the technique for this weekend’s Leicester Marathon. 

Well... they were because the Leicester Marathon has now been cancelled. Apparently Watermead Park is waterlogged. I do recall wading through water in Watermead in previous years and practically swimming through one of the subways in the city centre, so it must be really bad this year.

On Thursday I rush hope to jump on the internet in an attempt to get Glastonbury coach tickets and spend the evening looking at the holding screen. Well, there’s always Sunday.

On Friday Yourbus go bust. I can’t say I’m surprised as I never did manage to work out what their business strategy was.

(Friday 4th October)