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

Friday, 31 January 2020

A Sea Of Positivity

L is having problem accessing Dog TV but it’s working for me. Well I think it is, nothing is moving so it could have frozen or they could simply be comatose.

Monday is the first dog club committee meeting of the year and L is, as ever, sceptical that I’ll be home much before midnight but it doesn’t go on that long and I’m back in plenty of time to heat up the scraps she’s left me for my dinner.

Not for the first time she is job hunting in remote places. She sees two jobs going on St Kilda but unfortunately she’s not an Archaeologist nor a Marine Biologist.

On Tuesday L is off work and instead doing a training run with her sister followed by lunch. I just hope that they were both a sea of pre-marathon positivity. I do my own run after work and make it as far as Beeston before getting on the bus, which is just over 12 miles.

On Wednesday, L is out to lunch again then has a consultation with a new personal trainer, one who takes her dog to work with her. I wonder whether it tries to join in the sessions. Ours would. Later I take ours to dog training.

Thursday see me cycling to work which was really hard after my two runs this week while L is at her run club.

On Friday Derby at home to Stoke and impressively win 2-0. Derby need to get as many points in the bank as they can because they are due in front of a tribunal for selling their own ground to their owner. That’s allowed but the valuation seems to be on par with that of Wembley Stadium which does sound a little dubious. They could end up with a points deduction. However they claim to have documentation signed by the league approving the valuation of the ground and if that’s true I can’t see how the league would have a case.

(Friday 31st January)

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Helpful Like That

I have Friday afternoon off work to help set up my club’s Winter Dog Show ahead of the event itself on Saturday. We have the venue just for a strict two hours from 5pm until 7pm, then I rush back home because we have guests.

Daughter and her +1 are coming around for dinner and in my absence L has cooked cottage pie. The main concern is whether we have enough wine after what happened last time...

We manage to not run out of wine but no one has room for Christmas Pudding. We really must stop doing all those races where they give these away to all the runners because we're not big Christmas Pudding eaters ourselves and clearly we can't give them away either.

I attend the show on Saturday without the dogs as it’s a more of a specialist type event with nothing for oldies like MD and not much for youngsters like the Lad. There was one event that the Lad could have had a go at but it seemed a bit unfair to drag him over for just the one run.

Not that they’re happy about me going without them and L gets barked up nice and early. They’re helpful like that. Then they get dumped again as L, Daughter and her +1 all go to Parkrun to run off their hangovers.

I don’t know why L has a hangover as I’m sure we only had one bottle between the two of us. Our guests must have accounted for the other four empty bottles. Then L and the boys spend the afternoon asleep, so perhaps it was only me who was restrained...

Meanwhile the Dog Show runs late due to a rather fastidious judge.

With no race again on Sunday, we reprise our run from Elvaston Castle with a few revisions to last weekend’s route to avoid traipsing through all the puddles that we encountered down the river path last time. We again do an extra lap with MD and then go visit my folks. 

(Sunday 26th January)

Thursday, 23 January 2020

All Bases Covered

L recommends the Fractured Marathon at Calke Abbey, that I’ve not heard of before. It sounds interesting and thankfully it’s not ‘fractured’ as in ankle although it is all off road . It’s called fractured because each of the 10 x 2.6 mile laps start on the half hour. So it’s not a continuous marathon, assuming you can do a lap in less than half an hour. It also starts at 7pm, which means the last lap starts at midnight.

Another race that is in the diary is the Peterborough Marathon, which I had considered doing as a warmup race for the Brighton Marathon but it appears there were only 170 in it last year. Which isn’t quite what I was looking for but then if everyone thinks that they’ll never get the numbers up.

On Monday we all head over to L’s folks to shift some things downstairs for them which means the boys get a walk around Mickleover. It’s already dropping colder and by the next morning it’s very icy underfoot. I fall over twice while walking the dogs, who barely notice. I do manage to make it to the bus and therefore to work without any further falls but that’s probably helped by not having a dog in each hand.

Later L fails to talk herself out of run club while I fail to persuade the Lad out of wanting to go Dog Training.

On Wednesday I am summoned to the Yard for pizza by my now retired ex-colleague. The only probably is that I am down to run 10 miles tonight and now I’m full of pizza. Somehow I get through it.

Thursday see L heading over to her running club again where they have introduced a longer 6 mile run but she is having what she calls ‘massive nerve attacks’ about it, what I call ‘adrenaline’. This is because it's only fast fellas that have posted on Facebook to say they are going. 

I’m sure she’ll be fine. I pop both a 0% Leffe and a 9% Leffe in the fridge, so that all bases are covered for when she returns.

(Thursday 23rd January)

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Dog Sledding

On Saturday we do Colwick parkrun which is a bad choice. In fact I can’t understand why it hasn’t been cancelled. If I’d been the Run Director it certainly would have been but then everyone else seems to have a great time wading through the thigh deep mud. Then again, nobody else is tied to a collie which is like dog sledding without the sled.

On Sunday it’s the 31st Folksworth 15 organised by Yaxley Runners with a field of 500 runners.

Note to self. If we do this race again arrive early, very early. I mean we aren't exactly late but everyone is far more clued up than us meaning all the nearby parking has already been taken by the time we arrive. We are directed out of the village, out to the 14 mile point and then down a country lane where we park on a grass bank. It would be a long walk back to Race HQ but the organisers have kindly laid on a car to get us there. Obviously we need to go ready to race, so we take a bag with us to drop in the baggage store.

Once at the Race HQ, which is the local school, we pick up our numbers and are then faced with a 15 minute walk\jog to the start, three quarters of a mile away. As it’s a two lap course it begs the question why not remove the walk to the start and call it 16 miles? I'm sure there's a reason...

It's a cold day and icy underfoot in places. I think many races would have been cancelled given the way we had to slither down some of the hills, so I'm thankfully that the organisers had the guts not to call this one off. We needed the run even if we do have to skate parts of it although apparently despite the conditions someone broke the course record.

The 15 miles, with its three challenging hills per lap, is a decent test of where my marathon training is at. If intend to run my marathon at 9:00 pace again, or hopefully better, then to not drop below 8:50 here and to average 8:15 is definitely promising as I finish, back at the school, in 2:03:45.

Afterwards I get a lift back to the car and release the dogs. Then the three of us clap everyone else, including L, through 14 miles just as they head up the final hill to the finish.

(Sunday 19th January)

Friday, 17 January 2020

Consoling The Inconsolable

With no race on Sunday we need to get out to do some training. I'm always happy to take the Lad with me but MD isn’t up to the distance we want to do and nor probably are L’s knees if she was to run with him. The problem is we can’t leave him at home.

Attempting to console an inconsolable howling MD whilst the Lad is taken for a run is a difficult enough task but if there’s no one there to placate him, who knows how long he’ll howl for. The full two hours? Or does he stop once we’re out of earshot, put the kettle on and chill out for a couple of hours?

So we all head off in the car, drive to Elvaston Castle and leave MD in his box. He seems happy with that. We then do half marathon distance with the Lad, running out along the river past Pride Park to the edge of town and then back through Spondon and Borrowash. L does a bit less than the Lad and I due to us doing loops up a few side streets whenever we get ahead. We then do an extra small loop with MD, so that he gets to feel part of it.

Then after visiting my folks we stay in, finishing off the tub of Blue Monkey.

On Monday L is out in Derby leaving the boys and I to have fun in the mud at home. On Tuesday Daughter comes around for a run with L and then we do some more angry-shopper role play.

Wednesday sees me on the bike, despite the threat of Brendan but thankfully that particular storm seems to have passed over now. In the evening it’s dog training and then Thursday is run day for which it’s still a tad windy but hopefully blowing in the right direction to power me along. I keep it to just 9k this week as we have a 15 miler on Sunday.

Then on Friday I have an appointment with my torturer for a sports massage.

(Friday 17th January)

Saturday, 11 January 2020


My Leeds United supporting friend has been told in no uncertain terms, by many people, that he needs to be more positive about his team, who are comfortably placed in 2nd in the Championship table. It’s probably his first ever New Year’s Resolution.

Leeds promptly lose 2-0 at home to Sheffield Wednesday and I turn my phone off before he gets chance to send his thoughts through. Derby meanwhile draw 2-2 at Middlesborough.

This all comes after doing parkrun in the morning at Forest Rec and then in the evening we're at Broadway. It is the 2nd week of veggie month, which I am more than happy to indulge in.

It is 1917 in the British trenches and the German army appear to be in withdrawal but aerial reconnaissance has revealed that they are in fact lying in wait for a British attack. Two British soldiers, Tom Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and William Schofield (George MacKay) are called upon by General Erinmore (Colin Firth) to carry a message by hand, because field telephone lines have been cut, to Colonel Mackenzie (Benedict Cumberbatch) of the Devonshire Regiment. The message will instruct Mackenzie to call off the scheduled attack because it would jeopardise the lives of 1,600 men. Blake has been chosen because his brother Joseph (Richard Madden) is one of these men.

With time short, the men leave the trenches and cross No Man’s Land which is a sea of bodies, dismembered limbs and dead horses until they reach the abandoned German trenches, which they find are booby-trapped. A tripwire is triggered by a rat and the explosion nearly kills Schofield but Blake rescues him.

They then reach at an abandoned farmhouse from where they witness a German plane being shot down. They drag the injured pilot from the plane before it explores but the ungrateful pilot stabs Blake. Schofield shoots the pilot but can't save Blake and has to carry on alone.

After hitching a lift with another British convoy, Schofield then has to cross a bombed out canal bridge into the ruins of Écoust-Saint-Mein where he comes under fire from a German sniper. In the ensuing fight the sniper is killed and Schofield is knocked out cold. When he regains consciousness he heads off through the bombed-out French town under heavy fire.

It is rather unbelievable that he manages to dodge so many bullets before stumbling into a basement where he has time for a social call with a French woman (Claire Duburcq) and her child while I am literally screaming at him that he has a battalion to save.

Eventually continuing on, Schofield is again repeatedly shot out before escaping by jumping into a river where he amazingly avoids drowning despite being swept over a waterfall. Suddenly it's all gone a bit Indiana Jones.

The river spit him out on to a riverbank which by some amazing coincidence is where the Devonshire Regiment are having a singalong before heading to battle. Schofield manages to creep up on the Regiment without anyone noticing as they seem to have neglected to post any guards.

In one sense director Sam Mendes has made an epic film that looks great, is really dramatic and that puts the audience right in the middle of the action. It would also have been nail-biting stuff if you didn’t know for sure that Schofield would make it to Blake’s brother once Blake himself had met a grisly end. The only other problem really is that I just don't buy the plot at any price.

Afterwards we head to the Bunkers Hill for a couple of drinks before finishing off in Brewdog. L is appalled it’s gone 2am when we get to bed.

(Saturday 11th January)

Friday, 10 January 2020


L’s sister's 50th birthday is coming up and L asks if I have any ideas what she can get her. She could buy her another race entry... something to take her mind off the Brighton Marathon perhaps but then she says her sister has a downer on running at the moment. Not that I know of any runners who don’t have a downer on running and she did apparently get up at 5:30am to do 10 miles one morning this week, followed by a sports massage. That’s not my sort of downer.  

According to the BBC, and yes I know no one believes anything on the BBC anymore, running a marathon is a really positive thing and cuts 'artery age by four years'. Researchers tested 138 novice runners attempting the London Marathon. Firstly 138 isn’t very many, secondly as we are not 'novice' runners does this apply to us or, at our age, is artery age overshadowed by all the battered muscles and joints anyway.

I cycle to work on Tuesday and dodge the rain, which comes later and stops me getting out for lunch causing me to open the Maltesers in my drawer. L is at Run Club in the evening, which is why it’s raining. It always rains on her Run Club night. I’m at Dog training.

After my Robin Hood card packed up last week, now my Mango card follows suit on Wednesday. I’ve always suspected that the cards from the two rival companies would attempt to sabotage each other at some point.

The really annoying thing was that, for once, I had actually managed to catch the earlier bus and so I would have been on time for work had this not happened... but I had to go to their office to get a new one.

In the evening Daughter comes round for some role play, this is for her latest Police interview.  

On Thursday both L and I run. We’re both aiming to run 10. L goes for 10k, I go for 10 miles and we compare notes later.

Then, as it’s the 2nd Friday in January, it must be time for my biannual haircut. L won’t recognise me. Meanwhile L is in the gym doing a ‘strengthening workout for marathon runners’. She says I won't recognise her. 

(Friday 10th January)

Sunday, 5 January 2020


On Sunday we head up to Sherwood Pines for their New Year 10k, which is organised by those nice people at Nice Work. It is a nice leg stretch on a route that contains a lot of the Sherwood Pines parkrun.

They mess up on the course though. It starts near the café and the opening straight leads you on to a circular course which you do once for the 5k or twice for the 10k before finishing with the same straight section to the finish.

Mathematicians among you will have immediately noticed that the total length of the 10k therefore cannot be twice the length of the 5k. It would require another out and back of the straight\finish section to be so, therefore one of the distances is going to be inaccurate. This clearly is the 10k which ends up being only 9.5k. Which makes my time of 47:22 look even worse.

As we’re both marathon training, we then grab the dogs and do another 5k-ish lap of the course, just for fun. 

Jojo Rabbit is a comedy, yes a comedy, about a 10-year-old boy and his imaginary friend called Adolf Hitler... Not going to work is it? Well, maybe.

Firstly it’s a bit of a shock that this storyline even made it on to the big screen what with people’s sensitivities these days even though making fun of Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler is nothing new. Hello Mel Brooks. That was back in the 60's when World War II was a lot fresher in the mind but the world was lot less snowflake then.

Taika Waititi wrote the film, financed it, directed it and plays Hitler himself. I hope he lands some sort of award at the Oscars. I mean what more does a guy have to do.

The film is set in the dying days of the Second World War and follows Johannes 'Jojo' Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis) who in his youthful naivety, and because he’s a big fan of swastikas, signs up for the Hitler Youth. His local camp is run by Captain Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell), a one-eyed drunk who is clearly miffed at no longer being allowed out on the battlefield.

While Jojo clearly dreams of becoming a war hero it's not really in his makeup and he gains the nicknamed 'Jojo Rabbit' when he fails to prove himself by killing a rabbit in one of the films least endearing scenes. He then blows himself up with a hand grenade, at which point he is assigned the more sedate task of handing out leaflets.

All the time he is ‘advised’ by his imaginary friend, a rather camp caricature of Hitler, while his father is MIA on the Italian Front and his mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) is busy working for the resistance.

It turns out his mother is also hiding a Jewish girl, Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie), in the attic. She is a former classmate of Jojo's sister Inge who has died of flu. Jojo is horrified when he discovers her and threatens to hand her in to the Gestapo until she points out that his mother would be executed for hiding her. Instead the pair start to get on which infuriates Imaginary Adolf as Elsa gradually picks away at the years of brainwashing that Jojo has received.

When Jojo writes a propaganda book on the Jews for Klenzendorf she feeds him crazy stories about the Jews having special powers. Meanwhile Jojo forges letters to her from her fiancé Nathan, telling her that Nathan wants to break up with her.

When the Gestapo discover her she pretends to be Inge and gets away with help, surprisingly, from Klenzendorf. Jojo is relieved but then later that day, finds his mother has been hanged in the street in a remarkably understated scene. Then as news breaks that the Allies are closing in, Jojo sees his school friends in the Hitler Youth being hurled into battle as a final desperate last act.

It’s certainly a different approach to Hilter and the war. Waititi’s film seems to deliberately sidestep addressing the evils that he shows you and instead lets it wash over you. Yet he still makes a point, I think, about how easily such evil thoughts and ideals can breed in a nation. Which is a very relevant point today with nationalism reappearing around the globe. Whether it’s the right approach, I’m not sure.

We find that Krubera is on again at Broadway and also that January is Vegetarian Month. I take a punt on their Vegan Thai Noodles which were nice but consisted mostly of beans with not much sign of the promised mushrooms, peppers and sweet potato but that’s often my complaint when I'm promised Chicken Thai Noodles as well.

After the film we go for drinks in Kean’s Head.

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Nothing Pleases Like Maltesers

L’s Mother has been rather inundated with chocolate over Christmas and I am asked to dispose of it, which is a service I provide free of charge. Most particularly the 48 bags and 3 boxes of Maltesers that she received this year which is the outcome of coming out as a self-confessed Maltesers addict a few years ago. As they say 'Nothing pleases like Maltesers'.

I take a couple of boxes to work with me. They've not been opened yet though, it’s a bit early in the year for such debauchery. 

Not that I ever start the year with any New Year’s Resolutions because if you decide to give up your vices you don’t actually live any longer, it’s just your life becomes so tedious and boring that it seems longer.

On Friday I’m on the bike again, that’s the third time in less than two weeks, but it was hard and into the wind all the way.

Saturday is Parkrun again. It seems to be almost a daily occurrence at the moment. We run at Shipley Park and I remember why I don’t like it too much there as the second lap gets the Lad and I up caught in traffic. It’s still a Shipley PB for us though. Then I drop L at Pilates.

We stay in later ahead of Sunday’s Sherwood Pines 10k.

(Saturday 4th January)

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Terrifying Rumours

New Year's Day is of course Parkrun Double Day. There are terrifying rumours of a Clifton-Rushcliffe double which would give me two chances in one day to break my ankle but then it would probably be so packed that the Lad and I won't get chance to break into a run anyway.

How on earth would they fit more than 100 folk into little old Clifton? While Rushcliffe has already reached almost the size of the Great North Run with rumours abound that people are taking over twenty mins to get over the start line. They'll be having to hold a ballot for places before too long.

The whole project is kiboshed by flooding at Clifton which means they have only managed to run three parkruns since the end of September. Instead we do the much safer option of Alvaston followed by Markeaton.

Afterwards we go for lunch in the Nag’s Head in Mickleover, for a couple of naughty pies and chips before going to visit L’s folks. 

Of course Christmas (if it is still Christmas) wouldn’t be Christmas without a dodgy film. I’m talking about ‘Last Christmas’ but it is true that there might be even dodgier possibilities. Broadway is closed today, so we are at our local Showcase instead.

We are introduced to Kate (Emilia Clarke), or Katarina to give her the name she dare not speak, who came to UK with her family as refugees from the former Yugoslavia when she was child. Her day job is as an elf in a Christmas store working for a woman called Santa (Michelle Yeoh). That’s not her real name... although Kate seems to think it is.

Kate is also an aspiring singer and a George Michael fan who is perennially homeless after falling out with almost everyone she shares accommodation with by either breaking all their possessions or killing their pets. Instead she becomes adept at sofa surfing which isn’t terribly compatible with her liking of one-night stands.

She could of course go home to her family but she finds them overbearing, particularly her mother Petra (Emma Thompson), even though they all rallied around her when she was very ill the year before. Thompson also co-wrote the script but isn’t terribly good at an East European accent.

Things start looking up for Kate when she meets Tom (Henry Golding) a man who is always looking up at the beauty of the world, even if he won’t let her surf on his sofa let alone share his bed. Tom works as bike courier and volunteers at a homeless shelter where the other volunteers have never met him. To Kate’s dismay Tom proves maddeningly elusive and even keeps his phone at home in a cupboard but inspires her to sort out her life and be new nice to people even after inadvertently outing her sister Marta (Lydia Leonard) as a lesbian to her own family.

The film is inspired, as the title suggests, by a certain song penned by George Michael and also features many other songs by him. The entire premise lies behind interpreting the lyrics ‘Last Christmas I gave you my heart’ literally and it is how quickly you latch on to this which enables you to work out who Kate’s new friend actually is. Some may say that the film does this 'classic' track a disservice but I'd say it gets exactly what it deserves.

As I was expecting a straightforward RomCom-By-Numbers I was rather pleasantly surprised by the film. It is neither particularly romantic nor much of a comedy although it does have a few moments that make you smile. Mostly its humour tries to be politically correct but somehow ends up being completely the opposite.

It isn't even all that Christmassy, save for a festive Covent Garden setting, and it is perhaps for all these reasons (and Clarke’s amazing eyebrows) that I rather liked it. Yes it’s sooo trashy but then Christmas itself is inherently trashy and false. Clarke herself is brilliant and will no doubt use this film as a steppingstone to bigger and better things.

There is a rather unnecessary subplot about post-Brexit xenophobia but it never really goes anywhere as if a lot of the scenes to do with that ended up on the cutting room floor. While its pro-immigration message is somewhat undermined by using two Londoners in Clarke and Thompson to play immigrants. Yet it is good to see an attempt to depict migrant families in a mainstream film.