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

Sunday 29 March 2020

Keeping The Economy Going

I wake up this morning alongside the girl from the other office, so we definitely seem to be getting on. That said we are not alone, our two other colleagues are here as well, which means it’s a bit crowded, although they’re easily satisfied with a couple of biscuits and a ball chuck.

We have now abandoned the morning dog walk. I can fit it in but I’m not sure the dogs have got time for it with us being at home all day. Their days are now so busy they don’t get chance to laze in their beds all day long. It helps that since the lockdown started it has barely rained and the garden has finally dried out. This means I'm getting plenty of agility training in with the Lad.

Thursday brings ‘Clap For Our Carers’, a round of applause for the NHS at 8pm which is followed by Jay Flynn’s Virtual Pub Quiz. Flynn, a former pub landlord from Darwen, is rumoured to have pulled a peak audience of around 300,000 for his quiz.

Parkrun moves its quiz to Friday night at 8pm and with all our races called off we are being urged by all the races to sign up to Virtual Runner... I think not. Although L does run with virtually with Daughter.

We attempt to keep the local economy going by ordering a take away from the Park Tandoori. They won’t usually deliver to us on a Friday because they’re too busy but now I imagine they have no choice. The Savera meanwhile has, for some reason, reverted to collection only.

On Saturday we book an online film through Youtube and watch ‘Schindler’s List’. I saw this on its release in 1993. L has never seen it but has recently read the book. This is washed down with lashings of Krubera after my online order with Hollow Stone (aka Shipstones) Brewery arrives.

On Sunday I continue trawling Youtube for interesting things to watch and decide on a rerun of the 1996 Tour de France. This was a landmark Tour from my youth although I was 29, so hardly youthful. Miguel Indurain had bored us all to tears by winning the previous five tours while never actually winning a stage that wasn’t a Time Trial. Although he had won a couple in the years before when he'd been a domestique for Pedro Delgado. You’re not allowed to say that Indurain was on EPO because nothing has ever been proven but...

One thing was for sure in 1996, the winner Bjarne Riis certainly was on something. His eyes seemed to glow in the dark, actually his whole being seemed to glow in the dark... It was very interesting to see how the TV courage handled it all. Badly and with great bemusement.

Riis had little choice than to admit his drug use when it all came out later. Which means I must watch 1997 and 1998 as well.

(Sunday 29th March) 

Wednesday 25 March 2020

Panic Buying After All

This working from home business is actually quite good. Not having to commute to work is actually two hours of my life that I do get back, five times a week.

Then there’s the girl in the office just down the corridor from me. Her office is the only one with coffee making facilities so I get to pop in quite frequently for a chat. She’s quite friendly but she does she keeps asking me for ‘IT Support’ which I hope is a euphemism for something.

I risk a trip to my usual Sainsbury's at lunch time wearing gloves. I figure going round a shop I know will be quicker than one I don’t. Again there are plenty of empty shelves but this week I manage to grab the very last pack of chicken. Apparently supermarkets experienced an additional 15 million visits last week alone but here’s me sticking to our one shop a week. I’m just not cut out for this panic buying lark.

While I’m in the area I pick up my wine delivery from work because the wine company decided to deliver to where they usually deliver to despite me asking them not to.

The Olympics are postponed to 2021. Which I’m sure will please Laura Kenny, as she can now get her shoulder fixed, but perhaps not her husband. Jason may now hang up his cleats.

The other big news is that Son’s wedding is sadly delayed until September.

L sets up a home gym while along with Daughter she does a Joe Wicks workout session online. I’d never heard of Joe Wicks until now. He’s been doing workouts for kids but apparently a lot of women reckon he’s good for getting their heart rate going.

While they’re doing that I order a couple of beer kegs from Shipstones and some bottles from Swannay in Orkney. So perhaps I am panic buying after all.

(Wednesday 25th March)

Saturday 21 March 2020

Working From Home

Wednesday is my first day of working from home. L is doing the same having arrived home last night with a wheelbarrow's worth of files. She only got her new ‘very pretty’ computer at work last week and now she’s been parted from it. That said the annoying Cortana, who she hasn’t had chance to dismember (I mean disable) yet, will have to self-isolate.

L warns me that I’ll need to get used to working with the back door open and only actually working in between ball chucks. Sounds idyllic. It doesn’t appear that the dogs have any intention of spending all day asleep in their beds like they do on Dog TV.

Our morning dog walk hasn’t really changed much. People are doing social distancing, as they’ve been told to do, but we’re well used to people shouting 'Good Morning' to us from a safe distance for years. Usually from the safety of whichever car they’re hiding behind. The joys of being part of the dog walking fraternity.

On Thursday I shop for my Mum and Dad in Asda which is a traumatic experience. Shopping in an unfamiliar supermarket is like wearing someone else’s shoes and that’s before you presented with a confusing list from my Father. Not least because most of it is from the frozen and confectionery isles, both of which are alien territory to me.

Italy’s daily death toll seems to go up by 100 every day, reaching nearly 800 per day by the end of the week. UK figures are now 150 a day but rising and it is announced that all schools will close on Friday. Despite Donald Trump saying that the ‘Chinese Virus’ was not welcome in the US, it seems to have its feet (sadly) well under the table in New York City.

I am surprised to see that most of the pubs around Nottingham still seem to be open. Largely, I suppose, because they haven’t been ordered to close and many people who were told to avoid pubs and restaurants clearly aren’t. By Friday that changes as the Government instructs all pubs, restaurants, gyms and other social venues across the country to close their doors.

The weekend arrives, looking very much like the rest of the week. Parkrun is replaced by a quiz while Frank Turner’s gig at Rock City is replaced by a screening of his 2000th gig which was at Rock City in 2016 and I was there of course. It’s rather good to experience it again.

(Saturday 21st March)

Tuesday 17 March 2020

Bonio Crisis

Monday lunchtime is when I do our weekly shop and this week it acquires extra significance as I head off to panic buy. The only problem is I can’t think of anything I want to panic buy.

Afterwards I report back from the Front Line (Sainsburys) to L. We won't be eating chicken this week as they had none at all but oddly they had plentiful supplies of all other meats and fish. There was no rice or pasta, rather annoyingly as we’re very short on rice. So already it's looking terminal for a chicken curry and that's before I failed to get hold of any cumin seeds... although I'm not saying that's virus related, just as the lack of water chestnuts probably isn't. There was no loo roll obviously and no Bonios.

So I got most things. It’s just the Bonios that are critical really.

Later on Monday Boris Johnson holds the first of what will now be daily press briefings as the UK’s death toll tops 50. In it he urges everybody to work from home and to avoid pubs and restaurants. So yes, Saturday was our last night out.

The roads are definitely a lot quieter as I drive into work on Tuesday to be told that most of us will be working from home from Wednesday. We are staying open with a skeleton staff of four people, all in different rooms.

One of the guys at work is told that his Cousin potentially has the virus, so he goes home to self-isolate. As I understand it that doesn’t mean that I have to self-isolating just because I work in the same office. No one’s too sure of the rules but I think you only need to isolate if you have come into direct contact with someone who has it. That’s the UK rule but not the China one.

Frank Turner cancels the rest of his tour. Meaning that L’s not getting a night off from me on Saturday now. The perils of Lockdown.

Broadway Cinema announces it is closing as is Derby Quad.

L wonders whether she should go see her folks. I tell her to go as it might be her last chance for a while, so she does.

(Tuesday 17th March)

Sunday 15 March 2020

Not The Ashby 20

The Grindleford Gallop goes ahead on Saturday. I tease L with the prospect of the Sleaford Half which is still on for Sunday but I was only joking (I think) and knowing our luck they’d cancel it as soon as we turned up anyway.

There’s also the fact that we wake up, after our (possibly last) night out last night, to find it’s raining heavily. So it’s not really the sort of weather than makes you long for a 20 mile run even if Ashby have still been on. Some folks are doing a virtual version of the race instead. I think I’ll leave them to it.

When the rain eventually stops we have another go at the Bleep Test with Daughter, this time at Forest Rec and on flatter ground. It’s a case of ‘close but no cigar’ for Daughter. She did have a hangover today and she does has time to crack it. I’m in though, if they want me.

We have coffee in Homemade but they are no longer doing Sunday Lunch so we go to the Nurseryman instead.

Then a suspicious photo of a puppy arrives on WhatsApp. It appears my brother has a dog or will have when they pick him up in a week’s time and it looks like a Border Collie.

(Sunday 15th March)

Saturday 14 March 2020

A Bleeping Test

The.Manchester Marathon, and yes Brighton, join the list of postponed races. The Olympic Boxing Qualifiers in London close to spectators after the first day of eleven and then to competitors after the second. Bizarrely the Cheltenham Festival goes ahead in it's entirety.

Our hotel in Brighton is very helpful and quickly allows us to rebook for their new (optimistic) date in September despite Booking.com themselves not making it easy. I’m sure our train tickets could be a lot harder to sort.

Wollaton Parkrun goes ahead albeit with a smaller field this week of 295 and the Lad is first dog because the normal first dog is probably self isolating. We have coffee in the café and then re-enact the Bleep Test for Daughter, which is the next challenge in her application to join the police. It turns out not to be as easy as it looks on YouTube but we’ll get her there and she does have tired legs after today’s run.

With Ashby off we can at least go out and get sloshed, while we still can. I get a slightly begging email from Broadway Cinema saying that they’re still open (at the moment) and please visit us. So we go to support them, while we still can. We eat there, see a film and then have drinks later in Brewdog.

The film we see is Misbehaviour. 

Misbehaviour takes us back to the 1970 Miss World contest in a time when the contest was a very big thing. It was a British success story that was covered by the BBC and beamed around the world. Although the contest continues to this day, it is much more under the radar and this film probably marks the point at which opinion started to turn against it.

The competition was founded and run by London businessman Eric Morley (Rhys Ifans) and his wife Julia (Keeley Hawes). In 1970 they persuaded Bob Hope (Greg Kinnear) to return to compare the show again even though his wife Dolores (Lesley Manville) has still not forgiven him for having an affair with Miss UK who won the competition in 1961, the last time Hope hosted. You do have to feel sorry for Michael Aspel (Charlie Anson) who was the main host of the 1970s show but was shunted aside so that Hope could compare the finale.

As the film shows, the 1970 contest was disrupted by protests from the fledgling Women's Liberation Movement. One of the ringleaders was Sally Alexander (Keira Knightley), a mature history student from a decidedly a middle-class background whose mother Evelyn (Phyllis Logan) was a big Miss World fan and who just wished her daughter would stay at home to be a good parent to her daughter.

Frustrated by the amount of sexism at university, Alexander eventually teams up with Jo Robinson (Jessie Buckley), the leader of a feminist group who all hang out together in a commune making protest signs, writing graffiti and grumbling a lot but not much else. Alexander attempts to lick them into shape.

Together they plan an invasion of the Miss World ‘cattle market’ which is to be held at the Royal Albert Hall, where they find another more sinister protest threatening to upstage them. Earlier the same day, a bomb exploded under a BBC broadcast truck parked outside the venue. This was planted by an anarchist extremist group known as The Angry Brigade who had already been responsible for several small scale bomb attacks in the UK.

Bob Hope was mid-way through his repertoire of sexist jokes when the women started hurling flour bombs and fruit at the stage ensuring the Women's Liberation Movement claimed most of the evening's headlines.

However, a lot of the contestants didn’t agree with the sentiments of the protesters. To many the show allowed underprivileged women to realise their dreams and it also gave ‘woman of colour’ a chance to shine. Even if South Africa had to quickly come up with a second contestant to ward off anti-apartheid campaigners such as Peter Hain. Alongside their white contestant Jillian Jessup (Emma Corrin) came Pearl Janssen (Loreece Harrison, competing as ‘Miss Africa South’.  

Significantly, the winner was to be Grenada’s Jennifer Hosten (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who became the first black winner, with Miss Africa South taking second place. The hot favourite Miss Sweden Maj Christel Johansson (Clara Rosager) came only 4th. This wasn't without its own controversy with the president of Grenada Eric Gairy on the judging panel.

Misbehaviour turns out to be quite an engaging drama which is quite educational and scores highly on the post-film Googling scale.

(Saturday 14th March)

Friday 13 March 2020

A Friday The 13th To Top All Friday The 13ths

I bike again on Friday as a final leg loosener before Sunday with the organisers, Ivanhoe Runners, confirming just before 11am that the Ashby 20 is definitely on.

Three hours later it’s definitely off. It appears that one of their medical team is ill which has probably kiboshed the whole thing. They are not alone as the London Marathon is postponed until October.

The Premier League and the Football League announce that all football matches are suspended until 4th April. Things must be serious if Sky have allowed that. I receive an email from the Women’s Tour Of Britain saying that is off and it isn’t until 8th June. This is already a Friday the 13th to top all Friday the 13ths.

The loss of the football changes my week next week as I was supposed to be dog training on Tuesday but I had moved it to Wednesday because of the match. Now I can move it back or do both days, assuming dog training doesn’t get cancelled as well.

I’m also due to see Frank Turner at Rock City next Saturday but I seriously doubt that will be on although he has just confirmed that tonight’s show in Bath is going ahead.

Something is still going ahead because there’s a large group of runners emerging from the offices opposite mine. Ah yes, it’s Sport Relief. I wonder if they’re doing it to Beethoven. The challenge is to run 5K quicker than the duration of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony which lasts around 30-35 minutes. Apparently, the duration varies just like my 5k time.

L goes dress shopping tonight as planned and gets a dress for Son’s wedding, which sadly must also be in doubt. They were already faced with going ahead without his fiancée’s brother who lives in Tokyo. Even if they let him come over here, he’d have to go into isolation on his return to Japan.

(Friday 13th March)

Thursday 12 March 2020


Daughter is clearly on a roll. After passing her driving test last week, today she is told she’s passed her police interview. So she's now on to the next stage of this interminable process. All she has to do now is pass the fitness test, a medical, an eye test and a drugs test.

The Government moves the country into its ‘delay’ phase of its four stage strategy to combat the coronavirus. Last week’s ‘contain’ approach seems to have be binned rather quickly. Meanwhile, with several countries in lockdown mode, the county itself has gone into full blown panic mode and has started stock piling toilet paper. Stock piling something you can’t eat isn’t really a strategy I can understand.

Many supermarkets are limiting ‘key’ items to just FIVE each e.g. loo roll, tissues, anti-bacterial gel, dried pasta, tinned vegetables and UHT milk. Why would you want FIVE of any of them and none of them are on my shopping list at Sainsbury’s on Monday. Perhaps I’m just not getting it.

On Tuesday I run a fast-ish 8k and then bike on Wednesday as I taper before Ashby on Sunday. L goes over to Daughter's gym in Sherwood for a weights session before returning home with squirty mustard and prawn crackers. These were two items I couldn’t get from Sainsburys on Monday but not, I don’t think, due to others manic stockpiling. So, we’re all sorted for a wild night in if they quarantine us.

I meet my now retired ex-colleague for pizza at the Yard on Wednesday where they tell us that the 2-for-1 pizza offer is now only available from 5pm-7pm, which is no use to us. They assure us it has nothing to do with anyone stockpiling pizzas. Later L goes to PT and I go dogging.

The World Health Organisation declares the virus outbreak a pandemic and by Thursday Madrid marathon is cancelled, L’s sister cancels her 25th Wedding Anniversary in Cork, Nottingham Forest’s owner declares he has the virus, as does Arsenal’s manager Mikel Arteta and the new Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announces a £12bn package of emergency support to help the country cope with what is coming. It’s getting serious.

UK races start to be cancelled including some local ones like the Kilburn 10K. My fingers and toes are crossed for Ashby, who still seem very bullish about going ahead.

(Thursday 12th March)

Sunday 8 March 2020

Good Weight Training

First thing on Friday, I get an email from the Royal Mail telling me that my package, which is my 100th parkrun t-shirt, has been delivered at 07:42 but it's not there waiting for me when I arrive at work. So clearly it hasn't been delivered and it turns up at 11:00. There’s a lot of this going on at the moment and there’s really not much point having parcel tracking if the delivery drivers are scanning stuff before they’ve even delivered them.

L tells me she’s mindlessly googling ‘undertraining for a marathon’ as if it’s not something that everybody does. Which she does acknowledge as she reads yet another blog from someone who’s allegedly not trained but managed to drag themselves round in four hours.

I’m not too sure she’ll need to worry about being undertrained as there must already be serious doubts about whether the Brighton Marathon will still go ahead. Paris and Barcelona have been postponed until later in the year while Rome has been cancelled outright. Barcelona is now the week after the Great South, so I pop it in the diary. Just in case.

Brighton have offered all the UK entrants from those races a place in theirs. Somebody there is clearly feeling confident that it will go ahead. I’m afraid I don’t share their optimism.

In fact, I’m fast regarding next Sunday’s Ashby 20 as my ‘A’ race for the first half of this year. It’s still on at the moment but they say they won’t be handing jelly babies out this year in case they hand over the virus at the same time. It’s not a loss to me, they always try to choke me anyway.

L has a night out in Waterstones planned for Friday. Her friend has to cancel at the last minute but she goes anyway to pick up a book she’s pre-ordered. Then comes home laden down with several, which I suppose is at least good weight training, but she did say she was only going for one. She corrects me. She said she’d only ordered one book. Not the same thing.

On Saturday we do Wollaton Parkrun as my 101st and bump into our fellow parkrunners from Bramcote\Berlin. Daughter doesn’t join us so we take the car to manage the MD problem. L then does Pilates after which we visit the Derby Runner, where she buys some Hoka shoes, and then we go see her folks.

We stay in later and are largely AF because Sunday is the Retford Half Marathon which goes ahead. It is run by Retford Athletic club and starts again at Retford Oaks Academy where this year we manage to arrive early enough to get in the car park.

The race opens with a brief trip through the town before heading out on to country roads, with one of those annoying out and back sections in the middle to make up the distance. It is on closed roads for the majority of the route with just the last mile back to Retford on opened roads where you need to precariously time your overtaking while running on the narrow pavement.

My time is 1:45:09 this year. That’s not bad and just 9 seconds down on last year, so at least I’m consistent for once. They hand out a running vest at the end, which is different, but won’t be of much use to the majority.

Then I rush back to Derby because football is still going ahead at the moment and Derby have a 3pm kick off against Blackburn. I drop L off four miles from home because she wants to top her mileage up. I bet she was glad of the refreshing shower that the weather gave her.

We go out in Stapleford in the evening and bring home an Indian takeaway from the Park Tandoori.

(Sunday 8th March)