Le Chocolat

Thursday, 22 December 2011

I'm not really into eating massive amounts of chocolate but this blogpost is about just that- chocolate. I suppose if I wanted to make some tenuous link between the brown sickly stuff and running (to justify the name of this blog, don'cha know) I could tell you that Colin Jackson used to chow down on a fuck-off big bar of the stuff just before a race.

Anyway, that's enough about running, hurdling and Welsh people.....back to the issue in hand. So a few weeks ago I was asked to attend a Wandsworth Borough Community Awards event. Let's get this right, I was asked only after all the preferred individuals had knocked it back. Imagine the Queen getting the cold shoulder from everyone invited to her garden party and ending up inviting Gary Glitter.....it's kinda that vibe but without any connection between me and the shoulder pad wearing, bouffant headed sicko.

So I agree to go....a three course meal with complimentary wine, it's a no-brainer if you ask me. Then I'm asked to recommend a local community champion for an award , again, a no-brainer. I know a fella that's kept the local community kebab shops and off licences in business despite a crippling recession, surely a community champion. But that fella will be quaffing complimentary wine and scoffing a three course meal on the same night as the awards, so I'd best recommend someone else.

Of course! My oppo, Vince who I run the local youth boxing programme with. So I recommend him and guess what? He wins!

Of course I win too. Not necessarily because we're a partnership and he takes the award for the both of us....more because I've encouraged the wine waiter to properly fill my glass rather than those ridiculous quarter-filled measures.

Anyway, a local dignitary hears of Vince's success but is concerned that Yours Truly hasn't been suitably recognised. If he'd seen the recycling bin the next day he might have thought otherwise nevertheless, I'm summoned to said local dignitary's office. The guy is a lovely fella and camper than Larry Grayson on his way to a Liberace concert but he hands me this package and says:

'This is for you. Thank you for all your hard work in the community.'

I'm holding this beautiful pyramid shaped box; it's coloured in gold and brown and tied up in a bow.

'Thank you, but what is it?' I ask.

'Chocolates.' I'm informed.

I thank him kindly, we exchange Christmas cards and I'm out the door, hotfooting it down the road with a box of fucking chocolates.

Chocolates. Never been given those before. Beer? Yes; Wine? yes; Whisky? Yes; Chocolate? No.

Chocolates. They're the default present that you buy your aunt because you don't really know her at all.

I get back home and decide that I need to Google said chocolates to ensure they're not gonna play havoc with my lactose intolerance. Google tells me these chocolates cost £120.00 a box.

Yes, I said £120.00 a box.

Fucking expensive chocs

Although I don't dare open these chocolates because I've promised to share them, dying to see what a £120.00 chocolate tastes like. So as we enter the run up to Christmas I make do with my normal wine and kebabs.

So I'm in the kebab shop tonight..... normal large chicken doner with extra chilli sauce. The chef (!) is cooking my kebab and I'm leaning on a table reading a two-day old copy of The Sun. As I'm reading a story about a guy whose wife has run off with his dad I hear the words:

'You wanna the salad, yes?'

I sigh, and without looking up from the newspaper answer, as I do every time:

'Lettuce, cabbage, and don't be shy with the chilli sauce.'

I close the newspaper without finishing the article and fish £5.60 out of my pocket. I hand it to the guy behind the jump and he says:

'This for you, best customer. Merry Christmas.'

And I'm handed a box of Thornton's chocolates. I'm quite choked. I stammer a thank you and walk out of the place with yet another box of chocolates.

I've got more chocolate than that which is hidden behind the jumpers in Vanessa Feltz's wardrobe.

The one thing I'm left wondering is that if you're a well known chocolate chomping community volunteer, or if you consume an inordinate amount of chocolate from the local chocolate shop, do they give you wine as a reward?


Why Should the World Stop Turning?

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

I remember back when I was a lad in South London I used to listen to the patter of the adult males upon meeting another of the species. The questions asked of each other to make acquaintance were always the same:

'Alright, mate? Where d'you live?'

The answer was usually one of the various working class parishes around Peckham- Camberwell, New Cross, Catford, Lewisham, Bermondsey, Elephant and Castle, somewhere like that. In those days no-one seemed to travel very far (and they think that postcode wars are a new thing).

The question regarding one's geographical locale was quickly followed by:

'Where d'ya drink?'

On a hierarchical list that defined the male working class Londoner of the 1970s, these two factors sat atop such meaningless drivel as your wife, family and profession. You might detect a distinct lack of that particular facet that dictated the colour of one's scarf - the football club. But that answer could be gleaned from the answers to question 1 and 2 above. You wouldn't want to be drinking in a Millwall public house wearing a claret and blue coloured scarf.

The public house. The place where the men met after work to spend their hard-earned while the women were at home making sure that the spam, peas and chips were on the table. My own 'local' was the Greendale pub; the place that saw me and my brothers sitting outside on an early evening eating Golden Wonder crisps and sharing a bottle of Cream Soda.

                                          The Greendale today. Peace in the Valley
When the door of the pub opened to eject a customer and a cloud of cigarette smoke we looked expectantly to see if our old man had had his fill. Usually not. Not before darkness descended, anyhow.

The Greendale was a small community of Millwall scarf wearing men from the surrounding housing estates (with the addition of women at weekends). Everyone knew each other and there was an unspoken rank system that operated there with the hardest man at the top and the divvy fella that suffered a lack of oxygen during birth at the bottom (but he wore his blue and white scarf regardless of the weather so he was on the firm).

I don't know the position of my old man in that rank system; at the time I fantasised that he was just below the top boy, Lenny. Now I suspect he may have been just above the divvy fella in the scarf.

But my old man had a rule. Regardless of the regulars being in attendance, the one single day in the year that he downright refused to go to the pub was Christmas Day. The Greendale was swerved and the 25th December was set aside for family, presents, overcooked turkey and a sickly concoction of advocaat and lemonade known as a snowball.

I followed my old man's rule into adulthood and never stepped over the threshold of a licenced premises on Jesus's birthday; family, presents and overcooked turkey are the order of the day (I can't face the fucking advocaat).

That was until two years ago when I found myself in a position that I believed didn't exist. No one gets left alone on Christmas Day, right? The little boy outside in the cold looking through the window always gets invited in, right?


There I was, arrived home from work on Christmas Day morning. The house was cold and empty without the smell of a turkey that had been cooking since the early hours just to make sure it was drier than a nun's fanny. I shuffled about a bit, fed the fish, made a cup of tea, looked out the window and thought:

'How the fuck has it come to this? I'm at home, on my own, on Christmas Day.'

Then I had a spark of genius....the pub! So I binned my old man's rule, poured the tea down the sink, put on my blue and white scarf and hot-footed down the boozer.

I walked through the door imagining that I'd be greeted by similarly sad individuals wearing drab clothing and drab facial expressions celebrating Jesus's birthday with a pint of warm ale.

How wrong was I?

It was a veritable hothouse of fun! All these years my old man had got it wrong....the place was banged to the rafters with festive cheer, Christmas tunes on the jukebox, and snacks on the bar. Fantastic.

I proper filled my boots until it reached my two-hour window to see my youngest children so I skipped out the door to arrive home to a frosty ex-wife/partner (no.3) who was sat outside my gaff in her motor. She commented negatively on the beer fumes on my breath (such an odd occurrence at Christmas) before zooming off down the road back to the bosom of her family.

Christmas Day with the children was odd. They'd already eaten so my attempt at force feeding them turkey, mashed potato and piccalilli was met with the kind of welcome Gary Glitter might get at the opening of a new kindergarten (I thought that the mash and piccalilli might add an extra dimension to the norm but it just got a bleurgh).

The two hours came and went in a flash and as ex-wife/partner's (no.3) car zoomed off down the road I was left in unspeakable quiet and surrounded by discarded wrapping paper.

No problem, I've got the answer: pub, pub, pub, pub.

So it was on with the blue and white scarf and I'm off out the door like George Michael exiting a public loo upon hearing the words, 'Hello, hello, hello.'

I hotfooted down the road longing for the festive cheer, Christmas tunes on the jukebox, and snacks on the bar.

But as I tugged on the door that wouldn't move, and looked hopefully through the darkened window, the suspicion that was created when I noticed a lack of internal lighting was realised. The fucking place was closed. All those happy individuals earlier in the day were happy because their opposite number was at home cooking the spam, peas and chips.

My old man had got it right all those years; he swerved the pub on Christmas Day because the bastards only served til mid afternoon.

So I shuffled off home to a rerun of Only Fools and Horses and, when the beer ran out, advocaat and lemonade.

The moral of this story is this: If you're with your family this festive season, please don't take it for granted. If you're on your own, remember that the pubs close early so get some extra beer in.

Thank fuck I'm working.

Bombay Snake Charming

Friday, 16 December 2011

Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail; that's what they say, right? Well, there could be no failing this week so preparation took a front seat. With a works Christmas do which required attendees to dress in a James Bond theme in a hotel in Farnham; sixteen boxers to weigh and confirm their fitness to fight; a mad-cap dash to Weymouth for a birthday celebration (yep, as I sit and type this, single fingerdly as typing was never gonna be a requirement for any employment likely to come my way,  I've hit true middle age- 45. Ugh!) ;and an extravaganza of pugilism at the Clapham Grand, there could be no failing allowed.

Unfortunately, planning for Marcothon slipped off the agenda so a failing occurred. Run for 25 minutes or three miles every day in December. Fail.

Ho, hum!

I suppose if I had been that motivated or that ruthless in my planning I could have fitted in a 25 minute run around the streets of Battersea after preparing the Clapham Grand for the boxing and before the doors opened. But I didn't. Instead I went to the pub with Darrel Wilkins Jacobs, an Anglo-Indian colleague of mine who once graced the posts of this blog with alarming regularity. That evening Darrel was to be the MC at our boxing show.

Due to his absence you may have mistakenly believed that Darrel Wilkins Jacobs had suffered some terrible fate and perished. That's a fair bet to be honest, after all, a man that decides he's gonna set out from Fort William in a pair of flip-flops and trek his way to the airport is likely to suffer blisters and exposure at best. Then, after enquiring at a petrol station as to the distance involved, and to be told 100 miles, then deciding that a Bombay Bad Boy Pot Noodle and two KitKats will be sufficient sustenance, is almost definitely making A&E rather than Glasgow Prestwick. 

But no, Darrel Wilkins Jacobs lives!

So Marcothon got shelved and me and Darrel went to the pub. We were dressed smartly, me in dark grey suit and regimental tie and Darrel clad penguin-like as pictured above. We walked into the Slug and Lettuce to be greeted by the sight of many thirsty individuals that had aims of being spectators of pugilism some time later. Many of them we recognised as colleagues.

A certain individual sat at the bar with three friends that were unknown to us. He, on the other hand, was recognisable as an Asian firefighter that stands by at our fire station occasionally.

'Hey, Darrel, how you doing, man?' enquired the Asian firefighter. I could detect a perception of some unspoken, racial brotherhood from the guy. Unbeknown to him Darrel is more Delboy Trotter that Dev Anand.

'I'm alright, mate,' replied Darrel in his South London cockney accent.

'You're looking smart but why are you dressed like that, man?' asked our friend.

'I'm just about to start my shift at the local curry house next door mate. I do a bit of part-timing there to make ends meet.'

'Really? Wow! That's good. It's funny because we're on our way to a boxing show and you look like one of those microphone dudes! Maybe we'll pop in for a meal afterward, a few extra popadoms on the house, eh?'

I managed to supress my laughter quite easily. After all, I've had many years of witnessing Darrel Wilkins Jacobs reel in the gullible and easily duped. He recently convinced a German film crew and a number of international Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams that he's a USAR snake charmer and rids international rubble piles of poisonous serpents before the USAR teams get to work. He told them that snake charming has been in his ancestry for generations and he puts his skills to use for the benefit of rescue workers. This happened in Texas where rattlers and other nasty reptiles are abound.

It was as Darrel played an orange plastc recorder to the expectant massed ranks of American and European search teams, and the German film-makers rolled their cameras, that a rubber snake was encouraged out of a colleague's breast pocket by a length of invisible fishing line, and around fifty USAR operatives and a German film crew were introduced to the world of Darrel Wilkins Jacobs and the letters N-A-I-V-E.

So I guess I'm saying Marcothon got shelved but I had the joy of witnessing another classic performance from the snake-charming, popadom serving, Bombay Bad Boy.

Oh well, I might pick it up again before it gets too late.

At the very bottom of this post I've attached a video of Darrel in action (MC-ing.....not snake charming or waitering).

Post Script For Murdo or How I Almost Became a Legionnaire

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Murdo McEwan has asked me to enlighten the readership of this blog as to the outcome of the tale of woe regarding my encounter with a Royal Military Police dog that I wrote about in my previous post.

Did my two pals escape?

Did I contract rabies?

Do I now howl at the moon on a monthly basis?

Here's the answer:

I ended up spending that night in a cell in the local RMP post where I was made to stand to attention until morning. I was later transferred to the regimental gaol which was run by a sadistic Provost Sergeant called Jacko.

My two buddies made it back to the regimental lines and safety and in a truly supportive act of concern for my welfare got their heads down.

The next day an estimation was made regarding the cost of making good our night's activities; to repaint the squadron blocks and repair the four-tonner the bill came in at DM 60,000.00, which when converted to Stering in 1988 was about £20,000.00.

I shit you not.

Although I claimed otherwise the Regimental Sergeant Major disbelieved that all that work was my own and at a regimental parade at 10:00 hours threatened that every man in the regiment would share a portion of that bill unless the culprits came forward or were grassed on.

Of course we were British soldiers and had each other's back. Grass? Never.

By 10:20 hours the Regimental Sergeant Major was given the names of my two cohorts.

The three of us were to face a Court Martial where it was guessed that we would either:

1. Be required to pay the £20,000.00 from our salary (about £500 a month back then) which would entail staying in the army forever.

2. Be sent to the Military Corrective Training Centre in Colchester to serve a hefty stretch.

The three of us decided that neither option was too attractive so a plan was hatched to do a moonlight flit, get a train to France, and join the French Foreign Legion.

Two days before the French Foreign Legion were to be offered the benefit of our soldiering skills and artistic talents we were told that due to our previously exemplary records the Colonel of the regiment had acquired supplementary powers from the Brigadier and could hear the case within the regimental lines.

The plan to exchange our berets for Kepi Blanc were put on hold and a week or two later we stood outside the Colonel's office in our No. 2 dress uniforms minus belt and beret.

I remember the following words to this day:

'Accused and escort! By the front, QUICK MARCH! HEFT,HIGHT,HEFT,HIGHT,HEFT,HIGHT...'

Now, military justice is an odd fellow. Before you know what your sentence is to be you're asked whether or not you accept it. I never met anyone who failed to accept their sentence but I'm guessing it's the equivalent of being given the option of having a criminal case heard in a higher court.

There was no question of us three not accepting our sentence as our Colonel had done us a huge favour in gaining supplementary powers, so when he said:

'Trooper Waterman, do you accept the sentence I'm about to award you?'

I crossed my fingers and shouted: 'YES, SIR!' (We had to shout in such scenarios. I don't know why.)

'In that case I'm fining you five hundred pounds and you will serve 28 days. Sergeant Major, march this soldier out and to the guardroom.'

My two pals were awarded the same sentence and we all decided to ditch the plan to learn French.

For a while after I attracted the nickname 'Rolf Harris' and, when my monthly wage slip showed a minus figure on the bottom line, spent thirty or so days watching BFBS while the usual nightly sound of merriment drifted into my window from the squadron bar.

Thankfully, I learned my lesson and would never repeat another act that would drop me in hot water.

PS.....That last line is obviously meant to be ironic.


Dog Bit Man

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

If you're an avid reader of like minded blogs you'll know of the author that I contend is swiftly becoming the Don of the blog world. I speak of the pyjama wearing, cheese sandwich consuming former Petrocelli-like Richard Cronin who pens (taps?) The Beirut Taxi.

Richard's blog is amusing, intelligent and incisive.....but he knows fuck all about dog bites. In his latest offering he complains of being mauled by a vicious cur of enormous proportions.....and then shows us what appears to be a bee sting. Richard's story, Dog Bites Man, has prompted an act of self plagiarism and forced me to retell a story that last appeared on my blog some years ago. Of course that post is now obliterated so I'm hoping you'll forgive the self plagiarism bit, but it's essential I relate a real dog attack to our man in Cork, Ricardo.

Let me transport you back to 1988. I was a young British squaddie with boundless energy and a desire to get involved in anything that might attract the word 'action.' It was November 19th, which is the date of the eve of the Battle of Cambrai, my regiment's most glorious campaign. After an initial fantastic success in the latter months of 1917, the gains made by the British Army were lost; come Christmas almost everyone of my cap-badge wearing forebears was dead. As I type this Jona Lewie's Stop The Cavalry plays in my head.

Anyway, let's get back to 1988. There I was in the squadron bar with a few muckers remarking how the tradition of marking Cambrai by attacking the neighbouring regiment had been largely forgotten in recent times. It didn't take too many more bottles of Herforder to encourage us to mount our own Cambrai campaign. So off we trotted, clad in our usual off-duty uniform of desert boots and flight jackets, heading for the Royal Hussars barracks armed with spray cans of silver paint (my mate Matt had been covering repaired crash damage on his Cortina). My can must have been less full than the others; the significance of this will be made clear in a while.

We sneaked up to the Royal Hussars Officers' Mess, where a mess ball was in full swing, and sprayed our squadron name 'CYCLOPS' in massive letters on the outside wall. One of my more perceptive colleagues (there were only three of us)  indicated that we'd left a pretty decisive indication of the identity of the guilty party on that wall. So we added the other squadron names: 'AJAX,' 'BADGER,' HUNTSMAN,' and 'NERO.'

Then we did the same on the wall of the Sergeants' Mess.

Then on one of the Royal Hussars squadron accommodation blocks.

Then we stole a four-ton truck from the vehicle compound.

Which broke down.

In the middle of the parade ground.

It was as we were making our way back from the Royal Hussars parade ground to our own regimental lines that we heard a distant shout that went something like: 'This is the Royal Military Police....stay where you are!!'

A chorus of three voices returned the suggestion: 'FUCK OFF!'

My two colleagues made off like Vanessa Feltz chasing a departing ice-cream van but yours truly had the flash of inspiration to repeat our suggestion in silver letters on the ground.

But I was short of paint.

I rattled that can like I was making out with Madam Palm and her Five Sisters but I only achieved 'FUCK OFF R..' before a closely located torch beam was switched on and the words: 'Stand still; RMP!' were shouted in my ear.

In true boundlessly energised, British squaddie style I threw my almost-empty can in the direction of the blinding torch light and took off down the road.

Then I heard three words that really, really confused me.

'Go, Dog, Go!'

What the fuck does that mean?

I found out seconds later when I heard a growl, smelt the unmistakable aroma of Pedigree Chum, and felt sharp canine teeth sink into my forearm.

The bastard RMP was an accompanied dog handler.

As soon as I hit the ground with a massive German Shepherd Dog attached to my arm I heard the word: 'Release!'

My hairy German attachment immediately released my arm and sat down like a good pooch.

It was then that I made what was probably my second biggest mistake of the night. I mistook my canine friend's obedience to be capitulation and took off again like Sir Jimmy Savile en route to a TK Maxx sale.

Before I'd gained three feet of distance on the four-legged resident of Alsace the fucker's teeth were embedded in my right hip and he wasn't for letting go this time. It was then that I made what was probably my biggest mistake of the night. I repeatedly punched the dog in his face.

I think that the feeling of a canine tooth, gradually gouging a groove into your pelvic bone, is enough to make any boundlessly energised  British squaddie piss his pants. So that was me, nicked and banged up with wet keks and an injury that, now healed, is very apparent on my right hip. Admittedly the scar is kinda lost among other marks of battle, some that were, like the bee-sting mentioned above, etched in Richard Cronin's homeland.

Anyway, this isn't intended to black cat Richard (nor black dog), but might be regarded as proof that men that sleep in the altogether are superior to those that rest in British Home Stores PJs.



Sunday, 4 December 2011

December. The month of festivities, parties, hangovers and indigestion.

And Marcothon.

For the uninitiated Debbie Martin-Consani created this event a few years ago which involves running for at least 25 minutes or three miles every day throughout December. At the time I thought it wasn't a great deal different than many of the other idiotic challenges people I know subject themselves to. Running from Glasgow to Inverness; running from Fort William to Milngavie....and then back again; running the West Highland Way in the depths of winter. Of course none of these things involve festivities, parties, hangovers or indigestion (OK....maybe a spot of indigestion. And vomiting. And pain) so they're not the usual, run-of-the-mill winter activities.

Debs advertised the Marcothon on Facebook and on her blog and the thing took off. I suppose it's because in the great scheme of things Marcothon is achievable by anyone with a basic level of fitness and it pokes a thumb in the eye of the determined couch potatoes who see December as being the month when 99% of the population realise that indolence and gluttony are the watchwords for life.

Last year Mrs Mac and I both took part in the Marcothon. If you don't know her Mrs Mac is a tall Scottish burd with huge feet who occasionally does a spot of running. When she faltered in completing her three miles or 25 minutes I reminded her of our friend Martin Antoninus Horatio Hooper who, at the time, was on operations in Afghanistan. I reminded her that Hooper didn't have the option of having a lie in allowing Terry Taliban the run of the country so neither should we.

So here we are again running every day in December. And when I say the Marcothon has taken off, it really has taken off. There are colleagues of mine doing it down here in London, most of whom have no idea why the event is called 'Marcothon.' Even the cast and crew of Batman Live are doing it. See here.

Today is Sunday 3rd and so far I've done a three miler at night, an eight mile hilly run on Box Hill, and a 25 minute trot with Mrs Mac.

Mason (dog) has accompanied me on all of these jaunts so even he is partaking of the 3 miles or 25 minutes. He bloody loves it.

Witness The Fatness

Saturday, 26 November 2011

I was listening to a talk radio programme today where it was revealed that British women are the fattest in Europe. Personally, where the female of the species is concerned, I don't mind a bit of flesh to hang on to. I went out with a very fit and muscular girl once and it quietly disturbed me that I knew what it was like to share a bed with another fella (minus the hairy back and large hands.....that's a story about a German woman for another time). But that's not to say that I have a penchant for those adult market, female performers labelled as BBW. Golly, no!

Then I got to thinking about an excellent blog post about lard-buckets called Fat is the New Fit that I was directed to by the author of The Path Less Travelled. Check it out here. It fits in nicely with the revelation about muffin-topped, pie-eating Brit burds.

All of this talk of obesity had me dismayed and scuttling off to the gym like Vanessa Feltz on her way to an end of season sale at Gregs. I got there and was further dismayed when I saw the state of the place. David Bastard Lloyd charges me seventy quid a month and the racquet obsessed twat can't even tidy his fucking gym up!

There were barbell weights and dumbells littering the floor and bits of old tissue whose former owners had insufficient brain-matter to recall the final two stanza of the government's 'Catch it, Bin it, Kill it' campaign.

So I indulged my OCD and set about putting all the weights away. I don't wear a basebell cap in the gym, I don't wear a stupid fucking shirt emblazoned with 'don't get big get massive' and I don't leave my weights lying about for other people to put away.

As I imagined a slowly moving snake of gym attendees clad in baseball caps and stupid fucking shirts, slowly trudging their way to a firing squad, it occurred to me that not a single one of these people were fat.

It was then that I realised that there are qualities among the obese that should, nay MUST, be championed. I've compiled a list and I invite you, should you so wish, to add to it. Here goes:

1. Fat people rarely leave their weights lying about in a gym. Admittedly this is because they're at home lying on a sofa watching Jezza Kyle.

2. Fat people don't wear baseball caps and stupid fucking shirts in a gym. For the reason why this is so I refer you to point 1 above.

3. Fat people rarely win prizes in beauty competitions, so for the rest of us that leaves more burds available (or fellas of course....although women seem strangely drawn to fat men that also have the attribute 'rich').

4. Fat people almost always finish behind us in a race; so for me it matters not that I'm about as athletic as Stephen Hawking after a night on the piss, I'll always beat a fat lad.

5. Fat people prove that it's OK to eat burgers, fries and kebabs.............hang on.........I know what you're thinking...........stay with me on this one.  They prove it's OK because, to a person, their fatness is the result of a glandular problem. It's fuck all to do with an over indulgence in fatty and sugar laden shit.

So there you have it. We need to champion those women that can't see their feet and those men whose penis to stomach size ratio suggests they own a clitoris.

Witness the fitness.

Christ in Richmond Park

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Check out my bad self! I'm gonna start off this post by wittering on about running.

I occassionally run in the Royal Park that is situated in South London. The one with the roaming herds of red and fallow deer. My running in said park has yet to include Mason (dog) but having experienced the Staffordshire Bull Terrier's penchant for the close investigation of squirrels, sheep and horses I doubt I'll ever run with him in Richmond Park off the lead.

The reason for my refusal to do so is demonstrated by this video, taken in Richmond Park, that has become a viral internet hit.

The video clearly shows Fenton (dog) closely investigating a herd of red deer while his owner dismisses any concern for clear thinking and self restraint and resorts to the public calling of Jesus Christ to bring Fenton (dog) under control.

This is definitive proof that either:

(a) God does not exist.

(b) Red deer made it aboard the Ark under a false passport.

Personally, Fenton (dog) owner's behaviour made me laugh my cock off. Thankfully, when the laughter began to subside I discovered the following spoofs that confirm to me that regardless of the existence of Christ, humour resides in the souls of fellow internet users and for that we should thank The Lord.

November. More Than an Excuse for Facial Hair

Monday, 21 November 2011

A couple of years ago I tried to complete the Nanowrimo challenge. I failed miserably.

I briefly examined the reason behind my failiure, not for too long, it has to be said, as other failures occur and I end up with a backlog which I try to work my way through and end up failing at other things as a result. Failure is a self-perpetuating cycle of failure. Fact.

I contented myself with the idea that the Nanowrimo dudes decided upon November as the month for the challenge and that was the reason behind my epic fail. It isn't my fault that the Allied and Central Powers decided to call a halt to the unmitigated slaughter in November 1918; that the Tank Corps found shortlived victory at Cambrai in November 1917; that we remember the fallen of the two world wars and subsequent campaigns in that month; and that those anniversaries require my attendance at commemorative events that traditionally result in an over indulgence in alcoholic beverage.

So here I am, on the 21st November, having put myself about in front of various commemorative structures, drunk a trailer load of booze, and spent enough money to make the Greek economy a blueprint for fiscal excellence.

I'm always happy to have arrived at this place and look forward to inhabiting a body brought back from the brink of self destruction and to taking a break from quietly buying a drink that will never be drunk by absent friends. Your beer is on the bar in the Barley Mow, Graham.

Onward and upward.

To say I'm on the wagon and in the gym for the forseeable future is a lie, actually. It's a lie because my partner in the Champions Mentor boxing programme, Vince is the winner of a 2011 Wandsworth Civic Award. This award will be made tomorrow night at a three course, slap up meal with wine at the Town Hall. It would be rude not to.

Vince doesn't know he's won this award yet (one which I nominated him for) and neither does he read this blog, so I feel safe in making this public proclamation. Vince doesn't drink a hell of a lot so luckily my Borough Commander, Nigel and I will be there to make up for his lack of thirst. Like me, Nigel gets particularly thirsty at such events.

Anyway, guys and gals, here's a few pics from this weekend, care of Mrs Lee Maclean, and a quick rendition of the regimental march 'My Boy Willie.'

We will remember them.


My Way

Friday, 11 November 2011

I try to make conversation of things other than running. It's my contention that to read about it or hear about it is enough to send you off at a rapid rate of knots with a rope for a neck-tie. But I chatted with someone today who opined that many of our successful sports people find their success as a result of seeking atonement for injustices suffered in childhood.

Personally I think that's bollocks, although if one reads of the recent departed Smokin' Joe Frazier's childhood I'm willing to be challenged on that. I guess this is my opportunity to bid farewell to a man that would have stomped on the heavyweight division in any other era but was unfortunate enough (or fortunate if viewed from another angle) to share the ring with heavyweight luminaries such as Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.

Message to Joe: You were always my preferred combatant in the Ali v Frazier rubber competition. Not because you were an Uncle Sam; simply because I felt a definite connection to your march forward throwing hooks style of fighting, and indeed knew no other way to fight. If your doggedness and aggression were enough to experience victory in your final battle we'd have a cure for cancer. Sleep well Joe.

Anyway, back to this idiotic idea of childhood suffering resulting in sporting excellence nonsense. If this were true Jez Bragg would be a grit-eating muther. And it would be my grit the Blacks poster boy would be eating.

Here's why:

I've heard many people argue that the school they attended as a child was a battleground like no other. I hear this and chuckle to myself. That's because they didn't attended the Beaufoy School for Boys in Lambeth where I was taught between the years 1979 and 1984 (please don't assume I was actually present for all of my required attendance). On my first day at Beaufoy I witnessed a PE teacher kick a knife out of a pupil's hand before dropping him to the ground. Back in those days it was considered appropriate to hit the offender on the arse with a running shoe and throw the weapon in the bin.

But the in-yer-face physicality of the PE teacher wasn't just confined to the gym. I remember my drama teacher, Mr Dawson using our first drama lesson to introduce us to 'anticipation.' This involved arranging the classroom chairs in a big circle with the students kneeling on, and facing backward over said chairs. We were instructed to kneel there with our eyes clamped shut while Mr Dawson made his way around the group with a cane.

When you heard the cane cutting through the air you truly understood anticipation. You learned about pain and relief too. Your involvement in either of those experiences depended upon whether you heard the squeal and crash of a fellow pupil or felt the sting across your own arse and tumbled forward to crush your fingers as the back of the chair hit the ground.

It was as a child that I realised corporal punishment in school doesn't work. We had teachers hitting pupils for fun; when the teachers chastened their charges for something worthwhile the boys of Beaufoy wore the cane marks on their hands like a badge of honour.

To be honest none of this really concerned me. I'd grown up playing 'fighting in the dark' with my brothers, the rules of which were simply that you close the bedroom curtains and from a standing start against an opposing wall, run windmilling into the middle of the room. The winner was the last man standing. I was pretty good at that (oldest brother!).

The thing that really cut me up, and one that I realise I'm opening myself up to again for, was inspired by my drama teacher's rapier wit. You see old Mr Dawson had the ability to make a scything anagram of your name and with mine he changed Waterman to 'Wetwoman.'

So I endured years of being taunted with this sobriquet until I'd hit enough of my fellow pupils to convince them otherwise.

Judging by the argument above I should have been the Light-Welterweight champion of the world. I'm not.

Neither am I a remarkable runner so I can only conclude that:

1. The theory driving this blog post is utter nonsense.
2. My formative years weren't as colourful as I'd thought.
3. I can't sing as well as Smokin' Joe.


London Bound Astronaut

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

For anyone that hasn't yet realised it, a requirement of this blogging lark is to stumble through life experiencing the things that affect us all andthen turn them into something that might be considered interesting for the online delectation of others.

Anything else, like logging your running hours, miles and calories burned is exactly that- a log (I was being polite there, for 'log' read 'big, fat, steamy shit').

So here I sit on a Virgin Pendolino having left the Land of Jock where I ran not a step and burned few calories but consumed many. My sole encounter with ultra running involved meeting the uber-cool ultra supremo, Debbie Martin-Consani on the Glasgow Central station concourse and having a right good blether with her.

Have I gripped you yet? Of course not. The Subversive Runner is sitting on a train with a Staffordshire Bull Terrier for company having been afforded five minutes of Mrs Martin Consani's time, what's so interesting about that?

Not a lot.

But you'll agree that we meet individuals in life who make us shake our heads (God knows I'm surrounded by people, all day long, that shake their heads) and maybe make half-decent blogging material.

So I boarded the train to London and went about locating my booked seat which turned out to be one of those side by side ones rather than the preferable table seats. A woman located her seat about the same time as me and seemed slightly disappointed that she was to spend the next four and a half hours in the company of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier.....of course the tattooed South Londoner that accompanied said pooch was nothing short of an absolute joy.

A delicate and very professionally delivered suggestion by the female guard that the tattooed South Londoner and Staffordshire Bull Terrier relocate to the free wheelchair seats in coach 'C' was met with appreciation from all involved.

So there we were, me and Mason (dog) plotted up on the double seats designed for wheelchair users, with room to stretch our legs, an ability to utilise the electricity access point, and just chill out.

Then she gets on. The blog material. She's a young attractive woman bedecked head to toe in expensive designer garb. She's a recent mum and has her first born with her who's safely encased in one of those buggies that shouldn't cross minimal weight-bearing bridges and would probably withstand a Taliban IED.

She looks at me and I look at her. I'm not sure if she speaks because Bob Dylan is singing 'Idiot Wind' to me through my headphones so I motion to the empty seat next to me.

It quickly becomes obvious that it's both seats she wants. The Maserati pushchair ain't for dismantling and in any case it's so loaded down with blankets, bottles and bags that she's gonna have to conduct a boot sale to get rid of the stuff first.

My first response is that I'm a fully functioning, fit man so I'll move and give Ms Maserati both seats for her and Junior.

Then I think, hang on, she's chosen to travel with the bomb-proof buggy and failed to reserve a seat in First Class where there's more room, so fuck it, you and Junior can have the seat next to me and Me and Mason (dog) will crack on here.

Ms Maserati chooses the spare seat space for Junior's buggy, within which remains Junior, and sits in the seat opposite me.

She then spends almost thirty minutes mixing bottles of powdered milk, one of which is spilled over the laptop of the young fella sitting next to her, and getting out of her seat every fifteen seconds to check on Junior.

She's obviously concerned about being as far as seven feet and eight inches away from her first born but the thought of him/her sitting on her lap and crumpling her designer blouse is too awful to consider, so Junior remains in the buggy next to Yours Truly.

Then the unthinkable happens. Mason (dog) wakes up, stretches and his superior olfactory system detects a new arrival in our space. So Mason (dog) does what dogs do and has a sniff. Now don't get me wrong, he doesn't pounce on the pram like a deranged, rabid Hound of the Baskervilles; no, he puts his nose near the buggy and has a sniff.

Ms Maserati leaps into the air amid flying milk bottles and in a swirl of Dolce and Gabbana and Balenciaga she removes Junior, the buggy and all her shit and scuttles off to First Class wittering on about how wrong is it that such a wild cur might be allowed to use public transport.

I feel offended....never been called a wild cur before, but I carry on listening to Bob Dylan nonetheless and Mason (dog) and I stretch out again.

Then the track changes and Professor Green starts singing to me instead. Not my usual kind of tune but the Prof encourages me to put the laptop on and attempt to match his creative writing skills but all I can manage is to type this drivel, so check him out.

Rather good.

A Lesson for Alanis

Friday, 4 November 2011

In a former blog post I discussed Alanis Morissette's flawed definition of irony. I stand by my argument that a no smoking sign on your cigarette break is nothing more than the implementation of the smoking ban and dying at ninety-eight, whether you've won the lottery or not, is simply reaching the end of your life at a pretty appropriate time.

You want irony, Alanis? Check this out you warbling, wide mouthed supposed former infatuation junkie.

In an impressive act of preparation, the like of which hasn't been seen since I wore a green uniform and dog-tags and travelled the world meeting interesting and stimulating people of an ancient culture....and killed them, I had everything in place for a journey north to a strange, far away land where men wear skirts and women have a hierarchical system based on the number of their remaining teeth (Ok, Ok...maybe there's a new reader that hasn't heard that one yet).

In an attempt to secure an affordable journey I had purchased a ticket on the 05:40 from Euston to Glasgow. The limitation being that I had to be on that train and no other. Getting to Euston at that time was to involve a 03:00 wake-up, a drive to Battersea, a night bus to Trafalgar Square, and another night bus to Euston.

Everything had to be prepared, any haring around packing bags prior to leaving the house, as is the norm, might result in a tattooed South Londoner and a Staffordshire Bull Terrier standing on a platform watching a Virgin Pendolino disappear into the distance.

Bags packed, 1.25l Bad Boy fuelled, alarm set, bed time and the tattooed South Londoner is determined to get some shut eye before a ridiculously early start. On the pillow, next to the tattooed South Londoner is a mobile phone, the device which is to ensure the journey to Euston occurs according to the time-frame mentioned above.

Sometime during the night, Mason (dog) decided to occupy his usual sleeping position spread out on the bed.

At 06:15 the tattooed South Londoner wakes up and retrieves the mobile phone from beneath the Staffordshire Bull Terrier to find the thing switched off. The realisation that the Virgin Pendolino left the platform over thirty minutes ago and the weekend is fucked hits him and he considers returning Mason (dog) to his former home in Battersea.

Mason (dog) can't do tricks. He can't play dead, he can't roll over on command and he can't say 'sausages'......but he can switch a fuckin' mobile off.

Now, Alanis can use my tale above for her next song about irony if she likes. It'll match her original because it's a story of sadness, not irony.

Here's the irony: I had tickets to see the Airborne Toxic Event at the Shepherds Bush Empire. Due to my decision to take part in the Glen Ogle 33 ultra marathon I would be 450 miles away from Shepherds Bush when the band took to the stage so got tickets for their Glasgow gig instead.

When I missed the train it wasn't just my attendance at the Glen Ogle 33 that disappeared into the ether.....it was the Airborne Toxic Event too.

'At least you've got the London tickets,' I was told today, just as my mobile phone beeped to tell me a text message had arrived.

It read: 'Thanks for the free Airborne tickets you gave me, Dave can't wait to see them at Shepherds Bush.'

That's irony, Alanis: the recipient of your largesse seeing your favourite band live while you're sat at home listening to them on a CD.

A Small Car Enters the WHW Race

Thursday, 3 November 2011

This summer the author of The Beirut Taxi wrote about temptation. This concerned Richard's battling with the temptation to end a punishing training run early. I've met temptation in that guise many times myself.

In fact I've never been one for avoiding temptation, while wearing running shoes or any other footwear. If it were me in the desert rather than Jesus, I'd have skipped off down the track with the Devil to partake in bastard hot curry, rice and chips to spend the rest of eternity stoking the fires of hell (like music, it's my contention that the Devil has all the best food). Yep, if it had been me there would have been no need for thirty nine of the scheduled forty days and nights and there would be no Christianity, no understanding of moral resistance and no bland-as-shit chicken korma.

My weak willed resistance to temptation was proven in February when I visited Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. My intention was to exploit the voluntary entry fee and the undoubted attraction of the doe-eyed homeless mutts that would give my youngest daughter an enjoyable but cheap day out. It was absolutely not to give one of those homeless mutts a home.

At the end of that day I left Battersea Dogs and Cats Home the owner of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier who occupies more than half of my bed and has a diet that's significantly healthier than mine.

I truly am a spiritual wimp.

Anyway, I've decided that the time has come to face the Devil and smite him. For the past six years I have entered and started the West Highland Way Race, it became a kind of raison d'etre. Six years of training (well, planning to....and then my old friend temptation encouraged me to do something far more enjoyable. Like eat kebabs and drink wine), six years of planning, and six years of playing the race-with-no-training lottery.

The entries are now open for what would be my seventh race and the temptation is strong.

But I must fight the urge to enter and demonstrate some willpower. My reasoning here is not personal as it concerns the well being of others.  You see my old mucker Martin Antoninus Horatio Hooper has entered and so has David Ross from Strathaven.

In a requitable act of selfless duty I am sworn to perform the role of back-up crew to two men that did the same for me in years gone by. To give in to temptation would be to place crewing responsibilities on others and leave Martin and David a person short.

That's the official line, anyway.

The unofficial line is that between them Martin and David weigh the same as a small car. With the two of them running together I fear for any poorly constructed building in the near vicinity for the ground is sure to shake and tremor.

Neither man is built for distance running; both are about as incongruous on the start line of an ultra as Ann Widdecombe in a lap dancing club. This is where my skill and experience come in. I know the West Highland Way like the back of my hand and am a trained search and rescue technician.

Ok, so if one or both collapse while running it's unlikely that their considerable bulk will be covered by a windfall of leaves (a mixer-truck delivery of cement might just do it) but if they do go down I'll be able to find them. Admittedly the detail of my strategy for extracting them to civilisation has yet to be worked out but I'm working on the idea of a Chinook with up-rated winch.

The issue of temptation is one that effects not just myself in this sordid tale of ambition and ability. Both Martin and David will have to fight off the ever-present temptation of pies.

Now Then, Now Then...

Saturday, 29 October 2011

I learned today of the death of a truly important national asset. A man who's entertained and amused the populace without ever really intending to. A man whose dress sense might be likened to that of a drunken chimpanzee running naked through TK-Max covered in glue.

Fear not, Dear Reader, the Duke of Edinburgh is still alive. I'm talking of the irreplaceable Sir Jimmy Savile.

If I had a pound sterling for every letter I wrote to Jim'll Fix It I'd be....err....a bit better of than I am now (by about six quid), but my point is that Sir Jim did all the things mentioned in my first paragraph and became a fixture in the lives of those of us that are now in the middle aged bracket.
Say whatever you like about the man but he was a character.

I'm reminded of an evening in the month of June, sometime in the late nineties (I can't remember the exact year.) I was walking the West Highland Way with two pals and had arrived at the Kingshouse Hotel. We pitched out tents in the field outside and headed into the bar for a beer and some scoff. We plotted ourselves up in the scummy 'walkers bar' and got properly on it.

As the night wore on and the beer flowed we heard a mention that Sir Jim was in the main bar. This came as no surprise to uis because we'd seen the jingly, jangly, comb-overed, kiddy botherer on Louis Theroux and knew he was a regular in the Kingshouse Hotel due to having a gaff down the road (and ownership of a mountain if he was to be believed).
So we kicked a bit of the mud off our boots and headed through into the main bar to see if Jim could fix it.

As we walked through the door we saw this little fella at the bar in a black, shiny shell suit. He had the obligatory jingle, jangle jewellery and shock of dyed blonde hair. He was accompanied by about half a dozen hangers on who laughed at his jokes and bought him lemonade.

It really was Sir Jim.

'Alright, Jimmy,' my mate said.

'Hello young man,' said the Fix It man.

And so began an hour of us taking the piss out of a man that the Queen had seen fit upon which to bestow a Knighthood.

I'm sorry.

I'm also sorry that after Jim left the bar we carried on drinking and remembered from Louis Theroux's programme that he routinely slept outside the establishment in his camper van.

I'm even more sorry that we located said camper van in the car park and stood either side of it, rocking it and shouting 'Now then, now then...jingle jangle..'

I'll never get the opportunity to apologise to Sir Jimin person so I'm hoping this blogged apology might suffice.

I guess it's close but it's no cigar.


Love, Life, Hate and Murder

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

So I started this blogging nonsense some three years ago. It was initially intended as a foil to those that took their blogging, and their running, far too seriously.  Me and my old mucker Jon Vann would run along and laugh at how, if we kept a blog, we'd log our beer consumption as opposed to our mileage and record our hangovers rather than our minor injuries.
Then my blog became a reality.

After what I considered a fair start and a developing blog habit that amounted to a post every other day, I had my legs taken from under me by Big Brother. After a close shave where a change in profession became a clear and present danger my blog posts were subsequently deleted and I am now obliged to consider the ramifications of anything I say online.

This has resulted in a dearth of blog posts but an increased threat from the Romania based King of Essex in exile, Mike Mason. Mike has decided that an appropriate sentence for my lack of blogging is to drive an electric power drill through my hip bone.

As far as I'm aware this is an innovative gangland punishment and one Mike devised while attaching the bride and groom statuette to his daughter's wedding cake. You see it involved a screwdriver and a fixing through the hip area of his son-in-law's plastic representation and bingo! Mike came up with a new and untested means of persuading anyone on his radar that Masonic Law is one that is never tested.

As far as I'm aware Mike's son-in-law is a loyal and doting husband which is proven by the fact that he walks without the need for crutches. And as I'm now attached to my computer and logged on to the blogger website I'm hoping to avoid a visit by a couple of black clad, steroid-fuelled lunatics with Essex accents and a Black and Decker.

Old Mike has a funny way of mixing life, love, hate and murder.

Anyway, onward and upward. The author of the wonderful blog The Beirut Taxi, recently brought to my attention the odd practise of Geocaching. After seeing what it was all about I realised that I have other friends that already engage in this activity. Martin Antoninus Horatio Hooper had a pretty adventurous go at it when he secreted his missus's tiny (for tiny read finger sized; the thing cost a fortune) engagement ring on the biggest mountain in England.

And of course a book dedicated to the late, great Dario Melaragni rests in a secret place on the West Highland Way, planted there by our leader, Murdo The Magnificent.

If you don't know what geocaching is all about, hear this: There are nerdy treasure hunters all over the country that spend their time creating caches of junk to be hid in remote places of natural beauty. Personally I think this is simply the thinking man's means of getting past the littering laws and emptying the kitchen drawer of shit. And having now engaged in a wee bit of geocaching myself, I have to say that it goes against the grain to retrieve plastic lunch boxes full of crap from tree stumps and not throw them in the nearest bin.

But it's got my daughter out the door and up to five-mile walks and Mason (dog) is getting more exercise than Myleene Klass on her wedding night. It's also got Yours Truly out the door and doing a bit of running in preparation for the Glen Ogle 33 Ultramarathon.

That, Dear Reader, is enough about running.

On to the food of love....music.

Occasionally you happen upon a new band and they go right ahead and change your life. The Airborne Toxic Event did that. Well, I was tripping about on Youtube the other day and came across a band whose most recent album is described as 'fourteen songs of love, life, hate and murder.' They are brilliant.

I'm not sure Mike Mason is as yet a devotee but I'm sure the music could be the soundtrack to that snowy night in Rettendon back in 1995.

Ladies and Gentlemen, have a listen to The Hillbilly Moon Explosion.


Glen Ogle 33

Saturday, 1 October 2011

I'm not really sure what happened to me. I had managed around thirty-plus miles of the River Ayr Way Race before my knee started to sing, my ankle throbbed and my legs complained at being taken the furthest distance since June (actually they began to complain at mile six when they passed the June threshold, but I told them to shut the fuck up. By mile thirty they stopped listening).

As I pushed on to Dam Park and the finish my mantra changed from:

'Each step a little nearer,'


'Never again; and if I waiver please drive an electric drill fitted with a large masonary bit through both of my kneecaps.'

I decided that ultramarathon running clearly wasn't for me. In fact running should be something to be experienced only after attracting the unwanted attention of a person in the uniform of the Metropolitan Police Service.

But the sweet taste of success was intoxicating enough to consider an entry in the Glen Ogle 33 a day or so later. I think it's kinda like childbirth; after the passage of time the pain is forgotten as the sight, smell and texture of baby shit assaults one's senses to anaesthesia (that's the second time I've used that word in a week). Although finishing an ultra obviously hurts more than shelling a rug rat.

Supplement the taste of success with a few pints of Arthur Guinness's Black Gold and I'm on a GO33 application like a nun in a cucumber field.

However, after dissing the west coast based former doctor, Tim Downie in my earlier blog post, I've been challenged to a first-over-the-line-gets-a-pic-of-the-other-kissing-his-arse competition.

I don't like the taste of hairy, sweaty bum cheeks, and I'm kinda guessing that Tim's not an attendee at a back, sack and crack clinic; so I'd better get my sorry arse out the door and do some training.

On the face of it Tim should put me to bed without too much bother. His times in every race except the most recent RAW are infinitely more superior to my own, and I suspect he was just out for a bimble in last week's race. But what the fuck, I'll give it a go.

I was talking to someone pretty close to the George Groves camp this week and was told the plan for Groves' success against James DeGale was to simply to mirror everything DeGale did in the ring.

I'm wondering if the same thing might work against Tim in November.


I'm not sure I can effect an indistinguishable accent and adopt a slightly camp running style.


The River Ayr Way Race: Swimming With Sharks

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The River Ayr Way Race (Challenge). It's a reported 41 mile source to sea route that follows the course of the River Ayr from Glenbuck to its terminus in the North Atlantic (now shortened to bring the particpants' misery to an end at the Dam Park stadium in Ayr).

I've run this race every year since its inception and despite my shortcomings in 2011 decided to partake again in this, my Annus horribilis.

For me, like any race that takes place in the land of the skirt wearing man, the journey begins at a public transport hub in or near London. Due to Mr O'Leary's distaste for Staffordshire Bull Terriers aboard his Ryanair freedom birds I'm pretty much limited to the train; so it was the 12:30 from Euston to Glasgow for me and Mason (dog).

Aaaah....the train. Let the train take the strain. I may have become used to taking this idea to the extreme. Boots off, Ipod on, glass of vino collapso poured and lose oneself in a psychologically contorting world of music and alcohol.

The key to this particular journey is the timing. You see the 12:30 requires its passengers to change trains at Preston in order to reach the journey's end in Glasgow. Likewise my innate ability to time the quaffing of the wine to coincide with the journey's completion kicks in to ensure the final sip is taken as the train arrives in Preston.

A twenty minute connection provides the adventurous traveller with the opportunity to seek out and purchase a second bottle of wine to be enjoyed on the Preston to Glasgow section of the journey.

And so Glasgow City sees the arrival of a Londoner with lips so purple he resembles The Joker out of Batman and legs so wobbly he could give Shakin' Stevens a run for his money. This is, of course, standard fayre for the Subversive Runner who has a history of mixing hangover and race. But the existence of a drunken Londoner in Glasgow is like an alternative reality of the drunken Glaswegian complete with purple can and shouting at the traffic in England's capital city.

Anyway, race day and sobriety arrive and Richard Cronin, the author of the excellent blog, The Beirut Taxi, who is in town from Ireland to undertake his first ultramarathon, is raring to go on the start line having indulged in nothing more intoxicating than Strathaven tap water. His attempt to hogtie the Subversive Runner with spiced beef failed miserably as historically this particular Irish delicacy is probably the forerunner of the kebab- a normal pre-race meal for SR.

Personally I toyed with the idea of not starting the race: I haven't trained (nothing new there); I've suffered major emotional and mental kickings this year; I've been gorging on spiced beef all night. But what the heck, I'll have a go anyway.

I know I've got fifteen decent miles in me and after that I know I'll start to suffer a little. I should be able to get over that hurdle to grind out a marathon after which I'll just hang on as my body slowly begins to fall to pieces.

And so I begin the race in my normal way: no plan, just run comfortably and await the pain. I know the route but the recent wet weather has transformed the going under foot to little more than a bog and the reduced income of the local authority has allowed the nettles to grow to armpit height.

To begin with I try to dodge around the nettles with my hands above my head. I feel and look like John Inman in Are You being Served so before I start developing an appreciation of Kylie Monogue and Cristiano Ronaldo decide to man up and allow the nettles to sting me to anesthesia.

As I run I know that Richard is in front of me and I'll never catch him. In my wake are Rachel Stevenson, Tim Downie and Big David Ross. I sense their belief that the under trained wine appreciator is easily catchable and will be eaten up like a Krispy Kreme doughnut left alone with Vanessa Feltz.

This keeps me moving forward and after 8 hours and sixteen minutes the Subversive Runner arrives at Dam Park (do you get the idea that I'm not going to bore you off your tits with running shit?).

Shortly after my arrival Rachel runs in with Brian Kennedy.  Shortly after that Tim arrives. Tim is astounded that he's been beaten by an idiotic Londoner and staggers about dazed, and in a strange accent reminiscent of someone from the land south of Hadrian's Wall, repeats:

'He beat me....he beat me....he beat me...'

To be fair Tim hadn't trained either. But there's something I failed to explain the Running Fool at the time that I will detail here.

Racing against an under trained idiot from London is like avoiding a shark attack.

If the shark has been caught and is flapping about on the land it's easy to avoid his razor sharp teeth. You just stand a foot or so away and laugh in his face.

The grounded shark is me in an under trained condition and his tormentor is a fit and race-ready Tim.

However, if the shark is in his home environment and free to manoeuvre and the person that tormented him on land is now attempting avoidance he will be caught, eviscerated, disemboweled and beheaded in a frenzy of blood and foam.

The shark is me in and under trained condition and his tormentor is Tim in similar shape.

The lesson of this tale, Tim is that if you're gonna swim with the sharks make sure you're inside one of those metal cage thingies.


Goodbye Horses

Saturday, 27 August 2011

I've never been a fan of horses.

Actually, I ought to qualify that statement. I've got nothing against the beasts themselves, they look pretty majestic without a saddle, stirrups and all that other horsey paraphernalia. It's the people that ride horses that get my goat.

I suppose if I were to examine my dislike of horsey people I'd probably remember when I was a boy and was bitten by a mangy old thing that wasn't long for the glue factory. His owner, some circus numpty, simply laughed. And I suppose the fact that ex-wife/partner (no.1) was a lover of horses and told me the following might have alienated me slightly:

'I doubt we'll remain together because my love of horses will outlive and outshine what I feel for you.'

Sure enough, ex-wife/partner (no.1)'s love for horses is as strong today as it was back then (1983) and Yours Truly is nothing but a memory and a name on a filed away Decree Absolute.

So when I met Jon Vann today for an eight mile run on Epsom Downs the likelihood of meeting at least one beast and man in unison was as sure as the Pope saying his prayers.

Actually, an experience of my meeting horse riders while out running was detailed within this blog. That's now lost like tears in rain since I deleted everything after being taken to task for my online mutterings. But it involved an over confidence in map reading and being geographically confused while being borne down upon by half a dozen race horses. In that instance a promise of the rapid and close quarter delivery of a left hook/right hook combination, to rider and horse alike, was enough to deter the mounted zealots from a continued confrontation.

Sure enough, as Jon and I ran toward Langley Vale, we caught up with four or five race horses, clip-clopping along the road, with riders on their backs clad in colourful riding garb. The fact that we caught up with them ought to provide a clue as to their speed.

I felt anger and despair well up inside me. Why, when you're onboard an animal that's bred and trained to move quicker than a German eyeing the remaining sunbed, would you travel at a snail's pace?

As we approached the group, which as you might imagine was followed by a line of cars that snaked up the hill and into the distance; one of the horses began to leap about in fright.

'Do you mind?' asked the rider, as his mount pirouetted around like an organic fairground ride. 'The horse is young and scares easily. If you wait there til we're gone. Thanks.'

In the past I might have told him where to put his request and continued running. Because that's what we were doing....running. Not standing around getting cold and looking at the disappearing sight of a knob end on a horse. But just lately I've been working hard at being nice. After all, it's nice to be nice. So I stopped and waited.

Now Jon's not a guy that enjoys conflict. He witnessed my previous meeting with the mounted zealots and still comments on it to this day. But just lately I've noticed a shortening of his fuse, a less liberal approach to fools and idiots.

'You shouldn't be on the road with it if you can't control it,' said Jon.

I don't think the rider heard as his charge leaped about like a loony as the group disappeared up the hill.

'I though I might have seen you in action, there,' Jon remarked. 'Getting soft in your old age? Poof.'

'It's nice to be nice, Jon,' I replied. 'They're gone now, let's crack on.'

And crack on we did. Jon must have been training pretty hard recently because I couldn't keep hold of him. He was way in front of me as we crossed the race course and made our way off-road toward Headley.

As I rounded a corner I saw another horse approaching being ridden by a young fella in a riding smock reminiscent of a Dennis the Menace jumper. I got closer and slowed down so as not to scare the beast. In my new found guise as Mr Nice Guy I even said 'good morning' to Dennis the Menace.

As I began to speed up I heard it. It was a muttered comment but the wind was from behind and it carried the word from the rider's mouth to my ear.


I turned around but Dennis had quickened the horse's speed to a canter and was disappearing from view. I fumed and ran on, attempting to close the distance between Jon and I. When I eventually caught him he said:

'I suppose you stopped for that horse as well.'

'I don't stop for horses anymore, mate. The people that ride them are all twats and I hope they spend all eternity in a fiery hell turning knackered old donkeys into glue.'

'That's more like it,' said Jon. 'Welcome back, mate.'

The Return of Vann the Man

Friday, 26 August 2011

You're not gonna believe this but I'm about to mention the 'R' word.


I was at the gym today and after having beasted myself to within an inch of my life (when I tell you this I have to say that I wasn't actually near death; but vomiting in one's own mouth while performing 'snake press ups' comes pretty close to the extreme end of physical exertion, right?) I got a text from my old pal and West Highland Way Race veteran, Jon Vann, which said:

'I'm back. Run tomorrow?'

Now when considered in a modern, electronically enabled communicative way, Jon might be regarded something of a Luddite. He doesn't do email; he thinks Facebook is an intellectual version of the 'pearl necklace'; and to him Tweeting is what the birds in his garden do just before he blats them with an air rifle for daring to approach his newly laid grass seed.

Despite being in receipt of a text that probably took Jon over twenty minutes to create, I replied quickly:

'Cool, name the time.'

After I showered, applied moisturiser, dressed and brushed my hair (Hair? ha, ha, ha....I'll get there before you), I received a reply:


Jon and I need not specify a meeting place, as we always meet outside the Leg of Mutton and Cauliflower public house. Now, I always told people that this pub had the longest name for a hostelry in Britain. However, I recently discovered that I was talking bollocks because I came across the fantastically entitled 'The Old Thirteenth Cheshire Astley Volunteer Rifleman Corps Inn.'

Long pub names matter not because The Leg of Mutton and Cauliflower is known locally as 'The Leg' and The Old Thirteenth Cheshire Astley Volunteer Rifleman Corps Inn is known in them parts as 'The Pub.'

But even expecting Jon to type 'The Leg' may have impacted negatively on the available time to make such a rendezvous on Saturday morning so I expected and received no reply.
This means that tomorrow I will be outside the Leg at 09:00 to meet Vann the Man and might even end up with a bloggable running tale. Whether I am or not I fully expect that every time that Jon and I are overtaken by a fitter and stronger runner, Jon will utter the words:
'Twat. I bet he can't drink as much beer as me.'


Wednesday, 24 August 2011

I once heard of a guy who had never bought a record in his life (I suppose that ought to be the overarching term of 'form of recorded performance' now given the availability of CD/MP3 etc).

Well, for me I'm the opposite. I've spent my life buying plastic, CD and MP3 and if I actually had everything I 'd ever purchased I'd have a fucking big collection. I suppose I should be happy that half of my collection was stolen some years ago (the thief is now dead. Karma? I wouldn't wish that on him plus whoever inherited his record collection now owns my original 45 of Gene Vincent's Race With The Devil).

But, in essence, I guess I'm looking for an easy blog post that requires little work because I'm tired and beaten now. So here goes, in a YouTube thankyouesque kind of way:

How I saw myself as a lad:

A  few years later and a whole lot older I appreciated the idea of 'live to fight another day' so I guess things were more like this:

I guess you might have picked up on the fact that both of these songs are based on the theme of leaving.

So tonight, as I prepare to leave, I give you this. I couldn't find a song called 'Laters' so I say thank you to the late but magnificent Mary Travers.


Thursday, 18 August 2011

The thing about John Kynaston's blog roll is that shit happens to you so you have a drink. Then fortified by strong wine you write what you believe is an appropriate blogpost that conveys your pain. This piece of alcohol affected artistry then appears at the top of John's blogroll for all to read.

In the morning you decide your efforts of the previous evening were entirely self serving and indulgent so you scurry over to your computer, having woken up the best dressed man in bed, and delete your embarrassing blogpost with a contented sigh. How many people could have read it during the hours of darkness, you wonder? (I applied the same argument to a comment I made recently about a politician and got eight weeks in the cooler for my troubles).

Then you get phone calls and texts all day long enquiring about the likelihood of suicide because the fucking thing is still at the top of John's blogroll.

For those of you that are confused by the motivation behind said (now deleted) blogpost, I'm afraid I cannot say more due to my refusal to indulge myself again. But mainly I'll say no more because I'm not drunk.

Regardless of this little piece of shit, there are other little pieces of shit that may be conveyed by the medium of blog.

Take, for instance, Monday's session at the Battersea Caius Boxing Club where I coach the young, disaffected hoodies of SW11 in the art of pugilism. The aim is to create more socially aware and responsible individuals. Sometimes we produce socially aware and responsible individuals that can hit like a mule. It's the socially unaware and irresponsible individuals that can hit like a mule that provide ammunition for the anti-boxing lobby.

Anyway, it was as I was teaching one of these lads the art of defending oneself to a hook that I got dealt the little piece of shit that is conveyable by the medium of blog.

'You throw a hook and I'll place my gloved hand over the side of my face to block your hook. All the while ensuring my elbow and upper arm provide protection to my body,' I instructed. Then placed my right hand over my face and said 'Go on then.'

The little angel couldn't believe my offer. I stood there like an idiot with the right side of my head completely covered and he looked at me before smashing a right hook into the completely unguarded left side of my face.


'Thanks for that,' I said, as my eye began to swell.

Anyway, this particular individual is usually a good boy and understands fully the meaning behind the statement I made when he turned up at the club:

'This is a hard sport for hard people.'

I could do with a bit more smashing about at the moment so I've decided to take up my place in the Hell on the Humber Bridge race on Saturday night. I'm required to run back and forth over the Humber Bridge between the hours of 19:00 and 07:00.

At the end of that I may wish someone was smashing me in the face.

p.s If you haven't worked it out this blogpost is designed purely to obliterate my deleted one from the blogroll.


Soy un Perdedor or The Child That Scoffs Kebab on the Sabbath Day is a Loser.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Today is Sunday.

If you're of the religious bent you'll be at church (assuming you're Christian, of course) dressed in all your finery. God wouldn't be happy if you turned up at his house in shorts and flip flops.

If you're a traditional type of person that wasn't attracted to the 'shopping with violence' event of last weekend you'll be roasting a great big joint of beef and awaiting the arrival of your family.

If you're a runner you would have probably been up early and performed your weekly LSR (long, slow run).

If you're John Kynaston you would have done all three.

Well, beginning with the first of those Sunday events, I'm of the belief that the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands, so I gave Church a bit of a wide berth this morning. Instead I took Mason (dog) to the park.

Now while God may not dwell in man made temples I don't think he hangs around Ashtead Recreation ground either. If he does and he's responsible for the empty beer cans and used condoms he can bloody well get his sorry arse out of bed and clear his shit up (if you're reading this Big Fella, and being omnipresent I kinda guess you are, that was a joke by the way).

Regarding Sunday event number two on my list, I like to consider myself a traditional type of guy and there's nothing I like more than a slap-up Sunday dinner with all the trimmings. However, as a single father whose daughter has infinitely cooler things to occupy her time on a Sunday than dinner with her old man, I can't be arsed to cook for myself. What's left has a hierarchy of sadness that goes something like this:

A few weeks ago the absolute sadness of buying one of those microwaveable Sunday meals-for-one had me almost slitting my wrists. Then, in an act of out and out snobbery, and desperate for a Sunday dinner, I decided that a Marks & Spencer Sunday meal-for-one was quite acceptable. However, the act of eating it alone, on my lap, in front of the telly was full of such in-your-face sadness it may as well have come from Lidl.

I tried going to the pub for Sunday dinner. Apart from the fact that this type of behaviour has friends labelling you an alcoholic for occasioning a licenced establishment during daylight hours, the quality of pub grub round these parts ain't that good. So while, on the face of it, 'eating out' might appear quite sophisticated, the 'ping' of the microwave oven from the pub kitchen and the fact that you're publicly eating alone makes this infinitely more sad than eating a radiated meal at home and in secret.

Today I plundered the depths of saddoism to such a degree that I'm quite disgusted with myself. In fact, I'm so utterly disgusting that my estranged sister, whom I've heard nothing from for years, contacted me to slag me off. Yep, today I realised that microwave meals for one and being Billy No-Mates in the pub are one thing; but hitting the local kebab shop for your Sunday dinner is in a league of saddoism of its own.

I mean, the shop is open on a Sunday so you'd expect the proprietor to welcome the custom. But I'm sure after I said:

'Large chicken kebab, plenty chilli sauce and a can of Coke. Oh, and is there any chance you can arrange it on a plate clockface fashion with a dollop of horseradish sauce on the side? And put Songs of Praise on the telly?'

I caught him making a letter 'L' on his forehead and ringing my sister and saying:

'We've got that loser brother of yours in here asking for a kebab for his Sunday dinner! Ha, ha, ha!'

Anyway, after my kebab I headed off to the running club to complete Sunday event number three on my list. Now this club has a membership that are such a collection of motley individuals it's almost as alternative as my Sunday dinner. 

No LSR for this lot. No Siree, it was an hour of hill sprints before they all scuttled off wittering on about  roast pork and crackling.

If you thought you were about to get a descriptive rundown of the training session with split times and all that other bollocks, forget it. I've got indigestion.


Anarchy in the UK

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

It's a little bit difficult to write anything here without mentioning the events of the past forty-eight hours. I had planned to get all high and mighty and tell you that I'd returned to the running club after a three week layoff; a layoff that was brought about by nothing more than idleness and indolence; but I'd imagine you'd be looking into your computer screen and hissing:

'Bollocks to the running club! What about the riots?'

So while treading very carefully and avoiding falling foul of any extant policies on the use of social networking media, I offer you this:

It was Monday afternoon and in our own enclave of South West London we doubted any of the weekend's rioting and looting that had scarred other areas of the capital. After all, as I stated in a former post, Battersea has become something of an upmarket location in recent years. And when we saw groups of young, masked hoodies giving the riot-gear clad bobbies the run around outside the fire station it was more comedic than serious. A kind of Benny Hill romp in Burberry.

However, when the smoke grenades started being aimed at the fire station it became a bit more of a serious proposition. Then we heard tales of a local fire engine being targeted in Brixton and hoodies removing the axes from the lockers and using them as a means to gain entry to the crew inside. Apparently it was just the quick reaction and remarkable ability of the driver that got the crew and appliance out of a pretty sticky situation. It's not easy to perform a J-turn in a fire engine.

We pitied the oncoming watch as we changed over and headed home. One of our number didn't actually get there due to meeting a hostile band of natives just up the road who surrounded him on his motorcycle and proceeded to kick seven bells out of him. He's now recovering at home with an interestingly coloured torso and the word 'ADIDAS' temporarily imprinted on his face. Part of what occurred later that night is captured here on Youtube. The area was continually misrepresented by the press as 'Clapham.' It is in fact Clapham Junction......which is in Battersea.

Driving into work the following day was like entering some kind of war zone. The detritus of a hard night's looting was spread across the road that spanned the sealed off area of Clapham Junction. Broken glass was absolutely everywhere and the still burning party shop seen in the video above belched black smoke into the sky.

It wasn't long before we were out on the fire engine relieving the tired and dirty crews that had been fighting the fire during the night. They had done a good job considering the upper floors were inaccessible due to the staircases being burnt through. In fact, they had done such a good job that by 14:00 we had the fire fully out and the scene cool. My crew were filthy, hungry and exhausted and we began to wind the job up, all the while watched by a crowd of community minded locals who had arrived with brooms to help clear the mess up. At that stage they were held behind tape and a line of coppers but they waved their brooms indicating their burning desire to get to work (Note to self: If this type of community assistance continues I wonder how viable it will be to claim that my garden has been set upon by a gang of rioting, green-fingered hoodies?)

Just then I saw the blonde, bouffant head of a stout, suited man in the distance. He was surrounded by an entourage of hangers on and a woman I instantly recognised as Theresa May. And they were heading our way.

'Stand by, chaps,' I said. 'Boris is on his way. Look lively and make sure your chinstraps are done up.'

'Nah, it ain't Boris,' said one of my lads. 'He's on holiday.'

'He cut his hols short 'cos of the riots,' I explain.'He flew back this morning.'

As I affected my most professional stance, scanning the front elevation of the building for hot spots, I watched the Mayor's approach out of the corner of my eye.

Make sure my handshake is firm.

Make sure I speak clearly and don't swear.

Make sure I take complete responsibility for all the hard work the other crews did.

Boris was almost upon me, walking with purpose. I did a final check of my lads ensuring they weren't slacking or fucking about.

I was sure I could smell Boris's aftershave masking the fading tang of Factor 30 sun lotion.

I swivelled to meet the Mayor of London and held my hand out to greet him.

I'm sure I saw Theresa May make that hairy palmed gesture at me as Boris swept past us majestically, not even acknowledging our existence, intent on engaging with the group of volunteer cleaners, all waving their brooms like demented Mary Poppins.

'Right guys, pack up, we're going home,' I instruct my lads and we head off back to the station for a cheese roll and a round of mutual back-slapping.

So as I wind this blog post up we had a quiet night in London last night. The clue might be in the 16,000 pissed off coppers on the streets and various gangs of vigilantes. I'm kinda hoping they're out and pissed off tonight too because I'm about to head back to SW11.