Enter The Dedicated Trainer

Saturday, 29 December 2012

I have a dirty, dirty secret that I need to disclose to you, Dear Reader.

Is it that I have been secretly dressing as a woman? That I stole the contents of a charity box? That I have purchased an album of songs recorded by Susan Boyle?

None of that.

It's worse.

I have actually begun training seriously for the West Highland Way Race.

I honestly have.

Let me take you back to a former blog post where I discussed my involvement in the Glen Ogle 33 mile ultra. I had run the total of three training events over ten miles in the previous 12 months and relied on nothing more than muscle memory and blind stupidity to get me through. Get me through it did but attractive and impressive it definitely wasn't.

Anyway, Dale Jamieson commented and kindly offered to share a training programme that was written specifically for him in order to take him to the Highland Fling. I accepted his offer and he duly emailed me this creation that would see the person undertaking it virtually living in the gym during the week and pounding the trails at weekends. Now due to my commitments to the London Fire Brigade shift pattern (48 hours in four days covering whichever culturally significant days that see others in the bosom of their family.....birthday, Easter, Christmas.....you name it, we work it) it took a bit of tweaking but now I have it. I have a programmed system of torture that has seen me mixing it with the hat wearing fools in the bear pit at the gym; pedalling away like a lunatic and getting nowhere on the static bike; and plodding away on the treadmill watching my heart beat telemetrically transposed to a screen in front of me.

That's right, Dear Reader, I have become a gadget sporting, diet considered, dedicated trainer. And I'll be honest and say that I do actually feel different. In the distant past I once was a hat wearing fool that lived in the bear pit. I measured my biceps and recorded my heaviest squat. But my aerobic fitness was shit. Then I became an ultra runner and ran everywhere. I suffered every running injury known to man, looked like Max fuckin' Wall and could run remarkable distances. But my strength was lacking.

With this new training plan things appear to be more balanced and I think 2013 might be an interesting year.

Presently I'm in Mrs Mac's house where I drove after completing a shift that saw me on duty on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and the day following. 400 miles to see my burd and I'm about to skip out the door to go to the gym. Last night we had the sum total of two glasses of Cava each to celebrate 'our' Christmas and I declined an offer of a lift to the off licence to purchase some vino collapso.

Instead I went to bed early after ingesting a protein shake.

I might end up with no girlfriend and a collection of gym hats but 2013 WILL be an interesting year.


Podcasting Blues

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Some might call this lazy blogging, but I was asked to provide a podcast submission for the West Highland Way Race. This was one of a series of offerings I've made under the title of Waterman's Piratical Ramblings and it involved my memories of this year's race.

I'd like to be able to say that I can simply turn on a voice recorder and wittier on, unhindered, to create something quite magical. In actual fact, if I were to do that, I'd probably create a rambling monologue littered with Anglo Saxonisms. So, in creating a voice recording I'm first required to write down what I want to say then read it. That way I can ensure the deficiency of all swear words and cussing.

So this lazy blogging involves simply copying and pasting my words below. Mrs Mac says that this might be of help to anyone struggling with my Cockney accent that she reckons is thicker than the butter on Vanessa Feltz's toast. She also reckons that I've adopted a kind of Ross Kemp-esque, pause-for-effect quality to my voice recordings.

I'm not sure Mrs Mac's correct on that.........

But if she is..........

So be it...

The podcast can be heard here with contributions from Antonia Johnson and my pal, Keith 'Corned Beef' Hughes.


And the text, if you're struggling with me Lahndan accent:

Waterman's Piratical Ramblings.
Distant Memories of June

As I look out of the window here in South Lanarkshire I'd like to be able to say that the balmy temperatures of June are but a memory compared to the brass monkey weather that is howling outside. I'd like to be able to tell you that suffering the below zero temperatures here in December are worth it for memories of a warm and dry West Highland Way Race last summer.

But I can't.

Nope, even with the passing of six months, memories of torrential downpours and cold temperatures throughout the first night of this year's race haunt me in my sleep and pester me during the day. And I wasn't even running the thing!

Nope, for the first time in seven years I stood in the car park of Milngavie train station surrounded by individuals that looked like refugees from a Max Wall convention in need of a good meat pie, without being dressed like Max Wall needing a meat pie myself. And I'll be honest, it was painful that I'd decided not to run.

When I ran my first West Highland Way Race back in 2006 Keith Hughes told : 'watch out cobber, this race will get under your skin.' And Keith was right.  I'd walked the Way three times prior to my first race so something kept calling me back. Not sure if it was the beautiful countryside, the amazing views, the challenge of covering 95 miles powered by nothing but human endeavour.....or the fact that, as an average, there is one pub for every five miles of the route. 

But something called me back to stand on the start line of the race in 2006 and every year since. Barring this year, of course when my role was as support crew for the two physically largest race entrants of 2012, Martin Hooper and David Ross. Together they weighed the same as a small family car and leave unstable structures in danger of collapse when ever they run. And built for running these two ain't. I suppose that the other runners in this year's race could content themselves that, as they stood there in the lashing down rain, waiting to start, the sheer expanse of surface area of my two runners must have absorbed a good deal of the precipitation that fell onto Mullguy.

It was then that any desire to run this years race began to subside. By the time I stood beneath cover at the Beech Tree Inn at Dumgoyne, eating a bacon roll and sipping a cup of tea, my  desire to run dissolved as the puddles under foot became deeper. But my admiration for those running became greater. Running 95 miles in the Highlands is a stiff undertaking. Running 95 miles in the Highlands when you're getting lashed with rain is something else entirely.

Of course your perspective of an event can only ever be told from your position within it, and mine was as support for two runners who ought to have a specific weight category of their own. Kodiak Bear status would probably be quite fitting.

And as the pair ate up the miles I saw nothing but joy on their faces. I've argued before that poor weather can be defined as bracing given the right mental attitude and Dave and Martin appeared to be enjoying bracing weather.

As the hours passed I discovered for the first time what a challenge being support can be. It mixes hours of inactivity with minutes of chaos where the requirement is to receive your runner, service his or her needs, feed him, patch him up and send him on his way with a hearty slap on the back.

The real challenge comes when that runner is flagging and a judgement call needs to be made regarding going on or stopping. I've been in that position as a runner myself and I know that it's not always the competitor that's best placed to make that judgement call. As a support crew we had our first dilemma at Tyndrum when for Big Dave Ross withdrawal was a distinct possibility. The decision to carry on was a close call and, if nothing else, attempting to cover the next seven or so miles to Bridge of Orchy sealed the deal that Dave had given everything he had to that race. 

I've often heard it said that all you need to do is put one foot in front of the other and you'll reach the end. But when that footfall sends waves of pain through your legs and every part of your being wants to stop, but you know that if you do stop you'll die of exposure, but actually you don't care, and you've got to place that footfall thousands of times, then that refrain becomes pretty meaningless.  And so half of my small family car withdrew at Bridge of Orchy and was packaged up and sent on to Fort Bill for a well earned rest.

The Hooper battled on valiantly and it appeared that the goblet that sits proudly on Martin's fire place would be joined by a second. By the time I reached Bridge of Orchy, which I have to say was a vision of hell. Forget fire and brimstone, if Satan wants to create an eternal misery, all he needs is a few thousand midges and some exposed flesh. Hooper had already left the Bridge by the time I'd arrived, and to be quite honest, who can blame him given the swarms of bloodsuckers....and Sean Stone of course. Hooper stormed across Rannoch Moor propelled on by memories from his recent deployment in Afghanistan with the Parachute Regiment. With only 14 miles left to reach the finish we waited for our hero at Kinlochleven Community Centre where we shot the breeze with Julie Clark, Chris Ellis and Pete Duggan and scoffed Geraldine's delicious orange cake. A phone call from Mark Hamilton who was accompanying the Hooper over the Devils Staircase fired us into action when we were told the pair were only a mile away. 

I suppose that the passing of over an hour before our charge appeared was a good indication that all was not  well. Martin was shuffling along like an extra from Shaun of the Dead and could barely lift his feet from the ground. Dr Chris's assessment was that life was not yet extinct, despite there being very little brain activity and the Hooper might reach the end.(this by the way is a normal state of being for Martin).

It became apparent very soon that the word might was loaded with optimism when Hooper struggled to even leave the community centre. For us, the war was over and we packaged up the remaining half of our small family car.

My memories of this year's race are still pervaded by the horrendous weather. And as I look out of the window at the snow and ice here in South Lanarkshire those memories are very much alive. But I'm banking on the fact that lightning won't strike twice and June 2013 will be positively Mediterranean.

My race entry is submitted as is that of Martin Hooper the Paratrooper. Together we will weigh the same as half a small family car with a rather heavy bag in the boot. See you in June.


The Special Forces/Needs Club

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The raisin de'être of this blog has become to not speak about running. I don't like to disappoint so about running I'm not speaking.

The first rule of Subversive Running is you do not speak about running.

About the consumption of an alcoholic beverage I have, and will continue to, speak however. Of course an over indulgence in alcohol can result in all manner of mishaps and you may remember me speaking about fighting with police dogs, abusing Jimmy Savile and running in my underwear. By the way, I may resurrect the Savile story in the strongly held belief that I will become a national hero for making one night of the Jingle Jangle sex offender's life a complete misery.

Anyway, this is another story of an overindulgence in alcohol that occurred just over a week ago. It began with an invitation from my pal, former soldier, former firefighter and current body guard, Boris, to accompany him to the Special Forces club to hear Simon Mann's tale of serving a 34 year jail sentence in Equatorial Guinea for trying (and failing) to overthrow the government.

Before I go on there's something you should know about the Special Forces Club......it's a club......for current and former members of the special forces. Although the term 'special forces' has undoubtedly become more inclusive in recent years, it still fails to recognise the membership status of the Pickled Liver Gang of the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, a group of nefarious individuals of which I was a founder member.

Now Boris is a colourful character and a former Non-Commissioned Officer of the Parachute Regiment, but a member of the special forces he's not either.

So how did a pair of ne'er do wells like us get such an invitation? I don't know. I just grabbed the opportunity with both hands, chucked my suit and regimental tie on and hot footed it down to Harrods to meet Boris.

As I stood outside the Qatari owned department store in Knightsbridge I felt somewhat out of place surrounded by the increasingly rabid Christmas shoppers. It definitely feels that the celebration of Christ's birthday gets earlier every year and as that occurs so my bah humbug attitude becomes more deeply entrenched.

Then, across a crowded I street I saw an equally uncomfortable looking suited man. Boris.Hands were shaken, backs were slapped and the two of us trotted through the streets of Knightsbridge to arrive at an anonymous town house in a small back road. From the outside the building really did appear to be nothing more than one of many upmarket residences, that you would assume was Arab owned and lived in for about a week every year.

But once through the door it was like stepping into a museum of militaria. The walls were adorned with photographs and paintings of derring do and the dudes that do that. In a lounge off the hall sat two officer types wearing tightly knotted ties and with their bouffant hair Brylcreemed back. They were engaged deeply in conversation and I wondered  what acts of valour they were discussing (in reality they were probably chatting about the increasing cost of brogue shoes and corduroy trousers).

Boris led us up a winding staircase to a bar on the first floor. A bar. Immediately I felt quite at home.

'What are you drinking mate?' I asked.

'A nice cup of tea, I think,' replied Boris.

'Fuck off, tea!! BEER!' I insisted.

'Nah, beer has been properly fucking me up recently.'

'Wine then.' I insisted, and before Boris could resist two large glasses of red were on the bar in front of us. Now, there are two things that you should know about my relationship with El Vino:

1 I fuckin love it.
2 I drink it like beer. That's to say that there's none of that sipping nonsense, just full on quaffing.

And so the scene was set for a mishappening. Some three hours or so later Boris and I were reeling like David Blunkett on ice while some geezer was wittering on about the terrible conditions in an African prison (sorry Simon Mann, I'm sure your lecture was very interesting but we were blitzed).

At some stage that afternoon I had an unusual flash of common sense and decided that I needed to get home. Two taxis and a train eventually delivered me to my door and I was back in the bosom of Chez Waterman. Here's the deal: living without the company of another adult is not necessarily my chosen state of being. But a Staffordshire Bull Terrier wags his tail and is happy to see you regardless of the time of day or night, regardless of how long you've been away, regardless of how much of the household budget you've just spunked and regardless of your level of inebriation. As I recall from my former marriages, the same cannot be said for a wife.
Anyway, it was shortly after that I discovered that I had mislaid my jacket, tie and phone. The precise location of my car was a bit of a mystery too.

A sorry for myself phone call was made from my landline to Mrs Mac who proceeded to say most of the things that one might expect from a person mentioned in the preceding paragraph. After mourning the loss of my possessions I went to bed and slept like a dead man.

As is always the case, the morning brought daylight and the realisation that I'd better get things sorted. Report my phone as lost, buy a new regimental tie, and take a pair of jacketless suit trousers to the charity shop.......

Right, I've got to go to work......check in later for the end of the tale.

Back from work.....famous last words: on Tuesday I stated: 'I don't care if I never get deployed to a USAR incident ever again.' Today, at 09:30, guess what? That's right, I got deployed to a USAR incident.

Anyway, so there I was, in my pants in my bedroom telling Mrs Mac that my phone is now reported as lost and I'm about to skip off to the charity shop with a pair of strides that once had a matching jacket.

I open my wardrobe to retrieve a pair of Levi's and ........ What the fuck?? My jacket and tie are hanging up.

Memories of the afternoon's events slowly return and I recall staggering through the door and hanging up my jacket and tie.......I check my trouser pockets for my phone and realise it's absent. I reach into the inside breast pocket of my jacket that I believe is still on my back to discover no jacket.....then I realise my tie is no longer around my neck......the few seconds between hanging up jacket and tie and believing I'm still wearing them are lost in an alcoholic fug.

So, another mishap caused by an over indulgence in fermented grape juice. All I can say is that no one was hurt in this event and it provides a signpost for life.

Another thing I'd like to say is how boring must the life of a teetotaller be? Never fighting with police dogs, never running in your pants and never losing stuff that you were wearing just seconds ago.

And, of course, never making one evening of Jimmy Savile's life an utter misery.......I think I'll have to resurrect that Jimmy Savile post.


Glen Ogle

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

As I hobbled to the pub after completing the Glen Ogle 33 Ultra Marathon last week I said to Mrs Mac:

'One of these days I'm going to actually train for one of these races and show every one what I can really do.'

Talk is cheap, Dear Reader, but I'm not sure for how much longer I can put my body through this. For most of the attendees at the GO33 it was a short, end of season race, just seven miles longer than a marathon.....a mere walk in the park. For me it was my longest run since March's equidistant Dee 33 and my third run beyond 10 miles this year.

My preparation for this race began a month or so again when a medical professional told me that my ultra running days are over. This was obviously a simple tick in the box for her and the successful deletion of a malingering fuckwit.....she obviously has more deserving cases of asylum seeking HIV sufferers to concern herself with than this tax-paying UK citizen...that's what your average Daily Mail reader might say anyway..... not me obviously.

The next stage of my race preparation came with a whirlwind, four-day visit to Miami where I slept for about five hours complete. In the drinking stakes I managed to smash every American I could find into an early bath, and while I stood in glorious victory on the bar I wasn't exactly shoulder to shoulder with other ultras runners.

The final episode of my race preparation occurred the night before the race when Mrs Mac and I arrived in Strathyre, the locale for start and finish of said race. We checked into a fine B&B that accommodated Mason (dog) quite happily (by the way, why wouldn't you accept a house-trained, four legged hound in your establishment when you'll happily house a two-legged Londoner who recently shit the bed in a cottage in Devon?) and hot footed it down to the pub.

We spent a pleasant evening quaffing ale and chatting with other ultra runners. For me the detail became slightly blurred after the eighth pint but I do remember being surrounded by friends at 01:30 and satisfying myself that it was not just me that would be on the start line in a little over six hours. I remember too forming the letter 'L' on my forehead with thumb and forefinger when I discovered that everyone else in the bar except Norrie McNeill were race officials and didn't have to run a step the following morning.

The race itself started on a bastard hill. I wish someone had told me about this which might have prevented me haring off like an idiot.....although to be fair, it was probably my only opportunity to look good.

I ran for some time with Mark Hamilton and Stan Bland and shot the breeze. Both are West Highland Way pals who I feel a close bond with. In reality they tolerate me like I tolerate the educationally subnormal bloke that pesters me at the fire station......and in a similar way they ran off and left me with a never to be fulfilled promise of: 'Don't worry, you'll catch us up.'

I ran the rest of the race alone. The relationships I managed to form with the individuals that ran past me are probably on a par with those that are created by the struggling actresses that consider Ron Jeremy a sweetheart. But I cracked on and ate up the miles like Vanessa Feltz in a Krispy Kreme Donut factory where the fire alarm has just gone off.

I managed 26 miles at a decent pace then felt the pain of a man that's been properly on the piss for the best part of 2012. Then at about 30 miles I felt so much pain that a walk in was on the cards. This bothered me not because all I really wanted was to record a finish which I did at over six hours. How much over six hours is on the public record and I care not to look at it, just that I recorded a finish.

My plan now, Dear Reader, is to train for one of these races and show everyone what I can really do. And that plan is live and well in my brain......however, in front of me exist a bottle of wine and an almost eaten chicken kebab.


Miami Virtue

Friday, 2 November 2012

Richard Cronin, the author of the excellent Beirut Taxi blog, stated that it would be a miracle if the 14 individuals that headed out to Miami last week returned without attracting the attention of the local law enforcement agencies.

Let me tell you Dear Reader, that a miracle has occurred. Having been one of that number, and possibly the most likely to have been accommodated in Guantanamo Bay, I can confirm that we all touched down in Blightey after four days in Miami without being interrogated by anyone more official than the US border staff.

And how inebriated on officialdom are they? Sporting the most dour poker face, the one that had the power to send me back to Britain without seeing the outside of the terminal building asked me:

'What are you doing here?' 'I've just got off an aeroplane and the only way I can get into the country is passing through security. What the fuck do you think I'm doing here, looking for a vasectomy?'

'What's the purpose of your journey?' 'I'm here to indulge my British prejudice that all Americans are fat and have no sense of irony while you marvel at my poor dental health.'

'How many others are travelling with you?' 'I believe the jumbo jet I just flew in on holds a maximum of 600 passengers, 10 crew and a couple of pilots. You do the math.'

'Where were you born?' 'Into the arms of a mother who really wanted a daughter. Should I have therapy?

How much money are you carrying?' 'Not enough to achieve the same level of obesity as you but enough to get so obliterated in the bar that I may as well be in Croydon.'

Of course, my real answers to his questions were meekly muttered single word answers. The trip had cost me £800 so playing a wise guy at the airport would have been my biggest financial indulgence ever.

He then directed me to a finger print reader and proceeded to instruct me, using hand signals only, on the correct technique for providing my dabs. The CIA can now track my presence across their 50 states by deploying a fella in a Columbo style mac dusting any and every surface that I've come into contact with.

Before we knew it we were through security, claiming our bags and climbing into a great big people carrier driven by a muffin-topped Hispanic woman. On arrival in Ocean Drive I was expecting a scene straight out of Miami Vice. However, Hurricane Sandy, which was passing northward, turned the place into something resembling Brighton on a wet afternoon.

Luckily, but not so for those on the eastern seaboard, Sandy buggered off the following day and it really did become an idyllic paradise. There was nothing that would have persuaded me to fulfill Richard Cronin's premonition and suffer an early bath so I remained a good boy for the duration of my stay. One that was set afloat on a wave of beer, right enough, but one that was typified by good manners and toleration.

Now I'm home and back to the real world. After a few days jousting with the natives of SW11 I'm heading north on a Virgin Pendolino to see Mrs Mac and Mason (dog). Also to attend the Glen Ogle 33 mile ultra marathon tomorrow. That's right, the specialist I saw a few weeks back told me that my ultra running days are but a memory.

Pah! What does she know? So little that I submitted an entry for next year's 95 mile West Highland Way Race. Richard Cronin is considering an entry for the same race but at present is more fixated with growing a moustache and pair of bugger grips so large that he'll be mistaken for Tosh Lines off  The Bill.

This is all in a good cause of course......that of Movember, when men worldwide grow facial hair for charity. I would like to get involved but am more akin to Johnny Depp than Brian Blessed in the facial topiary department. Any early start I might have enjoyed in Miami would have been blown away by Hurricane Sandy and things are looking pretty stormy in the Land of Jock.

How To Avoid An Unfortunate Event Free Future

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

I'm sitting on a Virgin Pendolino from Glasgow to London without my four-legged travelling companion. He's staying in the Land of Jock as I'm about to embark on a trans Atlantic adventure - more of that in a while.

Despite feeling like I've had my right arm removed it's no doubt a good thing that Mason (dog) remains with Mrs Mac. The poor little fella has completed more train journeys that Casey Jones so remaining surrounded by skirt wearing men but free to roam is preferable to being banged up on one of Richard Branson's loser cruisers.

My short time in Scotland was highlighted by a day out on the West Highland Way where Mrs Mac and I went to check on a memorial post to a departed friend and a secret cache that exists just off the Way. The cache contains a visitor's book and an order of service from our friend's funeral.

Our West Highland Way trip began with a drive to Beinglas Farm where we changed into running attire before setting off in a southerly direction toward Loch Lomond. Now, I'm not a fella that usually feels the cold but a chilly nip about my knackers dictated a pair of Lonsdale trackie bottoms over my running shorts. This particular garment is OK for looking cool in the boxing club but lacks the Max Wall tightness that allows free movement in the leg department. The result was that I bimbled along the path slowly rather than ran (I hate the term but it's true....I was more jogger than runner).

Mason (dog) skittered about until deciding to carry a log that was bigger than him which gave him some purpose. Mrs Mac plodded along at a decent pace despite complaining that her running had been more dormant than Vanessa Feltz's gym subscription.

After a short while we arrived at Dario's post where we posed for a couple of pictures. The post, now a couple of years old, remains in good nick. Six months ago some arse-wipe decided to give it a bit of a kicking but failed to dislodge it. The post's resilience is testament to the 20kg of post mix that Tim Downie, Mrs Mac and I used to sink it during a clandestine operation back in 2010. It appears that no more attacks have been visited upon the memorial apart from the name 'Vincent' being scored into the post's lead cap. Vincent, if you happen to be reading this, you are a knob.

At this point the sun had cleared the sky and I was sweating more than a gerbil in a gay bar, so I whipped off the trackie bottoms and set my legs free. We set off again and I immediately felt like Usain Bolt after drinking a rather large espresso. I surged over the rocks and roots an leaped over puddles like a hurdler on speed. At least that's how it felt in my mind....in reality I was probably moving like David Blunkett on ice.

We reached the secret cache to discover it free from its hiding place. After checking the contents were dry and signing the book, we carefully re wrapped it and I set about giving the cache a coat of winter camouflage. The rocks that once covered the cache were scattered about so I replaced them carefully. It was then that I discovered precisely why the secret had been discovered. Someone had chosen the spot to make like a bear in the woods and had used the rocks to cover their movement. A movement that was now stuck to my fingers along with some decaying toilet tissue. Nice.

A visit to Doune Bothy where fresh water and some antibacterial hand wash were available prevented the likelihood of contamination by some pathogenic virus then we were off again.

Our return to the car a couple of hours later chimed with the setting sun and a dipping of the temperature. All in all it was a fine day out on the Way and a healthy precursor to the trans Atlantic adventure mentioned above.

Tomorrow I head to Miami for four days with eleven friends to celebrate the retirement of my Borough Commander, Nigel. Yep, you read that right.....Miami. For four days. For three of those days we are required to wear fancy dress. So I have a bag packed with a few items of sensible clothing plus a toga and associated accessories, a kilt, and a set of surgical scrubs.
Oh, and then there's the planned snorkelling trip in an ocean that teems with sharks and other marine predators.

The trip has the potential for being messier than my hands after discovering the human shit earlier this week. Mrs Mac has stated that she can think of nothing more hazardous to an unfortunate event free future than twelve middle-aged drunken men dressed like idiots in a country where the law enforcement agencies don't take too kindly to British humour.
Laters (I hope).

Note Well. Read Closely.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

This blog post provides something of an update to the resurrected offering that was discovered among my sent emails. That particular post was written in March 2011 by a man about to encounter major change in his life; the sharing of his self and home with another adult; the landscaping of his garden and a makeover to his decor; and a possible uplift in his running.

It seems that some of my readers (well, at least one) were confused by my reposting an 18 month old offering. Let me make it clear:

1. My garden never did get sorted.
2. I still need to get busy with a paintbrush.
3. I'm no longer 'a man with a successful career in the fire service.'
4. Mrs Mac turned down the job she secured in the beautiful south to spend the next 18 months tirelessly job seeking in Scotland.

Regarding point 4, I'm interested in this oft heard claim that 'you should feel lucky that you have a job.'

Let me put you right about that: Most of the idiots you hear quoting that refrain are the same that complain about work-shy benefit scrounges. Get this, you can't have it both ways. Either society depends upon its citizens working and playing a role, in which case a job of work is a basic human right; or employment is a condition of fortune, in which case you have to accept that those without paid work need to be supported.

Anyway, that bit felt a bit heavy so let me cheer things up by telling you a tale of an intelligent
university educated woman with excellent social skills who found herself the victim of the coalition's cuts agenda and made redundant from her job.

She never gave up, she accepted knock back after knock back but stayed on her feet. She kept busy creating a successful ultra marathon and creating things of beauty from wool and cotton. She also travelled to London to deliver health intervention messages to young, disaffected young people in deepest, darkest Battersea. Imagine a dozen or so young men of South London, some the size of brick outhouses, mesmerised by a bespectacled Scottish woman and lapping up the information she had travelled to impart. Remarkable.

Last week, after 18 months of disappointment, she secured a job as an operative in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Well done, Lee Maclean. You deserve the 150 positive comments you received on your Facebook   page and you will be a success in your new role.

To Maureen Lyons, my former ma-in-law, keep reading this blog but please read closer what I've said.


Tattoos of Memories

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Time served readers of this blog will remember the en masse cull that I performed 18 months ago when three years worth of blog posts got flushed down the loo like a junky's wrap when the Old Bill come knocking.

Well, I was at work today trawling through my sent emails looking for something regarding an attendance at the Annual Service of Remembrance in Battersea Park. While hundreds gather at the Cenotaph in November a rapidly depleting group of former servicemen and women gather around the plinth in the Park to remember the residents of SW11 who paid the ultimate sacrifice. I like to ensure that the local fire station recognises the debt we owe them and its personnel appear alongside those on parade. Anyway, in searching for that email I discovered a number of saved blog posts from the 'lost' series.

As I read through them memories came flooding back and I've decided to post one here to show how you never know how something might occur to mess up your life plans.

Check it out:

The lyrics to Green Day’s excellent song, Good Riddance go:

‘Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road.
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go.
So make the best of this test, and don't ask why.
It's not a question, but a lesson learned in time…’

And so it feels that I’m rapidly approaching one of those forks stuck in the road

More of that in a while.
As I look back at the past four years, since I separated from ex-wife/partner (no.3), I see a directionless period of time marked by chaos and self destruction. When the time comes for my eulogy to be written, the period 2007-2011 will be known as ‘The Wilderness Years.’ Either that or ‘The Four Year Period When a Man With a Successful Career in the Fire Service Became Famous For Being a Pirate Whilst Simultaneously Having a Fuckin’ Good Go at Draining the European Union’s Wine Lake.’  

In searching for metaphors for my life I’m required to look no further than my wildly overgrown garden and my long undecorated house. But do you know what? I could live with the slowly deteriorating décor, the flaking paint and peeling wallpaper, because I knew it was easily within my grasp to turn that around.

But the garden?

My fingers are the colour of London Stock Brick rather than Monty Don green. In fact I kept my sitting room curtains closed so I didn’t have to witness the bio-diverse ecosystem that was developing outside my widow. It got so bad that I was even too embarrassed to employ a gardener to tackle it (not to mention the extortionate sum it would cost to level what was essentially a forest).

Then last week Mrs Mac arrives on a short trip south and in a matter of hours the garden is (partially) transformed.

And right there is the fork stuck in the road.

Not the dawning realisation that my life is destined to be one dominated by weekend jaunts to the garden centre and Gardener’s Question Time…..I mean, get real.

No, I’m talking about the one-time running club president and soon to be unemployed Mrs Mac.

For she learned recently that her employment is about to become a victim of the coalition’s cuts, which for her, became her own turning point in the road. It motivated her to make the decision that employment opportunities are greater in the beautiful south plus there’s a deteriorating garden, surrounding a deteriorating house, that contains a deteriorating man, that needs rescuing.

Yep, me and Mrs Mac are about to move in together.

By way of justifying the title of my blog and its raison d’etre, I wonder what this will mean for my running.

Well, one of two things I guess.
  1. I’ll find a level of contentment that has been missing for four years and will benefit physically, psychologically and morally and will become an absolute success as a runner.
  2. I’ll settle in to a life of domestic normality and will become fat, slow and join the Neighbourhood Watch and run absolutely no where.

Whichever one holds true the tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial will be recorded within this blog.

Of course there could be a third option I’ve not explored………………
  1. Mrs Mac may succumb to my unorthodox style of living, leave the secateurs to rust, and develop a taste for very strong wine and kebabs.


Asking Multiple Miggs

Saturday, 29 September 2012

It was brought to my attention that everyone else's mind isn't as decadent as my own and some of what's posted here is a complete mystery to most right-minded individuals.

The example that was used to prove this was the title of my blog post dated 14 September entitled 'Seagulling. Quite literally.' Mrs Mac admitted to being confused by my reference to sea gulls when the post concerned a visit to see the gannets that live upon Bass Rock.

Dear Reader......if you understood the reference please either bugger off elsewhere and read about split times, nutrition, the latest vibram soles and all that other shite, or indulge me.

If you didn't understand it either stand by to have your mind soiled or bugger off elsewhere and read about split times, nutrition, the latest vibram soles and all that other shite.

You'll remember in the Seagulling blog post my telling of the young lady that was in our boat with her boyfriend, right? You'll also remember me explaining how a deposit of bird shit descended from the sky and landed on the woman's face, right?

Hold that thought.

Now let me take you back to the last time you saw the film Silence of the Lambs.

Remember the bit where Clarice Starling enters the subterranean cells that house Hannibal Lecter and a collection of other criminally insane loon-balls? Remember the bit where Multiple Miggs flings a deposit of ejaculate through the bars of his cell and it lands on the unsuspecting Starling's face?

That's Seagulling.

Anyway, I'm now going to mention another poisonous, filthy word: Running. Or a lack of it.

As I've mentioned elsewhere, I've been suffering a medical condition that has rendered every running session over ten miles a complete disaster for the best part of nine months.

But enough of my erectile disfunction (I'll get that in before Richard Cronin does). This was about the problem I've had with my sciatic nerve.

I attended a referral at the Medwyn back pain clinic this week where I had an appointment with an orthopaedic specialist. The Medwyn back pain clinic is housed within one of those big, modern NHS establishments that do pretty much everything except hospitalise people. And the specialist was a middle aged fit burd with headmistress spectacles and a sharp skirt suit. In an under-the-counter video she would have been the archetypal MILF and the referral would have been about two minutes of chit chat before descending into a choreographed gymnastics session.

But what really happened was a lot of poking, squeezing, bending over and hitting with one of those little hammers.............and yes I do realise that I may have just described a choreographed gymnastics session in one of those under the counter videos.

So what of the Specialist MILF's opinion regarding my running future?

It went like this:

'Your ultra running days are over, just accept it.'

I left the medical centre feeling pretty glum. I drove from there to Battersea Fire Station to start my shift and considered my options:

1. A return to boxing where running is limited to five or six miles of road work. The pros are that I'll maintain a good level of fitness and get to dance with the Devil again. The cons are that I'll get beaten up every week by younger, quicker hard bastards.

2. A return to gym based weight lifting where running might be limited to a warm up on a treadmill. The pros are that I'll build a stronger body and lose the malnourished, POW-escapee look of the ultra runner. The cons are that I'll have to buy a baseball cap, a shit-load of fake tan and walk about like I'm carrying two rolled up lengths of invisible carpet.

3. Forget any idea of fitness training at all and join the legions of fat couch potatoes that watch Jezza Kyle all day. The pros are that I'll save a fortune in gym fees and I might get offered a spot on Jezza's show. The cons are that I'll end up stinking of body odour and get bed sores.

4. Dismiss the Specialist MILF's advice as her simply ticking a 'problem solved' box by the most expeditious route and carry on regardless. The pros are that it might work and I'll return to running when the problem solves itself. The cons are that it might not and I'll maintain a malnourished, POW-escapee look while never actually achieving anything but a DNF.

Decisions, decisions.

I wonder what Multiple Miggs would do?

The Murdo

Saturday, 22 September 2012

The River Ayr Way Race came. And it went.

During the months running up to the race I had hummed and hawed about submitting an entry then with only minutes to go before closing I fired off an application despite knowing I wasn't fit. The River Ayr Way has a special place in my heart and I wanted to be part of it despite knowing that pinning a number on was quite pointless.

The truth is that an ongoing medical issue is preventing any training so to be honest, I'm about as bothered with racing as David Cameron is with the homeless.

Despite being unfit, and that being my excuse for going out for a ten mile trot before sacking it, I find it hard to find any real motivation for running. I stand on the start line of races with runners who appear close to hyperventilation and wonder what the fuck all the panic is about. Then I trundle off and whatever happens happens.

On Saturday, at the River Ayr Way Race, I got to the pub in Failford and drank Guinness. I got there by car after running to the second checkpoint and deciding that staying with Mrs Mac, Wee Hannah and Mason (dog) was far more preferable that continuing on. It seems that the fire in my belly may well have been extinguished.

Richard Cronin reckons that I've achieved such an elevated, Zen-like condition that I no longer have to run. In reality I simply don't give a fuck and stand more stead by interacting with people socially than by beating them in a race.

Anyway, the few lines above are really just hors d'oeuvres for another video blog post. If you wondered how one might mix alcohol, olive oil and fiery chilli sauce to achieve a creation that has been Christened with the same nomenclature as a particular Edinburgh based ultra runner.....have a gander.

The Murdo from Subversiverun on Vimeo.

Seagulling. Quite Literally.

Friday, 14 September 2012

This has been something of an extended stay in the Land of Jock. I arrived some time ago, the precise date and time are lost on me at the moment, but it's been long enough to become accustomed to off licences that fail to serve after 22:00 and legions of school children that prowl the town at lunchtime eating various items of battered and deep fried foodstuffs. Not just the usual chips, fish, sausage and chicken nuggets; but also black pudding, pies, pizza and chocolate. I shit you not.

A plan had been set for a trip to Mull and an engagement with Sea Eagles. However, wet and stormy weather on Scotland's west coast sent me and Mrs Mac scuttling for the balmier climes of the east coast where we set up camp in Belhaven. A few days walking on long, clean, sandy beaches, eating lobster and chips, and sharing a tent with a Staffordshire Bull Terrier were topped off with a boat trip out to Bass Rock, a volcanic plug of phonolitic trachyte rock a mile or so out from North Berwick. There are no Sea Eagles resident on Bass Rock but there are some 200,000 gannets occupying just about every and any survivable surface on the rock. They squawk, shriek, strut about and shit on the ground. The only other place I've witnessed so many birds behaving in such a manner is Croydon on a Saturday night.

 I guess that an open fishing boat, bobbing about in the North Sea with 200,000 gannets flying about, might be an unintended target for a spot of guano. And indeed during said trip, some airborne bird shit did indeed head southward into the open boat. Directly onto the face of an attractive, blonde woman that was enjoying a wee seaborne sojourn with her boyfriend. As I witnessed the white, sticky substance hit the woman around her mouth I had an odd flashback to a video I once watched. One that was purchased from underneath the counter of the local video shop. The female reaction to the facially accommodated bodily function failed to concur with what I'd seen on the TV screen, however.

Anyway, on to matters running. The River Ayr Way Race is almost upon us and I've done fuck all training. I have secured an entry to the race but have serious doubts as to my ability to run for 41 miles without the wheels seriously falling off. At this time I'm in two minds as to whether starting the race is a good idea. At the very least a tale of pain and early withdrawal would provide an antidote to all the crowing, 'I'm so great' blog tales that are bound to appear afterward, but that really shouldn't be a reason for taking part.

What I've discovered is that if I do run the race, and subsequently decide to withdraw, it's unlikely that I'll be able to make myself understood anyway and will have to run to the finish. I initially realised the perceived alien nature of my accent when attempting to purchase soup for Mrs Mac's lunch. The woman serving me responded to my request for 'a serving of yer finest loop-the-loop and a bread roll, love' with a cocked head and a confused smile. I eventually exited the cafe with a polystyrene cup of soup and two slices of bread. But today a trip to KFC, coupled with an Asian purveyor and a Cockney customer, resulted in twice the amount of fizzy drink ordered and a complete lack of the requested corn on the cob ('two bits a cawn, mate' obviously translated as 'please furnish me with enough Pepsi Cola to sail a fuckin' battleship.').

Mrs Mac has noticed an odd occurrence where, rather than taming my Cockney accent in the face of confusion, I actually broaden it as I attempt to make myself understood. This isn't something I do intentionally, although I do hear a South London accent bouncing off the walls and wonder if Ray Winstone is in the house. I should point out that this isn't my first time in a faraway land where men wear skirts and women have a hierarchical system based on the number of their remaining teeth, and I appear to have got along OK thus far. So maybe the Jocks are becoming more Scottish or I'm becoming more Cockney, I'm not too sure, bless ya cotton socks, me old china. But if you happen to be in the vicinity of the River Ayr Way on Saturday and you meet a Cockney fella that says:

'I'm cream crackered, do me a favour and call me a sherbet,' it doesn't mean I want you to feed me dry, savoury biscuits and children's powdered sweets.


No Cocktail Shaker Required.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

More lazy blogging.

Mrs Mac says I witter on too much.

I'm about to leave the Metropolis for a far away land where men wear skirts and women have a hierarchical system based on the number of their remaining teeth (you haven't heard that for a while so humour me); this will include a short trip to the Hebridean island of Mull where we will be looking at White Tailed Eagles.

Twitch, twitch.

Also there are plans afoot to run the River Ayr Way Race, an event that, since it's inception, I've run every year. Last year Tim Downie's arse got a whupping. This year it may well be my arse that's in tatters. And my feet. And lungs. And legs. Every training run over 12 miles since May has been a disaster.

Oh, well.

No doubt it will be a motivator for a written blog entry.


Floradora. No Cocktail Shaker Required. from Subversiverun on Vimeo.

Pepsi...I mean Corned Beef Taste Challenge

Friday, 31 August 2012

So here is the ten minute long, Corned Beef Pepsi-Taste-Challenge I created. I need to get a life.
Corned beef V Corned Beef from Subversiverun on Vimeo.

Corned Beef

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Dog Bites Man

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Murdo the Magnificent got bitten by a dog. He truly did. The sorry tale can be read on his Facebook page, which as it happens, is quickly becoming something he's using often. Once a mysterious, Shaman type character who revelled in his Luddism and wore his rejection of modernity like a badge of honour. Now he's become almost techno geek-like.

Anyway, back to the dog bite. Murdo was out running and this rabid, slavering cur hunted him down and latched onto his buttocks, removing a good part of the Magnificent One's gluteus maximus. Actually I've exaggerated slightly there......a fluffy Labrador nipped Murdo's derriere sending him off to hospital for a tetanus jab.

Murdo is rightly annoyed by this event and has asked the opinion of other runners. The information he's seeking is what could he have done to prevent the dog's unwanted attention. Now he need do no more than ask yours truly because:

1. I own a rabid, slavering hound.
2. I have a history of physical engagements with dogs.

My ownership of Mason (dog) is well documented within the pages of this blog (OK, so there are no actual pages, but it sounds better than 'appears here electronically'), so I won't witter on about point 1. By the way, if you're unsure of why my pooch gets the bracketed identifier after his name it's so you don't confuse him with the King of the Essex underworld, Mike Mason, who I refer to as Mason (man).

But regarding point 2, the story of my tussle with a dog is told within the pages of this blog (check me....I did it again). However, safe in the knowledge that many of my readers are of an age where forgetfulness is a constant companion (not you Uncle Duncan), and some are new, I shall repeat my story here for the benefit of Murdo. The tale is italicised below the picture.

It was 1988 and I was a young soldier with the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment based in Fallingbostel in the then West Germany. I've attached a picture showing me a couple of years prior to the incident I'm about to relate. You'll see a fresh faced, idealistic young man successfully passing out after undergoing the rigours of British Army training. The person you see here is yet to discover that the British Army of the 80s was really just an approved school for naughty boys, and the naughtier you were, the more success and appreciation you'd enjoy. Think Private Henry Hook out of Zulu.

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.
So as I said above. All Murdo needed do was ask me about dealing with aggressive dogs. My answer is this:
1. Don't try to over power them in a fight. You'll lose.
2. Don't punch them in the face. They have big teeth.

Corny Tales of Feet

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

This blog is purportedly an athletic one...about running. Of course, if you'd paid to read it you'd be taking my sorry arse to the Trading Standards authority for blatantly mis-selling you an entirely different product.

So I'm gonna mention a wee bit about running before moving on to something much more interesting...deal?

Ok....so the pair of running shoes you can see in the picture are the ones that Mrs Mac bought for me to run the Highland Fling. In 2011. By my reckoning, even though they belong to a guy whose weekly mileage is probably only just nearing that of Vanessa Feltz, these shoes have done well over 1000 miles. They've been in the washing machine a few times and they were recently the chosen footwear for a holiday in Devon so  I blame them for a series of recent disastrous training runs. Of course, a broken midsole and a heavily worn heal are way ahead of a ferocious wine and kebab habit as the harbingers of poor athletic performance.

So, I bit the bullet and headed out to buy a new pair of running shoes. It just so happened that my consumerism coincided with Tim Downie's recommendation of Adidas Kanadia TR4 as quality running shoes, and get this, available in the shops for under £40.00.

Now I'm not afraid to spend a pound note.....the £1,500.00 I spent on a Masters Degree course that never saw me submit anything beyond the first assignment is testament to that, but running shoes for forty quid? All my boxes ticked.

So today I purchased said shoes and ran in them to discover that they are, indeed, very comfortable and grippy shoes. I'd even go as far as to say that 'disastrous' didn't even enter my mind. However, what did become apparent was that Adidas have done that odd thing where they've built the shoe on a last that's a size smaller. So tomorrow I'll head to the shops to buy a second pair of running shoes that are a size larger to enable the ownership of one pair of useful shoes that will have cost me a total of eighty quid.

That, Dear Reader, is enough about economics and certainly enough about running. Now today's offering becomes a lesson in cookery.

You know that stuff called corned beef that comes in a can and has unidentifiable yellow fat at its edges? Well I used to eat tons of the stuff in the army. I never really enjoyed it....it was just there....omnipresent, like Cliff fuckin' Richard. Then, after a non-enforced visit to the Emerald Isle a few years ago I made the fortunate decision to try real corned beef. Ever since then I've tried to get the superior version over here but failed.

That is until McCartney's of Moira started exporting their excellent product to the UK. However, either a second mortgage or secondary employment as a Piccadilly rent boy is a requirement to afford the stuff.

So I decided to make my own.

All you need is gunpowder, a shit-load of spices, and a gallon of water. Oh, and a really inexpensive cut of beef.

So I 'acquired' said gunpowder from a 'source'; accessed the shit load of spices in my kitchen cabinet; and bypassed my water meter to get a pot load of free H2O.

Then I wandered down the butchers to procure 5lb of brisket that had to be ordered in because 'no-body bothers with that shit.'

A day later and I'm in the butcher's with a five pound note and an expectation of a lump of meat the size of my right bicep.

What actually occurs is this:

The butcher comes out from the back of the shop with half a dead cow across his back. With a bit of subtle lighting and a decent cameraman he could have recreated a scene from a Vietnam war movie.

Then, with a twist of his shoulder, he slams this hunk of beef down on the counter and says:

'You look worried....it's OK, it's not all yours.'

Then, with a perfectly honed butcher's knife, he makes a Jack the Ripper style incision and expertly removes a sliver of fat.

'There you go....that's thirty quid.'

Being a magnanimous kind of guy, and one who's not afraid to spend a pound note, I hand over the cash and struggle out the door with a package that's so large it's likely to attract the unwanted attention of the murder squad.

I drive home and begin the process of pickling my corned beef. This involves making a gallon load of pickling liquor and then submerging the meat for a week in the fridge. Then I'll cook the meat to produce proper, Oirish corned beef. What I'll do then is prove that any idea that cheap tinned meat's inferiority is a complete myth by publicly sampling my home produced fayre here on my blog.

And as I sit here writing this this I'm seriously considering whether I need to lay out another forty quid for a pair of running shoes that fit.

The memory of the butcher's razor sharp knife is still vivid and I have this notion of overcoming the recently presented problem of a small pair of running shoes by simply asking him to remove all of my toes.


No Longer A Story of ****

Sunday, 19 August 2012

This blog post is inspired by the gulf in the experience of life enjoyed (or otherwise) by townies and country folk.

I'm talking about the whole experience.....the speed of living, the demands of expectation, the availability of consumer goods, and the ever present smell of shit. I was reminded of this gulf last week when I arrived in Devon with Mrs Mac, the Brady Bunch and a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. We were there for a holiday and had booked a lovely little cottage that had the quaint absence of a telephone signal, no internet provision and Council telly. Yet it cost us almost the same amount as a fortnight in the Caribbean.

We were met by the owner, one of those guys who's managed to retain a full head of hair into his 50s, and in an arrogant, mocking kind of way, has allowed it to grow just that bit too long, despite being wholly grey in order to give him the option of styles. On the day in question the style was 'salon product wash and condition followed by blow dry.'


To be fair he didn't do that whole, 'show you round the cottage and demonstrate how everything works, even the quirky thumbscrew on the bathroom door' thing. It was a quick welcome, the presentation of some plated and cling-filmed sliced cake, that a few years ago was home-made, now has the unmistakable hint of supermarket- mass production since Tesco built a store above the nearby town, then a goodbye.

But before he went what he did labour was the point about the bog. His words are shown in yellow, my thoughts are bracketed.

'Now, this isn't the big city, capiche?... (Your referenced to the 'big city' has obviously been inspired by a recognition of my Cockney accent rather than Mrs Mac's soft Scottish lilt. And your idiotic use of 'capiche,' get this: I'm not Italian and you're not a Mafia Don, so get on with it you carrot-crunching half wit).'

'Here we have a thing called a sceptic tank that collects all the waste flushed down the lavvie... (I don't recall Al Pacino ever using the word 'lavvie;' not in Godfather nor Scarface, so your alluding to La Cosa Nostra is now but a comical memory, but carry on).'

'All the sceptic tank can manage is soft toilet tissue. Nothing more. No cotton buds, no tampons, no face wipes, nothing ....(you didn't mention condoms).'

'If you do fail to adhere to this simple rule you'll block the sceptic tank and the resulting problem affects everyone here. But we can trace the source of the problem.... (Well done, that's a more effective threat than pretending you're speaking to me with cheeks stuffed with cotton wool when in fact you sound like one of the Wurzels).

'As long as we've got that clear I'm sure you'll have a great break here in the country.... (I know I'm in the country, you bumpkin, I can smell the shit. How I wished I'd packed my knife collection and slowly unpacked it as you went through that little spiel).

After Wurzel left my little girl made the following observation:

'Dad, when Marvin the goldfish died you sent him to heaven through the toilet and he was bigger than a cotton bud. How do the goldfish here get to heaven?'

'They get buried, same as us,' I answer....(actually they end up in the same place as everything else semi edible here. They're either fed to the livestock or thrown into a steaming vat of decaying apples to produce scrumpy).

So we spent the following week with a group of children that treated the toilet bowl as if it had the same consumption ability as a size-zero super model. Meanwhile Yours Truly made it his daily mission to produce the longest, fattest, unbroken morning constitution in order to block Wurzel's sceptic tank with nothing more sinister than a healthy turd.

Not an easy task when you're lactose intolerant and most of your morning movements would have Gillian McKeith running for the hills.

But at the end of the week I realised I shouldn't have bothered with the sceptic tank, which incidentally swallowed everything it was offered like Vanessa Feltz at a Krispy Kreme giveaway. Nope, if I wanted to introduce Wurzel to some of London's finest scat, it was the famous Devon Cream Tea that was gonna assist in that.

Just mix one Devon Cream Tea to a lactose intolerant Londoner, add wine and a final night holiday celebration and voila, an innocent early morning fart becomes something quite unpleasant. If you're struggling to understand what occurred here either think Spud in Trainspotting or imagine an early morning exchange between Yours Truly and the cottage owner, Wurzel:

'Well, hello city dweller, how's tricks? What you doing up so early.....shit the bed?'



The Clyde Stride

Sunday, 29 July 2012

You all thought I'd become an ex-Blogger, didn't you?
Well I'm back.

Before I go on and get into the meat of this post I should tell you that the prefix 'EX' has played quite a role in my life, so it's not an unfamiliar feeling for me to be considered no more....kaput...zapped....endex.

After all, I've acquired the mantle of ex-husband on two occasions and in turn have associations with two ex-wives; I'm an ex-British soldier, although most who have spent time dressed in olive drab will tell you that the qualification as a state trained killer and master bass-broomsman never really leaves you.

I was even called an 'ex-runner' by BDTP (Big Davie The Polis) AKA Davie Hall while I was in attendance at the Clyde Stride Ultra Marathon last weekend. My role was race assistant and house journalist rather than a Dressed-as-Max-Wall participant, but Mr Hall's scything comment cut so deeply that I am now in training for a return to ultra running in the not so distant future. Well, for 'in training' read: 'skimmed once through a copy of Runner's World before focusing on the more adult material on the top shelf in the paper shop.'

Anyway, while my achievements as an ultra runner might be questionable, my ability to make the published page as a race journalist is going from strength to strength (Ok....so I had my second article published in 12 months but whatever way you play it that's a 100% increase in successful submissions).

The published article can be accessed here:


However, for the second time in a row some pencil-necked, shiny-arsed editor, safely ensconced in an office, has taken a metaphorical chainsaw to my labour of love and hacked out all the good bits. So just for you, Dear Reader, I provide the full, unedited version, in all its wordy glory, here (the bits the editor decided were unfit for consumption are shown in yellow):

After weeks of persistent rainfall the sunshine that was ordered by Lee Maclean for Saturday 21st July was filled and delivered and the sun indeed shone on Partick for the 2012 Clyde Stride 40 mile ultra marathon. It is rumoured that Ms Maclean actually sold her soul to Beelzebub to ensure the presence of a fiery orb in the sky and she is doomed to spend the rest of eternity stoking the fires of hell. Not too different a future when you're from Glasgow, right enough.

119 individual runners and 22 relay teams lined up to hear the starter’s pistol fired by Brian MacLeod, store manager of Morrison’s supermarket and host of race registration, and at 09:00 141 runners began their journey to New Lanark. The phrase 'starter's pistol' is an exercise in artistic licence. The equipment used for the task of setting the runners off was actually a horn that sounded a bit like Vanessa Feltz letting rip a saved up fart.

From the outset it was clear that Giffnock North’s George Taylor intended to employ a self-proclaimed sprint-and-hang-on strategy as he led the field out of Glasgow toward the first check point at Cambuslang. Hot on his heels was former race winner, Grant Jeans. What George failed to reveal is that his plan was hatched on the start line after hearing one of the marshalls at Cambuslang was suffering toothache. Like all exponents of his profession, George was armed with a pocketful of business cards and a prepared quote for 'pain free dental treatment.'

George Taylor was still in first place going through the 10 mile check point in a time of 1:04 with Malcolm McDonald, Paul Giblin and Donnie Campbell following closely. Unfortunately it was here that Grant Jeans became the first race casualty when he was forced to withdraw with breathing problems. A surprise leader in the women’s race was ultra marathon newbie, Charlotte Black who had travelled from Shetland for her first race beyond 26.2 miles and her first off-road. She was followed closely by the female winner of this year’s West Highland Way Race, Rosie Bell. In the relay race the first team to pass the baton was Rebel Runners 2. Unfortunately for Grant Jeans he was to spend the next few hours trapped in a support car with the author of this article who, throughout the day, made thumb and forefinger 'L' signs on his forehead and said: 'Welcome to my world, Granty boy.'

This year’s sweeper, the indefatigable Stan Bland, saw the rear markers safely through Cambuslang. Among their number was Scottish veteran Ray McCurdy who was well on his way to completing his 104th ultra marathon. Although Stan believed to the contrarary, Ray stuck to his agreement not to play Hide n' Seek during the race. Although witnesses claim to have heard Stan whispering in Ray's shell-like: 'You know there's only enough provisions at checkpoints for the first 75 runners?'

The fine weather continued throughout the day although the course failed to dry out completely, a fact that was made evident by Paul Giblin who arrived at the second checkpoint in Strathclyde Park covered head to toe in mud. Unfortunately the fall that led to his immersion also caused some mild concussion and dictated his reluctant withdrawal at Mauldslie Bridge. It's a strange phenomenon that not a single other runner seemed to suffer a similar fate to the 'Mud Wrestling Weekly' subscriber, Giblin.

The battle for first place was now being fought out between Donnie Campbell and Craig Reid with Donnie leading by under a minute going through the 28 mile check point. Charlotte Black maintained her domination of the female field leading Strathaven’s Rosie Bell by 17 minutes and in the team event the limitations of age were disproven as the Carnegie Wrinklies handed over seconds before Rebel Runners 1. It's fair to say the Wrinklies' inability to maintain top spot might be compared to other functions that individuals 'of a certain age' need pharmaceutical assistance in keeping up.

The Race Director and her band of assistants were now set up with beer and tablet to receive the race winner in New Lanark and their anticipation was relieved when Donnie Campbell came storming down the hill to break the tape in a spectacular 5:05:42. In second place was Craig Reid in 5:18:30 who bettered third place finisher, George Taylor by a little over a minute. And in the women’s field Charlotte Black was overwhelmed at success in her first ultra when she claimed top female in 6:06:00. The shortcomings in the Race Director's plan for post race rehydration were proven when she employed her sister-in-law, Arlene at the race end. The ever increasingly inebriated assistant slowly became surrounded by empty beer bottles as she hollered risque sea shanties to the finishing runners. 

Despite Rosie Bell’s outstanding victory in the West Highland Way Race just four weeks previous, the Strathaven hotshot proved that she had the legs and heart to make the podium in 6:13:12 with her Strathaven Striders team-mate, Elaine Calder claiming third place in 6:22:14. The relay finish was a fiercely battled affair and resulted in Motherwell AC eventually claiming top spot in front of Rebel Runners 1 and Strathclyde Park Run 1 who were beaten into second and third places respectively. Motherwell were overjoyed at their victory while Rebel Runners 1 appeared to clutch their second place prize as if their mislaid tickets for the men's 100m Olympic final had been exchanged for back row seats at the synchronised swimming.

Finishers arrived steadily in New Lanark for the next four hours until Stan Bland herded Noanie Heffron, Alan Fitzsimmons and Dave Egan down the hill to cross the line together in 9:22:00.
In total 106 individual runners claimed their finishers’ medals and all 22 relay teams covered the 40 miles to make the sun-drenched Clyde Stride the sixth success in the 2012 Scottish Ultra Marathon Series. The author has used the words 'sun' and 'drenched' to suggest that the default Scottish attire of overcoat, hat and gloves were not required for this event. The reader should not assume this is an indication of a mediterranean holiday type affair. If you really want 'sun-drenched' try the Western States but be warned.....it costs a helluva lot more than fifteen quid, there's no local Buckfast outlet and you don't get a vice-like cuddle from the Race Director at the end.


Pre Race Nerves

Saturday, 16 June 2012

The following is the written draft of my latest podcast. Yes it's lazy but I'm known to be lazy occassionally.

As I sit here and prepare to witter on it's just over a week to go until the West Highland Way Race. A quick check of the forum or Facebook group shows that the usual queries regarding what shoes to wear, what food to eat and whether Mike Mason really is safely ensconced somewhere in Eastern Europe and not likely to offend runners' sensibilities by being discovered performing like a bear in the woods, have all given way to one subject.

Pre race nerves.

I believe I can probably claim West Highland Way Race veteran status now, this being my seventh year of involvement, and this makes me able to comment with some authority on the subject of pre race nerves.......sigh.....

Seven years.......

That's longer than I served in the British army.....

....longer than it took to study for a degree with the Open University...

...longer than my second marriage......

..... longer than the Jeremy Kyle show's been on the air...although to be fair it feels like it's been around forever and proof positive that I'm not as much of a lowlife as some might suggest. Because despite me being the sole cause of the collapse in house prices in my area, Jezza still hasn't got round to sending me an invitation for the show.

Anyway, I don't think there's any reason for me being subjected to another paternity test anytime soon, so we'll forget about Jezza Kyle and refocus our thoughts on pre race nerves.

Pre race nerves.....I've never really suffered from them. I had a discussion with Lee Maclean about why this might be. I proffered the musing that as a former soldier and current firefighter my life has been touched by all manner of critical incidents and I've been first-hand witness to the vagaries of human existence.....but she pointed out that it's got nothing to do with that and the reason is far simpler. Mainly that I'm an arse....

Anyway, my fifty percent failure rate in the race is probably an indicator that a lack of pre race nerves is not such a good thing, and possibly that I really am an arse. To stand on the start line of the race with your main thought being whether your projected timings mean you'll pass through Kinlochleven while the Tailrace Inn is still serving is definitely not normal.

So if you're one of the many that's listening to this while you're sleep is being interrupted by cold fear. Or that the starting gun sound of a backfiring car has you all in a tizz, try to see those nerves as a good thing.

Use those nerves wisely to ensure your last minute preparations are all taken care of. That your support crew is fully briefed and are aware that their role in this could be the make or break for their runner.

Use those nerves to do as the Caledonian based Aussie, Keith 'Corned Beef' Hughes has suggested and make sure you're familiar with the route and imagine yourself passing through the various stages. History demonstrates that even those with a reasonable knowledge of the area have been known to take a wrong turn....I knew it wouldn't be long before Mike Mason got another mention....

Use those nerves wisely and they'll make you sharp on the day.

Of course for the first time in seven years I won't be joining you on the start line of the race so you might argue that this is all very easy for me to say. But I have many friends that will be in Milngavie on the 23rd June dressed like a malnourished Max Wall and I'll mention just two of them now.

The first is Big David Ross from Strathaven. David's a lovely fella but he's the size of a Kodiak bear and the last person you'd like to meet in the role of door person when you're giving it large in a nightclub. Despite his intimidating physicality Big David is more nervous than a gerbil in a gay bar so at the very least if you too are this nervous at least you know you're not alone.

The second is Martin Antoninus Horatio Hooper. Martin's nervousness is jndicated by the fact that he was happy for his lovely wife to post a pre race picture of him on Facebook. The nature of this vocal medium makes it impossible for me to show you this picture so I'll describe it: It shows our Kent based hero limbering up in a position he seems to have acquired from a ballerina; (note well, this is probably the only time you'll ever hear the words Martin Hooper and ballerina in the same sentence); he's dressed in running garb that seems to be inspired by Batman; and he's pouting like a post-operative Leslie Ash at midnight on New Years Eve. So if you feel really nervous and in need of some light relief come and have a gander at Martin just prior to the race and you'll be chuckling all the way to Fort William.

This is Waterman's Piratical Ramblings signing off before the big day and wishing everyone, organisers, marshalls, support crews and especially runners, the very best of luck.