The Special Forces/Needs Club

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The raisin de'ĂȘtre 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'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.