In a tatty hi vis jacket picking his nose

  • Thursday, November 20, 2014
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As mad as a March Hare the raffish Jerry ran taking me with him, his car abandoned in a South London railway station car park. We ran on a foggy London Sunday morning, cool and ironic and in search of pointless things.To get to the pointless things we had to pass some important things so we ran up a long hill and stopped by the memorial to the murdered Stephen Lawrence for a moment.

After this we ran on past this yellow thing which briefly became important to one of us.
The less said the better. 
Leaving this behind this we ran downhill towards the Thames and passed the location where another good man was mindlessly murdered, Drummer Lee Rigby of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. Reaching the Thames we found it sluggish, caramel in colour and exhaling a gaseous fog but we ignored it and turned right to run along its South Bank. We were in pursuit of our first pointless thing, an abandoned and empty canal. It has been raining in England so when we found it there was stagnant water in it with lots of urban junk floating on the surface. We will return at some point and run inside it but I hope it is dry when we do. Here is a picture
The not empty, empty canal was the Hors d'oeuvre that whetted the appetite for the main course. This was our second pointless thing, a 20 metre high mound created from large corporation fly tipping. This was the by product of construction during the Millennium, the resulting pile of displaced earth and builders rubble was covered with scrubby grass and given a spiral path leading up to the bald patch on the summit. The whole thing was legitimised by describing it as an eco feature and giving it the pretentious name of Gallions Hill. An aerial view would look a bit like this:
Once we had exhausted the view of flood plain and factories we descended and began our return leg and this is where it got really cool. Jerry stumbled upon the entrance to the elevator leading down to the foot tunnel that runs beneath the Thames and so down we went, so low we had to reach up to touch bottom and then along to the lift carrying us up to the North Bank. What a great half mile of running, hooting and hollering like naughty school boys, videoing each other on our phones and generally larking about like buffoons. So much for cool and ironic.
This was not pointless as it connected one side of the river to the other. On the other side we were thirsty so we found a dour Scot in a tatty hi vis jacket picking his nose and sitting on a bicycle. We enquired politely if there might be a cafe nearby where we could purchase a drink and he stopped picking his nose long enough to give us directions and pointed up the road. Off we ran and subsequently learn that in life you must make your questions specific - we found the cafe but also discovered it hadn't traded for some years, our nose picking friend didn't tell us this because we didn't ask. Fortunately for us there was a Costcutter Supermarket nearby and that was where we refreshed ourselves. And then it was back all the way. Back under the river, back past the silent canons at Woolwich, turning left to leave the river and run back up where we had run down and back down where we had run up, back past the ghosts of the remembered dead, it was a mad Alice in Wonderland run with a wonderful friend.

I think our children are often our hope

  • Wednesday, November 19, 2014
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Prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child

I am a creative mind but one that is trapped on all sides by the limits of my personality. I get frustrated because there is a lot of activity taking place inside of me but it's locked in by the rigid demands of my character. Nowhere is this more apparent than in my running. I love to run and I find expression in it but I also limit myself to the familiar and the rote, I have very little spontaneous flexibility with distance or location. I am intimate and happy on my local trails and find security in them.
I think our children are often our hope. The life that springs from our loins often seems to have more energy and impact when allowed to develop with freedom than the source. My middle son is a classic example, full of questions, zest and a love of quest. Most importantly he is blessed with a free spirit.
Already at ten he is focused, determined, ambitious and pushing at his boundaries.
Last week end I took him for his first real trail run that included a river crossing, some ascent and lots of mud. We ran 3.5 miles on my local and familiar trails, he fell twice and both times he came up laughing. I hope he chooses to run with me again and that running with him will become a habit in the years to come, I need to make the most of the opportunities I have with him and my other kids before their horizons pull them far far away.