Wednesday, 30 November 2011

I've not been feeling myself...

below par
laid low
not quite right
off colour
out of sorts
somewhat ill
under the weather
have det dårligt
ikke rask

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

In the beginning was the word...

Split into Old and New Testaments and made up of 39 and 27 books respectively; the Bible, having been translated into over 450 languages, is the best selling book in history. The word bible can be traced back via Medieval Latin to Late Latin and ultimately to Greek τὰ βιβλία meaning the books.

It has played a key role in the history of printing, the rise in English Protestantism in the Sixteenth Century and Nineteenth Century literacy in Wales. The King James Bible is widely recoginised as a milestone of English literature, celebrating its 400th birthday this year.

In addition to over 450 translations of the Bible, there have also been numerous versions in English alone: The American Standard Version, The New Authorised Version and The Good News Bible to name but three from a long list of modern versions of the Bible - there's even been a Cockney Rhyming Slang Bible, a Manga Bible and a Klingon Bible. Perhaps my favorite versions are:
The Brick Testament - the Bible as told using Lego bricks.
The Polari Bible - the Bible translated into gay slang by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
Dominus vobiscum...
Today's run at 17:36
Distance4.02 kmTime21:25
Pace5:20 min/kmCadence82 spm

Monday, 28 November 2011

He died with a smile on his face...

Ken Russell died yesterday after a series of recent strokes. He was 84 and, his son reported that he died with a smile on his face. He was one of the best film directors this country has ever produced.

For anyone in any doubt:
Women In Love (1969)
The Music Lovers (1970)
The Devils (1971)
The Boyfriend (1971)
Mahler (1974)
Tommy (1975)
Liztomania (1975)
Valentino (1977)
Altered States (1980)
Gothic (1986)
Mark Kermode said of him, "Somebody who proved that British cinema didn't have to be about kitchen-sink realism". Mad as a box of frogs but an innovative and wonderful director.

Ken Russell 1927-2011
Today's run at 17:24
Distance4.03 kmTime21:14
Pace5:16 min/kmCadence82 spm

Sunday, 27 November 2011

How we laughed...

Apparently "Harry Potter and yoga are evil". Father Gabriele Amorth, one of the Catholic Church's best known exorcists, is being ridiculed across the interweb today by the likes of Stephen Fry, Richard Dawkins and Dr Christian Jesson for these remarks - and rightly so. Perhaps he's a Daniel Radcliffe fan and the poster on the right has incensed him?

Where do they get these loons from? It's hilarious that anyone should believe such twaddle strongly enough to voice it in public. It seems that organised religion is awash with the unhinged. How we laughed...

Until we remembered:
The Vatican cover up of hundreds of child abuse cases to protect its clergy.

The death of at least 6 individuals following the advice of churches in London, Manchester and Glasgow that HIV patients should stop taking their medication and trust in God to save them instead.

The Vatican advice to millions that condoms offer no protection against HIV infection.

The Church of England's opposition to Government proposals to lift the ban on civil partnerships taking place in religious buildings.

The Vatican involvement in arranging the escape of Nazi war criminals at the end of the Second World War.
I could go on and talk about the Inquisition and the treatment of Galileo Galilei but I'm fed up. Isn't it about time we firmly dealt with church apologists who bleat their excuses in an attempt to promote, reason and rationalise this hatred?

Anyway, I've spent the first part of today nursing a hangover, having unexpectedly been invited out for a little drinkie last night (which turned into a big drinkie). I then gave myself a shake around lunchtime and ventured out to the supermarket on my bike (the first time in over a month I've been for a cycle). Following that I then went for a run and, although the results below are a bit of a backward step on yesterday, it's a minor miracle I could put one foot infront of the other - given the way I was feeling.
Today's run at 15:12
Distance5.01 kmTime27:08
Pace5:25 min/kmCadence81 spm

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Gadgetry II...

Some of you may remember that towards the end of October I treated myself to Nike+ GPS Sportwatch (as a late birthday present to myself) but things didn't quite work out and I had to return it in early November. Today I took delivery of a Garmin Forerunner 610 as a replacement (and early Christmas present to myself). This was the GPS watch I was initially considering before making the wrong choice with the Nike+ model.

I must say that it's a great watch: easy to configure and to wirelessly pair with both the foot pod and then the computer for uploading results. Getting started needed no reading of manuals as everything is quite intuitive. Within minutes I'd got to grips with the menu and was customising the settings.

From my first run I can report that it feels comfortable to wear and is easy to read whilst running. I thought it was going to be more cumbersome than the Nike+ model whereas in fact it actually feels and looks smaller. It's highly configurable and I've set it up to display the time, distance and pace whilst I run (although there are a number of other options I could have chosen). I've set it up also to vibrate at every kilometer and display my time for that particular kilometer.

There are many other features that I've yet to get my head around like the Virtual Racer function where you can race against yourself in a previously stored run (or against someone else by downloading their previously stored run) and the Where Am I function where the watch guides you back to where you began (or a preset location) - I don't really envisage using this around Cardiff Bay but it could prove useful when I run on holiday.

After my run, upon walking back into my flat, it automatically uploaded the results to the Garmin Connect results page. The layout of the results page feels serious and not gimmicky or patronising - unlike the Nike+ website, which is in danger of becoming so with its cartoon animations and motivational messages.

Fingers crossed that this one doesn't start misbehaving like the Nike+ model. I certainly hope not.
Today's run at 13:34
Distance4.89 kmTime24:55
Pace5:06 min/kmCadence82 spm

Friday, 25 November 2011

It seems that even God has limitations...

Tonight I read the news about the dangerous advice given by certain churches in London, Manchester and Glasgow for people with HIV to stop taking their medication. Instead, the churches claim, the Lord will cure these people. As a consequence, at least six people have already died after following this advice.

At Lourdes, crutches, walking sticks and canes are hung up as proof of the miracles that the Lord has performed there, allowing the lame to walk again - a testament to our Lord's infinite powers. But if his powers are so infinite, where have they hung the false legs and prosthetic arms and glass eyes...?

Advice to people with serious conditions to give up their medication and instead trust in God is surely evil and unchristian. Don't we still prosecute people in this country for assisting suicide...?

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Don't go there love...

I've never believed in astrology. Its wild claims are nothing more than utter nonsense. There is no such thing as fate and no-one can predict a person's future from planetary configurations at the time of their birth.

Following his recent appearances on BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing, astrologer, Russell Grant is at pains to resurrect his dormant career. In an interview for the Radio Times, he claims that he foresaw Princess Diana's death 10 days before the accident that killed her in 1997. Indeed, he claims to have warned her of it, "Don’t go there, love. Just don’t go anywhere with him. You’ve got to knock this on the head." Leaving no cliché escape alive he goes on to say, "I basically said their relationship was so fated it was going to end in tears."

There are believers in astrology that, when under attack, wheel out the psuedo-science. A favorite explanation being their claim that the gravitational pull of the planets and stars, given their mass and particular alignment at the precise moment of our birth, will act as an influence on us. However, what they fail to understand is, gravitational pull is not merely dependent on the mass of an object but also on its proximity. Given the distances involved, the obstetrician and midwife are far more likely to have had an influence on us.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Not bloody likely, I'm going in a taxi...

Do accents matter? Well, they're not the best indicators of a person's character when you first meet, although, everybody makes certain assumptions as soon as you open your mouth. In a country so obsessed with class and status, as the British undoubtedly are, your accent or dialect gives away so much about you. How can such a relatively small island hold such a vast array of intonation and pronunciation?

You don't need to travel to some far flung corner of Albion, however, to witness peculiar pronunciations. No, nevermind your Yorkshire brogue or your Cockney rhyming slang; you needn't look any further than that once favorite accent of the BBC (and it really is just another accent), Received Pronunciation (RP). Here, you'll find some pretty ripe examples that make a nonsense of any link between spelling and pronunciation. English is certainly not a phonetic language.

So before we start sneering at the way the Welsh, Scots or Irish pronounce our beloved mother tongue, consider the spelling of the following words compared to how we're told they should be pronounced in Received Pronunciation:
Leicester (Lester)
Gloucester (Gloster)
Bicester (Bister)
Leominster (Lemster)
Cholmondley (Chumley)
Marjoribanks (Marchbanks)
Colquhoun (Cahoon)
Featherstonehaugh (Fanshaw)
And how the hell does Lieutenant end up sounding like Leftenant in the British Army, L'tenant in the British Navy and Lootenant in other countries' forces?

George Bernard Shaw, the Irish dramatist, attempted to reform English spelling to reflect English pronunciation but was unsuccessful, despite a lengthy campaign. His play, Pygmalion (later made into the musical My Fair Lady), deals with dialect and how important it is if you want to break out of the class you were born in to.

Consider the different ways we pronounce ough in the following words:
though (as in toe)
tough (as in cuff)
cough (as in toff)
hiccough (as in up)
plough (as in cow)
through (as in blue)
nought (as in caught)
lough (as in loch)
Shaw is often attributed with using the example of ghoti as an alternative spelling of fish to point out how ridiculous the rules of English spelling actually are. Whether this actually was Shaw or not, doesn't matter. He was right; British English, in its spelling and pronunciation (and often in its grammar), has no rhyme nor reason. Add to this regional and class variation and you've got a time-bomb awaiting any foreigner foolish enough to want to master this tongue.

Having said that, most of the inhabitants of these isles speak English as if it were a foreign language...

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Like a cancer...

As I ran tonight, I thought about how lucky I am. How fortunate am I, I thought, to be able to come home from work and have the choice to go for a run? There are many who would pay a high price for the privilage. I virtually skipped along my usual route grinning the whole way.

The phrase, like a cancer has become overused. Once, it was a powerful phrase painting an image of a painful, malignant and tenacious agent that quickly spreads and is out of control. A search of Google throws up a multitude of headlines; illegal drug usage, the financial crisis, the cricket match fixing scandal, bullying and violence (even homosexuality and Islam) have all been described recently as being like a cancer. Surely, this over-usage merely dilutes its power to the point where the phrase is but a pale and watered down cliché used to describe anything that is mildly disagreeable and a little difficult to shake.

Of course, cancer (and I'm talking about malignant cancer) is so much more than mildly disagreeable and difficult to shake. It is not like a head cold. It is capable of causing extreme pain, anguish, fear, disfigurement and death. Its treatment is often slow, painful, unpleasant and not guaranteed to work. It will touch all of us in some way at some point during our lives.

Great news it is then that the survival rates for certain types of cancer have increased. The flip side of this tale is that other types of cancer have shown little improvement in survival rates. I'm pleased to report that my brother found out today that his first scan, following a recently completed course of chemotherapy, has come back clear.

One day at a time but it's good news all the same...

Monday, 21 November 2011

My inner demon...

Tonight's run nearly didn't happen. My inner demon did a very convincing job of almost talking me out of it again:
It's your first run back in the UK after lovely sunny running for the last week - take it easy.

Today was your first day back at work; perhaps you should put your feet up tonight?

You still have a pile of holiday clothes to wash so perhaps you should prioritise those before your jog!
I almost shouted, "Stop!" then pulled on my kit and ran for my life.

Part of my resolve to go for a run tonight stems from the efforts of my friend @tippettsimon, who took part in The Beacons Ultra over the weekend - that's a 45 mile marathon through the Brecon Beacons! Puts my paltry efforts to shame. Of course, he's barking mad - but I mean that in the nicest possible way...!

I'm glad I did escape my inner demon and go running, for tonight's run was a good one; good in that I had bags of energy and it felt good to be jogging around Cardiff Bay in the dark in that fine misty rain again. Honestly, it really did. How far I ran, in what time and at what pace, I cannot tell you because I returned my Nike+ GPS Sportwatch over a week ago because it was faulty. Or rather, the upload functionality to the Nike+ website stopped working and was not fit for purpose. Shame.

However, I have been whetting my appetite by researching this little beauty from Garmin: the Garmin Forerunner 610. This one is so advanced and feature rich that it does the run for you, whilst you sit at home watching The One Show with your feet up eating cakes. Well, almost... And I haven't seen too many gripes on any forums about problems uploading runs to the website.

All I need now is to convince myself that this would be money well spent. Now, has anyone seen my inner demon?

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The Inn of the Sixth Happiness...

The Inn of the Sixth Happiness is a film based on The Small Woman, Alan Burgess' biography of Gladys Aylward. She was an English woman who, against advice, became a Christian missionary in China during the 1930's; effecting social reform and eventually leading a group of orphaned children to safety following the Japanese invasion.

The Inn of the Sixth Happiness starred Ingrid Bergman in the lead role and was filmed in 1958 at Elstree studios and on location in Snowdonia where the Beddgelert area doubled for the Chinese countryside (it was also where Carry on up the Khyber was filmed ten years later). Rumour has it that the studio used staff from every Chinese restaurant in Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester for the extras needed for the film.

This film always makes me cry. Guaranteed. Every time. I first saw it with my mother when I was only 7 or 8 where I cried - and I've cried on every subsequent viewing. I'm not sure why it gets me going and I'm not sure I want to know why. It's something deep down; a gut level reaction and boy do I blub whenever I watch it. I even start to well up when I hear Malcolm Arnold's music from the film.

Here's the film's climactic last scene. Now, where's my box of Kleenex...

Saturday, 19 November 2011

International jet setting...

I've never seen an airport that is less international than Cardiff International Airport. Technically, they are international in that they deal with foreign destinations but international carries a significance that this airport just doesn't live up to. Yes, flights land there from countries outside the UK but then, my local Spar corner shop stocks foods from countries outside the UK and they don't call themselves Cardiff Bay International Spar.

Cardiff International Airport is more like an aerodrome; a small collection of sheds and a runway somewhere outside Barry. The decor is tired and a bit dog eared, the service is a bit homemade and make do and the transport links are bit few and a bit far between.

International it ain't.

After queuing for a bloody age whilst the two International Border Security staff on duty checked our passports, I waited for one out of the two International Baggage Reclaim conveyor belts to crank into action. After getting my Samsonite international suitcase, I then got an international shuttle bus to Rhoose international railway station and an international train to Cardiff Central International Railway Station.

After a short international taxi ride home, I popped to Cardiff Bay International Tescos for some international milk and a few international bits and international bobs for my international dinner.

International, my arse!

Friday, 18 November 2011


There are things I've seen this last week to which I should not have been exposed. Certainly, children, the elderly and those of a nervous disposition who were subjected to these abominations may well have suffered lasting psychological damage.
In short:
Sandals worn with socks.
Three quarter length trousers (Can someone explain what's the point?).
Leggings (Eurghh!).
T shirts with text such as, "I'm with stupid" followed by an arrow pointing left or right.
Beach towels with prints of naked women (Sleazy or what...?).
Sunglasses that grip over the top of the head rather than the conventional folding arms over the ears.
His and hers matching lesiure wear.
Plunging necklines on leathery wrinkled collapsing cleavages.
Baseball caps worn back to front (Unless your name is Bart Simpson).
Trousers that give you a camel toe effect.
Too much bling.
Combat boots (I know they're in fashion but not on the beach in 25C+ heat!).
A tweed suit with a thick shirt and knitted tie (You're in the Canaries not the Cotswolds).
Black knickers under thin white cotton trousers (Buy some white knickers ffs).
A ginger toupé.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

A veritable smorgasbord...

My favourite meal of the day has to be breakfast. When at home, I invariably eat porridge; filling, high in fibre and slow to release carbohydrate throughout the morning.

When on holiday, my favourite meal of the day remains breakfast, although I rarely eat porridge. Usually, there are too many other things on on offer that I want to try. The hotel I'm staying at does a very good breakfast. Everything from Full English through a vast array of cold meats and cheeses to yoghurts, fresh and dried fruits, tomato, cucumber, eggs in every imaginable way, a huge choice of cereals, pastries and every bread you've ever seen or heard of. I think I've tried them all.

My reason for liking breakfast here, however, is not because of the bewildering and tempting choices presented (although I admit that this would be reason enough). No, my reason for enjoying breakfast here is because of the people watching opportunities it provides. A veritable smorgasbord!

There's the German husband and wife with their 12 year old son. They all look like they've been cloned from Gert Fröbe; big boned, rosy cheeked and well fed - they've even all got the same sandy cropped hair style, mother included. If they said they were anything other than Schleswig Holstein farmers, I'd be surprised - fat of the land, or what?

There's the elderly English couple, traumatised by the choice of food on offer, they stick to what they know and what they're used to: tea and toast. Then there's the other English couple, where he just sits at table while she scurries to and fro, ensuring that his every need and breakfast urge is catered for. He gulps and tears at his food accompanied by frequent grunts and slurps. A trough wouldn't be out of place.

There's the beautiful dark French couple with the toddler. All three ooze chic from every pore. They seem so stylish and urbane; I'm sure that the toddler is allowed only black coffee for breakfast followed by a Gitanes.

And lastly there's the blond German couple with three blond sons all under 10 years old. They seem so relaxed and easy with each other. So helpful and forgiving. They all muck in together gathering what they need for this first meal of the day. And if someone spills or tips something; hey, it's not the end of the world.

I saw the father sunbathing by the pool in his swimming trunks when I came back from the beach tonight. If he scattered his breakfast on the floor and then rolled in it, I wouldn't think any the less of him!

[In a camp Swansea accent] O my God, I think I love him...!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Nobody's perfect...

I am 49. At the age of 10 the local farmer's dog attacked me, biting my arm and chest. Aged 12, my brother split my lip by throwing an ashtray at me because I told him the score to a football match he was looking forward to watching. At 15 I found out I was diabetic and began taking insulin. Aged 17 I fell off the front of a moving land rover and dislocated my right hip. At 30 I had a fit because of low blood sugars and needed stitches in my head. Aged 34 I broke a rib in an argument and at 43 I fractured a finger in another argument. At 45 I broke my ankle in Rome during another fit caused by low blood sugars. Aged 46 I had my right wrist operated on to relieve carpel tunnel syndrome. At 47 I broke my scaphoid bone in my right wrist after I went over the handlebars of my bike and I also had some cosmetic dental work to correct a crooked and gappy smile.

Nobody's perfect but we strive to maintain ourselves after the barrel of shite life throws at us. Today I saw a man on the nudist beach with only one leg. He had a prosthetic lower right leg. He was German. I know this because I overheard him talking. Later I saw a woman on the nudist beach (again, German) who'd had a mastectomy. I take my hat off (we're I wearing one) to both these individuals. It can't be easy being that honest; with others and with yourself.

Some people think that nudism is about showing off the perfect body. I've heard comments before (usually from the prudish Brits) such as, "How can she, looking like that!" Anyone who has ever set foot onto a nudist beach will know that this is not true. The Germans seem to manage this body honesty better than most nations - perhaps a bit of a surprise, given their recent history.

Body fascism may well have reached a crude and vicious pinnacle under the Third Reich but, in my opinion, it has been honed into a much finer and subtler tool under post war western consumerism. The media has banned images of imperfection. Growing older is no longer acceptable, if growing older means growing more imperfect.

Time was when we proudly displayed our scars; like trophies - a testament to our age and experience. Nowadays, it seems there is no greater crime than reminding those around us of our mortality. Wrinkles are a heinous crime rather than proof of life's experiences.

Life scars us; from the severing of the umbilical cord onwards, we become increasingly imperfect with every day that passes. And surely, it is these imperfections that we should value and hold aloft rather than that Peter Pan perfection that the media sells us.

Tomorrow we'll look at mental and emotional scars...

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

My suitcase stinks of red wine...

No, it's not a euphemism nor a coded exchange between secret agents; my suitcase does actually stink of red wine.

Whenever I come to Fuerteventura, I always stay at the same hotel and for the last few stays they've left me a bottle of red wine as a form of thanks. This is on top of the free bottle with which they greet every guest. There's only so much red wine a man can glug (and I can glug a fair bit).

After my evening run and swim I settle down with a vodka and coke to write this blog. As much as I like red wine, it tends to mess me up for the next day and I don't see the point of flying all the way to the Canaries for some winter sun, only to spend the day in bed with a hangover. So vodka wins the day.

Anyway, long story short; last night I decided that I'd put the red wine in my suitcase so that I didn't forget it. Whilst it's not a great red, it's certainly drinkable. As I righted the case I heard the shattering of glass and red liquid running out onto the floor. Upon opening the case, it was littered with shards of glass and saturated with red wine. I put it on the balcony to dry out and I swept up the glass as best I could.

Today was a strange day weather wise. It started out quite promisingly but by mid afternoon the sun gracefully conceded defeat to the clouds and I wended my way back home from the beach. I think I know why my leg muscles have been so tight the last few days; I believe it's all the walking on sand I'm doing - some 4km a day (not a huge distance but if you're not used to walking on sand...).

My run tonight was enjoyable under the overcast sky. Yes, my leg muscles ached but now that I knew the cause it was less of a concern. When I got back to the hotel, I dived into the pool and luxuriated in the cool water knowing that this was doing my aching muscles a power of good.

It was when I returned to my room after my swim that I noticed that my suitcase stank of red wine - in fact, the entire room stank of red wine. I could smell it the moment I opened the door; that stale and fruity mix with the vinegar top notes. Clearly, I couldn't take my clothes home in it; customs at Cardiff would think that George Best had arrived.

I opened the case. Put it in the bath and turned on the shower. The case is now drying on my balcony. The clouds have cleared and, as I write this (sat on my balcony with my vodka), the evening is a splendidly sunny one. And there's not a whiff of red wine to sniffed anywhere.

Monday, 14 November 2011

What's Dunkirk Spirit in German...?

So, I'm sitting on the beach and it's hammering down with rain. Shortly after I'd managed to put up my little beach shelter this morning, the heavens opened. People scattered in all directions trying to find shelter but there was none to be found. I felt smug, sat in my beach shelter.

There's nothing quite so grim and British as sitting on a beach in the rain. Nothing, that is, except I was sharing my beach shelter with two German guys I'd met the day before. Well, I couldn't very well ignore them stood there wrapped in beach towels getting wet. So all three of us sat there looking grim and British whilst it rained for over an hour. "It's only water" I offered. The Germans didn't see the funny side.

After this the sun came out again but it wasn't quite the same. I left the beach at about three-ish and made my way back. It's about 2km back to the nearest hotel and everyone looked a little damp and dejected along the way, despite now bathing in brilliant sunshine again.

After a quick warm up, I set off on my run at about four-ish. I think my muscles were affected by today's damp start. My leg and buttock muscles ached. They had taken on a stiffness of old rubber and they didn't really begin to loosen until the run was almost over. After my run, I splashed about in the hotel pool for a bit but rather than a cool relief to the run, it just felt a little chilly.

An odd day but nothing that few glasses of vodka won't fix.

Sunday, 13 November 2011


Altogether, it was a lovely day today. I spent it on the beach in the altogether. Glorious sunshine without a cloud in the sky, despite the BBC's forecast of cloud and light rain. The only wet I felt was the spray back from changing my colostomy bag the salty spume of the ocean.

Nearby there was a kite festival with the most spectacular kites borne aloft by the gusty warm wind. I would share some photos with you from today but they may have to wait. When I was on holiday in Istanbul, I couldn't use many of the Blogspot functions because the iPad doesn't handle them too well; using photos in my blog was one of the casualties. I bought an app to help me better interface with my blog on Blogspot via my iPad; trouble is, that the app is awaiting release following iOS5 and currently doesn't work. If I can't get any photos up I'll do it retrospectively when I get back.

Having spent the entire day on the beach, I returned to my hotel by 5pm and then went for a run. The sun was low in the sky but still brilliant and warm. The first part of the run is uphill and I'd started to sweat before I reached the top. Much of the rest of the run is either on the flat or slightly down hill. It feels wonderful to run buoyed along by this beautiful balmy weather.

The run itself was relaxed. I have a slight twinge in my right hip again and I'm getting an odd sensation from my my left knee - nothing to worry about. It seems ungrateful to complain about these things, given the circumstances of my run. When I got back to the hotel, I went for a dip in the hotel pool - cool and refreshing after a hot and sweaty run.

The only cloud on the horizon is that the only English language news channel I can find is Skynews; that prejudiced and reactionary, right wing, poisonous excuse for objectivity...

Saturday, 12 November 2011

The highs and the lows...

Let's start with the lows so I can end on a high. Actually, there's only one low and that is that I had to return my Nike+ GPS Sportwatch yesterday and get my money back. I really liked the watch but there seems to be a problem with the Nike+ website; after functioning perfectly well for a time it then ceases to upload runs to the website.

From reading the Nike+ Forum this fault seems to be with the website rather than the watch and has been grumbling on for the last six months. Six months is a long time to suffer these problems because the functionality is limited on the watch itself; it is only when the results are uploaded to the website that the functionality comes into its own.

When I spoke to the staff at the Nike shop in Cardiff, they said that Nike were looking to get this resolved in the new year. That's a long time to wait to upload your runs. I asked for my money back. I'm not the only one to return the watch. Nike are losing both money and credibility over this.

And the highs...? Well, as much as I love to run in the Cardiff drizzle (and I really do) I sometimes fancy a change: to run in broad daylight with the sun on my back is such a temptation in the dank November weather. And, hey presto, Bob's your uncle (Fanny's your aunt); tonight that is exactly what I did tonight.

A lovely run in my short shorts and running vest, sunglasses on and a bit sweaty from a run in 25C, I stripped and dived into the pool for a bit of a cool down. I'm now sat on my balcony with an ice cold vodka and coke typing this (and looking somewhat stern - must be the vodka).

Early this morning, I boarded a flight for (cheap and cheerful) Fuerteventura and by lunchtime I was sat by the pool. Ahead of me I have a week of sun, sand and sea air. A week where I can do what I want when I want. I'm sure it will pass in a flash.

Friday, 11 November 2011

That Friday feeling...

Friday. Once the 6th and now (since 1971 in the UK) the 5th day of the week, Friday has many associations. It was the day on which Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and also the day on which they died. For Muslims it is the Sabbath and the day on which they believe Adam was created.

In Norse mythology it was thought to be a lucky day whilst in Christianity it is considered the unluckiest - Christ having been crucified on this day. It is a day of abstinence in the Catholic week; they abstain from meat and traditionally eat fish on a Friday instead.

It is believed to be a bad day for ships to put to sea although it is the day that Columbus set sail for the Americas and also the day on which he first sighted land. Friday is considered particularly unlucky if it falls on the 13th day of the month, although, since adoption of the Gregorian Calendar, the 13th of the month is statistically more likely to fall on a Friday than any other day.

In offices up and down the country it has become a dress down day and an early finish day; an extension to the weekend for those lucky enough to get off early. It is often called POETS Day by many workers, meaning: Piss Off Early Tomorrow's Saturday.

It used to be known as Hanging Day after the numerous executions which took place on this day and in modern times it is the most common day on which to be born; obstetricians would prefer to induce labour on Friday rather than have their golfing weekends interrupted by one of their patients giving birth.
Monday morning feels so bad,
Everybody seems to nag me
Coming Tuesday I feel better,
Even my old man looks good,
Wednesday just don't go,
Thursday goes too slow,
I've got Friday on my mind - The Easybeats
It is said that, "He who laughs on Friday will weep on Sunday." Now, how many times has that happened to me, eh...?

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Dead beat...

I've been thinking healthy thoughts lately about what music I'd like played at my funeral. What prompted me was listening to my favorite Momus song, What Will death Be Like? The song is a list of things that death will be unlike to the accompanyment of an acoustic guitar - very simple, clever and moving. It used to be on my list but I've now ditched in favour of something else.

There are so many songs to choose from and the list changes each time I look at it - I'm tempted to include Wagner's Ride Of The Valkyrie or Ding Dong The Witch is Dead - from The Wizard of Oz but, at the moment, my funeral hit list would be something like:
Sarabande - Georg Friedrich Handel
Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now - The Smiths
A Day In The Life - The Beatles
All Tomorrow's Parties - The Velvet Underground
The Man That Got Away - Judy Garland
Theme From Midnight Cowboy - John Barry
Go West - Village People
Are You Lonesome Tonight (Laughing Version) - Elvis Presley
Nimrod (Enigma Variations) - Edward Elgar
I went to a friend's funeral at Golders Green Crematorium some years ago and he had Abba's Super Trouper to play him out. As the coffin rolled into the flames, half the mourners cried and the other half laughed - not a dry eye in the house.

What's your curtain call music?

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

World leaders say the funniest things...

Just before setting off on tonight's run (4.19 km in 21'06" at 11.88 km/hr) I saw a tweet from journalist, Daniel Fisher (@DanFisherJourno) referencing today's post in the New Statesman blog, The Staggers. The post is entitled, Berlusconi gaffes: our top ten. For a politician to utter any one of these would be cause for concern; for the first minister of a developed country to have uttered all ten is nothing less than shocking.

However, in my opinion, the worst gaffe made by Silvio Berlusconi was when Italy's Prime Minister humiliated Angela Merkel at a Nato Summit Conference by keeping her waiting whilst he chatted on his mobile. Absolutely staggering!

Of course there are a number of people in the public eye who are well known for their gaffes. American presidents are well represented with the likes of George W Bush and Ronald Raegan. And we need look no further than our own back yard for political gaffes, such as the famous "bigoted woman" gaffe from Gordon Brown in the 2010 election and here are some other well known political noses out of joint. And for those of you not quite sated, here are a couple more gaffes.

However, if we were to give a lifetime achievement award for gaffes made by a figure in the public eye, then sureley, it must go to the Gaffer himself: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Here are a selection of his utterances, straight from the horse's arse:
British women can't cook. - 1966.

Everybody was saying we must have more leisure. Now they are complaining they are unemployed. - during the 1981 recession.

If it has got four legs and it is not a chair, if it has got two wings and it flies but is not an aeroplane, and if it swims and it is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it. - at a 1986 World Wildlife Fund meeting.

If a cricketer, for instance, suddenly decided to go into a school and batter a lot of people to death with a cricket bat, which he could do very easily, I mean, are you going to ban cricket bats? - in 1996, amid calls to ban firearms after the Dunblane shooting.

If you stay here much longer, you'll all be slitty-eyed. - to British students in China, during the 1986 state visit.

Are you still throwing spears at other tribes? - to Ivan Brim, Djabugay Elder at Tjapukai Aboriginal Park, Australia 2002.

A blind man walked into a pub and swung his guide dog around his head by the tail. He told the barman 'I'm just having a look around'. - telling a joke to a blind girl while presenting awards in Edinburgh in 1984.

We may have to move to smaller premises, who knows? We had a small yacht which we've had to sell and I shall probably have to give up polo fairly soon. - explaining in 1969 that the amount given to the Royal Family by the government was not enough to meet their expenses.

If it doesn't fart or eat hay, she isn't interested. - speaking about his daughter, Princess Anne.

I hope he breaks his bloody neck. - referring to a photographer who fell from a pole while trying to get a better view.

We don't come here for our health, you know. - while on a Royal visit to Canada in 1969.

You managed not to get eaten then? - while speaking to a Duke of Edinburgh Award participant in 1998 who had trekked across Papua New Guinea's Kokoda Trail, hinting that cannibalism was still practised in Papua New Guinea.

Get that bloody man out of the way. Hey you, didn't you hear what I said? You're blocking my bloody view. - referring to reporter David Leith who was standing in front of him at a Moroccan beauty spot.

I suppose you are the head knit. - speaking to the Managing Director of a Manchester knitting company.

I don't think doing it for money makes it any more moral. I don't think a prostitute is more moral than a wife, but they are doing the same thing. - a speech in London in 1988 comparing participation in blood sports to selling slaughtered meat.

Bloody silly fool! - in 1997, referring to a Cambridge University car park attendant who did not recognise him.

How do the natives keep off the booze long enough to pass their tests? - talking to a driving instructor on a visit to Oban, Scotland.

I don't know how these students are going to integrate in places like Glasgow and Sheffield. I have to commiserate with them. - after visiting a university in Brunei and talking to students who wanted to study in Britain.

I think the number of those killed has been exaggerated. - during a visit to Amritsar, India in 1997 referring to the massacre of 379 unarmed protesters by British troops in 1919.

It looks as if it was put in by an Indian. - pointing at an old-fashioned fusebox in a factory near Edinburgh in 1999.

Deaf? If you are near there, no wonder you are deaf. - to young deaf people in Cardiff, in 1999, referring to a nearby school's welcoming steel band.

You are a woman, aren't you? - in Kenya, in 1984, after accepting a small gift from an indigenous woman.
Imagine being married to him...?

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Now, who fancies a spitroast...?

As many of you know, the Kings Cross, Wales' oldest gay bar, closed a while ago. I wrote about it here in September and I was sad to see it go after so many years and so many memories. But, I guess, times change. As I passed it this morning (as I do most mornings on my way to work) it was shrouded in its tarpaulin - like a corpse before burial maybe or perhaps like a pupa on its way to becoming a butterfly. Who knows?

I walked over to take a closer look and noticed that it is now promoting itself under its new name of The Corner House. It looks nice enough and the menu looks promising.

However, the thing that really caught my eye was on the hoarding they've got up outside the pub. The hoarding boasts Sunday roasts, pastas, risottos, burgers and fish. Nothing unusual about that, you say. Indeed, I've seen all those dishes served over the years in its old guise as the Kings Cross. However, one thing it now boasts that the Kings, in all its long history as a gay bar, never ever quite managed: spitroasts... The Corner House is offering spitroasts!

What next - handcuffs, cubicles and a gloryhole? Perhaps a dark room and a sling for the pre-theatre crowd? The times, they certainly are a changing...

My run tonight saw me cover 4.05 km in 20'53" at 11.62 km/hr.

Monday, 7 November 2011

In preparation...

On my run tonight (4.04 km in 21'35'" at a pace of 5'20"), I started assembling a list in preparation for a holiday I've got conming soon. This list used to exist on my phone but that disappeared when I damaged it and had to get it replaced a couple of weeks ago. Such lists used to remain in my head but now I have to write them down:
Find passport
Find European Health Insurance Card
Print flight tickets
Print hotel booking
Print transfer documents
Print insurance details
Cut nails
Visit barber
Wash clothes
Sort running kit
Arrange for use of bank card abroad
Arrange for use of credit card abroad
Buy €50
Download Spooks to watch on iPad
Remember headphones
Find plug adapters
Choose holiday books
Find spare reading glasses
Buy suntan lotion
Buy aftersun
Buy new rucksack
Buy flip flops
Charge camera battery
Charge razor
Pick up prescription
Buy electric toothbrush heads
Buy toiletries
Buy glucose tablets
Trim hair
Iron (if I must)
Clean flat
Phone my mother
Disable anything smart about my smartphone
That should keep me busy for the next few days...

Sunday, 6 November 2011

In the mood...

The Puppini Sisters are a close harmony, 1940s feel, swing trio and I can't get these girls out of my mind. I spoke to my friend Lou about them on Twitter last night. She'd not heard of them before, which comes as no surprise. Neither had I until a friend intoduced me to them. They're a bit hard to categorise and consequently aren't given the hard sell treatment by the music industry they otherwise would. No, they remain a jewel waiting to be discovered.

Their performances of swing classics such as It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing) and Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (of Company B) are stunning. However, it's their swing renditions of new wave/indie classics such as Blondie's Heart of Glass, Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights and Panic by The Smiths that are totally startling and absolutely out of this world.

With the sun glittering in this crisp autumnal weather across Cardiff Bay and The Puppini Sisters going round in my head nothing could dampen my mood today: not running out of milk this morning, not forgetting my phone when I left the house this afternoon, not losing my £1 coin needed to lock my locker at the pool - nothing! I have been In the Mood all day.

And when I eventually got in the pool this afternoon, as I thrashed up and down the lanes, In the Mood went round and round in my head. If I could have found a way of singing it underwater, I would have...
Who's the lovin' daddy with the beautiful eyes
What a pair o' lips, I'd like to try 'em for size
I'll just tell him, "Baby, won't you swing it with me"
Hope he tells me maybe, what a wing it will be
So, I said politely "Darlin' may I intrude"
He said "Don't keep me waitin' when I'm in the mood"
 I saw The Puppini Sisters live about 2 years ago and they were magnificent: faultless singing, superb musicianship and wonderful banter. You leave their shows with a feeling of warmth and satisfaction and huge grin from ear to ear. Here they are singing a medley of some of their songs at the Music Hall Meltdown.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Penny for the guy...

Yes, it's time to muster all your anti Catholic hatred; get out your papal effigy and burn it on top of a huge bonfire: it's Guy Fawkes Night again. So, stand by with your rockets, catherine wheels and sparklers to mark the day, over 400 years ago, when a certain Guido Fawkes planned to blow up James I and Parliament and restore a catholic monarch to the throne.
Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot.
We see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Surprisingly, Ireland has joined in the festivities this year by closing the Vatican Embassy in Dublin. Alternatively, you could stick with a more traditional celebration. But remember kids... Follow the firework code.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Yes, but why...?

Tonight's run of 4.02 km in 21'54" at a pace of 5'27" was a wonderfully moist affair in the Cardiff drizzle. While I ran I thought about last night's post, in which I talked about why I blog. This was in answer to Navid's questions about The Scarperer. I said that it was my way of recording my thoughts, possibly for future reading. It all sounds very noble and very worthy, doesn't it?

There's a line of thinking that states all behaviour is driven by our need to be satisfied at some basic level; the desire for food, shelter, sex, self worth. Even seemingly altruistic behaviour can be explained using this thinking. For example, do people undertake charitable work in order to help people who are less fortunate or to increase their own self worth?

Richard Dawkins wrote a book called The Selfish Gene, where he stated that animal (and human) behaviour could be explained by its effect in enabling that organism to pass on its genes (or, at times, in enabling a relative of that organism to pass on its genes). It's a pretty good model for answering those questions about why certain animals sacrifice themselves for the good of their neighbours. The behaviours of ants and bees are good example of seemingly altruistic behaviours. It seems that self sacrifice can be advantagous in passing on (some of) your genes.

In The Selfish Gene Richard Dawkins coins the term meme as an idea, behaviour or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. He describes the replication of memes in the development of human culture. This brings us neatly full circle with memes being replicated throughout the blogging world. They are the double helix of the blogosphere; they enable blogs to live and develop as they spread throughout the interweb.

So why do I blog? I guess there are a number of benefits I get from blogging but at a basic level it satisfies that need in me for self worth. Selfish, I know but aren't we all...?

Thursday, 3 November 2011

But why...?

I bumped into my friend Navid on the way home from work tonight. He said, "I read one of your Scarperer posts the other night". "Oh...?" I said. "What's that about then?" he asked. As we walked through town we talked about blogging. I told him that The Scarperer arose from my need to capture some of the things I think about when I run.

Whilst I ran tonight (4.04 km in 22'23" at a pace of  5'32"), I thought about this further. All Navid was trying to find out, I guess, was why I do it. They say that if you ask why often enough, you'll get to the truth (or if you're a child, you'll get a smack). So why do I blog? Well, as I've said before, when I run or swim I process my day and I wanted to capture the thoughts that blossom during my run or swim.

I used to write a blog a couple of years ago and re-reading some of the posts I wrote between 2002 and 2005 is quite fascinating. It's almost like reading about another person; I'm not him anymore, I've moved on (at least, I hope I have). Undoubtedly, had I not captured some of my thoughts from this period, they would be forgotten; lost like they'd never existed in the first place.

But what is a blog? Well, in Blogger's introduction it describes a blog as:
"A blog is a personal diary. A daily pulpit. A collaborative space. A political soapbox. A breaking-news outlet. A collection of links. Your own private thoughts. Memos to the world. Your blog is whatever you want it to be. There are millions of them, in all shapes and sizes, and there are no real rules."
So, there you have it, Nav. I'm not sure which of those terms best describes The Scarperer; perhaps you can tell me next time I bump into you...?

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

A new variety of Krispy Kreme...

Tonight's run was brought to you by a distance of 4.09 km, a time of 21'50" resulting in a pace of  5'20". It was an uneventful run, which almost didn't happen because my devious, evil twin, inner voice almost tricked me into not going. My inner voice is very reasonable and has no problem summoning 1001 plausible reasons not to run. I have to stick my fingers in my ears and sing, "La la la, la la, la la la..."

Whilst running I passed a man in a raincoat who looked a lot like Frank Bough. Frank Bough was a BBC TV presenter whose career took a nose dive after allegations of his cocaine taking and lingerie wearing  at parties became public (he went up in my estimation). In his heyday during the late 70s and early 80s, he used to present an early evening magazine programme for the BBC called Nationwide.

After a cookery demonstration one evening by Fanny Craddock (pictured) and Johnny, her helper and husband, where they showed the viewers how to make doughnuts, the camera cut back to Frank for the link to the next item. After thanking the couple he turned to camera and cheerily proclaimed, "And I hope that all your doughnuts turn out like Fanny's..."

Here he is performing There is Nothing Like a Dame with Morcambe & Wise.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

When you're dead, you'll regret not having fun with your genital organs...

In a flat at 25 Noel Road, Islington, London on the 9th August 1967, Joe Orton was murdered by Kenneth Halliwell, his partner of 16 years. He was 34 years old. Halliwell smashed Orton's skull in with a hammer and then took an overdose of twenty-two Nembutal washed down with the juice from a tin of grapefruit. Halliwell died first.

As I ran tonight, for some reason, I was thinking of Joe Orton. I think my mind was free-wheeling and somewhere I'd picked up Joe Orton as a passenger. He's a welcome and entertaining passenger is Mr Orton; he ensnares your mind by getting you to laugh and then getting you to question the things you've just laughed at. I thought about this dramatic technique as I ran; you don't see it employed that much nowadays.

I first became interested in Orton and his writing when I was in my late teens. He influenced my world view and I read anything associated with his name. His philosophy and outlook fascinated me. It was so irreverent, anti-establishment and deliciously wicked. His plays sprang directly from his experiences. He was an outsider; his class, his criminal record, his intelligence and his sexuality placed him (and kept him) outside - something he was boastfully proud of.

Looking in at society he was able to see the farce and sham that it actually was. His cruelly comic satires on the hypocrisy of this conservative British post war society and its values are a delight; savage and full of innuendo and contradiction. In all of his work Orton undermines society and the family and ridicules their values. In his plays there lies a seething sexuality and brooding violence but, above all, a wicked sense of fun. The same might be said about his life

The grade II listed Victorian toilets where Orton went cottaging in South End Green, Hampstead, North London were renovated with £50,000 of national lottery money at the turn of the millennium. The Sunday Times reported, "The prime purpose of the renovation grant is to preserve one of the last remaining Victorian lavatories left intact and still in service in London. However, both the council and the lottery fund agree that the Orton connection is an influential factor in securing the money." The British public were outraged. A fitting memorial for one of Britain's greatest wits and most provocative social commentators. Here's a wonderful clip from the film of Orton's stage play, Entertaining Mr Sloane starring the wonderful Beryl Reid on top form.

My run tonight was another zippy one for me: I ran with a pace of 5'25" over 4.02 km in 21'48" - despite nearly choking when I remembered this warning from Orton to live life to the full, "When you're dead, you'll regret not having fun with your genital organs."