Saturday, 31 March 2012

A cure for post holiday blues...

We all know that sinking feeling of the return schlepp from a holiday; there's no other option and no alternative than to leave but you'd give your right arm to stay one more day. Please, please, God, don't make me do this. Well, he did and here I am back in Cardiff.

Meeting up last night for a last drink with Mauro, Paddy, Seamus, Olivier and Maarten was lovely; we started at a small and bijoux cocktail bar called Kactus and then moved on to a Dutch bar where the barman looked uncannily like Jeremy Clarkson. I had one eye on the time because I had an early start this morning but it was a lovely and relaxing evening all the same.

The flight home was uneventful and the commute from the airport outside Cardiff to the town centre was grim, given the cattle truck state of the Arriva train I caught. The weather in Cardiff is at least 15 degrees below the temperature on Fuerteventura and 10 degrees below what it was  in Cardiff only yesterday. This made it a doubly depressing return home.

At times like this, there is only one solution: hit the town and extend the holiday. Look out Cardiff...

Friday, 30 March 2012

To the gays...

There is something about the company of gay men that can sometimes be unpleasant; a sour bitchiness that can riddle an entire evening that, otherwise, would have been magical. Of course, at it's best the reverse is true of gay company; an honest but glittering wit that pervades everything, lifting the whole mood and sparkling with a shared and humorous outlook on life.

I'm happy to say that last night was the latter. There was Mauro, the Italian who has a natural talent for doing cutting but hilarious impersonations of me; Seamus and Paddy, the Irish guys who seem to have a limitless and inexhaustible appetite for partying; Olivier, the lovely French guy who, like me, is a fan of AussieBum underwear; and Maarten, the handsome and charming Dutchman who doesn't stop dancing.

We chatted, laughed, drank, danced and flirted until 4am this morning and then all met up on the beach again today and started over again. It's at times like this when you feel so glad to be alive. We're all meeting again tonight for a last drink together as, starting with me at lunchtime tomorrow, we all fly home over the next two days.

Let's raise a glass to the gays...
Today's run at 18:28
Distance4.19 kmTime25:03
Pace5:59 min/kmCadence79 spm
Comments: Warm & sunny.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Relatively speaking...

Compared to some gay men, I am butchness itself; although, we're you to stand me next to Bruce Willis, I dare say I'd look a little fey. There are many parts of Wales where I've been told how English I sound; whereas in Cardiff I sound like a proper Welshy. In the last couple of years I keep being asked if I've any Spanish in me (cue joke)... but never by a Spaniard.

So many aspects of our lives are relative. "Today has been the best/worst day evah..." until the next one. Measurement is a comparison and so often in this life the comparison changes; things move on, develop, shrink and grow.

Add to the mix our own perception and memory and you arrive quite quickly in the territory where all the summers of my childhood were golden stretches of uninterrupted sunshine and all the winters were crisp and white and "proper" winters.

Indeed, relativity is the very reason that Seamus could question my portrait of him in my blog of a few days ago as having "the gift of the gab", protesting that back home in Ireland his family consider him to be the quiet one. A taciturn Irishman, now there's a thought!

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king...
Today's run at 18:28
Distance4.19 kmTime25:52
Pace6:11 min/kmCadence79 spm
Comments: Warm & sunny.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Nostalgic queens...

Today started well; clear skies and blazing sunshine with just enough of a breeze to tickle your body and cool you down. Today was going to be the day that I changed my factor 30 for a factor 15 but with the sun so fierce, I decided to stick with the factor 30.

By lunchtime the sun had started to disappear in a haze of sand whipped up by the strengthening breeze. It was soon obliterated altogether by grey cloud and by about 3pm the breeze had strengthened further to gale force strength. By rights, I should be spherical and highly polished, such was the abrasiveness of the sand whipped up by the high winds.

With the sand stinging every part of me, no sun and a drop of a couple of degrees in temperature, it was time to put some clothes on, cover up my sandy crevices and wend my way home. With that, I had an offer to walk the 2km or more back with the guy from Manchester that I met yesterday.

We seemed to hit it off, mainly through a shared sense of humour. It's difficult laughing when every time you open your mouth you eat a kilo of sand. We battled on against the wind, passing time by reminiscing about Cardiff back in the day when (as my friend Carlos would say) children were made out of wood. There's nothing like a pair of nostalgic queens...
Today's run at 18:39
Distance4.22 kmTime25:32
Pace6:03 min/kmCadence79 spm
Comments: Warm & sunny.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The dome of St Pauls' it is then...

A day of hazy sunshine and gusty winds made for an odd day on the beach. There weren't as many people there because, I think, of the weather. This meant that it felt more relaxed and easy going; gone was the cut throat attitude to get a good spot.

I got talking to a guy from Manchester whose face seemed vaguely familiar. Turns out he used to live in Cardiff ten years ago. Another guy I spoke to, also living in Manchester, once worked in Cardiff and so we spoke of the many changes Cardiff has undergone in recent years. It seems another day bejewelled with coincidences.

Walking back from the beach was tough going tonight. The sand seemed softer than usual and therefore made for a bit of a slog. That, coupled with a head wind for the 2km hike, meant my calves were in knots by the time I got back. I've been trying to work out why my run every night has been such a slow and laboured affair - knotty calves after 4km a day in soft sand may just be the answer.

When I was a kid I remember reading in (I think) the Guinness Book of Records, that for a human to match the jumping power of a flea, he (it's always a he) would have to be able to jump over the dome of St Paul's Cathedral. That's one helluva jump. Unleash the energy tied up in my knotty calves and I'd have no trouble. To use one of my favourite phrases, I've got calves like an angry tranny...
Today's run at 17:48
Distance4.17 kmTime24:34
Pace5:53 min/kmCadence79 spm
Comments: Warm & sunny.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Rules are meant to be broken...

There are many rules concerned with the English language. They were a 19th Century invention created in an attempt to order the messy English language and based on the way formal Latin works. Take, for example, the one that dictates you should never split an infinitive. The reason for this rule is because it is impossible to split an infinitive in Latin, whereas in English it is very possible and often desirable - as in, "to boldly go" rather than "to go boldly".

Another so called rule that is often trotted out is the one that goes, you should never end a sentence in a preposition. I love Churchill's answer to this when challenged by a pedant grammarian, which was, "it is something up with which I shall not put".

The absurdity of applying rules from the language of one culture to the language of another is only surpassed by the absurdity of applying the rules, norms and mores of one sexuality to another. This has been in the news lately with the vinegar squeaks from religious leaders as they try to enforce what they believe to be the rules that govern heterosexuality onto a homosexual culture.

Oh, if only it were that simple! Human sexuality is a fluid and changing
matter. It refuses to be boxed in by the strictures of a set of narrow rules trying to govern the ungovernable. Witness the heterosexual couples sunbathing no more than 500m from the gay beach today; the wives read their novels in the full knowledge that their husbands are on walk about.

As I sit here on my hotel balcony I can't help but think that rules are, indeed, meant to be broken.
Today's run at 17:03
Distance4.19 kmTime25:15
Pace6:02 min/kmCadence79 spm
Comments: Warm & sunny.

Sunday, 25 March 2012


When I was here in Fuerteventura a year ago, I met an Irishman, Seamus. I know it's cliched but, like many of his countrymen, he had, as they say, the gift of the gab; he could charm the proverbial birdies out of their proverbial trees.

I met him on the beach on my first full day on the island. His face seemed vaguely familiar but I couldn't place it. Anyway, we got talking. "How long have you been here?" I asked. "Arrived yesterday." came the reply, "I was a bit hung over after enjoying myself a bit too much in Dublin the night before." And then it dawned on me, this was the guy whom I'd sat alongside on the bus from the airport into Corralejo the day before. He'd looked miserable as hell and didn't respond when I smiled at him.

As the holiday progressed, we met up several times for drinks. We seemed to get on. One night I was telling him a story of when I'd been here in the November before. In telling the story, I mentioned a Finnish guy whom I'd met and that he had his eight year old daughter with him. Seamus stopped me; it turned out that Seamus remembered the Finnish guy too. He had been on the beach not more than 20 metres away from me that November. Small wonder that his face had been vaguely familiar to me.

Our flights home were within an hour of each other and so we arranged to meet up at the airport. Both flights were delayed and so we had a little extra time to kill. He was more than entertaining with his knack of telling a good yarn well. Eventually, both flights were announced and, before leaving for our respective gates, we swapped numbers and said our goodbyes.

On returning home I found him on Facebook and added him as friend. As you are all, no doubt, aware, Facebook friends are not friends in the conventional sense of the word. They equate more to acquaintances; the occasional conversation, the catchup, the nod and the wave. Indeed, over the last year, Seamus and I have had the occasional conversation and catchup and we've done the Facebook equivalent to nodding and waving at each other from time to time.

Imagine my thrill and disbelief when who should walk into the bar I was in last night but my occasional Facebook friend, Seamus. Happenstance, indeed...
Today's run at 16:36
Distance4.22 kmTime24:10
Pace5:44 min/kmCadence81 spm
Comments: Warm & sunny.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Never say never...

I never sleep through alarms; when my alarm goes off every morning, I never hit snooze but leap out of bed - I've never had a problem with waking up. Until, that is, this morning, when I slept through not one but two alarms and was awoken by my taxi for the airport. There's nothing like leaving for a holiday in a blind panic, unsure whether you've packed everything.

I arrived at the airport in a bit of a daze, resigned to the probability that I'd be buying a lot of things that I should have packed, had I gotten up in time. Two items I'd already identified in my cab journey as missing: flip flops and a backpack - essential for a beach holiday. I bought another pair of flip flops at the airport and another backpack once I'd unpacked at my hotel.

Settling in on the plane, with my heart rate finally returning to normal, I looked around at my fellow passengers. Fuck me, if chavism was an Olympic event, us Welsh would be assured a gold come the summer. The air was crackling with the static from the man made fibres and I don't think anyone had a full set of teeth.

Sitting down on my balcony as I write this (post hottie ogling at the beach, post sweaty 26C run, post cool swim in the hotel pool) with a large vodka and coke and watching the sun set, I am as far removed from the day's stressful start as I ever will be. I never sleep through alarms...
Today's run at 17:43
Distance4.02 kmTime22:43
Pace5:39 min/kmCadence80 spm
Comments: Warm & sunny.

Friday, 23 March 2012


Tonight's run was glorious; the weather was warm and the sun was shining. Tonight's run was glorious for other reasons in addition to the weather. Tonight's run was glorious because today I finished work, not just for the weekend but also for a whole of next week.

It really is the most beautiful feeling in the world, poised at the top of a hard won slope that means I won't need to climb again until April 2nd when I return to work. However, as with all holidays, time will rush by at a breakneck pace; faster than the neutrinos in the Hadron Collider.

What is it about our perception of time? Next week will race by for me, whereas for you it may drag. If only we could control it and crank it up or wind it down as we liked. Do I really want such control? Mmmmm... That phrase favoured by my mother warning me about wishing my life away is bouncing around my head.

Theories of General Relativity aside and as far as I can measure, I know that we mark time in even units of a set period. However my experience screams the contrary; time bends with age, enjoyment and hard work. Why is it that this next week will fly by disobeying any logic? I'm not asking for it to crawl. No. All I'm asking is that time plays fair and passes at its usual work week moderate plod.
Today's run at 18:13
Distance4.01 kmTime21:12
Pace5:17 min/kmCadence80 spm
Comments: Sunny.

Thursday, 22 March 2012


I'm not bald but my hair is thinning and receding a little. I don't much care about it; I'm a happy slaphead. For men it's a natural part of the aging process. The only attention I pay is to ensure that it looks neat. As such, I have it buzzed short. I don't think a comb over would suit me, anyway.

I read on the BBC that scientists may have found a clue as to why men lose their hair when they get older. They've found that levels of a protein called prostaglandin D synthase are elevated in the cells of hair follicles located in bald patches on the scalp, but not in hairy areas.

Scientists are not sure if inhibiting this protein will stop the baldness or reverse it. I can't help thinking that there are far more important conditions worthy of investigation than pandering to the vanity of a few bald men.

If, like me, you don't really care whether they cure baldness today, tomorrow or never, you might want to take a look at the Slaphead Society.
Today's run at 18:06
Distance4.01 kmTime21:26
Pace5:21 min/kmCadence80 spm
Comments: Clear.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Farewell, possums...

I adored Dame Edna. I still do. I remember buying a live album of hers, Housewife Superstar, recorded at at the Globe Theatre back in the late 70s. I was transfixed by this monster of a woman; a modern day Gorgon, petrifying her prey - us, her audience.

I was also impressed by the way she worked her audience and the way she worked her devastating humour around them. I was amazed by the way the entire show depended on the audience and what they gave; no set routines here. She deserved every glittering sparkle that set her apart from ordinary housewives with every barb that bedazzled us with her superstar status.

I first saw her live at in An Evening's Intercourse at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on Tuesday April 6th in 1982. The date stays with me because the Falklands War had started the Friday before and Dame Edna was full of tales about being asked by Thatcher to call around to Downing Street to give her much needed advice on how to handle the Argentines. In setting the scene, Dame Edna spoke of a skip being parked outside Number 10 and described how she couldn't help noticing that was full to the brim of unwanted tins of corned beef.

During the show, she invited quaking members of the audience up on stage. Under the pretense of being able to deduce their true characters from their footwear, she got them to remove one shoe. She then bullied them into cooking a barbeque as they limped around this historic theatre's stage. They all then ate the barbeque, as Edna (ever so nicely) kept the insults flying at a furious pace. Fond memories.

And so it is with great sadness that I learned earlier this week that Dame Edna is to retire. What a loss to the world of comedy, characterisation, celebrity put down, taboo subject matter, taste and niceness this retirement will be.
Today's run at 17:22
Distance4.04 kmTime22:04
Pace5:28 min/kmCadence80 spm
Comments: Sunny.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Cardiff Airport not good enough...

I've criticised Cardiff Airport here twice before. Once last year in a post entitled International jet setting... and again this year in a post entitled Prepare for take off...

And now I see that Carwyn Jones, First Minister, has gone on the attack, stating that he wouldn't want to bring people to Wales via Cardiff International Airport. He talks of people being locked in the baggage hall and of having to use a side door because the front doors were shut. As I have argued here before, there is nothing international about Cardiff Airport.

Mr Jones has faced pressure to back down on his statements but he is standing by what he said and refusing to retract them. With any luck, someone (the owners) will sit up and take notice because this isn't the standard you'd expect from an airport - even a small provincial one.
Today's run at 17:20
Distance4.10 kmTime23:12
Pace5:40 min/kmCadence80 spm
Comments: Cloudy.

Monday, 19 March 2012

The Olympic torch...

With 8,000 people involved in carrying it a distance of 8,000 miles, the Olympic torch begins its 70 day journey in the UK at Lands End on the morning of May 19th. 212 of the bearers will be children aged 12 and the oldest torch bearer is 99 year old Diana Gould.

Details released today show the torch's route across the UK; the aim being to bring the torch within 10 miles of 95% of the population. Luckily for me it passes within 200 metres of my front door at a little after 06:30 on the morning of Saturday May 26th.

I'd best set the alarm...
Today's run at 17:52
Distance4.06 kmTime22:21
Pace5:30 min/kmCadence80 spm
Comments: Sunny.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Place your bets...

Following Dr Rowan Williams' resignation on Friday, who will be the next Archbishop of Canterbury; head of the Anglican Church? I well remember the fuss and outcry the last time this position was vacant back in 2002. I wrote then:
Despite the stuffy conservative image of the Church of England (they are sometimes referred to as "the Tory Party at prayer"), Rowan Williams is hotly tipped to succeed George Carey as the Archbishop of Canterbury in October this year.

Dr Williams (presently Archbishop of Wales) is a theologian with a liberal outlook; he has been outspoken against the recent bombing campaign in Afghanistan, he supports the ordination of women bishops, is gay friendly and is in favour of disestablishmentarianism. He has the support of much of Blair's government and has won endorsements from the likes of former Archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu.

If appointed, it would be the first time in modern history for an Archbishop of Canterbury to be chosen from outside the Church of England and he would be the first welshman to hold that post in over 1000 years.

What, a taffy pinko-liberal to lead the Anglicans? Tosh - we can't have that!

It seems, the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, is becoming a favorite for the role this time around, with many right wing Tories supporting him. Judging by recent statements he's made, they'll be very happy with him, should he get the job.
Today's run at 13:32
Distance4.23 kmTime24:39
Pace5:40 min/kmCadence79 spm
Comments: Sunny.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Zut alors...!

I don't get French; it's like a foreign language to me. I studied it for two years whilst in school before admitting defeat. I couldn't pronounce its nasal twangs and I didn't understand its grammar. I still can't and don't.

Cardiff, this weekend is awash with the bouquet of Bordeaux and awhiff with the fume of Gitanes. The soundtrack is the babble of expressive chatter in a gallic tongue. As I ran this morning, I couldn't help but notice an air of sophistication in the Bay, with groups of French fans enjoying the early morning Cardiff sunshine. I swear I saw Maurice Chevalier and Édith Piaf by the Norwegian Church.

Judging by the barriers I saw outside outside St David's Hotel and the hoards of blue clad men looking like the cast of Asterix the Gaul, I'd say that the French rugby team are encamped there for this weekend's Six Nations match against Wales. By the time many of you read this, the match will be over and Wales will be Grand Slam winners of the Six Nations, or not.

There is, in my mind, a difference to rugby games involving the French. I'm not talking about the behaviour of the players on the pitch but the behaviour of the fans during the weekend around the game. They are more like tournaments than matches. There is a relaxed loucheness that is unattainable in the routs with our Celtic cousins and a gentrification that is only aspirational in the clashes with our Anglo Saxon opposites.

I'll leave you with this: Your Mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.
Today's run at 08:24
Distance4.01 kmTime23:19
Pace5:49 min/kmCadence81 spm
Comments: Bright.

Friday, 16 March 2012


There are days when the news is laced with interconnecting threads that compliment and contrast various stories. The juxtaposition of one against another provides insight and understanding and sometimes humour.

Take this week as an example:
Wednesday saw the resignation of Tesco's UK chief executive and today saw the resignation of the Archbishop of Canterbury. It could be argued that both have gone after disappointing numbers recently.

Thursday saw the new iPad go on sale, helping Apple maintain its position as the most popular tablet on the market, whilst a new study found that poor literacy increases early death risk for the elderly. Participants in the study took a short test, based on instructions similar to those found on a packet of aspirin - the other most popular tablet on the market.

There are parallels with the uglier side of human society this week, with findings from an American team that spurned male fruit flies drink more alcohol, whilst a Japanese team have been probing the brains of killer honeybees. Meanwhile the UK Government considers Sobriety Orders for those who commit crimes fuelled by alcohol.

Earlier this week was Steak and Blowjob Day. And what do you think are two of the biggest health stories this week? Red meat consumption increases the risk of early death and oral sex can lead to cancer. What's a guy to do...?
I wonder what themes are planned for next week...?
Today's run at 17:46
Distance4.02 kmTime22:43
Pace5:39 min/kmCadence79 spm
Comments: Patchy cloud.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Beware the Ides of March...

...So said the Soothsayer in Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar. Of course, we know that Caesar ignored this warning, along with premonitions his wife had, and was assassinated on March 15th by conspirators led by Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus.

So, what exactly are the Ides? The Ides originally referred to the full moon at around the middle of the month. Later it referred to the 13th day of most months except for March, May, July, and October, where it referred to the 15th day. The Ides of March were a feast day dedicated to the Roman god Mars.

For how long was Julius Caesar Emperor of Rome? Julius Caesar was never Emperor of Rome. Rome had been a republic for nearly 500 years at the time of his death. Caesar, having marched his army across the Rubicon River to Rome (hence the phrase, crossing the rubicon) was proclaimed dictator in perpetuity. It was the fear that he wanted to dismantle the republic that drove the conspirators to assassinate him. The first Emperor was Caesar's adopted grandnephew, Gaius Octavian; later to become Augustus.

And he was assassinated at the senate in the Roman forum in 44BC? No, he was assassinated at a curia in the nearby Theatre of Pompey. A curia is a meeting place for discussion and the senate were the elders who met there. The curia at the Theatre of Pompey was used temporarily whilst the curia in the forum was being renovated.

And his dying words were, "You too, Brutus?", right? Well, it's often cited that he said "Et tu, Brute?" meaning "And you, Brutus?" but there is some debate over this. There are some Roman historians that support this while others cite he said nothing. There is also debate as to whether his last words were in Greek, "Kai su, teknon?" meaning "You too, my child?"

Julius Caesar was the first historical Roman to be officially deified. He was granted the title Divus Julius by the Roman Senate on 1 January 42 BC.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

No Smoking Day...

Today is No Smoking Day. A day to encourage smokers to quit. Thankfully, I don't smoke and haven't done in about 6 years. I gave up by going cold turkey over a couple of days I'd taken off from work. It wasn't easy.

Time was when I could easily top 30 a day without really trying. Given the option, I'd chain smoke. My clothes must have reeked of the stuff. If I went out at night, I could smoke myself hoarse. I liked smoking.

I've just re-read a piece I wrote about No Smoking Day back in 2002:
Yesterday was No Smoking Day here in the UK. I quite happily ignored it without one pang of guilt. I suppose it's quite useful to have one day which focuses attention on the issue... but it doesn't work for me.

I actually enjoy smoking but that doesn't mean I don't want to give up; I'm well aware of all the negatives associated with the habit. But the one thing that's gonna increase the number I get through in the day is some organised campaign to encourage me to stop. Child psychology. I must have a rebellious streak.

Wanting to be different and interesting; it's probably the most important factor that got me started in the first place. It's the same reason I never make New Year resolutions: I don’t want to be part of that set that search desperately to abstain from something on the 1st of January only to be admitting failure before they've taken the Christmas decorations down.

"What can I do - abstain from alcohol, become vegetarian, go on a diet, take up jogging, take up blogging, stop picking my nose?" I'd rather make any lifestyle changes quietly, when the moment's right for me. No Smoking Day? Sorry, I don't have the time; I've got to pop out for 20 Marlboro before the shops shut.
Re-reading that is like reading something someone else has written. It doesn't sound like my voice. How times change and one's priorities with them. If you'd asked me then whether I saw myself in 6 years time as a non-smoker, I'd have thought you were mad.

Eventually, I did give up smoking and for good (I hope). I'd tried many times but returned to smoking because I liked it. The reason I stopped 6 years ago (and so far have managed to stay stopped) is that I found something that I liked more than smoking. That something is running.

Good luck to all those who've decided to give up. One day at a time...
Today's run at 18:18
Distance4.01 kmTime22:41
Pace5:39 min/kmCadence80 spm
Comments: Cold, foggy.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

House of Cards...

Is House of Cards not the best TV series ever? It's 22 years since it was first screened and I can't really think of anything that's bettered it. Hearing the theme music again as it plays it's mock pomposity over the opening titles sends a shiver up my spine.

Based on a novel by one time Chief of Staff at Conservative Party Headquarters, Ian Dobbs, House of Cards is the first in a trilogy including To Play the King and The Final Cut. Set at the demise of the Thatcher government, House of Cards is a political thriller that charts the Machiavellian scheming of Francis Urquhart as he sets his sights on becoming leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister.

Ian Richardson's portrayal of Chief Whip, Francis Urquhart (FU to his Tory chums) is splendid and Andrew Davies' scripts glint with the brilliance of a razor. The plot has resonances with both Shakespeare's Richard III and Macbeth. Richardson is said to have based Urquhart on Richard III. The role of Urquhart's wife, Elizabeth, owes much to Lady Macbeth.

One of the most effective devices used in the series is when Urquhart breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the audience in much the same way Shakespeare uses soliloquies. In doing so Urquhart involves us and makes us complicit in his schemes and plans. We are as guilty as he and what a pleasure that is.

I'll leave you with a few delicious Urquhart quotes:
I'm the Chief Whip. Merely a functionary. I keep the troops in line. I put a bit of stick about. I make 'em jump.

Nothing lasts forever. Even the longest, the most glittering reign must come to an end someday.

Me? Well, I'm just a backroom boy.

You might well think that. I couldn't possibly comment.
Today's run at 18:06
Distance4.01 kmTime22:01
Pace5:29 min/kmCadence81 spm
Comments: Cold, foggy.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Regrets, I've had a few...

...But then again, too few to mention. I've always admired that line from My Way for its honesty. Whilst most would aim to die with no regrets, I expect that most die with a few, if not many regrets. Indeed, he is a very lucky man, I think, who can face death with not one regret.

I saw my ex on the weekend for a coffee. He later sent me a link relating to regrets - something we talked about when we met (and the impetus for this post). He told me that an Australian palliative care nurse has written a book entitled the Top Five Regrets of the Dying which is, in turn, based on her blog, Inspiration and Chai.

I've heard, time and time again that regrets should be avoided. My parents seemed to repeat this line mantra-like to me at every opportunity. I quickly reached the point where I saw any expression of regret  as a failure. I soon realised that I could not maintain my sanity and this outlook alongside one another. I had to rethink.

Surely, everyone has regrets - don't they? In this life we grow from the mistakes we make and mistakes are the seeds of regret. I don't see how anyone could navigate this life and have not one regret.

I know there are things that I've done that, had I my time over, I'd do differently. Some regrets I can rectify and some are etched in time; their window for correction having long blown shut. Yes, there are some that I'll take to my deathbed but, thankfully, they are small and insignificant in the great scheme of things.

Perhaps, in sending me the link to the Guardian article he'd read, my ex was fishing to see if I named our time together as one of my regrets. I don't actually think he was and it's not one of my regrets; indeed, my regrets are not wholly different to the 5 named in the book and blog.

Whatever my regrets are; the good thing is, I have every chance of doing something about them so that they cease to be regrets or, at least, diminish substantially.
Today's run at 18:16
Distance4.01 kmTime23:17
Pace5:48 min/kmCadence79 spm
Comments: Cold, clear and still.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Jowl flapping...

You'll no doubt remember Cardinal Keith O'Brien's homophobic outburst last Sunday opposing same sex marriage. Today saw a further development in the fantastical bile being spouted by religious groups in opposition to same sex marriages.

A letter by Archbishop Vincent Nichols (the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales) and Archbishop Peter Smith (the Archbishop of Southwark) was this morning read out in 2,500 churches. The letter calls on people to oppose this proposed change in legislation.

On their website, The Catholic Church in England and Wales have launched a petition for people to sign called the Coalition for Marriage. The introduction to this petition emphasises the profound consequences should this legislation succeed:
If marriage is redefined, those who believe in traditional marriage will be sidelined. People's careers could be harmed, couples seeking to adopt or foster could be excluded, and schools would inevitably have to teach the new definition to children. If marriage is redefined once, what is to stop it being redefined to allow polygamy?
This rhetoric is reminiscent of those sandwich board warnings you hear of announcing that the end of the world is nigh.

I like Stonewall Chief Executive, Ben Summerskill's response to this religious jowl flapping:
"If Roman Catholics don’t approve of same-sex marriage, they should make sure they don’t get married to someone of the same sex.”
Indeed, no-one will be forced to marry anyone and no church will be compelled to offer gay marriages. It's a bit like the reasoning used against Mary Whitehouse and her National Viewers and Listeners campaigns of the 60s and 70s to clean up TV; no one is forcing you to watch - if you don't like it you can switch it off.
Today's run at 17:09
Distance4.38 kmTime24:10
Pace5:31 min/kmCadence80 spm
Comments: Sunny and warm.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

I'm a Will Young fan...

I've never been a huge Will Young fan. Like many, I watched him win the first series of Pop Idol and I was impressed by the way he handled the press who tried to out him shortly after the competition.

Over the years, he's released a number of tracks that are hummable and which I've liked. Seeing his performance in Mrs Henderson Presents, I was further impressed by his acting skills.

I'd now like to announce that I am a fan; not for his music and acting talents (accomplished though they are) but for his appearance on the BBC's Question Time where he simply and eloquently stated his view on gay marriage, in light of Cardinal Keith O'Brien's hysterical and offensive rant against it.
Today's run at 08:16
Distance4.01 kmTime22:47
Pace5:41 min/kmCadence81 spm
Comments: Bright.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Desperate times...

Twenty-eight years ago last Monday began one of the most bitter industrial disputes this country has ever seen. It was March 5th 1984 and the miners in Yorkshire went on strike. They were soon joined by miners from all over the country. The dispute lasted a year, put an end to coal mining as a major UK industry and tested the resolve of the miners who suffered great hardships during that year long strike.

"We had to fight the enemy without in the Falklands. We always have to be aware of the enemy within, which is much more difficult to fight and more dangerous to liberty" - so said Margaret Thatcher about the miners' strike. You've no doubt heard many stories over the years of miners breaking the law during this action; either through riots at picket lines and rallies or through the use of flying pickets. I dare say there's much truth in these stories. These were desperate times.

What you won't hear so much is of the police brutality when mounted officers charged against picket lines or when they goaded miners to retaliate. You won't hear of Thatcher's government ordering the illegal sequestration of strike funds or the illegal tapping of phone lines. You won't hear of the libelous stories served up daily in some tabloid newspapers. These were, indeed, desperate times.

My own perspective was of a time when political connections were created. For the first time I saw working class communities ally themselves with minority groups they had hitherto kept an unfamiliar distance from: the feminist movement, the peace movement, student politics and the lesbian and gay movement. Students stood shoulder to shoulder with miners on picket lines, miners' wives visited the women at Greenham Common to thank them for donations, Sian James, a miner's wife from South Wales, addressed the London Lesbian and Gay Pride rally following support from Lesbians and Gays Support The Miners.

Furthermore, the mining communities started to to question the media where before they had accepted what was said. They questioned the BBC after they lied about the miners instigating, what became known as, The Battle of Orgreave. They stopped buying The Sun after it repeatedly portrayed them as the enemy. They ceased their unquestioning respect for the village bobby after their first hand experience of police violence.

Radical politics seem to have melted away. With the demise of Thatcher and the unions and the fading of her legacy, we no longer live in what most people would perceive as desperate times. The police are no longer trusted blindly as they once were. The media are no more believed as organs of the gospel truth.

The world has changed much. I dare say the connections made during this bitter dispute that happened 28 long years ago have a lot to do with social and cultural changes in the UK over the last three decades. As a gay man I have seen a growing acceptance of my sexuality and it is my belief that some of the seeds were sown during those desperate times.

Only connect...

Thursday, 8 March 2012

A kind of torture...

During school holidays I'd invariably be told off by mother for making a noise. You see, my dad did shift work, which meant that every 3rd week he'd have to work through the night. I used to hate night shifts because for the best part of the next day I couldn't yell, sing, scream, watch TV, play music or do anything that I really enjoyed doing for fear of waking my father.

My dad hated shift work too. He'd always spur us on to do well in school so that we could land a job that didn't involve working unsociable hours. For the most part, I've succeeded in this. Most of the jobs I've done over the last 15 years, I'm pleased to say, have followed office hours.

I've never been very good at keeping myself awake if I'm tired; I can nod off mid conversation if it's past my bed time. My idea of torture is being forced to stay awake. Sleep deprivation is a well tried interrogation technique. I'd sell my own mother at the merest hint of being denied my sleep. And when I don't get my proper rest, it knocks me sideways for days.

Look out tomorrow; tonight I have to go into work through the night....
Today's run at 17:15
Distance4.02 kmTime21:41
Pace5:24 min/kmCadence81 spm
Comments: Grey.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Less is more...

The Welsh government are to introduce a scheme whereby minor ailments can be treated at pharmacies for free. I think this is an excellent idea. It'll make life easier for patients and doctors alike by freeing up time for both parties. You can read this BBC report for further details.

This, along with the organ donation presumed consent legislation and the recent carrier bag charge, places Wales way ahead of England in terms of small, neat and innovative policies that make a real difference. And what was it that Cameron was saying when he last visited, that Wales should follow England's lead? The arrogance of the man...?

For some reason it reminds me of the wonderful Jan Morris book, A Machynlleth Triad - a fascinating read based on the role played by the small Welsh town, Machynlleth - in the middle ages, the 1990s and at some point in the not too distant future. 
Today's run at 17:54
Distance4.02 kmTime21:13
Pace5:17 min/kmCadence81 spm
Comments: Cold and still.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Local news...

So, they're thinking of introducing pink lighting to deter acne ridden Cardiff yobs from congregating and getting up to no good. The lights, so BBC Wales tell us, are unflattering to teenage skin and therefore pubescents avoid them like the plague.

Judging by the number of cheap jokes and puns on the words light, pink and spot used in this report, they could have played a video of this news item instead and I would have thought that would keep most people at bay.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Rabbi Lionel Blue...

I have thought quite a bit today about Cardinal O'Brien's Sunday Telegraph article opposing Gay marriage, which I wrote about yesterday. I've been thinking how spiteful he must be. What a narrow and distorted outlook describes same sex marriage as grotesque; what a pinched and soured mind compares same sex marriage to slavery?

Listening to him spout his stunted view on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning, I could feel my anger rising and would have left for work in a frame of mind far from calm, were it not for the wonderful Rabbi Lionel Blue and his thought for the day.

In his message this morning he contemplates the approach of Spring and those life affirming feelings we all share at this time of year. It's worth listening to the end of this short piece for his gentle swipe at Cardinal O'Brien. As @chris_burton_ remarked on Twitter this morning:
Cardinal Keith O'Brien 0, Rabbi Lionel Blue 1
What Rabbi Blue may have lost in his faltering delivery this morning was more than made up for in the warmth and breadth of his message. Unlike Cardinal O'Brien, he is compassionate, generous, forgiving and loving - all those so called Christian attributes that mark us out as human. Except, of course, Rabbi Lionel Blue is not a Christian - unlike Cardinal O'Brien who, so I'm informed, is.
Today's run at 17:20
Distance4.01 kmTime20:57
Pace5:14 min/kmCadence82 spm
Comments: Sunny and cold.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

God fires a warning shot...

Last night God fired a warning shot to indicate his displeasure at Cardinal Keith O'Brien's Sunday Telegraph piece, We cannot afford to indulge this madness.

The Lord's displeasure is being passed off by the liberal and well meaning BBC as a meteor but many observers understand this heavenly fireball to be a direct reaction to Cardinal O'Brien's unchristian and intolerant attitude to Elton John, Dale Winton and homosexuals the world over.

Many within the Catholic Church have expressed regret at his remarks, stating that Catholicism had tested the Lord's patience lately. Some have cited the church's recent involvement in numerous child sex scandals, its homicidal advice about HIV prevention and the Vatican's Nazi sympathies during the Second World War as having worn the Almighty's patience pretty thin.

A high ranking US cleric said he hoped that Pope John Paul II's expression of regret in 1992 over the Vatican's persecution and incarceration of Galileo Galilei would count somewhat in their favour. However, he did acknowledge that John Paul's statement occurred 350 years after Galileo's death, by which time the principle that the earth orbits the sun had become universally accepted anyway.

Cardinal O'Brien, leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, was unavailable for comment and reports on Twitter of a plague of locusts settling in Morningside, Edinburgh have yet to be verified.
Today's run at 08:37
Distance4.01 kmTime22:16
Pace5:33 min/kmCadence82 spm
Comments: Raining and cold.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Horst Buchholz made me gay...

Horst Buchholz died 9 years ago today. He was born in Germany 1933 and died aged 69 on March 3rd 2003. He had a beauty that was strangely modern - the picture to the right was taken, I think, during the 1950's. You'd be forgiven for thinking that it was taken during the 1980's.

He appeared in many films, most notably as Chico in The Magnificent Seven. But it is for his appearance in another film that I love him. In 1959 he appeared in Tiger Bay alongside John Mills and his daughter, Hayley Mills, in her debut picture. The film follows the story of a Polish sailor (Korchinsky), played by Horst Buchholz, who shoots his girlfriend whilst on shore leave in Cardiff and is helped whilst on the run by a young girl played by Hayley Mills - the only witness to the murder.

It's a highly entertaining film and has an added interest for me in that it's set in a now long disappeared Cardiff of the 1950's. More specifically, the main backdrop for the film is Cardiff's docklands, once known as Tiger Bay but now called Cardiff Bay, which is where I now live.

I first saw the film when I was eight or nine years old and I remember being fascinated by it. Of course, at that time, it was not the location that interested me as I didn't move to Cardiff's docks until the 1990s. No, I was fascinated, enraptured, besotted even by this man's beauty. Before I had the faintest inkling that I was gay; in all innocence - I fell in love with a Polish sailor called Korchinsky. I never tire of watching the film.

It's almost as if Buchholz shaped my idea of male beauty entering my imagination as he did at such an early age. How interesting to now learn that he was bisexual. Here's a clip from the film Tiger Bay. The area where this scene was filmed is now known as Mermaid Quay; how times change.

R.I.P. Horst Buchholz.
Today's run at 08:29
Distance4.01 kmTime22:45
Pace5:40 min/kmCadence82 spm
Comments: Sunny, blustery, cold.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Three unconnected things...

1. My local police station is far from the suburban local police station you might expect. No. When I first moved to the Bay it was little more than a two story portakabin; today it is a multi story monster of a building, housing the Eastern Divisional Headquarters of South Wales Police.

I happened to look up to the roof as I was passing earlier in the week and couldn't help noticing a rainbow flag flying. How times have changed; I remember when they arrested us homos for holding hands and dispatched mounted police to contain us as we protested against the spiteful Section 28 in the late 80s.

2. Splott is an area of Cardiff, the name of which some people think is derived from a truncation of God's Plot. It isn't; it's from an Old English word meaning speck or plot.

On my way home tonight, I saw a sign for Splott Sunday Market; except it doesn't appear to occur on a Sunday...?

3. One of the routes I take for running takes me past the entrance to St David's Hotel in the Bay. Madonna camped out here while she rehearsed for her Sticky & Sweet stadium tour, which she opened in Cardiff's Millennium Stadium in 2009. I didn't see her once during her stay - not even out jogging through the Bay with her bodyguards. I often hear of international sports teams staying here but, again, I've never actually seen any of them.

On tonight's run, I'm please to say that I was lucky enough to whizz past Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen as he made his way to reception. At last, I can die happy.

I hope I haven't spoiled the surprise make-over anyone was planning for me?
Today's run at 17:57
Distance4.01 kmTime21:29
Pace5:21 min/kmCadence82 spm
Comments: Clear.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

St David's Day...

St David is the only patron saint of a UK country who was actually born in the country of which he's patron saint; St Andrew was from the Middle East, as was St George and St Patrick is thought to have been Welsh.

St David is thought to have been born about 500 AD and died on March 1st 589 AD. To commemorate his death, March 1st is his feast day. He was a tea total vegetarian.

His flag, consisting of a yellow cross on a black background, is often used as an alternative to the Y Ddraig Goch (The Red Dragon). Neither flag fits in easily with the other flags of the UK and is one more reason why Wales is not represented on the Union Jack.

On St David's Day, it's traditional for Welsh people to wear leeks or daffodils. Towns often stage St David's Day parades. Young girls dress in Welsh national costume (a 19th Century invention) and school children sing Welsh songs.

Rock 'n' Roll...!