Tuesday, 27 July 2010



Don’t dislike cycling – just can’t get into it the same way as I can running.

But at least it gets me out the house for a wee bit (“out to play”). I had hoped last night to get out and tap out 25 miles or so. However, constraints of time (we had to go to Tesco first – always a nightmare) meant it was closer to 18.

The old ribcage felt none too bad, but that may have been due to the two Ibrufen and two paracetamol I’d necked earlier.

Anyway, I’d put on the old HRM and wanted to try and keep the heart up in the higher end of my “green zone”. A fairly easy task when running but I found it really difficult on the bike. Still the entire cycle averaged out at 144 so I didn’t do too bad. Felt quite good when I was out and didn’t feel I was having to push too hard. Until …

Three miles from home I saw a figure ahead of me on a bike. He had a proper bike and proper gear. Unlike me he didn’t look like a reject from a Hovis advert. I decided to add a little “edge” to my cycle session. I decided to try and “reel him in”, so I got into as aerodynamic a position as is possible on old [T]rusty and just tried to lift the cadence a bit.

Worked out quite well as this helped me keep the pace up a bit (I usually tend to ease off and just “coast” the last bit).

Anyway the bloke in front was getting closer and closer (albeit slowly). Then as we got to the junction before the road to the Woodhall/Brunt junction he looked round and clocked me. Well, if he didn’t pick up the pace a bit!! Obviously Mr Lycra on his racing bike didn’t fancy getting caught by “Mr Scruffy Gear” on his battered old iron-frame-bedstead excuse for a bike!

The last mile and a half got quite ludicrous. He kept looking over his shoulder … I kept trying to pick it up. And the gap just kept coming down … slowly. Too slowly.

Just got the junction. Nearly caught him…and we had to turn different ways. Managed to catch my breath enough to say “hello” and got a bit of a chuckle in return from him. Pretty sure he could have left me if he wanted. Bit of a laugh though – always nice to add a bit of a competitive edge to training.

Sunday, 25 July 2010


Apparently, with an injury the best way to treat it is the RICE principle. Rest. Ice. Compression and Elevation (Oh. I thought the "C" stood for cycling).
Anyway. I've been using my sore rib as an excuse for plenty of Rest and Elevation. Which pretty much means lying around on the sofa - so no change there then from a normal weekend.
As for the "ice"? Well we don't have any so I'm having to make do by surrounding myself with some cool jazz.
Started with Dizzy Gillespie's soundtrack to the film The Cool World. This got me thinking about the use of jazz in movie soundtracks and led me to two other classics. Art Blakey and the jazz messengers "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" and the daddy of them all; Miles Davis "Ascenseur Pour L'echafaud" (Lift To The Scaffold). Both are soundtracks to French films, one made in the late 50's, one in 1960 and both really steeped in a distinctive European cool sound. They both absolutely drip in minimalism and elegance.
The Davis album is especially good. Completely improvised by the band standing in front of a screen it really does define "cool". Strange too that the film was released in 57 - the same year that Davis released the "Birth of the Cool" album. A good album, yes, but nowhere near as good as "The Lift.." In fact if I was asked I'd probably cite this as my favourite Miles Davis album.

The Blakey album is a good un as well and shows, to my mind, a slightly different side of Art, in that it isn't really his trademark high octane, hard driven bop. It too is a real European cool sound with Lee Morgan taking the lead on trumpet in a fashion that's a bit mellower than usual.

All three of these albums are just the ticket at the moment just the right sort of sound for loafing about and reading a bit of detective fiction.
Don't for one minute really think that jazz can ease my aches and pains... but at least it can take my mind off them for a little while.


Runners are idiots.
And so are cyclists.
There you go. Two sweeping statements for the price of one. But they're both true. Kind of.
The evidence for these bold comments? Well it's fairly anecdotal, but go to Google and type in any combination of the following words:... "Sore", "Cracked", "Bruised", "Ribs" and "Training" and you'll soon find out.
The interweb is full of  running and cycling "discussion forums", "chat rooms" or "dens of drivel" - call them what you will. Many of these forums appear to have a common theme that usually starts along the lines of "Hi. I had an accident while training the other day and I think I've bruised/cracked/broken a rib or two. Anyone else had this and how soon can I get back to training?"
Now. That in itself isn't idiotic. If the person asking the question was happy with the answer "I'd give it at least a few weeks then gently take it from there" or some such. But you just know that the person asking will keep on asking and asking until they find someone as deranged as they are who will give them the answer that they want to hear. And that answer is usually along the lines of "What are you a wuss? As long as you're not coughing up blood get out there and train! And if you are coughing up blood then just do some light cross training!!" The one answer that I did find that I really liked was along the lines of "Why are you on here asking complete strangers? Go and ask your Mum the same question. What sort of answer do you think you'll get from her?"
I suspect that most runners and cyclists will follow a sort of pattern of people they ask... Ask a health expert (doctor etc). If you don't get the answer you want...ask a fellow runner. Still not happy with what you hear? Ask a work colleague... and so it goes on and on until you find yourself taking advice from the poor sod behind the till in Lidl's when you go in to buy your yogurt for lunch.
And that's where these chat rooms fill the gap. You can just sit there and plough through page after page after page until you find the answer you want! Fantastic.

And so it was this weekend that saw me dig old [T]rusty out of the shed again and head off along the quiet country roads of East Lothian for a couple of hours. Nothing too strenuous to start with. In fact I started of quite gently until I got the feel of it, then found myself pushing the cranks that wee bit harder and getting the old heart rate up a bit, until a few hours into it I was sailing along with all the grace and elegance of a young Lance Armstrong. Understand though that what I mean is; a really young Lance. Lance as a toddler. On his first bike. With stabilizers.
But at least I was out and was able to exercise for a bit with the heart rate up into my "green" zone for a bit. Better than sitting about the house.
In all seriousness it was actually fairly comfortable (the elbow was the sore part - when I went over bumps). This gives me a bit of hope. One; that at least I can something and limit the damage from not running for a while and two; if I can cycle fairly strenuously then perhaps the overall prognoses for the rib isn't as bad as I first feared and the lay off from running may not be as long as I thought.
Cycling. Not bad. But still not as good as running.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010


Just when you think things can't get much worse....

Through in the "Dear Green Place" yesterday, so I decided to go my usual wee run up by the banks of the majestic Clyde. The predicted heavy rain hadn't really come to much and there wasn't even too much of a wind, so conditions were ideal.
I knew that I wasn't going to be running at night - there was an East Lothian Summer Series race on and I was on my usual stopwatch duties. So, if this was going to be my only (short) run for the day I thought I might as well push it a bit and get in one last bit of speed training before Saturday's Musselburgh Festival 10k.

I was really enjoying the run. Really, really enjoying it. It was one of those runs where everything just clicks into place. I was going along at a fair pace (averaging on the 6 minute mile pace) and even although the old heart rate was up a bit (nicely in my "blue" zone) I didn't feel that I was working too hard. It's the way you always want to feel on race days. All was well with the world.
Then, not long after I had turned and was heading back to the office - THWACK !!!

Now. I don't really know if "thwack" is the correct onomatopoeic term for the sound of a runner hitting tarmac at speed, but it's the best that I can come up with and hopefully it helps convey a little of what happened.
It would appear that during the recent tree pruning/felling exercise (or whatever) a few bits have been left scattered about....
My right foot found one of those bits. I came down like a sack of spuds.
As is always the way with such accidents I jumped right back up as if nothing had happened. Just in time to feel something warm and wet run down my leg .... no not that! There was a "chunk" missing from my right elbow, from which was squirting at regular intervals like a child's water pistol... blood. I think it was the shock of seeing this rather than the pain that started the string of profanities that came from my mouth.
Luckily two rowers were training on the Clyde and the chap in the small motor boat who was training them brought his boat along side me to see if he could help.
Just then though an elderly couple who had been out hiking came round the corner and stopped.
They were on holiday from Australia and had obviously come very well prepared for all eventualities.
The lady, managed to stem the blood flow with a small compress that she held in place with a bandage and also gave me some dressings for my other injuries that I had overlooked (hand, knee, thigh chest, and hip). It looked for all the world like I'd been in a fight with a maniac armed with a cheese grater.
Anyway, this really, really nice couple made sure I was OK (she even gave me a wee sweetie) and I tootled off at walking pace back to the office. Walking back through Glasgow Green covered in blood (it was all down both legs and my hands were literaly dripping) drew a few stares and comments.
I'd already made up my mind that I needed at least the elbow wound seen to properly and, given that I can't remember the last time I had one I also decided that a tetanus injection might be in order...
Now. I was buggered if I was going to some West Coast A&E so I had a quick (and painful) shower in the office and got changed to head back to Dunbar (I'd phoned ahead and managed to get an appointment with the nurse).
It was when I was getting changed after the shower that I discovered the worst of the injuries (from a running point of view anyway). When I was bending down to tie up my shes there was a "click" noise and sensation from my chest. Looks very much like I've either cracked or bruised a rib! Bugger.
A sore elbow and a wee bit of road rash I can cope with, but a cracked rib takes time, and experience tells me that even when I can get back running it'll take a bit longer before I'm really able to push it and run.

Anyhow, when I did see the nurse she was impressed by the dressing that the Australian lady had put on. Changed it though, for a clean one and gave me a few spares to bring home with me - not looking forward to changing it myself and having to look at it again! Worst part was when she used tweezers and scissors to peel away and trim all the torn skin round the wound in my hand. Told the nurse about my rib suspicions and after a brief rundown of a few checks to ensure it wasn't really bad (not sticking into a lung or anything like that) she basically confirmed what I already knew. There's nothing you can do with a bad rib except give it time (and a few painkillers). As for running? If you try it and it hurts? Stop!

Feeling stiff and sore this morning. A couple of Co-Dydramol last night at least ensured a half decent nights sleep.
Couple of things for sure though -one; the Musselburgh 10k has been taken off my dance card and two, I don't know how, if at all, this will affect my hopes of an Autumn marathon. Might throw all my training to pot.
I'll give myself one or two days of sympathy cake and chocolates - then all crappy eating habits will get put on the back burner till I'm back on the road.

By the way... the good thing about running with a GPS? I know for a fact that when I hit the deck I was doing 5:43 minute pace and the heart was at 163!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010


Work is shit at the moment – it’s shittier than the shittiest contents of my shitty sceptic tank. That’s how shit it is.

I desperately want to get out and find something else (East Coast based).
But for once, that’s not all that’s bothering me at the moment. I’ve got a bit of a health or “well being” issue or call it what you will. In fact you can call it what you want – I probably wouldn’t hear you. And there’s a clue.
Think I’m going deaf in one ear (the left).
I’ve had niggling suspicions for a while now that not all is well with the old lug – it just isn’t right. Over the past year or so I’ve found myself a few times down on my hands and knees checking the left speaker of my hi-fi as I thought it was broken. Likewise I’ve often thought that my headphones are duff, or that the balance on my mp3 player is wrong…… It’s none of these things – it’s my ear.
The one that always got me bothered was the opening to the Andy Sheppard Big Band number “Carla, Carla, Carla, Carla”… it used to start with a nice soft, gentle percussive bit, where a string of chimes rang out and gently danced between the left speaker and the right – not any more they don’t!!
To make matters worse I’ve been increasingly bothered with a sort of constant hissing, white noise type “background noise” in the offending lug.
The doc’ tried to explain this to me in terms made easy for the hard-of-understanding. Apparently, I think, when the lug malfunctions the brain “compensates” for this lack of noise by making up it’s own “sounds”. Jeeze – couldn’t it pick something a bit better than “hisssssssssss………….”. How about the brain filling in with a wee bit of Ella, or Stan Getz? Christ, I’d even settle for a bit of Jamie Cullum – and I can’t stand him!
Got a letter from the hospital – I’m on an 18 week waiting list. Hoorah. Though by the time Messer’s Cameron and Osborne are finished there might not be much in the line of health care left when I get to the front of the queue.

Cant believe I shelled out money on the old Brennan JB7 the other month – could have got by with an old wind up mono gramophone!

Still. On the plus side – it isn’t affecting my running – and I only have to listen to half the shit in the office (memo to self: keep civil servants on the left hand side).
I might even start putting the phone to my left ear when I answer .... "Ooh... there appears to be no one there - I may as well hang up!"

Saturday, 17 July 2010


It's not everyday that my interests "collide". It's not everyday that I get something for nowt.
So today is quite a good day.
I was listening to a few Wynton Marsalis tracks on the old digital jukebox type thingummy while having a little surf around that ocean of trivia and drivel that is the interweb when I decided to have a little look at Mr Marsalis's site. And jolly pleased I did....
On looking at his discography (it'd take you all week to trawl thorough his considerable output), I noticed that he had written the music for a ballet based on the life and achievements of 1988 triple gold medalist Florence Griffith Joyner (Flojo). Details here: http://www.wyntonmarsalis.org/discography/jazz/here-now/
Anyway. It's a bit of a stretch to call it an "album", coming in at a mere twenty four minutes it's probably best described as an EP these days. But that's a picky complaint given that it's free !! A jazz album .... about running ... and it's free!

As you might expect from Wynton, even though it's commissioned for a "modern" ballet, and is fairly faced paced as you would expect, given the subject matter, it's still pretty much rooted in a sort of 30's/40's New Orleans tradition (especially the track "Glamour").
I particularly like Richard Johnson's piano on the track called "Strength". It's quite a slow paced and reflective piece to start with given the title and, to my mind, at least, has more a quality of the feeling of well being that comes from a good long steady run than a sprint or hard run. However about two thirds of the way through the tempo and energy really picks up.
Anyway... enough of me babbling on about it. Download it and listen yourself....
Just don't put it on your MP3 player and listen to it while racing. Training - "yes" (if you must). Racing - "No"! In fact my personal recommendation would be to listen to after a run - best with a nice coffee and perhaps a slice of lemon drizzle cake or some such.

Friday, 16 July 2010


Found myself, again, with time to cool my heels between trains last night. So, lovely as the Waverly station is during holiday periods when it is even busier than usual, I decided to go a wee walk.

Didn’t have long so I just went up the steps to Cockburn Street and Avalanche records. Shocked to see a large “To Let” sign stuck up outside and visible signs that the stock inside appeared to be dwindling! “Oh christ” I thought another independent record shop closing. Luckily it wasn’t – it’s actually expanding – hurrah! Sadly it’s relocating to another part of the toon – the Grass Market I think – boo! Good for them that they are not only surviving in these difficult times but bad that they are going to be a bit further away from the station – probably won’t make it any more.
I wouldn’t say I’ve been a great customer to Avalanche over the years, but I have been a fairly regular one. To be fair I’m not really their “target” customer and their jazz section is pretty limited, but I have had a couple of bargains there. However, I really do think people should support small independent record shops where they can. Certainly, my recent experiences of the “market leader” HMV have not been happy ones. They seem to be hell bent on selling anything except music. Even to the stage where the Edinburgh store now has fridges full of juice and racks of sweeties (cos you average teenage “gamer” isn’t fat enough).
Anyway, what might be my last visit to the old Avalanche saw me leave empty handed .
Luckily, things picked up when I went a wee bit down the road into an Oxfam shop. The “New” George Shearing Quintet “That Shearing Sound” for the princely sum of £1.49.
That’s this Friday’s coffee, cake and jazz sorted (well the jazz anyway).
Utterly crap sleeve though!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010


I don't know what affects my listening moods or habits. Maybe it's lay lines or "biorhythms" or some other such new age, hippy clap trap. Whatever it is it's taken me down a pretty old fashioned road this week.
In reality I think I'm still pretty high after seeing Stan Tracey the other week. And something I read that Stan had said has obviously struck a chord.
I forget the exact quote (and I'm buggered if I can find it!), but he commented on the "growth" of modern piano led jazz trios. How technically proficient they all, undoubtedly, were - but they just didn't get his toe tappin'....
And I suppose that's true to an extent. All your ESTs, your Curios, your Neil Cowleys and Tord Gustavsens are fantastic - but their music is very complex, structured and layered. Sometimes all you need or want is a happy wee tune! That isn't a criticism of them, and I don't think Stan was criticising either, it was more a comment that there are very few piano led jazz bands now who just play traditional jazz tunes ... really well.
So. I've been listening to a couple of the old un's.. George Shearing, Stan Tracey (obviously), Errol Garner and Oscar Peterson. Not all trios - but all in small combo settings.
Yesterday to augment my meager collection of Peterson's work I got "We Get Requests" the last trio recording he did for the Verve label (well, last for the Verve label - full stop). An album of jazz versions of hits of the day (1964) and well know covers, it's a sort of "ubber-cocktail lounge" record. Really mellow and soothing but never overstepping the mark into cheesy.
There's a version of "The Girl From Ipanema" on it that I love... which is surprising because I usually hate that tune - it's become a byword for "muzak" over the years.

Another one I've listened to a few times is not a piano led combo as such - no this is an "organ" led combo. Bill Doggett "Dame Dreaming". Organ, sax, guitar and drums - a fairly unusual quartet combo.
And this is cheesy. It's cheesier than a ripe Camembert!
Each tune is a girls name. So we have tracks like "Sweet Lorraine", "Nancy" and "Laura" which is a well established jazz standard (my all time favourite being the Parker with strings version). Not a great record - but not a bad one as such. It's just that I can't really get into organ jazz (even Jimmy Smith). "Organ" jazz compared to real "piano" jazz is like "synth" pop compared to guitar pop - it just lacks feeling and intimacy. It comes across as "machine made".
Nice cheesy sleeve though..

Sunday, 11 July 2010


Back from a very enjoyable, though tiring weekend.
We were off to join Haddington and East Lothian Pacemakers to run the West Highland Way, as a relay race (the "we" in question being 8 of us from Dunbar).
Four of us (Anne, Ian, Frank and me) travelled to Haddington to meet up with some of the HELP guys and share their mini bus transport.
Despite the early start by the time we had met Frank, Paddy, Ray (and Harvey) then collected George, Eddy and Henry the atmosphere in the bus was quite lively and full of anticipation for the run ahead.
The route had been split into 12 "stages" of various lengths and various degree of difficulty.
I had volunteered for three legs - and the first of my legs? Well it was also the first of the race. So, I found myself on the starting blocks, just outside Milgavine train station at 4:00 alongside Eddy for a short leg that went to Carbeth.
Now. I've never set foot on the West Highland Way, let alone race it or run it even. All I know of it comes from what I've heard or read about other's efforts to run either the whole thing or, more sensibly in my opinion, half of it at a time.
At the word "go" we shot off into the gloomy night and started picking our way through what appeared to be a mixture of public park and woodland walkway. It was, as you might expect at the time, dead quiet and the one person we did pass was an angler heading off for a spot of fishing.
The leg was supposed to be five miles, but my Garmin only registered just over four. This, combined with me and Eddie's speed and a slight navigational misunderstanding on the part of the mini bus meant that we arrived at the handover spot just as the bus arrived. A quick and frantic handover and Anne and Paddy were off and we got time for a little breather and back onto the bus to travel to the start of leg 3.
As luck would have it I had elected to do leg three as well, and so had Eddy. So we were to find ourselves racing against each other again, but this time over the longer, hillier, rougher leg from Drymen to Balmaha.
As it turned out, we both did the same leg, but I set off a bit after Eddy and never actually saw him on the route.
When this leg started it was through nice soft forest trails and I was starting to think that the relay wasn't going to be too bad at all. Then at about five and a half miles somebody put a bloody big hill in the way. Conic Hill.
I had originally thought we went round it, but "no" we had to go up a path that looked more like a dried up, rocky, stream. Very difficult footing - as was the run down the other side towards the car park at Balmaha where the next handover took place.
After leg three I had most of the the rest of the day off to just sit about the bus, natter, look at the impressive and ever changing landscapes, cheer on other runners and eat until the last leg of the day...

At Inveranan we met up with Ian, Jane, Theresa and Brian who had traveled up together. No point in leaving at 2 in the morning if your not running till the back of ten.
Luckily they were there early, as while we were all standing about in a  car park talking word came in that Ian R had completed his 14 mile leg from Rowerdennan to Inveranan about thirty minutes ahead of schedule.
And so it went on during the day, with one runner handing over the metaphorical batton to the next, while the rest of us piled into the mini bus to get to the next handover.
Due to a couple of wrong turnings and what not Dunbar were well behind HELP and all thoughts of victory were out the window.. the pressure was well and truly off.

Next thing I knew it was my turn again. A 14 mile "jog" from Kinlochleven to Fort William. Oh lordy, lordy... How anyone can run 80 miles and then face this section is beyond me. Honestly.
An awful climb that goes on for about a mile up towards an old military road that looks like a line of roughly hewn boulders placed along a lunar landscape that in turn just goes on and on and on...
Until you come to a forest section that as well as going on and on also seems to do a hell of a lot of up and down and up and down.
I was running this section against Findlay and thought, by the time we got to the forest, that I was a bit in front. I might have been, but I had misjudged the terrain, the pace, the climbing and underestimated how much my two earlier session had taken out of me.
By the time I was on the last couple of miles I had been passed and felt like a man running backwards. It didn't help that I saw a marker that I thought was a marker for the WHW, but turned out to be one for a different walk that went up to the Ben Nevis centre, or some such. I quickly had doubts and a quick question to a couple out walking if they had seen any runners pass them, confirmed that I was on the wrong route and I had to retrace my steps till I got back on track.
The sight of everyone waiting at the sign for the end of the way was welcome indeed and ended a tiring, but enjoyable day's running. I was absolutely knackered and almost immediately fell asleep when I got back onto the bus.

Later on we were all booked into a bunk house just outside Fort William where a very enjoyable meal was had. And, for those who like such pursuits, that "alcohol" stuff was also on offer. It is beyond me, by the way, how quickly a conversation can turn. You can be talking about running one minute and then, inexplicably, discussing if the body of a small dog is best suited for being used to make a pair of hairy slippers or best suited to being turned into a lamp shade (hope Harvey never hears of this)!!

The guys from HELP were also very magnanimous in their victory - we were well and truly "gubbed".

This morning however, the conversation at breakfast was more civilised (and strangely subdued).
All in all, I think I ran about 27 miles yesterday over three legs. How people can do 95 I cannot comprehend.
Very sore legs today so I just took them out for a gentle 4 mile recovery run at a ludicrously slow pace this afternoon.
I shall try to have an easy week.
A tired dog...


Wednesday, 7 July 2010


Ended up doing about 18 miles yesterday. Usual wee lunchtime jaunt up by the majestic Clyde while through in the DGP, then out for a bit of an off road "yomp" with the club last night that was just over 11 miles.
Started off by heading through John Muir Country Park, but then we headed up the North Berwick road and took the turn off that leads down past the back of Tyninghame House onto Tyninghame beach.
From there it was a beach run that took us over mussel beds, through mud and also had us cross the river Tyne! Not as deep as it could have been, but the water was up to waist level.

Strange though that the only thing that worried me was falling in and getting my new toy wet (the Garmin). Which I didn't as you can see from the map above. The run was taken at a nice steady pace, which suited me well as my run at lunchtime had been a quick one. Even so, the terrain meant that I felt I was working quite hard for a lot of the time.
Anyway. By the time we got back to Hallhill my shorts were dry, but my shoes were sopping wet and manky with cloying mud and sand.
Don't know if anyone else does this, but the first thing I did when we got into the changing room was give them a dam good rinse under the tap. Obviously they are still soaking wet after this, but at least its clean, non-salty water. I read somewhere that this is supposed to keep the uppers in better condition. That said, given that I'm lucky if I get 4 months out of a pair of shoes I don't suppose it matters too much.
Maybe keep them smelling a bit nicer though. Which is, strangely, a bit of a shame.... I always find that if you open your kit bag slightly on a busy, hot train, to allow your kit to "breath" there's a much better chance of getting a seat to yourself!!

Monday, 5 July 2010


Well, wondrous bop records aside, I'm still bereft by the lack of "Tour telly" this year so, as I said I would, I'm trying to channel my grief into my running.

Actually, I'm trying to get a few longer runs under my belt anyway. My weekly mileage has been not too bad as of late (55 mile a week or so), but it's all been wee bits here and there. Very little of any real substance to it.
Saturday saw us away for the day shopping so I thought yesterday I'd try to get a long un' in (18 miles).
I also decided that if I was going to be out for that long, I might as well make some of the run "off road" and try to give the old legs a bit of a rest from the relentless pounding they get on roads. Good move? Well maybe....
Part of the run I ended up doing took me along the mile or so pathway from Brandsmill to Little Pinkerton. A pathway recently "upgraded", fenced and signposted by our local cooncil as part of its "core path strategy" (whatever that is).
Jesus wept. Two things became apparent very quickly. 1) hardly anybody uses this path and 2) the council haven't visited since the day they put the signs up. I know there is a path there, because I've used it before ... I just couldn't see it for all the Hog Weed and bloody great thistles that went up over my head! If this path was used, surely it would remain worn down!
This was about 15 miles into my run, and quite frankly I couldn't be arsed finding an alternative route, so I just slowed to below walking pace and kicked, hacked, battered my way through. All good and well.... till I got home.
My legs, from sock tops to just below my dangly bits and my lower trunk from belt line to the line made by my heart rate monitor were a mass of red blotches and swollen blisters!! I looked like some sort of hideous half man, half kebab meat type mutant! Spent ages in the shower (cool) trying to wash away any remnants of whatever pollen/stoor/sap had caused this. Bloody awful.
Even ended up taking not one but two "one a day" anti-histamines. These did help it has to be said - helped me spend half the day asleep (though to be honest that had always been my plan for Sunday anyway :-) )
Went out for a bit of a run today along by the Black Loch, again "off road" but this time I managed to keep clear of overgrown areas.
Roll on winter..


Oh my, oh my. Every now and then a CD comes my way that totally exceeds all expectations and just blows me away.
It's a feeling that all record collectors must get, and it's what keeps us going to be honest. If a record collector were to be truthful they would always answer the question "what's your favourite record?" thus; "I don't know - I haven't heard it yet, but I'll keep looking." In a way, you don't want to find the elusive "favourite record" for then the quest is over, and the hunt is most of the fun.
Well. The hunt for my favourite record isn't over, but it came pretty dam close.
 The Charlie Watts Quintet, "From One Charlie..." is perhaps the finest Charlie Parker "tribute" album I have ever heard. In fact it is probably one of the finest Bebop albums I have ever heard.
There is not a single moment of this CD that I don't love. It really is that simple.

A fan since childhood, Charlie Watts always wanted to be Parker's drummer (as he says in the sleeve notes "[he] still does". He lived, as a boy, next door to Dave Green the bass player and they grew up on a diet of Bird, Dizzy and Gerry Mulligan records as well as dreams of going to New York..
In 1960 Watts, practicing to be a graphic designer, produced an illustrated poem "Ode To A High Flying Bird". This was published in 1964.
Thirty years later Charlie was talked into producing a second edition of the book and Pete King stepped in to produce a short "suite" of bop numbers for a quintet to accompany the book.
This then is the CD. Watts on Drums, childhood friend Dave Green on bass, King as composer, leader and alto sax, with Brian Lemon on piano and an 18 year old Gerard Presencer on trumpet.
Only 7 songs. 5 by King and two Parker originals ("Bluebird" and "Relaxing at Camarillo") it charts Bird's career and life from the opening "Practising, Practising, Just Great", via the "with strings" period, the alcoholism and drug addiction, the spells in hospital, and ends with "Going, Going, Going, Gone" that draws heavily on the theme from "Parker's Mood".

Any flaws at all with the CD? Yes. One - it's only 27 minutes long! Still, that means I can listen to it about three times in a row.
I'm away to listen to more bop now....

Sunday, 4 July 2010


I believe it was the ancient Greeks who, in times of despair and adversity, were want to say "aw, fuck it"!
And so it is with me. Other than, the sadly seldom broadcast, ladies beach volleyball there is very little sport on the telly that gains my custom.
This summers "sports fest" of the World Cup and Wimbledon have left me like a lethargic owl with laryngitis - both unwilling and unable to give a hoot.
No. The one sport on TV that I care about is on right now.... The Tour De France.
Sadly, since the "great digital re tune" of September 2009 I am now no longer able to get ITV4 (the "host" channel for the tour). As an aside, I am also unable to get the history channel "Yesterday" - so I fear I may never even find out who went on to win the second world war!
This summer I am reduced to following the Tour on the interweb. No real substitute I'm afraid.
Yes. I can watch it live on ITV.com and yes I can watch tiny little highlights on the web (moving images the size of post-it-notes) but it's a strangely unsatisfying experience.
I regret that I am a bit of a Luddite really. The telly's the proper place for watching telly programmes - not the computer.

I shall try and channel my grief by throwing myself into my own running training with a bit more vigour.

Thursday, 1 July 2010



My last couple of runs through in the Dear Green Place have not been enjoyable.

The problem? They are cutting down trees along the banks of the majestic Clyde. Again! Jesus it’s barely six months since they were doing that previously.

God only knows what these heathens are doing with all the wood. Burning witches probably.

Anyway. What this temporary disruption means is that yours truly is denied his traditional 6.7 mile “there and back” route. Leaving me little option but to try a very unsatisfying run doing meaningless loops around Glasgow Green and Richmond park. I hate not really knowing where I’m running. I like to have a pre defined route and just get out there and do it. This seemed to much like just farting around trying to clock up the miles.

To be honest, today wasn’t too bad. Today was more like a traditional Scottish summer (yes- it was piddling down), and this resulted in both parks being relatively quiet.

On Tuesday though it was a scorcher and the DGP was full of dole-scum-mums and their screaming snot nosed kids, IPod oblivious numpties out for lunch, the usual “Buckfast brunch” crew and worst of all … the topless sun bathers… Oh yes. “Topless”.

All bloated and wobbly, with their huge pendulous breasts swaying rhythmically as they waddle along. And, “yes”, that was the men!

“Moobs” ….. Nasty.