Wednesday, 28 November 2012


  1. Go to laundry basket.
  2. Separate stuff into "types" of wash (i.e. "running gear" or "stuff that gets a boiling")
  3. Take one of the piles.
  4. Place in machine and turn on.
  5. Once machine has ceased chuntering away and filling the house with its awful cacophony of dissonance - remove wet stuff.
  6. Place stuff carefully on drier.
  7. Stand and look at wee blue plastic measuring cup full of liquid still sitting on the draining board.
  8. Curse loudly
  9. Wonder if you "could get away with it".
  10. Decide "no".
  11. Take stuff back ofF clothes horse and return to 4.....(remembering the liquid).

Monday, 26 November 2012


God alone knows how many pairs of running shoes are hanging about the house just now - and none of them dry! Think the only "running injury" anyone is likely to get in this weather is trench foot.
I quite enjoy being out and then it starting to rain....but I hate setting off for a run when it's tipping it down.
A wet summer followed by a crappy wet winter? Oh joy.
We were off to York for a few days over the weekend. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
We went down on Friday and the day was beautiful. Sunny but bitterly cold, with clear blue skies. Sort of day I love. However, by the time we got down, had a bit of a wander round, went to visit Anne's mum, booked into our hotel etc. , there wasn't really time for a run (Friday's our traditional "rest day" anyway).
Then on Saturday the day loomed Baltic cauld and foggy. Dank and dreech all day. However, we did try to set off on our "usual" riverside run.... only to be forced to turn at about 1.5 miles. I don't think the ground has dried out since we were last there in June, to be honest. So we ended up doing a pretty uninspiring 6.5 mile run along by the main York - Thirsk road.
The plan on Sunday had been to go for a bit of a run early doors, before breakfast, but as we lay in bed in the hotel, listening to the rain battering of the window that plan was soon altered to "just stay here till the breakfast room opens". Ended up doing about 8.5 miles yesterday when we got home. Conditions were probably even worse by then, but at least when you've been on the go for a few hours your resolve is a bit more tougher and focused.
Then this morning? Chucking it down again so just the small 8.5 miler. Nearly fell at one point when I tried to run through what I thought was a wee puddle and it turned out to be quite a sizable pot hole!

Best thing about a run in this weather is often a nice long, hot shower when you get back.
Thing is out bathroom hasn't really had much done to it since we moved in. Our "shower" is just one of those efforts that runs off the mixer taps and it takes ages to heat a tank of water for a shower.
So. We're in the market for a new bathroom and today we were off looking at a bathroom showroom for ideas and inspiration. Got a "designer"/salesperson coming out next week.
I just want a shower with a bit of "oomph" that'll get rid of some of the XC mud I get covered in.

No trip to York would be complete without, at least, one visit to Rebound Records. One of the best second jazz CD shops that I know of. I could happily spend a day in there.
Since my shift to downloads I haven't had as many opportunities to spend time going through rows and rows of CDs (realised how much I missed it).
Anyway. Got one - Monty Alexander "Trio".
Got chatting to the owner and I asked him if he wouldn't mind keeping an eye out for an album I've been after for many a long year - Forward Motion "The Berklee Tapes". It's one of Tommy Smith's first recordings and I'm keen to hear it. It's on the "Hep" label. If, by any chance, you see this and you have a copy..............
Now. I've not been in the shop since June. I've only been in the shop about five times in four years and haven't spoken to the guy for about three.... But as soon as I gave him my name and phone number, he remembered straight off who I was, where I lived and what I had bought three years ago ("yes, you phoned up for the live Enrico Rava album")! You don't get service like that from 'tinternet!!
Ended up having quite a long chat about how many former jazz bootlegs are making their way into the legitimate market place.
Probably be Spring next year when we're back in York...but I'll definitely be back there.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012


Hate it when so called "real life" gets in the way of my running.
Got to go through to the DGP tomorrow for an "interview". Not anything as exciting as an interview for a new job - hell no, this is only for the job I've already been doing for 18 years (which might explain why I'm sick of it). As if that was bad enough then the location for the interview isn't even "neutral" - it's in the "client's" offices. Right in the heart of the "Fuck-Wits Lair".
Anyway. Can't very well turn up complete with smelly kit-bag, then cut the interview short because I have to "nip out and do a quick six miles up by the majestic Clyde" (nice as that would be).
I shall try instead tomorrow to get in a brief 5k or so after the interval session.

Then at the weekend. We're off to York. Looking forward to that - but it'll still curtail the old running a bit.

Tried to compensate for what will be a low mileage week, today, by going our for a steady 11 at lunchtime. Very nice.

Speaking of "nice".... got yet another "strings" album. Blue Mitchell "Smooth As The Wind". Only Blue Mitchell stuff I've had previous to this are a couple of his Blue Note offerings ("Thing to Do" and "Down With It"). Though he played with Horace Silver on a lot of his dates as well, which I've also got. His playing was always in the Hard Bop idiom, but tinged with a hint of soul. And he seems to bring both these elements to this session.
It's a tiny bit different from a lot of strings numbers. He takes a few Blue Note standards, slows them right down, then lays the strings on top (not exclusively Blue Note though). Like most "strings" offerings, it can get a bit cloying and melancholy, but the overall feel is "nice" (not every album can be great and there's nothing wrong with a bit of "nice").
His treatment of Horace Silver's "Peace" deserves a listen.
Have to load it to my MP3 player..... just the thing for calming the nerves as I alight onto the Queen Street selection ramp tomorrow.

Monday, 19 November 2012



There’s nowt like a cross country race to get you all sweaty, snotty and grubby feeling…. And sometimes you don’t even have to run it.

Dunbar’s leg of the Borders XC yesterday and I was on duty to help out. Trouble was I’d been struck by the lurgy. One of those “smart” lurgy virus’s that’s been developed. The ones that linger, linger, linger all bloody week – and then strike fast at 4:30 pm on Friday L

Knew it was going to be a grotty day when I broke into a sweat simply climbing into the shower in the morning.

Anyhoo. Getting out on such a beautiful day with nice crisp cold air was probably the tonic I needed.

We got down there pretty sharp and I was soon out with the two Andys and Stuart S marking out our section of the course that the Über Führer had designated to us (out towards the lighthouse). It didn’t take too long and I was soon jogging my way back to the start.

Bleedin’ hell. Where there had been about three cars when I left there were now about fifty times that and the place was absolutely buzzing with runners. The Borders XC series has really taken off these past few years (deservedly so).

I always worry that the Dunbar race in the series is a bit flat and monotonous in comparison with some of the others. But, you can only work with what you’ve got, and the runners seemed to find it OK. Unfortunately, due to the sheer volume of runners registering, we had to delay the start of both the junior and senior race. By the time we were starting the senior race I was starting to worry, as the tide had turned and was starting to encroach on some of the markers that had been put out. A quick dash out by Brian to move the stakes “inland”, and all was well.


By the time I got home and did a first draft of the results it was pretty dark. The cold wasn’t any better and I still had that clammy, manky, sweaty feel that the cold brings with it. All sensible indicators that a run should be the last thing on my mind……


So there I was. Six o’clock at night, head torch on out for a wee five mile bimble.

Discovered a wee game to play. Now admittedly given that you need a bit of a chest cold and be out running in the dark with a head torch, opportunities to play this are going to be a bit limited. Basically, the cold offers loads of chances for really throaty, hefty, phlegmy, gobbing, and I was running round amusing myself trying to “follow” the trajectory of the gob in the beam of my head torch. At one point I was following one particularly heavy gob as it soared majestically over a hedge…as I lost sight of it and turned my head forwards again my beam of light suddenly reflected back at me from six really bright orbs.

FECK!! My first thought was something on the road that was coming towards me and I jumped to the verge at the side to let it/them/whatever pass (that’ll teach me to play stupid games and not keep an eye on where I’m going).

I stood and waited…and waited..and waited. The glowing discs still shone back at me, with the odd flicker and bit of movement.

This was no vehicle (or if it was it was VERY slow moveing). And then ….”moo”.

I edged forward.  Jeeze three coos that had go out their field and were standing three abreast across the narrow road. Don’t know who got the bigger fright, me or them. Though judging by what I slipped in at one point, I’ll say them (or at least one of them). Took quite a while of very slow progress before I managed to get by them and was able to get home.

Not a fast run, by any means, but a strange one.

Thursday, 15 November 2012



I do love a bit of cake.

Strangely enough, our house has been “awash” with cake these past few weeks. Muckle big Christmas Cakes (3 off), big choclaty birthday cakes (2 off) and all manner of “other” cakes, tray bakes, cupcakes and whatnots (including one fairly large gingerbread house).

Only problem is …. Most of it is spoken for and ear marked for occasions and events, other than simply satisfying my immediate greed L.

But at least I’ve not been completely cake-less. Yes, the forthcoming festive season, Anne’s birthday and Pudsey Bear have a lot to answer for!! All that cake and none of it for me.

Not to worry. Came across a new album. Larry Vuckovich, “Something Special”. I’ll be honest and say I hadn’t heard of Larry before I got this, and it was the inclusion of “special guest” Scott Hamilton on tenor sax that drew me in. But I’m glad I saw it and I’m glad that it did draw me in.

A very, very fine pianist in the Horace Silver mode. The whole album has a distinctly 60’s Blue Note feel to it. No more so than their cover of the Dexter Gordon tune “Cheesecake”. A long time favourite of mine, this tune, that I first heard about 25 years ago (one of the last vinyl jazz records I ever had if I remember correctly). On this track Vuckovich has twice the topping on his cake, as he uses both Hamilton and his regular sax player Noel Jewkes. To be fair, bearing in mind I listen in mono, I don’t think having two saxes really adds anything (I’m not saying either that it detracts). Hamilton’s tone is so distinctive that it’s the dominant sound. On some tracks the two players trade solos and this works really well… but when they play duets Jewkes seems to float along just below the surface of the sound. Not really adding much. Anyway, despite that, it’s  very nice cheesecake indeed. And I can just keep going back for more and more without worrying about it.

Turns out Larry was born in Yugoslavia but his family moved to the States in the late 50’s as asylum seekers. Larry doesn’t have a massive discography in his own right but has been a sideman for many others. He toured with Dexter in the 60’s, but I don’t think they recorded together – might be wrong – hope I am (I’d like to hear it).

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


Most who know me will comment on what a little ray of sunshine I usually am....
Well, maybe not. But I'm not normally this bad.

My work situation (normally just shite) is "utter shite" at the moment.
Since we heard that we had lost the contract and were getting TUPEd morale has, understandably, been lower than it is these days in the offices of the Jimmy Savile Fan Club.

Anyhoo... It's leaving yours truly like a seething little knot of perpetual contempt, loathing and anger which might be spilling into other parts of my life (i.e. the non-work - normally "fun" parts). I feel like a little clockwork robot... get up...go to work...go a run....have tea....go to bed ....repeat ad-infinitum (only stuck in angry mode).
I need a break.

On the plus side (if there is one) I seem to be able to channel my anger into my running. Got round the Tuesday night town run in no time last night.
Though I don't know if that was anger-fuelled or if it was maybe due to the fact that Andrew Crichton turned up last night for a bit of a run and pretty much dragged us all round in his wake.
Quite enjoyed it - once my heart rate had come down a bit from the "jeeze that's no healthy for a man of your age" zone.
Though today's 8 miler was a much more sedate pace. Mind you I have been spending the morning "self medicating" with Kenny Wheeler, John Coltrane and Miles Davis records......"nice".

"Calm...Calm"..Deep breaths....

Monday, 12 November 2012


Bit of a disjointed LSD run this weekend.
Up fairly early on Sunday and ran down to Whitesands (about 5.5 miles), had a quick recce of the XC course for next weekend (about 4.5) then ran back (another 5.5). Beautiful day and the lighthouse, as usual, looked very striking.
Problem was it didn’t feel like a 15.5 mile run because the 4.5 mile section in the middle was a bit stop/start as I had to check out the route. A couple of changes since last time. For some reason they’ve fenced bits off down there and put livestock in to graze (sheep).
Luckily they (the “cooncil”) have put in various gates and stiles so the fencing isn’t too problematic – in truth a couple of gates and/or stiles only adds to the “cross country” feel!. They’ve also given us the all clear to run the races through the livestock enclosures.
The gates and stiles aren’t that obvious and easily missed. I saw one couple out on mountain bikes, simply give up looking, lift their bikes over then climb over the fence. Can’t see a wire fence lasting that long with that sort of treatment.

Friday, 9 November 2012



I’m a regular patron of the movie industry. In fact, I was there only two years ago. However, as it was Anne’s birthday yesterday, as a special treat I let her take me to our local  “picture palace” to see the latest offering starring Mr Daniel Craig.

I wont go into the details of the plot for two reasons. One: I have no wish to ruin the enjoyment of anyone else who may be thinking of nipping along to their local flea-pit to view, and “two” there wasn’t much of one anyway (plot that is).

Mr Bond appears to live in a world that is fast, colourful, violent and loud. But predominantly loud. Very, very loud. Oh yes. Loud enough to set off my tinnitus anyway L.

Perhaps the ringing will have stopped by the time I go to see something a few years from now.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


Because we were at Lauder on Sunday, for the cross country, my opportunities to do LSD have been limited this week (Sunday being one of my two days where a long run is a possibility).
I keep reminding myself that it doesn't really matter if my weekly mileage drops a bit - nothing long planned anyway over the winter, but it still doesn't feel right.
Daft thing is, the mileage drops every year round about now - and every year I go through exactly the same feelings.
Problem is, and much as I enjoy them, the cross country races seem to come along all at once - a bit like buses.

Still. Did nine mile today at lunchtime but the legs were already heavy after a hard "two-run-Tuesday". On top of that today was one of those days where I felt as though the wind was coming at me from every direction. There was no respite from it at all.

Much like on the telly... where there seems to be no respite from the American elections. "Jesus-H-Christ-on-a-bike". I know it's of global importance, but not 24hour coverage.

Monday, 5 November 2012



Sunday….The sky was clear and blue. The sun was out and its was a tad on the chilly side. It was, in short, a beautiful – almost perfect, late autumn day. There couldn’t have been a better start to the Borders XC series.

The first race this year was in Lauder. Same route and start location as previous years, but Lauder now have the use of a shiny new club house. Cross country? With changing and showering facilities about 20m from the start line?? Flippin’ Eck.

It was a real pity that some of the runners disregarded the simple request to remove muddy shoes before entering the new club house. Shame on you.

Anyway, what of the race itself. Well it was a record turnout for the first leg with about 215 seniors and about 80 juniors.

A quick recce of the part of the route showed that mud was to be the recurring theme of the day – lots of it.

Same route as before. A lap of the football park before heading out to do a lap of a wooded walk that includes some old WW I style duckboard paths (luckily covered in chicken wire – so not a real slip hazard). Quite narrow at this part, so if the runner in front is going a  bit slower than you’d like just accept it and enjoy the opportunity to save your energy.

Then its over a bridge and the long, slow, lung bustin’ climb up by Chester Hill on the Southern Upland Way, then down into the valley and a nice muddy/boggy section that probably claimed a few badly tied shoes yesterday. An awful climb, up a very steep, slippery, muddy path, before a rapid descent back into the football park. A descent that took in a  short cobbled section that I don’t recall being as slippy as it was yesterday.

Me and James Addie had our own race-within-a-race going on yesterday and kept passing each other regularly. Thought I’d nailed it when he had to stop briefly to sort his shoe, but he caught me just as we came back into the park L.

Pace and time are pretty meaningless on a XC race, but I was happy enough with the way I felt during and after.



Shoes: Got a good tip from Ian R’ that I’ve tried. Put my Inov8 XC shoes outside to get wet before the day of the race. Then when you put them on [slightly] damp you can not only get them nice and tight, but they feel a bit softer and more comfortable. Sounds a bit strange, choosing to put on wet shoes – but it does work.

Thursday, 1 November 2012



When do songs, or tunes, officially become “standards”? I have no idea, and a search of the vast wind swept expanses of the inetrweb has left me none the wiser.

Is it when it’s covered by three different people? Four? Five?

It would appear there is no agreement. It just seems, to me, to be a song that is reprised, redone and revisited so often that it becomes familiar without becoming boring (or, god forbid to use today’s awful parlance “re-imagined”).

Got a couple of new (to me) Frank Morgan releases lately. Frank was very much a product of the 40’s bop revolution. He even took that well trodden, stereotypical, jazz musicians path into a life of drug addiction before emerging clean in the 80’s and bringing out a raft of wonderful albums, that while new and exciting still harked back to a time that many jazz fans longed to return to (“the past is another country they do things differently there” and all that).

One of the reasons that Frank put forward for his misuse of drugs was the burden he felt being cited as the new “Bird”. And yet, once clean he managed to face up to this challenge and quite a lot of his output is Parker influenced.

Anyway. One of the albums, “Yardbird Suite” contains wonderful covers of some of my favourite, Parker penned or associated, standards. A beautiful “Skylark”, a song so beautiful you’d have to be really ham fisted to ruin. A cracking “Scrapple From The Apple” that flows at breakneck speed, the titular “Yardbird Suite” that jumps out of your speakers, grabs you by the neck and takes you a walk down a busy New York street at night in the company of Mulgrew Millers machine gun rapid, staccato, piano and Ron Carter’s languid bass.

Anyway. Back to the notion of “standards”.. I have to confess an over familiarisation with “Night In Tunisia”. Dizzy’s anthem is so often covered, it no longer does it for me. But this version takes the tune so closely back to it’s original bebop roots that I could grew to love it again. Out of the twenty odd versions I have, this is up there in the top three (I’ve about 15 versions of Skylark, and I love them all).