Monday, 7 May 2018

On The Occasion Of My Daughter's Wedding


Friends who could not be at this occasion have wondered what I said when my turn came in the speech-making. Good or bad, fair or foul, this was it.

Time & Date delivered: 1400, Saturday 5th May 2018
Location: Culcreuch Castle Hotel, Fintry, Scotland.
Bride & Groom: Kirsten Tipping & Martin Boyle.


I’m told that it’s a custom for the father of the bride
To give a speech; so here’s a guide
That in a brief poetic time
Gives one man’s thoughts – but then I’m
In the job of Dad to four
So why not listen then if you’re
Perhaps to face this daunting task
With girl unwed and yet to ask.
Or maybe you’re just feeling merry
From liquid gold of grape or berry.
Whatever – pin those lugholes back
A wisp of fun these words won’t lack.
So we are here because one day
Two parents met and later – hey!
Out popped a babe, it was a girl
In truth some years but what a whirl.
This girl is sister; two brothers first
From earlier years they both had burst
Upon the scene, so shocked were they
To find a sister on their lap lay.
So Kirsten came and what a joy
Then second came, again no boy.
But Kirsten loved her sibling new
And they still speak with love so Phew!
In fact so full of love was K
For this new babe she shopped away
And found a lovely fluffy thing
She gave to Sis the toy she’d bring.
But there is sting since father may
Throw out this toy in careless way.
This fluffy joy was yellow duck;
My horror thought “Oh, what the - flipping heck”.
But let’s go back to age of two
When Kirsten was so sweet and new.
Adults have matters that are fine
To undertake but cross the line ...
For children to completely do
Like clean and tidy just as new.
So when a carpet gets a sprinkle
From little girls who do a tinkle;

Parents with a deftest touch
Clean up quickly and, as much
As little girls can be like mother
Cleaning carpets is just no bother.
So seeing mother using water
To dilute sprinkles as she aught-er;
Kirsten, when upstairs a-playing
Wet her carpet, she thought laying
Water over said occasion
Would be perfect, no persuasion.
This was fine until the flow
Came through the ceiling down below.
Up dashed the parents moving fast
And found the bedroom more than splashed.
So out the window carpet goes
And in the garden water flows;
But father says to mother “Dear -
That carpet old is gone, no fear;
So we’ll get new and what we choose
That’s good job done, we win, not lose”.
Now on we move through early years
Through happy laughs and sometimes tears
To early school with play and books;
A pretty child with angel looks.
A caring careful child was she;
No tomboy this as we could see;
Her sister did that role embrace
With laughing smile in mucky face.
Example speaks of many a word.
A velvet dress – that’s right, you heard
On little girl a crazy choice
But Kirsten’s skill did give a voice ...
To mother who believed in her;
At party time this dress like fur
Did go out clean and then return
Without a mark or singe or burn.
So careful was this girl of ours
She played like child for hours and hours;
But miracles - she still had fun
But kept that dress from cake and bun.
She came home happy and the dress
So unmarked did she so impress;
This care and thought, she has it still;
And pass it on? Perhaps she will.
Returning to my little tale
Of Kirsten’s life, I never fail
To be as proud of little things
As bigger stuff that her life brings.
It is a fact that I quite like
That I came late to ride a bike
So helping children learn to ride
Is something that I view with pride.
It is a truth though for us all
That life can have a sudden fall;
So when a bike she came to try
She wasn’t quick to cycle by.
Some of you know we love to camp -
I mean holiday, dry or damp;
Not how I walk though sometimes run;
It’s canvas past, by van now done.
It was while camping with our friends;
The weather sun and rain it sends
Where Kirsten learned to ride a bike;
A picture in my head I like
To fondly wind through memory’s eye
As down a rutted path she’d fly
With only wheels at front and rear
No extra wheels to help her fear.
The freedom she had longed to find
Was now all hers with fear behind;
She’d now been launched for good and all
To feel the speed her soul enthral.
Then as first decade on this earth
Came past as memory of her birth;
Her parents, tired of several things
Sold house and moved where Burns’ Night brings
Grown adults speaking ancient rhyme
Addressing puddings like the time
When folk believed in faeries’ spells
And whisky came to sound of - Bells.
And so we came to Scottish land
In fact, to Crieff, though part unplanned;
My elder son was here, no less
And I one word to him address.
Back at the time when Kirsten still
Was unborn lump and like small hill;
My son suggested second name
For sister new – and so it came
That Kirsten has two Celtic words
To give her reference amongst the hordes.
The first a name that Scots do use;
The second, Welsh, for her to choose
Which branch of Celtic she prefers.
I think I know but choice is hers.
But Kirsten, Rhiannon do unfurl
Both lovely names for lovely girl.
Back then I go to early days
When Joka also with her plays;
This is no card trick, Joka barks
And adds to Rusty’s silly larks.
These were two Cavalier hounds
By name not nature - but then found
Each with their girl, they soon are sat
Prefer to lie and just get fat.
But we are mindful and the two
Get walks and runs - and not a few.
And Joka’s sweet, a little dim
But we all still remember him.
With hole in heart, this little mutt
Should linger less – and there’s a ‘but’
Amazing vets and all who hears
He carries on for fifteen years.
So here we are in Scotland’s heart
And education played its part
In making Kirsten what she is;
The ups and downs, the falls and fizz.
So after time in local school
To further place where nuns once rule.
Her father, unconvinced on God,
Reluctant, gives her choice the nod.
But Kirsten, with her spirits free
Sails through subjects one, two, three.
Gets perfect end as Standards come,
Then Higher and Higher advances some.
She heads for Law and Glasgow’s Green
Since in that place her future’s seen.
She studies well and is well read
Then Lawyer not, but then it’s said
That Lawyers are a shifty bunch
So try elsewhere and face the crunch
Of being happy first and then
Perhaps less dosh but better ken
That happy is a better place
Than being in a ruthless race
To get ahead at any cost;
Relax, slow down, love the most.
And this new way has brought us here
Because the man she now holds dear (and her husband)
Was met in selling food, cooked fine;
Her boss, no less, with skill in wine.
So now this speech is near its end
And down the road to love we wend.
The two folk here are now to go
Through thick and thin as one and so
I wish them all the best there is
And know they answer to the quiz
That they aren’t perfect, either one,
But love the other when’s said and done.
When times get tough and there’s a strain,
Remember sunshine follows rain.
You both have folk who love you well
So take it easy and don’t dwell
On life’s reverses and its pain;
Love is all and lets you gain
The lift that fixes problems when
You need it most, right there and then.
So that’s all folks, just let me say
That it’s a lie to “give away”
One’s daughter on the day she’s wed;
It costs a bomb, so that’s that said.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Referendummies

'Twas in the year two oh one four
That I thought on to offer more
Of thoughts benign before the vote
That might have sent our land afloat
Upon the route that once before
Had been the case in days of yore.

But in the time that's passed since then
The world has spun a whirlwind when
With wicked glee and puckish sense
The Channel's likened to a fence
That some may leap and some may not
When hitherto we'd take the lot.

So victory, defeat are back
And all it seems that now we lack
Is focus for our angst and joy
But will it be that girl or boy
The UK gal with stylish shoes
The US guy with business views.

What's certain now is Janus facts
What's yours is yours and overacts
Like powdered stage folk with no script
To be whatever form is ripped
From certain base to airy form
A wispy nymph immune to storm.

So what are we, confused, to make
Of trammelled media that bake
Ingredients of guess and worse
To make us mad and thus we curse
The ones we once did think were wise
But now demand no compromise.

The future, once our promised lands
Now grey and foggy in the hands
Of folk we never could believe
Would power wield - so with a heave
The ground beneath our feet does shift
But will it fall or will it lift?

So as we chart a newer course
Through waters deep with nervous force
There's worry in so many souls
As hatred rises and befouls
The tolerance that once was all
And darkened words black past recall.

So what to do? And where to be?
In times that we have asked to see
Maybe not you or even I'd
Do that but others' free decide
Have brought us here and that is that
So let's get on and not stay pat.

To stay or go? Aah, there's the rub
Is that the question down the pub?
This island's great, of that no doubt
But let's not start a boxing bout
On one or many, stay or go
Good neighbours first, be friend not foe.

Some up and say the past is best
So let's go there and find we're blessed
But maybe stay, the future's more
Important to us here for sure
So focus on the positive
And atomise the negative.

So? Never changing? Some say No
But simple answers will just go
And make the future worse than now
So clever minds will be, I trow,
Our route to better times ahead
If shaped with love and hardened head.

Through future's time of twenty years
Of toil and strife, of laughs and tears
As time unfolds and drips its work
Into our lives, let us not shirk
Our efforts to resist the rise
Of hate and more, this we despise.

To be the nation we should be
With friend abroad, not enemy
Strong, loyal, true and ever free
Is surely best e'en we be wee
Then take our place upon the stage
Of world affairs and calm the rage.

If Fate should take us on our own
Away from past arrangements blown
Let's stand up for the righted wrong
The honest handshakes that belong
To all who would in chang-ed times
Be true and brave in face of crimes.

These words are few and will not last
If folk forget that in the past
It's hatred, rage and fear that brought
So many graves, so early wrought
But put their trust in good not ill
And work as one, with common will.

I know not what the future brings
I know not when the toll bell rings
To bring this mortal coil an end
As back to space-dust we all blend
But till it does my tiny part
Will be to give, not stand apart.

So if you wonder what will be
And if you fear life's mystery
Maybe the thought to offer you
Is play your part and push it through
Give heart and mind to all you can
Make banish bad for good your plan.

Big moments out of your control
Will happen and affright your soul
But, kindly, stand up for the good
And do not give the bad the food
They crave in seeing good retreat
Be firm and make sure bad is beat.

The end may come all in a rush
But give the future's mighty push
Hold hard to truth and banish lies
Trust love, not hate, as fleet time flies
This thing I do - and so I give
My reader love - and love to live.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Referendum-de-dum-de-dum



Some think that Salmond’s rather fishy
Others that Sturgeon’s a tasty dishy
If Alistair’s a Darling (now and then)
It’s clearly time to pen
a thought or two upon the vex-ed choice
that on one day we can all voice.
It’s ‘Aye’ or ‘Nae’ – it’s really easy
So why’s this choice make us so queasy?
Can it be that some who stand
And talk about this lovely land
That all agree is fair (but breezy)
Seem to have found a new dimension
Where true and false get equal mention
‘The Heart’ gets talked of more and more
So maybe ‘999’s the score
As off to A&E we rush
To get our bodies through the crush
of folk with ECGs to get
And have their voting worries met
So hearts can pulse at slower rate
Whilst Heads get back to dominate
But can our Heads get what they need
From politicians and their creed
Of truth and numbers that make sense
Or do we, baffled, just dispense
with all the guff that’s shoved at us
by the Great & (maybe) Good
And just tell them ‘Shove it, Bud’
So what’s to do for good and all?
Our children will take rise or fall
Not us old folk – we’re fine as such
The young and those with not so much
are those who’ll get the lion’s share
Of good or bad and have to care
Of life and all that future holds
The ups, the downs, the warms, the colds
So do we vote or walk away
Do we take part or at home stay
Do we rebuke both Red and Blue
Who really don’t have any clue
(As neither do those of other hue)
Or do we take a near-blind punt
and put ourselves out at the front
of those who just take all they hear
and put a cross and hold their fear
There’s them as wants to be apart
from those they think don’t let them start
to be themselves and do their best
at life and love and all the rest
And then there’s them as don’t want change
It worries nerves with future strange
When continuity is king
and promises seem empty ring
So tell the ones who (think they) know
That WE’RE the ones who make the show
what it is for them to run
And get together from now on
Whate’er our views before the vote
Whate’er we said, whate’er we wrote
Howe’er we see our neighbours face
Howe’er we think about our place
and make our land be free of doubt
and learn to work out what our clout
REALLY can be once it’s done,
And work TOGETHER – ALL AS ONE.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

A year on, I search for Nessie once more...

...and the Old Git finds a monster.

This edition comes to you in the pre-photographic era of considered and unconsidered journalism. This might have been to evoke that camera in your own head where (famously misquoted) 'the pictures are better'. Truth is, some Old Git forgot to take his camera.

Friday 28th September

The Day of Preparation. But there are jobs to be done; mainly, take Daughter #2 to Stirling station as she departs on the first leg of her travels to Myanmar (look it up). She is ready for adventure - and malaria.

This may be a runner's blog but the Old Git once used to cycle a lot. Rode across Europe aged 16 even; his brother was navigating and they only intended to go to Scarborough. Got back safely five weeks later though. In the present life, a late-life rush of blood to the head has reawakened the OG's interest in cycling; repairs however are needed to his 30yo steed. His old chariot might be a Peugeot but the engine aboard the OG is definitively old and knackered. A back wheel missing a couple of spokes is a candidate for the OG's tender attentions.

Can a well-known chain of car and bike shops help? No. Only items manufactured within living memory are sold and serviced here. The OG moves on.

A Service and Repair shop is the the next port of call. Very helpful and knowledgeable but ultimately unable to proffer other than a new wheel. They suggest, however, a nearby emporium wherein old bicycles are recycled (ho-ho-ho) to the benefit of all. The OG hastens himself there.

The Recyclists are most helpful. It is agreed that the old cogs have to go but replacement ones can be supplied. They duly return to the workshop in order to wreak agreed destruction. Meanwhile, the OG browses.

On a stand presenting itself at adult eye-level, can this really be a road bike from the 1980s? It is in such prime condition that the OG is tempted. Resisting mightily, he browses some more. Then - the OG's wheel returns, accompanied by a successful mechanic. The wheel is blessedly cog-free and another set of cogs is provided. Brilliant!! Only £4 is asked for this process but the generous OG insists on £10. He is great at reverse haggling, especially with charitable organisations.

As payment is being found, the OG's eyes alight on another road bike he completely missed before. Ironically, this item had its origins in that self-same chain of car and bike shops that was earlier unable to help. It is in (almost) prime condition and VERY tempting. The OG tries it out round the yard of the shop. He is smitten. He has to have it. The Old Toad. Poop Poop.

So, there we have it. Go into the shop for milk and come out with a case of wine. Typical, eh? Men shoppers!

So the antepenultimate day before LNM2012 ends with a shiny yellow bicycle finding its way into the OG's garage. What will Mrs OG think? Well, it was a lot less expensive than the new bikes they were considering buying. AND maybe Mrs OG will also be able to find a new velocipede at the self-same emporium. What fun this promises!!

Saturday 29th September

Travel Day. Aim to leave at 1030; reality insists on 1130. En route, a new vacuum cleaner is to be collected from a well-known supermarket in Perth. The OG blew up the old one cleaning out the garage; Mrs OG was decidely unimpressed. BUT the OG has found a bargain in the form of a recently-discontinued model that is perfectly suited to the OG's household needs. And it's at a heavy discount. Perfect.

Successfully collecting the item, the OG returns to the car whilst Mrs OG gets last-minute shopping. This is mainly to fill the OG with many calories ready for LNM2012. The OG's Old Dog is not impressed by the space he was enjoying being invaded by Chinese packaging containing a vacuum cleaner. He hates vacuum cleaners and heads for the hills whenever they fire up near him. When they stop for the night, the Old Dog will soon forget his cramped travel arrangements, reasons the OG.

The party reunited once more, the trip to the North continues. It being a weekend, the roads have their usual quota of weekend morons at the wheels of vehicles they clearly don't understand properly. The sight of the OG's car with trailer attached also seems to excite in some drivers a need to pass that is based on the false assumption that OG + trailer = slow and no acceleration. The OG is happy to demonstrate, where safe and appropriate, that this combination isn't slow. Sensible drivers overtake the OG's combi only when it is clearly safe to do so - and there are no law enforcement men or machines in sight.

Before they can scarce believe it, the OG, wife and dog crest the rise that reveals the panorama that is the Moray Firth and Inverness. SatNav charts the correct way to the campsite next to the LNM2012 Start and Finish area and soon the happy band are esconced on a grassy site ready for the next phase. The kindly owner has charged only for one night as the OGs will be leaving (along with just about everyone else) the following teatime. Hope the owner gets his reward with more summer visitors.

Quickly, the erection that is to be the party's home for the next 26 hours springs into being. Services are connected and all is snug and homely. Truly this 16yo unit is a marvel of compactness on the road and yet home-from-home when they are miles-from-home. Can this truly be 'camping' when there's excellent heating, running water, a fridge and a fast-boiling kettle on hand. Yes - it can.

Next, LNM2012 registration.

Only a short stroll away, across a somewhat damp sports field, lies the temporary city that is the centre for the LNM2012. Having participated in LNM2011, the OG and wife know which canvas emporium to head for - so they do (after a small detour designed to confirm the previous statement). Sundry folk stroll about clutching brown envelopes. Doubtless these are not the brown envelopes of bad movies about bad people but those designed to contain runners' stuff.

OG and wife enter Registration Tent. OG is number 67, only one digit away from his present age - a spooky coincidence. OG is about to repeat last year's opener ("Not sure which number I fancy - can you run through the choices, please?") when he takes pity on the ladies present. They are the same as last year. He is also wearing his OG sweatshirt so they will have already sussed that he's probably bonkers. A kindly chat and the OG leaves with his own brown envelope complete with number, pins and stern instructions about behaviour and time-keeping. He is complete.

It is time for tea.

Home to home-from-home where OG's Good Lady will attempt to provide innumerable calories whilst OG attempts to consume them. Remarkably, a plate piled high with Italianate calories disappears down the OG's gullet and leaves the plate brightly clean. "Please ma'am; can I have some more?" queries the OG in his childlike fashion. Is this wise? Tomorrow will tell all.

Assemble tomorrow's needs. Check them twice. Visit the facilities. Go to bed. Get out of bed. Visit the facilities. Go to bed again. Sleep, perchance to dream.

Sunday 30th September - The Preamble

The morrow dawns. Despite the early hour, the campsite is veritably alive with folk; eating, drinking, visiting the facilities. OG decides to do likewise. Visit #1 to the facilities. Back for breakfast.

Muesli. Banana. Milk. Bread. Honey. It's going to be a long time until the start so pile in there. Relax. Visit #2 to the facilities. Relax some more.

The attire for the day that was assembled last night is put on. Check everything. OK. Visit the facilities again. Back to the tent and check everything again.

It's just about time. The buses can be seen already embarking many folk. Kiss wife farewell. Wife sleeps on. Old Dog wonders if breakfast is to be offered but realises not. Old Dog returns to sleep where his younger self is no doubt chasing cats.

So OG departs and heads for the transport area. The throng mills. Helpers disguised as the Waffen SS gently direct eventistas towards an appropriate conveyance. OG, being an OG, ignores the orders barked out and heads for a bus that seems to have more than its fair share of fair maidens. He is right. A seat upstairs is comfy, warm and inviting. He decides however not to sit in the young lady's lap out of consideration and instead sits in an empty, cold and apparently springless seat.

The bus fills up. More ladies. More smelly blokes. The empty seat next to the OG is an inviting prospect - if only it wasn't next to the OG. A burly bloke inevitably sits in it. He is, however, affable, chatty and good company for the more than an hour's journey. It could be worse.

The bus bumps onwards through the lovely Scottish countryside towards a spot on the map that is a spot on the map. OG knows from last year that this spot on the map is conveniently situated next to possibly the World's Largest Outdoor Gentlemen's Convenience. It will be interesting to see if this wondrous edifice of Nature is there still.

The OG arrives; so does everyone else. The buses are emptied out into the damp and lifeless air that sucks the warmth out of the soul and brings cramps to the bowels. How lucky then that the WLOGC is still there with many gentlemen making use of its facilities comprising heather, bushes and small trees. Despite its status, many ladies attempt to hide themselves amongst the WLOGC's bushy nethers whilst protecting their own from damage. Some appear to fail in this endeavour as they clutch themselves warmly whilst returning to the public area known locally as 'The Road'.

Large articulated vehicles array themselves with under-age children on their trailers. The ostensible reason for their presence is to collect runners' bags which they 'promise' will be returned to them at the finish. The OG is wise; he has no bag but carries all he needs on him. A veteran of many commercial airline flights, he is wise to the promise that 'your bags are safe with us'. The presence of under-age children is a certain sign that the organisers of this con-trick are indeed criminals of the worst kind. The children are well-trained, however, and gull many into parting with their goodies.

The Announcer announces. Signs have been posted to encourage runners to assemble in ascending order of finishing times; Fast at the front, Slow at the back. The OG looks in vain for the farthest point from the Start where all other runners will be in front of him. He decides to linger around the furthest point that is vehicle-free as late-comers stream past him towards the Start. A Clubmate passes and there is the briefest of exchanges; they will probably never see each other again.

The OG surveys the others who likewise seem intent on being at the back of the pack. They include some unlikely looking marathonists. There is a quota of professional Champion Pie Tasters. The one that looks bulemic. The one that looks psychotic. The group that looks out on the razzle. If there are other OGs, none is evident.

The minutes are counted down. The OG's bowels move. More than one sphincter is locked tight. Then - suddenly - far, far, away, in a galaxy populated by beings that float across 26 miles in less than the time it takes to boil an egg, the event is under way. Around the OG, no-one moves; yet. As the minutes tick, however, the crowd starts to shuffle forwards. The shuffle becomes a slow walk, The slow walk becomes a quick march. Before he can hardly know it, the OG is propelled towards the Start.

Quick!! Start the Garmin!! Don't trust the organisers with their technology. Trust that little thing on your wrist. So it starts. Downhill. With the wind behind. A good wind. A kind wind. A not-too-freezing-cold wind. Oh, for roller skates.

Consult the pace. Too fast. Slow down. Many bodies rush past. Fools. They'll pay for it later. Hubris hears and chuckles.

The land gently flattens. A small crowd appears in the near distance. They stand next to a sign declaring "Toilets". The OG decides to check them out and veers wildly into the pub that is offering itself to be relieved upon. Relief indeed. One sphincter relaxes; others tighten. The OG checks his dress and emerges into daylight once more. The crowd admire the dress but wonder...

Onwards and downwards the OG ambles. Into a shady glen he proceeds with none visible in front and no sound of onrushing followers behind. All is peace. All is still more than 20 miles away.

Then, silently as a Barn Owl, a female appears at the OG's shoulder. Her feet are actually on the road so the OG's shoulder is spared but owl-like she is nonetheless. Naturally, the OG strikes up a conversation. Surprisingly, the female seems happy to participate and several miles of dalliance follow. At a further point, however, a roadside W.C. catches the attention of the lady's metabolism and she waves a cheery farewell as she leaves the OG to amble on, alone once more.

Foyers comes and goes. The water that is Loch Ness appears and disappears. No magic, just the trees getting in the way. Kilometre after kilometre passes with metronomic periodicity. Pacing is perfect. Can this year surpass last year? The suspense is frightening.

Half-way. A Half Marathon. Just under two and a half hours. Bang on target for five hours (or so). This is going SO well (thinks the OG with miserably poor foresight).

The kilometres continue to pass; Dores and the Evil Hill loom. The OG is still on target as the land starts its inexorable rise towards the top of the hill. Astonishingly, the Barn Owl again appears at his shoulder and after a few cheery words, scoots upwards towards the summit with wings on her heels. The OG has unaccountably collected some lead on his. Later scrutiny of the data will show that 30 kms was reached in 3h38m31s; too slow. Something has cracked in the OG's chassis and there is no handy way of getting a quick welding job done.

The summit arrives. The OG ploughs onwards to 35kms but the cracked chassis is starting to come apart badly. Heading for the 22 mile post, the chassis gives way and the engine, coughing and spluttering, dies. The OG is now poised, legs akimbo, bent at the waist and giving a clear impression of being about to use the facilities. Except there aren't any. And it's a public road. And people have cameras in their phones these days. And his posture would be an embarrassing picture anywhere on the Interweb.

Reinforcements rush emergency material to the chassis break and, falteringly, the OG's engine coughs back into life and starts to propel the broken chassis towards the garage that is also know as the Finish. The next four thousand metres are agony. Slow agony. Reinforcements continue to rush to the broken-down mechanism and the tortured engine slowly raises its revs towards the heady heights of 'running' speed.

From here, the OG planned to finish in an hour. Reality cruelly insists on fifty percent more than that. Ninety minutes of tortured grinding of metal on metal, bone on bone, foot on road, tearing at anything and everything to get more fuel in the tank. Why did the OG fly from here last year? Why is this year so different? Is it just a year? Is the chassis past it?

A roundabout appears. THE roundabout. The OG has made it to the outskirts of Inverness; the underskirts beckon. Slowly but surely, the OG realises that there are others around him in at least as bad a state of disrepair. He fixes his gaze on a distant fellow-sufferer and vows to beat him to the Finish. In a mile they are level. Another target is spotted. The OG gives 'chase'.

It is the last section of road outside the park wherein lies the Finish. The OG sees far ahead two young blond lovelies who passed him at high speed many miles ago and yet are now within striking distance. He sets himself to race them. He is at the Bridge Over The Ness. A left turn. Mrs OG will be here as well! Chase them down, he murmurs. Mrs OG appears and yells at him - nothing new there then.

But the yelling isn't Liz of the Ilk or bad stuff - it's encouragement! She's pushing the OG to catch the young lovelies!! If only.........

Awaking from this (apparently) dream sequence, the OG realises that he will fail in his endeavour to catch anyone. BUT he is finally across the Finish line and can get to the garage and repair his broken frame. Mrs OG greets him beyond the runners' barriers and gently ushers the OG towards the garage known as the Food Hall. He finally collapses onto an almost wholly inadequate folding chair that threatens to confirm its name whilst Mrs OG pours warm milky coffee down his waiting gullet. Repairs are under way at last.


The organisers, in their wisdom, are offering runners who have just completed over 42 kilometres the obviously appropriate dish of - CURRY!!!! Maybe they think they haven't run far enough. Mrs OG proffers the idea that one of the food emporiums outside might be better. The OGs leave the 'free' food and head for a not-free pizza oven. A hot pizza is thereby greedily consumed. It is not the best but it does have lots of excellent calories. Repairs continue.

And so back to home-from-home. The OG collapses onto the bed and (more or less) promptly falls asleep. Mrs OG and Old Dog take a walk. OG snores whilst his chassis self-repairs some more.

All too soon, wakefulness revisits the OG and it is time to break camp and return to the proper home. With the benefit of years of practice, the folding vehicle is soon folded away and the entourage can make its way homeward.

So what did this accomplish? A time nearly half an hour slower than last year's OG Marathon Personal Best. More pain. Failure to run all the way. But a finish - without being last as well. It might have been a monster but it's another completed marathon for the OG. At this rate, the epithet 'marathon runner' might actually start to mean something positive for the OG's C.V. Maybe.

So there you have it. No visual pictures but a few word pictures. Make up the rest yourselves. Next time, the OG will try to remember the camera. And use it.....