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.....

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Great Scottish Run - Sunday 2nd September

For the third year running, literally, the Old Git finds himself here.

If you're bored already, try taking in the report of last year's event. It might get you in the mood for the nonsense that follows. Or not.

This fountain is meaningless to The Great Scottish Run. It is also meaningless to any Old Git's participation. It's old though and beautifully done. At least it's something that's both since the Old Git's only one of those two things - take your pick. That's how you drive a ditch-digger mad, by the way - offer him two spades and tell him to take his pick.


To intense regret, The Nurse is again unable to look after the Old Git and provide endless opportunities for embarrassing photos. Possibly a connection. Consolingly, her doppelganger has exactly the same number and name and therefore provides Old Git's accompaniment to the start. As a DG, she has never run 13 miles before. The DG is also reportedly qualified for the Paralympics without her glasses and therefore needs a Guide Runner in order not to end up in Cumbernauld, a fate worse than death. She stands poised, a Half Marathon Virgin about to be deflowered. It could be painful.


The Para-gon and the Old Git are to be joined by a Qualified Teacher who promises to get them through their tables from 2 to 12 before the race finish at Glasgow Green. She starts by asking if any of 19239, 19273 or 20243 is a Prime Number. There is smiling and pretending not to know what the **** she's talking about. Milling about whilst QT's mother (or so she claims) clucks over the trio across the barriers erected to keep fans from this starry company, a photo is shot. The OG sports a water bladder which has a repair he is testing; this could end badly.


The throngs throng. The Para-gon worries about para-lysis and resorts to para-phrase as a new para-digm. QT and OG realise para-dise awaits after our 13-mile para-de around Glasgow. And no sign of the Paras.


Almost before it is realised, all are released from the Green Pen (though no sign of Green Ink) and thrust willy-nilly to the West. [We apologise for the unfortunate juxtaposition of a willy and a nilly, by the way. - Ed.] Willy-nilly precautions have been taken. The Lady Who Ate All The Pies And Sings (usually whale-song) At The End wanders in One Direction whilst our brave trio seek the West Life. We continue and chart our way forward.


Spectators desperate for a view of this heaving mass of toned and perfect athletic machines are driven to take any opportunity to get ahead. This location is clearly a perch but tastes of cod. "Is statue?", he is asked. "Yes - but I feel a right tit" he replies.


More desperate spectators have hired a 'cherry picker' to get their dubious photos down some runners' cleavages. The trio are safe - none of them has one.


The OG has counselled the para-glider that many unwitting participants in this form of athletic endeavour start too quickly and the finish is weak and painful. This para-graph rings true and it is agreed that steady pacing is para-mount. Ten minutes for every mile is the agreed para-digm. Conservation of early energy will lead to a stunning climax; the ladies agree enthusiastically. Mile One appears on schedule; our trio are happy in their task. Many runners pass them; they do not care since they shall repass these deluded innocents later when their energies have been sapped by taking the first half too quickly. Smugness threatens.


As Mile Two appears, the trio cross the bonnie Clyde, itself a picture many now enjoy watching. Sad that Faye was done away.


Exactly on the remarkably even schedule, the happy trio approach Mile Three as one 'runner' encourages an alternative form of perambulation. Our brave three ignore the advice and run onwards and upwards past the gently swaying, and amply filled, lycra that are grey hot pants. The Old Git ignores the resultant hot flush. Any such threatening warmth is about to be dampened.


Mile Four appears just past the local 'Lifestyle' shop where inhabitants of the area can purchase velour furnishings, lottery tickets, Tennants Lager (whatever that is), newspapers competing for the day's female nipple count and tablet; everything, in other words, that sensible Glaswegians could need. Next door, the demise of the 'Hardware Stores' store lays testament to the local demand for DIY items. Its one-time trade in sharpened implements has been laid low by the robust approach of the brave officers of Strathclyde Constabulary to the potential misuse of such stuff .



Fifty minutes sees Five Miles approach. The three are now enjoying passing through one of The Lungs of Glasgow and greenery surrounds them. They are now steadily passing numbers of too-enthusiastic beginners who are finding the going tough. The trio are hard-hearted and ignore them.

Six Miles. One hour. Nearly half-way. QT and DG are thrilled. It is almost as if only the second half remains to be negotiated. They look forward to passing even more poor souls. The OG feels a small flow of liquid down his legs. Normal service is resumed, he wearily decides.


Bellahouston fades. The trio approach Lung of Glasgow #2 - Pollockshaws. The impressive stone pillars guard the entrance to Mile Seven. In just a MO, they shall pass another stressed competitor. The OG is now in full flow. The DG remarks that she is being splashed by the resultant tide; it tastes funny. QT observes and smiles inwardly.
The choke that is the pillared entrance momentarily thwarts the trio's planned overtaking maneouvre but they have the momentum. The pendulum carried by the OG is swinging well. A rapidly-emptying water bladder is also swinging well and the OG now sports a large wet patch on the rear. This is undoubtedly a tasteful addition to his normal look.


By Mile Eight, our trio's speed causes many passing sights to become merely blurs. The three intrepid runners are focussed on their task. One hour and twenty minutes have elapsed. The quality of the pacing machine is breathtaking. Their breath is duly taken.


Nine Miles. The column of sweat leaves the beautiousness that is Pollockshaws and enters the urban sprawl that is lower Glasgow. Soon it will turn eastwards for the final thrust towards its return to the bonnie Clyde and all that sail in her. The DG is still running well within herself but is persuaded, for the benefit of others, to be without herself. She is happy nonetheless. The QT quietly enjoys the continued experience of passing more of those unable to pace the full distance.


The Tenth Mile marker is another passed in a blur. Those pills kindly proffered by the young man near George Square seem to be working; blurred vision and pain-free legs are a worthwhile result. The Old Git reassures his companions, as they enquire about the provenance of these purple pills, that no urine tests apply on this event. This is as well as both his bladders are now fully evacuated.


The arrival of Eleven Miles is signalled by the pained sound of a strangled cat. Sensibilities are calmed as the source is revealed to be the usual warming up of a set of bagpipes. The passing column passes without acknowledgement as the last potentially fatal stage of the event is reached. The bagpipe player nonetheless gives a cheery and gay smile which the OG returns with interest. Misunderstandings can occur in the most innocent of situations.


Plan A has been for OG, DG and QT to run together to twelve miles then amble their own way to the finish on Glasgow Green. In this fashion, no-one will get lost - even if there is any smidgen of wish someone would. DG swallows the last pill and hastens off towards her PB. OG and QT have both done this event before and re-use part of their catalogue of more sedate paces to the finish. Crossing the last timing mat and re-united in their triumph, the three Must-Get-Heres pose for an end-game photo. Only a minute separates the finishing times of the three companions who are now bonded in a common glow of achievement.


And so The People's Palace welcomes the milling throngs as they mill and throng around the finishing area replete with artisans of Scottish cuisine and other hucksters. The happy trio are finally separated as QT leaves with her mother and OG and DG return to their transport for the trip home. OG decides to strip to the buff in a public street in downtown Glasgow as he seeks dryness. Uncharacteristically, he also drapes himself in a towel to save passing females from fainting at the sight of unparalled manhood. Completing his toilet in smooth and swift fashion, all is finally ready for the uneventful return to their respective homes and the welcoming embrace of warm water and soap.

13.1 miles. 21.2 kilometres. Countless paces. Unknown calories. The death of many brain cells. Atmospheric pollution. And a modest set of personal achievements. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

Then there's the next event .......

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Strathearn Marathon 10th June 2012 - An Old Git's view

For a change, an event I didn't even start. I didn't even enter. I did give a little bit of help though. What follows reveals almost nothing about what a great event this turned out to be.

For proper illumination, read the stuff on the Strathearn Harrier's website (you can find it without any help from me). What follows here is designed only to tickle those parts of you the other blogs don't reach. If you smile (or even guffaw), you're adult, have seen a bit of life and haven't had your sense of humour surgically removed.

Sunday morning. Cool, cloudy and a bit drizzly. Perfect for a 26-mile thrash around picturesque Perthshire, a slightly soggy Strathearn. Stuff to deliver to Race Central. Decide to go early and see the start, chat to a few friends, that sort of stuff. Oh yes - and take a few pictures.

Deliver stuff. Go to test the camera. Seems to be playing up so stand in the car park to take a few test shots. Camera to eye when BANG WALLOP STAGGER. Lady driver, much distracted by car full of little demons, backs into Old Git as she prepares to exit the place. Really should have taken off that Harry Potter Invisibility Cloak - clearly a man's fault entirely. As this scene of attempted murder is witnessed, several  'friends' find the sight of an Old Git being mown down by a woman irresistibly hilarious. One flame-haired harpy does a High Five with a female who hides from the camera as she does so. A supposedly-responsible Marshal joins in the fun. The Old Git survives. The culprit drives off. She is forgiven by a saintly Old Git. She is a woman driver after all.

Outside Race Central, part of the elite Race Management team chats. One points out the need for grey hair as a condition of seniority; he is unconvincing to his female audience. Two other Grey Owls are relaxed as they contemplate an event where nothing can possibly go wrong. A Strathearn Harrier about to take part in the event laughs as a non-running colleague realises he's forgotten to get his Marshal's vest.

Then there were the loos. Normal people cross their legs; runners cross their arms or stand with legs wide apart. Some practice a half-squat. All are impressed by the scrubbed-clean state of the facilities and determine to leave them (more or less) as they find them. They leave the usual donation in gratitude. Everyone is content to find they have hydrated properly. It is remarked that there's no Mirror in the Ladies; torn up Strathearn Heralds and Perthshire Advertisers suffice.

The photo session continues with the usual contribution from a distant cousin. Happy as she always is, her exuberance is heightened by the flood of adrenaline created by the approaching climax. The race is also about to get under way.


Inside Race Central, the hustle and bustle of race registration is captured as swarms of runners press their case whilst a man hustles and a woman adjusts her bustle. The sad demise of the local red squirrel population is highlighted by the stuffed remains of the last such creature to be born alive in captivity. The highlighting also captures the glow-in-the-dark costumes of the squirrel museum curators. The male curator is renowned as the last known native speaker of red squirrel.

To confirm their happiness together, and as a sign of good manners, the couple pose for the camera. The son of Morris is also a renowned dancer [blogs passim] - with bells on. Unlike the Irish Morris dancer, who fell off the bonnet on the M1, no mistakes will be made this day.

Soon, the participants assemble. One of them emerges from his overnight accommodation having found that cardboard boxes are indeed quite warm and comfortable. His pad will be spruced up and made ready again for the next impecunious visitor to Strathearn by the local friendly skip hire company tomorrow morning.

All too soon, the queue for the loos reaches back to Race Central. One man clutches himself desperately whilst others affect nonchalance. Our skip-per gives the camera a shy smile as he readies himself for the challenge. Anticipation mounts.

A small problem now arises. The inflatable Start, brought by the inflatable car and trailer, has let itself down. It got an inflatable Finnish pregnant last month in Helsinki and is ashamed. Two carers, known in the trade as Startlings, are spoken to by the resident doctor who prescribes anti-depressants. The Start feels better and picks itself up off the floor whilst the resident D.J. and Coarse Commentator is just fed up (a big breakfast probably). As we all survey the leaden skies, we realise things are looking up.

So finally, full of drugs, the Start reveals its full majesty and defies the wind to knock it down. We become a little concerned that the wind may respond to this challenge.

Now the excitement reaches fever pitch. Marshals show their excitement as happiness bubbles up over every face. Men sport bandanas in a vain attempt to look cool. Black bin-liners abound as runners fear getting too cool. They need not fear - 'rubbish' is a more likely reaction than 'cool'.

The Race Director and the two Senior Race Marshals check out that the pipers have remembered their notes. He will also accept a cheque made out to cash. A doleful rendition of the theme tune to "Marathon is now Snickers" soon fills the air. The runners snicker. It is as though marathons have never changed after all.

One piper turns to rob Bolton. He realises this is wrong, however, and redirects his attention to Liverpool where they know more about that sort of thing. Refocussing on the day at hand, the pipers discuss the exact angle at which the feet should be held; is it 75 degrees or 15? Between them though, they agree they've made the right angle.

Only minutes to go. Nervously smiling men, indifferent women, nonchalant confidence, shivering spectators; all human life is there. Whilst Sunny Strathearn has gone AWOL, Cool Comrie holds sway. If only it were more Mediterranean - well, Comrie ("Shaky Town") does have earthquakes like Italy; the same people get drunk here as they do on holiday in Spain; the Banks speak the same language; we've got the Sun seven days a week. Much the same, really.

If only the Official Photographer would appear so we could get some proper stuff. Then, appearing only to be an O.P.'s grandchild when in fact he is THE O.P., the Cameraman  Extraordinaire pops up with his pop-up to get the stuff that matters. The participants will be rewarded with FREE Race Certificates - alongside seductive offerings promoting the spending of money. The O.P. is hopeful for lots of business. The O.G. is hopeful for lots of laughs. They agree - both would be nice.

Then it is time for The Assembly to assemble. Dr Race Director will lead the throng throughout the thoroughly thought-through thread that thoughtfully thrusts thunderously through the thickets that thaumaturgy throws thankfully thrice. Circulation is the Good Doctor's forte and circulate they will. The Start will hold its breath whilst it sees its customers twice. Prodigious.

We're OFF!!. Like a low-rent Madison, the runners are led a merry circuit whilst spectators get the chance to cheer twice. What fun!! Maybe next year, Our Revered Leader will get an Electric Bike - powered by wind turbines, of course.

Run4It indeed. It is later revealed that the leading runners are promised great things if only they can catch the Good Doctor and touch his lucky thingy. Fortunately for G.D.'s sister, no runners manage it and she is safe.


The runners depart. A Harrier races for a position at lightning speed as his blurred image hides his expression of determination. Follow his progress later.

The lonely pipers wonder if they have been misled into believing that the runners are indeed on a circuit of the camp. One ceases wailing and commences waiting. His colleague just groans as his bag collapses but a big puff soon has his lips working again.

But YES!!  'Tis the Good Doctor on his trusty steed as he leads the Crieff-cum-Sheffield leader through the Start for the second time. The 2nd and 3rd placed runners are optimistic; they are soon to be disillusioned as they watch #64 disappear into the distance.


Then our knee-bandaged Harrier appears once more, bravely battling his severe injury and pledged to do the Club proud. He beats four and a half hours and is a credit to all who know him - and probably to the rest of the human race.

Then two lady Harriers appear. One regrets borrowing her friend's bra as she desperately seeks to stop it riding up under her chin. Her friend wisely considers what the Old Git will say about her. She need not worry; as another owner of a white baseball cap, the Old Git knows the value of making an important fashion statement.


Two more lady Harriers appear. As one chats, the other rehearses her auto responses as she listens to something far more entertaining on her MP3 player. What, in any case, could two women possibly have to talk about that is worth the risk of interrupting such an important activity as the inaugural Strathearn Marathon? Nothing, clearly.

Harriers now come thick and fast; some cannot manage both. A self-admittedly under-prepared participant pants by. His minder precedes him; none will mess with HIM. A mercurial lady wearing Hermes underwear is unaware how qualified she is for Greco-Roman events. She flies onwards with hopes of silver.

#9 and #53 appear together. They are both local. They are vying for the prize of First Proper Local Through The Finish - though they are presently ignorant of this. Eventually, the Harrier will be triumphantly second behind someone else; could it be that #9 hoped that the extra fluid he carried would make the difference? Whatever could have been in there? Urine samples would tell us - if only the organisers could find that part of the hedge.

And so our last Harrier passes the ranks of the papparazzi. He consults his watch. He consults it again. HIs lightning-speed brain computes his progress so far. It's really going very well. Should be fine.

On the basis that one circuit of Cultibraggan is enough, one lady dives into the facilities to check she is ready for the rest. A male runner is unbelieving of this necessity. Perhaps the lady is overdoing the hydration regime. Perhaps.

A group of runners forming a mini-peloton seem to be ready for a team effort. Lady visitors from sunny Yorkshire lead the way with determination. They carry all before them.

Eventually, our Lady Of The Loos emerges just in front of the back marker and, with one final check she is in good array, races off to catch the leader. Or not. Later, runner #2 is revealed as a serial marathonist. One morning he has cornflakes for breakfast, next it's oaty crunch and then it's wheat biscuits. Definitely a serial.

This race will become renowned for its friendly and ever-helpful Marshals. Many examples are to be found around the 26.2 mile course ready at all times with a cheery wave, a friendly word and a lovely smile. My wife did not pay me to say this about her (but I'm dead meat if I don't).

The Strathearn Marathon, as with Life, has its ups and downs. Eventually however, as it draws to its end it has its own epitaph. This isn't it. It is, however, the Court Knoll or Dunmhoid, the Judgement Mound. It has absolutely nothing to do with the event but that's no reason to ignore it as we pass by (even if all the participants do).

Soon, the leading runner - and eventual winner - hoves into view. So fast is he that he will probably hold the Course Record time for at least the next year. Rumours arise that, despite his avowed loyalty to the City of Steel, he originates from around these parts; a likely story. Still, we Lancastrians will welcome even Yorkshire folk (through gritted teeth if need be) so well done Will.

Since space is limited, we would direct our dear reader's eyes to http://www.flickr.com/photos/tanconsult/page6/ for further examples of the photographer's art as participants safely pass Comrie graveyard. Pics will remain there until at least 30-Sep-12.

We should include as a tailpiece our penultimate finisher who bravely carried his dodgy knees through some of the finest terrain that Perthshire can offer. And the last shall be first and... No they won't - not on our results list anyway - but plucky strugglers have the sympathy of this writer who knows from personal experience the pain and suffering of tail-end charlies. We deserve the medals - we're the ones out there on the road or trail for longest.

Beyond the graveyard, the Finish looms. More photos are taken (by the O.P.). Prizes are awarded and distributed. Records are set. Food and drink are consumed. Visitors go home. Helpers clear up. No-one dies (but the publicity is missed). Almost no lessons are learned since, astonishingly, there are almost none to learn. Frightening. Maybe there's an export opportunity. Maybe.

Was this more fun than taking part, I ask myself? Yes & No - but definitely less painful. Maybe I should take part one year and save someone else from being last. Maybe I should use the course as a training run before the next Big One. Maybe. Probably not.....

If you're reading this and you took part (or even if not) and any photos take your fancy, electronic originals in all their 4Gb (or so) glory can be had just by telling me which ones you want and where to send them (electronically only I regret; prints cost money....). Comment here, FB me, or email to tanconsult"usual symbol"gmail.com ("usual symbol" beats the scammers who trawl for email addresses so just change it to @).

This blog will (probably) resume normal service with events in September. Can't wait.