It’s Oh So Quiet (But The Last Trump Is Coming)

I dare you to try and steal my asparagus when the End Times come

Bjork sings "It's All So Quiet" while Coranaviruses and bags of poo fly around her
Original Covid-19 image: Vektor Kunst/Pixabay (and with apologies to the wonderful Bjork)

WE’RE ALL STUCK at home because of the Coronavirus, even though none of us is remotely ill.

My son’s school closed due to – Covid-19 related – staff shortages yesterday, while my wife’s firm has told all non-essential staff to work from home.

My daughter’s lecturers – who’ve just come off a three-week strike anyway – are teaching online and me….well, I’m always here.

So far, being in semi-lockdown has been lovely, particularly because none of us has to get up early any more.

I’m normally roused at six by the wife’s alarm and then stagger up to make cups of tea, feed cats, clear up last night’s mess and make Ready Brek by 7.15.

But today, since Her Indoors didn’t have to spend 90 minutes commuting in – and because The Lad could get his own breakfast – we slept soundly until 7.30.

And my first thought was: It’s all so quiet.

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I Wandered Lonely…

I’ve always felt guilty that I’m not a social runner – but at least going solo is perfect for escaping Covid-19

A cloud passes a couple in a park
Original Image: Anita Morgan/Pixabay

FUCK SELF-ISOLATION: that was the unspoken message in the air around London’s open spaces yesterday.

I ran through three parks as I knocked out my Sunday 10-miler, and it looked like everyone in the city was outside with me, despite the Coronavirus.

Given some half decent weather for once, Londoners were seizing the chance to stretch their legs, and for some space and fresh air.

Kids, Mums, Dads, old folks, lovers and dogs – they were all out – along with runners. Dozens and dozens of runners.

It even felt a bit Blitz-Spirit-y, being out there mingling in the face of Covid-19.

‘Bring it on!’ said the dog walker, bending to bag a turd”

Bring it on! Said the business-as-usual body language of the dog walker bending to bag a freshly minted turd. London Can Take It! said every Dad standing his ground quietly against a toddler baying for ice cream.

But in the midst of all these heroes was a coward – and that coward was me.

Because, as I dodged and weaved through the throng – woolly gloves on despite the sunshine and maintaining a safe two metres at all times – I wasn’t being brave.

I was just self isolating in plain sight….

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A Good Sweat

Sweating doesn’t just boil bad stuff out of us – it makes room for creativity and our better selves

The Turin Shroud juxtaposed with a sweat-stained T-shirt
One may be the face of Jesus, the other is a sweat stain shaped like a stubby cock and balls
Turin Shroud image: Wikimedia Commons

OH, I NEEDED that!

I’ve just run a fast five miles because I was turning into a bit of a nasty bastard at home.

It’s never a good sign when I threaten the cat with a kicking – swearing and jabbing a forefinger at him like someone I was squaring up to in a pub – and just because he keeps getting under my feet.   

But I’ve been feeling tired, stressed, and a bit ill for the past couple of days.

I had a couple of pre-holiday vaccinations 48 hours ago and have been sniffing and sneezing quite a bit.

It’s probably just the injections but – like everyone else in the world – I’m secretly terrified that Covid-19 has tracked me down.

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Full Of Sap, Short Of Maps

I prepared badly for my first big cycle ride of the year – but as I get older, I’ve learned to grit my teeth and improvise

A map with possible cycle routes to East Anglia
Original map image: NordNordWest/Lukasb1992/Ottobdn via Wikimedia Commons

AS THE SONG so eloquently puts it, it’s been a long cold lonely winter, little darling.

But, lately, the Springtime has got to work on this old-enough-to-know-better body.

Outside, The Sap was beginning to rise and it was pleasant, at my age, to realise that I was still capable of stirring in response.

It was March already, and the wind and the rain had stopped for a bit: time to dust off my bike gear and get out there.

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Thick But Cute: It Beats Running Like A Toilet Duck

I try to act like I’m not old, but Life keeps sending me horrid reminders  

A man with a hammer chases a running toilet duck
Original images: Aaron Thomas/Pixabay and Rene Rauschenberger/Pixabay

I’M OLD! OLD! Old as mould….

I mean: I try to act like age is just a number.

I try to stay just a bit current and not put limitations on what I can do at 50-something.

I try to keep improving, but Life always finds a way to remind me that, every day, I’m even more decrepit than I ever have been…

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Now The Future’s Brighter, The Past Doesn’t Seem As Dark

Now I’m feeling better, I can look back on my years of depression and think I wasn’t useless, after all

Candles, poo, flowers, Keith Richards skiing

Original Images: Raph_PH (Wikimedia Commons), cathfinch73, Beverley Buckley, Erzsebet Apostal, Patrick Hodskins, Willy Sietsma (all via Pixabay)

MAYBE IT’S JUST the Spring that’s making me feel better but I feel strangely…. hopeful lately.

Just like the irises, hyacinths and daffodils starting to break through the cold earth in our front garden, little hopeful thoughts have been pushing up all around my mind.

It could be just a trick of the – fast-lengthening – daylight, but it’s beginning to feel like the end of my decades-long depression and, finally, the start of something better.

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I’m A Runner, Not A Walker’s

I don’t want to be Mr Potato Head any more

A crisp-headed man runs
Original image: StockSnap/Pixabay

I’m thinking seriously about ending one of the longest and most satisfying relationships of my life.

It’s one that’s gone on for longer than my marriage and for more time than I knew my Dad, or my Mum.

But I think it’s finally time that I stopped eating crisps.

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Why I’m The Only One, Running In The Snow

I hate always having to run, but it’s the only thing that turns my mood round

snowflakes swirling around an eye

AS YOU MAY have gathered by now, I love running. But, sometimes, I hate having to do it quite as much as I do.

I’d like to be Less Is More and only run when conditions are truly agreeable. I’m thinking: azure skies, green fields, little pink candyfloss clouds and white bunny wabbits cheering as, serenely, I float past.

But lemons, lemonade: some days you have to settle for running through grey South London in the snow…

I really didn’t want to go out yesterday morning. It was just a notch or two above zero, with the winds whipping big wet snowflakes down at a rakish angle and pregnant puddles everywhere I might want to plant a foot.

I had an upset stomach, limbs still stiff from 13 miles at the weekend, and I’d necked an inevitable beer or three the night before – all of which made me feel far from the acme of mature athleticism I like to pretend I am.

I knew it would be unpleasant, going out, but I needed to change the old brain chemistry after a setback in my job search. I kept telling myself it was only a small setback, but they tend to look much bigger when you’re 50-something and haven’t worked for year.

So off I went…

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Running: A Communion With The Divine

When I don’t like feeling ‘ordinary’, a run can always make me feel special

God wearing running shoes
Original images: Tom Radetski, doc price, Bruno Nascimento, Maksim Sansomov (all via Unsplash) and Welcome to all and thank you for your visit/Pixabay

WHEN I STRUGGLE with being ordinary – aka a bit of a failure – the grown-up thing to do would be to accept the way I’m feeling.

If I went with a psychotherapist-type solution, I’d accept the reality of being ordinary, and try to change the way I thought about that reality.

And if I went the Mindfulness route, I’d try to just ‘be’ with the feeling, which means accepting that I’m feeling shit, and that feeling shit is OK.

More often, though, I think: Fuck this for a game of soldiers! I’m going for a run!

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A Life More Ordinary

Why did it take me until I’m 50-something to admit I’m nothing special?

Original images: Pexels/Pixabay and Mabel Amber/Pixabay

I HAD A very dull – and slightly unpleasant – epiphany on the road to Lidl yesterday.

I finally conceded that I was just an ordinary guy. A nobody, in fact.

I’d just bought stuff to top up the Ocado delivery – sausages, detergent wipes, a small pack of rocket.

I self-check-out-ed and walked home the way I always walk: past the library, up the slope and the alley behind the secondary school.

There was a lake-like puddle near the end of our road and I scurried past, so as not to get marinated by the passing cars.

And thought: “I’m so ordinary.”

I wonder: has this flash of insight ever happened to you (assuming you, too, are ordinary), or did you always know?

Please tell me that it’s not just me that’s been walking around for 50-something years, doing painfully ordinary things – but still believing, deep down, that they were somehow special? 

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