Why is an outbreak of spots threatening to ruin my whole life?
MY FACE HAS BEEN A MESS for a year now.
For a long time, I’ve been getting what I call ‘sweat spots’, which seem to flare up every time I exercise.
I’m the world’s sweatiest man, and having a face regularly covered in dirt and salt for hours is probably not the world’s greatest skincare regimen.
But the spots got much worse around the time of Lockdown 1: nowadays, the left-hand side of my Boat Race is in a state of almost constant eruption, and I’m sporting the sort of crags and scabs that went out of fashion when they finished Mount Rushmore.
I don’t think it’s lockdown-related, but being in lockdown means I haven’t wanted to bother my doctor too much. Not with – you know – everything else that’s going on.
About six months ago, I did get fed up enough to send the surgery a picture of the damage, from which my GP diagnosed shingles, and prescribed me antibiotics.
These worked for about a week, but then the red, rashy, sore-y, scabby stuff roared back with a vengeance, and took up almost permanent residence on my upper left cheek and nose.
And so, I’m back to Square One. I had terrible spots when I was a teenager, and I thought I’d more than done my fair share of wearing a Pizza Face.
But what makes it worse is that, at the age of 55, I don’t even have nice hair and a flat stomach to make up for it. Fucked off is not the word(s).
Struggling for fitness, I’m appreciating – not patronising – newbie runners
AS A NON-CLUB RUNNER who trains mainly alone, I’ve never felt we runners were that friendly towards one other.
Maybe it’s just a London thing, and people are different elsewhere…
But city pavement-bashers find it hard to break the habit of always blanking strangers and treating them with suspicion – even when we’re dressed in the same running gear, and united in suffering.
Come to think of it, maybe it’s the suffering that does it? Perhaps we’re not being bad mannered intentionally, it’s just that we’re all in our own little worlds of pain, which even other runners don’t really come into.
A while ago, I read an article that compared runners to a kind of secular priesthood – think the shared sense of vocation and dedication; the urge towards purity and transcendence, even the uniform.
But the piece struck one bum note when it described how runners supposedly greet each other as they pass, by raising an arm like a priest in benediction, and I thought: “I’ve never seen that happen.”
If you’re feeling blue, you could do worse than get on a bike
I FELT that I had to cycle yesterday morning: even though I was tired from riding the day before, and my bad knee was sore. Even though it was 9.30am on Monday and I ought to be working.
I was feeling moderately bad, mentally. The excitement of my birthday week and the weekend that followed it had dissipated and left me with a bad case of the Monday blues.
There’s something about the mess of a Monday – Sunday’s unwashed dishes, the pile of washing in the basket, unread emails piling up in my inbox all weekend – that unmans me, and makes me want to run away from my life.
I caught myself ruminating that maybe now that I’d reached 55, I should stop there and end it all because I’d reached the end of my usefulness. I thought about how my brother and I don’t talk and how it was probably my fault…
Then, just after I set off, I saw a pensioner and told myself: “You live like a pensioner. You don’t have the energy or the discipline to live a full life. All you’re fit for is staying at home and pottering around until you die.”
As I said, I wasn’t having a great day. But the longer I cycled, the more forgiving of myself I became.