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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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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The Book Bonder

I didn’t feel safe with my parents – so I bonded with books instead

A young boy reading
Image: PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay

I’VE BEEN THINKING about books a lot lately.

It started when my fellow blogger FracturedFaith put out a post asking: “Are You A Book Addict?”

I thought: Hmmn. Sounds like me….

Then, there was a psychology podcast* on Attachment Theory, which discussed how we can form emotional connections to objects when we don’t bond well with our parents .

I’ve seen this in action myself: a boy with special needs that I once taught began an obsession with washing machines, of all things, right after his Dad walked out.

But the pod also explained that many ‘normal’ people also bond with gadgets like mobile phones, because they make them feel safe and in control.

And then it dawned on me why I’ve never been able to live without books.

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At Last! Some Good Numbers For 50-Somethings!

If you’re 50 or older, you may already be over the worst…

A smiling face graph

I WAS NEVER much good at maths but, there are a lot of numbers running through my head at the minute.

For example, I’ve just entered the last year of the famed 45-54 marketing category – the one after which advertisers lose interest in flogging stuff to you, because you can in no way be considered sexy any more.

Rather than worrying about being a year closer to falling off my perch, however, I’m actually looking forward to being forgotten – give or take the odd poke from Viking River Cruises or Stannah Stairlifts.

I’m also approaching a more personally important statistic because, if I hang around for about another 18 months, I’ll have passed the ages at which my Dad and my Mum died. 

And, although their passing has caused me all manner of pain over the years, I’m now strangely euphoric that I’m about to be out on my own here.

Outliving them seems a success of a kind, as if we were in some sort of race and suddenly… I’m in the lead

God knows, it’s not like me to be so cheerful about anything – especially getting older.

But according to new research on how age affects happiness I may, quite literally, have turned a corner. Or at least a curve…

I’m talking about the recent study by former Bank of England economist David Blanchflower, who has pinpointed the age at which we are most unhappy as 47 years and two months.

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I Am An Egg Man…

So what if it’s an elitist, minority sport? I can’t get enough of rugby’s Six Nations

rugby players and a young boy
Original images: Sharon Garcia/Unsplash, Karen Arnold/Pixabay, Sportsfile

I AM, in the words of the great Stu Francis, so excited that I could crush a grape…

Because it all gets going tomorrow: my favourite sports event, the year 2020. Everything…

Rugby’s Six Nations Championship is back. Back, back, BACK, baby!

And I – for one – cannot wait to see what they will do next…

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All This Ageing Well Is Killing Us

Staying fit at 50 is bloody painful – but it’s better than the alternative

Injured knee dreams of running

THE MISSUS AND I both woke up this morning crippled – in our different ways.
For me, it was a screaming knee, banjaxed from a three-mile run yesterday.
For her, it was throbbing feet: mangled by dancing in heels at a banging Gary Numan gig.  
She was also – as befits her instinctive embrace of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle – hungover from drinking too much wine before, during and after the show.
Meanwhile, despite a blameless, booze-less, low-salt, night in, I was appalled to have a shocking headache of my own – the result of cutting out caffeine too drastically.
And then it occurred to me: trying to stay young was killing us both…

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The Most Loneliest Days Of My Life

Over a third of new Dads are worried about their mental health? Mate, I’ve been there… 

Man walks sadly on beach

MY KIDS made me happy yesterday.
I had lunch with my daughter, just before she went off to University to pick her Year One modules, and we talked excitedly about her future plans
In the evening, I watched my son at rugby training and felt myself filling up with pride as I saw how quickly he’s learning the game.
But it wasn’t always like that.
My wife and I are now almost – almost – at the fabled point in our kids’ lives where they stop being children, as such, and become more like engaging young friends. Like it said they would in the parenting books.
But getting to this stage has cost me a hell of a lot.
I don’t think it’s being too fanciful to say that – at various points – being a Dad cost me my job, my money, my friends, my self-respect, and my sanity.
And, sadly, today’s Baby Daddies don’t seem to be having it any easier than I did, almost two decades ago.  

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We Could Be Heroes – If Hell Lets Loose Again

Why are we still so obsessed by World War 2? Maybe we need reassurance that our generation can survive its own looming cataclysm? 

A WW2 Memorial Statue
Image: Elliott Day/pixabay

I DIDN’T GO looking for it, but my hand was drawn to the war book as if by a magnet.
Max Hastings’ All Hell Let Loose. I found it in Smiths when I was looking for something else. A magazine, or Tea Obrecht’s novel, Inland.
Instead I came away with a 750-page Leviathan on a subject that I already have a fair understanding of – but which I always feel needs deepening or refreshing.  
Strangely, I’d almost bought All Hell Let Loose for my iPad a couple of evenings before.
I’d finished the novel I was reading and had a sudden book famine, but instead I’d plumped for Sarah Waters’ The Night Watch.
And then I realised: The Night Watch and All Hell Breaks Loose are both about World War Two (WW2). And so is the one I’d just finished – Philip Kerr’s The One From The Other.
I thought: What is it about the war?

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