Running, Fires, and Friendships

The first time I woke up this morning I quite confidently looked across at the bedside clock, knowing that I had overslept, and that there would be no way I might make it out in time to go for a run. It was 5:30am. How? Is my body clock really that badly broken?

I promptly fell back asleep, and woke again an hour and a half later when the bedroom was filled with various 80s music. I’m not quite sure what propelled me, but I scraped myself out of bed, pulled on running shorts, and somewhat groggily wandered out into the cold morning air.

The run went well. A day late, but at least I did it. I have to keep telling myself that. There’s a huge temptation to run for longer, but I’m purposely resisting it – “following the programme”.

After getting home, having a shower, and clearing the kitchen up (which had miraculously trashed itself in my absence), I got over myself and settled in for the meeting to pick apart what went wrong with the work project I sort-of-mentioned over the weekend. The one where a bug slipped through testing and surfaced in production. By lunchtime I had righted the ship, covered it’s tracks, and set it’s sails for the future. Panic over. I still feel awful about it though.

This evening my other half picked up a new “fire pit” for the back garden. It’s not very special – we’ll be surprised if it lasts the summer. While they went to fetch it I sawed a colossal quantity of wood in the back garden. Trying to talk my eldest daughter into waiting until it got dark to light it was something of a struggle. I think she just wanted to eat smores.

In other news, tonight is the first in several that I have not been tinkering with YouTube. I’m not sure I’ve mentioned it recently. The channel I started during the pandemic now has over sixteen thousand subscribers. I’m not quite sure how that’s happened. It’s like an out-of-control snowball rolling down a hillside. It’s fun, I suppose – but you never really think about how much hard work it will become.


It’s getting late.

While looking through Instagram earlier I saw a screenshot of a podcast I recorded a long time ago – talking to a blogger I’ve not seen or heard from for perhaps a year. Isn’t it funny how you don’t realise how much you’ve missed somebody until you see their face.

When Tumblr somewhat briefly removed my account a few weeks ago, it brought into focus how important some of the friendships we make online really are – and while we might not cross paths very often, the fact that we can if we wish to somehow makes it ok. When that option is removed, it’s kind of awful.


While making other plans

While sitting in the dark of the junk room decompressing, John Lennon’s words come to mind – “life is what happens while you’re making other plans”. Somehow this weekend came off the rails and never quite got back on them.

Somehow the entire weekend was eaten up with chores and disasters. A monumental quantity of clothes has been washed, dried, folded and put away. A ridiculous quantity of washing up has been done. Repeated rounds of washing up. It’s been relentless. And then we had a water leak. We thought we found the cause yesterday, and set about drying carpets out. This evening water started dripping through the lounge ceiling.

An hour later an emergency plumber arrived, and found not one, but three water leaks in the same location. We’re crossing our fingers that the rule of three applies here – that things happen in threes. Maybe it’s all hoodoo, but it’s something to cling to while everything falls apart around you.

In other news, I was supposed to go running today and didn’t. I woke up late, the sun shone like a furnace all day, and then the leak happened this evening – pushing dinner back to 8pm. By the time we had eaten and I had washed up (yes, another load through the dishwasher), it was already 9pm. I read online that you’re not supposed to run within at least two or three hours of a meal.


That’s what I think of this weekend.

Why is everything so rubbish at the moment?

Of course it isn’t really. There are good things happening too. A close friend I’ve mentioned in the past – a wonderful writer – had a film she wrote win an award. I’m ridiculously pleased for her. She will of course play it down, and I will of course play it up.


Let’s hold on to the happy things, shall we? Let’s forget all about chores, leaks, not running, and whatever else.


Keep on Running

I overslept this morning. I had planned to get up at 7am and get a run in before work. Instead I snuck out at lunchtime and got it done. The funny thing? It’s already getting easier. I guess I was right – my legs (and lungs) just needed to remember what the hell they were doing. I suppose it also helps that I don’t smoke and don’t drink that often.

We’ll try to forget last weekend, when I drank as much in one night that I might normally in several weeks. I still don’t think my liver has forgiven me.

It’s tempting to run further – to push myself – but I know from past experience that I’ll just end up taking two steps forward, and three steps back. While doing one of the “brisk walks” in-between running today, a slimmer, fitter, healthier looking guy jogged past. I almost wanted a cartoon grand piano to fall on him.

I’m doing it though. That’s something, right?

In other news I discovered I made a mistake in some programming a few months ago – that got all the way through testing and into production. It’s easily fixed, but I feel awful about it. There will be a call on Monday morning where I’ll have to hold my hands up, explain what I did, and how I can fix it. It’s just… urgh.

How does the saying go… “you’ve let yourself down, you’ve let your friends down, you’ve let your family down…” Of course I’m being overly hard on myself, but it’s rare for me to make mistakes in programming. I guess the reason it wasn’t picked up is because nothing’s broken – it’s just not doing exactly what it’s supposed to be doing – but not in a way that most people would spot until much later (which is exactly what’s happened).


I need to try and erase it from my mind and enjoy the weekend. I’ve already cut the grass (go me!) – I fully expect all manner of other chores to appear from nowhere though and wreck any thoughts of procrastinating famously.

I wonder if any friends would like to go for breakfast tomorrow at the pub? I suppose that’s not going to help me lose any weight though, is it. Dammit.


Unfit for Purpose

I went for a run yesterday – for the first time in six months. This will be the umpteenth time I have set out on the “Couch to 5K” programme – to get myself back into some sort of shape. The last time I knuckled down and set about getting off my arse the universe didn’t agree with me and gave me COVID. I wonder how long I’ll last this time?

I also weighed myself. I surprised myself – I’m not as heavy as I thought. I’m going to draw a ridiculous graph in my bullet journal, and chart my progress – really just to shame myself into staying away from junk food. I’m not going on a ridiculous diet – I’ll just eat half-way sensibly for a change.

And maybe not drink myself under the table with friends for a while.

Oh my god I felt crap earlier in the week. I imagine – having recovered from that yesterday – my body realised I was pulling on running shoes yesterday afternoon and thought “hang on – what the hell does he think he’s doing?”

The run was pretty straightforward.

I’ve jumped in at “week 2” of the programme – so it’s not too bad yet – just running and walking for a couple of minutes at a time. I’m going to follow the plan and see where it takes me. I know from past experience not to jump in at later weeks – I need my body to remember what the hell it’s doing first. I still remember doing Couch to 5K with my daughter a few years ago – meeting up with a running group in town each week. I got bored by about week 5, and went off and ran 5K. I pulled a muscle in the process – because I’m an idiot.

I suppose the end goal will be to get back to running a couple of times a week. One of those runs could be the local park-run I suppose. We’ll see.


Why is it that as soon as you think “no more junk food for me”, you’re immediately hungry ?


Yesterday Didn’t Happen

Yesterday didn’t happen. A few drinks with good friends the night before somehow turned into a take-away meal, many more drinks, and the sharing of stories until the early hours.

When I woke up yesterday it felt like I had been hit by a truck. I really can’t drink like that any more (or rather, I can’t get away with it). I still don’t feel entirely right today, but at least I’m functional.

I need another coffee…

(5 minutes pass while I wander into the kitchen, empty mug in hand)

I have the day off work today. A day to “catch up”. The washing machine is on it’s second load, the dishwasher has been emptied, the plants watered, the lounge has been tidied (somewhat), numerous boxes that were stacked on the upstairs landing have returned to the attic, and I imagine the vacuum cleaner will come out soon.

It never ends.

There are so many things I would like to be doing, but they tend to get pushed sideways by the things that will keep others off my back. I’m waiting for the garden waste to get collected – after that I can cut the grass in the back garden, and tick it off the list – then I can’t be accused of not doing it.

I bought ingredients to make spaghetti bolognese yesterday afternoon, and then got shouted at for buying the wrong things, for the wrong day. I can’t win at the moment.

At some point during the next hour my youngest daughter will arrive home from a sleepover (it’s half term), and ask about me going out on a bike ride with her. I have no idea where we’re going to go. I would much rather go for a run to be honest – I wonder if she’ll be up for that instead?

Over the coming weeks and months I’ve kind of promised to do Couch to 5K with a friend. I need to do something. I’m not sure if it’s about escaping these four walls, or doing something for me. While running is hard while you’re doing it, the endorphin rush afterwards is amazing. It makes you feel so much better about yourself – and I kind of need that at the moment.

Thankfully I have a few close friends that come out to bat for me from time to time. I hope I can do the same for them, when needed. That’s half the trouble though isn’t it – the whole Nanny McFee thing – realising when somebody wants you but doesn’t need you, or needs you but doesn’t want you.

I never realise that I need close friends until after they have arrived with hugs and smiles. It’s only afterwards the penny drops and I realise how lucky I am to have them.


The dilemma of “knowing”

We went out today.

My in-laws came over, and we went out for a walk. We had planned to wander around a country estate together, but ended up wandering around a big old house for a couple of hours then wandered home again.

Not just any big old house. The big old house where a British prime minister once lived – Benjamin Disraeli. We have visited the grounds in the past – and wandered for miles through the fields, hedgerows, and footpaths that weave around the estate. I had never been in the house though – not until today.

One half of the house was to be expected – filled with portraits of statesmen, politicians, and royalty. The other half of the house was far more interesting.

It turns out the manor house had been requisitioned in the war by the Royal Air Force, and all manner of secret goings-on went on within its walls. This was of course neatly erased from history at the end of the war – locked away, tidied up, and intentionally forgotten about.

In the UK we have a thing called the “Official Secrets Act” – kind of a “go straight to jail, do not pass go” set of rules.

The current owners of the house – and all modern historians – had no clue about the house’s true function during the war until 60 YEARS later, when an elderly man was wandering around with his grandchildren, and a guide overheard him telling them about his working there during the war.

A conversation was had – which led to further conversations – and further appeals for information from the public – and then the government. After much wrangling, provisions were made to release those involved from their obligations to the official secrets act, and the story was finally told.

During the war, the house had been filled with intelligence staff and artists. They had designed and hand-painted the maps used by bomber crews throughout the war to hit enemy targets – using special inks to be seen under red lights during night raids. The maps were sent to bomber command, and then shared with bomber crews up and down the country in utmost secrecy.

The thing I can’t get over? Nobody involved broke the secret for over 60 years. Not one leak (aside from the grandparent telling his grandchildren).

It reminds me of Bletchley Park – where a huge team worked on “Victory”, “Colossus”, and various other machines that came to be known as “computers”. Their inventors, designers, and manufacturers were kept secret for decades. Most of them had died by the time their contribution not only to the war, but to the rest of history was known. Without them the “computer” as we know it might have taken a lot longer to come into existence.

Modern retellings in Wikipedia, or hopeless movies such as “The Imitation Game” credit Alan Turing with rather a lot in terms of the breaking of Enigma, the creation of the machines, or the development of early computers. This was of course by design. Focus everybody on one person, so nobody even thinks to consider the rest of the huge team that he was a small part of.

It’s funny really. There’s an old saying that history is recorded by the victors. It’s only a version of history though – and while most people think it might be filled with propaganda, it may also hide all manner of knowledge from the general populace. We can only guess the reasons.

In modern history the easiest example might be the discovery of “little grey men”. Given the arguments that break out around the world every day about religion, belief, or whatever else – imagine what the reaction might be to learning either that we’re not alone, or that our various accepted beliefs, history, and understanding of pretty much everything might be wrong.

Perhaps it’s not always best to know everything.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I better go buy some tin-foil to fashion a new hat.


Weekend Stories

Here we go again.

Somehow it’s half past midnight again. Somehow I’m sitting in the dark of the junk room on my own again. Somehow I can’t think of anything to write again, but something’s making me do this – making my fingers work on the keyboard – making words happen.

Do I really need a subject? A story to tell? Perhaps I do have one though.

I went out today.

I took my daughter to a nearby town and we spent the day together. I promised to take her a few days ago. A trip to the second-hand video game store to pick up a Nintendo DS. She had the idea to help her combat anxiety. Something to absorb herself in when the world becomes too big and frightening for her.

After completing our various shopping errands we grabbed lunch at a pub, and she reminisced about being 9 years old again – making Mario jump, run, and shout as he punched coins and leapt between platforms.

I bought holiday clothes. We’re not going away until September, but if I wait the stores will be full of winter clothes, and I’ll be walking on the beach in walking boots and a thick coat.

We’re going to Tenerife. I don’t think I mentioned that before. It’s the last big holiday where we’re taking the girls with us and paying for everything. They’re growing up now – getting jobs – finding their own way – and won’t want to be tagging along with us for very much longer. So yeah – Tenerife in the Canary Islands for a week.

When we got home from town my middle daughter had received a parcel in the post. She’s been putting money away ever since starting work about a year ago, but never had any thoughts about spending any of it.

She bought a Nintendo Switch.

Of course now she’s lording it over her sisters – talking about the games she can play that they cannot. I don’t think they actually care that much, but she likes to think they might.

It was lovely to see her unwrapping it in the lounge – having bought it with money she earned. I remember similar moments when I started work, but still lived with my parents – suddenly having money to buy things that would previously have been impossible. It took me a LONG time to get used to having money in the bank. Several years.

We’re telling her to enjoy the money she earns before she has too many responsibilities.

On about respobsibilities, I need to lose some weight before we go on holiday. Get fit. That will start with running in the coming days. I have three months to get back into some sort of shape. I need to anyway – for my own piece of mind. Since working from home through the pandemic I’ve not looked after myself at all. I used to cycle to work every day – several miles in each direction. I used to run several times a week too. I’ve not done any of that for at least a year.

I wonder how unfit I really am? I wonder how long it will take me to get back to a state I’m happy with? We’ll see. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s stubbornly plodding on with the thing I know I should be doing.


It’s getting late. I should go sleep. We’re going for a walk tomorrow – to Hughenden Manor, I think. Or the valley around it. There’s an obelisk – it looks like a Victorian nuclear missile launch site. We’ve been before.

It will be good to get some fresh air.


Casting a Beautiful Net

Many moons ago I watched a television series called “The OA”. Without ruining it any more than I might (it’s a wonderful series, and you should definitely binge-watch it if you have not), I’m going to share a quote from it:

the biggest mistake I made was believing that if I cast a beautiful net, I’d catch only beautiful things.

Prairie Johnson

I often feel the same way about the internet – about putting my thoughts “out there” for anybody to find.

There’s always a fear of sharing – particularly sharing the truth – that it will be accepted without prejudice or malice. It seems somewhat counter-intuitive – sharing fear, trepidation, and uncertainty. Something tells me however that the more truthful a story, the more relateable and engaging it becomes – and the more sympathetic the audience.

Perhaps optimism is the key?

I’ve always been an optimist of sorts – preferring to look forwards rather than back. Where some might endlessly pick apart what might have been, I’m more about where we are, and where we might go next. Perhaps it’s an avoidance tactic?

I’m an amazing procrastinator. I’ve never connected it before. Procrastination is just avoidance in a different suit of clothes.


As you might have guessed, I’m procrastinating my way through lunchtime writing this. Avoiding responsibilities, and the world at large. Sometimes the world get a bit too big. In here I can make it small.


The serendipity of it all

After setting aside lunchtime to write a blog post, I’ve spent the last half an hour doing anything and everything except write a blog post. This is pretty typical behaviour. I’m amazed the distraction only went on for half an hour to be honest – in recent months my hands haven’t filled the keyboard with thoughts much before 1am.

Urgh. Where to start?

Life just seems to be such a trudge at the moment. Each day starts with vague thoughts of “what crap’s going to happen today?”. I’ve started writing down even the most mundane tasks in my old bullet journal as part of the “working day” – purely because ticking something off feels like I’ve achieved something. Achieved anything, really.

I’ve stepped sideways from much of the “social internet” in recent months. I still look in now and again – but quickly grow tired of the typically toxic advertorial highlight reel that many post. Yes, I get it – you like eating out – do you really think that’s what people want to know about though? Or is it just me that finds a continual torrent of “look where we are”, “look what we bought”, or “look how fantastic our perfect life is” gets really, really tiring.

I often remind myself that the internet is not everybody. I’m also fully aware of my paradoxical relationship with it – given I am posting these forgettable thoughts into the torrents of idiocy.

It comes back to the Norah Ephron quote, doesn’t it – this blogging escapade – that a blog post doesn’t have to say anything. Hello. I’m here. And by the way. On the other hand. Never the less. Did you see?

She called blogging an exhale. I’ve always liked that thought. An exhale that somebody, somewhere might take notice of. Before they know it they’re reading your most recent few posts, reaching out, and a friendship happens. Then months on you know more about each other than most friends or family – and yet you’ve never met.

I think perhaps that’s what I like most about the internet – about blogging – is the serendipity of it all. You never know when you fire up the computer what words you might share, what words you might read, who you might cross paths with, or how important they might become in your life.