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September 1st 2016
It is possible that you think you have seen me at my least impressive. Possibly you have seen me arguing with my brother about exactly how many minutes he is older than me (seven - check the paperwork); you may have seen me attempting DIY; you may even have been witness to how grumpy I get when I've lost at Fifa. If you're Anthony, you've seen - and videoed - me trying to climb a tree. But I can confirm that you have not seen me at my least impressive.
No, for that you have to see me jogging. The sweat; the panting; the ridiculously short distance it takes before both of those things kick in: it is safe to say that I am not going to be updating my Facebook profile picture to a jogging shot. But, right now, there are few things that give me such a sense of achievement.
I gave the 'Couch to 5k' programme a whirl a couple of years ago, starting in the autumn, but stopped when I got a nasty cold and then never really started again. Until recently. Back then, I ran mostly in the late evening, so it was always pretty dark and cold. This time round I decided that it would be better if I ran - gulp - first thing in the morning, before work.
I'll be honest, I had thought about it before; but on the few times I'd intended to give it a whirl inthe past, my 7am self was rather more of a fan of rolling over and going back to sleep. Indeed, one of the drawbacks of flexible working is that there's no requirement to get into work by a certain time, and so my getting-out-of-bed time has tended to slip later and later as the years have gone by. This was the first hurdle to jogging, and I'm pleased to say that so far I have managed to defeat nature and actually get up (more or less) when I've intended to.
I read a blog post recently about the power of habit, and I must admit I was a bit sceptical at the time, but it's certainly proving true here: having committed myself to this, and successfully kept it up for just over 4 weeks' worth of running (I'm over halfway!), I now find it much easier to get up with the alarm than I ever thought I would. I have a compelling reason, fixed in my head, and it keeps me ploughing on.
The same is true in the running itself. While it remains the case that I do not run far or well, I can recommend the Couch to 5k programme to others as unfit as I am: by gradually building up the lengths of each run, and reducing the number of walking breaks in between, it stretches you beyond what you thought you could do, but never so far as to be unachievable. I expect that I could not, right now, run 5k in one go; but I'm confident that, by the end of the month, I will be able to. And that's what I mean by having a sense of achievement: particularly in a time of uncertainty at work, and dead ends elsewhere, it is good to be able to point at something good.
Still, I'd rather no one saw me do it... so, steer clear of Brentry in the mornings, would you?
In other news, the 'About' and 'Links' pages of this site (see links at the top of the page) have recently undergone a long-overdue update. Check 'em out, if you fancy it.

September 23rd 2016
Welcome to Britain: A Poem

Friends, welcome! Have a Union Jack:
It's red! It's white! It's blue!
And for your first induction test,
Please join the nearest queue.

I know you want to learn our ways,
But please don't start to chat;
Discuss the weather if you must,
But don't say more than that.

I'm sure that you will learn to love
The left side of the road;
And all the rest you need to know
Is in this useful ode.

Food

You may have heard that British food
Will turn your stomach sick;
This nation that invented scouse,
Black pudding, spotted dick,

And HP Sauce, and shepherd's pie:
The mind, the stomach, reels;
But these are all delightful fare!
(Don't try the jellied eels).

The greatest dish the British make
Is somewhat named in code:
Despite the name, it's really not
A hole containing toad.

Film

We may not quite be Hollywood,
But, this side of the pond,
Our actors are the best around
And four of them played Bond.

So learn their names! There's Connery,
Craig, Dalton wait, there's Moore!
But we have other actors, too:
Kate Winslet and Jude Law,

Day-Lewis, Chaplin, Judi Dench,
The Grants (Cary & Hugh),
And Brian Blessed, and of course
The main guy from Grease 2.

Sport

One year in every four we see
Olympic joy abound
(But mostly at the BBC
That's next year's dancers found).

The football season runs all year,
From August through to May,
So pick a team and cheer them on
One hundred miles away;

There's cricket too, if you prefer
A drawn-out kind of pain,
And tennis happens once a year
For two weeks in the rain.

Television

We have so many channels here,
But don't get up your hopes:
It's mostly home improvement shows
And badly-written soaps.

Dad's Army, though, is lots of fun,
And Fawlty Towers too,
And when they're not repeating those,
There's always Doctor Who.

The Bake-Off's loved by young and old,
By poor folk and by rich,
And everyone loves Ant and Dec,
Not knowing which is which.

Music

The Beatles are the greatest band
The world has ever seen,
From Rubber Soul to Abbey Road,
To Yellow Submarine;

We also have the Rolling Stones,
Led Zeppelin, Sting, Adele,
Pink Floyd, and Lethal Bizzle (though
He doesn't ring a bell).

There's Elgar, Holst and Britten, if
The old stuff's more for you,
And Handel came and lived here, so
Let's say he's British, too.

Literature

If you prefer your literature
To have more light than dark,
Jane Austen wrote six lovely books
(Well, five plus Mansfield Park);

The works of P.G. Wodehouse are
As witty as can be;
And Dickens' books, though rather long,
Are all on DVD.

Read Hamlet, Tess, and Middlemarch;
Jane Eyre, The Waves, Wolf Hall;
Or buy them, at the very least,
And claim you've read them all.

Politics

In politics, it's fair to say,
We don't agree on much,
But everyone agrees, it seems,
MPs are "out of touch".

There's Boris Johnson, who was once
A much-beloved clown
But now he's just as popular
As poor old Gordon Brown.

It's safest not to state a view;
Someone will get the hump,
But on one thing we all agree
At least we don't have Trump!

Summary

If you remember nothing else,
Remember this for me:
The most important thing in life;
A nice hot cup of tea.

what was I listening to?
Desire - Bob Dylan
what was I reading?
The Versions of Us - Laura Barnett
what was I watching?
Brick
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