Eau de Reynard

Ringo rolled in something stinky, I suspect it was fox piss.

What is it that makes dogs roll in fox piss? Is it a macho thing?

Is Fox Piss to dogs what Blue Stratos was to 70s’ man?

Is Ringo going to appear in a white flared suit with a Cliff Thorburn tache?



Serious slog

I passed Trauma module – yes! – two days of intense study and scenarios … but I and the four others made it through. The effort put in over this last year and some are paying off, we’re getting trained up in more and more skills that can relieve suffering and save lives. All we need do is pass the exam in a few weeks’ time … I say all … *phff* …

Totally zonked out when I got home, though, instant mini-coma, head slumped forward in a hyper-flexed position, possibly compromising my airway. And so it shall be herein, just like being a sub-editor means you can’t read anything at all without spotting double spaces, orphans and widows, non-sequitors (sp.), so I shall now see and fret all my days for things that pose a threat to one’s physical well-being, even someone dozing in a chair.

In all seriousness, part of the course is scene assessment and trying to anticipate what you’re going to come across. One aged clip was of a man trapped in a car, the car swarmed with fire crew, paramedics, doctors, and this bloke is wheezing to his last as no-one’s checking his airway, and that’s what killed him, ultimately, after hours of great distress.

Such is the stuff of the career I’ve chosen to pursue …

Other than that, only five weeks to go before the Pyongyang half-marathon, and today I did 4.5 miles, Ringo joining me for the first mile and a half.

PS: Forgot how good this is. I have an old vinyl of Rostropovich playing this, I think it’s on a USSR Melodya export label which would make it quite valuable, not least as he defected did he not?

Indeed he did. What a dude: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mstislav_Rostropovich

Anyway, it’s all lovely, spesh 20.00 in.


Good people

Spent the day at a foodbank for flood victims, where into a realm of amazing generosity from individuals and big-name companies alike came a couple of dozen people eking along, among whom was one new claimant (new – weeks after the disaster) who’d been keeping guard on his evacuated street from looters and dickhead vandals in dinghies, and only now seeks help to get a working cooker and fridge.

All the other volunteers were lovely and one in particular stood out for the time she continues to give.

It was only six hours, filling in a couple of forms, giving out bags of tea, biscuits, washing up liquid, but there is a lot of such good people out there, stoic and generous to the last in the face of the worst.

A few days later, a group of us went to assess the situation in a couple of the worst-hit villages in the Northwest. Our particular pair checked out a whole street of 30 houses that runs along a river that flows towards a centuries’ old bridge, damaged in the flood and still closed to traffic, and all houses on the road were afflicted, with only about a third of them being occupied some two months on. We saw the damage inside many, mostly with floors completely removed and water marks up to four feet downstairs, and heard the stories from the few remaining occupants.

Luck, or lack of, boils down to direction. It wasn’t just that the river burst its banks, it’s that at the upstream end of the lane is where there’s stables, a pig farm, chicken farm, from where all the muck and shit was washed downstream, down the lane, into the houses. Houses already hit in 2006 and 2009 and with flood defences installed but which were overwhelmed. Four-foot tsunami of shit floating into your house. Many of the houses are newbuilds, too, with one-time lovely floorboards and plasterboard walls, all destroyed. Furniture, electric goods, photos, toys, trinkets and memories, all ruined or washed away, the garden lawn becoming a black lake with drowned sheep snagged on the climbing frame.

Then it’s the finickities of it all. Rebuilding work can’t start until the places are dry, which in winter is a swizz to achieve and needs dehumidifiers and heaters on full tilt – assuming they’ve got safe electricity outlets – but which racks up massive bills. Bills on of huge phone bills from having to use mobile phones to contact insurers, then the insurers deploy not very competent contractors who the householder suspects aren’t doing a good job and has to keep a keen eye on them, commuting over every day from his temporary res 20 miles away (maybe only 2 miles as the crow flies but all the bridges are down, so for driving it’s 20 miles), holed up in a place that doesn’t have proper heating but the landlord still charges three times the normal rate because they know people have no choice. These affected people have children, or are in their 80s, or are staying with relatives with whom they don’t normally get on after short times when things are good, let alone during such duress.

And it goes on for months and months.

You neighbours aren’t there.

The community’s gone.

Or has it? Because all we spoke to also remarked on the help they’d had, the support that had come in from friends, family, neighbours in the town, from other towns, organisations across the country – often it’s this or that Muslim group from Leicester or London that’s mentioned in having come up and done work or given food.

Still the misery is manifest.

Good old fashioned British pasty fascism

I found a bakery that sells Cornish Pasties, not ‘beef and vegetable pasties’ as Greggs now cravenly call them, but Cornish Pasties. I so nearly remarked to the baker, “Cornish pasties! Great, the real thing! None of that PC EU shit! It’s a victory for good old fashioned British common sense! This bakery is one of the last redoubts against this kind of loony conformist bollockery.”

I would then turn to the old man customer at his table who’d be looking up at me, not only physically because he’s sat at a table, but figuratively too because my words touch his long-suppressed patriotic heart, and he’d raise his tea-cup in cheers to my flag-waving outburst.

Just on the cusp of launching into this polemic, however, I caught myself and realised I was thinking just like Noel Edmonds. My God, what is becoming of me, I thought.

Instead, I fled … but how far can one flee from this most pernicious of ideologies that can hijack the pasty to its cause, let alone me?

Yet … yet … what do the Cornish make of this?

That’s right – pasties.


Sponges age like Vietnam veterans

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When sponges age they also go grey. Do we share a gene with them?

This image above reminds me of the opening and closing scenes of Platoon, the fresh-faced sponge arrives in Vietnam, down on his cheeks, as he’s passed by a gnarled veteran on his way out, his mind, body and face all utterly changed by experience.

Ageing. My generation’s ageing. We’re noticing the little white hairs appearing, the lines that don’t go away when you stop smiling, the knee that still hurts hours after having stopped exercising. White teeth that went yellow, fillings that became crowns.

That’s one aspect.

The grandparents went long ago, but for many of my generation already, at least one if not both parents have also gone. That means we’re next.

That’s another aspect.

Some of us have gone already, accidents and disease scythed from the living, and no-one could stop it. But we’re entering the realm of age where other things that we do to ourselves all these years, things we knew were bad but never thought the consequences would come upon us, … well we’re at the age when those consequences move from things that happen to other people to things that will start happening to us. Don’t be surprised, indeed, one will now get good odds on betting something will happen.

That something is that what’s going to kill you.

And the timeline is tangible.

There is an end in sight.

I thought of a friend and realised he’d been smoking for nearly 3o years now, and even if he stops now, it might well be too late. And I wondered if in fact it’d be smokes that’d kill him. And I thought … yes, in all probability, it’ll be the cigarettes that kill him, and possibly before the decade is out, he’ll keel over as his heart jams up.


Great North Korean Run 2016

I’m going to North Korea in April to lead a Pyongyang Marathon tour and am running in the half-marathon (I would do the whole caboodle as my inaugural marathon but I’ve got a week of work following the run so don’t want to risk busting up!).

ANYWAY I’m running for Arthritis Research UK, so stump up, punters! 648x415_participants-marathon-pyongyang-coree-nord-avril-2014