Noel Gallagher of the now mercifully defunkt Oasis famously said he sprinkled cocaine on his cornflakes for breakfast. Lightweight. Any self serving rock star knows it is heroin on your eggs or a one-way ticket to Sunnydale Retirement Home.

 

The Whitechapel Art Gallery has got a faultless reputation for putting on consistently pretentious exhibitions come rain or shine. Check out this masterwork featuring string. A penetrating insight into the concept of time, linear distortion and the invisible cortex of social ties and customs that bind us in the social weave. Then again, it could just be balls of string.

 

I read somewhere that the best way to feel happier is to make a list of everything you like doing and introduce more of those things into your everyday life.

It might be something simple like watching the sunrise, going out for a long walk once a week, torching the local pub or ingesting industrial sized quantities of cocaine. Whatever floats your boat really.

I came up with a list of about 30 things. Nothing earth shattering. Watch some sunrises, some walks. That sort of thing. The one that surprised me the most was taking up running again. A lost love rediscovered like it was all shiny and new.

 

Messianic tendencies are afoot in the NHS as the survivors of the organisational restructure crawl out of the wreckage and reassert themselves atop the reconstituted dung heap. It’s like watching badgers crawl out of their den, shake off winter’s fleas and be about their business oblivious to the preceding seasons.

 

Ah, the look of bemusement turning to disgust on the new office manager’s face as they watched me carefully wipe the accumulated biscuit crumbs off my desk into a cupped hand this morning and eat them. Needs must in thrifty times.

 

Cross country running is a very British pastime traditionally  carried out in the dead of winter when cold weather, mud and rain conspire to attract only the hardiest of souls.

I hadn’t run a cross country race since I was a schoolboy but the intervening 30 years seemed like yesterday as I waited for the off in a muddy field in north east London.

London is not renowned  for its cross country but every spring its acolytes will find a stern test in the shape of Epping Forest’s Orion 15.

This historic race, which began as a 15 mile ‘constitutional’ run in 1923 by host club Orion Harriers, offers a lung bursting 15 mile course which twist and turns and slithers and slides  its way through London’s largest remaining tract of woodland.

It’s a real gathering of the tribes. The Mornington Chasers rub shoulders with the Springfield Striders, while the Fairlands Valley Spartans size up the threat posed by the Ipswich Jaffers and Thurrock Nomads.

The Orion 15 entry letter gives competitors fair warning of what they are letting themselves in for with an introductory ‘Dear runner, friend and lover of mud, hills and puddles’ together with a course description of  ’hills, forest trails, fields, hills, horse rides, some hills and not a little mud.’

It certainly lives up to its reputation as the starter’s gun lets loose a jostling mass of several hundred runners. No sooner have we slid around the first bend then the mud is upon us.

Is is, of course, worse for us slow coaches at the back who plough a furrow through the churning ankle deep morass  left by the rest of the field.

The mud claims victims straight away sucking off a shoe here and there  to howls of anguish while one  unfortunate lands on his knees only to be knocked down by the ensuing change .

Someone else grasps vainly at a tree branch before ending up on his back. An old hand ploughs through the thick of it  with a sage ‘you’re going to get muddy so get on with it son.’

The course certainly tips its hat to cross country’s equestrian roots when runners held the human equivalent of ‘horse and hound’ races with one or two athletes chased by a relentless pack.

The brief respite of firm ground offered by bridle-ways and snatches of road is replaced by an assault course of muddy trails, water filled ditches, stiles, ankle turning tree roots and hill after lung busting hill.

I’m feel surprisingly good after what I think is three miles only to turn the corner and see the luminous one mile marker. I feel the energy drain out of me  at the thought of another 14 miles as I’m elbowed into a bramble bush by a passing runner with a brisk ‘make way, make way.’

I settle for a slow jog trot and ignore the markers after that along with the forest’s rich history which including a hunting lodge used by Queen Elizabeth, highwayman Dick Turpin’s hideout, a grove of fruit trees nurtured by Lawrence of Arabia and a grand obelisk making the meridian line.

I thankfully make the nine mile cut-off of one hour and 30 minutes after which slower runners are asked to retire and only remember the remaining miles seeming to get slower and longer the closer I get to the finish.

I finally stagger across the line in 130h position – a solid half-an-hour  after the winner – to polite applause and a celebratory cup of Buck’s Fizz.

Never again? I’ll be back next year.

 

‘The aspect of things that are most important for us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity.’

Ludwig Wittgenstein

 

What is it with the lost and found brigade who discover religion and then feel obliged to become self styled disciples accosting us sinners on public transport with their frothy lipped rants about damnation and being cast unto the black pit?

“Don’t be sinner, God’s a winner’, was the mantra being yelled in my ear by some glassy eyed convert on the tube today.

Yes, yes now let me get back to my sinning ways.

 

 

Well, it was my end game with the NHS today when I had to have an interview for a job I didn’t want that had already effectively been allocated to someone else. I dutifully played the game and am finally free bar working out my three months servitude.

Not the best time to face unemployment but the tang of opportunity  is in the air. I couldn’t help asking the panel of interviewers why they thought I should want to work for them. I think that sealed the deal on my self imposed fate. I heard the coffin nail go in after that one.

© 2011 gruntfarter.co.uk Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha