Monday 9th April 2018
How old is too old to find yourself in possession of a car for the first time in your life? In my case, it is forty-six years old. As everything else in my life right now, my emotions were mixed. I felt nervous throughout the whole process; the close inspection of the vehicle, the payment of the deposit and the various telephone enquiries regarding insurance. Yes, I was a wreck of nerves, even if I did not show it. At the same time a strong sense of confidence and pride swept through me. I’m picking up my automobile tomorrow, once the insurance and other bits and bobs are sorted. I left the car dealer’s office today with a spring in my step and singing (in my head) Roger Taylor’s famous lyrics: Oh, The machine of a dream, such a clean machine/With the pistons a pumpin’, and the hubcaps all gleam/When I’m holding your wheel/All I hear is your gear/With my hand on your grease gun/Mmm, it’s like a disease, son.
Yes, the singing had to be in my head. There is no way I can hit Taylor’s high notes.
Tonight I went for a five-mile run. It’s my last run before the Brighton Marathon on Sunday. It felt good. I could have gone for a bit longer but I want to save some energy for Sunday. The music helped me a lot. Reminder to self: update your playlist before the run on Sunday. First track to be included: Roger Taylor’s I’m In Love with my Car.
Tuesday 10th April 2018
Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs turned out to be an excellent treat to myself. Less smug than Fantastic Mr Fox (his previous animated feature which I only got to see when I showed it to my film club) and more cynical and funny (as in deadpan funny), this is a film that combines two key ingredients for me: wit and warmth. With apocalyptic-looking landscapes and interiors that reminded me of Pink Floyd’s Run like Hell and Waiting for the Worms in the movie The Wall, Isle of Dogs serves a slapstick-rich menu of a-bit-crappy, less-than-perfect, anti-hero canine characters.
Sunday 15th April 2018
Three times now and not one has been the same. Running the Brighton Marathon in support of Cancer Research UK is turning out to be as quotidian as my weekly towel- washing. Yet, every time the run catches me unawares at certain points. There is always a section that confounds my expectations. This time around I ran the first eighteen to nineteen miles at a better pace than previous years. This gave me a (false) sense of confidence. I must admit that the music I was listening to helped a lot. This was the one element that failed to work last year. My old mp3 player died on me at the start line on that occasion. This time, though, the first track that blasted into my earphones was Bowie’s Heroes. I needed that boost. With the temperature hovering just over the lower teens and a cloudy sky the conditions for running a marathon could not be any better. Yet, despite Nina Simone, Aerosmith, Chicago, Mongo Santamaría, Led Zeppelin, Santana, Fiona Apple , Metallica and plenty others, from the 21st to the 24th mile I struggled so badly that I almost started walking as I did last year. Luckily the carton of apple juice I had put in my running belt came in handy. I crossed the Finish Line at a gentle trot but cross it I did.
As I lay on my back on the ground, stretching my cramped-up muscles and with a certainly-not-welcome drizzle falling upon my face, I reflected on what had just happened. It was not just the physical act but the significance of it beyond the physical exhaustion. Why had I just run the Brighton Marathon? There was the fundraising factor for starters. Cancer has touched me and those around me in life-changing ways. I had also run to escape from what has become our predictable, service-based society. Finally, I had run towards something. This something, hard to define and demanding a long-winded explanation, brings a Zen-like, harmonious balance to an otherwise chaotic existence. I am, therefore I run. I run, therefore I am. There is no Descartes-driven dichotomy; both are one and one is both.
My final thought before my eyes closed tonight, earlier than usual and with my body still aching, was about the beautiful synergy of brawn and brains. Working together like gears in a machine.