18 til I lie down

A late waking didn’t auger greatly for a really good distance but a sterling effort on a chilly day, even if I say so myself, pulled it (whatever ‘it’ is) out of the bag. Not a hint of an ache or pain, despite not feeling totally up for it until I was probably into double figures. I imagine that I will have a number of days like this on the big walk, just getting through the day and clocking up some more miles. I ate and drank more than I usually would, perhaps a symptom of a little bit of boredom, not helped by a 0-0 draw for Pompey at Hartlepool. A couple of bottles of water, half a cheese baguette (only half because there was horrible mayonnaise), a Yorkie – Raisin and Biscuit flavour, a skinny latte with vanilla, a sausage roll and some fruit and oat biscuits. Probably just about calorie neutral then over the 5 hours 50 minutes! 18 miles. In China, the number 18 is a lucky one, meaning that one is going to prosper and rooms on the 18th floor in hotels are often very expensive. So that makes me feel a lot better about today and life in general!

Started off with a wander down to the posh bit. Hamble is one of those places you only find in Hampshire, and it is around here that the 1980s BBC series Howard’s Way was filmed. Maritime is ever-evident, no more so in some of the thoroughfare, “Robinson’s Compass Adjusters: Nautical Instruments and Period Maritime” surely could only be here. The marina is a bit quiet in the cold and thankfully there is little of the flaunting of opulence one sometimes sees down here. I have no problem with people having lots of money, and spending it in any way they wish, but there is often an uneasy feel to the area with people visiting just to be seen here. Sweeping generalisation, yes, I know.

A couple of cars honk at me and I’m not sure who they were but I’m more entertained by some Southampton fans drinking outside a pub. Several are definitely XXXXL material, though if Matt Le Tissier could play for Southampton, they clearly created a market for those oversized club replica kits. I wander about a bit before heading back up Hamble Lane and cutting through a wooded area and Royal Victoria Country Park. Nice as always, but with more 4x4s each time I visit. The definition of optimism surfaces on the horizon as I see the ice cream van on Weston Shore on 30 November. I can only think it has broken down and is now immovable; even on the coldest days there seems always to be at least one ice cream van in that car park. To be fair, it is selling hot drinks today but I eschew this opportunity until later and walk up to Sholing , Burseldon and up Swanwick Lane as the sun sets slowly in the west.

Pam is quick to remind me that there are just 11 weeks to go. Still so much still to do. More on that in the future.

Latest Score: Christmas 0 Birthday 1

27 days until 25th December. Christmas is not my favourite thing, for one thing it overshadows my birthday. Already there is the overhype in tv adverts, selection boxes and neighbour is pitched against neighbour in the contest to have the tackiest Christmas lights. You might have seen this story http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/house-breaks-christmas-lights-record-2849295 – a world record. Stupidly, they said that half a million lights was a nice round number, when they have 502,165. Guys…..listen…….a better round number is ZERO. Hope you paid for all that with a loan from Wonga.com – at least you won’t be able to do it next year.

Me, I am looking forward to a short period off work, but sometimes I feel that being at work would be more bearable. I don’t look forward to the whole let’s get all stuffed and burp, fart and fall asleep in front of tv programmes that we would never watch if it was any other time of year. True, there can be decent films on here and there, but I’m not in the least bit interested in the Queen’s Speech (but I would still like an OBE, ma’am), carol singing or putting out cookies for Santa and carrots for his reindeer.

Even my birthday on 23rd is blighted by Christmas. The one chance in the year I get to have an individual celebration. Going out for a birthday meal? Let’s have Slade, Jona Lewie and John Lennon ‘Happy Xmas War is Over’ in the background. Not bad songs, but they will be the 500th time you’ve heard them this month. Would you like the seat by the Christmas tree, sir? Oh, and look, there are some carol singers. Aaaaggggggggh. The meaning of Christmas – that’ll be a quid to get rid of your squawking outside my door and you can go and stuff yourself with sweets and worsen the obesity crisis. My future pension reduced further in order to invest more in the NHS. A double whammy if ever there was one – paying kids to reduce my pension.

Right, that’s out of my system. Ok, not quite. No, I don’t want presents, I don’t want cards, if you are tempted, please buy something for Pammy, something for Matt or a donation to charity – it doesn’t even have to be my charity, perhaps one to help the homeless. But don’t spend loads and loads of money on your children because they must have the same gadgets that all their friends have and then bleat about personal debt. You can’t blame the bankers for that.

What will Christmas mean to me? Not going to work for a couple of weeks and plenty of walking. This is the last real chance to string together a string of successive days to really prepare. Somewhat dependent on the weather, but it should only be snow that keeps me inside. For the other 18 hours a day, I hope to be with my Pammy and my Matty.

Challenge: How many?

There is a spate lately of Challenges in Facebook “How many…… of these films have you seen? of these countries have you visited? etc etc.

So this is a special “How many of these things have you done?” I have done all of them, though they might not be anything to be proud of!

Have you ever….

  1. failed your driving test twice
  2. crashed a car at the age of 4 years old
  3. been hit in the goolies at cricket when you haven’t been wearing a box
  4. stuck a garden fork through your foot
  5. landed head first after bouncing off a springboard in the school gym
  6. realised you’ve forgotten your passport when you’re at the airport
  7. played bridge continuously for 24 hours
  8. played darts continuously for 24 hours (that was for charity)
  9. collapsed in the street while out running (turned my ankle on the kerb edge and injured my Achilles – not able to run for 4 weeks)
  10. got a nose bleed from being head butted while doing the hokey cokey at a party
  11. got sunburnt in December
  12. been in a boat that sank in a river with crocodiles
  13. worn your son’s pyjama shorts to work thinking they were your underpants
  14. forgotten to pack any footwear and so had to wear your wedding shoes for the entire time on your honeymoon
  15. wished you’d never embarked on an impossible physical task (e.g. walking a thousand miles)

Just kidding on the last one. Preparations continue – I’ve at least arranged / agreed transport back from John O’Groats and have some very committed family and friends who are really going to help. Blimey, I’m going to need all the support I can get. At least work appears to be sorting itself out with responsibilities being arranged and knowledge transfer. My worry is that, while I’m away, those people will do a better job than I would have and I will be exposed as a fraud!

Blogging in for duty

Thanks for the loads of supporting comments I’ve been receiving, quite often at what non-statisticians would call ‘random’ moments. Pretty much every work meeting includes some comment or encouragement either before, after or during proceedings. It is all very much appreciated.

A few anonymous donations – please let me know who you are, if only for me to thank you. I’m up to £2,579.70, over halfway to my target and far beyond what I was expecting at this stage. Just recently, there have been a few asking if they can walk with me, for a day. I’m really happy with that, but be expected to walk anything between 12 and 23 miles at a reasonable pace, possibly with just a half an hour break. If you are a real star, you would carry my bag for an hour! Anyone who is interested, please ask me for an itinerary (ooooh) that is subject to change.

It does puzzle me ‘what works’ in a blog – I’m very new to this and posts that I think would be really popular are receiving relatively little reaction compared to others, such as yesterday’s, that I considered a bit dull and self-indulgent, if anything. What works appears to be content that is either vulnerable, self-deprecating and (sometimes) humorous, though what I find humorous may not always tickle others’ armpits. Looking at the websites that give tips for new bloggers, one of those is to have a rant every now and again. 82 days to go now, plenty of days to fill. Happy for people to give me blog topics – and I will do my best to write something interesting and entertaining. I’m not quite the Paul Merton ad-libber of blogging but I’ll give it a try!

Sorry – this one’s not very interesting – by Spiceboy

Spiceboy – where did that come from? Well my surname and the fact that I am male make it sort of obvious, but it was one of my students who first coined the nickname in about 1996 when the Spice Girls first came on the scene and then Liverpool FC had a number of young players living the high life. This nickname stuck for years, and I actually quite like it, am quite happy to be called Spiceboy, except at formal work meetings (if you read this, you know who you are!).

But that is not the only nickname I have ever had:

Big Ears – again fairly obvious and a rather cruel one from when I first went to school (age 5) for about three years or so. By that I mean that the nickname lasted for about three years; I attended school for slightly longer than that. But, yes, children can be very cruel and if you show the slightest hint of it upsetting you….

Cassius – I’ve never got my head round this one, I think it’s because of my initials KAS. I’ve never been a boxer, that’s for sure.

Lennon – from the long hair I grew, ironically, to cover my ears. Nothing to do with any musical talent.

Ringo – this was one coined when I was about 20 and went to play darts at the Graham Arms in Pompey. Obviously related to the long hair and the Beatles drummer.

Statto – for the ability not only to do maths but also to remember lots of footie facts and figures. Still occasionally called by this name by various people.

Donkey – well, the only person who called me this was Pam, when we first started going out. Honest to god, it’s because she thinks I’m very clumsy (and it was around the time of Tony Adams getting stick at Arsenal), no other reason.

Homer – or at least I think that was what one (and only one) person called me about 10 years ago. With a receding receded hairline, I gathered it was in tribute to Homer Simpson not Homer the philosopher.

See, I was right, not very interesting.

3 out of 3 ain’t bad

A third walk in three days, 22.5 miles that took me up to 52 miles for the longer than usual weekend. I actually find more walking helps me – I don’t hurt quite as much if I walk more regularly and that might be a good sign for the months ahead. Mind you, 63 days walking out of 73 days is a different kettle of fish to 3 out of 3.

I often like quite an early break, sometimes within the first 5 miles and that is the case today. Costa Coffee unfortunately has no newspapers on its rack, so for a little while I had to make my own entertainment. Three of the four newspapers have been commandeered by one bloke, who is seemingly comparing the reports and player ratings from the Arsenal – Southampton game. Look, mush, you lost, ok Lallana only got a 6 and he might have deserved a 7, but just get over it and look forward to the next game. Thankfully, the other newspaper becomes free and I have ten minutes or so with The Sunday Times before setting off back on the road. Scummer matey is still seething over the press.

I had a choice of ways to go and decided to walk over Itchen Bridge, noticing plenty of Samaritans signs on the bridge – if I wanted to kill myself drowning wouldn’t be my favourite or chosen method. I guess most people must have wondered at least fleetingly what the world would be like without them, how others would perceive them, who would go to their funeral, who would be sad – I’ve had my own It’s A Wonderful Life moments without seriously thinking about ending it all. Every day there are reminders in the news that there are far more unfortunate people than me, the three women subject to 30 years of slavery being the current one. Sometimes I have to remember how lucky I am – a lovely wife and great son, a job that suits me, no worries about money and the opportunity to undertake a great adventure. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it does for me – exercise has certainly been a massive anti-depressant, better than any medication could have been (and I have those as well, for good measure). 

The time whizzes by with some rather remarkable football and egg-chasing on the radio and this does mask a pain in my heel that comes after about 16 miles. Not terrible but just nagging. Other than that, no physical damage; a blister on my big toe is gradually healing by hard skinning itself. A quick shower and the world is great again.

The Dirty Dozen

Having had the usual post-walk shower last night, and due another walk today, it seemed rather pointless to shower again this morning just to work up another big sweat. So, unshaven, unshowered and wearing some of the same kit as yesterday, I set out on a 12 mile stroll (how cocky does that sound?) on another pleasant yet chilly morning. A ‘dirty dozen’ if you like.

As a child and even as a young adult, I was never that keen on films – probably attention span issues – and it was only after I started going out with Pam that I had much interest at all. The Dirty Dozen was one of only a very few films that I had enjoyed, and I thought it funny to see Telly Savalas in something other than Kojak! If I were now to pick my dozen films that are my favourites (in no particular order): Twelve Angry Men, Shawshank Redemption, Pretty Woman (yeah, trash, I know, but a number of wonderful set pieces), American Beauty, Les Diaboliques, It’s a Wonderful Life, Goodfellas, Million Dollar Baby, Lion King and three Hitchcocks: Psycho, North by Northwest and the very underrated Strangers on a Train.

I’m not quite Barry Norman but my Mastermind specialist subject would be the films of Sir Alfred Hitchcock. An obsession that started with three free DVDs (Rebecca, Spellbound and Notorious) from The Times about ten years ago and continued so far that I have every one of his films on DVD except four (one of which has no known copies in existence), and watched every one a number of times.

But the film I have watched the most number of times is undoubtedly Lion King. It was one of Matt’s favourites as an infant and (as children do) he loved the familiarity; I reckon I have seen it about 50 times. We also used to have to act out scenes and I had to turn up to work as a lecturer with a couple of massive scratches on my face after being gored by Simba (I was playing the part of Scar). By coincidence, one of my lectures was on crime statistics and underreporting of domestic violence. How convincing was I? It really is quite a serious subject but I did hear more than a snigger when I tried to explain away my new facial features. Luckily, Matt didn’t watch Psycho until he was much older otherwise I would certainly have been locking the bathroom door when I was having a shower.

By the way, I have had a shower now. Smells like Teen Spirit. Or is it Old Spice?