rhythmaning: (violin)
After weeks of walking, the Kiltwalk took place yesterday. After weeks of mostly walking in sunshine, I spent nearly six hours walking in pissing rain and high(ish) wind.

My official time, from when the walk started at 9am to when I crossed the finish line, was 5 hours 55 minutes. (It not being a race, there wasn't actually an official time as such: they weren't keeping a record.)

I however was keeping track of my speed as I passed each mile-marker, using an stopwatch app on my phone. Unfortunately, despite my phone being wrapped in a plastic bag to keep the rain out, it got damp and the screen did some funny things and reset the clock somewhere between miles 10 and 11. (Or maybe I just pushed the wrong button.)

Still, I can remember many of the time to complete some of the miles, and I have a record for the last 15 miles.

My personal, unofficial time, was 5 hours 44 minutes, the difference being not crossing the start line for a couple of minutes and three loo breaks. So, an average of about 4.5mph, then. Pretty fast.

Some of the mile markers were clearly a bit skew-whiff: in the second half of the walk, one mile took 19 minutes and the next 9: the first was clearly in the position, the average of the two being 14 minutes. Most seemed about right, though, knowing how fast I walk.

At the start of the walk, in the crowd, my first two miles were over fourteen minutes each; a couple of miles later, I did a couple of miles at less than twelve minutes each - I was walking more than 5 miles per hour, something I didn't achieve when I was training (though I did sometimes reach 5mph over only five miles).

I reached the halfway point - 13 miles - at exactly midday, with an (unofficial) speed of 4.5mph, the same as my average speed over the whole walk.

More impressive, in the last half of the walk, I logged three different 12-minute miles (excluding that highly unlikely nine minute mile). Indeed, I did the final mile in twelve minutes.

I was close to the lead walkers. When I passed the 25 mile mark, the end in clear site (it was Murrayfield stadium: you can see it from miles away!), the guy at the checkpoint told me I was the fifth 26 mile walker back. I had thought there were six walkers in front of me - there was one guy in a bright yellow

It wasn't easy. Basically, I just kept going. After about 16 miles, I found myself controlling my breath, breathing deeply and rhythmically; at a couple of checkpoints and at the finish line, officials asked with concern if I were ok (I was) - I guess they didn't want someone having a heart-attack.

I also found my legs unconsciously taking smaller, faster steps, and I had to deliberately take longer paces and slow down my rate of steps, to stop myself literally getting carried away.

At the end of the walk, I felt emotionally drained. I didn't burst into tears at the finish line, which marathon runners do, but I wouldn't have been surprised if I had done.

There was a big tent at the end, where I sat and ate the free burger. The tent was full of families - as well as the 26 mile walk, there was also a 13 mile walk, and a shorter walk for children. The walks were in aid of children's charities, so that was fair enough, but it wasn't somewhere I wanted to hang around.

I picked up my change of clothes - hillwalking in Scotland has taught me to have a spare change of clothes after long walks in the rain - and got changed. I was soaked. My waterproof was wet through, and my clothing was wet either from the rain or sweat, or, probably, both. The bits of paper in my pockets had disintegrated. It is a good thing I put my wallet inside a plastic bag, like my phone. (Another hillwalking trick.) The screen on my phone wasn't working properly, despite keeping it under wraps, because the moisture on the screen meant my finger just skidded across.

Rather than hang about in the tent, once changed, I got on the tram. I was going to go to a pub for a pint or three and some more food, but decided that I would actually prefer a long hot bath. And maybe alcohol wouldn't be such a great idea...

As I got off the tram, there were more Kiltwalkers streaming past. I had been there a couple of hour before, watching the tram leave for Murrayfield enviously. From there, the route actually avoided taking me right past my flat, which I thought it would, though it did take me within a couple of hundred yards. Much of the route was on cycle paths around Edinburgh that I had been training on, particularly the ten mile stretch from Cramond to Joppa (though I hadn't ever done the whole lot at once) and much of the route from Joppa along the Innocent Railway back to my flat.

Today I have been inspecting the damage. I only got a couple of rather small blisters on fourth toe of each foot, which had I really thought about ahead of the walk I would have realised would happen. My main worry had been blisters on my heels or the balls of my feet, but they were ok. I remember when I walked the marathon a few years ago (a little quicker, in an official time of 5hr40), I was hobbling about for days. So far I seem to be relatively unscathed. Maybe all my practice paid off!

Edit I meant to add a bit about what I was listening to whilst I walked. In order...
  • Broadcasting House on R4

  • the Archers, though most of the time there was really bad interference, as I walked from Cramond to Seafield

  • Bruckner

  • Brahms

  • Sibelius

  • Vaughn Williams


When I had been training, I mostly listened to rock music, but I found that my steps fell in line with too insistent a rhythm, which wasn't necessarily a good thing.

For much of the Bruckner - I think it was Symphony 8 - I was conducting the orchestra as I walked. People must have thought I was even madder, moving my arms in the rain as I hurried down Portobello prom.
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)

Steve Bell cartoon from the Guardian
Cartoon: Steve Bell - the Guardian



I had resolved to do something positive during the funeral today of Margaret Thatcher - something creative. This was prompted by Lloyd, who wrote
I think we need to focus rather on the release of resentment and ways to find reconciliation...

And I agree.

But it is awfully, awfully difficult not to pick at old wounds; and whilst I find it very hard to think of possible positive outcomes from Margaret Thatcher's legacy. In part, I think this is because she did such a good job at polarising British politics - the divisions she created within society ran deep, and are deepening.

I think my politics have been moulded by the rise of Thatcherism, and in rational opposition to it. (That is, I am centre-, not far-, left!) I first voted in the 1979 general election - the election that took Thatcher to Downing Street. I can't remember if I voted Liberal or Labour - if the latter, I think it was the only time I have voted Labour.

I was a student for the next seven years, four years of which were in Scotland. There I marched in sympathy with the miners in 1984; I became aware that, frankly, every decision one makes has a political dimension (it was choosing fruit in a supermarket that taught me that: Chilean, South African or Israeli?); I took part in student boycotts of Barclays Bank (easy, since there was only one branch in Edinburgh!); I objected when the government "sold off the family silver" - something that I had a stake was being sold off, and I wasn't getting anything for it (except, perhaps, higher bills - and, Thatcher might have argued, a better service!). I objected at a much more personal level that funding to universities was cut and cut and cut till jobs in my field were near impossible to come by, and I left academia. (There were many other reasons, too, and I have no regrets about that career choice - except that I did exactly what Thatcher would have wanted me to do!)

In other respects, though, I benefited a lot from the Thatcherite revolution. I took a summer job after my PhD working for a merchant bank, merging the filing systems of three companies that were merged - or taken over - in preparation for deregulation and "the Big Bang" - which, with hindsight, I hold responsible for the mess our economic system has got itself into. I did very well out of the Big Bang, making what was for me (a recently graduated student) a lot of money for several months, when I needed it. Then, after a year in academia, I became an accountant, and swallowed the idea of market supremacy (which I still largely adhere to - though even I have to admit that there are many things the market can't do, and it is government's job to regulate and manage the market, to prevent excesses we are all so aware of). I do not believe there are better alternative to the market - yet. But I do think we need some viable alternatives.

I became part of the share-owning, private-pension-plan classes, worked for some big firms and more or less prospered. But I saw that many didn't. The divisions in society deepened, and widened. Industrial policy - closing large industries like steel-making, shipbuilding and coal-mining - wreaked havoc in many parts of north Britain, whilst the south - where the services industries, particularly finance, were based, prospered. I have been told by an accountant who worked for the coal board in the 1980s that the economic basis - the very reasoning - for the closure of the pits was flawed (the government included the sunk costs - money that had already been spent, and hence was irrecoverable, in their analysis, which thus came out in favour of closure).

Maybe the economics was in favour of closing all those big industries - but the expectation that the private sector would step in and find jobs all those unemployed seemed unlikely. At the very least, the change was unmanaged - it was rapid and hardly gave those subject to it a chance. There are towns and villages that still suffer because the mines and steelworks closed thirty years ago; generations have grown up with limited hope, because of the Thatcherite policies of the 1980s.

So I celebrated when Margaret Thatcher resigned in 1990: it is one of those landmark moments which people of a certain age remember - we know where we were when we heard. And a very great many celebrated. And I celebrated when Labour took over in 1997, though I thought John Major had the potential to be a better prime minister than his warring party allowed him to be. With hindsight, Labour had bought into the Thatcherite ideals, and maintained many of the Tory policies; they too accepted the new orthodoxy.

Thatcher's legacy has prevented a Tory victory for twenty three years, and the damage she caused individuals - who she believed in, it was all about individuals - and society (which, perhaps, she didn't) remains, and may well prevent a future Tory majority. (The Conservative once again seems riven with factions keen to prevent their government governing - doing the opposition's job for them!) The strength of feeling against the Conservatives in Scotland, and, I assume, in much of northern England too, have lead to a divided country. Thatcherism was a real boost to the SNP, and took us to the road to the referendum. I can't see a Tory government uniting north and south (though Tony Blair did - first in three elections, and then against Gordon Brown...) - whatever the outcome of the next election, I doubt a Conservative government would be taken to be representative of the whole country.

That is what I think of Margaret Thatcher, and her legacy. She divided the country thirty years ago, and she still does. And I can't think of much that could heal it. (So I guess I failed in my attempt to be positive...)

rhythmaning: (violin)
It is a long while since I have posted here, even longer since I have written anything substantial. A friend once suggested that people spend time on LJ when they are unhappy; it has never worked like that for me: I spend time on LJ when I have something to say, and I am not sure I have a great deal to say at the moment.

But being out of the habit of writing - well, I think I should try to get back in the habit. I don't mean every day - I have never subscribed to those memes demanding one writes a post a day (or a photo, or a drawing, or ...). But I think I'd enjoy writing a bit more.

I have been thinking back to why I started writing on LJ, nearly seven years ago. It seems much longer. Lots of short, observational posts.

Maybe I should try that.

Or maybe start some big project. (I am very good at starting projects.)

We'll see.

But also I have a lot - an awful lot - of photographs (my main creative outlet, I think) to share. SO I shall stick those up. Generally, I think photographs should stand alone - there should be no need for explanatory text - though on the back of several conversations I have had recently, I have a lot of thoughts on photography I may share, as well.

We'll see...
rhythmaning: (violin)
I have described my life as a child movie star actor appearee before. Now, I have evidence as myself as a tv star actor appearee, too.

I had an email from my brother directing me to a film of Joyce Grenfell, and, in particular, a couple of sections towards the end of the audience at a recording of the Michael Parkinson show in 1976. My father, who worked in what now would be called PR, publicised Joyce Grenfell, and presumably got us all tickets. I have no recollection whatsoever of having sat in a BBC studio watching Parkinson interview Joyce Grenfell. But I am there, along with my brother, mother and father.



Ms Grenfell had just asked the audience to close our eyes and imagine the character she was protraying - hence everyone in the audience has their eyes shut. And the image is spliced from two stills I grabbed. (Presumably the BBC owns copyright of my image...)

And before [livejournal.com profile] star_tourmaline says it, I clearly needed a hair cut in 1976. However, this applies to 90% of the male members of the audience, including Mr Parkinson.

Boxes

Jan. 19th, 2010 10:36 am
rhythmaning: (violin)
I have just moved for the second time in a year, and the third time in three years. The last time, back in April last year, was meant to be more temporary than it actually turned out to be; the time before that was awash with an ocean of emotion.

There is something very bizarre about packing all one's belongings into boxes: my whole life, my accumulated material possessions, packed into cardboard cubes and stacked in a pyramid.

Simultaneously so much and so litte stuff.

Packing my boxes, preparing to move, is always a salutary experience. I don't believe I have a lot of clutter, though I seem to have a fair bit; but what I do have is saturated with memories.

I still have the cutlery and crockery that I bought when I first lived by myself, in a bedsit on the campus of York University, twenty three years ago; I have the same two pots that I got at the same time. (They have been well used, but well looked after, too: there is no need to change them.)

All the objects – packing and unpacking – have history associated with them. There are lots of stories.

I have paintings and photographs imbued with recollections; I can remember where I was when I bought and when I read most of the books I have.

I have many, many boxes in store in Edinburgh. I need to liberate these, and then spend months unpacking and sorting through.

So much history.
rhythmaning: (violin)
The turn of year has seen a rash of annual reviews; the decade, more so. You know – all those memes, all the pages of newsprint taken up with tracking the days, months and years. I don’t really go into such introspection: I feel at a fundamental level that anniversaries are a human conceit; why is a ten year period more important than a nine or eleven year gap? Why is 365 days more important to us than 200 or 265 or…

But of course I am not wholly immune: I celebrated New Year, I celebrated Christmas; and, since I am comfortable as a liminal creature between on- and offline worlds, I have my own end of the old, start of the new year ritual.

I am wedded to my paper diary.

I have diaries going back to 1982, every year. They track what I was doing, who I was hanging out with, where I lived; I can track the comings and goings of my friends as their addresses change.

So every year, I copy out the addresses of my friends from the old diary to the new, and I flick through the old diary to see what else needs to be transferred – lists of books I want to read, music I want to buy, notes I want to keep. In these days of mobile phones, email and cloud data storage, this isn’t so important I guess, but I do like to keep a paper back up. Just in case, you understand.

And, of course, all those dates and appointments that I made last year for this – things I want to go to, gigs I want to see…

It won’t surprise you to know that I am very, very particular about my diary. For the last twenty odd years, I have had to have a week to a view with a page of notes, so I can scribble things down – which I do a lot.

So here I am – writing this to avoid finishing off my annual ritual…

Not dead

May. 19th, 2009 01:16 pm
rhythmaning: (violin)
But I haven't posted for a while. I really ought to write something, sometime soon.

I don't know what.

I was prompted to do the "three word meme" and I got about half way through it but I got so irritated by the lack of questions and the overall American-centric nature of it that I deleted it all, with exceptional pleasure.

Ooops...

May. 4th, 2009 04:46 pm
rhythmaning: (violin)
I have been using web-based mail for the last couple of months. I have just looked in my "spam" folder. It contained all sorts of stuff that wasn't spam.

Including many comments on posts going back over the last few weeks.

I have no idea why my service decided you were spamming me - most comments did get through. Perhaps the comments contain links or something.

Anyhow, I'm going to be catching up on old comments.

Apologies to anyone who thought I was ignoring them!
rhythmaning: (violin)
I have written before how written before how I "starred" in a short movie set in 1960s London. (Irritatingly the film credits spelt my name wrong - and they couldn't afford to correct it! So IMDB gets it wrong, too... I played Johnny!)

I was a little surprised to hear the film being discussed on Radio4.

I didn't get a name check - though they did describe it as a charming story...
rhythmaning: (violin)
There was a fairly depressing article in today's The Observer about libraries and the erosion of both their collections and their place in British society.

I like libraries, although i must admit I haven't been in a library for perhaps five years. Libraries have played an important part in my life, since I was first taken to the library at primary school: a crocodile of small children meandering down the street – the street where I lived, indeed – to a the children's library housed next to the building renowned for being Keats' house. My mother took me there as well and, later, I would go by myself on my way home from secondary school.
Read more... )
rhythmaning: (violin)
I don't normally do this kind of meme, but I was specifically asked to do it; I was going to decline, but I have found others' responses interesting and amusing, so I thought I might give it a go. But single sentence answers never work for me (which is why I don't normally do this kind of meme): they is always more of a story to tell, and this is all about telling stories, so it might get a bit long – twenty five paragraphs...
Read more... )
rhythmaning: (violin)
I don't normally do this kind of meme, but I was specifically asked to do it; I was going to decline, but I have found others' responses interesting and amusing, so I thought I might give it a go. But single sentence answers never work for me (which is why I don't normally do this kind of meme): they is always more of a story to tell, and this is all about telling stories, so it might get a bit long – twenty five paragraphs...
Read more... )

Smile

Jan. 23rd, 2009 04:43 pm
rhythmaning: (cat)
I have noticed something quite strange over the past couple of days.

Every time I see a photograph of Barack Obama, my face erupts into a strong, broad grin.

There are of course many pictures of Obama in the newspaper. One very like this made me realise I had a happy, manic grin on my face.


Picture: from International Herald Tribune. Getty Images.



Then I turned the page and saw another photo, accompanying this article about Twitter.

I can see my face is going to be twisted into a smile for at least the next four years. (And probably longer.)

I hope I don’t get bored of smiling.

Smile

Jan. 23rd, 2009 04:43 pm
rhythmaning: (cat)
I have noticed something quite strange over the past couple of days.

Every time I see a photograph of Barack Obama, my face erupts into a strong, broad grin.

There are of course many pictures of Obama in the newspaper. One very like this made me realise I had a happy, manic grin on my face.


Picture: from International Herald Tribune. Getty Images.



Then I turned the page and saw another photo, accompanying this article about Twitter.

I can see my face is going to be twisted into a smile for at least the next four years. (And probably longer.)

I hope I don’t get bored of smiling.
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
I am not too sure if this is a fair representation of my views - as usual, the questions were very US-centric - but it is quite interesting!

My Political Views
I am a center-left social libertarian
Left: 2.58, Libertarian: 4.01

Political Spectrum Quiz


(nabbed from [livejournal.com profile] andrewducker).
rhythmaning: (Armed Forces)
I am not too sure if this is a fair representation of my views - as usual, the questions were very US-centric - but it is quite interesting!

My Political Views
I am a center-left social libertarian
Left: 2.58, Libertarian: 4.01

Political Spectrum Quiz


(nabbed from [livejournal.com profile] andrewducker).
rhythmaning: (whisky)
I was in a deli a few minutes ago. They were selling red wine from a region of South Africa called Meerlust. I couldn't help thinking they could make a bomb marketing that in the run up to St Valentine's Day.

Whilst I'm at it, Kate Winslett and two Golden Globes - is it just my puerile sense of humour that finds this juxtaposition funny?
rhythmaning: (whisky)
I was in a deli a few minutes ago. They were selling red wine from a region of South Africa called Meerlust. I couldn't help thinking they could make a bomb marketing that in the run up to St Valentine's Day.

Whilst I'm at it, Kate Winslett and two Golden Globes - is it just my puerile sense of humour that finds this juxtaposition funny?

Ritual

Jan. 9th, 2009 06:50 pm
rhythmaning: (violin)
Last weekend, I started this year’s diary by moving all the addresses from the old one into the new one; some people don’t get copied across, dropping out after a while of silence.

Except last year I hadn’t done this: I was in a funny mood at the beginning of the new year, and I hadn’t started my diary as usual. I did have a diary, I just never copied the names from the previous year. This did mean that when I needed the names – which I did a lot in the autumn - I had to go into my old diary. A bit like that year not properly closing.

I also go through the pages and make sure any useful information I have scribbled down during the year is kept. It also serves to review the year – informally. It really was quite strange. Indeed, it has been a strange couple of years, all in all.

Ritual

Jan. 9th, 2009 06:50 pm
rhythmaning: (violin)
Last weekend, I started this year’s diary by moving all the addresses from the old one into the new one; some people don’t get copied across, dropping out after a while of silence.

Except last year I hadn’t done this: I was in a funny mood at the beginning of the new year, and I hadn’t started my diary as usual. I did have a diary, I just never copied the names from the previous year. This did mean that when I needed the names – which I did a lot in the autumn - I had to go into my old diary. A bit like that year not properly closing.

I also go through the pages and make sure any useful information I have scribbled down during the year is kept. It also serves to review the year – informally. It really was quite strange. Indeed, it has been a strange couple of years, all in all.

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