The training plan said 19km – but it was one of those mornings where I woke up feeling tired and the legs were tight. So I thought – just go out and see what you find. Any steps are better than no steps. I ran down the road to historic Charlton, the Jacobean house, the churchyard and ended up discovering something I never knew existed – 55 million year old rocks. There’s something to consider, I thought, looking up at them, aching legs, listening to Four Tet’s Glastonbury mix. 55 million years old, they’ve been here long before all this world’s craziness and they will probably be here long after too. (NB All the running photos on this and other pages are no filters – just as I found them on my travels.)
One of the joys of running is discovering new parts of London. I followed the Waterway Cycle Route 21 which runs between Greenwich and Beckenham. My running soundtrack courtesy of BBC Sounds:
Starting out with John Finnemore’s sublime Cabin Pressure – the airline where no job is too small, but many jobs are too difficult…
Then I had my own digital dance Glastonbury to carry me through the remaining miles:
Four Tet at Glastonbury 2016 a glorious mix including a rather wonderfully twisted minimal track ‘In Here’ by Joy Orbison and Boddika
Andy C at Glastonbury 2015 – acid beats and drops and suddenly the final push up Lewisham Hill doesn’t seem so bad.
Good times, good music. This was after the Hackney Half 2019. On the way back home, we discovered Gilles Peterson playing at the end of our road. I thought I’ll just dance to one tune..ended up staying for the whole set. Sadly the gasworks is no longer there.
Running during a pandemic. How beautiful and serene this city of ours…
The woman on the red sofa was being interviewed about the local food bank and how so many more people were using it because of the pandemic and the impact it had had upon families. And then she started speaking about her autistic son.
I think he’s loving this situation, she said thoughtfully.
He has me and his father and Ralf our border collie with him in the house all day every day except when I’m volunteering at the foodbank and he doesn’t have to go out unless it’s to walk Ralf which he loves, and he doesn’t have to go to school which he loves when he’s there but getting him there every day for 9am can be a struggle…
Her son had spent the weeks since lockdown taking stuffing out of cushions so he could put the stuffing into sacks and replacing it with lego (only the round shapes, not the square ones) and then he’d ask her to sew up the cushions so a little later he could unpick the stitches and take the lego out so the game could begin again.
We don’t have much left stuffed in the house, she said, with a small laugh. But we do have two huge bags of stuffing that’s growing all the time. I suppose we could use them as replacement cushions…
His bed’s nearly off the floor with all the random bits and pieces he hoards underneath it.
Before the lego cushions, it was nuts and bolts – he spent hours dividing them into equal piles across the lounge carpet and we’d have to make sure Ralf, our border collie, didn’t run into them and knock them over because that could cause a meltdown.
For the two months prior to nuts and bolts, it was wrapping tins in cellotape and string. And then there was the obsession with rice in plant pots which he pushed under his bed.
Any little thing could cause a meltdown. Life with him was living on a hair trigger, you never knew what it could be that would set him off. There were certain key triggers – like getting him ready for school and then on the way to school, if we didn’t see the 825 train to Birmingham go past the level crossing…but there were other things that I could never see coming at all. Something that made him really happy one day (e.g playing with a red balloon in the back garden) could spin him over the edge the next…
Now there’s no set timetable, the meltdowns are far fewer…he seems happier…and so are we in some ways, we aren’t constantly trying to him fit in a world which is a different shape to the one he inhabits. And he loves sorting out the tines for the food bank.
The woman interviewing her, sitting behind the desk, smiles and says it’s so good to hear some good news for a change…
The Saturday before what would have been the London Marathon weekend and I headed on a route I’d never normally take. Because usually there’d be too much traffic. But Lockdown silenced the streets and made road running to Deptford and beyond a contemplative joy.
Tower Bridge- approximately 840am. I arrived listening to Madonna’s Like A Prayer. I could dance across the road if I wished…
Deptford Market, approx 920am, Saturday morning….
Greenwich High Road, approx 950am
Greenwich Market, approx 10am
the world took a deep breath
and went silent and went still
keep your distance keep at least 2 meters apart
out once a day for exercise
running one foot in front of the other foot in front
keep going long enough you always get there in the end it’s a marathon not a sprint
but now running through streets which are sunny and serene
sense of total freedom this city is mine and then remember why this sinister beauty exists
a virus that respects no borders, no race, no class it doesn’t care how much money you have or where you come from
it is the great global leveller everybody can get it. Tom Hanks, Idris Elba, Matt Hancock, Boris Johnson…
but not everybody experences it the same.
at least here in the UK now we know who the real key workers are: NHS, social care, delivery drivers, supermarket stackers…
things we were told impossible suddenly are possible
money at the click of a computer button
it’s possible now why didn’t we do it before
it’s possible now why didn’t we do it before
keep running long enough to see what kind of world lies on the other side
4 1/2 years ago, back in a world that feels at once both distant and close, 8 hours of live music was broadcast overnight from the British Library, scoring the soundtrack to a nation’s dreams as they slept.
Easter Saturday / Sunday 2020 – Max Richter’s ‘Lullaby for a frenetic world’ was repated for a UK in lockdown from Covid 19:
A nation clapping every Thursday for the NHS, the carers and the key workers
A nation needing a lullaby now more than ever to comfort it while it sleeps
A nation holding its breath
Waiting to see what kind of country emerges the other side.
Spring morning run. Same streets, but the streets are silent.
A biting cold winter morning, one of those days where no matter how many layers you put on, the wind finds a way through. 12 January 2020 – the official start of my training plan for the London Marathon, the start of my fundraising for my local charity South London Special League. Along the Thames Path, I was met with this crystal clear view looking across from Surrey Quays to Canary Wharf. No harsh wind in this photo, just a rare sense of peace.