Thursday, October 12, 2006

Going For The Ten

I've been too busy to write anything since the weekend, as work has been keeping me occupied. However, I can't let next weekend arrive without recording that I went to see Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman's opening night at the Edinburgh Playhouse on Saturday, which was unexpectedly delightful, as I've previously found them individually disappointing and not even essential to Yes, who've managed to make good albums without both of them. They bring out the best in one another - Anderson inspires Wakeman, and Wakeman polishes and improves Anderson. Loosely based on Anderson's naive solo arrangements of Yes tunes from his solo tour, the renditions benefitted from Wakeman's brilliance as an arranger and accompanist. They were genuinely relaxed in each other's company. I can continue waiting for Yes to grit their teeth and enter a studio again if their sub-groups in the mean time can be this entertaining.

The following morning, I ran the Hopetoun House 10K in a personal best time of 48 minutes and 39 seconds. It was unlike any city run I've done, feeling at times like a public school cross country. There was absolutely no public transport provision to the start (Thank you, Brian Souter, you franchise-squatting, homophobic waste of carrier bags), so I had to take my bike on the train to Dalmeny and cycle through South Queenferry to get there. Which, apart from adding to the number of things which could have gone wrong, was actually very pleasant.

The lessons learned from Glasgow paid dividends - I had trained outdoors and smeared my loins with nappy-rash cream, so I was feeling fine afterwards and the next day. I'd also been training for hills on the treadmill, and there were plenty of those on the day. I'm very pleased with the way it went. There were a couple of memorable moments - I ran through a bed of nettles and gained an annoying itch as a result that I tried to use as a motivator - and the water station halfway were handing out plastic cups rather than bottles. It is far harder to drink from a cup than a bottle while running up a grassy hill, and I regurgitated most of what I took down.

I'm still very tired, and looking forward to next week, when we're going on holiday. I shall have to make sure I can blog from my wonder-phone before we go.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Caption Competition #1

Barely a flicker crossed Mr Quill's face as Mrs Harris removed her prosthesis

The Young Davros


Although this month's wonderful audio play about the evil creator of the Daleks describes his childhood, it depicts him looking somewhat older on the sleeve (left).

My own variation (right) seems to reflect more contemporary concepts of nascent immorality.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Martin Amis in Edinburgh


Last night I went to see Martin Amis speak at the Queen's Hall, a stone's throw from my previous address. The audience were older than I had expected, perhaps indicating that the young Amis' novels in the seventies caught on with people of his father's generation. A few minutes before the event, Edinburgh's, indeed possibly the UK's, best known crime writer, Ian Rankin took his seat two rows in front of me, and just as I was contemplating this, Dylan Moran, perhaps best know as fictional TV bookseller Bernard Black passed my seat. This was becoming an archetypal
evening.

Amis himself was hindered on stage by the interlocutive presence of Alan Taylor of The Herald, who fawned over Amis and interposed himself between him and his audience's questions. I could and have done a better job in similar circumstances.

After reading from his new novella, the author parried questions and non-sequiteurs with dry aplomb and rose in my estimation - he does seem to revel interaction with ordinary people, most of the floor questions being polite and deferential, if at times intimidated by their subject's sheer intellect. I could have played Mart Bingo had I wished, yelling "House" after he had broached Christopher Hitchens, reviews of his recent work, smoking, Stalin, and nuclear arsenals.

It had been a worthwhile evening, which has rejuvenated my appreciation of an author I've admired for twenty years now.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Stirring The Porridge

There's nothing like a slight change of routine to send we Aspergic types into fits of discord. I like to think I've transcended that stage, and begun to relish perturbations to my schedule. Take this morning. My bike was at the shop being repaired, in itself no more than a minor inconvenience. I also overslept by about 45 minutes. This combination, as the project manager in me would say, negatively impacted the cost/benefit profile of the "gym before work" proposition. As I was contemplating my options, a lens fell out of my glasses, and was nearly taken away as a plaything by the cat, at which point the old me would have decided the gods were toying with me, and sulked theatrically.

However, the new, go with the flow, surf life's ups and downs, turn a problem into an opportunity me took a look out of the window, saw it wasn't actually raining, and went for a run along the Union Canal towpath instead. It felt wonderful. I managed a steady pace, remembering to myself that the outdoor work is to acclimatise my joints, not break speed records, enjoyed the autumn sunrise reflecting in the canal, and revelled in the view from the viaduct as I headed west towards Wester Hailes. I listened to my next two chronological episodes of Doctor Who, The Web of Fear 6, and Fury From The Deep 1, and returned home in time to shower change and breakfast before going out. An experience like that sets you up for whatever the day can throw at you.

I noticed at the weekend that The Web of Fear contains characters called Arnold and Lane, which indicates that there was more than one type of London Underground preoccupying the writers in 1968.

I went to the Doctor's on the way to work, and was relieved to hear his view that my upset stomach is probably due to too much high-fibre cereal. Whatever next? Eyestrain from reading The Guardian? Stubbed toes from wearing sandals? I'm quite relieved that his suspicion matches mine, specifically because it legitimises my new desire to eat porridge for breakfast whenever I can.

My Mum made us porridge for breakfast when I was little, and round our way it was served with whole milk (to cool it down) and Tate and Lyle's golden syrup (to give us diabetes). My grown up version is made with skimmed milk, and in an effort to keep my glucose levels down, not much else. At the weekend, I made a serendipitous discovery. I had more natural yoghurt in the fridge than I knew what to do with, so I dolloped some on my porridge and topped it with a little honey. Nectar! The sweet and sour contrast turned this utilitarian slop into the food of the gods. I shall continue to experiment, with stewed apple, sliced fruit, and anything else that isn't too fibrous. The only question remaining is whether I can exercise on a stomach full of it, as I suspect that the gym would be less tolerant of my somehow heating porridge on the premises (How, anyway? A discreet camping stove?) than they have been of my inoffensive tupperware box of muesli. I will therefore have to digest this unexpected feast before leaving the house.