Run Fatblog Run (Colshaw Hall)

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Last Sunday, I ran the latest event in the ridiculous 10 x 10k challenge I have set myself for this year, and it took place within the picturesque grounds – and surrounding countryside – of Colshaw Hall, in Over Peover (pronounced ‘peever’, for anyone even remotely interested), which is near Knutsford in Cheshire (pronounced ‘Cheshire’, for anyone even remotely interested).

Regular readers may be aware – or may recall – that I am trying to run all ten events for charity, and my aim is to do so in under fifty minutes each time.

Unfortunately, having collapsed shortly before the finish line at the Whitchurch 10k in April, this knocked my confidence somewhat for event number four at Tatton Park the following month, resulting in me stopping and walking a few times (through a fear of ending up in hospital again). As a result, I not only missed my target of running the entire race, but my time was well outside fifty minutes (54:13, to be precise).

Fortunately for me (and I use the word ‘fortunately’ with more than a mere smattering of sarcasm), Tatton Park is the only one of my ten events to be held monthly, so I do still have the option of re-running it later in the year, should it transpire to be the only race where my targets have been missed.

Thankfully, I was back on track last Sunday, as – despite my legs begging me to stop and walk a couple of times towards the end – I managed to run the course in 49:23, which is very much in line with what appears to be my ‘usual’ pace (Sandbach last September was 49:16, Oulton Park this February was 49:11, and Poynton in March was 49:28). I conclude, from that information, that I tend to run a 10k in just over forty-nine minutes.

I was particularly pleased to complete the Colshall Hall 10k, for a few reasons:

  1. It was event number five; so, leaving aside any possible re-run of Tatton Park later this year, I’m half-way to the point where I can load my running shoes into a cannon, and blast them toward the horizon;
  2. It has gone some way to restoring my confidence that I will not collapse and nearly die each time I run more than a few miles;
  3. My preparation for the race was pretty dreadful, and not what most runners would recommend before a 10k.

Let me expand on that last point.

Normally, I don’t tend to run too much leading up to a race, and will only do a few miles earlier in the week. This time, however, I decided to instead run a full 10k circuit around Sandbach on the Tuesday evening, and then get extremely drunk on the Friday night. Ok, all the alcohol was well out of my system come the race on Sunday morning, but I was still feeling the effects of spending the whole of Saturday generally tired and hungover.

But, above all, most runners (and anyone with an ounce of common sense) will tell you it is best to avoid any injuries prior to a race, particularly when those injuries are to the whole ‘foot’ region.

So, imagine my displeasure / anger / rage, when – in rushing around before the school run last Friday morning – I stamped down hard on one of Isaac’s metal toy trains. I suppose I shouldn’t necessarily blame him for the injury (although that didn’t stop me), as I should have anticipated that he would want to keep his collection of Thomas The Tank Engine trains in a partially obscured spot on our bedroom floor. Only a fool would expect them to be in plain sight, or, I don’t know, in his own fucking room, but Isaac has never really conformed to what society would deem ‘normal’ behaviour.

So, Isaac left his collection of trains just where he wanted them – in a prime spot to badly hurt Daddy (and make him use many colourful expletives), two days before one of his races.

Of course, I don’t only blame Isaac, as naturally it took two people to cause my injury. No, I don’t mean me – as I dashed around like a headless chicken trying to locate a pair of socks – I mean this little shit:

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For the uninitiated, this is ‘Ferdinand’, one of Thomas the Tank Engine’s friends. And don’t let his goofy-toothed expression fool you, either, because Ferdinand, I discovered last Friday, is an evil metal bastard.

Now, I would upload a picture of my foot at this point, to emphasise not only the amount of pain that the initial injury caused me, but also the damage which persisted come Sunday’s 10k, however:

  1. The visual bruising didn’t do the injury justice;
  2. The pain has thankfully now almost gone, as has the bruising, so I should have taken a photo earlier in the week, because now you would just think I was being pathetic.

You’ll just have to trust me when I say that I was still having trouble walking, let alone running, by Sunday morning, to the extent that I almost pulled out of the race. Thankfully, in a short ‘test’ run with about half an hour to go, I realised that running would be relatively pain-free, so long as the middle of my left foot didn’t come into contact with any stones, potholes, tree roots, or another person’s foot (the latter of which being a real shame, as it’s often a tactic I employ when overtaking a fellow runner, to gain an advantage).

Anyway, my foot held up nicely, I finished the race in a respectable time, and I’m now well on my way to completing this challenge. So, without further ado (as I am well aware that these running entries aren’t very popular, and most of you stopped reading a while ago), here are my ratings for the Colshaw Hall 10k:

Time: 49:23

Position: 272nd out of 1,078 runners (which I’m really pleased with, as I have an unofficial target of trying to finish in the top-third each time, and there were dozens of ‘proper’ runners there from actual clubs – including a group from ‘Sandbach Striders’, who I managed to overtake and finish faster than – ha!)

Cost: £19.95 – on the expensive side, bearing in mind we didn’t get many goodies for our troubles.

Course: Easily the most scenic so far, comprising delightful little country lanes (without ever sending us down hazardous muddy tracks, or canal towpaths – Poynton 10k, I’m looking at you). The route took us all round Over Peover, and past the iconic Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank:

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There were a few unexpected ‘hills’, however, which the organisers failed to mention – but when they clearly have as twisted a sense of humour as I do (bearing in mind the sign they positioned at the top of the steepest hill), it’s hard to stay mad at them for too long,:

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I did swear quite loudly at the time though, as it was bloody steep. Still, the course gets a solid 8/10

Weather: Almost perfect. Like Whitchurch, it was a little on the warm side for my liking, but it was dry, breezy, and about as good as I could have hoped 9/10

Organisation: Very impressive indeed. Each kilometre was marked clearly, there were helpful and enthusiastic marshals at every key point, and the pre-race pack was sent out nice and early, with everything you might need – not to mention the fact they allowed us to wear headphones, and sent us our race numbers and timing chips in the post, so there was none of that awkward safety-pinning with just a few minutes until the start of the race bullshit 9/10

Official Photos: Taken and uploaded – for free – by Bryan Dale, who I recognised from an event earlier this year (or possibly even Sandbach last year). He apparently had 5,000 photographs to sort through and upload to his website, which he clearly worked around the clock to achieve, so that we weren’t left waiting for long. I can’t really blame him that I’m either hiding, or looking like I might collapse, in the five in which I appear:

There is also apparently an official video, which will be uploaded to the Colshaw Hall 10k Facebook page soon, but I am yet to see it. Hopefully, I’m not featured 8/10

Medal: Massive, solid, and heavy, everything you want in a medal 7/10

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Goody-bag: Not bad at all, actually. Ok, we didn’t get a t-shirt, but we did receive an actual bag (with the event logo on), containing a delicious chocolate-covered flapjack, and a packet of Haribo 6/10

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Post-race refreshment: We only received a bottle of water, but that’s because the flapjack and sweets were in the goody-bag. Still, when my previous post-race refreshment has comprised the likes of bread and fruit, I didn’t feel like I was missing out. Wouldn’t have minded a big tray of jelly babies, like they had at Oulton Park and Poynton though. 5/10

Summary:

Course: 8/10

Weather: 9/10

Organisation: 9/10

Photos: 8/10

Medal: 7/10

Goody-bag: 6/10

Refreshments: 5/10

Meaning a total score of  52/70 (or 74%) – a very impressive score, meaning Colshaw Hall is now top of my leaderboard:

Colshaw Hall:              52/70               (74%)

Whitchurch:                49/70               (70%)

Tatton Park:                47/70               (67%)

Oulton Park:                46/70               (66%)

Poynton:                       39/70               (56%)

Amazingly, the race which nearly killed me is still doing rather well near the top of the table. Maybe I should enter it again next year?

Ok, perhaps not.

My next race is a week on Sunday, in Alderley Edge. If you’re local, feel free to pop down and cheer me on. If not, you’ll just have to donate instead, won’t you?!

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/greg10x10k

(Isaac was there, but refused to pose)

Thanks for reading x

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Blog In The U.S.S.R.

(or ‘The Eastern Blog’)

Yesterday afternoon, the World Cup 2018 kicked off in Mother Russia – hence this week’s title.

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Even if you don’t necessarily like football, this still shouldn’t be a surprise, unless of course any of the following apply:

  1. You are a hermit/recluse/prisoner of war, without access to the outside world or any form of media (and, if that is the case, how are you reading this?);
  2. You have the memory of a goldfish and cannot retain information for more than a few seconds;
  3. Your knowledge of current affairs is equivalent to, or worse than, a Love Island contestant;
  4. You live in a country where an evil dictator controls the news, e.g. North Korea, the USA etc. (topical, bearing in mind this week’s historic meeting between a deranged megalomaniac with shit hair and nuclear weapons… and Kim Jong-un);
  5. You have the memory of a goldfish and cannot retain information for more than a few seconds.

Before those of you who detest football stop reading, I should explain that this entry is not solely about the beautiful game. Well, it is, but only to the extent that I will be providing my own unique run-down of the thirty-two countries who qualified.

That way, even if football isn’t necessarily your thing, you might discover a new favourite nation to cheer, as they progress through the tournament. It could even make that office sweepstake slightly more interesting.

So, without further ado, pick your favourite from these:

Russia

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Russia may well have been good enough to qualify for the World Cup anyway, but rather than take the risk, they decided to bribe/blackmail their way into hosting the entire competition in 2010*

*allegedly. I don’t want to find a healthy dollop of VX nerve agent in my soup next time I dine out.

Saudi Arabia

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Russia’s opponents for the opening match yesterday. I’m writing this before the tournament has started, so I’ll assume the match went ahead, and the Saudi Arabian squad didn’t mysteriously disappear, or come down with life-threatening illnesses prior to kick-off. Unlikely to progress from the group stage, which is no bad thing, as it’ll allow them to focus more on giving equal rights to women (decades after everyone else).

Egypt

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If Liverpool striker Mo Salah is fit, Egypt could do well – without troubling the knock-out stages too much. If, however, Mo Salah is still carrying his shoulder injury from the Champions League Final, or has a few off games, Egypt will be like that boring colleague at the Christmas party – going home early.

Uruguay

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Uruguay will most likely top Group A, so long as they don’t get kicked out of the tournament because Luis Suarez has eaten an opposition player, been racist, or simply behaved like the despicable twat he is. Shame, as he’s actually a very good footballer. Uruguay have won the tournament twice, and that will still be the case come August.

Portugal

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I have mixed emotions about Portugal. It is a beautiful country, and they are a strong footballing side (as evidenced by their victory at Euro 2016), however there are very few footballers I detest more than Cristiano Ronaldo, and I cannot bring myself to cheer a team containing that smug prick.

Spain

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Like Portugal, Spain have some terrific footballers, and you will not find a starting eleven anywhere in the world with finer, more precise beards; but as far as preparing for a World Cup goes, sacking your manager the day before the start of the tournament is ill-advised at best. They’ll still do better than England though.

Morocco

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On Wednesday, Morocco lost their bid to host the 2026 World Cup, because FIFA decided to go with a joint offering from Mexico, the US, and Canada instead. Seemingly, despite having eight years to prepare, Morocco’s hotels, transport network, and – rather crucially – football stadiums, are so shit that they still don’t have enough time to prepare. Their disappointment will no doubt be an unwelcome distraction (and they were crap in the first place).

Iran

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Speaking of shit footballing nations, don’t get your hopes up if you picked Iran in the work sweepstake, ok?

France

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France are a solid team, but apart from their victory at the 1998 World Cup (which they hosted), they rarely perform to their potential – something England fans can relate to. If the players sort themselves out, they could be formidable, but they’ll most likely just end up being…. well, French.

Australia

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The Aussies are very much like the United States when it comes to football. Both have massive countries, with a population who, for the most part, couldn’t give a shit about ‘soccer’ – presumably because they devote the vast majority of their time to avoiding all those deadly snakes and spiders. Strewth.

Peru

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Peru is famous for three things: Machu Picchu (which I think is a type of Pokemon), Paddington Bear – who always sounds distinctly un-Peruvian if you ask me – and the fucking panpipes. Notice the absence of any reference to football. There’s a reason for that.

Denmark

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I’ve never been to Denmark, but I’m quite fond of it as a nation. The Danes have some good players among their ranks, but sadly not enough for them to do any major damage on the world stage. Fortunately for Denmark, they have been plonked in a group alongside Australia and Peru, so they have every chance of progressing to the knock-out stages.

Argentina

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Argentina are another team who should do really well in tournaments, but haven’t won anything for some time. Still, as we have seen with Barcelona this season, Lionel Messi (the man my son wishes was his father) can win a game virtually on his own if he so chooses, so you should never write them off.

Iceland

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Prior to Euro 2016, most people would have associated ‘Iceland’ with cheap frozen food and Kerry Katona/Peter Andre; but having reached the quarter-finals in France (by beating England), only to be knocked out by the host nation, shit party food is now thankfully a distant memory.

Croatia

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Despite what Cristiano Ronaldo may think, footballers don’t need to be good-looking – which bodes well for Croatia, because you will not find an uglier collection of specimens outside Burnley town centre (I’ve just flicked through my son’s Panini sticker book, and it’s actually worse than I thought). Not bad footballers though.

Nigeria

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If my junk mail is anything to go by, there are enough Nigerian princes floating around to plough some serious money into their national team, so they should be unstoppable. Unfortunately, it looks like all that money is currently tied up in various off-shore accounts, so Nigeria will have to resign themselves to being average (at best) in the meantime.

Brazil

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The favourites, as usual. The most annoying part is, they don’t even need to play very well to stand a chance of winning the entire tournament. In fact, Brazil could send their Under-12’s blind B-team to the World Cup, and still comfortably reach the semi-finals. The swines.

Switzerland

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To give the Swiss some credit, they make nice chocolates and cuckoo clocks, but that’s about it. They aren’t exactly a force in world football, so I don’t think we need to say too much more about them. Shit flag, too. Looks like they nicked it from a first aid tent.

Costa Rica

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I know nothing about Costa Rica (the team, or the country). I’m pretty certain it’s in Central America, somewhere near that other non-entity from this summer’s tournament, Panama (quick Google check…. good, they share a border), but other than that, I’m stumped. Never mind, they won’t be around long enough for me to take an interest.

Serbia

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Like Russia, the Serbian squad – following another cursory glance at the sticker book – appears to be exclusively made up of big, angry-looking, bastards – and a lot can be said in football for scaring the living shit out of your opponents. This alone may well be enough for Serbia to follow Brazil into the knock-out stages.

Germany

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God, I hate Germany. Not the country, or the people (hey, it’s all in the past), but as a footballing nation they are our nemesis. Which makes the fact we have every chance of facing them in the quarter-finals (assuming England make it that far), all the more daunting.  We won’t beat them in normal time, and we sure as hell won’t beat them on penalties either, so we have to try and avoid them at all costs.

Mexico

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Now that Mexico have been chosen as joint hosts of the 2026 World Cup, in eight years’ time they will become the nation to stage the tournament the most times – thrice. For me, it’s between Mexico and Sweden as to who will follow Germany into the second round (which probably means it’ll be South Korea).

Sweden

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Sweden may be responsible for Roxette and the Volvo XC60, but they also gave the world ABBA and Ikea, so for that reason alone they can fuck off.

South Korea

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Everyone’s favourite Korea, although they are only marginally better than their neighbours when it comes to football (unless you believe North Korean media, in which case you will know that the Kim Jong-un World XI are the best team of all time).

Belgium

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Made up of players you look at and immediately say ‘Shit, I forgot he’s Belgian – he’s quite good’, which makes them a half-decent side, and undoubtedly England’s biggest threat in Group G.

Panama

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Shares a border with Costa Rica (I learned this a few minutes ago). Has a famous canal, and is associated with hats. If you fancy a sneaky bet on Panama, make sure it’s on them losing every match without scoring a single goal.

Tunisia

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England’s opening fixture. A fascinating and beautiful country (we had our honeymoon there), spoiled somewhat by recent terrorist activities and general civil-unrest bollocks. Shame.

England

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The semi-finals of this summer’s tournament start on 10th July, and barring an airline strike, England’s footballers will be safely back in Blighty long before then. If we reach the final four, I’ll post a nude photo of myself on my Facebook page.

Poland

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Straight out of the Russia/Serbia camp of ‘scary blokes you don’t want to mess with’, Poland are a decent side who – looking at the remainder of their group – stand every chance of reaching the last sixteen. There are lots of Polish people in Crewe, so I hope they do well for our local relations, if nothing else.

Senegal

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In any other group, Senegal would be advised to book early flights home, but none of the teams in Group G look particularly threatening (although the Polish look threatening), so if Senegal reach the knock-out stages it wouldn’t surprise me.

Colombia

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Famous for drugs and shootings (then again, so is London). In the world of football, they are only known for two things: Carlos Valderrama’s massive permed hair, and their goalkeeper (who looked like Lionel Richie) performing his ‘scorpion kick’ at Wembley in 1995.

Japan

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Like the rest of Group G, Japan are boring at best – very much like their flag – however they seem like such a peaceful nation (no, I haven’t forgotten Pearl Harbor, but like Germany, it’s all in the past) and you can’t possibly take a country whose national sport is paper-folding seriously. Bless them.

So, there you have it. Choose your favourite, and support them like you were born there.

Thanks for reading x

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Herbie The Love Blog

On Monday, the televisual juggernaut that is ITV’s Love Island rolled back into town for a brand-new series.

Despite having never watched it before (well, I watched Celebrity Love Island about a decade ago, but all I remember is Jayne Middlemiss having a breakdown, whilst trying to mount anything with a penis for two weeks – including Calum Best, who appears to be nothing more than a tanned penis with nice hair), I think I have a pretty good idea of the format.

The fact I have never watched Love Island has nothing to do with snobbery – because I thoroughly enjoy Take Me Out and Celebrity Juice, which are hardly highbrow – it has just never really appealed to me before. It still doesn’t, frankly, but I have chosen to give it a try, purely for experimental purposes.

My reasons for taking on this challenge (and it is a challenge), are:

  1. I want to see how it will affect my intelligence;
  2. I’m an old romantic, and like to think there is someone out there for everyone, no matter how superficial they are;
  3. I have no blog material this week. Honestly, not even a shitty ‘top ten’;

If science lessons at school taught me anything, it’s that I should watch at least a week of Love Island to form a balanced view; but since my blog is always posted on a Friday, and because I genuinely fear for my mental health, I have decided to just watch the introductory show, where we meet this year’s guinea-pigs.

If, by some miracle, I love it, the experiment may be extended; but I am writing these opening paragraphs first, so no promises. To be honest, I suspect my getting hooked is about as likely as Donald Trump getting four more years, or England making it through the group stages of the World Cup, but you never know….

Episode 1 – Monday 4th June

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To start, we’re introduced to a Big Brother-style house, where the contestants will live (and love) – only it’s in Majorca, so the weather will be better. The producers clearly selected a Mediterranean island (over the likes of Wight, Man, and Canvey) because there is a far greater chance of the contestants ‘bumping uglies’ if they aren’t wearing much.

The first contestants are both women, wearing what were presumably once bikinis, before they shrank in the wash. As the first in, they embark on the obligatory ritual of high-pitched squealing, despite clearly hating each other already.  Makes sense, as I hate them both too, and I don’t even know their names yet. Ah, here we go…

First up is SAMIRA, 22, from London. She claims to be a ‘performer’, which I initially assumed meant ‘stripper’, but it turns out she has performed actual musical theatre. Now that she has stopped squealing like a mid-orgasm pig, she seems ok.

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Samira

The other girl is HAYLEY, 22, from Liverpool. She is a model (shock), and in her VT explains that she only knows one word in Spanish, which is the word for ‘prawns’ (although she is never tested on this). I’m not sure how much a diet of prawns is going to help her find love though.

When it comes to her own language, Hayley admits she ‘doesn’t use big words’ (another shock), and claims to have only slept with one person – presumably she means today.

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Hayley

Next to arrive is KENDALL, 26, from Blackpool. She’s quite pretty, but in a ‘Carol Vorderman meets Sophie Ellis-Bextor’ kind of way. Christ, I thought the other two could squeal, but there will be dogs going nuts as far as mainland Spain now. Kendall appears nice, but with a name like that I cannot help but detest her.

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Kendall

Contestant four is DANI, 21, a barmaid from Essex. Looks thick, sounds thick. I’ve already heard about Dani because, apparently, she is Danny Dyer’s daughter. Yes, Dani Dyer is Danny Dyer’s Daughter (say that three times whilst drunk). She just tried to quote Shakespeare, and got confused. Play to your strengths, love.

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Dani

Here’s LAURA, 29, from ‘Scotland’. How delightfully vague, Laura – are you on the fucking run or something? Or do you think those of us South of the border won’t have heard of Falkirk, or Dundee? Laura’s chest appears to have entered the villa a full minute before the rest of her. Honestly, you could hire out her boobs as a bouncy castle for children’s birthday parties.

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Laura

Enter the presenter, Caroline Flack (many have), who has come dressed as Big Bird for some reason. Great, now she’s squealing. I’m going to fast forward (ah, Sky+, whatever did we do before you?)

Here come the boys…

NIALL, 23, from Coventry is first. He claims to be a student AND construction worker; but presumably he is a police officer, cowboy and native American, depending  on who gets to the Village People dressing-up box first. Niall is obsessed with his hair, has a Harry Potter tattoo, and ‘used to be ugly’ – which implies he finds himself gorgeous now. Prick.

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Niall

This is interesting (and, by that, I mean ‘not-very-interesting’). Now that Niall has arrived, the girls have to decide whether they are attracted to him or not, by lining up and then stepping forward if they would like to have his babies. I do hope no one moves, and his colossal ego takes a battering…. ah, screw you for stepping forward Kendall (and he probably will).

Boy number two is ALEX, 27, from Wales (another one who doesn’t like to give away his location). Did he just say he’s a doctor?! I half expected him to follow that with ‘a doctor of lurve’; but, no, he’s an actual doctor.

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Alex

Despite Alex being well-educated (I assume), not a single girl has stepped forward. Hayley even admits that she’s not keen on him because ‘he doesn’t have a tan’. Not that she’s a shallow heartless bitch or anything.

Apparently, Alex now gets to pick from the four girls who rejected him, and he’s opted for Laura. I wonder what first attracted Alex to Laura? Actually, I can think of two things (and the attraction was most likely their gravitational pull).

Next is WES, 20, who only moves in slow motion. He claims to be a ‘design engineer in the nuclear industry’, which sounds important, but since it took him three attempts to even say it, I call bullshit.

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Wes

Laura, despite being ‘coupled’ with Alex, has decided she likes the look of Wes more (although I get the impression she’d have preferred a warthog to Alex); so she’s ditched the pasty-skinned doctor for a guy who clearly Googled ‘what sounds like a clever job?’ (then forgot the answer). Alex has been resigned to the ‘subs bench’, apparently, and looks like he might cry.

Dani is talking constantly. I’m not sure why, as she’s only making herself even less attractive, and it was a pretty dire (pun intended) starting point to begin with. She needs to shut up.

EYAL, 22, is next (pronounced ee-yaal, apparently, which is how you address someone called ‘Al’ in Yorkshire). He says his best feature is his hair, which means he’s in big fucking trouble, because his hair looks like someone shaved the pubic region of a ’70s porn star, then glued the results to his head. Think ‘Mika cameos in Baywatch’.

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Mika

Eyal is a model (obviously), and claims to be ‘spiritual’, because he mistakenly believes this makes him irresistible. All three unattached girls step forward, because in the seven minutes since they arrived, they have become terrified of being left alone. Eyal chooses Hayley (pube-head meet thick scouser, thick scouser meet pube-head).

Lastly, JACK, 26, makes his entrance. It’s hard to see what Jack looks like, because of the tremendous glare from his teeth; but at least no ships will crash into the coast, should bad weather descend. I imagine you’d spot those gnashers from space, long before the Great Wall of China. Jack sells pens for a living, and says ‘innit’ every three seconds.

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Jack

Needless to say, the two remaining girls start fighting over Jack in desperation; visions of being spinsters by their late twenties flashing through their tiny minds – and it’s Samira’s turn to taste bitter rejection, as Jack opts for Dani over her.

Samira and Alex are now (reluctantly) thrust together, as the rejects who nobody else wanted – which is the Love Island equivalent of being picked last in P.E.

Hang on, there’s a sixth lad, which means either the producers are shit at counting (entirely plausible), or we’re about to have more boys than girls. ADAM, 22 (like hell he is), appears to have been chiseled out of granite, and doesn’t he just know it. I don’t think it would be possible for him to love himself any more, if he was licking his own photograph.

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Adam

I wouldn’t last two minutes on this show. I mean, I’m nowhere near good-looking enough, obviously, and would probably come across as relatively intelligent compared to this lot (which hasn’t done Alex any favours), but I just don’t have the ego.

This is Greg. He’s 38, but looks and feels 48. He has two kids, has to pee at least once every hour (and prefers to do so sitting down), and his right hip crunches when he tries to climb stairs. 

Form an orderly line, ladies.

Hang on, did they just say this is on for eight weeks?! The bloody world cup is only four weeks. I can already feel my brain decomposing, and I’ve not made it through episode one yet.

They’re now spending some quality time in their couples. Hayley is trying to pronounce Eyal’s name, but it turns out she struggles with short words as well as big ones. She has managed to say Eyal fifteen different ways (all of them wrong), and with her high-pitched voice she sounds like a cat who is desperate to be let in. She just asked what ‘superficial’ means.

Meanwhile, Laura – who paired up with Wes less than an hour ago (having already ditched Alex) – is now attracted to latecomer Adam. Brilliantly, Laura informs Dani that she fancies Adam, to which Dani replies ‘You fancy him, don’t you? I can tell’. She literally just fucking told you, Dani. Try to keep up.

To win Adam over, Laura appears to be applying vast quantities of blusher to her chest, which could easily result in global shortages of the stuff, if she’s planning on covering them entirely.

I swear, if one more person actually says ‘hashtag’ before something, I’m going to fly to Majorca, invest in a chainsaw, and not regret my actions for a second.

Hashtag bloodbath

I can’t watch any more, I’m losing the will to live. Sorry everyone, I couldn’t even make it through the first episode.

I’m done.

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Blogs and Girls

This is my youngest son, Isaac:

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Yes, that’s right, he’s my son. I am well aware that he is extremely pretty, and has long hair, but he is still very much a little boy (believe me, he mentions his willy even more frequently than I do), and it’s amazing how many people struggle with the concept of a boy having long hair, even in 2018.

Isaac’s hair initially grew beyond what society apparently deems ‘normal’ length about a year ago, because he didn’t want to go to the barbers to have it cut. The more we tried to persuade him that barbers are not scary people you should be fearful of (unlike murderers, tax inspectors, and dentists, for example), the more he refused to listen. It has now got to the point where, if we so much as suggest getting his hair cut (and this is not for the reasons you might imagine), he curls up into a ball like a cornered hedgehog.

The thing is, over the past year, Isaac has moved away from merely being scared of getting his hair cut; and his main reason for not wanting to visit the barber now, is that he simply adores his long hair.

True, he hates getting it tangled or matted (usually with ketchup or ice cream), and in hot weather it can become an unwanted source of additional insulation for him (to the extent he is now often seen in just his pants, with his long hair blowing behind him as he runs); but, generally speaking, he adores his mane, and it is now very much a part of him. In fact, if he did suddenly get his hair chopped, it would be some time before we adapted to his new look.

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Isaac is very much an individual and unique little boy, who doesn’t wish to conform to whatever society dictates to be the norm – and I refer here to not only his hair, but also his behaviour in general, which is best described (as I have many times before), as ‘feral’ – so if he wants to have long hair, he is jolly well going to have long hair, and fuck anyone who questions his decision. Truth be told, I admire anyone who has this attitude to life, and only wish I was so dismissive of what people thought of me.

In recent months, now that the weather is warmer, he has decided that he wants to wear his hair up more, and as soon as the ladies at his nursery started putting it in a pony tail, or bunches (and, on one occasion, a French plait – see below), this only encouraged him further. This does not mean he relates more to being a girl, or prefers girly stereotypes (whatever they may be); he merely loves his hair to bits (ketchup-encrusted bits, admittedly).

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I’m ashamed to admit that, initially, I wanted him to get his hair cut for selfish reasons, because I was so annoyed by the strange looks when another parent or passer-by in the street would overhear us call his name; or, worse, when they would actually engage with us and refer to our ‘little girl’ or ‘daughter’.

At first, I would correct them with a simple and stern ‘actually, Isaac here is a boy’, but I eventually got so sick of the confusion in their reaction – or, on odd occasions, an actual look of disapproval – that it just became easier to ignore their comment and say his name louder next time to really mess with their heads.

But now I’m getting seriously pissed off with it all.

I don’t care if he has long hair. I don’t care if he enjoys playing with his dolls and unicorns (he’s obsessed with unicorns). I don’t care if his favourite colour is pink. I don’t care if, one day, he decides that he’d quite like to wear a dress please, Daddy (although that does mean actually buying him one, and we don’t have enough space for any more clothing as it is, because 82% of our house is taken up by my wife’s shoe collection).

Who decided that dolls and unicorns are just for girls, anyway? When was pink allocated to one gender, and blue the other? Why shouldn’t he spend his birthday voucher on two rainbow-coloured teddies if he wants to?

At Ollie’s football club on a Thursday evening, there are two young girls who turn up every week with their Dads, and whenever I see them playing, I’m disappointed. I don’t imagine for one second, that there are only two girls of Ollie’s age in the whole of Sandbach who enjoy playing football, and it saddens me to think they don’t join clubs like this one, because they are either afraid or embarrassed of being labelled ‘boyish’.

Ollie has done many things that have disappointed me over his eight years on this planet. In recent months he has become extremely sulky, stroppy and stubborn. Prior to that, he started to misbehave and get into trouble at school (only for talking in class, mind), and when he was a baby, he shit on me. A lot.  But I have never been so disappointed in him, as the time he criticised his goalkeeper at football club, purely because she was a girl. Ok, as it happens, she’s not the best player in the world, but then again neither is he, and I gave him a severe bollocking for having such a chauvinistic attitude.

My grandparents grew up at a time when racism was still widely accepted, and even though society has come a long way in the last few decades, we still see racism even now – for example, we will almost certainly encounter it at this summer’s world cup in Russia.

In 2018, we are still faced with gender inequality in terms of wages, and, until this year, women were not even allowed to drive in countries like Saudi Arabia.

People are still persecuted and looked upon differently, because of their gender, age, race, religion and sexual orientation. It’s fucking ridiculous. If we don’t educate our children, now, then this will never change.

If Isaac is made to feel different, or odd, or wrong, purely because he wants to have long hair, wear pink, or play with a doll, then society as we know it is totally screwed.

He may grow out of this phase of his life, he may not. I frankly couldn’t give a shit either way, so long as he’s happy, and so long as – if he does choose to pursue what society deems to be a more boyish lifestyle in the future – he does so for his own reasons, and not because of peer pressure, or, heaven forbid, bullying.

Look, he’s not perfect. In fact, far from it. There are very few days where I don’t end up telling him off, for one reason or another; but I still love him, and that will never change no matter what life he chooses for himself, and no matter how much he morphs into Drew Barrymore from E.T.

So, next time you see a young child in the street (or an adult for that matter), don’t automatically make assumptions about them and their life decisions. They may be very self-conscious of their appearance; but, hopefully, if they are anything like my son, they won’t give a flying fuck what you think.

And I think we can all learn something from an attitude like that.

Thanks for reading x

 

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Blog-Blog-Bloggin’ On Heaven’s Door

What if today were my last day?

What if tonight, that was it?

Would I look back on my life fondly?

Or would I sigh and think ‘well, that was shit’?

Because I may live to see treble figures

Or thirty-eight could be my last age

I might have many more chapters

Or this could be my final page

 

My death may be perfectly normal

Or an occurrence frankly bizarre

I may simply drift off to sleep

Or a plane could crash into my car

I may be hit by a bus in the morning

A roof could collapse on my head

My wife may decide that enough is enough

And smother me as I lie there in bed

 

I may fall in the back of a bin truck

The dentist could slip with her drill

My soup might be laced with poison

Or my drink could be spiked with a pill

I may go in spectacular fashion

When a tiger escapes from the zoo

Or I die all alone just like Elvis

As I push too hard having a poo

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I may slip and fall in a mincer

And end up diced into chunks

Or I wade too far in the ocean

And something nasty swims up my trunks

I might be attacked by a pack of wild dogs

I could be sliced into two by some wire

Maybe blown up in a household explosion

Due to a badly installed tumble dryer

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I could get lost in the desert and starve

Or trapped up a mountain and freeze

My head might spontaneously combust

As I try to hold in a big sneeze

I may slip while I’m trying to shower

Get discovered all naked and wet

Or choke to death dining al fresco

On a piece of pork pie or baguette

Family having picnic.

 

I may plummet from a hot air balloon ride

Or simply fall down the stairs while at home

There may be errors within my genetics

Killed by a shit chromosome

I’d hate to be murdered by seagulls

Finished by thousands of pecks

Although no means of death is ideal

(except perhaps during wild sex)

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Look, I don’t intend to be morbid

And I hope I’m around for a while

But I guess what I mean is be happy

And whenever you can try to smile

Because none of us can see the future

And whatever the next day might bring

We can’t predict that last moment

When the fat lady will start to sing

 

So please make the most of each moment

Look after your family and friends

Don’t wish your time away quickly

And only live for weekends

If you love someone, why not just tell them?

Remember, you’re great and unique

And unless anything terrible happens

I’ll hopefully see you next week

 

Thanks for reading x

 

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Some Like It Blog

You may have noticed that the UK has been enjoying some rather nice weather of late. Sure, it has been interspersed with our usual dark clouds, and downpours of heavy rain, but generally speaking it has been sunny, and, best of all, hot (well, hot by our standards).

This, folks, is summer (or was summer, if you happen to be reading this a few days after publication, by which time I feel certain we’ll be back to ‘overcast and chilly’).  Make the most of it, because soon it will be July, and then the following will happen:

  1. The schools break up;
  2. Glastonbury;
  3. Wimbledon;
  4. People start optimistically buying barbecues.

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Glastonbury: Shit

On their own, any of the above list would be sufficient to jeopardise our current nice weather, but since all four will happen in a relatively short period of time, there is no doubt that we will be cold and soaking by mid-July. Welcome to the British summer.

But is summer all it’s cracked up to be anyway?

Answer: no, not really.

Look, it’s not the worst of the seasons by a long shot (Autumn, I’m looking at you), but bearing in mind I am grumpy most of the time anyway, I can find fault in pretty much anything if the mood takes me (apart from perhaps Holly Willoughby).

So, on the basis there will be people reading this thinking, ‘go on, give me one good reason why summer is a bit shit’, I’ll do better than that – I’ll give you ten reasons (and that’s on top of the aforementioned Glastonbury and Wimbledon).

1. Suncream

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NB: Not my leg

I am well aware that the alternative to wearing suncream, is sunburn (or worse), so obviously I don’t think it should be avoided altogether, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it, either. It’s time-consuming to apply, leaves you greasy and/or sticky, attracts every insect and grain of sand within a five-mile radius, and more often than not it smells of fucking coconut. I hate coconut. If I wanted to smell of coconut, I’d take a bath in some Malibu, then stick a Bounty up my arse.

2. Wasps

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Vicious. Little. Bastards.

I don’t care if they are one of God’s creatures, and apparently do serve an actual purpose (in addition to bringing misery to millions of people, by spoiling their picnics and stinging them), they are evil, and should be exterminated.

We recently had a particularly aggressive wasp in the office, and my colleague berated me for trying to kill it – to the point she ‘rescued’ it from the toilet where it was trapped, and released it back into the wild. Let’s not forget, it was the wasp’s decision to actually fly under the toilet seat, then lie in wait for some poor unsuspecting butt cheeks to pierce; but, oh no, apparently I was the monster for trying to help it on it’s way with a gentle flush (oh, and I may have peed on it first for good measure).

I tried to argue that there was only room for one nasty looking prick in that bathroom, and it wasn’t the wasp’s, however my colleague still set it free (I sincerely hope the wasp then flew directly to her car, to wait for the drive home).

We have other insects for pollination, so wasps add absolutely nothing to society other than misery, so the sooner they become extinct the better.

3. Sleeping

Sleeping in the summer is a bloody nightmare. Ok, getting into a cold bed during the winter months can initially be a little unpleasant, but you quickly warm up, and that’s why we have electric blankets and hot water bottles (even if I don’t use either).

But in the summer, you get into bed all hot and sticky, and you remain that way, until you finally give up on sleeping and go back to work. Sure, you can leave some windows open for cooler air once it goes dark, but this invites every bug in the area to enter the room and attack you during the night.

4. Hayfever

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Arguably the shittest of all the debilitating inflictions, because it is essentially just itchy and streaming eyes and nose, interspersed with occasional sneezing, but if you don’t suffer with hayfever, you will never understand how truly fucking annoying it is, and how miserable it can make you.

Plus, you have to listen to every person over the age of fifty, when they explain to you their own personal guaranteed method for curing it: “get some local honey, and rub it on your scrotum on the second Tuesday of each month…”

5. Sunglasses

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Sunglasses generally make people look cool. I am not cool (you may have noticed).

Coolness is not the issue, however. My main problem with sunglasses, is that my eyesight is only marginally better than Stevie Wonder’s, so in order to wear them when it is bright and sunny outside, means one of the following:

  • Contact lenses – Except, I don’t wear contact lenses regularly, so it can take up to fifteen minutes to prod the sodding things into my eyes (by which point they are so red and sore, I regret my decision anyway). Plus, I suffer from hayfever – see above – so my eyes are already itchy as it is, and not particularly keen to have salty plastic discs stuck onto them;
  • Exchanging my normal glasses for sunglasses, then hoping I don’t walk into lampposts, other people, and dog shit. This usually means my wife guiding me around like, well, Stevie Wonder;
  • Wearing prescription sunglasses – because prescription sunglasses are almost like actual sunglasses (in the same way that Quorn is almost like actual meat). Almost.

These are all, however, better than the final option…

  • Wearing those ‘clip-on sunglasses’ last seen in 1989:

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I’m probably better off sticking to my normal specs, and just squinting a lot.

6. The Lack of Football

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Now, as far as my wife is concerned, having her husband and eldest son available on Saturdays again, even if only for a couple of months a year, is a bonus (although, the novelty usually wears off by mid-June); but for Ollie and I, losing our fortnightly fix of live football until the start of August is devastating.

We love our team (shit and perpetually disappointing though they are), and no amount of Russian World Cup can scratch that itch, I’m afraid.

7. Ice cream

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I quite like ice cream (despite my pathetically sensitive teeth), and there is nothing finer on a hot summer’s day, than enjoying an ice cream cone with your family.

For three minutes.

Then, after that fleeting moment of summery bliss, it becomes a battle against time, as you frantically try to stem the flow of melting dessert from trickling towards your hand. And, even if you manage to finish the ice cream before it reaches your fingers and makes you all sticky (not to mention irresistible to those fucking wasps), enough of it has escaped to soften the cone, which then collapses and covers you anyway.

The only thing worse than trying to successfully eat an ice cream yourself, is handing one to a child.

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8. Teachers

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I have to tread carefully here, as I’m married to a teacher, but my God they start to get smug by the end of May, and downright unbearable come July, as that colossal six week holiday approaches. Don’t get me wrong, teachers work very hard, and my wife is often marking and planning lessons beyond midnight, but all of the stress and abuse has to be at least worth considering, for six weeks off in the summer.

At least if I was a teacher too, we could go away for most of the summer (thereby avoiding the likes of Glastonbury and Wimbledon, and all the middle-class twats who attend them), but I get a very limited amount of annual leave, and when we do go away it has to be when the schools are off, which means paying twice as much.

9. Convertibles

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There are two types of convertible car owners.

The first, are those really smug drivers, who put the roof down in the middle of March, (when the sleet eases slightly, and the temperature creeps above freezing), to try and justify their ridiculous purchase. Then, when the weather genuinely turns nice around this time of year, they drive up and down the roads of Britain, wearing sunglasses, and laughing at the glorious world which surrounds them.

For three days a year, their car is perfect, and wonderful, and we’re all jealous. It matters not, that most convertible drivers are bald, middle-aged estate agents, with bugs firmly embedded between their teeth, because for once they are winning at life.

Then, we have the second category: those truly hopeless convertible car owners who, when faced with a gloriously sunny day (the one chance they have to finally enjoy their nearly-pointless automobile), they leave the top on. Why on earth would you buy a convertible car in this country, if you don’t fucking use it on a sunny day?

10. Roadworks

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For those of us who commute to work each day, roadworks are our enemy (together with cyclists), but at least during the winter, they are kept to a minimum (unlike cyclists).

However, as soon as the schools break up for summer, every Council in the country sees this as a green light to start digging up all the roads that they have been neglecting since the summer before.

I understand the reasoning behind this, as there are supposedly less cars travelling, so the disruption is minimised, but school holidays are the one chance we commuters get to enjoy a slightly easier journey to work, and yet we are denied this minor respite time and time again.

In fact, the only people who benefit from roadworks being delayed until the school holidays, are parents who don’t work, and teachers – and, frankly, we’ve already established that the summer holidays are the one time of year when teachers deserve bugger all.

Why doesn’t anyone ever think of the lawyers?

Ok, don’t answer that.

Thanks for reading x

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Run FatBlog Run (Tatton Park)

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Last Sunday, I took part in the fourth of my 10k races this year, at Tatton Park in Cheshire.

Those of you who know me – or who have been reading the blog entries about my charity challenge – will be aware that I detest running with every fibre of my being, and, by all accounts, I’m a bit shit at it (ok, I’m a lot shit at it).

So far, I have pulled various muscles in my legs and back; I’ve tripped and injured my left elbow and knee;  my right hip has started crunching when I walk up stairs; and, most recently, I collapsed at the finish line of the Whitchurch 10k in April, resulting in several hours in a medical tent, plus two hospital visits (the latter of which was an overnight stay in a ward with very elderly – and grumpy – men).

Running: Hazardous and stupid

To put it bluntly – and as I explained on my Facebook page not so long ago – I am to running, what Vladimir Putin is to world peace: fucking hopeless.

However, despite my utter ineptitude when it comes to running – and lack of fitness in general – I have always been able to manage a sprint finish at each of the previous events (even though I didn’t quite achieve this at the Whitchurch 10k; and, ultimately, it was pushing myself too much at the end of the race which proved to be my downfall); but, on this occasion, I decided I would give the fast finish a miss, no matter what the signs were telling me:

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Not this time, ta

So, after a cringe-worthy mass warm-up, organised with the assistance of a local fitness instructor (which Ollie joined in with, and Isaac sort of freestyle danced to), we headed towards the start line.

Somewhat unusually, the announcer then began lining us up at the start, according to what approximate time we were expecting to finish in – those (proper athletes) around the 35-minute mark were first; followed by anyone hoping for a sub-40 time; and  so on, continuing in five-minute increments from there. So, having run all my previous races in just under fifty minutes, I decided to stick with that estimate, and gathered at the start line with my fellow sub-50 mates.

It turns out that the majority of people who expect to run a 10k in under fifty minutes, are either stupid, deaf, or plain fucking lying, because when the race started, I honestly could have crawled past them they were going so slow. I can see the logic behind trying to stagger the runners in order of predicted speed, but the organisers appear to have never been on a flight before, since we all know that people are generally stupid, and when told to board an aircraft in designated row announcements, they will ignore this and push forward whenever the mood takes them. The same principle applied here – people saw a queue, ignored all instructions, and joined it randomly, like sheep.

Consequently, when the race got underway, I had to try and run around these morons at the side of the path, which messed up my own start – and pacing – and left me struggling before even the 2k marker. I did, however, put on a brave face as I ran past my family:

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The situation – and my mood – wasn’t helped by the fact my mp3 player had stopped working, so I had to try and fix it, whilst dodging around idiots. And if there is one thing I hate, it’s slow idiots.

Thankfully, I completed the run without any major incident, although I still went home feeling somewhat disappointed with my performance.

On the positive side, I managed to complete the course without any assistance – whether that be from a fellow runner, or someone of the medical profession – on a day when a number of people dropped out of the race due to the heat; and after what happened at Whitchurch, I was just glad to get another 10k under my belt.

At the same time, however, I really wanted to complete all ten races in under fifty minutes, and, more importantly, I was desperate to run them all without having to walk at any point – however, on this occasion, both of those targets sadly eluded me.

In fairness, after what happened at Whitchurch, the sub-50 minute target was not so much of a concern, as I didn’t want to risk pushing myself to get a good time only to end up in an ambulance again, but when I had to stop at the half way-stage (where the water station was situated), and walk because of the heat, I was really pissed off. Unfortunately, no amount of convincing myself that it was better to walk than collapse, made me feel any better about the situation. I was gutted (I still am).

At this stage, I know most people – particularly my family and friends – will say that it was better to finish the race than risk my health, and I know after what happened last time it was an achievement to even ‘get back in the saddle’ (metaphorically speaking); but I still cannot help feeling disappointed, and keep wondering if I could have coped until the finish line, had I pushed myself to continue running.

With that in mind, I haven’t ruled out re-entering the Tatton 10k later in the year (it is, after all, the only one of my events to take place monthly, as opposed to annually), but I will see what the next few bring in June, July and August – when it could be really hot weather. The main thing is, I have now finished four races, and that means I am almost half way through this hugely regrettable challenge.

So, without further ado, here are the scores on the doors:

Time: 54:13 (my slowest time yet – by around five minutes – but that’s because I had to stop and walk for a bit).

Position: 181st (out of 545), so – just about – in the top-third of all entrants (an unofficial target).

Cost: £18.00

Course: Relatively flat (although not quite as flat as I had hoped), but very picturesque, including a nice loop around the lake, and mostly smooth tarmac. 8/10

Weather: Dry and sunny, but too damn hot 6/10

Organisation: Two detailed e-mails prior to the event, with plenty of pre-race information, and a well-organised set-up on the day (although they do hold this race every month, so you would expect them to be pretty good at it by now).

Plenty of enthusiastic marshals, all of whom were shouting words of encouragement (including one who was high-fiving everyone as they ran past him); clear markers at each kilometre point; and a very quick and easy registration process. Oh, and they let me have my headphones in. Good work, Tatton. 9/10

Official Photos: There were at least two professional photographers on the day, and although my ‘poses’ were shit (look, I was tired and I panicked), this isn’t their fault. The photos were free, and uploaded onto the event’s Facebook page by the end of the day. Again, impressive. 8/10

Medal: Very unique and colourful, well made and solid. Plus it contains a lady runner with ample cleavage, so what’s not to like? 9/10

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Goody-bag: Ah, it was going so well. No goody-bags on offer, and no t-shirt either (I think they spent all the entry fee on the medal) 0/10

Post-race refreshment: We were given plenty of water (which was a good job in that heat), together with bananas and one of the nicest flapjacks I’ve ever spent half an hour chewing (my mouth was very dry, rather than this being the flapjack’s fault) 7/10 (purely for the flapjack)

Summary:

Course – 8/10

Weather – 6/10

Organisation – 9/10

Photos – 8/10

Medal – 9/10

Goody-bag – 0/10

Refreshments – 7/10

Meaning a total score of 47/70 (or 67%) – Tatton Park would have been a clear leader at this stage, if they’d only given us a little goody bag to take home; but as it is, they remain in second place behind the ill-fated Whitchurch 10k:

Whitchurch 49/70           (70%)

Tatton Park 47/70            (67%)

Oulton Park 46/70            (66%)

Poynton 39/70                   (56%)

My next race is at Colshaw Hall (near Knutsford) on 17th June, where apparently the course sends us around this bad boy…

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Last but by no means least, if you’d like to sponsor me (please do, if you haven’t already, as I’m hating every second of this), here’s a reminder of my Just Giving page:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/greg10x10k

Thanks for reading x

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