Monday, 31 December 2007

Good health is everything

I've spent the last week with a cold. Not any cold, but a totally debilitiating, wearing, crippling cold of the kind only men seem to get. Everything is too much effort. I don't know where the Christmas holiday went - but wherever it was, I didn't notice!

The fog of illness is clearing slowly which prompts me to reflect on the way our health shapes our perception. I run and am a frequent, disciplined gym attender. This week though, running and exercise have been off my agenda and even the smallest task has seemed too much.

What's terrifying is that this must be how old age feels. Something to look forward to!

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Do you remember Akenfield?

I had the pleasure of buying Ronald Blythe lunch yesterday. He wrote Akenfield in 1969, an iconic work that gave a unique insight into rural Suffolk life. He has written widely on social history and is one of the inspirations behind a book I'm currently researching. (A collective biography that explores how 50 people's lives have been shaped by the prejudices of others)

He's still writing and remarkably fit at 85. In fact he has clearly decided that old age and retirement are for other people, not him. ('Painters and writers never retire,' he told me.)

It struck me as I drove home afterwards that retirement is one of those things we are all encouraged to aim for, yet if you love your work, stopping to spend 20yrs reading the paper and watching daytime TV in an increasing state of poverty is not an ambition worth aspiring too.

Meeting Ronnie Blythe reassured me that potentially I still have 30 years of my writing career left. Now that is something to look forward to!

Monday, 10 December 2007

If in doubt re-boot!

I've just bought a Blackberry. Well, I had to as I feel rather left out sitting in First Class on the train surrounded by Crackberry fiends getting high on the latest stuff to hit their Outlook inbox.

As luck would have it, my phone contract's just expired so somehow I've got a free device and lots more minutes, all for no more than I was paying before. Of course O2 managed to cock up the contract and managed to sell me a bundle that didn't include email access.

Then, when it was sorted, I still couldn't get the ruddy thing to pick up GPRS. The helpful girl at O2 suggested cancelling the contract and trying elsewhere. The Blackberry website technical area suggested something more basic. Re-boot the machine. This worked!

So, even when faced with shiny new technology it seems that the best way to get it to work is to pull out the battery and re-boot it when confronted with what seems to be an insurmountable technical conundrum.

If only people could be re-booted in the same way

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Norwich half marathon

Well, I'm back on track with my running. Just finished a cold wet and rather windy half marathon at Norwich in 2hrs03. That's only 1 min slower than my best at this distance and a full 16 minutes faster than my September attempt at the Great North Run.

I'll be running the London Marathon next April for mental health charity Rethink. That means I need to be fit enough to do twice the distance in not much more than twice the time. A challenge I struggled with last year, finishing the marathon in 5hrs18.

Do you set yourself crazy goals? It's the only way in my view to surprise yourself and leave your comfort zone well behind . . . .