Sunday, 29 April 2012

Un vent à décorner les boeufs

I love the literal translations of foreign idioms, and today's language of choice is French. The title of this post means literally - and I'm literally using the word literally correctly here, but more of that in a moment - "a wind to pull the horns off the ox", and does of course mean a jolly strong wind. Which is what I experienced a little earlier.

But some background first. In three weeks' time I'm supposed to be running a half-marathon with t'eldest. I'd really like to do it too, a nice father-and-daughter-type thing. Now, because of the old back/sciatic problem, I've not been doing much of anything recently. So this week I've been experimenting to see what the body can tolerate and what it can't. The results basically seem to be: prolonged sitting and anything that involves bending at the waist (like cycling) are big no-nos, whilst walking, running and anything else that involves being erect (stop sniggering) are kind-of OK if I'm careful. So I'm now in the slightly odd position whereby sitting on trains for 8 hours (as I did on Friday going to and from Glasgow) presents a bigger health risk than running 11 miles, as I did this morning. Yesterday therefore consisted of ibuprofen and constant hip pain, whereas now I'm feeling pleasantly exercised.

The weather here today is as mental as it seems to be in the rest of England, apart from the fact that although it's raining, the wind has been the true star of the show so far. The real deluge is scheduled to arrive a little later, so I was up and out by 7 am to try to miss the worst of it. And though I got home mildly damp rather than shoe-squelchingly wet, I went up and over Shutlingsloe, which at 1,660 feet above sea level isn't exactly the Eiger, but is exposed enough to catch the weather, and the weather it was catching this morning was the north-easterly wind. I genuinely couldn't stay on the feet at the top, and my descent was slowed partly because I risked being blown off the path at any moment, and partly because I was having to use one hand to to hang on to my fleecey skullcap to stop it being blown off; yes, it was that windy. I'd chosen not to take a mobile phone with me because of the risk of it getting wet, and I have to say that at 8.30 this morning, descending Shutlingsloe in what must have been 60-70 mph winds, with a gammy leg and no means of communication, I wasn't sure I'd done a very good job of my risk assessment. But as you can see, I made it back. I passed a selection of sheep on the way down, but no ox unfortunately - but if I had I strongly suspect they'd have been hornless.

I mentioned I spent 8 hours on trains to and from Glasgow on Friday. I encountered the usual selection of characters on the various trains that you usually do on long journeys. Friday's selection included two Scottish lads sitting in the seats in front of me who managed to get through so much beer that they didn't have the foggiest how to get off the train when it pulled into Glasgow. On the way back, however, the Preston to Manchester leg was on a train destined for Manchester airport, so naturally had a bunch of folk going to catch flights. Among them was a group of three students off to Ibiza for a long weekend. I had no option but to listen to their conversation for a while, and it was like, literally, so full of the words 'like' and 'literally', that I nearly like, literally, wanted to literally kill myself. Oh my God, I was nearly, like literally sick. This lot were final year students. Is this how they communicate all the time, or is this style reserved for when they're among their own, and it's some kind of Cool Code? I don't know about that, but I do know that if they don't change their style they're going to be pretty much unemployable in any profession that needs even a modicum of communication skills. And here endeth today's episode of Grumpy Old Men.

Right, off to stand up for a bit...

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