Running, a film, remembrance

13 Nov

My weekend was mainly uneventful, but two things did happen: I went to the cinema; and I started running.

Londonshrink has been running for a while, and completed a half marathon in 1 hour 44 minutes earlier this year. He’s been very keen to get me to do a 10k race, and I have finally succumbed. In February, I will be running a 10k somewhere in the south of England (not sure where yet!). My hesitation was about my balance (which is poor, due to longstanding ear problems), my legs (poor balance and co-ordination leads to lots of falling off things and over things, so have weak knees and ankles) and shin splints (ow ow ow!). But he started me off on the scary treadmill to do ten minutes’ worth of 30 seconds running, 90 seconds walking on Saturday afternoon. I soon switched up to a minute of each alternating, and was getting well into it (helped by a new episode of the Freakonomics podcast) when Londonshrink came to stop me, cautioning against overdoing it. Though it was a tiring ten minutes, it felt well within my capability.

I also did my first Bodypump session in about two years on Friday night. The music has obviously changed (and we’re up to 79) but I fit right back into the groove straight away. I think I probably overdid the weights, though, as I just picked up what I used to use, forgetting all the degradation in the meantime. I was completely defeated by the speed of the choreography on the shoulders track, and the lack of alternation between legs on the lunge track had me wailing, but the rest were pretty okay. And I stretched out well enough at the end that I didn’t feel too stiff and painful the next morning.

So, exercise-wise, it’s been a good weekend. I’m on day 27 of the 30 Day Shred, so the end is looming, though I still don’t feel as though I’ve mastered level three. Two moves are as yet unmastered: the plank with rows balanced on weights and leg raises (partly this is because whichever surface I’m on I can feel the weights slipping under my hands and I panic) – I know I could do either leg raises or arm rows, just not both together – and the rockstar jumps, for which I’ve been substituting jumping jacks with weights, as I’m terrified of not getting my legs back down to land on, and crashing down onto my knees. Still, I can now do the whole two sessions of mountain climbers without stopping! I wish Zaggora would hurry up and replace my Hotpants, though. Terrible customer service from them.

On the food front it’s also been a good weekend. I cooked another prawn curry for Londonshrink yesterday at his request, and tonight I did chicken with honey and herbes de Provence, roast potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and steamed broccoli, which was delish.

Our treat for the weekend was going to see The Ides of March, starring George Clooney and Ryan Gosling and directed by George Clooney. I’m a massive The West Wing fan, and the premise of the film appealed: young, starry-eyed staffer on an American presidential primary campaign becomes a jaded old-timer. Nothing could ever touch Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue, of course, but the film reviewed well, and I was hopeful. Although it was an intelligent and tense film, with some strong performances, I didn’t overall buy it. For me, the obvious cartoonishness of the liberal-wet-dream candidate, played by Clooney, ruined the authenticity of the piece, which otherwise was dead-on. The storyline is shocking, and that the climactic shot is merely of a parked car in a motorcade into which a character has just climbed is nothing short of brilliant. One could counter by saying the Jed Bartlett in The West Wing is also the stuff of left-wing fantasy – and yes, he is, but for me the family lineage and wealth – no grandson of an immigrant, he – and over-the-top Catholicism count against that. As for the film’s message as a whole: I tire of the idea that idealism counts for little, and grubby pragmatic compromise is all. Certainly the people I know in politics compromise on the little things to make a difference on the big, and world-weary cynicism is there to be fought.

The message of the film sat oddly with this morning’s Remembrance Sunday service. As usual I went to the open-air service at our war memorial in SmallCity; it’s a multi-faith service, with Catholic, CofE, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh representatives leading the worship. As always, I was choked at the parade of veterans – this year including ten Gurkhas. Thoughts of the first world war always make me turn to the pride and foolishness of the leaders of the day, taking half of Europe into a needless war of pride and grandstanding; thoughts of the second world war remind me that Churchill was turfed out at the end in favour of a party who promised a National Health Service. In the end, politics affects us all: I hope for politicians who hold steadfast to what they see as right, take the time to explain, and avoid world-weariness.

As I stood there, I thought of my grandfather, a Royal Engineer deployed in Holland in WW2. An ordinary guy, a road-layer, lucky enough to come home when so many did not. I thought of the vivid picture Vera Brittain paints of the horror of waiting and hoping and praying during WW1. I am glad to be of the second generation never to have to face that in our lifetime.


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