Lola Cat, Family, Friend, Pet


To say that Lola has been with me through the best and worst times is a understatement. She became one of the most important and consistent things in my life and has been there when needed. She has always acted like more of a dog cat, a Lo-Dog. I say that in she was so friendly, liked belly rubs and always wanted to be with you when you were in the house. She’d follow you round and always sit with you, understanding when you were ill, happy or sad. She had a unique little face and silver tanned coat which meant she looked unique and not like other cats. I can’t imagine she won’t be here anymore. It might seem a little emotional for a cat but she was more than that to me and I hope everyone that met her. Rest in peace Lola Puff.


Family, friend and pet in that order x




Fathers Day

Getting 2 texts within minutes from both your brothers is never good during a work day, “call me immediately, It’s urgent x”.  You know there is something wrong, their kids, mum, dad?  I was only there at the weekend and everyone was so healthy so could be anything.  I call, it is dad.  Taken to hospital in a critical condition after collapsing while playing football.  I walk around the office aimlessly for a bit, not really what sure what i should be doing next.  Someone comes to speak to me and I almost breakdown.  Don’t really want to do that in the office so I leave and head over the road to the Cathedral.  Sitting there is it’s vast space, I am not really sure what to do, I say the only prayer I know, The Lord’s Prayer.

I get a further call from my brother Dave, he is enroute home from Bristol and James is with mum at the hospital.  I am feeling helpless as don’t know what to do.  Do I go home?  The obvious answer is yes but i know so little of what’s going on.  I am now sitting in a coffee shop, you can’t answer a phone in a place of worship.  Mum calls, she tells me to come home.  Dad had stopped breathing, after having a heart attack while playing football and although they resuscitated him he is in ITU.  I get the train from London to Bournemouth an hour later.

For those who don’t know my dad he is the strongest and most stubborn person I know, I was trained well in all of this.  He liked to crush my hand on shaking it as a child and barged me off the ball playing football so I’d stand up for myself, make me compete.  Life is not easy but he has always been there and so has my mum, calm, together and always ready to support me, even when i’d done the wrong thing.  It’s very difficult to arrive to then see him on life support, attached to a multitude of devices.  I am not sure what to do, it is very difficult to remain calm but what can you do, it is difficult to just sit there and stare at your dad lying motionless.

So the nurses and doctors on the ward in Bournemouth are incredible, in many ways.  They all work around us during the day as they monitor his vitals and write up reports.  Every question they answer, even to my cousin (also a nurse) who phones them constantly.  The speed at which they reacted from getting him to the hospital, working out what was wrong; furred arteries which clogged up stopping blood circulating and made him stop working; they fixed this with little cocktail sticks called stints which are inserted via a artery in the arm in to his chest, unbelievable really.  Based on this it is now 72 hrs of rest to ensure that his brain recovers along with his body before they wake him up.  It’s not the heart now that is at question just his mental state on waking. You can not thank any of them of enough.  They are not the only heroes in this story though.  We spend the rest of the day with him and then go home, there is only so much watching you can do but you still feel guilty leaving him.  We all needed hugs that night.

I get a call from the community chairman of Bournemouth AFC, Steve Cuss.  He was there that day and helped ensure dad made it.  He mentions two people Neil and Andrew both of whom administered CPR on the pitch and ensured he made it.  Without these two guys my dad would be dead the doctors later said.  They found his car and his stuff, there was very little in there to get them in contact with us, the closest they got was the home phone number via a recycling id.  I try to thank him on the phone for helping but nearly break down again, have you ever thanked someone for helping to save someones life.  

They plan to wake dad this morning, it’s difficult after two nights sleep to know what will happen.  There is nothing much we can do but wait and see what happens.  we don’t all go in, we can’t all be there.  Mum goes and Dave goes to support, I stay with my other brother James.  It’s moments like this where you feel a junction.  Will it be fine or days, months, years of something harder.  It turns out well.  This is the bit the nurse, Michelle enjoys she says.  Dad is awake, breathing unaided and seems to be fine.  Drugs are making him groggy and blunt.  I see him, “you don’t believe, you don’t believe in god he shouts at me”.  No idea why and still don’t. He is rambling.  Doesn’t believe he is in the hospital, that all around him is a dream.  Are we real, he tries to pinch me.  “why are you here?”, “why is the time wrong?”. It was 1.30pm not 11am when he last knew anything.

This is all good, very good.  It doesn’t stop him being mean to mum, “you put me here”, “you never listen” he shouts.  Mum leaves the room, it’s not him, just the drugs.  Our aunt many years ago was exactly the same but then this bought her a mental home for a period.  Times change.  They start to detach the tubes and wiring over the next few hours.  It feels great to see those go, even if they didn’t go without a fight from the “attractive” and “not so attractive” nurse and “very attractive” Dr Shaw.  The drugs do work.  It’s kind of what i was thinking also.  I hold his hand, “can you squeeze this?”, he tries and nearly breaks my hand.  He is back.

Progress now is rapid, almost unbelievable.  He came in Tuesday and by the time Saturday comes he is sitting in a standard cardiac ward, with nothing but a catheter rammed up his penis (his own fault for trying to remove it overnight) and the blue outfit somewhat not hiding his modesty. He can recount mathmatics (he is a Dr of), remembers everything clearly up to the day, he can even shuffle around although unsteady on his feet.  Now comes the incredible moment.  Neil the guy who saved his life proper calls.  He is so matter of fact about the incident, telling me “you’d do the same for my dad”, yes, but how?!  Turns out he is a FA trained coach who looks after his autistic son and is genuinely a very nice guy.  My dad says he looks like Kenny Rodgers.  Again thanking him on the phone is so difficult.  What do you say?  “I’d just like to thank you for saving my Dad’s life, the doctors have all said without you, he wouldn’t be here”; “does you dad know yet i had to get intimate with him?”; I smile and cry. “Can i come and visit tonight he asks”.

When he does turn up it is again a strange intense moment.  A hug from mum, a shake from me and a thank you from dad.  It is all that simple but means so much more.  He recounts to dad about what he did on the pitch; My dad had just keeled forwards and fell face down on to the pitch while playing football.  It seems Neil just took charge, initially it looks like a stroke, he is gargling and breathing lightly, then he stops breathing.  Getting the other guys to call a ambulance and get the trainers from Bournemouth FC, Neil administers CPR and kiss of life to my dad.  He get’s him back before talking to the paramedic, dad goes again, he saves him again!  The ambulance turns up and the paramedics take over.  “Can you cut off his top?” they ask Neil, he does so hands shaking “Mind his balls they say”.  That focused him he said and the rest is what I have already told.  

I am off to visit my dad later, it is fathers day next week, something that i noted with heavy heart on the journey down to Bournemouth in every shop window.  Having him here next week is all i can ask for!


Running in the Rain

Getting out of bed and seeing the rain this morning made me want to get right back in. The thought of 16 miles in wet cold weather didn’t really fill me full of joy. However once out and on the road it actually felt pretty good. I went a new route and didn’t really have a plan, run out towards Welwyn and see where I ended up. Running through muddy fields with mud caking the back of your legs and then getting soaked by passing cars seems to numb the pain I usually feel in my legs. It might also help that the last few days have seen me eat more than usual – last night a curry, huge brunch and lots of nibbles. With my 90’s/noughties ipod playing out music (all my new stuff is via Spotify) helping too, it all made me not feel the 16 miles at all. If it rains on the day, bring it on as after 16 miles, i felt like i could do another 10, sprinting back through the streets of Hitchin. Run over let the eating commence!

Gin Running

For some reason running after a night of gin or actually several days of drink bring out the best in me. I ran the Letchworth half last year after a few drinks the night before and a mad dash across London to make it to the event. I also ran the London Marathon a few days after waking up on a couch. Now it doesn’t exactly bring the fastest times but does seem to numb the bordem of running which is my number one problem. Roughly every 6 miles the mental this is boring, god this hurts kicks in and bang goes the times, only to recover a few miles later. I think this is common and different to the 16 mile wall of pain. However, after a few drinks this doesn’t seem to appear. Now this time it might have been waking up in Brixton, pulling on my trainers and armed with my oyster card just setting off runnning. 10 miles later and I am in Greenwich, having run to the southbank, along and over tower bridge in the morning February sunlight. I was going to get the boat back along the Thames but felt good, so carried on back to central London along the Marathon route. I had thought i’d run further than I did but 16 miles later and I am back In Kennington. Assuming Em is now wondering where the hell I am after saying I might die after a few miles, I go the bus back to the flat. Run over.

Running Letchworth

So have been running a half now or there abouts for nearly 3 weekends.  With work and life it is becoming a hard slog to pull myself out of bed and onto the road.  I am running at the time I would be for the marathon and also at the moment seeing at what point I need energy – so no water or food while running.  Seem to start to breakdown around the 10 mile spot, with a need for something to power those legs.  It might be that I am always reaching a large hill at that point but it shouldn’t matter.  What I remember from the London marathon last time was Mile 10+ was a uphill run back to Canary Wharf.  It killed me, so any chance this time to do some more hill training will be a plus.

I did run the Greenway today around the outskirts of Letchworth.  Great route and has those hills to challenge you. Running a 7 and half minute mile for the first 10 isn’t too bad.  My rough calculations assume that will get me in around 3hr 35, if I maintain that pace throughout which i dont think i will.  We’ll see.  They always say you should run the second half faster but I go with my new book mentor Dean Karnazes, whose basic early learning was go hard and stay running hard until the end.  If it doesn’t hurt like hell then you are not trying.  I am not quite that hardcore but today it hurt and I have to do that twice.

Running 13 miles

So, I ran 13 miles today round the Hitchin countryside.  The first 10 miles always seems to drift by with no real issue, the last 3 seems to last forever, the feel of the knees going, the calves aching.  It didn’t help that my music cut out for this last few miles.  I also decided to run up the steepest hill in Hitchin as a final challenge so I only have myself to blame.  I did fail on the hill though, walking the last few meters.  In two weeks time, I’ll run that!  I have run almost the same route for the last 3 weeks.  I need to find some new routes and expand my home time runs from work.  Victoria to Finsbury park last week.  Maybe a river run or two over the next few weeks.  There are some amazing routes I can try and if feeling a bit mental then a marathon is Victoria to Welwyn Garden City – I feel that is a few months away yet.  This run was the first one timed – 1hr 49 for just under 14 miles.  Not great but if can build on this distance, at this pace then I might beat the 3hr 52 that i have as a goal.

Marathon Training Log Starts Here

I am starting this running set of posts having run 60 miles in the last 2 1/2 weeks, so you know I am not a novice.  I do this for fun though rather than through hard training.  My first real memories of running are from school days where I used to do track running in PE and then some long distance runs in the sand dunes around school.  I was lucky where i grew up, on the banks of the North Sea in a small town called Formby, there was plenty of sand and beach and wind to build that stamina that stays with me today.  I ran initally with asthma but kicked that over the years.  Not sure on how far the runs were, but they took the PE lesson and I always wanted to finish first, running hard from the start in the hope of wearing down the opposition come the beach.  It often worked but not always.   Often it was running against Mr Pickering the PE teacher, think 118 and you have him.  It was the eighties though, so guess he was hung up in the seventies still.

I also remember the school championships, running the 800m for our school house, Blundell.  That was always good and maybe the one time of the year where I wasn’t a dork or no mark in the year and actually was seen as someone.  The last lap bell running through the crowds of my fellow classmates and in fact the whole school, gave me an adreniline rush every time that made me want to run faster and harder.  Usually this meant I sprinted off into the distance on the last lap.  I was good, but not fast, i finished 4th in the county trials abeit with no training.  In hindsight I would have practised more.  I was once asked to join a club but at the time was too shy, stupid decision that i didn’t now.  I might have been better as a result.

Anyway, enough of the glory days and back to today.  I run regularly and enjoy it.  It is a release from the crazy shit that goes down at work and the thought that it is all a bit pointless and tedious.  Running is pure, you get outside and put one foot in front of the other then just carry on.  Work is just over complicated for what it is delivering and too many people get in the way.  Running breaks through all of that.

This will be a series of posts about my running prep…



Riots, bankers and a punch in the face, what a world.

The riots have been a bit mad over the last week, a sign of a violent minority wanting to cause trouble and then the masses caught on the wave with access to free stuff in vandalised shops, fuelled by social media or a disillusioned youth with no prospects and a lack of feeling of options or future oppressed by the police. In fact it is probably somewhere in-between. life isn’t easy and it doesn’t come for free and you gotta think that people at times think it should, i think this is in part fuelled by tv and media, the latest must have gadget and clothing item, the rich on tv getting richer through just socialising! On top of that you have the MP’s stealing from the country and not representing the people, you have bankers and finance people making fast bucks through distorting the market, over lending and bankrupting the country only to go on and continue in the same vain, with the same bonuses for ripping apart the fabrics of economics.

It’s not a great advert to the kids and that actually, to become successful you have to put in the work and command respect through your efforts rather than think it will come to you. I have no facts or proof to back this up other than what I see on the streets today. I’d be happy if everyone who caused issues didn’t go to jail, that will only cost us, put them to work to clean their local neighbourhoods up or help out the people lives they destroyed. Banks, MP’s and social celebs should do the same. Maybe we should bring back national service, help give people skills, support some of the big projects the country can’t afford otherwise, offer some hope. I wouldn’t say that shipping them off to Afghanistan would be the answer or though it might really teach them some fear.

My support for part of the population has lessened further through the actions of one or five. Walking home last wednesday after a hard days work and the prospect of running ahead. I take a turn through the park, something i haven’t done of late but something that has never bothered me. Towards me head 5 lads, taller, younger, nothing unusual until they get close and the one nearest murmurs something then punches me square in the face. The fact my neck hurts from the blow and my cheek is bruised, says he hit me. Nothing more is said, I turn but think better of saying anything and walk on. I can’t fight having only ever been in a brief one once. I am not ultimate fighting champion in skills or build and 5 against 1 would have ended me. I stare, they stare and carry on walking. Only sure thing is that he didn’t knock me over. It might even look like he didn’t hurt me. I walk on, turn the corner and then phone the police. Heart beating, nervous energy. I want revenge, i want them to suffer.

The police come, they take a statement and go, my word vs theirs and thats if they find them, they don’t. I think of revenge of the baseball bat breaking his legs, making him unable to walk again or for a long time to waste away his life in plaster, make him think what he has done. Fact is I am not them, this only breeds violence, i’d find him, if he lived local, he’d find me, friends would find them, friends would find my friends and so it would escalate. Maybe instead I forget, accept that in 7 years this was a one off. Never had any problems to date so why in the future. What it has done is made me think twice about that quiet path home through what in summer is a lovely park, I probably wont go to the Sailor pub for a while. I have been there before and although it is a dodgy local pub, it has always been a source of friendly banter not mindless violence but now i don’t know. I’ll think twice before a late night walk and if I head towards a group will now wonder. Only 2 days earlier, i ran through Brixton to see Emma, the shops were destroyed, people were on the streets but i never once feared, i’ve never had to but now i do. That makes me sad. It also makes me hate the mindless actions of a few more without thinking of why they may be like that. Sucks, this country sucks, this planet at times sucks and it shouldn’t have to.

My little black box

As I stare at my black glistening playstation sitting by my tv I ask should I have a quick game playing session, I have an hour before bed, maybe some films on sky+ or my iPad filled with news and facebook action instead. I could even surf and watch tv. I have little time these days and to multi task and watch HIMYM or some Big bang theory while browsing the latest gadgets and friends activities will win out.

My black shining playstation sits there gathering dust wishing to be played like it’s older brothers. I played my Psone solidly at uni and is probably a good reason why I got a 2:2 but was 30th in the country on Time Crisis. The second one found me playing Gran Turismo and burnout constantly.

Now I find the only time I am playing games is on my apple collection of gadgets. Started out with Angry Birds that globally craze that announced the arrival of Apple gaming. I used to have a Apple 2e and watched jealously as my friends amassed great Spectrum game collections where I found I had to travel the depths of small stores trying to find just one game to play. How times have changed.

I now sit on the train iPad in hand and my 30 minute commute reduced to a flash as I play through the latest level of Tower Madness defending my sheep from alien attack through the building of massive weaponry in a command and conquer style gaming attack. By the time I defeat the marauding aliens my train is pulling into Kings Cross or Hitchin.

Truth is, this commute is the only time I get to play games, drifting into my mid thirties and although yet to have a family, work drives my days and going out and friends activities my night. That black gaming box of tricks with online gaming, films, music and tv has lost out to the quick thrill and portability of my Apple play things.

Maybe my Apple world will crumble one day but for now the black shiny Sony sits unused, the games are too long and involved and the reality not yet real enough to make me want to retreat from the mad world I live in now. In fact in many ways I have turned retro in my gaming, those old school sideway shooters, cannon fodder and speedball games have all come to life in different guises on my iPad. Quick thrills I can play on the move.

The portability of my Apple kingdom only grows. Spotify syncing music on the move, Films, tv all from anywhere in my house or on the go. Sony missed out here, the top gaming system, top tv company, second biggest handset company, inventor of the Walkman and now look at it’s devices, all separate, static and portability is poor. I think my shiny black console might be my last unless something amazing happens in how they connect them together but I somehow feel like Sony is consigned to yesterday.

I sat and watched a demo of the Samsung world the other day, it’s phone, tv and tab, iPad equivalent running via Android, all interconnectable, with the phone controlling the tv, the tab could be used to watch other channels from the tv and you could even go on the move taking the signal of your tv to your bedroom. Do you really need a second tv now? Apple lacks a central system, maybe it’s a laptop or computer but seems to be missing something in the home. Sony is lacking it all. Waiting now for the next revolution.