Yesterday I headed back to London on the National Express coach. The benefits, at £11 return, are obvious. The downside is that I could have run back quicker.

Not really. On Sunday I ran in the Great Manchester Run and, thanks to the immense generosity and support of over 100 of you, we collectively raised (at current standing) £2379.83 For the British Heart Foundation. Thank you all… and if you haven’t had a thank you from me; either through Facebook, Twitter, email, or the frighteningly impersonal templated email sent through the Just Giving page; then please accept my apologies. I have tried to keep track of you all, but who knew so many of you would so kindly support me!

I picked this charity in honour and memory of my dad, Alec Hickson, who died at the age of 54 in 1983 from a heart attack. You can read more on this, including our shared passion for snooker, here. I’ll be 54 this year and so it seemed appropriate to both remember him and also, through the process of running, try and care for my own heart a little.

 

I’d like to tell you the run was great fun. But running isn’t an enjoyment for me. I can only think of three benefits from it; it raises money for good causes, it possibly keeps me healthy, and it’s the acceptable face of self-harm. When I was at university we would play a game where we’d sit in a circle and take it in turns to drop a baseball bat onto our hands. Each player in turn would drop the baseball bat from a greater height. It was good fun, more fun than running, but you can see the connection. We also used to chew tobacco and spit into spittoons. I do hope student life is the same these days.

Then there would be the time Simon Bligh would teach me how to break roof tiles when we shared a house together in the mid 80s and would return home late after our respective gigs, a little drunk maybe. He taught me to think beyond the tiles, to hit through them, and I did. And smashed my hand to bits. Simon tried to push my finger back into place but I nearly passed out. I went to bed, slept a little, and then at 6am dragged myself off to the hospital where a completely redundant X-ray was taken. I don’t think my body is quite like Tom Mix’s, but I can claim two broken ribs, two broken fingers, a broken nose, and a broken pelvis.

tom mix

pelvis-x-ray

my broken pelvis

My ambition, beyond raising £1929 for The BHF, was to do the run in under an hour. I’ve only just started running again in the last six weeks, and the last time I ran a 10k was when I was in my 20s (I can’t remember the time but it was either 47 minutes or 53). Now, my first attempt at 10k took 70 minutes. I’ve slowly reduced that, but even so my last go was just over 63 minutes. To manage it in under an hour would take a bit of luck on the day.

I was in the Blue Wave of runners, with a start time of approx. 12.25.

sdr

The organisers encouraged us to take in the sites as we ran. I did my best, in the first two kms, to high-five as many kids as I could and to grimace a smile at those who applauded and cheered us on, but to take in the sites as well? The bloody sites! Old Trafford!? Is this a joke? To make matters worse, they contrived a route that took me past the damned place twice! Why not rub it in organisers, why not really take the piss! (If this has no meaning to you- Old Trafford is NOT the stadium of the team I support.)

I managed the first km in 5.01, my best speed yet; though this caused some panic. What if I’d started off too keen, too fast? What if, 3km in, I was done? The second came in at 5.18, so still ok. After the third (5.43) my £10 bluetooth headphones gave up the ghost. I was on my own; no voice telling me my speed, no playlist made up solely of songs from the 80s and the nowties (an odd combo playlist of Sparks, Lloyd Cole, Grimes, The Jam, Haim, Hot Chip, Morrissey, Alvvays, 10cc, Gemma Ray, Everything But the Girl, Paul Heaton, John Grant, La Roux, and Christie- how the hell did a 70s tune slip in there at the end? Yellow River, if you know it. And, should you wish, you can click on the above artists to hear the tunes I should have been running to).

It was hard work, running. And, even at 3km, some folk in the best of gear (lycrad and lithe and looking the part) had slowed to a walk. I tried to keep nimble, hopping and skipping on and off the pavement to avoid the slowcoaches. I tried, but I know, to an outsider, I would have looked like their grandpa, on day release, celebrating one last gasp at freedom.

Two friends had come along to support me, and so I’d suggested to them the 6km mark where the BHF had a stall of sorts. At 5km I was struggling, so this became something to look forward to. I would say the 4-6km part is the hardest; you’ve barely got going and you feel leaden and dragging, and yet you know that this is only the half of it. Jackie and Mo had made Swing Your Pants banners. What can I say? Thank you. There is no doubt it helped spur me on.Mo and Jackie

And then you can feel like you are heading home. Around about 6-7km I knew I would finish it. But I needed to keep my pace up to do it within the hour. At 8km I tried to maintain a speed; not to go faster, but to make sure I didn’t start slowing down. The last km I trudged on, and picked up the pace at the 400m mark, and then the last 200m mark. I like to think I really ran that last 200m, fast; but the chances are I looked like the slow-motion bits from Chariots of Fire.

I only had my watch to go off. I thought I had done it in an hour. As I went through the finishing arch the time above, for the Blue Wave runners, was 1 hour 3 mins.

bty

As I sat in the BHF tent the rains came down. Miserable Manchester rain, nothing new.

sdr

And then this tweet came through from my friend Cheryl. I had run it in 57.44. This was the official time from the website (we all have chips placed behind our numbers that know our every step).

And it made me cry. Just a bit. No one noticed. It was raining.

cheryl

I’ve had another run today. 7.45km in 47.55. Slow. It’s amazing what you can do with a little support and a good cause.

Thank you to Sam H, Darren K, Su H, Dave K, PM anon, John S, Sarah F, Paul K, Rik KM, Andrea and Frank, Jonny C, Robert N, Jenny S, Jackie H, Hazel D, Phil M, Ted B, Cheryl and Eric, Stephen B and family, Simon B and family, Clare and Bruce and Charlotte and Issy, Hannah J, Matt and Jill, Lynne B, Sarah L, Stephen K, Lee S, the Williams family, Chris S, Keith R, Gail E, Jamie D, Helen S, Douglas S, Stephen B, Chris W, Lucy and David and family, Linda and Alexei, Sue W and her mum Rose H, Mick H, Simon B, Anne-Marie, Pixie45, Michelle F, Vince R, Margo M, Andrea M, Neil P, Toby W, Dana N, Caroline S, Pia A, Alwyn A, David and Deb and family, Johnathan O, Mo O, Janey E, Sean U, Lianne E, Sharon R, Paul H, Hannah V, Suzanne O, Scott R, Paul C, Jennifer S, Dave K, Ensign Deb, Colin D, Janine K, Paola N, Alexander T, Sarah B, Amanda D, Steve P, Craig H, Tony J, Lynsey S, Luke W, Robert R, Barnaby E, Helen R, Justin E, Julian B, Brian M, Peter E, Ben and Sarah and Eve Lola and Dylan, Emma R, Stephen B, Neil G, Dave F, a different Neil G, Chris W, David C, Paul and Alison D, Sharon and Andy and Kate and William, Charley and Simon and Pete and Georgie and Jack, Jamie A, Gerald P, Kirsty R, Mandy M, Alison J, Gill and Jake, Steven M, Lisa and Toby and Connie.

You all raised £2,379.83. Then there’s the Gift Aid of £517.78. That’s a fantastic total of… oh, I can be bothered adding it up. Nearly £2900! I only was aiming for £1929 (the year of my dad’s birth). And no! That doesn’t mean some of you can have your money back.

Indeed, if anyone reading this feel’s they’ve missed out, it’s still not too late. Just click on this link.

But thank you. From someone who doesn’t enjoy running, you’ve made me feel it all was incredibly worthwhile. xxx

sdr

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Only six sleeps to go until I have to give up drinking for a month as part of Go Sober for October; one of those daft things to do like growing a moustache in November or stroking a weasel on a Wednesday. All in the name of charity. In this instance the name is Macmillan Cancer Support.

I say six sleeps (as opposed to six days, or any other time measurement system) to try and bring a little child-like fun to the terrifying prospect of going without any alcohol whatsoever for – heck! – for 31 sleeps!

Enough of the sleep thing. A month! A whole month with no booze! It is, simply, unthinkable.

To make matters worse, just think of this (if you can, given that I have just described the whole debacle as unthinkable):

Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
Excepting February alone,
And that has twenty-eight days clear,
And twenty-nine in each leap year

Sober! October! Go Sober For October! Do you see? They only went and picked bloody October because it rhymes!

What the fuck, I ask you, is so wrong with Don’t Be Merry For February?

Still… I’m committed.

One thing that may help me is thinking of alcoholic drinks that make me sick.

Early in September we went on holiday to Menorca. A bar in Cala Galdana had, as it should, a Happy Hour. Two drinks for the price of one.

On our first go we all had the local drink that none of the locals drink: Pomada. It’s a cocktail (if you can call Menorcan gin mixed with lemon Fanta a cocktail; and I can).

Here’s Zoe, Andrea, and Frank enjoying their Pomadas (I’m taking the picture, giving me 30 seconds of practice for the forthcoming month).

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Nice drink.

Happy Hour was 6.30pm til 7.30pm. At 7.29pm we panicked. All was well though, we got our order in. Zoe and Andrea went for Cava. Me and Frank took a gamble.

In 1964 Che Guevera said:

We must move forward, striking out tirelessly against imperialism. From all over the world we have to learn lessons which events afford. Lumumba’s murder should be a lesson for all of us.

Until now… as in now, as I write this… I had never heard of Patrice Lumumba. He was the first democratically elected Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo and he was executed by firing squad. The UN failed to help him, and (according to Wikipedia)  MI6 might have had “something to do with it”.

I am completely ill-informed, but, as far as I am concerned, the only thing Patrice Lumumba can truly be found guilty of, is giving his name to the shittiest cocktail ever created.

If you are ever offered a Lumumba, just say no!

If you plan to Go Sober for October, spend the next six days drinking nothing but Lumumbas. After only one day you will be willing to embrace a lifetime of sobriety.

You may have gathered by now that me and Frank, in our ignorance, ordered Lumumbas.

It looks like this:

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It’s a cocktail that comes in a pint glass.

A Lumumba is some kind of cold chocolate drink mixed with Brandy.

It is not for me.

Please help me not drink for a month. Please, if you can, give a little money to Macmillan. For every £5 you donate, it not only goes towards supporting families and individuals living with cancer, it’s also five pounds you won’t be able to spend on a Lumumba.

You can sponsor me here.

Big Green Smile

November 30, 2012

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moustache

It’s time to say goodbye to November, goodbye to Movember, and also goodbye to Big Green Smile.

I’ve been writing posts for Big Green Smile for nearly two years now. My speciality? Energy saving, water saving and green cleaning products news.When I started I didn’t know my ‘Big Six’ from my Ecover. Now, I know all about Ecover and Method (and the recent Ecover/Method merger). I’ve become familiar with Bio-D,Alma Win, Faith in Nature, and Earth Friendly Products (take a look at The Earthy Report; a great green blog by the founder of EFP).

I now know that none of us need to stay signed to the greedy ‘Big Six’ energy companies. I’ve urged Big Green Smile readers to swap providers; to go to one of the ones I call the ‘Little Six’; companies such as Ecotricity, Ebico, and Ovo Energy. And have I had the energy to do that myself? Not as yet. And that is both a shame, and shameful.

I’m tying this in with the end of November/Movember because I used my last BGS post to say a cryptic farewell to the site. I jumped from energy saving/water saving/green cleaning news to men’s grooming news, writing about green shaving and saying goodbye (to moustaches, to the month, to the job).

Thank you Big Green Smile, and thank you Sarah and Jenny for teaching me about CMS, hyperlinks, and all that stuff that I know how to do but don’t necessarily understand.

And if anyone reading this works for any of the companies mentioned and wants to give me a job writing for their blog, please do get in touch. Something tells me I won’t be hearing from the ‘Big Six’.

You can find all my Big Green Smile posts here, and you can sponsor me for Movember here.

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Dogs, sheep, llama, people

October 21, 2012

A few weeks back we went to the Brockwell Country Show. The choir I’m in, Note-orious, were singing there. After singing (but no dancing from me; I was still on crutches, recovering from a fractured pelvis- convenient indeed) I hobbled around and took a few pics of dogs, sheep, a llama, and some people.

I hope the people featured don’t mind. I still feel a little uncomfortable photographing strangers. Not so much with the animals. They like it.

Skyfall scuffle

October 15, 2012

I don’t know what the title of this blog post means. I must find a diversion.

Look! James Bond’s legs!

Did that take your mind of things? They’re his legs! James Bond’s! He even has a slightly pointing-in right foot; like I had as a child because I was weak, anaemic, in need of sun ray treatment. I used to walk like a pigeon (or like James Bond it seems). After a few months of clinic visits I over-compensated, walking like a Salfordian chimpy Charlie Chaplin (years before Liam looned and looped along).

My walking style has settled now. Over the years a happy compromise has been reached.

I wonder how many happy compromises are reached when the Bond directors are picked? (There’s a jump worthy of a blogger stunt double!)

Fans may yearn for a Scorsese/Nolan/Tarantino 007, but it will never happen. Take Skyfall, the 50th birthday Bond. The Bond People have picked that well known action director, Sam Mendes. Oh… is this my scuffle arriving?

I’m sure it will be great. It looks great. There’s enough people behind Bond (the Bond People) to make sure it works. That’ll be why it’s never a Scorsese or a Ridley or a (RIP) Tony Scott; they just couldn’t bear not having the control (the directors, that is. Oh, and the Bond People!)

Stop! Don’t let yourself get in a tizzy. Let’s relax. Here’s Adele.

It’s just that… he directed Away We Go. I… really… am at a loss. I feel weak. Pigeon legged. I just can’t go through that again. You can read my thoughts on that film here.

Maybe (like I said in that thing you might have clicked on, even read) it wasn’t his fault. American Beauty was good. Maybe he’ll prove to be the new Lewis Gilbert; at ease with both Shirley Valentine and The Spy Who Loved Me.

It’ll be great. The Bond People won’t have it any other way. He’s 50! Not that he looks it.

I’m 50 too! So less miserabilism Hickson. It’ll be great. you know it will be. You’ve even bought tickets. For the bloody IMAX no less. It’ll be big, that’s for sure.

Let’s end on one of the best Bond songs, by Marvin Hamlisch (RIP). Sung by Radiohead.

Away we go.

Crutchless

October 12, 2012

My crutches have gone. I’ve handed them back. Though, living close to Catford, perhaps I should have kept one.

I don’t know what it is about Catford, but most of its people have a crutch. This isn’t the lazy observation of a Catford call-througher, passing from Forest Hill to Lewisham, depositing his crutches back at the hospital, now he has, at last, been discharged: been declared officially fixed after fracturing his pelvis some yonks ago.

This observation; that most people in Catford have one crutch; is 100% true. And it’s no exaggeration. At least 76% of Catfordians have a crutch. Or, put another way, about 1 in every 54.

Why this is the case nobody knows. Do they – Catfordians – regularly fall over? Breaking bones willy-nilly? Do they get the standard two crutches and then, when better, think “I’ll keep one, just in case?” Do they pass one on to a friend? For emergencies?

It’s an odd thing. Only see in Catford. And only seen by lazy wannabe McIntyre’s.

But it is true!

And here’s another thing. You never- NEVER- see anyone with crutches in Dulwich Village.

I guess it’s just the way things are. Here’s my fractured pelvis.

When the Olympics opened and Danny Boyle made us all feel happy to be alive- in those heady, crazy, joyous days; before Savile, before Armstrong- I danced around the lounge. A newly-wed full of non-jingoistic, patriotic pleasure. I trooped up and down, on the rug, mimicking nations never heard of before, entertaining my wife with my tomfoolery, terrifying Archie, the dog.

Then, two days later, still full of hope and awe, I jumped up at Charing Cross station to rescue a caught balloon. I never reached the balloon. But I did fall hard onto the stone station floor. And I did, thanks to a drink or two, shrug it off, putting on a brave face for my new in-laws.

But when me and Zoe came to change trains at London Bridge it became clear all was not well. Something to do with my colour I believe. And the fact that I wanted to just lie down on the floor.

I enjoyed the Olympics. The Paralympics too. All from my bed. All on Tramadol.

Now, I’m better. And I’ve written this. A blog post. My first in… I can’t use yonks again… It’s been a while though. I’ll try harder. One a week. At least.

Now the crutches have gone it is time to slowly build up those blog muscles once more.

So, this is a bit of a late one. Here’s a photo from Wednesday the 7th March.

I’m at the BFI film quiz. In the bar at BFI Imax. Look! There’s two of my team mates, Jeremy and Nik. Hiding behind the BFI guide. On the left hand page of the guide, details of the upcoming Peter Cook season (useful, since there was a round on Peter Cook- it’s not cheating; everyone’s given a guide and so, well, I guess, we all cheat).

Look at the next page. Faust at the Royal Festival Hall. It’s been and gone now. Did you see it?

Hugh Grant introduces London audiences to Murnau’s legendary 1926 silent film Faust.

And then, a paragraph that possibly makes no sense at all (I’ve never been good at grammar; bad for a writer, I know. But it seems to me that the most important thing is that we all get the general idea; certainly when it comes to a guide). Here goes:

At a time when brand new silent film The Artist is being applauded by critics and heading for 2012 Oscars success.

End of sentence. End of paragraph! I can only exclaim, what gives?!

So, the next paragraph, I presume, is meant to carry on the thought. Here’s what it says:

I don’t really mind the lack of punctuation. Like I say, I’m no grammar expert. Getting the gist is the main part. But the gist is lost for good once words like ‘greastest’ creep in.

I’ve struggled to understand this, and, after much deliberation… I took this pic almost two weeks ago! After much deliberation, I’ve come to the conclusion that the writer meant ‘Grease test’; the acknowledged system whereby a film’s worth is determined by how well it compares to the 1978 Randal Kleiser classic, Grease, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.

Faust doesn’t do too bad, since it stars Emil Jannings, whose name almost rhymes with Stockard Channing, who played Rizzo in Grease (Jannings played Mephisto – a pararhyme for Rizzo). Coincidentally, Jennings went on to play Enrico ‘Ratso’ Rizzo in the 1927 black and white silent film Midnight Cowboy (remade to Oscar-winning success in 1969 with Dustin Hoffman playing the colour, talking version of Ratso).

So there you have it. I’m stopping now.

Now it’s glasses

March 6, 2012

A couple of blog posts ago I wrote about a certain pastor’s/prophet’s/wizard’s watch. look! Here it is again if you missed it, and you can read about it here.

It’s a poster in one of those electric light hoardings, somewhere between Morley’s chicken hut and Babur’s tiger palace, in a place that could be Honor Oak Park, or, perhaps, Forest Hill. Maybe, but not quite, Crofton Park? Bromley? Brockley? Narnia anyone?

I don’t know. All I know, it’s not a place to advertise. It’s doomed to failure. It’s a cursed electric light advert zone. First it was the watch. Now, it’s the glasses. What gives, Paddick?

This man wants to be mayor. Of London. Of course, he won’t be. That’s not me being mean. It’s just the truth. And look! He knows it! He’s taken an advert out in the ‘This Watch’ zone. And he’s swapped the watch for glasses. Let’s look closer at those glasses.

What, on Earth, does he want this poster to say to us? Other than, ‘I’ve given up’? Is he hoping, somewhere in a dark place where he hasn’t even realised it yet, for a ‘we all love our patios, don’t we’ John Stalker style ad campaign? For glasses? One day, when he is still not mayor, will he drive a saloon, with a personalised number plate? SPEC5AVERS?

And what of the slogan, You break it. You fix it? It’s a bit much, isn’t it. For someone who’s naturally clumsy like me. I’m always breaking things. I do my best, for sure, but really Brian ‘Specsavers’ Paddick, I can do without further pressure.

I know. I’m being silly. He’s talking about the criminals. As the poster says; ‘I will make criminals repair the damage they’ve done’.

It doesn’t really comfort me. When I was 15 I was attacked by some lads. I had my nose badly broken and spent five days in hospital. I’m still grateful that a qualified surgeon operated on me and not some crack-crazed scobber out for watch related kicks (‘ave yer got the time mate? Looks at my watch. That’s not the time. Whomp! Blackout. I come round, three lads hovering over me. That’s not ‘im, that’s not ‘im. They run and I swim home in a pool of blood.)

I’m glad someone who’s reshaped noses before sawed and hacked and pushed back into place my gristly conk. Brian ‘Specsavers’ Paddick may mean well. This mayor hopeless may well say to the anti- semitic thug; come on lad, you broke it, you fix it. But honestly, no thanks. You’ve done enough damage. Please keep away from me. Please, don’t even enter the operating theatre.

 (The attack was anti-semitic, though I am not Jewish. I was mistaken for being Jewish as I walked through the grounds of King David School in Crumpsall whistling the current no.1, I Will Survive).

But again, I’m being silly. He doesn’t mean that, does he? He means he’ll make them mend doors and locks and glasses (the drinking types) and jewelry and fences and bites from vicious dogs and… Oh, Lord alone knows what he means.

He won’t get to mayor. Look! There’s Red Ken peeking over his shoulder, thanks to some crafty framing by me. And look! Here’s ‘Blue Cock’ Boris giving you a chicken run for your money.

He hasn’t got a hope.

Though all is not lost. The money for this useless campaign with its truly rubbishy slogan may not have been spent in vain. The hundreds, maybe thousands, of pounds will have been used wisely if Brian carries the slogan forward for when he gets his Specsavers job. It’s a cheap insurance policy isn’t it; you sit on your glasses and hey… You break it. You fix it.  And if you can’t, just use your second BOGOF pair.

Who will be mayor? You decide:

Passing though town I happened upon the newly erected fourth plinth statue in Trafalgar Square. No doubt some dignitaries had been there earlier in the morning, but by 1pm there was just a podium, some bouncers and a golden boy on a golden rocking horse high up on the plinth. Here it is.

It’s called Powerless Structures, Fig.101, but I’m going to call it the Golden Rocking Horse and Boy. That’s the best way to approach public art. For me.

I’ve seen the Ship in a Bottle, the People, the Little Jesus, the Airman, the Pregnant Armless Lady, the Upside-Down Plinth, and the Bird Hotel.

Here’s another picture. This time more of a Shadow Rocking Horse and Boy.

Here’s the blurb:

Let the mayor know what you think. If you want.

Here’s what I think; it’s ok.

Here’s what it’s up against:

The Golden Rocking Horse Boy thing is ok. It’s not bad. But I’ll be happier when the Big Blue Cock’s up there.

Image courtesy of (ie. stolen from) Art History News

What’s your favourite? Please vote.

This watch

February 22, 2012

On my mid afternoon walk with Archie (Archie’s a Miniature Schnauzer by the way- though what do I know? I constantly forget. The other day someone asked  his breed and I said Miniature Dachshund). So. On my mid afternoon walk with Archie I passed this poster, and it took my fancy.

It’s not that Prophet Oscar Diomande is speaking just down the road in Catford… I say Prophet, but looking online he seems to switch between Pastor and Bishop… It’s not that the Prophet/Pastor/Bishop is in the vicinity. That’s not what got me. That’s not what took my fancy.

It’s that damned watch!

Look at it! He’s showing it off like he’s on a shopping channel.

Is that appropriate? Is it right? It’s a little flash isn’t it? For a man of God? Surely a Timex would do. At a push a Sekonda. That looks scarily Christin Lars to me.

He’s even pushing his jacket back to give us a cheeky glimpse. To make us envy his golden wealth. It’s surely not on.

Perhaps it’s something to do with his role as a man of God anointed for the last days.

Perhaps. Though, frankly, I doubt it. A man of God anointed for the last days would surely be doing us all more of a favour if her bore a calendar. A watch is far too abstract. Unless we’re in the last day. Now. In which case, goodbye all. Hope you’ve had a good one.

It started as something that took my fancy, but now it’s just unsettling. Particularly since I’ve started to think of Christopher Walken in Pulp Fiction.

Some of you will be with me by now. Some not. If you don’t know of the dark depths I am stooping to, watch this; this watch.

You’ll never look at a pastor’s gold covered wrist in the same way again.