Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

Vile and Offensive? The Problem of #Easter

We have airbrushed humanity so hard, that we seem to be looking pretty great, don’t you think?

We uphold Human Rights. We are tolerant and inclusive. We want the best for our children. We care about the planet.

Scratch the surface though – and we are a mess. We have a list of Human Rights because across the globe people are oppressed and trafficked, attacked, kidnapped and gassed. The tolerance and inclusion of “others” is an ideal that stands apart from the reality of the bombings, beheadings and atrocities we hear about every day. While many work for the good of children, many children still are in poverty, neglected, ignored and abused. And the environment is sacrificed for man’s ends, park by sea by forest.

Where’s the rationale for humanity’s behaviour? Where’s the sense in a suicide bomb? Who wins when a child is murdered? How many times have you watched the news and thought, “This is just insane!”?

As a species, we are cursed by our own egos. The self, while managing to put an acceptable face on for the day to day, is trapped in an unwise cycle of self-promotion and self-destruction. By following after its own ends, it is its own undoing.

In the old days, this curse was called “sin” – not the comedy sins of fridge-raiding, naughty books and generally being an old devil of any sort– but the sickening compulsion that human beings have to push the self forward, to take things for the self, to directly or indirectly use or put others down. These are the symptoms, at least.

This lyric from a hymn has been stuck in my head of late. We smile and sing:

“…the vilest offender who truly believes

that moment from Jesus a pardon receives”

This is the problem with Easter, and points us towards the profound unfairness at its heart.

Why should the ‘vilest offender’ receive any kind of a pardon? There are any amount of vile offenders in the world today. From those individuals who make the news by driving trucks into pedestrians (mad) to world leaders toying with war (mad) to criminals (mad) to paedophiles (sick) to … there are plenty vile offenders – the prisons are full of them!

(Although when I think of the poor souls in some of our prisons, I figure that many of them are there because of glaikitness, neglect, stupidity and poverty rather than direct and overt intention to carry out acts of evil… but I don’t suppose these are the “vilest offenders” the hymn writer had in mind.)

Why should ‘the vilest offender who truly believes / that moment from Jesus a pardon receives?’?

In short, of course, they shouldn’t.

If any court held a proven terrorist, murderer, paedophile, war criminal – of course they should not, as vile offenders, have any kind of a pardon. They should pay for their crime, their debt to society and the world by what ever means possible, were that means possible… (it isn’t, is it? These people can’t make up for what they have done.)

But of course, those two lines of the song were taken out of context. Here’s the whole stanza:

O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
to every believer the promise of God;
the vilest offender who truly believes,
that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

The reference to “redemption” is to do with buying something back. When we redeem a voucher, we get whatever its value was, whatever it was symbolic of. Here we have a “perfect” redemption – a flawless buying back. We have another image from finance in the “purchase” of blood. Blood has been “spent” in order to make a purchase. This act – Christ’s death on the cross – was so perfect that it was sufficient to pay for the deficiencies and the debts and to buy back a life seemingly beyond rescue.

We then have a universal opportunity – “to every believer the promise of God”. This promise of a perfect purchase/redemption is for “every believer” – regardless of their own status in terms of individual merit. To clarify this, the hymn writer gives the extreme example of “the vilest offender who truly believes/that moment from Jesus a pardon receives”.

At the moment that any person believes that Jesus has paid the price for their wrongdoing, they are bought back – and the purchase has gone through perfectly. Jesus could make up for the wrongs they had done.

This is not to say that the effects of the sin evaporate. Lives are still spoiled; damage is still done. And yet, they are “pardoned”?

Our sense of justice is still not satisfied. How do they get away with it? How come “perfect redemption” and “a pardon” is available to all, even “the vilest offender”?

I think that we have a line in the sand between good men and scoundrels. But we have put that line there. In reality, we are all on the same side of the line. No one is perfect, are they?

That grotesque side of humanity that we see spill out so often in horrific news stories is also a part of ourselves. Our capacity to disappoint ourselves is huge. Apostle Paul expresses it well (I have abbreviated this) :

 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.  … So I find this law at work: although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.

Paul is trapped in the human condition, although at this point he is a believer. (He could have arguably been described as a “vilest offender” as a persecutor of a minority group, approving of religiously motivated murder). He can see the way a human should be; he knows the right way to act – but he is caught between the rational will and the human nature, tormented by his human frailty.

Wherever we fall on the spectrum between “good” and “vilest”, we are cursed by sin. Whether we are “believers” or not, we are all torn and are unable to make consistently “good” choices or decisions for action.

Importantly, there is no suggestion that “believers” are in any way “better” than unbelievers. In fact, that’s the point: a “vile offender” who is a believer receives a pardon from Jesus – but the loveliest person in the world that happens not to believe that Jesus has bought them back, having paid in blood for them, does not receive a pardon. They are still accountable for their wrongdoing (however limited it may appear in comparison to the world’s evils.) It’s all a matter of faith – faith that the believer is given. Paul explains:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”

There we go. No one can boast. Vile offender or slightly more palatable offender, ‘every’ believer can live in the ‘promise of God’. Here’s some more of the hymn:

To God be the glory, great things He has done;
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He has done.

If you lasted this far into the post, well done and  – Happy Easter!


Plotting my hair trajectory

I need to make a policy decision on my hair: go grey gradually or dye my way to a delusional future?

It would be easier to make the decision, I feel, if I reflected on my past hair-related decisions and extrapolate from the data the likely outcomb of my current musings. In addition, I will of course scour the scriptures for guidance.

My hair grows out of my head. It keeps doing it; it is long. It is also brown and straight. That’s how my hair is, generally. Sometimes I get it cut.

In 1997 I got it cut from long to short; some people didn’t think I was the same person. Then it grew again. About six years ago I got it bobbed and I turned into Velma Dinkley: this was an ill-thought-through haircut; it did solve my Hallowe’en problems that year though.

As for the colour thing, I used to get vague, half-hearted highlights. Then I realized that my hair was in fact a colour, not going grey, so I could be saving myself a fortune by simply just… not getting vague half-hearted highlights.

So, that’s the status. Long brown hair. Seldom-to-never professionally maintained. In the last three years I have been out to a posh thing twice and had it “done”. It has been great/worth having the length.

For the rest of the time my hair is in a ponytail, or down. If I am trying to look like a functioning person, I straighten it. It “needs” about six inches of split ends cut off.

But, to my point, my split end, as it were: the whole “going grey” thing is a thing.

Now, grey hair is not a problem. It’s the ‘going’ part that is the issue.

When I last had my hair “done” for the posh thing, there were very, very few lone greys spiraling out from the hairdo looking as if they belonged to someone else. There was a momentary compulsion to snip or pluck, but then I thought… meh… and skipped off to the ball feeling perfectly justified in the grey to brown ratio, given that I am 44.

But what of the future? Do I continue to think, hey, my grey to brown ratio is just fine, while unbeknownst to me I look like a salt’n’peppa actual witch? With the tooth gap still going on (my adventures into orthodonistry as a concept have likewise stalled) and the split ends and the natural ‘silver’ highlights, I could degenerate into even more of a fright than is strictly necessary…

People my age are “meant” to come to the realization that they can’t “get away with” long hair. (They risk turning into a ‘kronenbourg’ (the beer… you look 16 from the back and 64 from the front.)) For me it’s not so much that I am trying to get away with it. It just grows. It’s just like that. If it were to be any other way than it is, it would be against nature. Literally.

Of course maybe I should get a little help with it. I think people generally get their hair dealt with pretty regularly. But when? When do people get their hair cut? People say “get someone to come to the house” – but when? I’m never in. I’m out, doing something other than getting my hair done. If I had time to get my hair done, I would be thinking Yass – a free morning! – and then go out running or shopping or visiting or facilitating my children’s lives or not sitting in the hairdresser being asked “are you going out tonight?” while thinking “eh… of course, but, like, I am out running in the rain or at a churchy thing, I am not doing anything that involves having tidy hair or nice clothes or context-free socializing…”

I have a hairdresser I would go to if I ever went. I do mean to call her. But there’s the full diary and the phonephobia working against me. I can’t see it happening.

Anyway… back to the whole, “should I start dying my hair to cover the grey?” question…

It isn’t going to happen, is it? I won’t get pink dips or blonde streaks or strategic natural browns. I’ll go grey, hair by hair until I have grey hair.

And then I turn to the bible, which of course I should have done first:

“Grey hair is a crown of splendour;
it is attained in the way of righteousness.”
Proverbs 16 vs 31

Okay, so maybe I am okay with my natural colour, but reading over this post , it sounds as if I need to go and get it tidied up a bit.

*stops self from reaching for scissors*

Waterfall, a poem


We’re silenced by the roar of the water.
The earth pulled from under it,
the stunned spume plummets;
the glassy river

Shattered shards splashing in stutters.
Rocks shine blackly;
White whirlpools swirl and suck
Fresh water into foam and scum.

We turn
And descend on even steps cut in stone.

Leaning on the fence, we talk while watching:
immeasurable, drop by pooling drop
eternally weightless before the fall.

Our vantage point allows a clearer view
Of height to depth and where the river goes.
Even rocks erode and leave us falling
And in the thundering roar we are not heard.

Referendum Fatigue, Language and Rhetoric #indyref2

If ever one was needing an example of assonance, Nicola Sturgeon is pleased to assist. Her addresses to the public, spattered with her importunate references to “independence referendum” are similarly punctuated by the contrasting vowel sound in the middle of our beloved Homeland “Scotland” perhaps even echo the true sound of Es and Os of the Curriculum for Excellence.

Ma heid is done in.


To cheer myself in advance of a few years’ worth of protracted verbal sniping between our First and Prime ministers, I thought I would indulge in a little analysis of some of the Language used by Ms Sturgeon today in her speech to the Party faithful.

I am assuming that you need no persuading that Scotland should not be dragged out of Europe by a Tory government intent on a disastrous hard Brexit.

I visualise Scotland as some poor soul being dragged along by their feet. There are connotations of unwillingness. She has a point here. (Although, when she argues this point she undermines herself. She usually says that Scotland voted to stay in the EU. But Scotland voted for the UK to stay in the EU. We had already voted for Scotland to stay in the UK (in the full knowledge that the EU referendum was going to happen.)

We are referendumed out wur nut.)

I enjoy the concept of a “government intent on a disastrous hard Brexit.” Why any government would be “intent on” anything “disastrous” is clearly nonsense. Presumably Mrs May and Co are, if anything, intent on a good hard Brexit, whatever that is.

It’s like getting your boiled egg right. Do you want your Breakfast, I mean Brexit, hard, soft or runny in the middle? Or red, white and blue as Mrs May once suggested. Whichever options are on the table, all we can be sure about is that eggs are eggs.

But instead of meeting us half way or, frankly, any of the way, Westminster chose to dig its heels in.
Our efforts at compromise with the Prime Minister met with a brick wall of intransigence.

I like these. I wonder what shoes Westminster is wearing. I get a visual of a sensible workwear shoe with a modest heel. Instead of being “dragged” anywhere, “Westminster” manages to stay put. Nice little contrast.  Lovely bit of synecdoche. Here’s how the PM manages to keep her heels firmly dug in – she is hiding behind a “brick wall of intransigence”. Brick walls to me signify frustration and pain. Something you would metaphorically hit your head off a few times before thinking, nah, I willnae bother. A brick wall of “intransigence” must be very frustrating. But it’s still a great word.

Ms Sturgeon continued:

… if she shows the same condescension and inflexibility, the same tin ear, to other EU countries as she has to Scotland then the Brexit process will hit the rocks.

Now, I haven’t ever heard of a “tin ear” (so maybe I have one). Apparently it is to do with being deaf or insensitive to subtleties (is that even politically correct to say?). And then the imagery swings unexpectedly into ‘The Wreck of the Hesperus’ and hits the rocks. Smashing.

Passing over the opportunity to have a think about “We should embrace that scrutiny” and “a compassionate country – with a big heart and a helping hand for those in need. An open country that doesn’t pull up the drawbridge and look inwards…”, I will end with Ms Sturgeon’s closing call:

Let this message ring out today.
Scotland’s future will be in Scotland’s hands.
Repetition, more synecdoche joy and an inspiring tense choice to conclude. Very nice.
But rather than ringing out, I am more wrung oot at the thought of all this kicking off again.


Back in the 80s, I read an article about phobias that said that kneephobia was a phobia; kneephobia was the phobia of knees bending the wrong way.  (I think that is a totally valid phobia. Who wants their knees bending the other way? Just flamingos I think.)

My knee has gone a bit random over the last few days (it has a good reason – don’t worry), so I looked up kneephobia, only to find that it doesn’t exist and that genuphobia is a thing.

Genuphobia is a wider kind of phobia. Naked knees, kneeling, clothed knees, anything knobbly and faintly knee-esque… (no mention of the whole knees-bending-backwards thing though…)

I don’t have genuphobia though. I just have short term idiopathic kneephobia.

I sort of think my knee might bend the wrong way. Slightly.

I have a faint, mostly psychological “buckling” issue – which, while I might spend my dotage laughing on the other side of my face, is today making me imagine myself falling over a lot, which is making me smile. I keep imagining myself stoating away sideyways with no provocation and landing in a heap.

It could happen.

Genuphobia is a good word though. It’s a word that I would have missed out on if it hadn’t been for Aladdin, because I am not Catholic.

For Catholics, I believe, life has a lot of genuflecting. For me, not so much. Not until Robin Williams sang “genuflect, show some respect, down on one knee” did I use my context clues to figure that one out.

It gives me some satisfaction that I can therefore see why genuphobia is fear of knees.

Maybe Disney isn’t rotting people’s brains irreparably after all.

Clarity #themediumisthemessage

We got a new TV.

It turns out that our old TV was barely displaying a picture, although it has seemed fine to me for the last nine or so years. We just didn’t realise how clear pictures could be.





So I can see everything. You can even see the ball properly in football! When the Playstation is on, you can read the words!  Amazing!

But do I like it?

The first footage we looked at was a bit of Indiana Jones. And while some family members felt that we needed to go back to the beginning of the festive viewing and begin again, this time with CLARITY, I thought… where once there was a fun movie, there are now just some actors, acting on a fabricated set.

In my Netflix shows, the camera moves are so suddenly apparent, you are forced to imagine the film crew teetering on the pavement opposite the actors. You can sense every direction they’ve been given. The montages of each scene are so…. there…

My willing-suspension-of-disbelief is being messed with.

The funniest thing I have seen was a bit of Die Hard with a Vengeance, where I could see every fibre on Bruce Willis’s vest, the sweat on every individual hair of his stubble, the make-up on the cop he was talking to and the set looked like something as flimsy and cardboardy as that used in Fawlty Towers.

But I don’t suppose that they imagined when they filmed Die Hard that the audience were ever going to be watching them quite so closely.

I went to bed that night wondering if there would be a life-size Naga Munchetty perching in my TV in the morning, chatting to me over breakfast in the actual flesh.

It was her day off, but yes, the BBC Breakfast crew were looking large. (Not in a fat way.)

So, it’s a bit ironic.

In order to have things as clear and lifelike as possible, it’s so clear and so close that you can “see the strings”, so the whole artifice of the medium is in your face. It therefore becomes less real/absorbing in terms of the viewer experience, and more real in terms of the truth of the matter: it’s not Indiana Jones or John McClane – it’s Harrison Ford or Bruce Willis crashing through a disposable set in a studio.

I know it was always fake. But now I can see it, it looks faker.

And the stuff that I think is fake is in fact the stuff that’s actually real, that I don’t want to see because it messes with the story that I am drawing from the work of the director and the actors.

So, my medium has changed. And if the medium is the message, with this new medium, what is the new message?

None of this (that one sees on TV) is real. All of this is really real (these are real people in real (fake) situations. Art imitates life, only imitates life and life is what’s real.

Which brings me on to actual reality. That one doesn’t look at through a screen. Real places, things and people.

My verse for this is Romans 1 vs 20:

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

The writer argues that what you see in reality makes the nature of God clear to anyone who is looking.

As I look at an episode of “Suits” and can’t help but feel the director and producers and camera operatives working away, replacing the planned narrative with an involuntary metanarrative, the writer of Romans argues that a similar thing happens when someone looks at their world in Creation: the eternal divine Creator is apparent in what we can see.

Maybe I just have to wait until my eyes adjust to the clarity so I can slip back into the willing suspension of disbelief that made the shows fun and the beads of sweat less visible.

Perhaps I need to start appreciating the creativity behind what I see.


Time to untangle the tinsel? #twelfthnight

Today’s prompter asked: “Taking down the decorations…wait til 12th night or not?”


I’ll have to think twice about taking down my decorations – given what happened to them last year. When I got out my bag of tat and tinsel a month ago in order to deck my halls with boughs of random decorations, it was a sorry, sorry sight, prompting the following poem:

‘Twas the month before Christmas And all through the house
A creature was stirring, a rank rodent mouse
The mouse had been nestled 
all snug in its bed
Then thought it would eat
 Sandra’s decorations instead.
It munched through the bag and it munched Santa’s hat
It chomped through the tinsel but would that be that?
It gnawed through the fairy lights 
just for good measure
And disappeared saying,
”It’s been my pleasure.”
A tinselly nest and some Santa hat fluff?
To decorate with that
 would not be enough!
So I’ve been to EK
 and I’ve bought decorations
Now it’s time to begin
 festive exterminations.

Of course, I haven’t done anything about what might have been munching away at my Santa hat at the back of the back of the cupboard-under-the-stairs. I was heartened to entertain the suggestion that it may have been moths, not mice. I mean, there were no droppings, just undeniable eating.

With my mouse or moth experience, the following advice from Jesus (from the Sermon on the Mount ) cannot help but come to mind:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy (…) But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy (….) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

There is no way my decorations count as treasure of any sort, but at Christmas there is certainly a lot of storing up, particularly beforehand – gifts being bought and stashed, food being panic bought, chronic over-catering… but at least during the feasting and festivities all of these things are brought out of storage and enjoyed.

So when I take down my decorations, where am I going to put them? I’ll have to get my act together, hit the shops and buy some mothballs and mouse poison and all kinds of pleasantness, before I can stash my lovely new colour-coordinated baubles, tinsel and blue fairy lights in below the stairs until next year.

(Now I am wondering what the mothballs and mouse poison are in the “treasures in heaven” thing. I suppose one doesn’t need them because the treasures are in heaven, not at the back of a cupboard. One only needs the mothballs and mouse poison if one is a hoarder of physical, corruptible things. One does not need to worry if the things one values are beyond physical reach…)

As for “twelfth night”, I am glad that Christmas Day itself is pretty much the end of Christmas these days. At least there aren’t partridges and pear trees turning up at your front door all the way into January. I think that twelve days afterwards is a good day to take the tree down – I mean, no one knows what day is when or what time it is after Christmas, apart form a brief moment of clarity, or not even then, for the Bells at New Year. It’s good to get that tree in that wheelie bin, take a gulp of cold air and think, right, better get back to normal.

So, in response to the prompt, it’s not so much that I am “waiting” for 12th night. It’s more that I am “waiting” for whatever day the Council says I have to leave my tree out in the brown wheelie bin for collection. Not that it’ll fit. But I can’t even be bothered to ferret out the booklet to see when that is.

In My Fridge


Today, my daughter wanted a fried egg.

I remembered throwing out an egg box yesterday, after the daughters had made some cupcakes, so I told her – “We haven’t got any eggs.”

“Yes we do,” she said, and got onto her tippy toes and made me reach up, beyond my line of vision, and into the top of the top of the fridge egg holder bit, where she had loftily decanted the eggs from the egg box, while making the cupcakes, thus leaving the egg box empty, resulting in me putting the egg box in the bin and thinking, therefore, that we had no eggs.

We had eggs.

I might never have realized that there were eggs in the fridge for years and years.

Sometimes, things accumulate in fridges.

This year, it tended to be wine and champagne that accumulated in our fridge. Wine appears in the house (randomly and occasionally) and I figure I should chill it. So I put it in the fridge and await an occasion that merits opening it. (The wine-cult people now say “Who needs an occasion? …. glass of wine… glass of wine … glass of wine,” to which I say, except I don’t generally say, “Blahhhh… stop idolizing, laughing about and drinking wine as if it’s some panacea when quite clearly it’s anything but…. blahhhh….”) Champagne and Prosecco have even less chance of being actually opened, but I still have it in there, chilling away. You never know…

My rock and roll Hogmanay bash afterparty was largely a Shloer, tea and coffee event, but half a bottle of Champagne is now sitting in the fridge with a bit of clingfilm over it waiting for me to feel like drinking it by about … now… I suppose.

But what’s the chances of that? And pouring quality Champers down the sink? Not sure that counts as good stewardship of resources… but then again, I am not sure that a reality show called “Woman Versus Fridge Full of Champagne” would be terribly edifying for participant or viewers.

It shouldn’t be a lonely chore to drink leftover Champagne. It is supposed to be delicately sipped in polite company by people wearing posh, glitzy clothes…

It’s not just my champagne.

All over Scotland, perhaps the world, people are gingerly opening their fridges hoping that the mass of quality cheese within has begun to look less substantial than it did the last time they opened the fridge. How are people supposed to start their January diets with whiffy Brie and tasty Wensleydale with Cranberries clogging up their crackers?

So what do we do? Continue to host cheese and wine parties until everything is gone and we are back to the protein and veg of the Lean in Fifteen programme? Jettison the cheese and go running? Swiftly chug back the Champagne in the interests of economy?

Fortunately I haven’t much cheese left. But I’ll see what I can do about the champagne in a minute. I’ll raise a glass to my fellow bloggers, wish you all a Happy New Year -filled with interesting ideas and entertaining epiphanies.

And tomorrow I will have a cup of tea and a boiled egg. Because I can.

Because we have eggs.


When you only know a word from a single context, it is harder to figure out what it means. “Panoply” is a word that I only knew in one context: the hymn, “Soldiers of Christ Arise”. Here’s the second stanza where the word appears:

Stand then in His great might, with all His strength endued,
But take, to arm you for the fight, the panoply of God;
That, having all things done, and all your conflicts passed,
Ye may o’ercome through Christ alone and stand entire at last.

This is based on this passage from Ephesians:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes (…) Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 

The “panoply of God” therefore is the “full armour of God”, which Paul goes on to list:  the belt of truth; with the breastplate of righteousness;  your feet fitted with ‘readiness’; the shield of faith; the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. 

I could analyse the imagery here all day long, but what I find most interesting is that the  wearer of the panoply is simply aiming to stand their ground and “after you have done everything, to stand”.

It can seem like a bit of a sledgehammer-to-crack-a-nut, wearing the panoply of God to  end up at square one, at a familiar stand-still.

But perhaps it takes a sledgehammer to crack the nut of maintaining one’s steadfastness.

Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 



What I talk about when I talk about running: not really a book review #Murakami

Over the weekend I read “What I talk about when I talk about running” by Haruki Murakami and wondered why I had never read it before. Murakami, in this series of essays, is a bit like what I think I would be like in a parallel universe where I actually got around to writing a novel and could actually run. It was a quick read, with reflections and thoughts that rang true, as he pounded various pavements across the globe.

Today I went running. Not a solo reverse marathon from Athens to Marathon – just a 5k to a coffee shop and the same 5k in reverse, with a coffee and a chunk of millionaire’s shortbread in between. (Should that be millionaires’ shortbread? How many millionaires are there in the context of shortbread?)

So, in response to reading Murakami, I too shall “talk about running”:

It was cold and it was icy. After a slippery walk to school first thing, I did query the wisdom of running on the pavements, but decided to go anyway, disappearing into the freezing mist with my ears kept safe in my Deerstalker completion buff.

I had 30 minutes to run the 5k, despite the fact that I run at about 7 minutes a kilometre or thereabouts on a good day. But it was downhill all the way there, so I thought I might have a hope. On the downside there were random patches of ice, so the time added for taking more care than usual would perhaps cancel out the downhill advantage.

But is it an advantage? On the initial downhill section I always find it a bit “bangy”, and my legs go a bit shin-splinty and I start my internal monologue loop of regret over my purchase of my very beautiful but thoroughly annoying Ravenna 7s.

They are, without doubt, the worst trainers I have ever bought. They are probably excellent shoes for most other people, but we have not had a happy partnership. It’s doubly disappointing as I usually fall a little in love with my running shoes. I still have fond memories of my first ever pair of trail shoes, my Kanadias. I love my North Face trail shoes and their immediate predecessors, my other North Face trail shoes. So many happy happy miles of mud, air and adventure. Great grips allowing me to put my best foot into any amount of mud with confidence.

But these? Pah. Road running shoes. They had such promise! I even went to the running shoe shop and went on their gait analysis treadmill – which totally worked. I could see these trainers straighten out my ankle wobbles. But then in real life…

They seemed comfy enough at first, but then my feet started to ache across the top. The thing is, you have to have them on as loosely as possible, without them falling off. So, instead of running along thinking about whatever one thinks about when running, I am in a state of irritation with the lacing of my shoes and the fact that they cost a fortune and don’t make me happy. And might come off. Then I think to myself that I have had them long enough that I could justify buying new running shoes  – but then, I would have to sacrifice a running window to go running shoe shopping – and how would that help my step count?

I approach my usual 2.5k turning point and power through towards my destination. I notice a dead mouse – and felt I should mention it here, as Murakami lists animal corpses in his book.

I hit 30 minutes of running and am not really going to make it to the cafe on time. But the time I would lose getting my phone out and texting my friend would only make me even later. I swing into the cafe a full nine minutes late.

Phew. She is even later than me.

It seems even colder on the way home. The cold spurs me into action and off I go for my 5k of uphill running.

This run seems to go in more quickly than the first leg. Maybe because my shin-splints have got over themselves and I found my running groove more quickly. Maybe it’s because I am not under time pressure.

As I run, two songs circulate unbidden in my head. One is “Oceans” and the other is ”Hear the call of the kingdom”. I assume these songs have got themselves out of my subconscious filing system because they both have the word “call” in them.

Last night my house group were discussing God’s call and man’s responses to it, figuring whether a person can seek after God or find God in a proactive way – or whether  one’s response to God is only ever reactive.

So, “Oceans” opens with the line “You call me out upon the waters…” and in the chorus there’s the response of “And I will call upon Your name” with the conclusion “For I am yours, and you are mine.” And the other song contains the invitation to “Hear the call of the kingdom” and the chorus has the response “King of Heaven we will answer the call” – the point being that both responses are responses to a call from God – not instigated by man.

So I then started thinking about James Hogg’s “Memoirs and Confession of a Justified Sinner” and the issues thrown up there like free will and predestination and thought that I should probably re-read it, but there’s more Murakami to read.

I enjoyed running along. I enjoyed the fact that I could run along without wishing it was over. I was feeling fine and in a rhythm. I enjoyed the fact that one’s body can cope with the cold as long as you keep going.

So, that was today’s run. And that’s “What I talk about when I talk about running”.



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