Monday, March 29, 2010


You say meow, I say miaow

Lethal drug meow meow will be banned by MPs in record time after an emergency meeting tomorrow.

A tough new law is likely to be brought in within days - one of the fastest ever passed and the last before the General Election. Gordon Brown last night said it was a tragedy young people had been sucked into using the drug.

He said: "They have been misled into believing they were taking a drug which did not have lethal qualities." The £2-a-hit white powder, sold as plant food and called mephedrone, has been blamed for a string of deaths.

The Advisory Council On The Misuse Of Drugs will recommend to Home Secretary Alan Johnson that the drug gets the same status as speed and cannabis - meaning dealers face up to 14 years in prison. The law is expected to be passed on April 8.

Last week a Sunday Mirror investigation found Chinese factories send kilograms of the white powder here using couriers like DHL.

Meow meow banned
The Mirror

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Sunday, March 28, 2010


Attack of the killer tomatoes

Sainsbury's Basics tomatoes often come in warped cans, making them a bit of a pain in the neck to open. I had one particularly recalcitrant example of such a can today, which remained jammed shut even after I'd finally made it all the way round the rim with the can opener.

I was successful in levering it open, but the vibrant twang of the lid springing free was somewhat muffled by the fleshy squelch of it embedding itself in the middle finger and palm of my left hand (putting the cut in subcutaneous, as it were).

I asked Sam to buy me some plasters from the shop next door and drain the pasta, while I bled copiously into the sink.

Sadly, the plasters proved about as effective as a puncture repair kit aboard the Titanic, so I ate my pasta in tomato sauce (with traces of Dan) then wandered off to A&E on Euston Road.

"Tomatoes do come in boxes these days you know," said the nurse as she strove to glue my finger back together.

Next week: Dan slices his own head off while trying to assemble a sandwich from pre-sliced ingredients.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010


She had it coming...

The best bit of photo editing I've done in a while. Of course, Matt Sherry would never shank a sweet northern rose like Nikki. Never.

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Friday, March 19, 2010


Cartoon cricket

IPL cricket has made it onto the idiot box, courtesy of ITV4.

Joe won't hear a good word about the Twenty20 format. Sam and I were chatting over its demerits versus test cricket while we were watching people hitting the ball out of the ground and scantily-clad cheerleaders.

ME: It's a bit like the difference between playing chess and playing snap.

HE: It's more like the difference between playing chess and just throwing chess pieces as far as you can.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010


Happy St Pat's!

I had an article to write and I find that Paddy's Night reaches a level of crassness that puts Christmas in the shade.

I did, however, commemorate the occasion in my own fashion.

Behold, the jelly tricolore.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010


The Adidas Silverstone Half Marathon

Grounds and I did the Silverstone Half Marathon on Sunday, on a sunny, blustery day at England's premier motor racing circuit.


Warming up

Before the race. We didn't get to pick the colour of our vests -
Amnesty just chose a couple at random and sent them to us.

There were around 7,000 entrants, so the start was a bit cramped. Better still, I was already fairly aching for a pee, having been conscientiously drinking water all morning.

I wasn't alone either - for the first 800 yards or so of the race, there was a constant stream of blokes running off the track and relieving themselves against the wall. Grounds and I joined them with very little hesitation.

Grounds had brought his iPod with him, so he stuck that on and started singing along to it in a strange, high-pitched falsetto. I remember Heart of Glass earning us a few looks.

Possibly because of his outlandish behaviour, Grounds was moving through traffic a fair bit more easily than I was. He trotted off into the distance while I got hemmed in by sweaty bodies. As there were a couple of hairpin bends, I was treated to the sight of him bounding indefatigably along in the opposite direction on more than one occasion.

I figured there was no point wasting energy trying to bully my way through the crowd too early so I just settled in and plodded along.

I eventually caught up with Grounds at the eight-mile mark, then gave him a taste of his own medicine by running off on him! Haha! Grounds was getting a bit leggy as he actually needed a poo.

The last couple of miles were fairly hellish as the wind was blowing and there was an uphill stretch to the finish. I hung on for a finishing time of 1:42:58 - around a minute outside my target time, but quite cheering in the blustery conditions.

Grounds, meanwhile, had stopped for a poo but still made it round in an impressive 1:47:17.

Grounds then went for another poo while I tried to find the car. Fortunately I had an ace up my sleeve.

Parking officer standing in a huge car park, packed with cars. Up comes Dan.

ME: Hi there mate, I'm looking for a red Rover 400 series. You seen it?

HE: Er...


Silverstone Half Marathon overall:

* Very impressed with the facilities and organisation. Timing clocks on each mile marker a definite plus. Lots of water and Lucozade available on the course.

* A lot of people commented that their pedometers recorded 13.3 miles - I think that may be caused by being pushed wide through the many corners by traffic.

* The scenery was fairly awful. Unless you're a motorsports fan (I'm not) in which case, the scenery was iconic.

* My new running shoes gave me blisters. I also had a bit of jelly bean stuck between my teeth for the last two miles.


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Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Define yourself

Right, I've bought new running shoes, I've got a couple of issues of Runner's World to leaf through for inspiration. I've even gone jogging a few times and called it 'training'.

Now the last thing I need before the Silverstone Half Marathon on Sunday is a mantra. (Well, the last thing I need is a torn hamstring, I suppose. I wasn't speaking figuratively though.)

The mantra should be something I can repeat to myself for 13-and-a-bit miles to urge myself on and regulate my breathing at the same time.

When Deena Kastor won the Chicago Marathon in 2005, she repeated her coach's pre-race advice define yourself throughout.

My mantra is a bit snappier. It rhymes with Buck's Fizz.


Friday, March 05, 2010


Stepping out in style

With just over a week to go until the Silverstone Half Marathon and after the dismal conditions at the South London 10k, I decided it was time to invest in some new footwear.

There are a number of factors to consider when purchasing a pair of running shoes: price, comfort, look and the sheer ballache of finding them in a size 12.

After visiting two stores I had seen one semi-suitable pair.

Store #3 looked a shade more promising: I had a couple of contenders below the £30 mark. One pair seemed comfy, but looked absolutely ghastly with a sort of tin-foil and guano motif.

his angle doesn't show the mock tortoiseshell effect on the heel
This angle doesn't show the mock
tortoiseshell effect on the heel

I popped them back on the shelves and went for something a bit plainer.

Sadly, the plain pair proved to be as comfy as a set of rat traps. Shuddering, I got the ghastly pair back off the shelf. They fit like gloves, so I parted with my cash.

I'm wearing them right now. They feel lovely but I think I can say without exaggeration that I've put my feet in better-looking dog turds.

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Monday, March 01, 2010


The South London 10k

Sunday league was cancelled again, although I had to admit Sunday league had a point this week. It had rained since Wednesday and was still bucketing down this morning.

Unwilling to let slip another chance to bomb about through muddy puddles (and mindful of forthcoming half marathon appointments), I went online yesterday and put myself in for the South London 10k: 10km round a circuit beginning and ending on Wimbledon common.

So, up I got at 7:00 and set off for Wimbledon, downing a huge bag of jelly babies for breakfast. When I burped five minutes later, my breath had a disconcerting petroleum twang.

The race organisers decided to skip the customary mass warm up, reasoning that more people would freeze to death than would warm their muscles correctly. Instead, they called competitors to the front in order of (self) predicted finishing time.

"First of all, could sub-40 minute runners make their way to the starting line," announced the MC. Nobody came forward. My spirits lifted somewhat.

The start turned out to be a total mad dash as half the field appeared determined to give the lie to the lack of sub-40 runners. I settled into an easy, loping pace and was therefore a bit disappointed to find myself feeling absolutely bloody knackered before I'd seen the 2km sign. A boyfriend / girlfriend team went past me as if I was standing still, chatting amiably, he with long, rangy stride, she with a jaunty bouncing ponytail which mirrored her running gait. I gnashed my teeth and thought machine guns.

From 2km onwards, there was a long, steep decline. This presumably meant there would be a corresponding incline at some point in the course as we were running a circuit. My jelly babies nestled stoically in the pit of my stomach.

Sure enough, the uphill came. An oriental-looking guy, sensibly clad in a bin liner, scooted airily past me.

The course levelled out as we went through halfway. I invented a motivational technique for the rest of my race: one point for anyone I overtook, one point off for anyone who came past me.

By now, some of the early Radcliffes were tiring. I reeled in a guy in a Man Utd shirt, who'd set off like a rat out of a trap. I hauled in a gaggle of students. I even picked off the oriental bin liner. Better still, nobody was overtaking me.

By my count, I was on fifteen points when I went past the 9km sign. I picked up my pace. Then, a minute and a half later, I passed another 9km sign. I refused to let this dampen my spirits.

The boyfriend / girlfriend combo had come back into sight. I gained ground on them when someone nearly ran them over. The lad then chivalrously sped off on his better half, hoping to catch the guy in front. I sped up, hoping to overtake his jilted partner.

I was a few yards down on ponytail as we switched from road to grass for the final stretch. At the beginning of the run-in was a huge, extremely deep puddle. Ponytail faltered, visibly baffled. I summoned up the energy for a big jump, called a cheery (not to mention insincere) apology over my shoulder and zoomed off to the finish, well pleased with my sixteen points.

The goody bag for the race consisted of a rubber ball and some sort of heat pack, which would need to be heated up. What there wasn't was a t-shirt, which was a bit of a shame. I had been operating on the presumption that there would be commemorative t-shirts and had hence neglected to pack a spare. The trip home was a little uncomfortable.

Two weeks now until the Silverstone half.


Disclaimer: I have never beaten up a girl with a kendo stick, unlike Super Steve.


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