Agentnaz's Blog

Modern Prufrock. Conjurer of Woes and Worries.

Category: animals

Running with the pack.

This year i have found myself in the unprecedented position of exceeding my New Years resolutions – pretty much by not having made any. Instead, i’ve just done stuff. About a month before christmas i took up running again. I used to do a fair bit of running and anyone who knows me has no doubt countless times been bored to tears with my tales of injuries and wonky feet and wayward knees. Couple this with a chronic inability to get out of bed in the morning, and generally not much running took place for a long time.

But then the dog came to stay…

The dog is a fur coated cannonball of energy. He is a blur. He exists in a state of constant motion. He basically needs to calm the f*** down. But when I explain this to him, he just stares up at me in wide eyed delight and fidgets, like someone in anticipation of a hilarious punch-line. The powerpoint was a complete waste of time, to be honest. The only other alternative is to walk him. Every. Bloody. Day. So, in a new, surreal, upside-down reality, I now find myself dressed and awake around 5.30am every morning. I no longer have the excuse of not being out of bed. After a few months of morning walks, I thought we could combine our common interests and turn the walks into runs.

We go out in the dark each morning, me gasping for breath in the cold air, running my legs off while the dog trots along next to me, barely breaking out of a walk. Sometimes he likes to point out how slow I run by skipping a few steps ahead, stopping to do a little wee, having a shake, and then carrying on alongside me without the lead ever getting pulled. Smug, loose-limbed little bastard.

I also gave up drinking for January. Not for charity, but just because I thought I might die soon if I continue to drink at the levels I have been. ‘Everyone drinks too much in the run up to Christmas!’ friends tell me. Unfortunately, my run-up started several  Christmases before this one, so something needed to be done really…

The moment I declared that intention, I panicked, tried to change to giving up something more realistic and achievable, like oxygen or the use of my legs.

But in the end not-drinking helped with getting up in the morning, which helps with running. Which helps with starting to feel like what I imagine human beings are actually supposed to feel like.

But  the injuries have begun to creep back in already. This time around I had specially purchased a pair of stability running shoes that were intended to prevent the painful kneecap pain that used to take months to heal. So far, no knee cap pain, but instead a new and equally intense tibial band pain down the outside of my knee. ,which also appears to be taking months to heal. It turns out (a little too late) that there are studies that show that tibial band injuries are quite common with stability running shoes. Which is ironic when they’re designed to prevent injuries in the first place.

So in a month or two, I’ll be back to the neutral shoes again, and have to take my chances with the kneecap problems.

Running is essentially the cheapest and easiest fitness activity to get into. Just open the door, step outside and go (probably close the door after you). There is a great  sense of freedom to be gained from running, but this doesn’t come until a few weeks after you’ve started, when you’re able to run a bit further. There’s not an awful lot of freedom involved in getting to the first corner and coming straight back again, the whole experience having lasted no more than 5 minutes. There’s a secret to running that no one seems to tell people when they start out-you don’t actually have to run  a lot . Walking is pretty good for you too, so starting off with a tiny bit of running amongst a lot of walking makes it a lot easier to get into it and to keep it going.

Its hard enough to find the time to remain fit and healthy when you have young children, but finding the money is equally hard if not more. Running is free, but very high impact on the bones and joints, and not very good for you if you do too much of it. To join a gym is extortionately priced, especially when they’re not even open when it would be most beneficial to me. If its not open at 5.30 am, theres no chance of getting a workout and still get the kids to school and myself to work in the morning. And if both you and your partner want to join the gym? Might as well remortgage. I’ve not yet found a gym that can understand that it is physical impossibility for me and  my wife to attend at the same time. So why no shared membership?

The late Bill Hicks once said, ‘You think you’re free? Just try going somewhere without any money…’ Well going running  is probably the only time i can leave the house without having to be prepared to pay for something while I’m  out. So as frustrating as it is, i’ll not give it up yet.

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Tv

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Big Brother is on the television again. The concept of the show has strayed far beyond the philosophical exploration of the Orwellian idea of Panopticon Surveillance.

I’ve got a few ideas for gameshows.

You’ve Crossed The Lion!
Contestants are put up in luxury accommodation with a gourmet shopping budget, all the entertainment facilities anyone could ever wish for. Every Friday night a wild mountain lion is released into the house and contestants have to do their utmost to goad, bait and generally irritate the lion to breaking point. Any surviving housemates will be considered ‘winners’, all of whom will gain automatic entry to the lottery for Medical Treatment. Animal rights will of course be of paramount importance. If at any time the animal becomes too distressed, a trained marksman will be on hand to shoot the contestants. All of them.

Bear With Me!
Contestants are filmed going about their daily lives, sharing their their working day, their social lives, their thoughts and private moments – all whilst tethered to an angry grizzly bear. At the end of the series, contestants will be invited to reveal how they have discovered ‘who they are’, and an exclusive magazine photo shoot with the bear, who they will no doubt have married soon after the show has aired.

GangBand!
Each episode a fresh new boyband is dropped into some of the toughest gang warfare zones of Mexico, Columbia and China, armed only with a rudimentary introduction to street-slang, some cosmetic products, and a Hello Kitty Beatbox. They will have to decide whether they will face the terrifying initiation rites of joining one of the gangs, survive as a GangBand in their own right, or bring peace to the region with their unique musical talents.

I’m awaiting feedback from the television companies.

Keep Your Friends Close, Your Enemies Closer – but Don’t let the Bloody Cat out of Your Sight…

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Cohabiting with a cat is not without it’s share of peril. My wife often tells me she’s had the cat longer than she’s had me; a veiled suggestion that there exists some sort of pecking order, and that I may not feature on it quite as highly as I might hope..
They say ‘My Enemy’s Enemy is my Friend’. But in this case my enemy’s enemies are more cats and, as such, are just as much of a bloody nuisance.

Many of us wander through life wondering what it’s all about, searching for a clue to give us some hint of what our purpose is in life, and why we are here.
The Cat suffers from no such inner turmoil. The Cat knows, unequivocally, that she was placed on this earth with the sole purpose of causing me as much Minor Grief as possible.
Now, Minor Grief may not sound that bad, but it is the quadruped’s equivalent of abuse without leaving a mark. If she were to just brazenly claw my eyes out, for instance, a fair amount of attention would be generated and she’d be in a lot of trouble. She’d at least have a few questions to answer. But she plays the long game. She knows all the little things she can get away with. The purring behind my head whilst I’m trying to watch tv, the death-stare when no one else is watching, the knocking at the door to be let in (isn’t she clever – she’s learnt to use the door knocker! ), weaving between my legs on the stairs or leaping at the arm of the sofa in a thrashing scrambling blur of claws whenever there’s a moment of tension during a horror movie (causing me to behave in a manner not becoming a grown man..)
Of course if I complain about any of these things individually then I’m being unreasonable. If I complain about them collectively as a campaign of terror being waged against me, then apparently I’m unstable and need ‘help’.

It’s like Death by a Thousand Cuts. Each on its own quite innocuous, but when added together it becomes more than the sum of it’s parts and is enough to drive a man to an incident involving a clocktower and sniper rifle.
Or maybe just a catapult and a cat.
Or am I being unreasonable?