The Day the Thames Disappeared

Kayaking one morning on the Thames: the wildlife was suddenly more visible, without greenery to hide it. Tall gulls and small gulls congregated in lines on the mudflats. Divers disappeared as we approached. And reappeared. And a cormorant stood, wings out-stretched, waving them gently to dry its feathers. Either that, or it was bragging to its mates – ‘Yeah, that fish I caught, right. It was this big…’.

My Crampons for a Pillow

Through the fug and incomprehension, a thought coalesced. Not a clear thought. But there it was. I had laid my head on a pair of crampons wrapped in a fleece. With admirable perspicacity, my first thought was:


I was too exhausted, evidently, to spot the idiocy.  So I just checked my head for divots and shoved the crampons back in my rucksack.

Lucky Autumn Leaves

I haven't quite forgotten the magic of the game and I'll still snatch a falling leaf from the air if it doesn't cause too much embarrassment to me or my companions (it’s just slightly humiliating for everyone to watch a grown man charging off after a pleasure so puerile). And to be fair I don't really expect actual luck to result from it any more, except in the most distant, incalculable sense – perhaps, for a whole year, every piece of toast you drop will defy Murphy’s Law and land jam-side up...


fter all the preparation, when you’re out there fulfilling the challenge, there’s a moment of intense forgetting. Of the dreariness in everyday life, of small-minded concerns, often of others, of the necessity of being on the train or in the office, with its complicated people and their undeclared agendas. Instead there’s the directness of physical endeavour.

Camp Life

There’s a huge stretch of grass, which the early arrivals are steadily filling with tents. You wonder what the collective noun is for a group of people in this state of mild confusion, struggling to convert yards and yards of rebellious fluorescent nylon into shelters… A tentaculation? A tentasmagoria? Or is it just an intention? If anyone has any better ideas, please let me know...

The Call of the Wild

Still, it isn’t all bad. After a regime of pissy teas and unending fruit for the past few months, for the coming few days, and during the event, I can eat anything I like, and as much of it as I want. Chocolate biscuits, dozens of them, cream on my cereal – yes, that’s cream on cereal, it's called fat-loading – burgers than glisten, chips suppurating in fat.  For a few days I can be replete...

The Lardbucket's Lament

The Lardbucket's Lament

With Borzov we're talking about the movement of skin and miniature amounts of sub-cutaneous fat. Now picture a face-on view of Mr Lard-arse, all 100kg of him, barreling his way through the park. Ruction is hardly the word. It's something seismic more like. With each slow-motion thump of my heel striking the ground a cataclysmic wave is sent up through my body and all my extraneous blubber bounces and flails under my skin. Eeeuch! It's almost too horrible to contemplate.