09 June 2011

ice packs and jimmy buffett lyrics

It's sunny today, in spite of the big rain clouds. There's an occasional shower, but it doesn't last. The breeze is a mere wheeze compared to the gales that have hit of late.

With these things in mind, I stretched out this afternoon and went for a run. Town seemed reasonably quiet. There was the odd dog-walker on East Sands and a bit of traffic here and there, but not all that many folks. I was able to cross the Old Course without yielding to a drive from the first hole or a final whack to the eighteenth. My pace felt good and the sun felt better as I ran behind the dunes, along the grass down to the end of West Sands. I passed some folks with tricycles attached to sails folding their kit onto the back of a trailer. I imagined the mildness of the breeze annoyed them as much as it pleased me. They were young, brightly attired and wearing scarlet safety helmets.

By the time I reached the last flag on the beach and turned back towards home my mind set itself on my writing, turning over issues of prose and plot as my legs retraced my steps. It's one of the few times I can ponder my words while listening to lyrics by someone else. In this case it was the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and Blink 182: good running tunes. Turning from the entrance to the beach to follow the Bruce Embankment, my mind had drifted to nothing in particular. The blue of the sea, the brightness of the sky, the enormity of the odd rain cloud. I dodged the odd pedestrian and wheezed a 'thank you' or 'cheers' if they took evasive action.

And then I got to the car park and something at the bottom of my calf popped. I ran with a limp for a few more steps and it got worse, so I stopped. I stretched it out as best I could for about a minute. I jogged lightly for another few steps and it seemed better. Everything else felt brilliant - runner's high, six and a bit miles in, muscles, lungs, all of it good. I stretched again. I could see the restaurant I used to work at, my old boss, my old colleagues and a wine rep I knew sitting at the window, right along my route (which, at that point, was all uphill).

I ran again, waved at my audience as I puffed out my chest and tried to look somewhat fitter than I am. At the top of the hill I walked for another fifty yards before once again attempting a light trot. That was the last straw. I don't run with a phone; if I did, I would have phoned someone.

I hobbled the last two-thirds of a mile home, petrified that I'd torn the most notorious of tendons. My only consolation was that there wasn't any pain to speak of, just the threat of it. I also took grim comfort in the thought that if I had torn my tendon, even hobbling would have been too much.

Now there's an ice pack under my calf and achilles, I'm staring out the window at the glorious afternoon and Jimmy Buffett's 'Growing Older But Not Up' is running through my head:

Crack went my leg, 
like the shell of an egg, 
someone call a decent physician


Though my mind is quite flexible,
These brittle bones don't bend.

It wasn't a crack at least, it was a pop.

07 June 2011

edge of distraction

I think the mackerel are back. I'm neither a marine biologist nor a fisherman, yet I feel confident in my hunch. Staring out my window to the steel-grey, wind-swept waters of St Andrews Bay, I see two great clouds of gulls dive-bombing the choppy whitecaps. Their method is entrancing. They fly in an arc, vaguely parallel to the water (though not perfectly, it is an arc) and when something under the surface catches their eye they pivot and tuck their wings in, dropping like a rock, or a lawn dart. Does anyone remember lawn darts? In any case, there's quite a big splash and if they're lucky, these feathered lawn darts emerge with a fish for their trouble. It sounds simple, and yet the sight of three hundred odd birds doing this in cyclical perpetuity, or as long as the fish are there, is striking. My brain wants to find some sort of pattern in the attack, though there is none. The birds don't take turns and so no rhyme nor reason emerges. And still I look for one, regardless. I wonder if it would be harder to break my gaze if I found a pattern, or if it's the search that keeps me looking.

As distractions go, I prefer gulls fishing to the temptations of Facebook and Twitter. All too frequently does 'one more look' become 15 or 20 minutes of my life I shall never recover, undoubtedly providing less wonder and insight than lawn-dart birds harassing schools of oily fish.

Distractions are a danger at the moment, no matter how much wonder and insight I can convince myself I've found. I've cast aside my traditional safety nets and in no particular order, I need to start a new book, redraft the last book, find jobs to apply for and continue to harass agents. I'll never be able to reconcile whether I'm a writer or a professional wine geek if I cannot find the motivation to excel at both.

And so it's time to pivot and tuck in my wings, plunging into cold grey water and sloppy metaphors.