The day we didn’t catch the train

The plan today was to spend the morning in Tunbridge Wells, cheering home the finishers, including one of my friends. I mean, the original plan was to run the race, but I dropped out because I didn’t train.

I’ve been known to be ‘very determined’ (or ‘stupid’ depending on your point of view), and do races even when training has been lax, but I’ve run the TW half marathon two years in a row, and I know what hills await, so. No. This is a case of better the devil I know, and I didn’t care to take him on today. I said I’d cheer instead.

But TfL and/or associated transport bodies managed to screw up that plan. After a 20-minute wait for a bus, then five minutes at the next bus stop down waiting for the driver to unlock the doors and restart the engine once he’d finished having a meltdown over yet another fare-dodger (“That’s three today! Three! What is it about today?! I’m calling the police!” – he didn’t) and reassuring myself that I might just make the start on a later train, and then making it to London Bridge station with a few minutes to spare. Well, I was met with this:

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Imagine the fit of swearing this brought on.

Yeah. It was never meant to be. Far more disappointing to the runners at the station though – and there were quite a few. This was a special train, requested to run by the race organisers, as far as I’m aware, and we were assured just a week ago that it would definitely be fine. But I gather there were engineering works last night that over ran, and the train was only going to get people to the race with about 20 minutes to spare anyway, so rail replacement wasn’t going to help. I went home. Two-hour round trip to get precisely nowhere. Sunday travel in London is terrible. Terrible.

I hadn’t intended to be at home today, though, so I’ve run away and am writing this in a chain café in Dulwich.

I’m disinclined to write too much blog today, though [in retrospect, I waffled on just as much as usual]. On Thursday night I went to a talk by Julia Churchill, children’s lit agent extraordinaire, which was very helpful and answered a lot of questions that bother people but aren’t obvious. She also summed up the crucial points needed for a great manuscript of any type or length more succinctly that most of my uni professors managed to do.  Normally I’d write these things out, but today, I’m sorry. I’m tired and also inspired by that talk to get back to work on a lengthier story that had lost its way because the lead character, to put it bluntly, sucked. I’m starting it more or less from scratch, and it’s already a lot better and therefore more appealing than blogging.

Other stuff…

I’m expecting a rejection email or two this week, possibly, unless the magazine I’m expecting them from has changed its approach. More stories have gone out as well, in the last few, and one day, one day, maybe, someone will like one. I keep entering competitions rather than just submitting, but the talent and struggle to stand out are the same, so, there you go.

Been in touch with Sandra from the poetry reading and will be going to a poetry class next week. ON that subject, Holly Dawson (of Word Factory fame, in this blog) wrote this great piece about reading stories out loud – I think all her tips apply to poems, too, or speaking to an audience generally. It is very much worth checking out: http://blogs.chi.ac.uk/shortstoryforum/are-you-sitting-comfortably/

I’ve quit caffeine after a month of headaches, which culminated in a deadly migraine and then mild-to-soul-destroying headaches all week after it. I had my eyes checked and they’re fine – better than fine, they’ve adjusted so I’m not as long-sighted as I was. And I’d been thinking maybe it was the caffeine, and then someone suggested that maybe it was caffeine, so I quit. Tea, coffee, chocolate are barred. I’m inadvertently eating more healthily as a result. I didn’t get the dreaded withdrawal headache, much, and in fact my headaches faded and faded and faded and now it’s Sunday and I’m pain free, if sleepy and over-emotional. De-caf tea tastes like sewage water, though, so bring me your herbal infusions, hot orange cordial and rooibos, and I shall try to love the taste of flowers.

Last thing – my mate who’s doing (has done) the half marathon today is doing the London Marathon this year, raising money for Amnesty International. I know it’s standard begging time, but I’d love you all very much, dear readers, if you could spare tuppence for his sponsorship: www.justgiving.com/Guy-Reder

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