I achieved a long-cherished ambition on Tuesday when I ran an iconic London route that I’ve had as a target since I started running reasonably seriously. I completed a run from the depths of the city’s central basin to the rim of its suburbs. My route took me from St Pauls, over the Wobbly Bridge, down Borough High Street to the Elephant, along Walworth Road to Camberwell Green, past Kings College Hospital and around Champion Park, down to East Dulwich, up Lordship Lane and around the final stretch of the South Circular to home. I completed it in one hour and 15 minutes, which I was pretty happy with.
It wasn’t only the fact that I’d completed my longest run ever that made me very happy. One of the many things I love about London is the challenges it offers, and this run from the centre to the suburbs helped to reaffirm my already deep connection with my city. We all find our ways to express our attachment to this amazing place, and this is one of mine. Hopes of doing the London Marathon, a truly iconic acheivement, still seem far off, but the run was part of my training for the Royal Parks Half – a route I’ve wanted to do for some time.
It’s not for everyone, but for me, being able to run a particular route (relatively) comfortably is one way of expressing an affinity for, and a respectful mastery of, a specific manifestation of the city. On a more practical note, it makes me feel a little more confident about the Half, even though it still seems daunting and I haven’t decided whether to go for sponsorship or just the personal challenge.
On a different note entirely, it was good to see my brief post on Chas ‘n’ Dave attract some comment. I particularly liked Tom Davies’s contribution, in which he showed a typically astute eye when he said: “It’s a bit annoying, that since the likes of Pete Doherty started bigging them up a few years ago, people now assume you’re being a ‘knowing’, ‘ironic’ middle-class dilettante if you admit to liking any of their songs. Whereas in fact they stand up just fine in their own right.”
Quite right too, and I remember Squeeze and Ian Dury being dismissed in similarly contemptuous tones by people who later claimed to recognise the true genius on display. Better late than never I guess, and I’m conscious this smacks of that muso snobbery that strains to prove ‘I liked them before anyone had heard of them’. But hey, none of us is perfect.