Smugness comes before a fall. Every time. I really should have learned that life-lesson by now. It never ends well when I start getting smug about anything at all. As soon as I do, life smirks to itself and throws a slippery banana skin in my path.
Anyway, I mention this now because of running. Since I wrote months ago about how much I dislike running, I’ve been doggedly forcing myself out of the door to run at least 2¼ miles, four times every week. Yes that quarter matters thank you very much, in the same way that the quarter matters to a small child when they say, “I’m 6¼ years old.”
I still dislike running. It still hurts. But I grudgingly admit that it’s brought health/energy benefits and I’m definitely getting faster. I can even run up hills without concerned bystanders offering to phone the paramedics. Result!
Can you see the teeniest bit of smugdom beginning to creep in? Really it shouldn’t, because I’m not all that. When there are no other people in sight, I’ve been known to pause and cling to a lamp-post, cursing and wheezing heavily, only to set off again as though nothing is wrong as soon as I hear a car coming round the corner. And just in case you’re imagining some vision of designer lycra speeding past, my running kit includes baggy grey tracksuit trousers of such perfect hideousness that the Stoic Spouse has banned them from the house. His stoicism goes a long way, but not as far as ugly sportswear.
So on Sunday, I went for my usual run. I was thinking about the blog and about y’all as I ran, and mentally composing a post about how this ridiculously mild winter is making nature go a bit bonkers.
This post was going to be erudite. It was going to be fascinating. And I am not at all delusional.
I mean, look! There are daffodils in early January!
By the way, you can probably already see the photography deteriorating as this post progresses. I’m a shaky camera-holder at the best of times, and mid-run is not the best of times. You may wish to cling on to something solid whilst you view the rest of this post, to avoid yourself from feeling seasick.
Anyway, unseasonal daffodils! It’s an abomination! What’s going to happen to them at Easter when they should be flowering? And what’ll happen to all the bloggers who are waiting to write posts about all the lovely spring flowers?
Yes yes, I’m getting to the bit where I make an idiot of myself, honest. Gotta set the scene, my friend, gotta set the scene.
So… it was unseasonably, unreasonably, unfeasibly mild, and if you’re in the UK then you’ll know that it’s been raining a lot (enough to flood people’s homes in the north, unfortunately). It’s not reached an apocalyptic scale here down south, but it is a trifle soggy underfoot.
Despite all this, I was having a pretty good run. (See? Smug.) So I decided to add in a detour up to the allotment so that I could show you its progress. At which point I met the biggest of all puddles, the mother of all water accumulations, the emperor of all soggy toddler-magnets. (Free parenting tip from TTY: Want your toddler to come back from wherever they’re currently trying to run off to? Pour some water on the ground and call it a puddle. They won’t be able to resist. You’re welcome.) Anyway this puddle was like the nearest one in the photo above, but worse. There was no space down either side. I was wearing running shoes, not wellies, and thus could not just cheerfully splash through it, although with hindsight that’s exactly what I should have done. Ah hindsight, my old friend: I do wish that you wouldn’t always show up so late.
The obvious solution, I reasoned, was to sort of sidestep along the narrow edge of the
lake puddle, hanging from the branches above and trying to ignore the brambles that were clawing at my clothes. What could possibly go wrong?
Anyway, it all went fine.
Oh wait, no: that was just my fantasy. It didn’t go fine at all.
So there I was, swinging from tree to tree like a drunken monkey. No matter that a family of dog-walkers appeared at that moment. No matter that they got to stride through the puddle in their comfy wellies whilst I grinned manically at them from the bushes as though this was totally normal behaviour. Do you know, they looked at me almost as though I was being odd.
You can probably anticipate where this is going, can’t you? It’s going downwards. Because when you’re hanging from a tree, the only way is down. Rapidly. But hey, at least I had a soft landing. In the puddle. Which turned out to be surprisingly deep. And cold. And wet. And humiliating. Who’d have thought? And no I don’t have a photo of this happy event.
The family of dog-walkers must be credited for their heroic attempt not to laugh. Note, I merely say attempt. I swear that even the dog was sniggering. You can’t really blame them. I did land rather spectacularly splashily on all fours in muddy water at their feet. In their shoes (sorry, waterproof, fur-lined wellies), I’d have struggled to stifle a titter, too.
“Are you OK?” one of them asked.
This was when, with my dignity lost in the water around my feet, I resorted to extreme Englishness as a strategy and apologised, just in case I’d inadvertently splashed any of them, and asked if they were OK. Jeez, I couldn’t have been any more of a national stereotype if I’d worn a bowler hat and offered them tea. Still, it’s not as bad as the time I was polite(ish) to the scumbag who unsuccessfully attempted to mug me. “I say dear chap, do please refrain from stealing my handbag.” OK I’m paraphrasing – those weren’t my exact words.
Anyway, once again life has slapped me round the face with a wet haddock and reminded me, Don’t bother getting smug.
So I hope you’ll understand if the photo of our broad beans and onions at the allotment is unlikely to win any artistic awards, OK? It was the best I could do in the circumstances.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ve earned some knitting-time.