A LOAD OF BULL
Running should be the most simple of sports. All that is required is for one to stand up with feet together and put a foot forward, either left or right, to make contact with the ground, then lean forward and in order to stop one’s self falling flat on one’s face put the other foot forward. Continue repeating this process and move forward. If you do it slowly you are walking if you speed it up you will be running. In my case it is hard to tell the difference.
Having mastered this simple technique one has to decide whether one wants to run in competition or just for fun, although some would say that competition should be fun. Winning races can be fun. I did it once over sixty years ago and have been trying to do it again ever since. My running these days takes place away from the hard surface of metalled roads on fields, country lanes and canal banks.
The advantage of this is that not only is it more forgiving on the old joints but also there is plenty to see and do. If I need a rest I can stop and count how many ducklings are swimming with their mother, how many lambs there are and check whether that horse needs some nice grass to eat. This concern for animals has, on occasions, developed into more than observation. I well recall the struggle I had to extricate a goat, which had got its head stuck in a wire fence. It just kept on pushing forward as I tried to lift the wire that was trapping its head by the horns in the netting. After about ten minutes of ‘wrestling’, with bruised and bleeding hands I succeeded. Some time later I saw Tony, the owner of the goats, who me told that goats always get out if you leave them alone.- No comment.
My concern for animal welfare, unusual for a lad brought up in the back streets of Levenshulme, was demonstrated one cold winter day when I was running in the Higher Poynton area. The fields here are full of what are known locally as ‘pit holes’, disused mine shafts or vents, which have been capped. The resultant hollow in the ground, over time, fills with water, leaves and weeds and becomes a very nasty quagmire. As I was passing by I heard a distressed bleating coming from one of the pit holes and saw that a ewe was well and truly stuck in the mire up to her middle. I went down to the edge of the pit hole, thinking that I could easily pull her out by the horns but found that in order to reach her I had to put one foot into the gunge. It immediately went down almost to my knee. I needed help and sprinted, as well as one can with a shoe full of muddy water and one trackster leg soaking wet and covered in slime, to the nearest house about eight hundred metres away. (I knew those track sessions with Morris would come in handy one day). The farmer flatly refused to run to the scene with me. Instead he made a quick call on his mobile phone. In next to no time the cavalry arrived in the form of a man and a woman on a quad bike carrying a ladder and a coil of rope and the poor ewe was soon back on dry land.
I went home covered in mud but feeling rather like the hero of the day. Did I get a hero’s welcome? No. Instead I was met by those immortal words from ‘The last of the Summer wine’- “ Stand on that newspaper. “
On one occasion Steve Edmunds and I arranged to go for a run starting from his brother Peter’s farm which is up in the hills above Lyme Park. Peter asked us to give him a lift moving some bullocks into another field. I remember there were twelve of them. Eleven went quietly but one flatly refused to co-operate. It dashed over the road onto the golf course of the Moorside Hotel. We chased it around the course for about half an hour before we got it back in the field. This must be one of the strangest warm up sessions ever.
A couple of weeks ago I was jogging along the Peak Forest Canal towpath when I saw a huge bull in the reeds on the opposite bank. The beast was clearly distressed and unable to get out of the water. “this is where a mobile phone comes in handy” I said to myself , looking forward to making an emergency call on my posh Tesco £14.99 antique. Shock horror. I had left it at home. And there was Vinnie, 2000 guineas worth of Belgian Blue fighting for his life. If only he had known that swimming was definitely not part of his job description. I ran to the nearest house and a phone call was made to the owner, who came quickly. He stood on a swing bridge about 200 metres from Vinnie and called him. Vinnie swam to the bridge and was able to scramble up the bank and back into the field where he lay down exhausted, an occasional flick of his tail the only indication of life.
I saw Vinnie the next day and he looked quite well. I asked why he was called Vinnie and was told that the owner was a City fan so there was no other name for a Belgian Blue was there.
Posted 26/08/2014 07:50