So the time for the Bath Half-Marathon has come round again already? Yes it has, and the town is now packed with thousands of semi-healthy people with their families and supporters and I am trapped in its centre without access to the car. Well, it's a good day for it I suppose - sunny but cool - and the restaurants and cafes will do very well. I am trying to put a brave face on it, as you can probably tell.
More school days. Because I was tall and gangly when about 13 or 14, I was always entered into the cross-country race for the school annual games events. Not only could I ever run faster than 6 miles per hour without looki9ng like an ostrich, but I could never read maps or hold my attention long enough to get my bearings as soon as any urban landmarks were left behind, so I was always the last to cross the line - by a very wide margin.
I remember one race when I was so late to finish (as finish I must) that I appeared to be the first to cross the line in the next race, and the crowd of parents and other on-lookers were astounded at my Olympian-standard quick time.
The cheers and applause of the spectators soon turned into jeers and laughter when the headmaster loudly proclaimed over the Tannoy, "EVERYONE STOP CLAPPING PLEASE. STEPHENSON IS NOT FIRST IN THIS RACE, HE IS LAST IN THE PREVIOUS ONE." I had to cross the line - trying to hold my shorts up with one hand and wave with the other - and pretend to find this humiliation as amusing as everyone else did.
Outside in the Half-Marathon, people are far kinder to the hopeless entrants who are about an hour later than everyone else, when all the Kenyans are showered, changed and receiving their cheques, and clap them warmly simply for taking part. It's for charity, so be nice.
There is a lot of money in charity events, and it doesn't all go to charity.