Doing battle with daily dragons

Monday, April 18, 2005

....Marathon Mouse

Part two, in honor of Marathon Day in London.

Time alarm clocks went off: 5 am. Painful for all involved, but at least everyone except the Rock Star could look forward to a day of NOT running 26 miles.

Time of departure: 6.20 am

Number of completely jammy parking spaces acquired: 1. Someone who had been to London on marathon Sunday last year whispered in our collective ears of a legendary space that we somehow managed to find and steal. I’d tell you where it is, but I’d have to kill you afterwards. Let’s just put it this way: The Queen shouldn’t leave her bathroom curtains open.

Number of railway stations that couldn’t have been more inconveniently closed: 1. The Rock Star, while trying to reach the start of the marathon in Greenwich, discovered that one of the major stations in his route calculations, Charing Cross, was closed. This involved a rather complex rerouting and he ended up at the start feeling probably more knackered than one should when one has 26 miles ahead of them.

Resolve to live in St. James Park full time during the summer months without detection by groundskeepers: High. 7.20 on a Sunday morning is not exactly prime time in the park. We were, in fact the only people there apart from a couple of guys with plastic bags on their feet who look like they DO live there full time. The sun was out, all of the trees were in full bloom, the ducks, geese, swans and pelicans were all drifting around in the glittering lakes, exchanging pleasantries…stunning.

Distance from jammy parking space to London Bridge: 3.65 miles. It was a gorgeous morning and we enjoyed seeing the city as we’d never seen it before; completely empty. But I was beginning to have the first inklings that I’d chosen the wrong shoes.

Encounters with the Mob: 1. While sitting in a small café in Tower Hill, the manager of the restaurant who was holding court with I guy that I can only guess was Tom Hagen, made many fatuous references to having someone killed. The staff was obviously terrified of this guy and made many deferential bowings and scrapings in his general direction. I told Boy Racer that we might want to think about asking for the check before someone came in to whack Sollozzo and Captain McCluskey.

Celebrities glimpsed: 2. Well, 2 that actually do anything useful for a living. Paula Radcliffe came zooming by much faster than we were expecting and Matthew Pinchot ended up starting one of the races for children that began as we were making our way to our vantage point.

Useless celebrities glimpsed: 1. Jimmy Savile on the back of a truck. Maybe they were finally hauling him away.

Celebrities that had a wazz on national TV: 1. “Well, I hope the nation forgives me,” Paula Radcliffe commented, “but I really had to go.”

People shouted at: Lots. For those who have never attended a marathon, lots of runners have their names written on their apparel so they can be easily encouraged by the crowd. Those who HAVEN’T written their names often compensate by wearing silly costumes. It was rather surreal. “Go, Adam! Go, Jane! Er…Go, Batman! Go Entirely Blue Guy!”

First glimpse of the Rock Star: about 11.30 am, just over Tower Bridge. His Bumlasers t-shirt was visible as he came yomping toward us. (For those of you that sponsored him with that particular stipulation, we’ll have photographic evidence on line shortly, so now you gotta pay up! HA!) (For everyone else, it’s just a convenient mild curse that the Rock Star came up with that kind of caught on.)

Distance from London Bridge to jammy parking space: 3,460 miles.

Shoes lost in the Thames: 1. A small and surly child, near where we settled down at the 25 mile marker to see the Rock Star for the second time, was kicking stones over the wall of the Embankment. To his horror, on his last kick, his improperly tied shoe sailed over the edge along with the stone. Apparently (as Boy Racer related the story to me) the look on his face before screaming, “MUM!” was priceless.

Difficulty level in finding The Rock Star following the proceedings: Middling. Now, I certainly wouldn’t want to have the job of uniting almost 40,000 runners with about 3 times as many family members. The Rock Star, who was hobbling around aimlessly called to ask me where we were in relation to him. I asked HIM if there were any identifying land marks he could see. “Um, well, I’m standing next to 3 giant Cornish pasties who’ve just finished the race.” It took me a minute to recover from that.

Number of spouses that needed carrying to the car: 1.

Number of tickets received in jammy parking space: 0.

Number of very proud Potamus’s: 1.

Congrats to everyone who ran!