Thursday, 6 December 2018

Chapter 115 : One day I will be admitted to the Royal Hobart Hospital

One day in the future I will be admitted to the Royal Hobart Hospital.

Initially I will be given all necessary emergency care. Efficiently and effectively.

The Royal will then treat the disease. They will identify the aetiology and remove the aetiological agent and prevent its recurrence.  They will then spend as much time and energy preventing recurrence of the disease as on managing the emergency presentation. I will be discharged with a list of instructions. Unlike many businesses the staff abhor repeat customers.

The staff will be neat, tidy and have pride in their work. They will be unhappy when I relapse and discuss my health over a cup of tea. 

I will receive good care. The staff will know what they are doing. They will be aware of the state of the art in their area and ways of compiling a good result working within the limits they have.
Everybody will receive the same treatment. With no preference for or against anybody.

The staff will work with other departments to manage and treat me. The staff I encounter will see other staff as helping them. To see other staff as an indispensable aid.

I don’t expect the staff to be perfect. I don’t expect them to all work hard, conscientiously and compassionately every minute of every day. I expect the staff, like all humans, will vary. And each individual staff to vary. To have good days and days when they are tired, irritable and ignorant.

I expect to pay for the services. Either indirectly via general revenue or directly when I receive the service. I expect people, not as fortunate as me, to not pay directly. To receive the service cheaper.  I expect experts to work out the way various services are paid for. The mix between user pays and general revenue.

I expect politicians to use me or fellow patients for political points. I welcome stories in the media about the Health System. It is called living in a democracy. Living where people are free to use the media to try and improve their lot. Much preferable to the alternative.

I don’t look forward to my time in the Royal. But every time I see the outside of the Royal it reassures me. I am grateful I live in Tasmania in 2018.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Chapter 114 : Hobart Christmas pageant

I love some things because they are so last year. They have not adapted and gone with the times or gone digital. I love the way the Hobart Christmas pageant remains as it is.

Crowds line the city streets.  Children wear red elfin hats or rein deer antlers. Officials wearing red hats survey the empty roads. People sit in gutters waiting.

We wander behind the crowds looking for a place to settle. A spot where my grandkids can see the pageant and where the rest of us can purchase some take away coffee.  We settle and my grandkids peer around. They want to know what is about to happen. They want to know what is coming down the road.

I can hear some music approaching us. We peer up the road.

Before the band a small group connected to the traditional owners appears. Carrying a smoking platter and wearing body paints.  This is part of the Welcome to Country ceremony.

The music becomes louder and a marching band finally arrives and surround us with marching foot-stamping music.
The parade becomes various bands separated by floats or groups walking.

The bands are irresistible. The military bands wear glittering and gleaming military uniforms. They march confidently and well-coordinated.  They stop and start uniformly. They wear uniforms perfect for marching and unsuitable for military activities. They exude music not war.

The tartan pipe bands create an unmistakable sound. A sound associated with bag pipes and drums. A sound that belongs outdoors in a parade. Free unrestricted and uncontained. It permeates around the solid buildings and up the alleys and lanes.

There are some non-military community bands.  In various uniforms. Led by a twirling scepters with paper music attached to instruments.

After ever band I always get asked, “Did you see … in the band?”

Between the bands are various community groups. Charities, schools, sports and dance academies. All have children dressed up and are waving to the crowd.

For me and the grandkids the highlights were:  

Greyhounds were led peacefully down the road. A fantastic advertisement that greyhounds have two uses. One often ignored. They make really good pets.

Roller bladders. Sliding confidently up and down the road.

Speedway cars. Some very fast cars being pulled very slowly.

A steam roller rolled steadily and reliably down the middle of the road. Today was its day off. A day of play not work.
Guide dogs. Guide dogs are less visible than they used to be. These dogs and handlers remind us that guide dogs are still needed and loved.

A colorful Chinese dragon twisted, turned and transformed itself as it wound its way down the road. With a team of colorfully dressed men below the dragon. Holding and supporting the dragon with poles and bringing it to life.  The dragon was a part of a group which included red and yellow robes and serene, peaceful people.
Hobart Tigers. The Hobart Junior football club had a man in a tiger costume. The man was happy and enjoying himself as he bellowed, “Merry Christmas.”

A fire engine rolled slowly down the road. I don’t know why Bruce loves looking at fire engines. I know he does. They are big, powerful and shiny red with gleaming metal.

Stilts were common. There were young children on stilts. Animals on stilts. And men on very tall stilts. The men were ungainly, rigid and towered above us.  I admired their skill as I hoped Bruce doesn’t ask me for some stilts for Christmas. Please Bruce don’t be inspired.

Bruce called out to the clown expecting a reply. The cacophony resulted in no riposte.

Irish dancers. They kicked high and spun as they marched down the road.

Thumbelina ballerinas with gossamer wings waved to the crowd.  Kay waved to the dancers. She was very happy to see girls doing what she loves to do. Enjoy dancing.

I said to Bruce, “Look there is a dinosaur.”

Bruce informed me, “That’s a T-rex.”

And then Santa Claus appeared lounging in his sleigh insouciantly. Around him were reindeer and presents. My grandkids saw him.  They didn’t talk about presents. They didn’t say what they wanted for Christmas.  They said, “Did you hear him say, “Ho, ho, ho merry Christmas.”

I asked them, “Who was the star of the pageant?” Was it baby Jesus or Santa Claus? Who do you most remember?
Bruce says Shrek. Kay is still aglow with images of ballerinas dancing down the main road.  They were stars she dreams of joining.

It must say something about me but I think the stars were the dogs. The greyhounds, the guide dogs and dogs with beards. The dogs were all lively, curious and left nothing behind.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Chapter 113 : the Comrades Marathon : 1986 article : AFTERWARDS


What happens when you finish? Enjoy your moment of triumph. Why not? Then rest. Why not? you deserve it and your body needs it. You have just finished one of the toughest ultra-marathons in the world. A race with traditions, atmosphere and popular support. Many people don’t have the opportunity to even think about entering, running or finishing this race so consider yourself lucky. You are.

In the weeks after the race you can analyze your race and look for areas that need improvement. Write down everything that you can think of that may help you in the future. Then forget about the comrades. Go away and do something else for the Comrades is not the end. It is only the means to an end.

Chapter 112 : the Comrades Marathon : 1986 article : ON THE DAY


On the day of the race you must be at your peak in order to reach your potential. Your body must be at its physical peak on this day. Not a week before or a week later. This peaking at the right time comes from self-knowledge. You must be correctly trained. It is an endurance race and you must be trained for endurance and strength. Your training must achieve a balance between over training (tiredness and injuries) and under training (performing below potential). Such a balance is difficult to achieve and achieved in different ways by different people.

On the day your physical condition is affected by factors other than training done. One of these is the food eaten in the days preceding the race. Stick with foods that suit you. Any illness in the weeks preceding the race will affect your performance. You may think you have fully recovered but the race is always the final arbiter and the race will find these chinks of yours and expose them for the world to see.

Your mind must be at a mental peak on the day. You must be relaxed and anxiously anticipating. You should be excited by the challenge. You should be quietly confident. This confidence comes from knowing you have done adequate training. Any emotional problems arising in the days preceding must be solved. If you take into the race such problems; problems where your mind is not still and cannot concentrate on the race then you will be found out. You don’t run the comrades on aggression, anger or hate. Such things may help you win in rugby or boxing but not in the comrades. They will only hinder.

On the day your knowledge about certain things also needs to at a peak. You need to know all about the route and when you will have to push hard and where there will be some respite. You need to know which clothing and shoes will be best for you. Before you start you must decide what pace you will run at and what liquids you will drink. Do your homework by experimenting during training. Added confidence can be obtained by knowing you are prepared.

Each person is different and has the potential to run a certain minimum time. This time will be different for each person and you can’t compare yourself with somebody else. You can’t disguise or hide what you were born with. It will always come out in the race so it is best to accept your limitations before you begin.

Assuming your self-knowledge is perfect and this has resulted in you being in perfect mental and physical condition for the race then you will achieve your potential. Unfortunately nobody ever does which is why everybody keeps on returning. All you can do during training and in your other preparations is minimize your mistakes. Any mistake will slow you down but nothing will make you run faster than what you are capable of.

The person who has the potential to run a 10:15 Comrades and finishes in 10:30 has performed better than someone capable of 6:30 who finishes in 8:30. This is irrelevant though as you should not be comparing yourself with other people. You should be striving to improve your own time and to eliminate your own mistakes. Your mistakes may not be obvious on the day but an honest post mortem a few weeks later will help.  There is no such thing as a “bad run”. There is always a reason for a bad run even if it isn’t immediately obvious to you.

Chapter 111 : the Comrades Marathon : 1986 article : THE TRAINING


There are many different training methods. What is important is that you choose a method that works for you. Bearing that in mind there are certain basic principles that are fairly universal. I will now describe the methods I prefer for myself even though they might not be right for you.

                Rest…immediately preceding the race rest. Do not run or do any vigorous exercise. Prepare yourself mentally. I think about three days is right but this can easily vary.

                Taper…In the weeks preceding the race I would gradually decrease my mileage. I prefer a taper of about three weeks. As you decrease your mileage you should become full of life and full of bounce. If this is so you can increase the amount of speed work or slightly increase the speed at which you train but be careful. If you push yourself too hard you will tear a muscle or catch a cold. After every training run you should feel fit and bouncy. If you are tired and jaded then rest immediately and do not run again until fully recovered.

                Quality Training…preceding the taper you need a period of high quality training. I think 8/10 weeks is about ideal. The emphasis is on high weekly mileages. At the start of this period I would write down my planned weekly mileages. For most weeks it would be about 120 kays a week. The most important thing during this period is to achieve these guidelines. I keep a log book and record what I have run. This is essential. I start my week on Saturday so I begin the week with a long run. if I run am and pm on Saturday and Sunday then I would accomplish 50/60 kays over the weekend. if I’m feeling good then I can continue to push it hard on Monday so that I will be rewarded with Thursday and Friday or just Friday as a rest day. If I’m feeling tired or heavy footed then I can rest on Monday, take it easy on Tuesday and run hard on Wednesday and Thursday. I prefer a fixed weekly programme and a flexible daily program. I find programs which set out on the 23/4 you run 5 kays am and 8 kays pm a complete mystery. I suspect nobody sticks to them but if it suits you then that’s okay.

These training runs should be run at an easy comfortable pace though on some days you will strain to finish. You are trying to increase your endurance so total mileage is what counts. Don’t be embarrassed about the speed at which you run. It doesn’t matter. Don’t race the people you train with. Don’t try and impress and don’t try and improve your time every day. Don’t be afraid to stop and rest or walk.

Once a week I would do a long training run. The aim of this run is to mentally prepare yourself for running long distances and to increase endurance and stamina. This is definitely not a time for racing. Stopping regularly drinking often and plodding along is what is important. You cannot train for speed and endurance on the same day.

If I want to do some speed training then this will be done during the week. If during a particular week I find I can easily achieve my set mileage then I can think about a fast time trial or other type of speed work. However if during the week I’m battling to achieve my mileage then speed work is quickly forgotten. Mileage comes first and speed comes second. I would also never do more than two hard days a week (one long run and one time trial).

During this period of intensive training you will find you need to sleep more than normal and to eat more than normal. Don’t fight it. If you are hungry then eat. It’s impossible to put on weight when doing such training. This period of quality training demands sacrifices. There is time spent running and time spent sleeping that must come from somewhere. If you don’t have this time to spare then forget about the Comrades.

                Basic training…preceding the high quality period is a  less intensive more varied period during which you attempt to achieve a basic level of fitness and get used to the daily routine of running. Your mileage should gradually increase during this period so that by the end of base training a jump to 120 kays is not large or traumatic.

This is more a time for enjoying your running. For entering races and running time trials. It is also a time for visiting the gym to strengthen your leg, back and stomach muscles. At the start of this period you should do other sports (swimming, squash, cycling etc). The way you go about training during this period and the length of time it talks can vary so much it’s impossible to know where to start. For some people this bas training is a part of their daily routine for the whole year.

Chapter 110 : the Comrades Marathon : 1986 article : HOW TO RUN THE COMRADES


Before you start your first training run you must do certain things. First you need a philosophical base to you which is stable and sound. This is the rock upon which everything else is built. If you have emotional, work, social, financial or marital problems then go away and solve them first. Forget about the comrades. The comrades will not solve any of these problems. These problems will surface at the wrong time and prevent you achieving your goals.

Once your life is basically routine and mundane you can start to think about the Comrades. What you need now is a reason. A reason for running. It has to be a good reason. Write it down. If this reason is appropriate for you and consistent with your basic outlook on life then you can continue.
Next you must consider that there is absolutely no shame in not running the Comrades. You can achieve just as much in any field if you approach it with the same amount of time, courage, determination and honesty. There are many paths to the mountain top. A person who exercises regularly and is consistently fit and healthy is achieving more than someone who runs Comrades and rapidly retires.

If you still wish to proceed you need a plan. A realistic plan which will achieve your goal. If you are unfit and have no experience at road running you may find it difficult to write down a suitable training guide. You do not know what you are capable of and hopefully you will later find out that you are capable of things you never dreamed of. Conversely many beginners start off too optimistically and rarely fail to achieve their target and then become disillusioned. It is best to talk to as many people s possible and they will assist you with a realistic and attainable programme.

Chapter 109 : the Comrades Marathon : 1986 article for local running magazine

Chapter 108 : the Comrades Marathon : photos from local newspaper

Chapter 107 : the Comrades Marathon : official photographs

Chapter 106 : the Comrades Marathon

I was born and bred in Melbourne, Australia.

In 1981 I decided to go and work in South Africa.

Arriving in South Africa many of the people I met talked about the Comrades Marathon.

At the time there were 10,000-15,000 entrants per year. The majority were young, white, male South Africans.

It was an endurance running race. Between Pietermaritzburg and Durban. Alternating between an up and down course. Distance varies but is normally about 90 kays. Both up and down courses are hilly.
In 1986 there were sporting sanctions against South Africa. That meant no international sport and domestic sport got all the media coverage. The Comrades grew bigger during this period.
In South Africa it was one of the biggest sporting events of the year. 
It was almost a rite of passage for white males.

When living in Zululand I decided to do it.  My result is two finishes. In 1985 and 1986.

Zululand was very hot and ideal for growing sugar cane.
Because of the heat I trained early in the morning.

I have memories of, to beat the heat, getting up early, running through the sugar cane and gazing up at Haley’s comet. 

In 1986 my training was interrupted by the birth of one of my daughters.
Because of the political system at the time she was born in a hospital for people classified as white.
She now has two children who are beyond racial classification.

The world, the country and the Comrades Marathon has changed.
It has gone professional.
It has gone international.
It has gone multiracial.
It has gone multisexual.

Some things never change. It is still a hard slogging race between Pietermaritzburg and Durban.
In 1986 I wrote an article for my local running club magazine titled “How to run the Comrades.”
In the photos I am wearing the shirt of the local running club. Our symbol was a local animal, the white rhino.

Reading the article today I am pretty proud of it. I tend to agree with myself. Today I would write it differently but I agree with the basic ideas.  Chapter 97 gives my present ideas on how to run a marathon. Pretty similar with slight differences.   

In South Africa, for me, long distance running was a very selfish and self-centered activity.
Returning to Australia my children and work became more important, occupied more time and left less time for long distance running.

And in Australia there was not a race with the same profile.
I have recently met a few people planning on running the Comrades. These people have inspired me to upload an article I wrote in 1986.

Enjoy it.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Chapter 105 : anyone for a hit...

The Copenhagen City Heart Study is a much quoted and read study. 8577 participants were followed for all-cause mortality from 1991 to 2017. Their participation in various sports and other leisure time activities and length of life was monitored.

Various sports were associated with improvements in life expectancy compared with a sedentary group. The researchers found that tennis players added 9.7 years to life expectancy.  Badminton players added 6.2 years. Soccer players added 4.7 years. Cyclists added 3.7 years. Swimmers added 3.4 years. Joggers added 3.2 years. Health club members added 1.5 years.

This study showed that all physical exercise was associated with increased life expectancy. Social physical activities such as tennis, badminton or soccer were associated with greater increased life expectancy more than individual/solitary activities such as jogging, swimming or cycling.

Increased life expectancy was associated with both physical activities and social activities.  Being with other people, playing and interacting with them, as you do when you play games that require a partner or a team has psychological and physiological effects. Connecting with other people is as important as raising your heart rate.
The Copenhagen Study supports a study of 80,000 British adults, published last year in the British Medical Journal, which found people who play racket sports tended to outlive joggers. Regardless of people's age, wealth or level of education.
The Copenhagen Study found that people who played tennis lived on average an extra 9.7 years.  When receiving serve I think. Does tennis make you live longer or do people who live longer play tennis?

There are certain people who don’t play tennis with me. People who can’t delegate.  The expert who knows everything.  The person responsible for all the team all the time. The person who is not a member of a team. Not a team player.  Such a person can’t play with a partner who makes a mistake, hits the ball into the net, hits the ball out or serves a fault.  Such a person can’t play against people who irritate them. They can’t play against someone who doesn’t hit the ball back correctly or serves without waiting or smashes the ball directly at opponents.

Another person I never play tennis with is someone with personality or emotional problems. During tennis the ball will bounce or fly towards you. You then have to hit it. With confidence. You have to be aware you are taking a risk. You are doing something which may or may not succeed.  When playing tennis you have to take it in turns to act creatively. Depression or senility is a contra-indication.

The other person missing from the tennis court is someone perpetually in a bad mood or emotionally upset or easily irritated. Some of the young elite players fall into this category. They will not play tennis when they retire from professional tennis.  

I play tennis against people who have good cardio vascular physical fitness. People with good hand eye co-ordination and good balance and mobility. People who are emotionally and mentally healthy. They are nice people. I love them so much I love to beat them. It’s not tennis that makes them live longer. They are the type of person who lives a long and healthy life therefore they play tennis.

The message from Copenhagen is don’t play tennis. The main message is social activity is as important as physical activity. If doing a solitary physical activity then try and do it with other people or afterwards go social. You need a balanced life.

Tennis is not the only way to lead a healthy balanced life.  On Wednesday Tasmanian Masters Athletics runs an athletic carnival on the domain for all and anybody. Everybody turns up to participate in athletic events. Not everybody is of Olympic or national or state or club standard. Everybody is interested in improving in getting faster or higher or longer. Everybody putatively turns up for physical reasons and everybody, without thinking about it, improves themselves socially.

While waiting for my turn to run, I talk to other elders about runs coming up, training, injuries, children or grandchildren. There is always someone to advise me on improving my long jump or give me advice on technique or local conditions.

Everybody who competes is winning even those who come last.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Chapter 104 :Return to not work

Sometimes when you retire you return to your place of previous employment.
Well this is the way it went for me.
In 1994 I started a dental surgery in the middle of Hobart.  I worked there for about twenty years. It was my practice.  The practice I created. I put my life into it. It resonated with my personality. When I was awake I spent more time there than anywhere else. 
Today I am taking one of my grandchildren to the dentist. To see a dentist working were I used to work.  In the same room with the same chair.
The waiting room has changed. A new screen for the computer. That’s new and better. They had to change that. Gertrude, my grandchild starts arranging the toys on the floor. I aim for the pile of magazines.
There is another man waiting. I greet him.  Things used to be different. I used to work here and he would occasionally visit me.   Now we sit side by side. We have to find something to talk about. We can’t talk about his teeth. That topic has gone. It’s now forbidden.
Another patient arrives. She greets me cheerfully and says, “When are you going to come back?”
I say, “I am never coming back. I enjoyed my time here. But now it’s time for someone else to work here and time for me to do something else.”
Gertrude is called into the surgery. I follow. The much wiped chair is central to the room.  The ceiling is just the way I arranged it. Replete with pictures that I placed there.  Wow I remember that picture of Dexter. That dog is dead now.
What’s that machine over there? That’s new.  What have they done with this room? They have altered it.  They did that without asking me. They are treating it like they own the place.
When working as a dentist you often see and inherit the work of another dentist. Broken fillings. Failed crowns or rampant decay. I wonder what they are seeing. They are seeing all my old work. What are they thinking of it.  How is my work coping?
After selling the practice there was the first time I returned.  I spent the whole visit thinking about what they should do. They must look out for that autoclave. It can be unpredictable. You can tell by the noise it makes. I must tell them about the air-conditioner. How to control the apparently uncontrollable air-conditioner.  And that drawer is a perfect spot for the bibs. 
I felt like a retired cricketer commentating on the cricket. He should be standing slightly more upright. That would help him counter the bounce.
Today I no longer have the urge to tell them what to do. I have gone past being an expert commentator. I no longer feel I should tell them anything. I sit back and think, “Do whatever you want. It’s your practice - do it your way. You will make mistakes and you will learn from them.”
The dentist seeing Gertrude has the nightmare of working with me watching her. Gertrude sits on the chair and the chair changes shape. She wears sunglasses and a bib.  She is very happy as she gets her teeth polished and cleaned and then she receives some stickers.
I am not sure how much the dentist working here knows about me. Does she realise her job and this place depends on me. Does she know that without me that chair would not be there? She would be working elsewhere.
Well I know this practice would be nothing without her.  The current owners and staff have taken the tree I planted, watered it, fed it and nurtured it. Without them it would be dead. They have given the practice life. New enthusiastic ways of doing things.
This practice needs us both. And one day it may need someone else.
Walking down the stairs I am very happy to see the practice functioning so well. I am happy to see so many patients who have moved on. They are now seeing somebody else and are happy with their new dentist. I am happy not to be missed.
Writing this my thoughts turn to my grandfather, Clarrie Carlton. His life was the newspaper he started.  In 1965 he sold the newspaper to a man called Rupert Murdoch. Somehow he had to find a way of living after his precious baby went in new directions.  The paper he gave birth to is still going strong more than 50 years after he sold it. He would be happy with that.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Chapter 103: the Domain

With my grandchildren I walk on a hill on the Domain. This is an opportunity for me to pretend I know more than them. I say, “This hill is the place were radio masts were erected in 1911 in order to communicate with the Antarctic.”
I ask them, “Imagine you are at the other end of this radio in the Antarctic. What are you going to say?”

Gertrude says, “I would upload a picture of the penguins.”

I say, “Well you have a good point there. Because Mawson went their largely for scientific reasons. They did go there to look at the penguins.”

My grandchildren know the name Mawson because of the huts on the docks. After much talking we agree Mawson went to the Antarctic in 1912 and erected huts in the Antarctic (copies of  are now on our docks in Hobart) and spoke to Australia via the Domain.

Moving on we head towards some concrete slabs on the east side of the hill.  I say, “Do you have any idea what was built here.”

They are mute so I inform them, “A number of defense force installations were built on the Domain.”

Bruce says, “Where’s the big gun?”

“Bruce you’re thinking of a different place.  That gun (Bellerive) was built a long time before the buildings over here. The concrete placed here was for the war against the Japanese between 1939 and 1945.”

Bruce hears the word war which excites him.
“Wow I can use my light sword.” says Bruce.

 Bruce swings a branch around as a light sword. His favourite films include light swords, goodies and baddies. To think this could have happened up here on the Domain.

I pretend I am a responsible adult and tell him, “We would prefer to be friends with Japan. To eat sushi and drive Toyota cars. We both win if we work together.”

Bruce continues hitting plants and de-heading grass with his stick. He says, “We will defeat them.”

I say to Bruce, “Imagine you are in class and the teacher ask you to draw a picture. You can fight with the person on the next table. Break his pencils and rip up his paper. To stop him drawing a better picture than you.  Another option is that you can work together. Help each other. Which way are you going to go?”

Bruce keeps waving his stick around wishing it was a light saver. He pauses slightly. 

He is torn. He loves drawing with his classmates.  And he loves films involving fighting between goodies and badies.  
I tell Bruce, “There was no war on the Domain. The Japanese never came anywhere near Hobart.”

The political correct angel is sitting on my shoulder telling me to tell them the full story. 

“Bruce and Gertrude. The Japanese did not fight a war here. Can you tell me of any war fought anywhere near here?”

That is a rhetorical question because I know they will not answer it.

My answer is that in 1803 Britain decided to come here and start another colony of the British Empire. When they arrived there were already aborigines living here.  There were many differences and clashes between the two groups of people. Many of these clashes involved violence. The aboriginal people living on the Domain were invaded and fought to protect their way of life.

Gertrude says, “So that’s why we have the Cenotaph.”

“No you are not correct. The Cenotaph is a memorial to other brave and courageous Tasmanians.” 
Bruce throws his stick away and says, “Everybody should have drawn pictures together. They should have worked together.”

They both find the idea of aborigines living on the Domain difficult to comprehend.

Gertrude says “Where did they live? There are no houses up here.”

I have to agree. There are no houses on the Domain.  I decide there is only one thing I can show them that might prove that at one time aboriginals did lived up here.

We head down towards the river. I show them piles of shells in the banks below the path running beside the Derwent River.  They look at the shells. I say, “What are these shells telling you.”

We discuss the shells but I am distracted. The name of the Queens Domain should be changed.  Prior to 1803 it was managed by the Mouheneenner aboriginal people. In 1860 the Governor handed the Queens Domain to the people of Hobart. 

Either give the Queens Domain a name that recognizes the aboriginals who lived there or do what everybody does call it.  Call it the Domain. Let’s get rid of the Queen from Queens Domain. The present Queen doesn’t own it. She rarely visits. And has no direct interest in managing  the Domain.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Chapter 102 : parkrun Singapore

My life involves a trip to Europe and being a parkrun fanatic.
Can I combine the two?     

I go to parkrun global. I look up places I will be on Saturday and possible parkrun options. Nuremberg is a near miss. They do parkrun but the dry weather is leading to a low river and a change to my trip means I will miss out on this parkrun.  Singapore emerges as an option but I will be transferring via Singapore on a Friday.

We add a day to our transfer in Singapore and we will now be in Singapore on Saturday and they have three parkruns to choose from.

Further goggling tells me the East Coast parkrun is the closest. About 5 kms from my hotel. It starts at 7:30 a.m.

To get there we will need a taxi. Should be easy to get a taxi from the hotel.

In Singapore the weather on Friday tells me tomorrow is going to be warm. Before going to bed I lay out my running clothes, my bar code and a water bottle.

Saturday is parkrun day. We head downstairs looking for a taxi. The driver knows exactly where to go and drops us off at the spot Mr Goggle tells us. It is before 7 and immediately a couple of runners are obvious. They are waiting in a shelter. We approach them. They are parkrunners but it is their first time at this parkrun. We all think we are in the right spot.

The park is busy with people. More runners appear and eventually one says the magic words, “I have done this parkrun before and it starts here.”

As he is saying this a man hammers a parkrun banner into the ground and starts placing witches hats in lines. His confirmation relaxes and pleases us. 

More people start appearing out of nothing. Either singularly or in groups. They wear tops advertising local services, local runs or local clubs. They begin stretching, jogging or greeting other runners.
The race director gives a talk to the gathered crowd. I keenly listen to his comments on the proposed course.  All us visitors (a lot) get to put up our hands and say where we are from. Most are from the UK or Australia.

We walk to the start and the race director unleashes us. I start to run and start to think about important things. My time.  It will not be in range of a PB. Due to jetlag and the heat.

We run along a very wide path by the bay. On our right are many anchored ships. Too many to count. The park is well maintained, neat and tidy with big trees and lawns.  Singapore is full of many spectacular well maintained and cared for plants. The plants in the built up areas are fantastic.

This park is not absolute best one for garden displays.  It is more a recreational park full of active people.  As we run down the path we encounter other runners, cyclists, walkers, a couple of monks and a walking tai chi phalanx. I wipe the sweat from my eyes as I approach the turn around point.
The course is straight up and back. Back down the same path. There are even more people in the park.

I can sense the finish. And then I see it, charge throw it, receive a token and get scanned. All very obviously laid out and done.

Job now done. I talk to a few people. One person says, “Lucky it wasn’t humid today.”
Now I can’t complain about the heat.

Back at our hotel the results mysteriously appear on our I-phone. I’m amazed at new technology when used appropriately. And then I get another drink of water.

Parkrun enhances my travel experiences. As well as queuing to see the local tourist attractions I get to do something with the locals.

Everybody running was wearing different clothes, was a different shape, had a unique running style and had a different back story.  The course was different. The country was different.
I now realise that on a Saturday there are people in Singapore doing exactly what I am doing in Hobart. We are united by 5 kms and have a lot in common. The people in Singapore are just like the people in Hobart. All different.

Europe : 20.8.18 Prague words

We arrive at the train station. This will be simple. All we have to do is get a cab. 

We search outside; find nothing and decide to ask a policeman. He groans and forces himself to point at something. We have no idea what. We follow his suggested direction and then ask a shop assistant. He doesn’t like being disturbed by people asking stupid questions. He waves an answer. We try and follow up with more info which is a step too far. Two questions is way beyond...we’ve really wrecked his day now.

Eventually we jump into the first cab we encounter.  The driver thinks it’s time to prove to us he should have raced professionally. He weaves cars and jumps lanes then races down some narrow cobblestone lanes while dodging pedestrians. 

Arriving at our hotel my stressed, anxious demeanour contrasts with his relaxed, joyful manner. He has enjoyed himself.  His happiness is about to increase. He gives us a bill he has just thought up.

Later that day we meet the reason we came to Prague. A couple of young guys who live here. They say, “Everybody who comes to Prague says the Czech people are rude. They are not really like that when you get to know them.”

They do a very good job of proving the people in Prague are not rude. They are both well-behaved, hospitable and friendly. 

Next Day in Prague 

We do a self-guided tour of Prague. Every building has an interesting story. 

We randomly choose a cafe for lunch. We sit thinking it’s our fate to occasionally glimpse the cruising waiter. We then make the cardinal mistake of signaling to him for the menu. He then decides that we are rude, arrogant foreigners who always complain about shoddy service and don’t deserve to be treated. We eventually leave searching for anyone to serve us anything.

At the next cafe we get to place our order and then wait. Nothing happens but we feel committed. We have placed an order and I catch occasional glimpses of the waiter so we may eventually...

The afternoon involves touring more old buildings with modern uses. Our accommodation was originally built 800 years ago and now provides Wi-Fi.

In the evening we go out with our Prague friends.
5 of us order. Two meals, including mine, come in pretty normal time. The food is good and I finish my food and then we wait for the other meals. Eventually we ask the waiter for our other food. Two meals come after about ten more minutes; they are eaten and then we don’t know what to say to the one who has still not received her meal.
It turns out they had forgotten about her. She didn’t starve. She eventually got something to eat.

Our Prague friends shake their shoulders and one says his Czech is not good enough to complain and if you complain in English you are just reinforcing stereotypes.

I see this as a legacy of communism. Many of the people can’t remember the communist days but a lot of the work practices have endured. 

I can’t conclude much else except that our countries are very different. Though we both have pretty strong tennis cultures in common.

Europe : 20.8.18 Prague photos

Europe : 20.8.18 Budapest to Prague photos

Europe : 19.8.18 Budapest photos 3

Europe : 19.8.18 Budapest words

We cruise down the Danube. The bridges and old buildings of Budapest are very attractive. At night the city becomes even more attractive.

Our first guide talks non-stop for 3 hours. Not one attempt at a joke, question aimed at us or friendly comment. All her facts are indisputable.

She mentions her national heroes: a long list of scientists and their discoveries. Rubik doesn’t make the list. His work is trivial and light.

A guy who took a different tour said his guide was the perfect cure for insomnia. I told him about our guide and we both thought...

Another guide says, “Everybody thinks we Hungarians are depressed and sad. Well that’s because we’ve been controlled by other countries for over 500 years.”

He then said, “It’s not our national character to always be grumpy. One day a week we actually get depressed. Don’t take our grumpiness personally. It’s not aimed at you.”

I managed to ask a guide about the legacy of Communism. He said Communism created a lazy, dependent people who expected other people to solve any issue. We saw this in a small corner shop. I’m sure I was an extra in a comedy show they were filming.

The national ethos seems to be: Eventually our country found true liberty and true freedom but the country is much smaller than it was. In 1920 65 percent of the country was taken away. This seems to grate more than the Communist years.

We were in Budapest on a public holiday. There was a festival by the river. One guide said, “Don’t go there it will be crowded.”

We go. The stalls selling food are fantastic. I’m beginning to love Hungarian food. Lots of casseroles and stews and one pot food.

The atmosphere was also fantastic. Crowds of well-behaved people; a rock singer on a stage; no hoons or larrikins showing off; no drunken chorus; a few boats on the river; a few scattered violinists. No possibility of a local being openly friendly or extroverted and welcoming but the food is good and we feel very safe so life is good.