Running

THERE BE NO LAWS UP THERE Y’KNOW…part two

Veggie burger with chips and salad was finally realised once I’d talked a kindly couple into shifting up on one of the long couches in the far room. I promised to bugger off once I’d finished my meal (and cuppa) so they politely ignored the smell that emanated from my clothes and trainers, and made way for the sweaty lad with no mates.

Luck would have it that another spot later appeared closer to the bar, enabling me to take a seat again and order frequent mugs of tea. I chatted briefly with an elderly Australian couple, half way through their coast-to-coast walk, but preferring accommodation up here instead of Keld. The noise and commotion proved eventually too much for them, so they retired to bed early (I’m not sure whether upstairs was the most quiet of places considering what was going on, but they would have at least had a bit of space to breathe). The two made way for a small group of most pleasant bikers (Roger not included) who were clearly looking forward to the main band of the evening – ‘Lanterns of the Lake’. There was a support band playing too, but few seemed interested in seeing whoever this lot were, which was a pity as the place was packed to the rafters and would have given me a bit of space too, and it was still too early for me to go to seek solace in bed for the evening.

Once the band – they did play at Glastonbury, honest – had taken stage in the barn to the rear of the Inn, the bar did finally quieten. I now had no company so out came Paddy Dillon again, and I read what he had to say about the next stretch of the walk into Middleton-in-Teesdale and beyond. I then made something of a mistake. Time for one last mug of tea. ‘A pot of tea’ I asked the scary looking bloke, cheerily. ‘What the bloody hell’ he retorted, and stormed into the kitchen. Had I upset him a tad? It turned out that my definition of ‘pot’ – Yorkshire, large mug – was at odds with his definition of ‘pot’ – large metal jug containing enough brew to satisfy a small army, and it was definition of ‘pot’ that I was about to receive. Had there not been others around then the contents of that pot might have been deposited over ones head. I had obviously not made a request agreeable with his current disposition. By this time, here was one thing that I was pretty clear about in my mind, and this was that should I encounter one of Tan Hill’s legendary spectre’s this evening, none would have scared me as much as this bloke. It is said that customers often smell tobacco smoke, all over the place – near the kitchen, outside the toilets, near the cellar and in a rear passageway. It has been suggested that this smoke may be connected with the story of three drovers who used to smoke heavily in the shelter of the pub’s walls several hundred years ago. Try it these days and top-dog lady I’d encountered outside would have their guts for garters.
tea

The pot (scary mans definition) of tea took an eternity to finish, something like four pots (my definition) from it, and it was obvious that I would be up several times during the night to have a pee. At eleven o’clock it was time to retire. I hoped to be able to sneak out of the bar without any attention (‘look at that dick leaving, do you know what he asked for…’) but my way was barred at the door by a small herd of sheep attempting to gain access to the bar. And they weren’t giving up either. It turns out they are regulars, and one of the most important tasks for visitors to Tan Hill is to give them their feed at regular intervals. Not me, not tonight, I needed some sleep. I climbed over the first two, fell over a third and bounced off another as I made my way, somewhat exasperated, to my tent.

That should have been it really. In a perfect world I would have had a great night’s sleep and no problem dropping off, but for a start it was now bloody cold up here – far colder than I’d anticipated – and there were other problems emerging. Even then, dressed in four or five layers and wrapped in foil blanket inside my most tiny bivvy tent, I still hadn’t accounted for the band, who could probably be heard all over Durham and Yorkshire, and if the wind was strongest enough, possibly in Scandinavia too. And there was another snag. The fact that I got to listen to ‘Lanterns of the Lake’ for free I could easily cope with, but with the aftermath I was severely unimpressed. Several tents full of over-exuberant teenagers dispersed themselves around the campsite and, being young and carefree, spent the rest of the evening generally sitting around, chilling, finishing their beer they had of course purchased at the bar, and making generally making merriment. Their conversation rarely rose above ‘x-factor’ level, and was, in the main, total gibberish. There were many tales consisting of who got off with who last week, and what one lad would love to do with one lass, if only another lad hadn’t already done the same thing to that lass the week before, and such like. ‘Welcome to middle age’, I reminded myself. As expected, several visits to the makeshift loo behind the rocks were needed (the ‘official’ ones were much too far away on a cold night like this), but despite my loudest and most severe ‘tuts’ in their general direction, my woeful protestations went unheeded and the youths continued their ways. This continued to first light, when they finally decided that it was time to sleep. After all, hey, they need not be up ‘til noon. Some of us grumpy old men were hoping to alight at first light.
bivvy

That and the fact that almost everyone who passed my tent managed to fall over the guy ropes, causing me much distress, added up to a pretty miserable night up here. It was therefore a very tired man who decided to have an extra hour in bed to compensate for those who had the cheek to enjoy themselves hours before.

The portable shower just about managed to force itself into action at 7am, and before long I was back in the bar looking forward to a hearty breakfast that would set me on my way. Slight problem, rock-hard-irate barman was taking orders and there seemed to be no vegetarian, cooked brekkie option. Should I enquire as to its availability? No chance. I bottled it and took the whole meaty brekkie option instead. While rock hard man was not looking I then gave my two sausages and rashers of bacon, and black pudding away to a couple of the bikers , who must have thought all their Christmases had come at once, and gobbled down what remained. That didn’t amount to very much.
I was about to finally depart, when there was a sudden kafuffle and rock hard lady with round glasses emerged from the kitchens. ‘Ok, who broke the fire doors in the bunkhouse early this morning. Tell me. Tell me NOW’ she thundered. I was convinced now that she could have been cast in a James Bond film as a lethal interrogator from SPECTRE. Nevertheless, I was impressed. Several of those who had slept in the bunkhouse put their hands up like frightened schoolchildren and blamed it on a group of gents who had left at 6am. Whether those gents really had committed such crime will never be known, but rock hard woman was satisfied with the answer and moved on, perhaps considering a ‘phone call to her acquaintances in Moscow who would track them down and inflict such harm as would have kept the late Ian Fleming most happy. Had I not learnt to be scared, very scared, of the staff up here I might have offered an explanation that the perpetrator of such crime could have been the ghost of a young lad who is said to also roam these rooms, wearing a brown jacket and shorts and who is purported to hang around in the bunk-rooms in particular. I chose silence instead.
Once everyone had been served (and it WAS chaos again), all breakfast diners were invited to applaud the kitchen staff for their fine efforts the previous evening. No-one dared refuse. At the same time it suddenly dawned on me who this lady could well have been a distant relation to. One of the best known and legendary incumbents up here was one Susan Peacock, a long serving licensee who ran the pub between the two World Wars. She was born in the pub and local legend has it that she is buried behind it. During her time here the inn was a pretty rough place and fisticuffs would often break out between the miners. Ms. Peacock, who was absolutely no push-over, is said to have kept a loaded pistol behind the bar for such occasions. It is not documented how many of those troublesome regulars received a bullet up the arse, but you can bet your bottom dollar that what happened between these walls stayed between these walls. How I wished I had called on her ghost to sort out those young concert goers last night.

It took me about seventeen seconds to pack the tent away and stuff it in my rucksack. It was time to go, leaving behind not only the inn itself, but the Yorkshire Dales National Park. I was at its northern-most extreme, having come an awful long way since Malham several days ago. I did consider making a right racket and throwing myself across the ropes holding up the tents occupied by young, sleeping concert-goers, but I didn’t want to have to explain myself to the staff if I got caught, and anyway if anyone had the right to punish them then Susan Peacock would have her way with them before they left. Tan Hill had been an experience I wouldn’t have missed for the world. I would love to go back when it is a little less busy, it’s a fantastic place, has survived some pretty grim times and I hope it is still there in another hundred years but I had to move on to my next port of call.

I never did check out that feather behind the bar, and will probably never get the chance now as just a few weeks after my visit it was stolen, allegedly by a group of rowdy gentlemen on a stag night. I don’t think they were Americans.

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I SAW A JOLLY HUNTER……..

That’s the first line of a famous children’s poem by Charles Causley, which I would repeat in full here if I wasn’t infringing copyright. Basically, if you don’t know the poem, a fuckwitted hunter goes out to shoot a hare but holds his gun the wrong way ‘round and ends up shooting himself.

There were more hunters out on the moor this morning. Many of them in their wanna-be-SAS attire, all with guns cocked, twitching with excitement at the opportunity they hope they have of blowing the head off a wild animal.

‘Morning’, one of them chirped as I ran past, half way through my hours’ run across the moor. Of course he was being friendly, he was going to kill something today so he was in a jovial mood. What could be better.

grouse2
‘It was until I saw you morons on here’ I replied, ‘you sad, sad individual. Go and get a life’…

..and that was the end of the conversation as I continued on my way , leaving a perplexed looking moron stood there with his shiny gun in his hands, probably wondering why on earth I couldn’t share in his good mood on such a fine morning.

There were more of his type in each grouse butt, many with dogs. One sprightly spaniel approached me with it’s stumpy tail wagging away. He was dragged back by his moronic owner, ‘gerrrr ere, you’, he yelled at his unfortunate pet who only wanted to say hello. It seemed the dog’s sole purpose in life was to recover the carcass of the bird his owner had just shot, which was sad too, because, unaware to many of these hunters, they do actually make rather loving pets.

It was such a pity. It’s late October and the weather was unseasonably fine. The moors looked glorious in the bright sunlight and I could have spent all day running over them. Those people add nothing. I’ve already written on here about their odd reasoning, including the stupid reasons why they set traps (‘we can’t have vermin killing the birds up here because that would be wrong, we want to be the vermin that kill the wildlife instead’), and I’m certainly not alone in my condemnation of them. Unfortunately money talks, and as long as there’s money to be made by killing our wildlife then there will be those who find justification for it.

Things that make me go Grrrrr…..

Two things that make me go grrrr….

1…Is it only me that thinks Record Store Day is maybe not the most wonderful thing in the world? On Saturday we can purchase very limited edition vinyl pressings at a very few of what is left of our rapidly diminishing number of independent record shops. By independent I mean you old-style local high street record store, usually owned by someone local, and definitely not part of a chain of shops.
record store day
The idea is to get people back into these shops. Those of us in our forties and fifties spend huge amounts of our youth in these places, flicking through the latest album releases, 12” mixes, and much fingered 7” singles, especially those in the ‘oldies unlimited’ box that were for sale at 59p. We could get our picture discs there, posters of our favourite bands, even record company promotional displays if we were on good terms with the owner, and provided nobody had beaten us to it. Sadly t’internet has killed off this dying breed. The big chains like HMV saw off much of the competition (so it was ironic that so much should be made of the recent demise of HMV itself) and with online prices, and availability being what they are, the independent record shops haven’t really stood a chance. Plus, who need a physical product any more when you can easily download your favourite tunes in seconds.
Record Store Day then is for folks like me who DO like their physical product, and who still hold a torch for the good old fashioned vinyl record. And why not lets encourage people to use these shops again, surely that’s all good?

But there’s a snag. These ultra-limited releases are just that, very rare, very limited. We cannot simply find our latest local record shop, stroll in, part with our cash, and walk home with the rarities on offer.
These items are in many cases issued to a limited number of the limited number of shops in question (if you see what I mean). And in some cases they are only available in the shops that receive them if the shop seller hasn’t agreed to sell them to his mates already, or already arranged to sell them to someone who intends only to make a massive profit from reselling on eBay. Meanwhile the real fans of the bands releasing the ‘rare’ stuff get stuffed themselves. The only way you’re going to get a copy is by playing the game and hoping you don’t have to bid too high on said auction site.

This certainly doesn’t encourage me to use my local independent record shop, which was what Record Store Day was originally meant to be about in the first place. I will always visit the local record shop on any visit to any town or city centre, and I would dearly love to see them make something of a comeback, but I won’t be ‘taking part’ in Record Store Day on Saturday

So over the weekend, log onto ‘eBay’ and type in ‘record store day’…you’ll see exactly what I mean.

***STOP PRESS – Record Store Day 2014 items on ebay 24 hours before the day itself…now how do you justify that ??? *****

2…I go on about this a lot but it gets me cross. Traps. Traps designed to kill animals. ‘Vermin’ I’m told. I run across the moor and there it is, a trap, and then a little further on there’s another, and so on. They often lie across a stream, thereby offering a short-cut or easy passage for unsuspecting stoat, weasel or mink. The only have to put one foot on the spring laden catch and ‘bang’, they’re history. I ask the local ranger why they’re there. ‘Because they’re vermin’ I’m told. ‘Why are they vermin?’ I ask, ‘because they kill the grouse’ they tell me. ‘Why is that wrong? Surely it is merely nature taking it’s course?’ I enquire again..’Because we want to kill the grouse’ is the ultra-intelligent answer I am forced to accept.

It's not right for animals to kill grouse, thats so very naughty, because it means we can't kill them for sport. There's logic in there somewhere.

It’s not right for animals to kill grouse, thats so very naughty, because it means we can’t kill them for sport. There’s logic in there somewhere.


So I ask again, who is the vermin and why don’t they just admit that the traps are there so that landowners can make lots of money from the unnecessary slaughter of upland birds.

Evidently it is a very very naughty thing to do if you should drop a stone on the offending trap(s), thereby purposefully setting them off, but these things certainly do spoil a lovely run over the moors.

Grrrrr………….

Shanks for that…

I saw a pair of redshank this morning. It was right at the bottom of the moor, out of the gloom. It’s years since I’ve seen those, on a trip with some sixth formers to Iceland about six or seven years ago to be precise. They were chilling out on the dam wall of a local reservoir, not doing much, but doing whatever they were doing peacefully.

I only knew it was a pair of redshank because the guy watching them told me they were. I had no reason not to believe him. They seem to have settled in the area, he told me, which was a rather uncommon thing in this neck of the woods.

It’s not just finely tuned (!?) athletes like myself who get out first thing on a Saturday morning. Rolling out of bed at six and spending a good couple of hours or so on the moor. Birdwatchers do it too . Or should I call them twitchers, because that sounds much better. They are easily spotted, given their sensibly warm attire and binoculars at hand. Finely tuned binoculars I might add, because I’ve looked through some of this ‘ere equipment and it tends to be bloody good.

There are all sorts of rare and hard-to-spot birds out here. Many are just passing through, but patience always pays off. There are ring ouzels higher up the hill, I’ve seen a pair of great grey shrike just a few hundred yards from today’s redshanks, and if you are really lucky you might spot a hen harrier, red kite or merlin. Buzzards, kestrels, peregrine and sparrowhawks are common. Some mornings I get to see a pair of short-eared owls hunting low over the moor. I always enjoy bumping into those out birdspotting, because invariably they know what they are talking about, and always happy to share sightings (unless of course it’s a really rare specimen that needs to be kept secret).
I’ve arrived up at Top Withins at the same time as the odd wheatear, or indeed ring ousel, and marvelled at the sighting. But in many of those cases I’ve not been alone up there. There have been significant numbers of others at times, not one of whom would have (1) actually noticed said bird sat on a rock quite close by, or (2) actually known what a ring ousel looks like.
ring ousel
I don’t know whether that’s a good or bad thing. Is it better to be the wise person who knows a little bit more than those who are not interested in knowing what you know in the first place, or do you shout it out and let the whole bloody lot know?

But anyway. It was nice to see the redshank. They make a right racket when disturbed, and the Icelandic ones i’d encountered weren’t going to let me pass until they were ready. Today’s pair had nobody to worry about, other than the twitcher, who was rightfully keeping a respectful distance, and a smelly runner who was heading in the opposite direction anyway.

Three other runners and two off-road cyclists were also encountered along today’s route. All of them spoke (this isn’t London, remember), although there could have been veloceraptors, yellow bellied sapsuckers (yes, they do exist), and Cheryl Cole in the immediate vicinity today. I wouldn’t have spotted any of them due to the heavy mist high up on those moors. It can feel a bit spooky at times, and I always take extra care to avoid any mishaps. If I need rescuing at any point, it’s going to be difficult given the low cloud and the fact that I don’t have my mobile ‘phone with me.
veloceraptor
I put my headphones on for the last twenty minutes of the run. I was already feeling good. Three better songs couldn’t have been selected at random. Mark Reeder’s epic remix of Sam Taylor Wood/ PSB’s cover of ‘I’m in Love With a German Film Star’ with its long intro that builds and builds and builds before the vocals kick in, OMD’s energetic synth-driven ‘Sister Marie Says’ and New Order’s epic ‘Perfect Kiss’, with it’s awesome four minute outro. I almost didn’t want to finish the run, but I arrived at the doorstep in a few seconds over the two hour mark and I don’t want to be running late for my lunch date…

‘ARE THEY ON THEIR WAY YET?’

I have a really bad head. It’s been bad for a few days. The only way I can seem to shake it is by going off into the hills…running that is, rather than walking. In order to cheer myself out of m depression I set off around 9.30am, just as BBC TV presenters Harry Gration and Amy Garcia were doing likewise just a couple of miles away in Haworth.

Harry and Amy are pedalling the Yorkshire section of the Tour de France. They are doing it on a tandem, and are doing this to raise money for sport relief. The pair are over half way through their week-long effort, and have had plenty of positive TV coverage on Yorkshire’s Look North news bulletin, which they co-present each evening.

HARRY & AMY - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BBC

HARRY & AMY – PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BBC


As I set off from Stanbury it was obvious that there was a buzz about the place. I was on the route within five minutes, and not long afterwards, upon meeting the first walker of the day was greeted with, ‘morning, are they on their way yet?’.

‘Should be’ I replied, and we exchanged a few pleasantries before I headed up the steep climb over Haworth’s Penistone Hill. There, the car parks, normally reserved for dog walkers, were full of more expectant and excited fans. ‘I’m waiting for Harry’ said one elderly, but rather sprightly lady, as she patting her lovely border collie on a bench. ‘He’s waiting to see Harry too’ she continued, pointing to her pampered best friend.

There were more people on the long downhill stretch to Oxenhope. There were more cyclists than usual too. Everyone wanted to see their two favourite TV presenters doing their bit for charity.

And I’m not joking when I use the term ‘favourite TV presenters’. In this neck of the woods Harry Gration is a legend. I was lucky enough to be asked to proof read his ‘Yorkshire Sporting Legends’ book prior to publication a few years back. It’s a book he wrote himself, without the need for a ghost writer, and that was apparent from the first page. I could imagine reading aloud as I took in each page, written in his very own Harry Gration style. It’s not often that you are asked to proof read (for factual accuracy) a book written by your favourite TV presenter.

Now Amy and Harry have been quite vocal in their praise for the hoardes who have come out to support them over the past few days. They have a bucket on the back of their tandem that gets heavier the longer the day goes on, and today was no exception.

After what seemed an eternity, people stopped asking whether they were ‘on their way’, because they really were ‘on their way’. Preceded by a low profile police escort and TV vans, they were upon us, surrounded by an entourage of cyclists, all eager to support and encourage. They were just a few hundred yards from what would be a tough climb up Oxenhope’s Cock Hill, one of the toughest of their week. I wanted to offer some vocal encouragement as I ran just ahead of them, but before I had chance there was a jokey ‘are you running all the way?’ The legend had spoken first. But I wasn’t the only one, the pair were chatting away to all those who had made the effort to join them. These were no prima-donnas, there was a genuine cheeriness and friendliness from the both, which just about underlines, for me, why they are so popular.

That wasn’t the end of it. I left them in Oxenhope (after having collected money from some of the locals who were unable to keep up with them) and took off up the side of the hill to join them at the summit of Cock Hill. It is much easier to run up a hill than it is to cycle up, and today was no exception. The headwind up there today was verging on the severe, and I salute anyone who could have cycled up there today. After another wait, the shattered pair made their way to the top, now surrounded by twice as many cyclist as before, but, incredibly, STILL chatting to those supporting them despite their apparent distress.

COCK HILL

COCK HILL


There was a much needed rest at the top, and Harry, half collapsed was still thanking people for their support. No-body would have thought any bad of him had he just sloped off for a lie down. Amy was shattered too, although she hardly looked it as she talked about the next huge climb facing them up Cragg Vale later in the day.

The headache has now gone. I feel better for that run. Depression is not a nice thing to deal with, but when you have a morning like I’ve had it goes just a little way to making you feel a bit better about yourself. I did nothing special today, but it was lovely to see a pair who were doing special, working hard at it, but maintaining their genuine, cheery disposition throughout. All the best Harry & Amy 

Where have all the fellas gone…?

I had another good run this morning. The moors were as beautiful, wild, and as windswept, as ever. During those 60 minutes I encountered several others – notably 1 other male runner (making a grand total of two of us), and 17 ladies; 14 of them walkers, 3 of them runners.

So where were the other fellas? They were marked by their apparent absence. Surely Manchester United, or Chelsea, or Liverpool, or all of them must have been on the telly at the time. No, hold on, it was too early in the day for that. It was too early for them to be in the pub too.
moors
In an era when virtually all sports are bemoaning a lack of participants as well as able bodies willing to organise events, teams, leagues and the like then this doesn’t surprise me. The usual reason given for a lack of participation in sport is that it’s just too expensive to run a football, or rugby club these days, so they are forced to fold, to pack up and give up the ghost, destroyed by rising costs that making playing, or taking part in their favourite sport just too expensive. Parks pitches are rubbish and the showers are usually shocking – so teams wither and die.

But showers have always been crap at local sporting venues, and past generations were happy to play on makeshift pitches that would return to their use for livestock once the participants had departed the scene. In fact showers were non-existent as most local venues until the 1970s, and in those early days of football and rugby players had to make do with a local stream, or, at best, a shared bucket of water with which to make themselves presentable after the game.

So where are our sportsmen? The couch maybe? It’s no wonder that our national football teams are making less and less impact on the world stage . How can we win a world cup when half of the population can’t be bothered to make the effort in the first place, meaning that we have an ever shrinking pool of quality players to choose from? It’s so easy to blame someone else. You don’t need top quality state of the art showers to go for a run (or even a walk), and it doesn’t cost anything to step out of the door and put one foot in front of another.
runner
Conversely, there are more women’s football teams than there were a decade or so ago. It’s just as expensive to run those clubs too, and the showers are equally as shocking. There are also far more women out on the moors around me at the weekend. I know, I know, it can be so hard running and walking up those massive hills, and it was raining a bit too, but it has always rained, and the hills have always been that tough. The emancipation of women in the western world has enabled something approaching equality with regards to access to sport – that they are making more use of their spare time (or rather, making a bigger effort to keep fit and healthy) is so apparent when I’m out on those there moors.

It’s not difficult see why fewer kids are staying in sport beyond their teens when their old man can’t be bothered to get off his sofa in the first place. There’s no coincidence that those who do stay in sport have parents who still take part themselves. Exactly why sports such as fell running are now an ‘old man’s sport’ with so few youngsters taking part deserves an article of its own, so I’ll leave that until later…
showers
With a rising obesity problem nationally, shouldn’t more of us be getting off our backsides, as those past generations have done. It’s not up to the local council to make things easier for us all (and why should they mend the showers or reduce pitch fees when less of us can be bothered anyway), the world doesn’t owe us, us fellas should get off our backsides, stop complaining, and make ourselves healthier, as we did in the past.*

* unless Manchester United, or Chelsea, or Liverpool, or all of them are on the telly.

ANORAK’S BESTEST RUNNING TUNES…part two

I’m off to India at the end of the week, so I thought I’d leave you all with this, the second part of Anorak’s favourite running tunes, the ones I rather enjoy listening to while out over those wild and rugged moors. And yes, they really are all currently on my ipod.

TALK TALK ‘IT’S MY LIFE’ (US REMIX)
Possibly the best ever remix of any song ever. Originally released in 1983 this failed to make the top 40. The UK 12 inch mix wasn’t much cop, which didn’t help. Then along came Steve Thompson, who created a monster of a track, which was initially released for the American market. The song still failed to become a huge hit in the UK until EMI tried for a third time in 1990 (to promote a ‘best of’ compilation) when it finally hit the top 20. The 12” mix released on that occasion wasn’t much cop either.

DAN HARTMAN ‘I CAN DREAM ABOUT YOU’ (LARRY LEVAN 12” MIX)
This is also one of the best remixes in the history of remixes. Seven years’ after his best known hit ‘Instant Replay’, this song hit number 12 in the singles chart in August 1984. There were two mixes issued on 12” single in the USA, of which this was the lesser known, the other being a rockier extended version of the original single version. The late Larry Leven, one of the most iconic DJ godfathers of them all created this more danceable, and likeable mix that was used on its own in the UK. Don’t buy any of those recently released Twelve Inch compilation CDs though, because they all opt for the rockier mix which is most annoying. The only problem with Levan’s mix is that it doesn’t last longer than 6 minutes…

PARRALOX ‘I AM HUMAN’ Parralox Parralox’s John von Ahlen shares a birthday with myself and fellow Oz singer Olivia Newton John. Just thought I’d share that. John himself is pretty prolific, being behind other acts such as ‘The Sound of the Crowd’. He is a huge Human League fan before you ask. Parralox first came to prominence with ‘Sharper Than a Knife, with Roxy, who was particularly all, on vocals. Subsequent releases saw the gorgeous Amy Jackson take lead vocals, and I couldn’t take my eyes off her when I saw them perform in the UK. More recently John has worked with a number of vocalists, but ‘I am Human’ has become my favourite., taken from the second album ‘State of Decay’. Incidently, if you ever buy a Parralox CD single (yes, some acts still release them) then it’s a bit like buying an album because you still get 70 minutes of music, along with lots of different, and often new, tracks on.

AMII STEWART ‘FRIENDS’ (UK 12” MIX)
Lush, simply lush. One of my all-time favourite tracks. Forget later remixes, the original UK 12” release can never be surpassed. Who says good music never comes out of Italy. If I was deserted on a desert island I would have this on repeat, I never tire of it and on occasions I’ve clicked on ‘back’ when it’s finished in order to hear it yet again. Most super.

MARSHEAUX ‘SUMMER’ (EXTENDED VERSION)
Greek duo Sophie and Marianthi have been producing fantastic electronic music since 2003, and that includes an awesome rendition of ‘popcorn’, which might leave you a bit dizzy if you tried running with that in your ears. Summer is a fine track with dreamy vocal, and appeared in its ‘extended version’ as a free mp3 giveaway on their now defunct forum. Therefore if you can’t track this down then the album version (from their third release ‘Lumineux Noir’ is only a little shorter. If you get chance, listen to their fantastic take on Human League’s ‘Empire State Human’ or their own ‘Dream of a Disco’.

PATRICK JUVET ‘THE GAY PARIS – FRENCH PILLOW TALK’Switzerland finest – what, I hear you say – but surely Celine Dion has that honour. No chance, this former model was the king of the dance-floors in the late 70s. This track is from his ‘Lady Night’ album and is over 11 minutes of pure disco exuberance. Get those flares and huge shirt collars at the ready, who cares if they look sily while you’re out running. I know I will get crucified for this one but it’s a fantastic tune to run to on a fine summer’s morning when you haven’t a care in the world. Juvet

NORTHERN KIND ‘ON AND ON’ (EXTENDED MIX)
Leicestershire’s finest electronic duo. Better than that even, let’s make that just plain ‘Leicestershire’s finest’ full stop. I first came across Matt and Sarah when this previously unissued track from their first album ‘Fifty Three Degrees North’ on the excellent ‘Electronically Yours’ compilation (UNDO records). Their third album, ‘Credible Sexy Unit’ is really quite apt and hasn’t been out long – well worth listening to.

GAT DECOR ‘PASSION’ (NAKED MIX)
Forget the reissued vocal versions, this, along with the epic Darren Emerson mix, is the one you need to be running along to. Labelled as ‘progressive house’ this mix builds slowly and takes you on a pleasant ride that helps you forget how knackered you are.

FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD ‘TWO TRIBES’ (ANNIHILATION MIX)
Another great remix from the 1980s. Classic Pop magazine rated this as the best 12 inch mix of the 80s, and who would argue. There’s also the Carnage mix, and the Hibakusha mix, on separate 12 inch singles, and a remix of ‘War’ with the Carnage mix on the ‘B’ side, and a whole host of different 7” / picture disc mixes as well – in true ZTT style of course. I could spend an entire two hour run listening to FGTH remixes..and on occasion I’ve been known to do just that.

HAZELL DEAN ‘WHO’S LEAVING WHO’ (BOB’S TAMBOURINE MIX)
I almost chose the ‘Indian Summer Mix’ of ‘They Say it’s Gonna Rain’, but instead opted for this, her biggest hit, produced by none other than Stock Aitken Waterman. It’s not the longest extended version you’ll ever hear, but there’s energy from the first beat to the last and it’s definitely one of those that enables you to put in a fast mile just for the sheer hell of it.

MANDY SMITH ‘I JUST CAN’T WAIT’ (COOL & BREEZY JAZZ MIX)
Proof that Stock Aitken Waterman were more than one trick ponies. The original 12” mix was good, but this a laid back groove that would not be out of place in a modern wine bar. Not the type of track you’d really want to hear if running through town, best reserved for those quiter parts of the run where you can relax that bit more.

SISTER SLEDGE ‘LOST IN MUSIC’ (NILE RODGERS 1984 REMIX)
The legend Nile Rodgers had to appear somewhere in these lists. Already a hit once, Rodgers remixed the track he produced in the first place and added backing vocals from Duran Duran, another band he was working with at the time. The result, a smash hit once again. This mix is a lot beefier than the original and is taken from one of disco’s finest albums ‘We Are Family’.

PAMELA FERNANDEZ ‘KICKIN’ IN THE BEAT’ (DANCING DIVAZ MIX)
In the mid 90s, any track that featured a ‘dancing divaz mix’ was worth listening to. This in an era when many remixes sounded nothing like the original, a dancing divaz mix always stayed true to the original, but added a bit more insistency and exuberance that made it all the more easy to dance – or even run – to.

THE MARY JAMES GIRLS ‘IN MY HOUSE’ (12” MIX)
The late, great Rick James produced Mary Jane Girls are best known for ‘All Night Long’, but this is just amazing. I always seem to put in a fast, fast mile when this is on, full of energy and vigour amnd includes everything you would expect from the great man himself.

FIDELITY CASTRO ‘21ST CENTURY GIRL’ (MARK REEDER’S STRIDENT REMIX)
And this certainly is strident. Anything with Mark Reeder on the mix can be nothing but. This is a stand out track from the fantastic compilation ‘5 point 1’ which features a whole host of Reeder mixes and remixes. On ite even breathes new life into John Foxx’s ‘Underpants’.

SCISSOR SISTERS ‘I DON’T FEEL LIKE DANCIN’How can you not be entirely uplifted when you are listening to this one. The only problem I have with it is that at certain points in the song I do indeed feel like dancing like Jake Shears does in the video, and that wouldn’t be a particularly good thing to do on a fast downhill stretch on the road or off the side of a hill.

By the way, if you do like electronic music then the best site to visit is: www.electricity-club.co.uk (no, i’m not on commission)

Oh, and ‘Is That The 12″ Mix’still available from amazon if you haven’t bought it!

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WANT…rude runners, polite runners & India’s poorest

I went for a long run the other morning. I stepped out of the house at ten past seven in the morning and got back just over two hours later. During that time I saw just nine other people – three other runners and six walkers. Some mornings I don’t see a single person, i‘m the solitary individual on a wild and windswept moor that marks the watershed between Yorkshire and Lancashire.

On this occasion I had a brief chat with every one of the other brave souls; ‘great morning’, ‘a bit windy up here’, ‘don’t worry he (the dog) is friendly, he likes runners’ and so on. The forecast of high winds and torrential rain had perhaps persuaded the others to venture out a little earlier than they would otherwise have done, so I had the company this particular morning.

Twelve months ago I had a meeting on a Saturday morning in south London. I never miss a Saturday run, so I was out of the hotel doors for a little after 6am and a put in a steady hour around Wandsworth and Clapham Commons. I didn’t mind the fact that there wasn’t a patch of moorland I could tread, or any real hills to run up, or that even at this time of the day, on a weekend, the traffic was heavier than it would have been almost anywhere else in the country. And I certainly wasn’t put out by the thirty or so other runners I encountered in those sixty minutes.

This photo was taken by a random stranger in the wilds of Yorkshire, just up the road from my village. Would I have been able to ask a random stranger to take my photo in London?

This photo was taken by a random stranger in the wilds of Yorkshire, just up the road from my village. Would I have been able to ask a random stranger to take my photo in London?

What I did mind, however, was the sheer lack of friendliness, polite conversation, or even the slightest acknowledgement to my cheery ‘morning’ that I made a point of delivering to each and every one of those thirty runners. It was like running on an alien planet – either that or I had inadvertently become temporarily invisible for that hour – because not one single person smiled back, returned the greeting, or made eye contact with the most dashing runner in the entire district that morning (ok, maybe that’s going a bit far). Only a small number of these rather rude runners had headphones on, so that was no excuse either.

By the end of the run, I was chirping my ‘morning’ greeting all the more loudly, knowing all too well that the greeting wouldn’t be returned. Then, the very next morning I was at home, out running early, and every single walker and runner I encountered that day spoke. Some offered their greeting before I did, others offered encouragement to the lone runner, I offered encouragement to the walkers struggling with the last part of the climb up to Top Withins (‘Wuthering Heights’ if you have heard of the Brontë sisters).

courtesy of wired.co.uk

courtesy of wired.co.uk

Next week I’m returning to Bihar, India’s poorest region, with a group of teachers who will, among other things, deliver training to unqualified teachers in India’s poorest region. My first visit to Bihar was this time last year. The locals were just charming: proud of their homes, to which we were always invited, proud of their village, their town, their region, of their family, and of the schools that defied the odds to give their children an education that wouldn’t have been available a generation ago.

It was the ambition of many of the adults to one day travel to London. That I come from rural Yorkshire didn’t matter, I had been to London. I live in the same country, so I must tell them all about the city.
DCIM100MEDIA They didn’t always get the replies they had been expecting. We discussed how proud they were of everything they had. I never dawned on them that in the rich ‘developed’ world (never mind just London), people in the UK are rarely proud of their village, their town, and their school. Few people in the cities will invite you into their home, and MOST OF ALL…people are not as friendly. They will not greet a stranger with a polite ‘hello’. They will not acknowledge a stranger. You will not even be given eye contact, not even if you are taking part in the same pastime, at the same time, around the same park.

Last week I was talking about the difference between ‘standard of living’ and ‘quality of life’ to my year 11 geographers. Guess what topics I discussed with them…

ANORAK’S BESTEST RUNNING TUNES…part one

At around 7.30am on a Saturday morning I’m out of the front door. A little over 60 seconds later I’m out onto open moorland. Two hours later, and having listened to some music in the last half-hour of that two hours, I’m home. Before many of you are out of your beds that is, feeling remarkably refreshed, invigorated and all the better for having seen all manner of wildlife and rare birds. This is a small selection of tracks that currently reside on my tiny mp3 player. All of them are equally as brilliant in their own way. You really should listen to them all.At least one of them is featured in that fine fine book ‘Is That The 12” Mix’.

GOLDFRAPP ‘SLIDE IN’ (DFA REMIX)
One of the trippiest tunes you will ever listen to on your headphones. The first five and a half minutes, with its exquisite cowbells, is worthy enough, but then follows a most unreal experience that will make you forget where you are, how far you’ve travelled from home, and, if you are out in the moors, how the hell you’re going to get back. But you won’t care…

PET SHOP BOYS ‘PANDEMONIUM’
From the PSB’s under-rated 2009 offering ‘Yes’, comes a track that a decade earlier would have been a number one single. A feel-good tune that will lift your spirits when you are starting to feel a little jaded.

THE CULT ‘SHE SELLS SANCTUARY’ (LONG VERSION)
Beggars Banquet’s finest and a slow burner from 1985. The original 12” long version is far superior to the ‘howling mix’ and any of the subsequent remixes that were released (even though some of them were rather good).

HEAVEN 17 ‘TEMPTATION’ (BROTHERS IN RYHTHM REMIX)
The original 1983 version was brilliant…the 1992 remix is awesome. Heaven 17 knew nothing about this mix, which was originally produced as a DJ-only mix for the DMC club, until someone told them about it after having heard it in Ibiza. The rest is history, it went on to become a world-wide smash for the second time, and the unedited version has one of the best three-minute intros ever in the history of outstanding intros.

OMD ‘METROLAND’ omd
From their 2013 album ‘English Electric’, OMD take you on a journey that, if anything, proves that some bands never lose the ability to produce damn fine electronic music.

WILL DOWNING ‘A LOVE SUPREME’ (JAZZ IN THE HOUSE MIX)
From an era where house music had taken control of our dance-floors, and the airwaves, this is one of 1988’s best tunes. I tend to bounce along on my run while listening to this.

WALTER JACKSON ‘TOUCHING IN THE DARK’ (12” VERSION)
More soulful than anything I’ve heard for years, the late Walter Jackson should have had a huge global hit with this in 1984. As smooth as Luther Vandross and more authentic than anything Barry White ever did. Beautiful. Mid-run it will leave you feeling all loved-up and warm inside.

lonnie
LONNIE GORDON ‘HOW COULD HE DO THIS TO ME’ (EXTENDED VERSION)
Penned as a single not long after her huge 1990 hit ‘Happenin’ All Over Again’, this sublime and lush Stock Aitken Waterman production was pulled at the last minute, and sat in the vaults until her album was released on CD – at last – just a few years ago. Proof that SAW could produce more than just cheesy (but brilliant) pop music.

THE FOUR TOPS ‘INDESTRUCTIBLE’ (EXTENDED VERSION)
Remixed by PWL’s Pete Hammond, this wasn’t as big as ‘Loco in Acapulco’ but is one of the best 80s songs to run along to, whether you’re making your way through city streets, meandering along the river or high up in the windswept moors.

ODYSSEY ‘NATIVE NEW YORKER’ (FULL LENGTH MIX)
It’s got to be the long version with its long introduction, so forget the 7” edit, which is good, but not a patch on the unedited version it all its piano-driven glory.

PRIVATE LIVES ‘LIVING IN A WORLD (TURNED UPSIDE DOWN)’ (12’’)
Either of the two slightly different 12” mixes will do. Why this ballad wasn’t huge is beyond me. A great tune to listen to while out running…a bit more reflective than many of the danceable (or should than be runnable) tracks even though it still straight pop.

SADE ‘PARADISE’ (EXTENDED VERSION)
More of a groove than a pop song, I first heard this is a record store in Greece. It’s very chilled out and is best listened to at the most remote point of your long weekend run. Bloody great stuff.

EG DAILY ‘LOVE IN THE SHADOWS’ (SPECIALLY REMIXED VERSION)
Produced by Harold Faltermeyer (the man behind ‘Axel F’), this is another track with a long outro that you never really want to end. Elizabeth Daily was the voice behind ‘Rugrats’, and if you have the album this came off (‘Wild Child’) on CD then you’re sat on one of the most sought after 80s CD albums of them all. I nearly included her other UK dance smash, ‘Mind Over Matter’, one of the lesser known PWL / SAW tunes.

SHEENA EASTON ‘101’ (THE REMIX)
David Morales shows us why he was one of the most revered remixes of the 80s with its deep beats and moody vocals. It’s also Sheena Easton’s finest eight minutes. She looked gorgeous at the time, the music still sounds just as gorgeous all these years on.

perfect kiss NEW ORDER ‘THE PERFECT KISS’ (UNEDITED 12″ MIX)
I broke my arm while out running once. I tripped over my lace. It didn’t matter, I was listening to this. Four minutes or so of Barney Sumners unmistakeable vocals, followed by another four minute outro that just builds and builds and builds. If you have ‘Substance’ on CD you have the ‘full-length-mix-with-half-a-minute-lopped-off-the-outro version’ which is almost as good as the version without the half a minute lopped off.

INSTINCT ‘SLEEPWALKING’ (EXTENDED MIX)
Unearthed after festering, unreleased, in the ZTT vaults for nearly three decades an epic Trevor Horn production from the days when he masterminded Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s domination of the UK singles chart. This track, by ex-members of Pigbag appeared on the 2011 compilation ‘The Art of the 12”’. Exciting.