23 April 2007

Shakespeare's birthday

What better way to mark Shakespeare's birthday than a party (at the Great Hall, King's College), with the Poet Laureate reading two Sonnets (101 and 116)? And the opportunity to meet interesting new people - including Michael Holroyd, who tells me he trained to be a solicitor (I say he had a lucky escape).

17 April 2007

The man who didn't understand

A curious incident, seen this lunchtime during the course of our run. Coming down Constitution Hill towards the Victoria Memorial, the familiar sound of a whistle mixed with a motorcycle engine that denotes one thing - a VIP on the move. The police motorcyclist leading the convoy stopped across the pedestrian crossing by Buckingham Palace, and put his hand up to stop oncoming traffic. A taxi passed him from behind, and i bet its licence number was taken.
Equally undeterred was a pedestrian on the Green Park side, a middle-aged man who, either noting that the lights were in his favour or assuming that the police officer had stopped the traffic as a service to him, proceeded to cross the road. He lost confidence when the officer bellowed "stop there!" and held up his hand, but having jumped back onto the pavement decided to assert his inalienable right to cross the road.
"WHY CAN'T YOU DO AS I TELL YOU?" was clearly audible across half of Westminster, but he was across and melting into the crowd on the other side, outside the Palace. Then the next police motorcycle had roared through and was stopping the traffic at the top of the Mall, and finally a stretched Jaguar flying flags from masts on its front wings (a red and green one that I'll have to try to identify) closely followed by a couple of anonymous black cars and a police van, lights flashing.
It's not an uncommon performance in this part of town (even happens, as I noted elsewhere, in Abbey Road), and the sound of a whistle is surely unusual enough to make anyone pay attention. A police officer holding up a hand is a compelling stop sign, and "stop there" at high volume a near-universally understood order - or so I had thought - even in the part of town with probably the highest density of foreign tourists. Perhaps we saw the one person in the world who didn't understand.
Vanesa opined that we were getting to be like Zimbabwe, but corrected herself with the observation that the determined pedestrian had not been shot.
There's one more thing about this that bothers me, and in writing the story I've recalled my first thought on hearing the whistle: how can you blow a whistle while wearing a full-face crash helmet?

16 April 2007

It seems a long time since my last posting, during which time I have failed to start another half-Marathon (White Horse) and finally managed to get to see the latest incarnation of Stackridge, of which more anon perhaps. For the time being, though, let's stick to today, because the IDK seems finally to be getting better.

I ran this lunchtime, alone, except that up the hill to Green Park tube station I tried (successfully) to match the pace of a young guy who passed me as we turned off the Mall. But at the top, while he turned off to the left and disappeared off along the north side of the park, I had to stop and have a short walk. I did get going again, pretty successfully, but not at his pace. Still, my own pace will do for me, and with luck (and if I can follow the training schedule I downloaded this morning) it will get much better.