06 October 2016

Holding back the years

For many years I thought - I convinced myself - that running could slow down, or even reverse, the ageing process. It helped that I only started running in my mid-thirties, so getting fit made me feel a great deal younger. It dealt successfully with aches and pains that might otherwise have become a great deal worse.

For various reasons, including a broken arm and then a pretty severe case of plantar fasciitis, I haven't run a lot for more than a year. Having reached the stage in James Dunne's PF rehabilitation programme at which he says I can do a little running, I started yesterday with a gentle mile (three laps of the playing fields) and added another lap this morning. The years seem to be falling away already - I hope the same goes for the 20-plus pounds of extra weight that I have acquired since the start of my enforced rest.

At the same time, I've forcibly made myself younger by embarking on a new career - perhaps more accurately a new job, and resuming a career which I'd largely left behind ("largely" because I still have my Moscow gig, as regular readers of this blog - if there are any - will be aware). I've enjoyed teaching (which after all is little more than talking about myself, at least the way I do it is) ever since I first did it, which would be at Essex University in about 1992: only in the last few years have I become concerned with whether the students enjoyed it as much as I did. Several of the Russians clearly have done, and last year, to my delight, a wonderful former student from many years ago confirmed that she had done, too, which encouraged me (inter alia) to look for some more lecturing work.

Which is how I came to be driving up the M1 to Nottingham on Monday morning, en route to start teaching intellectual property law to third-year undergraduates (level 6, as I have discovered having looked pretty stupid when I didn't understand the Regulated Qualifications Framework). Listening, as it happens, to the Adagietto from Mahler 5 which came on Radio 3 at an opportune moment - though it is not suited to listening at motorway speeds in an open-topped car. (The conductor was Kubelik and he took about 12 minutes, so a lot slower than Mahler.) Then a few minutes later came the Abschied from Das Lied von der Erde, a piece (the whole symphony, not just the last movement) which I need to put high on the list of "must-listens" which I am going to compile to get back into the habit of listening to music.

Two days, three seminar groups and one lecture later, and I was driving the other way down the M1, feeling considerably younger. So the title of this song by Simply Red is just right. I hadn't consciously heard it until I was introduced to this video recently - proof, again, of a powerful connection ... with a former student ... The video is full of scenes from the history of my father's side of my family, including the 199 steps leading to the church (and the Abbey) which my grandmother climbed so often that (according to family lore) she wore out the 200th one, and (presumably) the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. It doesn't show Spantons, but it's quite a nostalgia trip.

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