Winter has rusted my bicycle bell right through.
I tried to ping a warning to a slower cyclist the other morning on my way to work, but my bell remained mute. I looked down to see my pinger hanging off at an angle.
Why does everything I'm writing sound like a double entendre? Or a metaphor. A metaphor for the toll all this grey winteryness is taking.
As I'm sure you've all noticed, the sun hasn't really bothered coming out for a week or so. The cold rain keeps on falling. On days when I've got some time off I've been going out and soaking up the uniform greyness. On work days my day is an inky black sandwich with a thin filling of artificial light and occasional glimpses of a forbidding sky lowering behind the Scotbet and the Clermiston Inn.
It seems surprising somehow - although I don't know why it should be. This is my 49th winter and as far back as I can remember winter has been a descent into darkness. Into the freezing black tunnel with you and I'll see you in the spring...Winters in Orkney were days of howling wind-storms until one day you'd wake up and be able to hear and realise that the wind had stopped.
So have I been running? Of course I have. Just most of the time I keep my head down and spend half the time dreaming and not paying too much attention to the drab grass, the damp air, my wet feet.
I've had a few quite nasty runs up Arthur's Seat, where the only pay off is standing at the top looking nonchalant in shorts as everyone else there plods around in full mountain gear with their hoods up. Peter and I had a shockingly grim run up in the Pentlands at the weekend. Running over West and East Kip was best approached by shouting and singing at the tops of our voices. The icy wind hurled sleet in our faces and whipped our legs.
Run Home Thursday on a Thursday night, over Corstorphine Hill in the dark takes some courage. It's helped by the fact I don't know which side of the road to get the bus home from. So I have to just do it. It does make me forget all about work - and it is very good to get home and get in and get warm again.
It takes me past the Modern Art Gallery and I always quite like to see the "Everything is going to be alright" sign. When I first saw that - posted up on social media - it seemed kind of trite and uninteresting. But when you've just run over the hill in the dark and the freezing cold pursued by imaginary zoo animals, it's actually quite nice to see.
There is some other "art" in the grounds of the MAG - which would appear to be a greenhouse with a coloured lightbulb in it. Maybe there's more to it than that.
Today Peter and I had a plan to combat the grey horror out there. The weather forecast was kind of typical. Cold and wet, a bit windy, with some black ice thrown in along the paths. I planned to run 8 miles and Peter was going to give me a handicap of 9 minutes and see if I could beat him home. My motor took a little while to warm up and actually he caught up to me at about 6 miles. Still I was working quite hard and it was taking some mental effort. Half way along the prom there is a green trailer that sells some food and coffee and tea. As I passed it I was surprised to see Basil Brush sitting on the counter. When I looked again I saw that it was 2 croissants sticking out a glass container.
I think Peter had to hang back to make it as far as 6 miles before he caught me. Still, by that time, we'd both stretched out and we were in good humour for running the last 2 miles together. We saw Johnny and Yana storming back from where ever they'd been, which was fun.
So tomorrow is the cross-country down at Paxton House. The weather forecast looks horrible. Paxton has some fairly epic mud. We've been very lucky with the Borders XC series so far, with the weather relenting for each race. So maybe it'll be like that tomorrow.
If I happen to win the lottery tonight I am going to go to Nelson in New Zealand. An FB friend lives there and has been posting pictures of it every day. They're having summer there at the moment and she's been out on her mountain bike in the hills in a t-shirt and shorts and swimming in the sea.