Category Archives: Sheep

God vs. Dawkins, Optimism vs. Pessimism, Sheep vs. Elbow

You know when you’re making a new enclosure for some sheep and one of the ungrateful bastards head-butts you in the elbow when you’re kneeling down and fixing the last bit of fencing?

Well, if you don’t know how this (admittedly niche) event feels, then believe me it feels rather painful. Normally I’m pretty adept at avoiding the sheep, but I got complacent as he was the other side of a fence. A wire mesh fence doesn’t really absorb a sheep collision though – so lesson learned. Thankfully, while I also have a knackered back I don’t think it’ll stop me running, as long as I keep it bent (the arm obv.) What a January this has been. I swear to God it would be quicker to list the parts of my body that are still working 100% rather than the faulty bits. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a bad run of luck. I’m starting to think I’m developing Münchhausen Syndrome and I’m subconsciously hurting myself to get attention. So keep reading the blog, otherwise god knows what’s going to happen.

Talking of Janathon (another 10k today) I think I’m going to have to accept that 8th place may be my finishing position in the leaderboard. There are a couple of strong challengers from behind, but the leading pack is starting to draw away from me, and I’m not sure I’ve got the willpower to close them down. I think I’ve got just enough willpower to stay ahead of the people behind. So I’m exhibiting a sort of average amount of willpower overall.

What has bugged me slightly today is my lack of talent. Now I’ll clarify this slightly – I’m not saying there aren’t things I’m fairly good at, and there are plenty I’m awful at, but what really annoys me is the way I haven’t been given a prestigious talent. For example, I can just about play the guitar, but why am I not gifted at playing the guitar? I can run, but I’m not a gifted runner. Why? I’m fairly intelligent, but not especially so. WHY? It seems unfair that some people are gifted exceptional talents and I’m not. How unfair that someone genuinely gifted can wake up and go “oh, I’ll just write a sonata before breakfast” or something while I just wander about bleary eyed, scratching my crotch and trying to find a bowl for my Wheetos. It’s not fair is it?

It can’t be graft that cuts down this advantage, as I’ve met plenty of people who have worked really hard at improving a skill and are still utterly crap at whatever it is they’ve chosen to do. Some people are just born gifted. I’ll give you another example. I’m crap at maths. Not so crap that people would point and laugh at me in the street because I was trying to eat a calculator, but bad enough that anything involving algebra brings me out in a cold sweat. I can’t do it. But I toiled and toiled and managed to get a B in GSCE maths. A joke, of course. I could as much describe a quadratic equation to you now as I could go surfboarding on a cheesecake. That’s GCSEs for you. But even so I toiled and learned by rote and managed to scrape through. But there were people in that class who were “gifted” at mathematics. For whom a quadratic equation was as complicated as a performing a bowel movement. How must it feel to wander into a classroom and feel the thrill that you’re going to understand it all because you’re a smartarse? Brilliant, that’s how.

So, so unfair.

I don’t have a single natural talent like this. It’s hard not to be bitter. I’d take anything. Incredible, uncanny ability to name a cheese by smell alone? Photographic memory for telephone area codes in the Sudan? I’d take anything. But I was given NOTHING. I don’t care whether you believe in genetics or religion, I’ve been screwed over by Dawkins or God. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe every person has a prestigious talent, they just need to uncover it somehow. Maybe one day I’ll pick up a vaulting pole and find I’m Olympic standard. But I don’t buy it. I just think some people are damn lucky and I’m irritated about it.

Another thing that irritated me recently was a couple of other Janathon blogs talking about how certain people exude positive energy and others are black holes of depression and despair. There was some guff about how certain people are victims because of their lack of an optimistic world view and others are victors. Or something. I’m paraphrasing. I can’t remember. As someone not disposed to be cheery and who has a firmly pessimistic view of life I wanted to stand up for the under-appreciated negative thinkers out there.  It’s all very well thinking positive, but if you think positive you can’t help but get kicked in the teeth. Nearly every overly positive person I’ve ever met in my life has had a remarkably low threshold for getting weepy, teary and depressed.

If you go through life pushing yourself to be better and trying to bring joy to those around you, inevitably you’re going to fail. That’s because people like me exist, and when we see cheery people like you coming our way we get annoyed and mark you out as someone who needs their day ruining. As pessimists we are flexible and willing to become even more miserable just to stop the optimists spoiling our world with their rainbows, flowers and dancing unicorns. Pessimism is just common sense, because ultimately the ratio of good people to arsebags on this planet is astronomically big. A healthy defence of expecting the worst and preparing for it is the only way to proceed.

If you accept the world is fundamentally terrible and full of terrible people then it actually becomes a lot more enjoyable living in it.

I say victims of the world unite! Negative thinkers, to arms! Pessimists, take aim!

We march at dawn!

Nah, can’t be bothered.

Sheep tossing


Bit more like it. 15km today, at a decent clip. 5.20m/km, which isn’t very fast, but felt easy, which is encouraging. Next week I think I’ll try a proper fast run.

This morning I felt a bit like the Millennium Falcon – in a surprising turn of events I managed to put my back out again by adding my lower back to my upper back and was in absolute agony. This was alongside about 150 other bodily complaints and aches. Decided to take the kids to the “local” leisure centre (20km away, nothing is local in France), as the worst thing you can do with a bad back is give in to it and lie on a bed all day. It basically worked. After 3 hours haring round in a pool and playing a round of tenpin bowling I think my back just shrugged and said “I give up you obstinate bastard” and everything felt a lot better. Still feel like the Kessell run in 1.5 parsecs might be pushing it, but at least I’m in orbit. Don’t want to bore you with health complaints though, nothing worse than someone yabbering on about how ill they are all the time.

We have a small problem at the moment as one of our sheep is in love with one of the goats. It’s a real Romeo and Juliet romance (Romeo and Eweliet?) and Mr BD our ram has taken to jumping out of his pen to go and spread the love with his lady goat friend. Star crossed lovers. Not sure whether a goat and a sheep can actually mate, I suspect not, but it doesn’t seem to be bothering him. What this means is periodically grabbing a horny sheep and putting him back in his pen. I’m sure this did for my back as I elect to lift him over the fence and back in, rather than drag him round to his gate where it becomes a struggle to stop the other sheep escaping.

For upper body strength and toning I can recommend frequently lifting a smelly, horny sheep over a 5 foot high fence. I was thinking of releasing a series of workout DVDs. I bet they’d sell in Wales.

I also watched the last Sherlock, and I have to say it was quite good. Glaring plot holes for sure, but the acting was reasonable and there wasn’t a guy with distractingly large ears in it, so that was a bonus. The funny thing is, I quite like Sherlock but can’t STAND Doctor Who, which is essentially done by the same bloke/team. I really detest wobbly British sci-fi where people all shout, grin and dash around cardboard sets aimlessly fighting tinfoil and cardboard box monsters and no matter how you try to disguise it, the new Doctor Who is just as bad as the old Doctor Who. Sci-fi should be like the Battlestar Galactica reboot (Series 1 to 4, not 5). Sensible, high budget, lots of people looking earnest and shouting at one another and CGI that doesn’t look like it was done on an Amiga.

Which takes us full circle back to the Millenium Falcon again, and my old, crumbling body. I really do feel old at the moment. I know I’m in my mid thirties, and no doubt when I go back and read this blog when I’m 80 and eating jelly through a straw I’ll shake my fist furiously at the screen (or virtual cortical implant, or whatever), but age really does seem to have crept up on me in the last 4 or 5 years. Sigh.

Still, as long as I can still drag myself out for a run now and again…