Monday 3 April 2023


On Sunday the Brighton Marathon took place. It passes quite close to where we live and I briefly watched the stragglers, people likely to take six hours or so to finish (or rather less to die, judging by the look on their faces.) Forgive my intolerance of strenuous exercise especially from those ill equipped to do it. Watching Keir Starmer play football, a duffer play golf or an incompetent cricketer depresses me and brings out the worst in my nature – and that’s pretty bad as those who know me would agree. 

Brighton Marathon 2023: Everything you need to know

These marathon runners were all shapes and sizes. Some sidled along in a furtive way like shoplifters escaping from Selfridges, some waddled, some shuffled and some staggered as if very drunk. They looked like they should be resting rather than indulging in such brutal exertion. One in particular caught my eye and I recalled that description by P.G. Wodehouse of a fattish man:

 “He was a tubby little chap who looked as if he had been poured into his clothes and had forgotten to say “When!”

I’m rather ashamed being so nasty about these lovely if misguided people probably running to raise money for charity, however much pain it causes them.

Roald Dahl books rewritten to not offend people : r/CringetopiaRM

We live in grumpy times and the inclination to blow a whistle and show people a red card is getting stronger – “stop running, stop being cruel to immigrants, stop frightening children, just stop!”  And it was the crusade to protect the sensitivities of children (except when it comes to talking to them about gender) that struck me. The works of Roald Dahl have been sanitised with words like “fat,” “ugly,” “black” and “hag” being removed. I wonder if this is helpful. I wonder indeed if it underestimates children.

The Rest is History - Robomagic live

I enjoyed reading the comments made by Dominic Sandbrook the co-presenter of the podcast “The Rest is History” when he said that he lectured in history at primary schools and whenever he described people being eaten, burnt, beheaded or dragged through the streets this evoked  joy, laughter and applause from his young audience. I also recalled a performance of Alice at our grand-daughter’s school where the 8 year old playing the Queen of Hearts cried “Off with his head!” with convincing relish as though she really meant it.

We must become better at letting people, yes even young people, make up their own minds. It’s no use being doctrinaire. If they want to go for a run on a sunny Sunday and suffer a little but have a story to tell, so be it.  Just because you don’t bat like Jo Root doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play cricket. Just don’t make me watch you play. 

Were we to re-write literature to make it less gritty and offensive we end up with a bloodless Macbeth and a Joan of Arc who rather than being burnt alive goes on a pleasant picnic. Intolerance of bad thoughts and language can all to easily lead to a far worse kind of intolerance and a failure to listen.

Intolerance – Jimmy Akin

There are people who believe in and who do things with which I strongly disagree. This doesn’t mean they are wrong and I am right. It simply means we think or do different things. Now that is real diversity as opposed to the kind currently often being enforced.

Let there be light! Why sunny spring days make us happier and healthier |  Health & wellbeing | The Guardian

Outside the sun is shining and people are having Sunday lunch. The newspaper is full of gloom but I’m feeling unusually cheerful. Despite all that’s wrong in the world the human ability to make the best of a bad thing (even running a marathon) is heart-warming.

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