I put it off for as long as I could, but by about one o’clock there was simply no avoiding it any longer. The sky wasn’t going to get any lighter and the wind wasn’t about to drop below gale force: if I was going to go, I was going to have to go now. With a heavy heart, I grabbed my bag and headed off to the changing rooms to get into my running kit, consoling myself with the thought that at least it wasn’t raining….
Naturally, as I pulled on my woolly hat and headed out of the door and into the elements, it started to chuck it down. I zipped up my windproof (but sadly not waterproof) jacket a little tighter, started my heart-rate monitor and began to chug up the hill towards the main gates and onwards to the canal towpath. By the time I was running alongside the canal, the wind was hurling the rain straight into my face. Well, to paraphrase the late, great Magnus Magnusson, I had started so I was bloody well going to finish, so I pushed on towards the weir where my path would turn away from the canal and back towards the Trent. I was cold and wet and miserable long before I got there, but this was the halfway mark, the place in my run where I start to head towards home. Just at the moment when I turned away from the canal and down past the weir towards the river, just as the wind began to push at my back instead of spitting in my face, “Chasing Cars” came up on my shuffle.
The next four minutes just flew by, and when the song finished, I reached into my pocket and skipped back so I could listen to it again. And again, and again. Four times in all. As it played, I could feel my spirits lifting and a bounce slowly returning to my stride. It’s not really a very complicated song and is based upon a repeating theme that slowly builds and gets louder and louder before exploding into a big, emotional climax quickly followed by a whispered conclusion. Like the band that plays it, it’s not really very clever or imaginative or cool…but by God it works for me. It’s a beautiful, uplifting record and as I ran alongside that river in the pissing rain and in the teeth of a howling gale, it made me feel as though I was on top of the world. What more could you possibly want from music than that?
After the fourth listen I was very nearly back to the sanctuary of the changing room, so I finally allowed the shuffle to play on to the next track. “The Headmaster Ritual” is a great song under most circumstances, but on this occasion I was only too happy to cut it off halfway through and jump under a hot shower.
Mind you, I do look forward to Morrissey’s contribution to the next British entry at eurovision…
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