Friday, 6 February 2015

A Tale of the Missing Monkey Feet

Last night was an epiphany for me when I realised that I have been focusing on the past too much and it was time to pull myself up by the shoe laces and get going. It was then I told myself that instead of grumbling about not running to start running.

So I packed my holdall with my Monkey Feet (and socks as it is very cold here at the moment) and my Union Flag shorts for good measure, this, and all the other trappings that have been collected over the years that I call "My Running Kit."

So this morning I stumbled out of bed bleary eyed after a previous long day at work and an evening of lecturing. Grabbed a coffee whilst stuffing the last pieces of equipment into my work rucksack and left the house with the ruck sack and my bag of My Running Kit. 

In England, when there is a hint of snow and a single flake floats down the whole of the transport system slows down with cancellations or late running trains, this with the added extra problem of a London bus strike tends to cause a perfect storm. I stumbled up to the station to find that indeed there were delayed trains and I got on what was advertised as a "slow" train grabbing my seat and got ready for my standard 23 minute journey. That was until I got to the next station and an urgent voice called over the tannoy that the train had been converted to a "fast" train and everybody should get off as it was no longer a stopping train giving us about 20 seconds to get off before the doors closed. I got off and jumped on the next "slow" train and after two stops a horrid realisation swept over me that I only had my work bag and that my running kit was on the fast train ahead of me. I was miserable.

What Next?

I decided to stay on the train up to London, after all I was only 20 minutes behind it and I could grab a guard and see it had been found. Then the comedy began when asking a guard he got on his radio "Alpha 6 to all Alpha has anyone had a grey Nike bag handed in?" No response "Go ask Beta 4 at the barrier" was the instruction and on asking who was Beta 4 he pointed a lady guard. So approaching Beta 4 she pointed me to "The third door on the left" and going to said door found it to be the rear of a pastry shop situated on the concourse. So getting a bit panicky I asked another guard, I am not sure if he was an Alpha or a Beta and in his wonderful Anglo-Nigerian accent said with joy that he knew where it was and then took me to what actually was "The third door on the right" entered the door, looked around, I was getting excited and then he said "Naah, this is a blue one, go speak to the man in the booth" pointing to an assistant on the Customer Service Desk.

Through the barrier I went to speak to the man behind it who turned out to be Peter and with a voice that made Barry White sound like a soprano, his East London accent told me "What is wrong with you lot today you are all losing stuff" I smiled and he continued "Write down your number, description of the Lost Prop (sic) and name" He then grabbed his phone " Yo, Peter here at The Vic (sic) can you check the next 4 trains from here to you, some bloke here has lost a grey Nike bag"....[muffled chat from phone].."Nice, sweet as a nut, laters".....[more muffled chat from phone]..."Right Jerry their ain't more we can do, give the call centre a call."

The Next Few Hours

Over the next 2 hours I was miserable and felt that I had been pushed off the rails yet again and was thinking that some of this kit had been collected over a number of years and not easy to replace. I grumbled and mumbled about work when The Delightful Mrs S called "Who the hell is Peter? He says he has found your bag and it is at platform 5 of Orpington station."

I was elated and after taking the extra few stops to Orpington tonight I excitedly approached a guard (probably Charlie 2) who took me to the control room of the station with blinking lights, the buzzing of buzzers and the stale musk often found in male dominated changing rooms to point at my lovely old Nike kit bag and stapled to the handle was a hand written note:


To Be Possible Collected by Mr Jerry Smalled(sic)


I was over the moon, I look back at that moment now and it was almost like finding your missing family cat after it had run away. Silly really but it does show how important these sometimes abused pieces of kit are to me in my sporting life and reflecting on how it has become part of my running persona what with my shorts and my trusty Monkey Feet.

My run at the track tonight was wonderful with a scattering of snow on the lanes, the moon as high in the sky as I felt.

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