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Eaely to rise, fairly late to bed

Today La Serpiente demanded to wear her raincoat to school, a somewhat quixotic choice, given it’s designed for the cold rains of England, not the tropics. Still, by careful use of air conditioned spaces we made it to her school without her fainting from the heat, and a general lack of lollygagging meant she got a pain au chocolat to eat into the bargain. Getting her to take off her coat was hard, but that done I climbed aboard a rental bicycle and went to the station. It never rained.

This evening, I got home early (I had a meeting over the road from our flat) and everyone else was out, so I made the most of the opportunity by … checking emails. It certainly is an exciting life that I lead.

This evening though, after Destroyer had curled up and gone to sleep in my armpit, I got myself out for a run, the first since my abortive attempt on Saturday. I only made two miles, but I’m being cautious; I was only at the physio yesterday, after all, and not ready to undo all the hard work immediately. Even so, my legs were incredibly sore when I got home. Today, two miles. Tomorrow, swimming (and I’d forgotten to launder my swimming gear since Vietnam) and then fifty miles after that, I suppose. That will ease me back in gently.

Last night I could only sleep on the sofa, and only for a few hours (early morning phone calls are the worstest). Tonight, I sleep.

Missing out

Staying up late and drinking isn’t part of the training regimen of most successful runners. I was meant to do 26 km this morning with a friend, and we’d arranged to meet at 5:15 so we’d be done before breakfast. I hauled myself out of bed with 4 hours sleep in me, got dressed and went down for my run.

My friend never turned up.

After 15 minutes waiting, I set off on my own, figuring if I didn’t start, I’d never finish. I still didn’t finish.

I did 20 km less than intended, at glacial pace. When you’re aiming for 5:30 kilometres and you’re doing two minutes slower, something is very wrong. I tried to push myself to go faster; I got slightly slower. I planned to run four laps of the Marina rather than do a long out and back; I managed one lap, then packed it in, standing next to a building site that stank like raw sewage and seemed to be a breeding ground for flies.

Broken hearted, I slowly crept back home in the dark.

On the corner of Shenton Way, where a new shopping mall has opened and through the glass I could already see staff, at well before 7, setting up in the cafĂ©, my friend appeared from the gloom, jogging on at reasonable pace. There’d been a missed text: he’d rescheduled our start for 5:30 and so we’d just missed one another. He tried to get me to follow him, but he was doing 4:30 pace; I was broken alright, and doing any more would just break me more.

I walked home, passed out on the sofa, sweating into the cushions. At 8, my daughters came and played around me, but couldn’t wake me. At ten, I woke, inexplicably returned to my bed. The day was just begun, or already over. Who’s to say?

A Night At The Races

This evening we went to watch the horse racing. The races are at the Singapore Turf Club, far north near Krangj. Unfortunately our taxi driver, breaching at least one stereotype, didn’t know where the Turf Club was and drove us erratically through rush hour traffic, lurching with every lead-footed stomp on accelerator or brake, for an hour, until we arrived tired and nauseous at the Turf Club. Hardly the most glamorous of starts.

Betting on horses makes everything more fun: do you choose based on prior form? On the horse with the silliest name? (Our pick of the night, Sir Reginald, placed, though we’d bet on him to win, a consistent mistake throughout the evening.) Or do you just choose completely at random?

Whatever and however you decide, you have to bet in cash. And there’s no cash machine onsite, a canny move by the Singaporean authorities, no doubt, to ensure nobody empties their bank account and maxes out their credit cards trying to win a fortune on Mr Ed in the final race.

That did mean that we went through all our cash (well, all my wife’s cash) in four races, not winning anything to offset our losses. Then all that remained was to eat copious dessert (sesame strudel, a dark and strange combination, beloved by my wife but revolting to me, alongside profiteroles, eclairs, sundry other cakes…) and then mosey down to the trackside to watch the final race thunder over the finish line.

After that, we took a car home to bed. I’d drunk as much beer as I could (carbohydrate loading for tomorrow’s run) so I felt a little dyspeptic, glad to be back from the wastelands of the far north, ready to sleep.

Yet more sleep deprivation

I couldn’t sleep last night, tossing and turning until 1am, and then woken by a crying child at 2, or at 5:30, or I don’t know quite when. I just remember waking up on Destroyer’s bed at 7:15, desperate to go back to sleep, and not being able to because I had an early morning phone call to get up and attend to.

When that was done, I put La Serpiente in a taxi (for we were running late) and took her to school. She coughed all the way. I got on a hire bicycle and rode to the station, took the MRT to work, and a few hours later got the glad news from my wife that La Serpiente had coughed and coughed until she was sick, and had gone home with a fever. Bad dad. Why did I take her to school?

I had my penance: a visit to the dentist to get a cavity filled. My dentist is very nice but seems very nervous whenever she talks to me. She has a fine bedside manner with La Serpiente, as I discovered last time we visited for a checkup, and is fine with my wife, but seems terribly concerned when she’s talking to me. Perhaps my enormous beard intimidates her. Maybe she’s worried that upon hearing the bad news about the state of my mouth, I’ll fly off the end of my handle and rage around the surgery. Or probably I’m just reading too much into this.

It was a small cavity but inconveniently positioned, so I had an hour of reclining in the chair, while she drilled and filled and polished, and I watched Mission Impossible 3. I don’t think seeing people getting shot is actually that helpful a distraction from the stress of having your mouth operated on, but then I’m not a qualified dentist. Afterwards, a little sore and numbed of face, I went back to the office and got moody with spreadsheets until 6, when I went home to my feverish child.

Destroyer was making the most of it by also watching TV, and she’s not even sick. I should have set her to some chores but it was far easier to have both kids rest their heads on me and watch penguins in Antarctica.

We put them to bed. I took an hour to get Destroyer down, or rather I woke up after an hour to find I’d failed and she was still awake and demanding bandaids for her knee, so I left and brought in my wife, and then she fell asleep on Destroyer’s bed instead.

Oh, what a night. Hopefully we’ll all be rested by tomorrow.

Brain fade

I slept well this evening. Mainly because I fell asleep next to La Serpiente at 8:20 and didn’t wake up for an hour. I crawled groggily from her room just as my wife exited Destroyer’s room. She went to do the dishes and I fiddled around with some code where I’d spent all day failing to make it work, because I’d typed one incorrect character. That’s the thing, it’s hard to debug code when you only have a 27″ inch screen in an ergonomic environment, rather than being hunched over a laptop in a dim living room.

That thing solved, we settled down to watch the last two episodes of the third season of Game of Thrones, which has some revoltingly gory stuff going on, and a man eating a sausage in front of the guy he’s just castrated, which is more than a little insensitive. There’s also people shot with arrows, stabbed, stabbed some more, … There’s lots of stabbery. No sexual violence for an episode or two, which I assume means season 4 will start with a bumper load of it.

I was meant to go running tonight rather than watch violent TV, but I was fairly exhausted. Tomorrow will be better, I promise. Or at least I won’t have a stomach that’s doing somersaults. But for now, just silence.

First night in Vietnam

This is the second country I’ve visited for the first time this year (I thought I hadn’t been anywhere new for ages, but that was because I forgot about Portugal…)

Flying in to Ho Chi Minh City, the first thing that struck me was how flat things were: I’m too used to the mountains of Hong Kong or the skyscrapers of Singapore. The airport itself is shiny and new, although it was somehow disconcerting not to need a landing card to get through Customs.
Continue reading “First night in Vietnam”

Burning

I think because it’s Hungry Ghost Festival, they’re burning lots of things around where we live. Rusty old oil barrels appeared some time ago around the estate, and people stick mounds of paper into them and then set them on fire. There’s also impromptu burnings of paper on some of the walkways (there always seems to be a little fire outside the junk shop over the way from us) and the other day there was a structure of some sort blocking the entire pavement down from Singapore General Hospital, where there were some candles aglow.

I assume that’s why there was a fog of grey smoke downstairs when I got home tonight. The irony of complaining about the pollution from the burning season in Indonesia, when there’s a homegrown incendiary event every year, seems a little rich, but perhaps you just write it off as one of those strange things; different people have different views on what’s acceptable behaviour and what strikes one person as correct and proper might seem the opposite to another, but if you don’t like it, you can go upstairs and shut your windows. I’d note that in Hong Kong a few years ago, some enterprising soul came up with virtual burnt offerings, which enabled you to provide for your ancestors and not pollute the air. Given Singapore’s famed tidiness, the strange thing is that such a scheme hasn’t been replicated here.

Anyway, either some other polluting event has coincided with this, or I’m reacting particularly badly to it, but when I’ve run recently, I’ve had a burning feeling in my throat that’s not too pleasant. I’ve also strained my back by inexpertly picking up La Serpiente yesterday, and I was tired and didn’t really fancy my run this evening, so this confluence of things gave me an excuse to cop out.

Instead, as I’m travelling tomorrow, I packed (a very small piece of luggage, or a large backpack, depending on your perspective) and then spent three hours working on tidying up some data, which was less than the most thrilling way to spend an evening with my wife. Maybe I should have gone out running after all.