167 hours to go

I got up at six and went straight to the airport, sneaking out without a shower to avoid waking anyone up. The ride to the airport was in an electric car, near silently swooshing past darkened housing blocks all the way to Changi Terminal 2, which seems to be a madhouse on Sunday mornings. Crowds of people wandering around, sluggishly getting in the way at every point like they’d never flown before. I’m not sure if that is because there are certain flights that are only scheduled on Sundays, or everyone is just too knackered to think straight this early.
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Today, after yesterday’s disappointment, I gave obike another chance. I dropped La Serpiente off at school, looked for a nearby bike on the app, and set off to find it, walking down an alleyway in Tiong Bahru liberally studded with dog turds. The bike I found was parked outside the door of a flat, right next to a very nice looking road bike that was locked up. This second obike was much better than the first; instead of being some rubbish old bike with a few stickers on it and detachable handlebars, it had a huge, sturdy frame and a pair of handlebars held on by the kind of stem clamp you’d expect to see on a downhill racing rig.
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An app-based bicycle rental company has launched in Singapore. (Savour that sentence for a moment, a series of words that would have made little sense a decade ago.) It’s called obike and they’ve put white and yellow bicycles all over the island. You sign up to their app on your phone, then scan the QR code on a bike, which unlocks the contraption and lets you take it for a ride.
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Alone in the dark

I’ll often complain, but Singapore does have some beautiful weather. This afternoon I was in meeting after meeting, and just after five, as I looked out of the floor-to-ceiling window towards the west, I saw a patch of vehement orange yellow, growling up from the horizon. Above it, acres of dark grey, and then a little round hole of blue, adorned with cotton wool puffs of white. It was beautiful, and it meant I wasn’t going running tonight.

In the space of ten minutes, the dark grey swallowed up the blue, the orange turned a little redder and then vertical slashes of lightning began to flash. The meeting ground on.

Wednesday is girls’ night out. Tomorrow my wife and I are going to the cinema, and Thursday is too late in the week for me to do a speed session if I want a fast 5k on Saturday. So I looked out the window with the faint but fading hope that the storm would be gone by 6:30 and I could go to the track.

At 6:30, still humming and hawing, the sky had turned black and most of the buildings vanished in mist and darkness. My wife was reporting that La Serpiente was down with a fever again, and I didn’t want to go to a waterlogged track, slip over and drown. I peeled myself away from my computer and went downstairs, intent on going home. And yet…
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Sundown Marathon 2017

This morning I ran the Sundown Marathon. It didn’t go quite the way I was hoping, but I think I did better than expected, in that I did at least finish. And I got the highest score I’ve ever had in a marathon – never got over 4 hours before!

Ahem. I guess personal bests don’t quite work like that.
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It is a truth universally acknowledged that all places, at all times, are envious of the South​ London suburb of Crystal Palace, and that given time, for any particular place, you’ll always be able to amass evidence to prove this. 

And so that was that we went to Singapore’s attempt at the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Gardens By The Bay, to find this maxim proven once more. 

It’s the Children’s Festival until April, and because children love building-sized monstrosities that tear and eat flesh, a large number of dinosaur statues have been erected through the gardens. Just like in Crystal Palace Park, they peer out from between shrubberies and frighten the young and impressionable. Because it’s the 21st century, instead of being in drab neutral tones or covered in moss, they’re all neon shades of pink and green and purple, and most of them are motorised and either growl or move their heads left and right, eyes and mouths twitching open. I guess the Victorians didn’t have access to modern animatronics. 

There were blood red velociraptors sprinkled through the park, and we saw a girl of two or three reduced to tears and screams, while her father held her close to the enormous mouth of one such specimen. It’s always nice to see total disregard for somebody’s peace of mind. La Serpiente and Destroyer were unfazed though. 

That was because they were more intent on collecting stamps in a free booklet. There were brightly coloured eggs dotted through the gardens, and if you could find each one and its attendant stamp, you could check it off. We found most of them, but as the day ground on and we began to succumb to heatstroke, patience grew short, until my wife was accosting random passers-by and demanding to know whether they’d seen the eggs. Good times. 

As well as schlepping around in the sunshine, we got to see a half hour music show, where seven unlucky thespians got strapped into enormous foam rubber dinosaur costumes and had to dance under the blazing sun, encouraging the watching children to clap their hands and dance. Our kids were spellbound, although they may just have been out of their minds after eating a whole ice cream each. But whatever works, works. 

We got all our stamps by 530 and then beat a retreat. (The last egg is hidden up some stairs, behind an out-of-commission lift, which is suspicious in this city of super high efficiency and no broken infrastructure. Maybe the dinosaurs nobbled it.) I don’t know if we qualify for a prize, but i was just proud that the South [London] would rise again. 

Just give it a few million years and some fossilisation, that’s all. 

What a Carrie on

As usual, I took La Serpiente to school today. We had the usual struggle getting her out the door because we couldn’t agree on footwear. La Serpiente has been demanding to wear a pair of Havianas that are slightly too big for her. Aesthetically this troubles me because I don’t like the shuffling gait it induces in her, and it’s not entirely safe. Usually sure footed, today she fell off one of the low walls she loves to walk on and would have capsized completely if I hadn’t been holding her hand. 

We stopped for pain au chocolat and then walked up the alleyway to her school. Right outside her school there’s a little set of steps and she walked up those, then called to me to follow. Because I have to show I have some mind of my own, I told her I was staying on the lower path; so she came down, and then sprinted toward me. And then the Havianas claimed another victi, as she slipped and went straight down on the ground. 

Normally, she’s robust enough to leap back up immediately, shouting “I’m ok! I’m ok!” so having her lie prone and silent was worrying enough. Then she began to howl, and I could see she’d cut either her forehead or her mouth, so I gathered her up and took her into school, where they’d have a first aid kit.

There were various gasps seized by other parents dropping their kids off and at first I thought they were just being squeamish and hadn’t seen a child cry before. Then I set La Serpiente down on a chair and took a second look, and almost fainted. So much blood, so much blood. You never really appreciate how much a head wound bleeds until you see it. My daughter looked like Carrie in the details Palma film, just after a bucket of pig’s blood has been dropped on her head at the prom. She howled and howled as we wiped some of the blood off, and then howled some more as we waited for her mother to arrive.  

Thankfully, the children’s hospital is super efficient, and I guess 9:30 am isn’t a peak time. She got triaged and in front of a doctor within 45 minutes, daubed with anaesthetic and then stitched up 45 minutes after that, and was home and in bed by midday.

Her sister, not wanting to be outdone, spent the whole time running around the waiting room and falling flat on her face, although without breaking the skin at all. And now I discover she’s capable of climbing onto the top bunk of La Serpiente’s bed, roughly four times her height. Couldn’t either of my children have some level of risk avoidance?