Friday, 2 April 2010

April Fool's Day

What a day! I thought I had been April Fooled this morning when I went online to check that I had been paid this week. To my dismay, my current account didn't appear on my online banking. Yes, that's right, it didn't appear at all. A credit card account for which I don't yet have the card, and a savings account which I have no account to transfer money from, are a fat lot of good when I'm stuck in Mexico with no money! A trip to the ATM machine confirmed my worst fears - my card didn't work. There was a bit of deja vous about all this. Looks like the fraud squad have spotted some international action on my account and blocked it. One long-distance phone call from the hotel (I'm scared how much that will cost), later it's all been sorted, but honestly, did the woman in the bank not pay any attention when I told her that I was going travelling in a few days, that I'd jacked in my job, was heading to Mexico, and that I wasn't coming back any time soon?

And so that brings me to why I'm here. One cold Saturday morning last December, when out for a run, I was doing a bit of self-reflection - something that I'm inclined to do from time to time - and realised that the cause of my recent frustration with every man and his dog (and mostly myself), was that I wasn't doing anything special with my life. Now, I don't have a burning ambition for fame or celebrity, and I'm pretty happy not to be known by the general public, but I think there is a desire within all of us to make our mark in life. And so there it was. I'd decided to do something special. A quick scan of the ideas that I'd had over the years, and the dreams that I'd not fulfilled, and I had a rough idea of what was to come next. Brief chats with AnnMarie, Bud, Alex McG, Wayne and Lee over the next 48 hours, confirmed what I already knew, and by lunchtime that Monday (21st December) I had told my boss that I was leaving.

Ever since I knew what a book was, I wanted to be an author. I've always wanted to see my name on the glossy cover of a piece of literature that others can read and enjoy. Now, to begin with, I thought that my publication was going to be of the fiction type, but a severe lack of imagination, and poor grades in creative-type essays throughout school put a dampener on that idea. It was probably always clear that I'm much more of a factual writer, and given that I've read less than half a dozen novels since my Famous Five days, fact was what it was going to be. I remember that any project that I did at school was twice (or 3 times) as long as anyone else's; each topic an opportunity for me to put together the bones of a possible future book. I can't have been much more than 8 or 9 when the two page project on insects that we were assigned, became a 6-page masterpiece - well at least for an eight-year-old. A few years later, I was assigning myself projects, and among others, set about putting together scrapbooks about clothing, the counties of Ireland, and a world atlas. Yes I truly am a gEEk! A few years later, one of our Leaving Cert Home Economics assignments involved putting together a plan for a bathroom or a kitchen, and the piece that I produced earned an A+++ from the teacher.

My obsession for books, and writing doesn't stop there. I can't go into town without spending hours in a bookshop. I own books on topics that I have never really been interested in, travel guides for countries that I may never visit, and biographies that I may never have time to read. And reading a book is never just enough - I've got to own it (and usually lend it to someone who will never return it, so that I can get wound up about that). I visit Oxfam to buy books, not to donate them.

The bound copy of my PhD thesis is my most treasured possession, and for a long time, I thought that it may be the closest that I'd come to writing a proper book.

But hopefully, in 18 months time, that will not be the case. And the topic of my book? - well you'll just have to wait for my next blog to find out! Suffice to say, it combines my other two passions in life - running and travelling.

Right, back to April Fool's day - I was on this morning, and though I went on knowing that they always do the April Fools day thing, I still fell for their pranks. I guess there is just a lot of strange things going on in athletics these days! The main quote was about the Russians admitting that blood doping doesn't really seem to work, other various, slightly plausible stories, and a report that USTAF and UKA have vowed never to send men's teams to the World Cross Country again, and only individuals if they were born in East Africa (the Mo Farah clause!). Though only a prank, I hope that this is never the case. The US and the UK should be leading the way in sending full teams to the greatest race on Earth. Any country that can field 11 half capable players (and some that can't!) enter the qualifying stages of the FIFA World Cup, and so it should be the same with the world cross country. Yes it's difficult to compete with the East Africans, especially in the men's events, but what's the point in being the best in Europe, without trying yourself against the best in the world. And that bronze medal in the women's team event is always up for grabs!

The page can be viewed at:

The less plausible, but actually true stories on the site were as follows:

* Human Being Runs 19.19
* Marion Jones Signs WNBA Contract
* Dathan Ritzenhein Has Better Year Than Ryan Hall, Running 12:56 and Winning World Medal
* Cornell Basketball Makes Sweet 16, Defending Champ UNC Doesn't Make Tournament
* Jenny Barringer Gets 5th in the World, Has NCAA XC Meltdown, Signs With New Balance, Leaves Wetmore For Henner
* American Male Wins NYC Marathon
* Dwain Chambers Wins IAAF World 60m Title

Athletics is a funny old world!

Anyway, I hope that I haven't bored you all too much. Please leave your comments, and come back soon to read more about what I'm up to.


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