What to Watch During Lockdown (Iain)

Having more time at home means I get to spend quality time with my loved ones – the TV, the computer and the wife. That is not an order of preference. My wife reads this so I have to say that!

I don’t watch many TV shows. I’m about five years behind everyone else. I only recently started Game of Thrones. I love Sean Bean. I can’t wait to see how his character progresses over the seven seasons.

But because of lockdown, an abundance of free films, Theatre and YouTube videos have been made available to watch.

Here’s a selection of things I’ve seen.

TWIN https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000h3cm

Two twins – one more successful than the other, swap places after one dies in an accident.

This is a concept I can totally buy into. It’s factually correct. One twin is always more succesful than the other. Andrew – How did you get on at Norseman? Do you want to see what a finishers T-shirt looks like? Is it cold in my shadow?

The show is utterly preposterous but it has one redeeming feature. It is filmed in Lofoten. One of the most beautiful areas of Norway. Lofoten is somewhere I want to visit (as I love Norway) and hopefully do their triathlon https://www.thearctictriple.no/lofoten-triathlon/

GANGS OF LONDON

Gangs of London is the thickheaded more violent brother of Twin. It is even more preposterous and prone to extreme violence. It is well directed and acted but at the end my wife said “I’m not sure I could watch any more of that”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZRVEFtHaHc

Snowpiercer

A train circling the globe has the last reaming humans. The train is split into different classes from the poorest to the richest.

This films sounds stupider than Twin and Gangs of London combined but its actually great. Don’t learn anything about it in advance. Just watch it and enoy a smart sci fi premise done really well.

The director and writer went onto to win Oscar for this years Parasite. So it proves he knows what he is doing.

YOUTUBE

I’ve watched a lot of great YouTube videos. I’ve created a playlist of some of the best

I tried watching some live theatre – One Man, Two Guvnors starring James Cordon but after 30s of watching him, I wanted to lick a self service machine to try and get a dose of covid-19. Even that horrific illness must be more enjoyable than 2 hours of Cordon!

The Coronavirus Exercise Rules – Part 2 (Iain)

Andrew wrote a set of guidelines for exercising during lockdown. You can find them here: TheRules

He missed out some important rules.

  1. DON’T PUT YOUR RUN/BIKE ON STRAVA!!!

If you are lucky enough to be able to exercise freely outside then don’t show off about it. Have some respect for people who can’t. Keep you epic run or your 100 mile bike ride to yourself.

People are stuck at homes and can’t get out so don’t make their day worse by seeing how great your day was.

2. DON’T DO A MARATHON IN YOUR GARDEN

Why do that? The original marathon was a point to point run from point A to point B. You’ve gone from A, stayed in A and finished at A.

Why bother? Sit and have a beer instead. No-one cares you’ve gone around in circles more often than a wind mill.

3. DON’T DO ZWIFT RACES

Its not real! You’re all at home sweating on the carpet. The people you are racing are probably cheating just as much as you are. If you use Zwift then listen to a podcast or YouTube at the same time and forget about races. At least you’ll learn something whilst you are getting fit.

4. CHECK OUT STRAVA WANKERS

We’ve all made the mistakes this account highlights. So to paraphrase Andrews “Don’t be a dick” rule, my last rule is

5. DONT BE A WANKER (especially a Strava one)

The Coronavirus Exercise Rules (Andrew)

As the weather turns from “blimey, it’s sunny but that’s a cold wind!” to “cracking!” in the next few days I thought I’d share some random ‘rules’ about exercising during lockdown. Anyone got any others? Or disagree? 🙂

  • ‘Road bikes’ are for roads, ‘mountain bikes’ are for mountains and ‘Gravel bikes’ are for folk who are easily persuaded to spend hundreds of pounds more on a road bikes with ever so slightly bigger tyres. But there is one type of bike that doesn’t exist and that’s the ‘pavement bike’. Bike are not designed for pavements. Ride your bike – but keep it on the road!
  • Don’t wear your club cycling gear when secretly meeting other members (of other clubs, not heard of any GTCers doing this) for a four hour ride. It’s not a secret if four of you are wearing the same club top.
  • And, no, the Crow Road (or favourite climb wherever you are) will not be quiet this weekend. Every other cyclist in north Glasgow (wherever you are) has had the same idea. You will be joining a peloton larger than the number of people trying to get a Zwift selfie with Geraint Thomas.
  • Fat blokes must wear longer t-shirts. It’s great to see so many people running, especially when becoming fitter can help fight the virus, but this tip shouldn’t need saying, but say it I must, no one wants to see your under-gut, wear a longer t-shirt so you’re not flashing your belly.
  • Fit bokes must wear a t-shirt. I know it’s sunny but the only fashion trend you should be following is “masks on” not “taps aff”. You don’t need to physically distance yourself from your running gear.
  • You cannot outrun the virus, just because you’re running faster doesn’t mean you can brush someone as you pass and escape the coronavirus. Keep your distance even when running. Especially, if you have your top off. No one wants a drive-by sweat-swipe.
  • Don’t go swimming. Not only will be breaking curfew you’ll be breaking in as the swimming pools are closed.
  • You are not invisible when exercising. In fact, you must as well be out with a spotlight on you and a klaxon blaring “I AM A TWAT”. Remember, most people will hate you for being out and assume that you’re breaking some rule or other. Try and avoid busy places, be the first to cross the road if you see someone come towards you, stay well away when passing anyone. Just, in general, assume not only that you have the virus but you’ve also seen Colin from Accounts and he’s the most boring man alive and you want to avoid a conversation with him at all costs and act accordingly.
  • Finally, don’t be a dick.
  • Really, don’t be a dick. 🙂

Rafting the River Nile (Andrew)

A POST I WROTE BEFORE CHRISTMAS BUT DIDN’T PUBLISH AT THE TIME. NOW IT FEELS LIKE NOSTALGIA. HOLIDAYS? TRAVEL? WHAT ARE THOSE?!?

I’m being mansplained by a man, which is unusual because mansplaining is what happens when a man tells a woman something she already knows. When a man does it to another man it should be called splaining to show it’s not sexist, it’s just really, really annoying. Especially when it continues for the next four hours floating down the River Nile. This is what happens when you say hello to strangers…

We’re in Jinja in Uganda, the original source of the Nile and a spot famous for white water rafting. Apparently, Prince William has rafted here – along with Geri Halliwell aka Ginger Spice or Jinja Spice, as she should have been called. We read about it before coming to Uganda and thought it would be fun to try rafting on the Nile. We signed up for the intermediate package. Big mistake.

“Should we take the beginner’s package? We’ve been rafting once before so we know the basics.”

We were told that the beginners package was only for complete beginners and we’d be fine. We should have realised that complete beginners also included us. Three hours on a river is the average amount of time a Cambridge student takes to learn how to punt. Three hours on a river does not make you a Royal Marine Commando ready to storm a beach.

The second warning was when we arrived at the start and saw the number of boats required to take us down the river. A safety boat. Three kayaks. And our personal photographer and videographer – a nice touch, I thought until I realised they were probably just filming our last moments for insurance purposes.

“Look! He really didn’t know what he was doing! He should never have signed up for the intermediate trip! He’s so bad he’d even drown in a puddle!”

On the positive side, at least Iain would have a good montage to show at my funeral. And a funeral was a distinct possibility because the instructor said we’d be staring with a level five rapid.

Rapids have six categories. The first five are progressively harder from one to five. The sixth is reserved for those on suicide watch or need to invade an enemy camp under the cover of darkness. Either way, five was the hardest we could try outside of a war zone.

But level five wasn’t going to be our toughest challenge. That was our fellow rower – Karl – a man from Eastern Europe who’d ridden 10 hours on a bus across Uganda in order to take part in this adventure. And Karl had perfect English. Or as he would say; “No, I don’t have perfect English, my English is 100%!”

Because Karl contradicted everything I said. Even if it was to confirm what I just said.

“I don’t like Dubai,” I said.

“You’re wrong – Dubai is a hellhole!” He’d say with absolute conviction and then he’d stare me down to dare to contradict him, even though he was agreeing with me.

And then he’d spend five minutes explaining what Dubai was like as if I’d never been even though the only reason I mentioned it was because I said that we’d just been there. I quickly wanted to throw him off the boat.

Which was lucky, as by starting with a level five rapid, there was a good chance we were all going to be thrown off the boat as the only thing you need to know is that you hold on and hope. And that’s it. I can honestly say I had no control over what happened in that whirlpool. Sprayed with surf, rocked by waves, spun by currents before the raft was chucked out like a frisbee. And then our guide shouted “And now a level four!”.

And Karl shouted to me “this is one less than a level five” – like I didn’t know how to count.

And this time to add to the spray, the rocking, the spinning and the escape we also had a 90 degree flip when the raft almost toppled over in the middle of the rapid.

However I have to admit that despite my fears I always felt completely safe. The instructor had prepared us with a safety briefing. The kayaks and safety boats went ahead of us to catch anyone falling off the boat and the instructor talked us through the whole rapids explaining what was happening and what would happen next -which Karl would then repeat to me. Thanks, Karl.

The rafting lasted four hours and involved 11 rapids over 20 kilometres of river. At various points we could jump in the Nile and swim beside the boat. The water was warm and with a life jacket it was easy just to float and let the current take us down stream until we finished with another level five and level four. This time the guide said we could jump out in the middle of the level four.

“Are there any crocodiles?” I asked

“We’ve not seen a crocodile in twenty years,” reassured the guide.

“So,” I said, “you’re telling me that you have seen a crocodile..?”

It was nerve wracking to jump into the churning water. It was disorientating to jump in and resurface 20 metres away having been pulled instantly along by the current – but reassuring that falling in wasn’t dangerous, as long as you had the life jacket and helmet than you just let the river take you to the calm waters beyond the rapid. Calm waters where I could see Karl, who’d also jumped in. He was grinning. And I was grinning and I thought I should forgive him and we should celebrate overcoming our fears by finishing the rafting and jumping into the swirling waters. I shouted “High five!” And raised my hand from the water only for Karl to say:

“No, Andrew!” Said Karl “Fist bump!”

I loved rafting, but I really, really hated Karl.

Skill required: None. The raft had guides taking control when in the high rapids.

Strength required: Some, you will need to paddle between rapids and while it’s not hard work it can tiring to paddle for a kilometre or more, even with the help of a current.

Safety: Loads. Life jackets and helmet checked before each rapids.

Overall: If Ginger Spice can do it, anyone can. If they can get to Uganda anytime soon…

My Time in the NHS (Iain)

My mum worked for the NHS for over 30 years. She was a receptionist at the Western Isles Hospital until she retired. Thankfully retired receptionists, unlike retired doctors, are not key NHS workers. She didn’t receive a letter from the government asking if she’d like to go back to work. If she had, she would have told them where to stick their phone.

Both Andrew and I worked for the NHS for short periods of time. We also played for the NHS football team. Does that make me an NHS hero? No – I was definitely in the work shy waster category!

The first bit of work I did was to re-design the health board travel request database. I was paid for eight weeks work but completed the task in two days. I asked the health board if I could do anything else but they said no. I asked them if I could go home. They said I could but they wouldn’t pay me if I did. So, I went to work for seven weeks to play a card game on my computer. It means I can legitimately say I worked in the NHS with patience… the card game not the ill kind.

My second bit of work for the NHS was as a mortuary cleaner. The mortuary and the hospital lab where in the same part of the hospital and I’d clean both parts.

No-one ever came to check on me. I’d be left on my own for the whole time I was working. Which sounds scary but it was great. I was paid for two hours work but it only took 30 minutes. I’d work and then sit in the lab staff room to read a book for 90 minutes before going home.

The mortuary was actually quite a nice room that you wouldn’t know was a mortuary until you noticed it had four small fridge-like doors in one wall. I just treated it as a room owned by someone who likes a lot of ice cream. Which wasn’t too far fetched an idea as, once a month, the lab would test the ice cream machines in town. The test only required a tiny amount of ice cream but the retailers would send big tubs. The guy in the lab who did the test would let me eat what they didn’t need. I told you it was a great job.

The other positive to the job was the mortuary contained the post mortem theatre. Which sounds scary but it was just a room that was always closed unless it was being used. I couldn’t see into it but if a post mortem was required, I’d be sent home as they didn’t want people in the vicinity of the room.

I was probably the only person reading the local paper who saw the phrase “suspicious death” and was happy. It meant I got the night off.

Lockdown and Out The Door (Andrew)

There was a trade unionist in the Clyde shipyards who once said that among his men he had a Wimbledon champion – even though none of them had ever lifted a racquet. Now, until Andy Murray becomes a welder on a new Royal Navy frigate, that trade unionist is talking about potential. He wanted to show that everyone had the potential to do something, and perhaps even be the best in the world, if they only had the opportunity.

Today, we’re putting that theory to the test. You can’t go outside (responsibly and for essential travel only!) to find yourself surrounded by people running and cycling.

This time last year the only time you heard about other people running was when Bob from Accounts tried to badger you for sponsorship money to run the London marathon. The absence of which this year is a fortunate side effect of the lockdown. Not that I’m against giving money to charity, I’m just against feeling obliged to do it because Bob is nice when you talk to him in the kitchen and you’d feel guilty about not giving him money. It’s not for the cause, it’s so that he doesn’t “forget” to bring you a cup of tea.

However, with everyone outside today, think about a year from now. The rest of Europe is in lockdown. You can’t go out in Spain or France. Yet the UK is still running and training and building up the biggest relay squad the world has ever seen. We’ll be unstoppable – and we may also have a world champion.

Maybe Pete the Postie is the world’s greatest steeple jumper? Maybe Mary from Margate can run the 100m faster than Uiseen Bolt can blink?

Think about it. We could have the greatest Olympic squad the world has ever seen!

And not just that. With the number of Tiktok dance videos, next year’s Greatest Dancer is going to be epic. And only 30 seconds long per dance. So a bit repetitive but, boy, will those dancers know how to move!

And it’s not just physical activities that will benefit. Right now we have a entire nation of under 16 year old training 20 hours a day on Fortnite, FIFA and Call of Duty. Esport will need to be renamed UKSports as no other nation will be able to compete against us.

The only downside to all this exercise and potential fulfilled is that next year, once this is all over, we are going to be faced with so many emails asking for sponsorship for Derek’s first marathon and Carol from Marketing’s first 10k… Olympic final.

How to survive lockdown (Iain)

I’m not saying I’m a sports TV addict but due to the lack of mainstream sports taking place, I watched the wood chopping world championship.

The athletes compete in six different disciplines. Which included more chops than a butchers shop with names like the standing block chop and the underhand Chop. The underhand chop sounds like a secret sneaky attack on the wood.

Each discipline was quick, competitive and exciting. Perfect for television.

It opened up my eyes to a world of sports I would not normally watch.

Sports like chess boxing. The match starts with a four minute round of chess. The players then go into the ring for a three minute round of boxing before again returning to the chess board. The match ends when either player wins the chess match or boxing. It claims that the winner is the ultimate fighter because they are brainy and strong. I can’t help but think the truly intelligent wouldn’t get in the ring in the first place!

Then there is competitive sign spinning. Which implies there is also a non competitive sign spinning. Maybe done to music like some weird form of interpretative dance. Actually, now I think about it, that is a great idea. I’m off to film a video now!

And then there are some ports which make me think WTF – Stupid Robot Fighting League!

When the Lockdown is over, people will ask me what I did to pass the time? Did I use it as an opportunity to educate myself? Did I learn a musical instrument? Did I master a new skill?

And I’ll have to admit – I mostly watched YouTube.

Celtman Training – March (Iain)

It rained virtually every day in February. It was an awful, miserable month where training outside was almost impossible. At the end of February I thought, “surely March will be better?”

And then, March arrived. It’s fair to say that I am now looking back at February as a golden age of training.

At the start of the March, I worked in an office managing a team of eight. I’m now work at home wondering if any of my team are doing any work. My only interaction with them is via video conference calls. I now know more about the inside of their houses than I ever wanted to know.

At the start of the month, I was fit and healthy but most of this month has been spent ill. I picked up a flu bug that I found very difficult to shift. It left me run down for longer than usual. Thankfully, I feel much better now and I am nearly back to full health.

At the start of the month I bought a five player board game. It’s fair to say I won’t be playing it any time soon. Also my car’s MOT was due. I got it done the day before the government allowed a six month extension to all MOT’s expiring. D’oh!

At the start of the month, I was looking forward to race season. Now, I have no races. Every single event I had planned to do has been cancelled or postponed. Which in the great scheme of things doesn’t matter. It saves me from writing a Celtman training update every month.

Who knows what this month brings. All I can do is follow the government advice. Stay home, Protect the NHS, Save lives. Luckily I live out in the country so I have some great walks next to my house. I’ve already discovered lots of new routes on my doorstep.

I wish everyone good health and I look forward to getting back out training later in the year.

Some pics from March.

The secret to comedy is… (Iain)

The secret to comedy is… timing. Which is a load of baloney. My timing is amazing. I’m never late for meetings – but that has not made me funny.

I previously wrote about Andrew and I’s attempt at comedy: https://twinbikerun.com/2018/09/14/are-twins-psychic-iain/

It’s fair to see we were not very good as a double act. That did not stop either of us from trying to go solo. We are both believers in the adage – if at first you don’t succeed… fail in a whole new way instead.

I was terrible as a solo comic. I was wooden on stage, my jokes were bad and I struggled to enjoy it. I did a few five min spots in pubs and then gave in.

Andrew persevered and got to a point where he wasn’t bad but he wasn’t great either. Which is an achievement in itself considering how hard it is to stand in front of strangers and try to get laughs.

During one of his stand up performances, a journalist saw him telling some jokes about the independence referendum. That journalist knew a member of the Better Together campaign (the anti-independence group) and mentioned to them that he’d seen a comedian doing independence jokes.

The comment was well timed. Better Together were organising a comedy gig in Edinburgh starring Eddie Izzard but didn’t have anyone to support him. Every comedian in Scotland they’d asked had either said no or they supported independence. They must have realised it would be a bad career move to alienate half of Scotland.

So, in desperation they phoned Andrew! He had no comedy career so it made no difference if he alienated anyone. He said “yes” which is ironic for a ‘no’ gig

My role was to write jokes and get Andrew gig ready i.e drive him there and supply moral support.

We needed 10 minutes of material so we took what we’d written in the book https://twinbikerun.com/2020/03/30/the-fat-minister-iain/ and use the best (we thought) of it.

We were introduced to Eddie before the gig. He was quiet and seemed very guarded. He probably wondered what he was doing there too. I mentioned I was from Stornoway and that he’d done a gig there. He perked up a bit chatting about that. He remembered the local church had tried to ban him! I asked if he was ok if I took a photo. he said yes but only if he could check the camera afterwards and delete any pics he didn’t like!

Me and my showbiz chum Eddie.

We had our own changing room in the theatre. It had all the glamour of a cleaners cupboard. Which is propably what it was before the organisers put a note on the door saying “Support – Andrew Todd” It contained a bag of crisps and two bottles of beer. I had the beer. Andrew had the crisps.

We had to wait on the side of the stage before Andrew had to go on. I was extremely nervous before the gig. I was worried no-one would laugh at Andrew. I dread to think how nervous Andrew was. At least I wasn’t going on stage.

Waiting to go on

As Andrew walked on stage all I could think was “PLEASE LAUGH!”

He told his opening line. There was silence. OH GOD NO-ONE HAS LAUGHED!

The silence seemed to go on for ever. Andrew looked crushed. But then the audience laughed. It turned out the delay was due to the way sound travels in the theatre. You need to delay slightly after each line to give it time to reach the audience.

Thankfully the gig went OK. People laughed. Eddie said well done afterwards BUT the next day the Scotsman’s front page said “foul mouth’d comedian Andrew Todd shocked audiences at the anti independence gig”

Which is an impressive take on the event as Andrew doesn’t swear and the only shock was that people laughed.

Which just goes to show don’t believe anything you read in the papers! They will print what they want, not what happened.

Andrew learning his lines.

Training For Celtman: March (Andrew)

When working from home with your spouse it’s important to establish some Spotify ground rules. And, according to my wife, rule number one is that it’s entirely reasonable to listen to One Direction’s album ‘Made In The AM’ five times in a row.

I added a second rule this month. It’s entirely reasonable to watch Celtman’s 2019 official video ten times in a row until I stopped crying…

It’s over. Celtman is postponed. The organisers have made the sensible and correct decision to cancel this year’s race and offer everyone the opportunity to take part in 2021.

It’s the right call. My parents live in the Western Isles and I know how stretched support can be for people looking for medical treatment. The islands struggle to recruit doctors, patients are flown to the mainland for complex operations, and even consultation takes place via videolink with staff on the mainland. They don’t need tourists increasing the demands placed on them and they don’t need visitors increasing the risk of bringing infection to the island. 

Applecross is no different. The peninsula is remote and has an older population. It wouldn’t be fair to race until the only public safety issue is whether you might get run over by a cyclist on a time trial bike failing to look up. While the risk of the virus is significant, no one should be using the Highlands and Islands for ‘fun’.

I’m disappointed. I can’t deny that. I started training in November 2018. I’d entered Challenge Roth and November 2018 was the first month where I went out with a thought that this was ‘training’ and not just ‘fun’, even if the only difference was in attitude rather than how far or fast I would run. At the back of my mind though was another thought, a distant dream, one as out of reach as Applecross should be now, I would use Challenge Roth as the springboard for Celtman. If I could get fit enough for Roth then I would carry on and work towards Celtman in 2020.

I’m 42. I know that taking part in long distance triathlon’s requires time and commitment. As I get older I have family and work commitments. I know that training for long distance is optional. I don’t have to do it. And I taking time away from others to concentrate on myself. It’s inherently selfish, which is good that Iain does it too, as it means that we’re both being selfish, but selfish together, which kind of cancels it out… 🙂

That’s why I thought this would be my final chance to race Celtman. Life would get in the way. And it has, just not in the way I expected. 

Celtman has been cancelled. But it’s not been cancelled because of the threat of death, the fear of an unknown virus, it’s been cancelled by the possibility that cancelling it could help save and protect people. 

That’s why, although I’m disappointed, I’m also happy. The decision was right. It was taken to protect people. A triathlon will never save a life but if cancelling one can, then it should be cancelled.

So, here’s to 2021. I’ll be there and I hope, with the actions of Celtman and others and through the actions of the government and of other countries, everyone else will be there too.  

Monthly Stats

No stats this month. A dose of lurgy (not sure if Coronavirus but some minor lurgy or other got the best of me) meant I was out of action for a couple of weeks.