SWB on Radio 4 and the ugly side of marathons

So this week, thank God above for Radio 4 and the solace it brings to the downtrodden housewife. On Monday I chopped carrots and blitzed beetroot (I know, FFS, I’ll elaborate later) to an exploration on identity by the fabulous Lemn Sissay. The inclusion of Australian comic Deborah Frances-White’s adoption story was both heartbreaking and hilarious. Don’t procrastinate, just go get it on the iPlayer out and judge for yourself. So there was one carrot and lentil soup and a Bolognese whipped up with much needed intellectual nourishment to boot.


LSB is on the countdown to Dublin Marathon and although he’s trained like a demon he’s been stricken by back-to-school bugs and has been sick as a dog, all grey and wraith-like. He’s shuffling around croaking inaudibly and looking feeble- not unlike a Zombie, which I suppose does obviate the need for a Halloween costume so that’s a saving at least. As I observed his deathly pallor and sympathised as he made sad, snuffly noises, I suggested that perhaps training and running 5 minute miles of an evening wasn’t a sensible suggestion but oh no, no way, there was running to be done! With his friends!  Silly me, I’d have thought being well would have been a prerequisite to completing a marathon, as opposed to being dead on your feet and fecking exhausted before you began.


However, the real reason for my ire, (as well as a barely concealed terror that he’ll be one of those poor bastards who croaks it as mile 24) is the augmentation of my household chores since he’s been too incapacitated  to be his usual helpful self. The marathon training appears to exert a terrible strain in the lower forearm, rendering runners utterly beyond lifting a cup, dish or plate from dining table to sink, after any meal. Hip flexors have been similarly adversely affected, with the injured party incapable of removing socks or boxers from the floor and placing them in the laundry basket. A previously unknown symptom of excessive training appears to be paralysis of opposing thumbs, with the sufferer unable to remove his empty contact lenses containers and move them from wash basin to bin. Or used dental floss. Said victim is however, more than able to partake in a 10k run with mates, coach two Jog Belfast sessions a week and sup a few pints in the Erigle with full range of movement miraculously returned to forearms to enable him to swig craft ales with gusto.

Meanwhile, like a twit, I’m reading up best foodstuffs to ingest prior to extended running periods, hence the inclusion of roasted beetroot in mashed potato. Honestly, if I wasn’t clearing off on holiday with my friends the day after the marathon leaving him to mind HIS OWN CHILDREN, I’d deserve wife of the year award.

So back to Radio 4, and its therapeutic effects. On Wednesday my solitary toil continued, and I brushed and hoovered my floor to the Book of the Week, a collection of essays on the subject of identity in the UK today. This essay by Varaidzo, called A Guide to being Black, tackled issues faced by a mixed race girl growing up in Middle England, and movingly depicted how a child doesn’t know what they are, until some helpful adult points it out to them. Her essay mentioned a recurring issue about the politics of how to wear one’s hair if one is a person of colour. This is something which as a white woman, had never occurred to me, but had cropped up repeatedly in Americanna, the latest novel by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. What a coincidence then, that the essay was followed by an interview with Adichie on Woman’s Hour. I could listen to her all day; never mind the richness of her narrative I just want to luxuriate in her velvety tones.  Half of a Yellow Sun is one of my favourite novels, and I’m utterly in awe of how someone in their thirties wrote such a classic.

So thank you, Radio 4, for bringing a bit of diversion and livening up a few  hours which may otherwise have been a bit dismal. Suddenly the teetering piles of laundry became less of an arse-ache, and the sourness abated somewhat.





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