Tuesday, 31 January 2006

... but then again ...

I am going to try a new powerlifting training method. Inspired by this video of Mariusz Pudzianowski training (which I found on a Brute Strength forum), I got thinking about low reps.

Arthur Jones, Mike Mentzer and the heavy duty / high intensity brigade write persuasively about the incompatibility of training both hard and long. But I've never felt that they made a coherent case for the higher reps that they advocate. Why is it better to lift a moderately heavy weight for twelve reps than a very heavy weight for one to three reps, if your goal is strength development? Look at it this way - three reps is still three times the amount of work you are required to do in competition. It may be that higher reps force more blood into the muscles and boost hypertrophy. But it doesn't make intuitive sense for optimal strength training.

It may be good for aerobic capacity - someone who can squat their bodyweight on a bar for twenty reps is likely going to be very fit. But lifting weights is probably not the BEST way to boost aerobic fitness, so I'll stick to the walking and other sports. (Anyone fancy a game of five-a-side, squash or basketball? I'm particularly keen to shoot some hoops, having been watching people play at my gym.)

Higher reps are a boon for muscular endurance. But I'm not training for Strongman competitions. Limit strength is the name of the game in powerlifting, Baby.

I have history on my side. Doug Hepburn, who is one of the strongest men who ever lived, did two rep sets over and over again, gradually increasing the weight until he reached the top one for the day, and then did that for several sets of two. I wouldn't have backed him in a mile race, but he was absurdly strong, and light years ahead of his time. Multiple sets of low reps are the norm in weightlifting. Norbert Schemansky, an all-time great, used that method to awesome effect. Why should powerlifters mimic their bodybuilding cousins and use higher reps?

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, 30 January 2006

Growing Up Is Never Easy, Except When It Is

It’s funny – I increasingly agree with James Taylor that “the thing about time is that time isn’t really real”. And yet, and yet, a profound change seems to have occurred right at the moment I entered my thirties. It’s been brewing for a while, but I think the switch has just happened. I’ve got reality.

Let me elaborate. For a very long time, ever since I was a little boy, I have been a bit of a fantasist. To some extent I think it ties in with my OCD, although whether it’s a cause or a symptom I couldn’t say for sure. (And maybe the change is related to my OCD getting much better – i.e. much less acute). I have always lived life in the future, anticipating great things rather than focussing on the present, and I often had massive delusions of grandeur. Don’t get me wrong, I still think I’m fundamentally fabulous - as I’m sure you do - but I am more and more aware of my limitations – and more and more relaxed about them.

I’ve never thought I was a brilliant footballer, but I believed that with immense effort I might have become one. I often imagined sauntering into No. 10 Downing Street, having just been elected Leader of the Tory Party (and during my younger days, Leader of the Labour Party, yuck). A string of Mr Olympia titles were to be mine, at some unspecified point in the future. Even as recently as a few months ago, I suspected that I might have a smash hit comedy film at my fingertips. As much as I loathed the idea of all the running, a place in the Special Forces could be mine if only I learnt superhuman discipline. And y’all have read of my unlimited ambitions in regard to powerlifting.

A change has come. I hadn’t believed it would, and insofar as I did wonder if it might, I thought it would be a source of deep melancholy and regret. In the event, it is nothing of the sort. Rather, a more accurate and acute appreciation of my limitations has allowed me the pleasure of focussing on my true strengths, and to enjoy those things at which I am at best mediocre without feeling guilty about not being better.

I will never be good at football. However, thanks to the fact that I will be much fitter in my thirties than I was in my twenties (and yes, that is a fact), I will not suffer the pain of decline so soon. I will rediscover a spring in my step that I haven’t had since my youth. I will never be, and could never have been, a soldier. My comedy film script has bright spots, and the characters are good, but I am not up to writing an adequate film plot (know anyone who is?). And I realised today, as I made my way back from the gym, that I am unlikely to set the powerlifting world alight.

I’ve seen enough signs now, I think. OK, I’m losing weight, and that stops significant strength gains. I am a good squatter and deadlifter, but my bench pressing is rubbish. I’m probably stronger than you (although maybe not pound for pound), and I’ll keep going, and I’ll be bloody strong in my prime, but I don’t think the big titles await. A refusal to use drugs or get any bigger will also be limitations.

I could be sad about this, but I’m really not. It hasn’t taken an effort of will to put my mind at rest, it has been a natural, pleasing process. And don’t worry – I haven’t ceased to dare to dream. If the powerlifting does go better than expected that will be awesome. If someone can help me fashion something from the film script, that will be too.

And I am going to give the stand-up comedy thing my all, and I am prepared to share this with you, dear reader, even if it tempts fate (maybe I’ll bomb this Wednesday or a week on Thursday or soon), and even if it sounds arrogant: I think I just might be able to get really good at it one day.

Stay tuned.

Friday, 27 January 2006

Mea Culpa

Having written my last post, I ought to confess something. I once kind of utilised homophobia for a campaign of my own.

When I was 16 or 17 I ran for the Student Council. One of my opponents was called Nigel, and his campaign consisted of going around telling everyone (possibly in jest) that he would buy them a pint if they voted for him. He was a knockabout sort of fellow, amusing on several levels, and I concocted the following response.

I made a poster that read something along these lines: "Nige is naughty. He's gone and bent the rules by promising to buy you a pint if you vote for him. That's bribery, and strictly illegal. Vote Greeves." So far, so what? Well, um, the words "Nige", "is" and "Bent" where much bigger than the other ones.

One of the serving members of the council, Spence, took the poster down. I remonstrated that there was nothing in it that he was entitled to object to, and he told me that it would be OK if all the letters were the same size. Being a bit of a dickhead, I asked him if he would be insisting that all posters should have uniformly sized letters.

Having determined that I was untouchable, I decided to replace the poster. However, someone who - unlike me - really hated Nige got hold of me, and said that I should make fifty copies of the poster and PLASTER the whole of the sixth form with them. So I did.

They stayed up for some time. Enough time for Nige to get understandly peturbed, and be asked by at least one person in the lower school if he was gay. Eventually I was called in by the deputy head of sixth form and asked - amazingly not instructed - to remove the posters. So I did.

(My now legendary charm was fully developed by the time I went to sixth form. I also smashed, accidentally but recklessly, a window with a football when I was there, and was never asked to pay. The same thing happened at primary school.)

Going through my things the other day, I was appalled to discover a poster, written in my hand, that said "Vote Greeves, a REAL man". (I recall that a third candidate had a poster that boasted that he wasn't bent - it might have been Spence.) I had forgotten just how far I had gone with this silly joke. Nige was not, and was obviously not, gay. But I now know that at least one member of our year was. What he can have made of the campaign I dread to think. What anyone must have made of it I dread to think. Nige and I were both elected to the council, and I beat him. He subsequently recommended me for the chairmanship, which I won.

In my defence, I think one can be too po-faced. There must always be room for outrageous humour, and some things are a little more complex than they seem at first. Sometimes we latch on to a characteristic not because it is that which we object to, but just because it is a convenient handle with which to verbally assault a fat/ short / female / ginger person. In America they may tell you that this can be applied in racial situations too - I met people in the South who assured me that not all black people are "niggers", and that the term is therefore legitimate, a viewpoint popularised by the black comedian Chris Rock. That is a bit rich for my blood, but I do think that there is something in the general proposition that we can get too hung up about all this stuff.

We can also be too insensitive about it. I can't help chuckling when I look back on my "hate campaign". But it was thoughtless, may have been hurtful, and I am sorry. Sort of.

Simon Hughes

I made a point of watching Question Time last night, and was glad that I did. It’s on much too late, and sometimes gets my blood pressure up, but it remains a welcome part of national political debate. Zac Goldsmith, who is my age, was on again and performed very well – he’s certainly a bright spark, and not a playboy who is just toying with politics.

I tuned in because of Simon Hughes. The more I thought about yesterday’s revelations, the more sympathy I had for him. I’m making a bit of a habit of defending Lib Dems, for which I make no apology. I think it’s usually best to call it as you see it.

I’ve never met Simon Hughes. It has, however, been apparent to me for some time that he is a decent, very hardworking man, who has served his constituents and the Liberal cause with distinction. His is an attractive brand of liberalism, much too economically left wing and pro-EU for my liking, but nonetheless worthy of consideration. He is an intelligent and fair-minded commentator, and the House of Commons would be much the poorer without him.

Simon Hughes won his seat in Bermondsey against a backdrop of homophobic campaigning against Peter Tatchell. Simon has made clear that he regrets that campaign, and Tatchell has forgiven him. In my view Simon’s devotion to his constituents (some of whom will of course have homosexual tendencies), coupled with his contrition, means that he can now be absolved.

(Incidentally, I am not of the view that a privately gay man has to tick all the boxes of the gay rights agenda to avoid being a hypocrite. I know at least two openly gay men who are less liberal on parts of that agenda than I am. It is a flawed agenda to which no-one should wholly subscribe.)

There has been speculation about Simon’s sexuality for years. At times I was under the impression that it was an understood fact that he was gay, at others I was led to believe, in part by his occasional statements on the matter, that he was a heterosexual who had been unlucky in love. It seems now that he is, or has at least been, bisexual. A bisexual man is not being untruthful as such if he answers the question “are you gay?” in the negative. It is however likely that Simon must have known that such an answer gave a misleading impression.

As many of you will know, I worked on a book by Peter Oborne that catalogued deception by politicians. Peter makes a persuasive case that politicians' lies, however trivial, have a cumulative, undesirable effect. In this case, I think Simon Hughes should be forgiven once more. In order to protect someone else’s confidence, or one’s own privacy, it is sometimes necessary to dissemble, for the simple reason that the response “it’s none of your business” is all too often taken as an affirmative answer. And Simon had every right to be private about his sex life.

We each of us have our insecurities and frailties, and they may come as a surprise to others. Many people will not understand how I can be so fearful of asking a girl out on a date when I am also throwing myself into stand-up comedy. I can’t understand how a man who has served in the special forces can be unnerved by the prospect of making a speech. But we SHOULD understand why, and we should similarly understand that a man like Simon Hughes might be able to go on TV shows and hold forth about politics, but be uncomfortable talking about his private life.

In a democracy, you must have a secret ballot. We do, and it means that we can decline to vote for someone for all sorts of reasons. Those reasons may be offensive (e.g. racist) or absurd (e.g. because someone is bald). That is our right. It does not mean that we have an unlimited right to as much information as we wish for about a candidate’s life. If someone deceives their spouse (Simon is a bachelor by the way), that may tell us something of their character. But I do not conclude that a politician’s sex life should be up for grabs. If the media discover something by fair and legal means I think they are entitled to run with it, but they should not invariably expect cooperation, and I wish they would sometimes exercise restraint (perhaps they sometimes do).

Yesterday Simon looked terrified as the media swooped on him on his way to the studios. He did so again as he waited to come in and face the Question Time audience. Unless someone is a major league asshole, I do not delight in their discomfort. Simon Hughes is a good man – to some extent frail and flawed, as we all are – and he has won my respect. We are unlikely ever to share a political philosophy, but I hope he will have a large role to play in political life for many years to come.

Thursday, 26 January 2006

Upcoming Gigs

I have two stand-up comedy gigs in the next few days.

On Wednesday 1st February, I am on the bill at the Bullingdon Comedy Club in Oxford. That’s at the Bullingdon on the Cowley Road. Then on Thursday 9th I have a slot at Hogwash, which takes place in the Hogshead Pub on Lisle Street, just off Leicester Square in London.

It’s all terribly exciting! If you would like to come along to either or both, you would be more than welcome.

Wednesday, 25 January 2006


One man who has taken something of a battering in recent weeks is the Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik. Mocked for his loyal – and in Parliament almost unique – stoic backing of Charles Kennedy, and doubtless deeply embarrassed by his perhaps absolutely unique (in Parliament) support of Mark Oaten’s candidacy for the Lib Dem leadership, Toothpick hasn’t really been one to back a winner in recent times. Mind you, he is a Lib Dem, so that’s hardly surprising. Let me add to his woes by coming to the chap’s defence.

Toothpick adds to the gaiety of the nation greatly (NO, not that sort of gaiety). He is witty, interesting, a one-off, intelligent, knowledgeable about subjects as esoteric as paragliding and asteroids, and a good debator. He also seems to have a comparatively ecumenical attitude towards party politics, rather than being inclined to damn Labourites and Tories reflexively. His is an intriguing brand of liberalism – genuinely liberal and thoughtful. I’m not sure that he is a Lib Dem right winger as such, but he is nonetheless a very welcome Member of the lower house.

He is also – and you know how much store I set by this – a nice man. I was having a drink with Alan Duncan one night (STOP IT, stop it at ONCE), and Alan bounded over to Lembit and said “Hello Toothpick”. He grinned amiably, and they had a good chat. Some time later, I passed Lembit outside the Commons, after I had enjoyed either a few light ales or a few light bottles of wine, or possibly both. “Toothpick!” I exclaimed with what I hoped was sufficient verve to slightly unsettle the young MP. “Greetings Sir!” he replied with another broad grin. That’s class.

I am also a big fan of loyalty. Sometimes it can be a little misplaced, occasionally grossly misplaced. But while I think Toothpick was wrong to advocate the retention of a fatally wounded leader, I can see an argument for it in this instance, and that argument is the one ably and bravely outlined by Mr Opik. He didn’t leave the ship, even when the writing was on the wall. As for his backing for Oaten, it does look as though the latter’s skeletons really were a source of amazement to almost everyone and, other things being equal, Oaten had much to recommend him.

Finally Toothpick seems to be frank and honest. He has said straightforwardly that he would like first to be Lib Dem President and then one day leader. And do you know – I rather think that he might be a jolly good one.

Friday, 20 January 2006

Sport And Politics

Wow. I wasn’t aware of this:

“Even the troubles of Northern Ireland, which fuelled antagonism on the football battle fields of Glasgow, are on the way to being resolved.”

You read it on BBC Sport first.

Black Letter Day

Shock news that will reverberate in capitals across the globe.

It brings to an end a remarkable political career. Verily, this man is a giant. Liberalism is dead.

Thursday, 19 January 2006

Keeping On Keeping On

It looks as though I have another stand-up gig, on 1st February at the Bullingdon in Oxford.


Tuesday, 17 January 2006

Read All About It

I've particularly enjoyed two excellent posts on other blogs this week.

This one, and this one.


It was a Hell of a party. 30 it is a significant milestone, and one which I am nothing but happy to have reached. Friends came in good number, and in some cases from far and wide. It was splendid to meet some new people too. The only downer on the evening was that Michael and Cheryl and Paul didn’t get my invitation, and thus didn’t make it. They were missed, as were other friends who couldn’t join us.

I hadn’t expected to end up in bed with anyone, and certainly not Keith. However, the room he VERY kindly allowed me to share turned out to have just one double bed. As men of the world, we bunked down cheerfully. I am glad that he’s not my size though.

I had a lovely lunch with my immediate family on the day, followed by a stroll round the magnificent National Portrait Gallery. Lunch was nice, but the second half it was spent sat it silent terror. Silky - a professional comedian who hosts a series of excellent comedy nights up and down the country - called and offered me a five minute spot for the following night, at Bonitos in Banbury. Oh BOY.

So yesterday I piled into Adam’s car with Johann, Roman and Fee, and we drove to my home town. We were held up on the way, which turned out to be a good thing, as it stopped me standing around thinking too much.

On entering the bar, I thought “what the HELL am I doing?”. But a couple of other friends were at the venue, and I also know Leroy, the manager, as we have done powerlifting together. Plus I bumped into a really good chap, Mark, whom I hadn't seen for years. So that put me in a good mood. I also judged the amount of booze I had beforehand PERFECTLY, so I was oiled but not pissed.

Silky was very agreeable, and the other comics were encouraging. One other guy – Mac McFadden – also has comparatively little experience, so we huddled together to wish each other well. My slot came in the middle. This too was perfect, as it meant I didn't have to warm the crowd up, nor wait getting more and more nervous throughout the whole show. Mac and I were on with Richard Wilson, James Sherwood and Hils Barker. They were all very good.

My biggest worry was that I would simply forget my lines and dry up. Silky’s PERFECTLY judged introduction was a massive help, and must have made the crowd a little more generous.

I got a laugh right at the start (where I'd wanted one!) which helped a great deal, and then a big laugh soon after that. Having worried that I'd overrun, I somehow managed to time it just right – simply because you realise once you're up there that there won't be time to say everything you had planned, and because keeping the structure is more important than making as many quips as possible. One guy looked a little vexed that I picked him out, but it was fine, and the other person I picked on (very gently) had a really hearty chuckle. The last bit went well, and I got a really good cheer at the end too.

Last night was about survival, and getting my first time out of the way. Thanks to everyone who wished me well, and to those who made kind and helpful comments afterwards (who included all the other comics). I think I’ll keep going now. Maybe I’ll see you at a gig sometime.

Saturday, 14 January 2006

Happy Birthday ...

… to me. And it’s a big one. Yep, 30 today, the big 3-0. I was going to write “thirty”, but the convention is that large numbers are not written in letters. I have waved goodbye to my twenties, and ushered in a whole new decade.

Guess what – I am DELIGHTED. Seriously, this is the decade where it’s all going to happen. I am well out of adolescence, something which cannot truly be said of someone in their twenties – I have believed for some time that we do not really shake off growing pains until around 25. It is 25 years to the day since I started school.

I will earn more than I ever have before (please God), can consider myself a mature adult but not an oldie, and have not yet declined into physical decrepitude. Indeed my own personal circumstances are such that I will be much fitter and stronger in my thirties than I ever have been before.

I will probably get married in my thirties, probably have kids in my thirties, and probably become famous in my thirties (no, I’m not kidding). And you will probably have worked out that my big project for the year is stand up comedy, and that the person I know well who wants to perform is me. It should be fun.

Veritably, it will be a very good year, and a very good decade. And a very good life.

Thursday, 12 January 2006

Speaking Bluntly

In light of the issues raised and referred to in the post below, I have decided to say something terribly brave.

I really like James Blunt. There – phew. It’s a weight off my shoulders. (OK, so I often take great pleasure from placing a weight on my shoulders, but you get the point.)

It is fashionable to deride Mr Blunt - or "Blount" as he was known as a young officer in the Household Cavalry – as the latest in a long line of mediocre, whiney, foppish singer songwriters. Fashionable, but unfair and wrong. Unfair, because I suspect that most of his detractors have not listened to the whole of his album, but have been annoyed by the very high exposure of his hit single You’re Beautiful. Wrong because both that song and his album Back to Bedlam demonstrate fine musicianship, skilful lyricism, and a terrific voice.

Vive the dude or dudette who can get up on stage and entertain us with nothing other than an acoustic guitar and their voice. Let flourish those who scorn the beatbox and asinine lyrics (and no, You’re Beautiful is not asinine). It’s nice to hear a real SONG, particularly one that tells a story. That’s why I love The JCB Song, by Nizlopi, so much.

The most absurd criticism of Mr Blunt that I have heard is that, as a posh and privileged man, he has no right singing about suffering when he has not experienced it. That notion is fatuous and offensive when applied to any human being. When applied to someone who has seen people murdered before his very eyes, it is offensive in the extreme.

He’s a major talent, and we should cherish him. The fact that this will piss some people off is all to the good.

Shout It From The Rooftops

Read this. It’s all so thoroughly postmodern.

I should have thought it perfectly straightforward that this is wrong. Freedom of speech is not merely a means to an ends – the most effective method of arriving at the truth, a way to stop invidious viewpoints being buried underground and shielded from analysis and criticism – it is an ends in itself. Each of us, however clumsily, has a primary need to express ourselves. Surely we should only be coerced into shutting up in the most extreme circumstances.

And by “extreme circumstances” I do not allude to extremity of viewpoint. I would be an extremist if I believed that the Earth was flat; it hardly seems likely that articulating such an opinion would lead to me getting my collar felt. Being in a minority of opinion, even a minority of one, should not be a criminal act. Where would that leave our geniuses and innovators? Where would it leave any of us?

Moreover, holding the view that active homosexuality is immoral and / or “wrong” is not extreme - at least not when the measure is the proportion of the population that holds that viewpoint. It is a key plank of Islam and Catholicism. It is a view necessarily held by anyone who thinks that sex outside of marriage is immoral. It is a view held by (probably) most heterosexual teenage boys, by (probably) most working class people I have met, and by quite a few of my friends. Yes indeed – some of my best friends are homophobic.

Are these people right? I don’t think so. Homosexuality is not of necessity coercive, unlike certain other sexual activity. It is not, unlike incest or bestiality, overwhelmingly threatening to society. And the gays and lesbians I know are not weirdoes, not unpleasant, not threatening. Should it be illegal to say that they are? Of course it should not be.

We are all entitled to go about our lives free from assault and harrassment. We are not entitled to universal affection, nor to approval. Deal with that.

It seems to me obvious that deprecating someone for their behaviour (e.g. being actively gay, overeating) is different to deprecating them for their very essence (e.g. being a woman and / or being Black). But even that’s not the whole story. I do not think it should be illegal, for example, to articulate the view that due to biological reasons, Black people tend to be less intelligent than White people, although it is a proposition from which I dissent.

The police are using an Act of Parliament that dates back to 1986 to harass homophobes. Why they have suddenly got the bit between their teeth is not yet clear to me – but I wish the Government would denounce it loudly. Is it not common sense that the police would serve us better by concentrating their efforts on catching muggers, rapists and fraudsters? Is it not common sense that people should be allowed to say whatever they want - even if it offends and even if that offence is great – unless they advocate violence or are DIRECTLY harrassing someone? It is not common sense that these are the first steps along a path that leads somewhere dreadful, and that once we have set off down it, turning back could prove very hard indeed?

What do all you darkie poofs reckon?

Wednesday, 11 January 2006

Stand Up And Take A Bow

Do any of you know anywhere in London or Oxford that has open mic slots for stand up comedy? Someone I know well wants to have a go. They have never done it before.


Friday, 6 January 2006

Charles Kennedy

Yesterday, some fifteen minutes before Charles Kennedy effectively told the world that he is an alcoholic, I wrote that whatever happened next, he is finished. I stand by that remark. I suspect that he will soon be replaced as leader, but even if he clings on, he is fatally wounded.

Although it has been my understanding for several years that Kennedy has a drink problem, I didn’t know that he was going to acknowledge this. And whilst it may be the major concern of his colleagues, it doesn’t seem to me that conquering the problem will be enough to save his political career. Up against a resurgent Tory Party (which is poised to hoover up liberal votes), and in due course a new Prime Minister of formidable talent, the Liberal Democrats will be left flailing. Kennedy has shown no signs of having the energy to reposition his party to meet this challenge.

He is likeable alright, and on his day a commanding debater (although he does insist on adopting a patronising schoolteacherly tone). But he is unable to unite a party that is perhaps the most fractious of the big three behind a common purpose. The likes of Vincent Cable and David Laws have a profoundly different view of domestic economics to that of Simon Hughes and the wider membership. Aside from an electorally well judged opposition to the Iraq War, Kennedy has failed to capture the zeitgeist.

If the Lib Dems have any sense, they will dump him. And yes, they should dump him in part because of his boozing. If a Tory or Labour leader was today exposed as a drunk they would be gone in a trice. If the Lib Dems want to look at all serious, look at all like a major political party, they must act with equal ruthlessness. Kennedy is at fault for not recognising this, and for forcing the issue.

Of course I feel sorry for him. Alcoholism is an illness. The alcoholic is rarely absolved from all guilt, but they are a victim too. I used to know Kennedy’s wife a little, and liked her. I also have great sympathy for Kennedy in regard to his denials of alcoholism. Yet I fear that being exposed as a liar, albeit perhaps a self-deluding one, is politically fatal. It may seem unfair that one man could be allowed to lead Britain to victory in the Second World War despite being – as even George Best would have acknowledged – a piss artist, but such is today’s climate. I predict that Kennedy will sober up into a popular statesman, maybe even a national treasure. But this phase of his political life is over.

So who should replace him? That’s up to them of course, but as a Tory, the person I most fear is Menzies Campbell. A patrician of the most attractive sort, he affects the air of a statesman – something that David Cameron will struggle to achieve at his tender age, and something that Gordon Brown lacks the elegance to do properly. Campbell has consistently offered an analysis that is calm, considered, informed and wrong, and as such he is the perfect leader for the Lib Dems. David Laws and Mark Oaten represent the most agreeable (for me) wing of the party, but their time has not, I suspect, yet come.

Simon Hughes seems to be a decent man, and I continue to welcome his contribution to political debate in this country. But uniting the lefties with the Orange Book modernisers may prove to be a task too large for him. Maybe an outsider like little Sarah Teather or Susan Kramer could do it.

A final thought – and yes I’m hedging my bets here. You never know with ABSOLUTE certainty. Consider the astounding case of Marion Barry

Thursday, 5 January 2006

Happy New Year

I had a good session in the gym yesterday. I did some benching and some deadlifting, and my technique for both is pretty much spot on now I reckon. So now I just have to keep on keeping on. Duval, whom I met there, suggested I focus on pressing to get my upper chest and deltoids in line with my very strong legs and back. He’s right, and I shall be working on that. It was also nice to be able to tell him that no, I wasn’t there as part of a New Year’s resolution, but had in fact been training hard since last February.

I am inspired, as ever, by the World’s Strongest Man. It’s such a pity that the BBC has dropped it, but at least Channel Five have kept John Inverdale on, and Bill Kazmaier’s signing is a good move, as he is a legend. Great too to see Kevin Nee in amongst things. He is pretty much the size I want to be, and so it looks like you don’t need to be 6’5 and 320lbs to take part after all. But I think it’s probably going to be powerlifting for me.

I have nothing to say about politics at the moment. However, whether he stays or goes, Charles Kennedy is finished. (This post comes before his statement on his alleged drinking problems.)
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