Posts Tagged ‘work’


This is a short piece I have written in response to a think tanks proposal to raise the pension age to 75 by 2035.

I left school, at 16. Started working, paid into my state pension, believed I would work until I was 65 and then retire and be free to do what I wanted. But it didn’t work out like that. I worked and worked all my life, but they the ones in power kept moving my retirement further and further away, 66, 67, 70, 75. It became an unreachable goal, the ultimate carrot and donkey. I went from being the apprentice, the learner to the one taking orders from people young enough to be my grandchildren. The questions never stop going round and round in my head, why? How? Why I am I in this place? How did it come to this? Is this all that life is? One continuous conveyor belt of never-ending work until one day you go to sleep and never wake up? People younger and younger telling you what to do and how to live your life as if you haven’t lived and gained experience? The politicians and business owners claim they work hard and that they deserve their big houses, long holidays, big pensions and early retirement. But it’s you that’s enabled them to be in the position they’re in. You are working every single day until you drop and the ready-made conveyor belt of people waiting to take your place until they follow in your footsteps and work until they die too. In my 50s I realised I would never retire. I would never enjoy days spent chatting with other human beings about the old days in the pub. Instead it’s stolen chats on our breaks before it’s back to work, work, work. They told us work was good for us, for our mental and physical health. But my body and mind are broken, I can’t take anymore. The ones who told us work was good for us retired at 50 on big fat pensions, cut taxes for the rich, increased working lives for the poor. If work is so good, why did they retire as soon as they could? Time moves forward but life goes backwards, retirement is not an option anymore.


from the first light of the flickering filament
to the soiling of that clean white nappy
playing with toys, learning the rules of life
that scary first day with other frightened kids
and the years of listening and learning that follow
to end up cast into a world of love and hate
hunting for jobs to help me build a life
drinking in haunts to help me forget i live
meeting my first and only true love
repopulating the planet with my seed
watching them grow into miniature versions of me
as they repeat the process of life that i have been through
we grow old together and head towards
the unavoidable fate that besets all humanity
leaving behind all that we know and love
these are the memories of life i have accumulated
refuse festering in the dustbin of my mind


I enjoy a challenge. The thought of a challenge keeps me going. However yesterday I may have gone a step too far because I entered the Eccup 10 race and when I saw 10 I assumed it was kilometres. However as my friend Nic kindly pointed out to me later on 10 was miles or around 16.5 kilometers, oops.

So what do you do? Back out and say you’re not ready for the race bearing in mind you’ve only been running seriously since March? Or do you admit your mistake and take on the challenge knowing it will be tough and painful but worthwhile at the end?

I decided to take on the challenge.

True I’ve only been running seriously since March and my 5k times have come down from 45+ minutes to 29:26. But 5k is as far as I’ve raced. I’ve entered the Pudsey 10k, another error on my part as for some reason I remember Pudsey being flat as a kid, but in the 40 years since I lived near it Pudsey has developed hills, quite a few by the sound of it.

My weight has come down too from 253lbs to 219lbs, a good weight loss but is it enough to run 10 miles in a decent time? Speaking of which I put in an estimated time of 1 ½ hours when it should be nearer 2 hours.

So I’m a moderately fit, slightly overweight, middle aged man with a poor memory who doesn’t read the large print and underestimates courses whilst over estimating his own abilities!

But I’ve decided to take on this challenge and I am going to do it. the race is on 5th July so I have plenty of time to prepare if I use it right. One thing I’m doing is cutting out alcohol. This will help with my fitness and weight loss goals. And there’s other goals I want to achieve in that time. Some are goals involving only me, others involve other people. But we will see which of these goals happen and which don’t.

But the hard work starts tonight with my writing workshop down in Halifax. Normally I drive but tonight I’m going to run down there and then run back, all the way uphill for around 3 miles. Should be interesting to see how I get on!


It’s only recently that the running bug has hot me and I mean really hit me. I joined my local running club last year, July 2014, aged 46, when an old friend of mine who I used to work with set up a beginners group there to generate membership for the club. I went along and for a while I was the only male there which had the added bonus of me being the fastest male in the group every week despite being so much slower than the lasses!

I carried on going and I began to look forward to it and even started to find old friends and make new ones so there was the beginnings of a social side too. I was never the fastest and I was never going to be. As the title says I’m a fat lad from Yorkshire, at this point I weighed around 18 ½ stone I think so I would just plod on in the slowest group but still enjoying myself.

Time moves on and four of us who had got friendly with each other decided to enter our local park run at Bradford. Now 5k isn’t far when all things are considered but it was far enough for me! I plodded round in around 45 minutes on my first park run but I did it and that was the main thing. After two more park runs my time had improved to just over 40 minutes and breaking the 40 minute barrier seemed to be a dream that would never happen.

And then autumn came and I stopped running. My final year at university had begun, the nights were drawing in and the wind and rain came back. Going outside and running didn’t seem so appealing and combined with the fact that my friends from the club had stopped going too there seemed no reason to go out, get soaking wet and run.

Autumn turned into winter and with the snow and ice the group runs were cancelled because of the risks involved with inexperienced runners in poor conditions. I still tried to get out but only for some walks locally nothing too strenuous!

And then this year 2015 something happened, my mind-set changed, a switch was flicked in my mind and a light came on. I can’t say for sure what it was, maybe the realisation that I was finally leaving the protecting cocoon of university and I would be released back into the wild combined with the fact that I had no idea what I wanted to do either made me wake up from the slumber I was in and realise I had to do something.

And one thing I realised I had to do was to get fit. My weight had dropped to 18st and I could walk slowly round the village where I live but I struggled and would soon feel out of breath, stopping for a rest and sometimes wishing I hadn’t come out.

But the friends I had made from the running club kept in contact and we began to talk of a return to the club. All of us had put weight on and needed to shift some fat and with spring fast approaching it meant it would be light at night again when we had all got home and so we could go out and see where we were running!

And so we went back to our running club, together of course because so many new people had joined since we last went we all felt a touch nervous about going on our own. But we needn’t have worried. We were soon all talking to each other and laughing and ready for our first run.

The lad who leads the group as a whole also leads the beginners group. I say beginners because this is the group into which new runners to the club can go if they want to, just to ease themselves into running and see how they do.

Where I live is on top of a hill in West Yorkshire but it is possible to run round it without encountering too many hills if you know what you’re doing! We did this for a few weeks and were soon back into the swing of things. I felt comfortable in this group and did not want to move out of it, mainly I think from a fear of embarrassing myself in the next group up.

And then we heard of a new 5k park run that was being started in Halifax. Now although we are in Bradford we are literally on the outskirts of that city and Halifax is closer to us so we decided to give it a try.

The event is held at Shroggs Park in Halifax and the course is a lot more challenging than the one at Bradford being a loop with two climbs of decent length for a park. I missed the first one, but I made it for the second one and lumbered round in around 45+ minutes. This was due to me familiarising myself with the course and being quite unfit and overweight!

But around this time I also started to eat healthier and go out more on my own. Nothing too hard but just running down one of the longer roads in my village was a major achievement for me and something I was quite proud of at the time. I had to miss the next park run at Shroggs Park but turned up for the next one with a plan in mind.

After giving it some thought I had decided that the best idea for me was to run the downhill parts and walk the uphill parts. I did this and got a new PB for the 5k of 37.25! I felt good and I was happy with this result. My plan had worked and I had no aches and pains from running what I thought was an intelligent race.

But then I thought I can do better. Yes I felt good at the end but I also knew I had plenty left in the tank, I knew I hadn’t given it 100% and I knew if I could conquer the hills my time would come down dramatically. So at the running club I decided to move up a group and start to push myself.

The next group up is run by a young lass and she comes with a reputation for training you hard, but getting the most out of you. I joined her group and she told us that we were doing some hill work. Now although I felt a bit apprehensive I also knew that this was exactly what I needed to improve my times.

And the hard work did pay off. At the next park run I just went for it from the start. It was hard work and didn’t feel very fast although the app on my phone told me otherwise. As I started my last lap I know I had given it my all as my legs were beginning to feel like lead weights and I sensed I was slowing down.

Past the start/finish line for the third and last time and the uphill slope felt like a mountain. However what kept me going was not only my determination to finish but two ladies who kept overtaking me and then running in front of me instead of moving to the side. This really infuriated me because I felt they were being very disrespectful towards me.

On the last uphill section I went flying past them using up my last reserves of energy, but it was enough to pull out a gap which they could not pull back. I did worry though that they would catch me on the finishing straight as I reached the top of the hill. My legs had gone, my whole body had gone, I literally had nothing left, yet somehow I managed to haul 17st+ over the finishing line for a time of 35.50 according to my phone.

I knew I had a new PB and whilst it was in the 35 minute zone I was aiming for I was a little bit disappointed it wasn’t faster as I had put so much effort into the race and literally had nothing left to give at the end.

The results are usually released around 12.30pm – 1.00pm after the race but this time they were released late, very late. I think it was around 3.00pm when they finally dropped into my inbox and to my amazement my official time was 34.55! I could not believe this. How could my phone be nearly a minute out? I looked again and yes the time was still 34.55.

So after all that my efforts had been worth it and I was rewarded with a new PB in a time that, three months previously I would not have dreamed of. I felt so good about it I could have cried. To many people who do not understand running it will have no meaning. The winner was also from the club I run with and he won it in around 17 ½ minutes.

But to me it was more than just a time. It was a vindication of my new diet and the extra training I was putting into running that somehow I was on the right path and that I could do something on my own with help from some amazing people at the club.


Here is the second part of Roy Marshall’s Where can I send my poems?

Roy Marshall

Yes, you are a brilliantly creative person who writes wonderful poetry.
We both know that.

You're Awsome

But if you want anyone to see your work  (and there are many good reasons for having work published, as expertly pointed out by Helena Nelson here,) you must approach the submissions process systematically and methodically.

Here’s a few more words on submitting poems to magazines. It’s fairly basic information but I  hope someone might find useful.

Find out what’s out there.

Investigate

This will take some time but the internet has made research fairly easy. For the UK and Ireland,  The Poetry Library has a good list of both print and online magazines. They also publish a list of magazines they have received in any given month, and I like to have a look and see if there are any titles I don’t know, and to see which poets are being published where. The Poetry Kit also…

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