So This Is Spring

Two miles, 9°, successfully made my (unambitious) pace, and my legs felt like lead again. Honestly, what on earth… well, to be fair, I did walk a lot yesterday, but only six and a half miles — not anything to boast about, and that includes my morning run. I’ll put it down to getting old, and get on with my day.

The Inverted Dessert Test

In my last post I invoked ‘the Inverted Dessert Test,’ planning to make a link to some previous post in which (I was sure) I had already narrated the explanation for that arcane term. A quick check, however, reveals that not only have I not discussed this vital cultural phenomenon, but nowhere on the Web is there a reference to this culinary criterion, requiring me to supply this morning what has hitherto been lacking.

Where to start? I can only begin where my own experience of the IDT began, in my first year at Bowdoin College, during the reign of Arthur Portmore as Steward (was there an alternate House title for stewards?) — though Art may not have been the originator. On weekdays at 10 PM, the Steward would open the kitchen and enter the walk-in refrigerator, coming forth with various morsels that although still nominally palatable, were not fully fit for serving as dessert (‘pudding’, for my UK friends). These savoury collations were enthusiastically received and consumed by members of the house who were particularly peckish, nay, ravenous due to their having ingested substances that contribute to heightened appetite. Often that appetite made even the least promising leftovers look attractive — but sometimes there were no suitable leftovers on offer (either too little was left over, or what was left over was still presentable).

On particular days, though, controversy might erupt over whether servings of pudding (here it usually involved actual pudding pudding) had lain unwanted long enough to qualify for Open Kitchen consumption. In such circumstances, the Steward would invoke the Inverted Dessert Test: a serving of pudding (or other dessert) would be brought forward and, with suitable drama, held upside down over the woodblock table in the centre of the kitchen. If, after ten seconds, the pudding still adhered to the bowl without falling to the table below, it was deemed to ahve passed the Inverted Dessert Test, and was brought forward for the hungry rabble to consume. If on the other hand the pudding dropped to the table (or so threatened to drop that the Steward concluded the test before actual clean-up was required), it was back to the walk-in for another twenty-four hours of ageing.

Hence the name. Hence the allusion.

Through Pudding

Two miles, 8°, occasional raindrops, and truly leaden legs. Honestly, one wonders whether some malign dæmon creeps into my bedroom of a night and switches my legs out for a different pair, or injects me with an immobility potion. I planned a distinctly unambitious pace, but my actual pace must have been well below even my modest expectations. I was not standing still for two miles, but a passer-by might have been excused for thinking I was. I felt as if I were running through pudding (leftover pudding, from which some of the fluidity has evaporated and which therefore would pass the inverted dessert test).

Plans to go to the Bod for a time today, to stretch my legs a bit more, to teach them a lesson.

Resuming Usual Service

I skipped my morning run yesterday, after a late and convivial evening at the Oriel Gaudy (for graduates from 1966 to 1971, which meant that I was the second-youngest person in the chapel, after my Lord the Provost). Then I took a relaxing Saturday to release some of the residual tension from term-time.

This morning, 5° and the usual two miles, at a gentle pace to accommodate my limbs’ day of rust.

Gaudy Night

Two miles, 9°, good time. I got most of the marking done yesterday that needed to be done; I’ll undertake some more today, and in the evening I’ll step in on behalf of the Revd Rob Wainwright, chaplain of Oriel, and lead Evensong before a Gaudy at Oriel Chapel.

Thursday of Ninth

Two miles, a tropical 9°, decent time. I’ll wrap up one phase of marking this morning, then some correspondence and prep for next term’s teaching. I may just come home early this afternoon…

No, Honestly!

(This isn’t about the British sitcom, which Margaret and I enjoyed immensely, but if anyone wants comments on that topic I’d be happy to opine.)

I mean, -1°. Really. Two miles, decent pace (though I didn’t make my anticipated pace, oh well). So far my March MAdness bracket is perfectly intact, as I had picked Pitt because of residual loyalty to Jeff Capel, and Texas A&M Corpus Christi because I wasn’t going to pick against the Body of Christ in a play-in game.

Three, Yet Again

3°, because who can get enough of wintry running?, but no precipitation, two miles, sort of on pace (I was delayed part way through, but basically on schedule).
Some bright spark has put me on the diocesan Retired Clergy list, so I’m in a mood about employment. To be fair, I should say ‘a continuing mood.’ No particularly interesting new prospects, so today is mostly marking and going through the motions to apply for posts I already know about.

Down at Heart

I’m approaching a year of job searching, and it hurts. I’m very good at what I do — teach, research, write, lead worship and preach — but I’m old, I’m not a partisan darling, not especially good-looking, and because of my career path I’m not an obvious REF candidate (I’d dispute that, based on the last couple of cycles, but the complex mechanisms of self-monitoring weighed against me).

A half dozen original books, another pile of edited books and translations, pages of peer-reviewed articles, recognised as a commendable teacher — unemployable.

I’ll keep applying — what else might I do? — but for the time being, it’s a hard message.

On the other hand, this is extra hard for Margaret, of which I haven’t taken enough account. For her sake I have to keep my spirits higher, have to communicate more and in a more positive key my sense of what’s going on, have to redouble my efforts to find a position.

Swept Away

Two miles, 11°, 50mph gusts of wind. And if someone clicked here out of curiosity about films, I favour the 1974 version directed by Lena Wertmüller, not the more recent Madonna vehicle. Today is for catching up — ideally for closing out — marking. It was fun to spend some time on Greek over the weekend, but marking is a direct responsibility, and I must fulfil it. Then prep for Trinity Term teaching, sermons for Holy Week in St Andrews (whee!), and maybe even a little reading and (gasp) writing…

Sunday of Ninth

I had a good, long night’s sleep (even though I woke up in the middle of the night to catch the second half of the Duke-Virginia ACC championship game on the ESPN website — go Duke!), enjoyed my two-mile run in 7° air, and made a slow pace. Quick morning of prayer and then the 8:00 Mass at Cowley St John, then my tasty weekend breakfast.
I’m not deeply invested in my weight, but I was startled this morning to see that I weighed in at 76 kg (12 stone, 168 pounds) — the least I’ve weighed in a very long time. I’m sure it will bounce back to the region of 78/172, but for a short while it pleases me to think I’m at roughly the same weight as I was in seminary (though not, I must stress, the same physical profile. Some weight does not want to go away…).