We’ve all misplaced something important at some point. The car keys. An elderly relative. Nuclear launch codes. It’s easily done. When I’m out running, I’m occasionally stopped by strangers suffering directional difficulties or similar, but its rare that my stride is interrupted by an unfamiliar person whose clearly lost an important animal, mineral or vegetable. However, during a midday run this past week I encountered two gentlemen who’d each separately mislaid something, and thus flagged me down to help.
Last Tuesday lunchtime I headed out for a steady 4 miles. It was my first lunch-break jaunt for a couple of weeks. Pathetically, the fact that my usual route starts with a steep hill had put me off. ‘But…just change the route, Ben?’ a level-headed observer may remark. Change the route?! *Recoils like a vampire exposed to the noon sunshine* We can’t be doing that. Think of the, erm, stats. Stats? ALRIGHT I’M JUST MENTAL. But anyway, after giving myself a stern talking to, I was heading out. Hill or no hill. Well, hill. Unless plate tectonics or some other form of geomorphology had resulted in its disappearance. Which it hadn’t. Gah.
I’d convinced myself the hill would be fine if I just took it steady. After all, it’s a little-known fact that the famous, clichéd saying ‘Go hard or go home’ is in fact shortened from ‘Go hard or go home or indeed just go steady and actually enjoy what you’re doing because you’re not a professional athlete, remember?’ So, steady-away I went. The hill was conquered without me transmorphing into Breathless Beetroot Ben. I encountered and passed the Irish Wolfhound, his pet 2-foot log and his Klingon-speaking owner referenced just the other week. They were both looking well. For a while after, it was blissful solitude as I trotted through the autumn leaves.
As I rounded a corner a while later, there stood a man – a man wearing a large leather gauntlet on his left hand and a look of mild concern on his skyward-pointed face.
‘You haven’t seen a hawk have you mate?’ he asked.
I stopped. Now, its difficult to convey thought patterns to the printed page, but what I will say is that my answer was perhaps simultaneously the best and worst response I’ve ever given to any question.
‘Why, have you lost one?’ I asked the skyward-facing chap in the singular leather gauntlet – a gauntlet with a rather obvious void atop it, where a bird of prey should quite clearly be sitting.
But in retrospect, this was an important matter to confirm. After all, he could have been the world’s laziest hawk-spotter, simply asking passers-by if they’d seen a hawk. Or perhaps merely a would-be hawk handler, trying to snare a wild one rather than purchasing one from a reputable second-hand hawk dealer. However, he confirmed he had indeed misplaced a hawk. I admitted to having not seen hawk. Several times, in fact, as my skewed sense of polite social interaction concluded internally that saying ‘I hadn’t seen or heard a hawk’ (hawk sounds – instantly recognisable to men as in-touch with nature as I am. I regularly draw a bath and stick on Sounds of a Hawk between Pan-Pipe Moods and Classics In The Key of G by Kenny G) a few times would reassure him I didn’t in fact have the missing bird stuffed under my base layer. And that he could more or less rule out the area I’d just appeared from as to being the temporary home for his misplaced bird.
So, on I went leaving him to search the heavens alone for ol’ hawky. About 147 seconds later, I happened across another chap wearing the same sort of expression that Hawkless Harry had sported.
‘You haven’t seen a lurcher have you mate?’ he enquired.
Before I could stop myself, the words ‘Are you taking the piss?’ fell from my lips, which I quickly had to qualify with an explanation regarding how coincidental it was that only seconds earlier another petless passer-by had asked for assistance. I told him I’d seen no lurcher, but could keep an eye out for it. He told me it was ‘quite large’ but also ‘quite docile’ and if I found it, could I please wait with it at the end of the path by the road, and he’d drive by to collect it. I of course agreed, but phewf – can’t a man head out for a quiet run without it turning into an episode of All Creatures Great and Small?!
So, off I went again. As I ran through the woodland – eyes peeled for birds of prey and huge, easy-going dogs – several thoughts occurred to me:
1) There was the possibility that somewhere in this forest an epic Hawk vs. Lurcher battle was occurring. Like an FA Cup first-round meeting. The winner would face a badger a week on Tuesday.
2) Maybe they’d team up and attack. The dog would distract me from the front, then the hawk would take me from the side like those velociraptors in Jurassic Park. See dramatic reconstruction below:
3) If I saw the hawk, what do I do? Wave a squirrel at it in an attempt to lure it down? Make the ‘Universal Animal Summoning Noise’ (you know the one, purse your lips and make a squeaky clicking sound)? Try and signal to the chap that I’d spotted it by mimicking an air raid siren or shouting ‘KAW-KAW! KAW-KAW!’?
4) At least if I saw the dog I had a plan: accompany it to the rendezvous point to hand it back to its owner. But what if it doesn’t want to be accompanied? I foresaw the headline ‘Runner loses arm in lunchtime dog/run horror’. See dramatic reconstruction below:
5) I really wanted to find one of the missing creatures and be the hero of the hour. Particularly the dog: I had visions of finding it with a wounded paw, meaning I had to carry it through the woods to the rendezvous point not unlike how Kevin Costner carries Whitney Houston through that packed nightclub in The Bodyguard.
A passer by interrupted my considerable train of thought. I said hello. They didn’t reply. Or look up. Or even vaguely attempt to acknowledge my existence. Then a fellow runner approached. I said hello. Nothing whatsoever in response. Then another runner. Again, no acknowledgement. By this point I began to worry I had in fact been hawked/lurchered some time earlier, and was now having an out-of-body experience whilst dying under a bush. And thus I wasn’t really out running at all and that’s why no-one was acknowledging me, because I wasn’t really there. See dramatic reconstruction below:
I passed the rendezvous point having spotted neither dog nor bird. Somewhat disappointed, I wound my way round and back in the direction of my workplace. At a narrow point I spotted runners coming the other way and decided I’d pull to the side, stop and wait for them to pass. Surely, a nod of gratitude. I’d settle for that. But no. Ignored. Again. My mood blackened. No hawk? No dog? Ignored by everyone, even those who share an obvious involvement with the same activity as I? Everyone could just get stuffed.
By the time I returned to work though, my mood had improved. I strode through the staff workroom on my way to the shower, displaying my new Captain America base-layer for all to see. Although I’d be lying if I said a Mexican wave of appreciation spread through the workroom with me, I think those that saw it appreciated it. Imagine the clamour if I’d strode in with a hawk. Or carrying a lurcher with ‘I will always love you’ playing in the background? Just imagine…*closes eyes and imagines*
Also! Someone exhume Mystic Meg! Wait, you don’t have to – she still walks amongst us! ‘Before she became famous, Mystic Meg wrote pornography for Men Only, a British pornographic magazine, from 1994 to 2000’. Well I never. She must have had a different pseudonym though. Porno Paula. Smutty Sue. Dirty Deidre. Anyway, if we utilise her crystal ball and look forwards to next January, there’s an event I want to bring to your attention. Well, not an event as such. A thing. A virtual thing. It’s the UK Fitness Bloggers’ Virtual 5k, raising funds for RODS Racing for orphans with Down’s Syndrome. You can find out more and sign up at http://fitnessbloggers.co.uk/virtual-5k/
Think how good you’ll feel having pledged to knock 5k’s worth of post-Christmas bloat off. And you’ll be helping a very worthy cause. Also, YOU GET A MEDAL AND EVERYTHING! WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE?!?