People are so generous. Even at this time, when there's not a lot of spare money floating about and everyone is feeling the pinch, we raised £1500 for Facial Palsy UK at our CIPFA SE Dinner on Friday night. I was feeling a bit anxious beforehand, as I mentioned in last week's blog, and this anxiety manifested itself in a nagging headache which began at about 3 o'clock on Friday afternoon and remained there, despite taking some paracetamol. For the first time in a long time, I hadn't any of my super-duper co-codamol with me, which might have got rid of my headache had I been able to take them! My headache continued to develop during the rest of the afternoon and early evening and eventually led to me leaving at about half ten to go home - but first, the dinner! We had a champagne reception beforehand (how lucky for me, given that it's the only alcohol I can tolerate) and while people were sipping at their drinks, Ro and I were going around "persuading" people to buy some raffle tickets.
At the beginning of the meal, once everyone was seated, our regional President invited me up to say a few words about Facial Palsy UK....in front of 240 people. Imagine standing up in front of a room with that number of people in it when you feel completely confident in how you look - wouldn't you be a bit nervous and apprehensive? You can guess, then, how I felt, knowing that my face wasn't quite right and that it would be the focus of everyone's attention for the next several minutes. However, it had to be done if I wanted to raise the profile of Facial Palsy and encourage people to buy raffle tickets, so I took a deep breath and a gulp of champagne and took to the floor. Whatever I said must have worked, as we ran out of raffle tickets! That's not a bad position to be in, especially as my friend Ro then rattled the collecting tin at the end of the evening, after I had gone home, and proved that the need for loose change is in inverse proportion to the amount of alcohol consumed :-). I went home with a sore head but a happy heart (and £1400 in my bag!), knowing that Facial Palsy UK was going to have a bit of a boost to its bank balance. Thank you to everyone there who helped with that great achievement (and to the kind people who said my speech had really moved them).
And so to Saturday and the beginning of an annual event in my social and racing calendar - the Sodbury Slog. Those amongst you who don't understand the attraction of ploughing through mud, climbing hay bales when there's a perfectly good stile hidden behind them, splashing through thigh-deep muddy water and hauling yourself out with a rope, or running with pounds of claggy mud turning your shoes into Frankenstein's monster's clumpy footwear, will wonder why, oh why, oh why I would want to do this voluntarily. Well, it's because it's the most fun you can have with your clothes on, as far as I'm concerned. It's sociable, I meet up with friends I don't see except at Sodbury, we stay in a lovely hotel, I get to wallow in mud and don't get told off for ruining my clothes - what could be better? Okay, there's a bit of running involved - or, in my case, sliding, falling over and plodding - but it's just a wonderful day. Because the race is always on Remembrance Sunday, we have a bugler playing the Last Post, a two minute silence and a reading of those most poignant lines "At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them" so I always start the race wiping tears from my face. To me, running through beautiful countryside on a perfect, sunny autumn morning is a perfect way to respect those who gave their futures so that I could have my present.
To anyone who hasn't yet discovered the joys of cross-country running - try it! The worst that will happen is that you will get covered in mud and glaur :-)
Have I converted you yet?