Before we go any further, i do need to state that there are a couple of mentions of Jimmy Saville in the book, a keen city marathon runner, which obviously some people may find too distressing. The book was written just before the truth came out and i think it’s fair to say that these mentions would not have made the final cut had Boff known at the time. It’s incredible how angry one can feel just reading about Saville like this, how he had so many people fooled with his charity work, like he was one of the good people. CUNT!!! Nuff said!
So yeah, i found myself in the library the other day just having a mooch around seeing what books they had on health, fitness and wellbeing, and also Dartmoor. And i came across a book titled ‘Run Wild’ and couldn’t resist the temptation to have a look at the cover notes.
What made me take the book home was that it is written by Boff Whalley, one of the founders of Chumbawamba, which used to be one of my favourite ever bands, before they signed for EMI and had that awful hit, ‘Tubthumping’. I never forgave them for signing for (selling out to) EMI and never will. Half the original band left (the very day i had a ticket to go and see them in Camden so the gig got cancelled at the last minute just adding to my disdain towards the whole fiasco) and had to be replaced and what the world saw as Chumbawamba when they played Tubthumping was not the Chumbawamba that i, and many others, had known, respected, admired and totally loved. And i really did love that band.
But Chumbawamba EMI sell out issues aside, the fact that Boff had written a book about running, and wild running at that, had me really eager to take the book home and give it a read, and i was not disappointed.
What’s sad is that a lot of people will never read this book because they’ll think it’s just another book all about running and how to run, and it isn’t. It’s far more than that. It’s a great look at society as a whole through the lens of a wild runner, but with an anarchist, a punk, a musician, a father of two young children, guiding your view.
The book doesn’t at all go into any advice on how to run, other than why to stay away from the cattle herding of big city marathons and to get out into the countryside trails and just enjoy the freedom they offer, and in so doing it’s a very approachable book even for non runners.
One of the paragraphs i feel that sums the book up is this one…
It’s not sponsored or televised, but it’s all fun. All this tripping over tree roots and not knowing precisely where I’m going and falling like a clown into rivers. But it is, I swear — it’s fun. It’s not (as some have described it) like going back to being a child again, as if in regression. It’s just that the natural, exuberant, no-holds-barred playfulness we have as humans is educated out of us as we get older, squeezed out by convention and responsibility. Responsibility! Our first responsibility must surely be to enjoy ourselves. To have our children see us enjoying ourselves, so they might grow up thinking that, yes, life is a quest for joy, not a set pattern of inhibitions and denials. Adults, scared of looking foolish, won’t even run for a bus they’re about to miss. Somehow, as we grew older, running became silly, part of a job lot of joys and pleasures that, as we turn from kids to adults, we’re supposed to tie up in a big hessian sack and throw into the nearest canal, where they can sink with a splash, a glug and a muffled yelp.
Also from the book…
‘People must not do things for fun. We are not here for fun. There is no reference to fun in any act of Parliament.’ (A. P. Herbert, British politician)
That said, it’s also a great book for runners, both runners of man made surfaces and runners of natural surfaces and anyone either thinking of taking up running or has just started and not sure what direction their running wants to take them.
So if you live in Devon then you should be able to order this book through any Devon library from Exmouth library. Other libraries may vary. Or buy it! It’s worth the money.
And then go and have some good old fashioned fun – like you used to before you grew up!