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The London Marathon: A PFPT Adventure

London Marathon, 17 April 2011

"Why do I smell bacon and smugness?

This Sunday was one of my favourite days in the London calendar, Marathon Day! Living in a building that nestles cheekily on the River Thames means that one half of the building has flats boasting the much coveted river view while the rest of us have to look upon a quiet road. Well, for one solitary day of the year, we road facing plebs have cause to be smug, for The London Marathon passes down our very street and our humble road-facing flats are transformed into “luxury” apartments with a marathon view and for that one day, you can stick your river view right up your vista!

Normally on this day, my flatmate and I invite a select few lucky chums to join us in supporting the sweaty runners in our own “unique” way. This supportive action takes the form of waving bacon sandwiches and glasses of Champagne out the window at them while they look up with pained expressions. I like to think that the sight of me smugly stuffing my face with a delectable alcoholic brunch will give them the added boost of hatred they need to spur them on through the second half of the race. In some small way, I like to think I have helped each and every runner reach their full potential. It gives me a nice warm glow inside. Well, it’s either that or the fact drinking starts at 10:00am.

When not selflessly spurring on the weary athletes with pig filled bagels and glasses of bubbly, it’s customary to shout out vaguely coherent words of encouragement, although one year, a particular guest had to be deprived of her window privileges after insisting one participant “GET A GRIP”, having foolishly decided that after 14 miles, he might benefit from resting his bones against the wall beneath us.  Wafting smugness over the athletes is one thing but outright abuse is to be discouraged, not because I feel sorry for them (far from it) but because they know where I live and the fact they’re attempting to complete a 26 mile race clearly means that they are mentally unstable and can outrun me. A combination not to be sniffed at.

Well, this year’s Marathon Day was a much more “subdued” affair and it was most fortuitous that no guests had been invited to witness the absolutely pathetic behaviour that was to be displayed by two (allegedly) grown adults.

Sunday saw PFPT Towers struck by a power cut which was accompanied by a loss of water to boot. Regular readers will recall that I deal with a loss of electricity about as well as a cranky toddler copes without an afternoon nap (click here for a recap), but add to this the fact that an extreme version of Soap Dodger Sunday had been unwittingly thrown into the mix, resulting in neither flatmate being able to shower, cook, clean, or flush the porcelain throne. The loss of access to laptops and televisions is bad enough but when you suddenly realise that you can’t even spend some quality time in ‘The Littlest Room’, well, panic was soon cranked all the way up to 11.

You may be thinking that the obvious solution to this dilemma would be to leave the flat and seek refuge elsewhere. On any other day of the year, you’d be right, but you’re forgetting one small thing; the street is a thundering river of thousands upon thousands of determined joggers and therefore escape isn’t going to be an option for several long hours. I’ve seen people attempt to breach the human tide before and they end up being mown down by a man in a fairy costume and stuck to the bottom of a Smurf’s shoe. It’s a less than dignified way to go and I had planned on being ripped from this mortal coil, if not in a blaze of Champagne and rock guitarists, at least freshly showered and not wearing yesterday’s make up.

Well, stuck in the flat with nothing but a fully stocked bookshelf brimming with a plethora of undiscovered literary gems, I did the obvious thing. I went to bed.

Several hours later, the race was pretty much over and only the weak, injured and those who thought training for a marathon involved walking to Burger King were left ambling through the sea of discarded water bottles and abandoned homemade banners. Why then, was I still too terrified to venture out in search of food and a power source for my ever depleting phone battery? I shall tell you. The Marathon, as well as attracting huge numbers of lovely banner waving well-wishers, also brings with it a plague of Essex’s finest plastic imbeciles, who seem to think the delightful area of London I live in is in fact Magaluf.

If you aren’t familiar with the dregs of Essex society, allow me to enlighten you as to what type of people had invaded my residential vicinity (please note, there are some delightful people who reside in Essex whom I do not wish to offend. These are not them).  The girls; orange stained skin, all flicking their cheap plastic hair extensions with their cheap plastic talons, weighed down by enough make up to paint The Severn Bridge and all wearing identical gusset-flashing outfits. The boys, also more orange of skin than a bag of satsumas, with identikit slicked down hair, t-shirts cut lower than their trollop’s girlfriend’s and both male and female, regardless of the weather, apparently unable to see without the aid of ridiculously over-sized sunglasses. Think division two footballers and their WAGS but on a restricted budget, then add to this the fact that this army of cretinous Kens and Barbies, while packing their oversized fake Hermes handbags for the day, seem to have forgotten to bring their manners, so when they aren’t squawking and swigging from cans of cheap cider, they are getting in the way of the last marathon runners and urinating on people’s doorsteps. MY doorstep!

There I am, hiding under my duvet with wee-wee trickling down my threshold (not actually my threshold, I mean the building’s. Actually, it was a close call for me too) when my bedroom door bursts open to reveal a manic looking flatmate, similarly unwashed and showing more than a hint of crazy in the eye, declaring “We’re going to the pub!”. If my day wasn’t surreal enough, it appeared that I had inadvertently found myself in a deleted scene from Withnail & I. All my protestations were batted aside and I was issued a mere 10 minutes to select a hat with which to hide my greasy Boris Johnson-bouffant, and apply a fresh coat of paint over the pre-exiting crumbs of mascara residue. And with a delicately applied drenching of Chanel No. 5 to hide the odour of tramp, we nervously ventured into the great outdoors, like the last two survivors in a zombie film, except we weren’t carrying baseball bats and shotguns, more’s the pity.

The pub was everything we had hoped and more. Entering its shiny doors should have been accompanied by angels trumpeting and cherubs playing the sax, never the less, there we were, two humble refugees in the presence of all that life requires; a flushing toilet, a steady supply of chilled booze, a menu and plug socket just out of sight enough that two phones received the stolen charging of their lives. In the words of a certain lumpy faced bell ringer – sanctuary!

So, what lesson did we learn here? Is it that we would have been better off if we’d had friends round to join in the Blitz spirit? Is it that we should always make sure we have spare bottles of water and warm blankets in the closet? Is it that we should actually have read all those books? No. The lesson we learned from this, is that we should buy shotguns and baseball bats for next year’s race!

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