4.59 am clicks over to 0500BST. My eyes open and neural activity increases exponentially. My first thoughts are of her. Nothing new there. My wetware deals with this and I think: “I really ought to get up and go for a run.”
So I roll over and stretch out and lie still and do precisely nothing.
0600BST. Same thoughts, same musings. Same inaction.
At 0744BST however I pull myself to my feet, select my kit, feed my cat, lace up my runners and by 0755BST I am pounding along the canal towpath towards Aston Science Park.
As I run, I muse. I wonder. I rehearse what I might say to her, if she gave me the time of day on the subject that is forever off-limits. I solve my own personal problems and by the time I reach Salford Junction I have found a solution for most of the pressing problems afflicting humankind at present, as well.
I reflect as I run beneath Spaghetti Junction that this iconic Birmingham landmark has just turned 40 years old. The river and canal bridges beneath it are somewhat older. One of the brick bridges was built by my great-grandfather, a master bricklayer, just after the first world war.
So in a little less than four miles I have put the world to rights. I head up a new arm of canal, away from Gravelly Hill and up the incline back towards Birmingham. This link is usually quiet, with fishermen dotted along the lower level of its course. The sun has come out, the sky is blue. the makings of a beautiful day. I wonder what she is doing, I run on, cheerful and no longer feeling my age. Yes, my Achilles tendons ache; my cruddy right knee complains about the condition of its cruciate ligaments.
And I say: “Pah! Doesn’t hurt, isn’t sore, ignore.”
Hey presto – pain is gone!
Then, as I approach the locks at Saltley I encounter the first evidence of the rain that must have fallen overnight. The lock is overflowing, cascading, white water is spilling over the lock gates. The lock itself has overflowed and white water cascades down the towpath toward me. I’m excited as I pound through the ankle-deep, fast flowing stream. I splash my way through up to the next level.
“Don’t see that every day,” comments my internal narrator.
Another lock, another change in level, another torrent of white water, another flooded towpath. Deeper this time. I plough my way, knee-deep now, under a bridge and towards what can only be described as running water. Unlike the canal, which is, by definition, static, the water running along the towpath has both a source (the canal itself) and a directional flow (downhill, under gravity, away from that source.). Water which flows from a source to a outfall could be considered to be a river. So for a few hours, at least, Birmingham has had another river feeding into the Tame and the Rea.
Now I’m full of adrenalin-fuelled, energised, excitement. I can’t get enough of this!
I charge through the deluge toward a chap wielding a video camera recording the event for posterity.
Splash! Splash! We greet each other with that most Brummie salutation, the Thumbs-Up. I pound on. The resistance offered by the water flowing against my direction of travel is hard work. Running up the incline is hard work. But the sun shines on, and it is bloody great fun.
Eventually, as I approach the plateau on which the city-centre sits, the torrents subside. I am soaked.
As I press on towards Bordesley Junction, I am fielding the occasional enquiry from others out on the way down the gradient: “Is the towpath still flooded down there?”
My answer is in the affirmative!
Thereafter I run on along the link from Bordesley Junction to Fazeley Street without incident. Back through Aston Science Park, past the top lock where I had turned off earlier to head for Salford Junction.
I see two new, fluffy, gosling chicks on the water as well as my gaggle of five older, larger, more straggly goslings. A young woman heckles that I should get my shorts off. I invite her to catch me and try.
Finally I end my run and leave the towpath at Water Street, less than a minute from my apartment, have banter with a group of youngsters outside my local bar, pay my respects to the Naval dead in St. Paul’s churchyard and walk home to open a Father’s Day card and present from my son and his fiancee.
0920BST: I have already had a good and eventful day! Anything else will be a bonus.
I wish everyone understood that life can be marvellous and full of surprises as long as one is open to the marvel of it all and is willing to be surprised.