The rain spat gently on my face after just a few feet from the house but if I didn’t leave now then I would have to cook and who run’s on a full stomach. To the north the charcoal lifted up and over the forest covered hills and to the border of the county in the south inviting blue and gold. It just seemed luck was on my side today that the weather was fairer on my usual route and did it really matter if I got a bit wet. I’d had a headache most of the weekend and even though it had subsided like a sponge that had been squeed dry I felt the worse I could look forward to would be a paracetamol and may be another cold.
It may have taken a mile and a half before I escaped the threat of a real soaking and I still couldn’t make my mind up if I was really awake or at least energetic enough on this lazy Sunday to actually be running but I’d surpassed the bridge where I’d planned to take shelter if rain turned to waterfall and I didn’t need it..
I tried to think of deep memories or come up with some kind of enlightenment or elucidate, as I ran with the intention of using those powerful endorphins that always seem to problem-solve so well, but I can’t choose what I want to solve in such a prescriptive fashion. Whatever needs sorting just comes to mind while I tread the black ribbon and dodge cars, some that give a wide gap and the rare few that keep to the straight in the narrow country lane at the speed limit.
It usually doesn’t take much for me to reminisce about the early Norties where I played out my mid-twenties. A brit-pop or that fleeting set of chillout albums that declared prominent license to fill the entire office, where I thought I was at the top of my career, injecting ostentatiousness into all the permanent staff. This was an era where the cult drama This Life had left it’s mark where some thought they were those ambitious twenty-something lawyers charging around with a wallet full of notes and drinking to stupidity in an equally ostentatious bar in Clifton – the reality was they were a bunch of computer programmers trying to out-one-up-man-ship each other in skills in the bore of I.T. only polished by the big corporate names we worked with.
Within nearly two years I’d seen people dart around the office on Go-Peds, remote control silver air ships that would land in front of your screen, watched the crowd of staff standing around the large wide flat-screen TV in the supposed ‘hip’ break area with jaws dropped as the Twin Towers fell. It was a time of thick vibrant colours of opportunities, and thick “startup glasses” on our promotional posters and to add to the emotional rollercoaster the Internet crash. Before the likes of corporate tax avoidance of the likes of Amazon and Google, when companies first started offering shopping on the web and venture capitalists would plough millions into hopeful bright-eyed promotional smiles hanging from a black cab in London telling them they’ll make even more millions. They didn’t.
I got back from lunch one afternoon and sat at my desk, one of many rows in a large curving open plan office, someone was missing. I asked the relatively quiet lad that had sat next to me for the last year and a half, “Where is Kate?”
“She had a phone call. They said she had a meeting in the hotel next door. ‘Oh and bring your handbag.’” he said casually as he continued to stare at the screen and tap away at the keyboard as equally lethargic as his own casual, and rare in that office, attitude.
Within my last month there they culled forty employees. When my freelance status ended after my kindly informed last renewal I heard they culled another forty. Some months later what was left of the company and the office was closed-down and absorbed into the parent company in London. No one survived. Even one of the Daniel-Cleaver-esq management Mr Cool in his light sand coloured suits who would stroll in from time to time was gone. I never met any of the people I knew there again and all I was left with was dwindling finances, job board web sites devoid of work and those Chillout albums which no longer vitalised but drained the enthusiasm from the battery of being young. I’d only have to hear one of those tracks and suddenly life would take on a different meaning and I would feel sad for the past in the form of some sort of grief for what seemed exciting at the time. I think this was probably the end of the need to climb the career ladder and probably the end of what it was like to be twenty-something.
I heard a short blip of one of those tracks as I flicked through the car radio trying to find a radio station that didn’t woosh and fade while I travelled to my new job. I clicked back through a few presets until I found it. The thoughts came back as they normally have of those times I spent back in 2001 but it didn’t really have the same emotional charge. And while I’m sure if I thought about it long and hard enough, may be even fuelled by alcohol, that I could get those sad feelings, I didn’t have them. They seemed to now be in a much deeper past. It felt almost a by-gone youth full of naiveté and false ambitions. A photograph that was no longer crisp and vibrant of colours but faded taken with an old film camera. It felt good to be unshackled from the power of those rose tinted memories.
I got to the castle and the lake at the mid point of my run with the roots of my hair damp with sweat and a salty top lip. The black clouds were still visible but they were distant enough to the north to know it wasn’t going to rain on me. I stopped at the small wooden pier that pinned it’s way into the lake with golden flashes of sunlight flickering in the ripples that emphasised the golden-sand colour of the grass reeds where geese glided around looking for anything to take a taste of from the surface of the water.
I don’t think it mattered that I couldn’t use the magic of the running endorphins to think about my twenty-something memories as I’d already considered them and finally, after many years, those times have been put to rest. It also didn’t matter when I returned to the village to find the road soaked with determined rivers flowing along the gutter and my trainers flicking aftermath of rain onto my calfs. The sun shone at the lake and that made a good end to the weekend.