Running into trouble

1st September 2006 at 01:00
It's September again. The Rugby Club Ball. A dinner dance, not a raffle, unfortunately. Himself sees this as the highlight of the year. I see it as the equivalent of sheer, unadulterated hell on Earth.

Cometh the night, cometh the inevitable. I'm tired. Can't be bothered. Want to crawl up on the settee and sleep. Term is three weeks old and I'm knackered. Himself is late. Himself is already well refreshed. Himself is in satirical mode.

"Does this dress make me look fat?" I ask stupidly.

The Perrier Award-winning husband replies, smirking smugly: "No, it's your tummy and hips that make you look fat."

That's it. World War Three begins. 15-love. Bridget to serve. Insults are traded. Each one more cutting than the one before.

He attempted a Johnny Depp Captain Jack Sparrow impersonation. All I caught was the "avast behind" remark, before the plate of congealed spaghetti remains hit him full on.

The evening itself lived down to expectations. We hardly spoke. I was determined to do something about my fitness - or lack of it. I decided to join Jog Scotland. I was assured they catered for all shapes, sizes and abilities. They did.

The class was predominantly female. There were a few guys, but I started in a group of almost beginners. They were good company. I became friendly with two fellow novices. Shona was a classroom assistant, while Linda worked in a local joinery firm.

We started slowly and built up to longer runs. After a few weeks, we managed to run for 20 minutes non-stop. I felt better. I looked better. I started to think of extra sessions with my two new pals.

Time passed and we could run for 30 minutes. Shona and Linda had entered the local five-kilometre charity race, and challenged me to take part. I initially refused, but began to think about it. The local paper was full of the event, encouraging firms, businesses and companies to take part.

At the August headteachers' meeting, I heard that several staff teams had entered. All proceeds from the race were going to local children's charities, and I began to prepare in earnest. I told Himself that I was in strict training - no distractions.

The day of the race duly arrived. Scorching hot. Not a breath of wind. I recognised many of the teachers who had entered. Joan was there to offer moral support. She arrived hungover and reeking of last night's garlic bread. Having explained that I had to meet Shona and Linda, I made my excuses and left.

Joan's one bit of news was that the directorate had entered a team led by Teflon John, complete with co-ordinated top-of-the-range Nike outfit, headband, Vaseline supplies and pedometer, and the director was coming along to encourage his underlings.

The provost started the race, after a brief speech which could only have been described as underwhelming. Shona, Linda and I settled into our regular running pace and off we went. We knew that we could run for 30 minutes and felt quite confident. Various teachers passed us, and I caught the tail-end of some of their witty remarks.

Some of Shona's colleagues passed us, and one of them shouted between gasps: "You'll never guess, Shona, the director's running. One of them didn't turn up and he took their place!" Our Great Leader is not renowned for his athletic prowess, and I never considered him to be anything other than small, chubby and lethargic.

Teflon John passed us at two kilometres, looking fetching in his turquoise outfit. John dear, real athletes remove the price tag from their newly acquired running shoes, especially if they are reduced in a sale.

We turned round into Forth Street and there was pandemonium. A runner had collapsed and was obviously struggling in the heat and humidity. Being a small town event, we hadn't got wall-to-wall medical teams, but relied on volunteers from the Rotary Club and Scouts and Guides.

The runner lay on the ground and he looked a "funny colour", as my grannie used to say. He needed help - quickly. Everyone was in a flap. Stand back.

Help is at hand. Bridget McElroy, BEd, SQH, Cycling Proficiency - and St Andrews First Aid Certificate to the rescue.

Shona and Linda ran on; they were obsessed with finishing in under 30 minutes - but I was a Samaritan. The kiss of life was duly applied, and the patient revived. The crowd applauded. A miracle had happened.

I hadn't looked at the face of the patient as I had sought the correct mouth-to-mouth application. As he struggled to recover, I swept back the matted hair to reveal the distinguished features of our great, and now not-so-glorious, leader.

I, Bridget McElroy, had inadvertently "kissed" the director. Father forgive me.

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