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Running for Office

22 September 2011
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This week I went to my first party conference. On the train on the way to Birmingham, studying the agenda and working out what to attend, I entertained a brief hope: maybe it wouldn’t be a gathering of political activists, journalists and special advisers? Maybe it would actually be a conference about parties? Or a conference OF parties? Perhaps we would all have to eat birthday cake and take part in organised games for prizes? I was briefly cheered.

Sadly, it really was a party political affair, though there were an awful lot of free sandwiches and many terrible jokes. There was also singing, though the only prize for that seemed to be getting as far away from it as possible, which I was happy to do.

Despite ‘fringe’ events starting before 8am, I managed to fit in a run. I don’t know Birmingham very well and worried about the route. Usual rules seem not to apply there – being able to see your destination is no guarantee that you will actually be able to reach it. Public spaces are suddenly intersected by motorways, roads cut off by shopping centres. I had a look on mapmyrun and saw that most people’s routes in central Birmingham were along canals rather than streets. This made sense – provided I could find a canal there was little chance of getting lost on the towpath.

I chose the Worcester & Birmingham Canal and had a very pleasant, if a little quiet, 4 mile run.  Tall trees and buildings rose directly from the opposite bank, shutting out the morning sun. Under gloomy bridges, the pounding of my footsteps echoed loudly, only to be swallowed up by the dark, still water on my escape. I passed a couple of other runners, a few cyclists whizzed by at a frightening speed, but mostly I had the city to myself.

Arriving back at Gas Street Basin, two armed police with huge black guns waved me back onto the street. Back to civilisation.

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