The Case Of The Missing iPad

Chief Inspector Jane O’Donnell felt highly satisfied as she took her chair for breakfast at the Golden Armadillo Hotel. The Case of the Missing Geese had been nicely wrapped up the previous evening once it was established that the farmer had forgotten which pond he had left his flock in after a late night at the Stripy Wombat Pub. As often seemed to be the case with the Chief Inspector’s investigations there had been no arrests. Still, the geese were safe, and it meant no paperwork. Another tick in the box.
The Only Sensible Conversation Around
(Image © Jelene)
“A job well done” she announced to a rather green, sickly looking Detective Constable Oakes who had spent most of the night allegedly questioning suspects in the Stripy Wombat.
DC Oakes nodded and turned his attention to the fry up that had been set in front of him but kept his mouth shut. She was mad as a box of frogs he thought, a sandwich short of a picnic. Yet another “perplexing mystery” that was really a wild goose chase. He would be glad to get home to Mrs Oakes and more particularly the chickens he kept. Sometimes he thought they were the only sane things in the whole world.
The quiet atmosphere was interrupted by a heated discussion in the kitchen. An argument about the best way to play angry birds – was it better on the chefs new iPad or his iPhone? Goodness me, thought Oakes, the world had gone mad! He turned his attention back to his breakfast and thought of chickens and clucked quietly to himself.
The Chief Inspector finished her breakfast and made arrangements to meet her colleague in the reception area of the hotel in an hour. It was as she walked up the stairs that she was nearly knocked over by the owner of the hotel. A stooping old man of about 80, he came careering around the corner with his walking stick held in front of him like a lance. His normally calm features distorted by rage, his face bright red, looking ready to explode.
 “Officer, Officer!!! Thank goodness you are still here” he exclaimed, grabbing the Chief Inspector with surprising strength around the arm. “There’s been the most awful theft. Someone has been into my private quarters and stolen my iPad. It was an original one and on my birthday too”. He leant on his walking stick, emotion pouring out of him as he told his story. The iPad had been taken between 11pm and 2am in the morning. The owner had woken up full of good birthday cheer only to be confronted by the devastating theft.
Now, Chief Inspector O’Donnell didn’t know a lot about iPads but she did know about originals. Things like Van Gogh paintings and Dickens first edition books. There had been a very interesting course on those at detective school. She knew they were important and very valuable. And here she was. The first detective on the scene of an original iPad theft. How lucky that she was there!
Like the true professional that she was, she sprang into action. Shouting back to the open door of the dining room, she started issuing orders.
“Oakes. Get more coffee and croissants. Make sure there is marmalade too! Oh, and we will need an incident room. Clear the dining room this instant and set one up.”
She could have sworn that she heard a large “cluck” come from the dining room area before Oakes replied with a weary “yes ma’am”.
An hour later, O’Donnell, now in her full uniform, returned to the dining room. A phone had been set up together with a large TV screen tuned to the national news channels. She glanced at it to see what the public reaction to the theft of an original iPad was and was relieved to see it had not yet made the global media. The current news item was about Apple stores who had run a promotion last night where you could turn up at any local store at midnight and receive a free new iPad in exchange for your old one. O’Donnell wasn’t interested in new iPads though – originals were her focus.
O’ Donnell was an old pro. The conversation in the kitchen had come back to her and she was confident she could have this case wrapped up by lunchtime. “I want to see the chef” she barked at Oakes, who was sitting at his table nursing his head and leafing through a magazine that looked suspiciously like “Chicken Lovers Weekly”.
The chef, when he arrived, looked tired and nervous, his eyes darting from side to side. “Where were you between 11 and 2 last night?” she asked with the slight American twang that she adopted when conducting an interrogation. She felt it made her more professional in front of the punters.
“Erm, erm, erm,” stammered the clearly guilty chef, “I went to the cinema to see a film.”
“Which film?” intervened Detective Constable Oakes, surprising O’Donnell with his incisive questioning. She had been just about to strike the chef off the suspect list as he clearly had an alibi.
The chef paused, his eyes searching the room for inspiration. “Chicken Run” he blurted out, resting his gaze on Oakes’ magazine.
Once again O’Donnell moved to cross the chef off the suspects list. But Oakes was on a roll. He knew that he was not a particularly smart man. He had Mrs Oakes to remind him of that and she was keen to do so regularly. But what Oakes did know about was chickens. And he knew that Chicken Run was not showing at the cinema last night. He whispered as much so his boss, who looked at him astonished as she circled the chefs name on the list.
Dismissing the chef, the two of them conferred in low voices. They hadn’t ever made an arrest before and clearly this was going to require some major planning.

“More coffee” shouted O’Donnell

“And biscuits!” Added  Oakes, his confidence growing by the minute as his prowess as a true detective became more and more evident.

Just then the front door banged open. The owner’s daughter flew in.

“Sorry I’m so late” she cried, flinging herself into the arms of her elderly father, knocking his walking stick to the floor. “The queue at the Apple store was awful. I’ve got your birthday present though” and she brandished a brand new iPad with ‘ new for old’ stamped across the box.

“So you took the iPad?” The owner said, already several light years ahead of our trusty detectives. “How did you fit it in with the soup kitchen that you run after work?”

“Oh! The chef helped out there. I swore him to secrecy though so that your new iPad would be a surprise!” she smiled. “I even said he should take some of the leftovers from the hotel. I hope you don’t mind?

O’Donnell and Oakes looked at each other. “Another successful outcome”, triumphed O’Donnell.

“Cluck” said Oakes.

© John Laverick 2014

The Stress of Chilling Out

I run to de-stress. In fact running has provided me with an outlet where I wasn’t able to find one. But I’ll tell you what. It’s bloody stressful running.

Chilling Over The Constant Improvement Cycle
(Image © Living Fitness UK)

I need targets, need stats (I sync across four apps to get me the widest range of stats) and need goals to motivate me and that’s where the stress starts. I started off with a target of running a half marathon within a year of my neck surgery. Ended up signing up for one at the start of March. My aim then, and I have a Facebook post to prove it, was just to get round. I didn’t want any target to aim for, just wanted to prove that I could do the distance.  I’d set myself a target of 3 halfs during the year, first was to get round, second was to do sub 2 hours and third was to really improve. 

Then I went out for a random run in the style of Forrest Gump. And ran 13.4 miles. In less then two hours. Which caused me a problem. Now when I run the MK Half in March, I’m going to have to do sub 2 hours. I did another in February to check I could still do it and it went pretty well so now I need not only to beat two hours but to beat the training personal bests that I have set down.  That means monitoring my pace and splits to make sure I’m not leaving myself with too much to do. 

The problem that I have now is the stepchange between training to ‘try and get around’ and the ‘try and get round in under a time limit’ is quite different. My training so far has been pretty random – I’ve never been great with training plans, preferring to go out and see how I feel. So now my running mind is hit by loads of questions. How do I get faster? Should I be fuelling more accurately before a race? Should I be adding cycling to my training? Adding the duathlon to my years programme that I missed due to my neck last year? How do I line any of that up with my three halfs goal? How can I make sure I don’t stop enjoying running!?

The faster bit needs to wait until after the half next week (as long as I beat my training times).  But at that point I want to be focussing on the next half or on the duathlon targets. Need to find a way of combining speed work (and that sounds dangerously close to having a training plan) with a half marathon training plan with a duathlon training plan. That all sounds pretty complex and time consuming. 

Then comes the fuelling. And the as yet unanswered question of whether I change that before the half next week. So, my current nutritional strategy ahead of a weekend (longer) run tends to be have far too much beer and wine the night before and head out on an empty stomach and not to refuel during the run. I can run for nearly two hours like that. But I’m guessing that’s not great for me. So what do I do ahead of next week? Do I try and experiment with some sweets or water or something half way round? Or do I leave it as it is? Is my zero intake approach a problem?

So, I run to de-stress but then I stress about running. But at least I enjoy it! 

The Tunnel Of Depression

I’m in a tunnel, I’m not sure where. It’s dark. I’m running. Fast. Tracks stretch ahead of me and I can hear a train behind me. The noise is killing me. Taking over my thoughts – I can no longer think straight. I’m not sure how close it is. I daren’t look. Just need to keep running. 

Depression hits you out of the blue. I will go for months, years even without an episode and then suddenly it’s there and by the time I’ve recognised it, I’m out of control, desperately grasping for stability across my life, fighting for control but slipping, sliding downwards until it’s ruling your life again. 

“Just Keep on Running”
(Image © Eckenheimer 2014)

I break out of the tunnel into green fields and sunshine. I’m still running now. I can still hear the train. There’s a corner ahead and I’ve no idea what lies beyond it. More green fields and sunshine or another tunnel. I think the train is still there. I’m not looking though. Just keeping on running.

I have so many false starts. So many times when I think I’m through it. That I’ve worked it all out in my head and I have a strategy to get better. Then a trigger hits you and back you go, worse this time because you know you had a plan, know you failed again to deliver against it and know its’ going to be tougher next time.

Another tunnel. Running faster now, hard turn after turn. On the edge of control.  Like a rollercoaster. Plummeting down at speed and desperately climbing again. The noise is incredible, crashing around my ears. Taking over my senses. Fast, faster. Got to keep ahead of the train. I can feel it on my back. It’s close now. 

It always takes a while for others to notice how bad it is.  And then everyone wants to talk. And talking is good (sometimes). But just talking it through doesn’t mean instant success. That can leave the friends feeling they have failed because the effect isn’t clear. But it helps, it’s just so gradual, so unpredictable. Talking initially makes it worse. A couple of hours, days even of positive thoughts before plummeting back, often worse than before. I have to keep trying to talk though because at some point, something will click and I will be out and free again. Stronger than before and with experience of reaching tranquillity which will serve me well the next time. 

Jogging now alongside a set of railway tracks. There’s a vintage steam train up ahead, steam billowing into the cloudless blue sky. To my left is the sea, to my right open green fields sloping into hills. A bustling coastal village in the distance and suddenly I can see my house. Home. I slow to a walk, secure in the knowledge that I’m going to get home, grab a beer and kick back in the garden. I know I will get there this time, and I know now in my heart that I can always get back to this place again.

It’s vital to go through this with friends and family who believe in you, genuine people who care and want to help. In the end though, the only belief that actually means anything is the belief in yourself. I believe in me. I’m still here. And I know I always will be.