The Last Furlong

Comments on the race of life.


The health MOT

My annual health MOT has been done. The last one was eighteen months ago. Here, in the North West of the UK, our doctors seem to be shunnelling patients through as pretty much usual now, despite the inconvenience of masks and single patients per buulding as we move along in the new Covid19 age.

Lots of face to face talking is done on the phone, or skype or zoom. Everyone I know waiting for cancer ops has been done. And should you suspect something nasty is taking hold, you can have real blood tests and a real live doctor look at you. And go to a real, live hospital.

Recently Mr Furlong had a heart scare. Mr Furlong has a ‘heart’ condition. He got to see a doctor chop chop. No complaints about the National Health Service here.

So, despite being late on my health MOT, I’ve had it. For that, I had to actually be seen by the Nurse Practitioner. My admiration for her is immense. She wears that mask all day and used her eyes to communicate. Big eyes for listening, squeezy eyes smiling, frowny eyes in agreement. Rolly eyes for sympathy.

I’m glad I saw her. She takes blood with the least pain. I got measured, weighed, and tested.

A week later she phoned to discuss my results. I saw my results beforehand on Patient Access. Patient Access is a neat app that allows you to research your own medical history.

During lockdown I ate. And ate. I convinced myself that if I had only been prediabetic beforehand, I was now actually diabetic. I convinced the Nurse Practitioner too.

Well, I think the Nurse Practitioner was just as surprised as me to find that EVERYTHING about me is EXACTLY the same as my last MOT, eighteen months ago.


No! Thats not true. My cholesterol has gone down.

The birthday approaches. I dislike birthdays. No wonder everyone wishes you a ‘happy’ one. Why else would they unless there was something nasty about birthdays?

But being the same in every way as I was one and a half years ago, seems a good result to me. It’s the sort of birthday present I like.


If it’s nearly your birthday, stop and think TWICE!

You know how things that you heard or read years ago, stick in your mind?

Well years ago I read an article which said that starting about forty two days before a birthday, you need to be careful of the decisions you take because people go into a destruction cycle and ‘reorganise’ for the next year that is coming apon them. So they do daft things clearing away the old to get ready for the new. Many significant things happen just before your birthday. Some of them aren’t nice but you actually brought them apon yourself through changes you made.

At the time of learning that ‘fact’, which I never knew, I found many significant things that had happened to me just before my birthday. So the idea embedded deep. I had ‘proved’ it to myself. When you are young, significant things are exciting. When you are old, you want to avoid them at all costs!

So, I avoid doing anything at all decision-wise just before my birthday.

Today, I was going to write a post on another blog I have, a post that I’d have to actually think carefully about, but I didn’t write it. I got side tracked looking at the ‘stats’ on it. I have several blogs. And the stats are remarkably different. My blogs are for me, really, a way to let off steam, share ideas with a faceless few or practise being lucid. Mental excercise really. Fending off dementia if that’s possible.

So that got me thinking about THIS blog. THIS blog, in my head, is classified as quick, superficial, fun, light hearted, no-particular topic about two old people, the ‘Furlongs’. I called it The Last Furlong because I knew and loved Majory Owens art. Her piece called The Last Furlong (heading image), inspired me daily as I used to see it on our stairs. It represented to me how all of us are always on the last furlong of our lives. Every action that we do, or even try to do, has a last furlong element to it, that last effort, before the end, before completion.

Every day is a personal ‘Last Furlong’ in some way.

This blog has the least followers. But the most comments. And, now, many thousands of views. It occurred to me to add an ‘s’ to the title, making it The Last Furlongs, because it’s just about Mr Furlong and me. But of course Mr Furlong is ACTUALLY the last male of his name. He IS the last. I think people think this blog is about horse racing.

Adding an ‘s’? The Last Furlong’s’?

No, I’m not going to do that today because I’m in the dangerous phase of my year.

I’m in the dreaded forty two days!


Civilisation goes ‘poef’

For many years I have written down every food I ate in a day, my blood sugar reading and my weight. I add how long I walked, or sometimes reminders about what I should do tomorrow.

I have done this to try to control my blood sugar as I teeter on the edge of being pre diabetic. But recently I changed to doing the same on an app on my phone. I think this new habit is preferable for the person who clears up all my junk when I’m dead. Who cares about notebooks with scrawly handwriting and meaningless numbers in them? They are not even a historical record.

Everytime a generation dies out, tons of real historical record gets trashed by the next generation. Papers, diaries, writings, film and possesions disappear forever. As an historian, that seems a pity. But it has ever been that way. The only records that remain of ordinary people, are the records of unordinary people, the ones that ‘left their mark’ so to speak.

The new woke culture want history trashed. History is white history that has been written by the elite they say. It is biased. And of course thats true. History is recorded in writing. It is mostly made by the unordinary, the rulers, the kings, the priests. It is the written recordings of events. Papers, documents, diaries, literature, philosophy, etc. If a civilisation has writing, it records its history whether it be European, Chinese, Egyptian, Asian, whatever! Without writing, history is oral, unreliable, prone to become myth or legend or superstitions.

So, this morning, a thought assailed me as I typed in my morning blood sugar reading on my phone. Everything has become digital. Even books.

What are future generations going to discover about history should our digital age go ‘poef’ for some reason? What will archeologists find out about OUR civilisation?

By that time, I think Western Civilisation as we know it now, will have gone ‘poef’ from internal rot. There might not be terribly much to discover. But if the digital age goes ‘poef’ everything else does too.

Am I worried about Climate Change this morning? Am I worried about Greta Thunberg? Am I worried about Black Lives Matter? Am I worried about Covid19?

No, not really. I’ve got better things to contemplate. A world without computers would be a REAL disaster.

Have a nice day!


Our Einstein

Mr Furlong came to me recently to declare that the rat we were trying to catch in our humane trap, was ‘Einstein’. I explained what happened in another post. We figured out the dog unwittingly scratched pebbles on the metal plate and they held it open so rattie could come and go as it pleased. It was that explanation rather than rattie had himself chosen four pebbles, placed them on the metal plate to hold it down so that he could come and go as he pleased.

Mr Furlong carefully checked the trap in every aspect. It works. There is nothing wrong with how it works or how he sets it up. He set it up where the dog could not stiff leggedly spray gravel anywhere near it.

But you know what?

Rattie eats all the food nightly, and is never caught!

Someone around here is highly intelligent. And I dont think its US.

I think rattie really is Einstein.

And he comes and goes as he pleases!


Dear Greedy People

I don’t know how I quite feel about the greedy people out there. Your greed makes an economy work. Everyone needs money. And you function because you have something people want to buy. People want stuff, you sell it.

What started me getting the humph was trying to find a little film that, until a few months ago, before lockdown, was easily found on YouTube. Our grandchildren loved it. It was a Snow White story that was strangely charming, naive, without ‘Disney’ sophistication and with a strange script. But the children absolutely ‘got it’. They cried with happy joy at the end.

It was made by Ben Zhao, with a chinese team, a one off, and was a hit.

You either loved the naivete of it, or hated it. But kids are not prejudging. Chinese or not, love is a great story. It is a story about love.

All the big guys now have it on their kids menu of films FOR SALE. I’m happy for Ben Zhao, but the old YouTube video has been ‘disappeard’.

Now you have to buy it.

Or watch an inferior copy with Arabic subtitles.

But, you know what? The grandchildren didn’t mind that either.

But I did. I thought at least one copy, even a poor one, could have been left on YouTube for all the people without access to greedy Amazon/Netflix who discovered a little gem, thats now being charged for.

Dear greedy people, please leave a crumb for the poor children all over the world who might only have YouTube!

Bai xue gong zhu zhi shen mi ba ba (2015)


Dear Cyclists

I don’t know where you all suddenly came from – out of the woodwork I suspect, or as a result of our Prime Minister foolishly suggesting everyone should now cycle.


you are a pain in the arse!

How unfortunately arrogant you are, thinking walkers and dogs are ruining YOUR ride. Why do you think WE are your problem.

Your manners are disgusting. You have no consideration for other people on the road, or path. You are ignorant of the fact that your approach behind people is mainly silent. Do you know how startling it is to have a bicycle shoot past unexpectedly, as we stroll along? Or how anxious it makes people to have to check behind them constantly in case a creeper is coming up behind them?

You insist on riding on the pavement, when my money paid for your own cycle path to be built by our cockamamie council that caused months of traffic obstruction, frustration and general disapproval, for, despite warning the council that you wouldn’t use the new cycle track, they built it anyway. And you never do use it, just like we warned, but you hurtle down the pavements instead!

You are a complete menace!

What is actually wrong with you? What godlike aura enshrouds you the minute you pull up your lycras that expose the little lumps and crevices where your manhood/ladyhood might possibly be? Does such constriction block blood flow to your brains?

What narcissistic thrill do you get on two wheels?

Please scuttle back to the woodwork. You are ruining my walk.

Just go away please, us dog walkers are perfectly entitled to run our dogs free, to walk safely, along the canal path. We are on Common Land! Manner-less cyclists are NOT welcome with us there.

And can you not learn to ring your bloody bells?


The inside job

Mr Furlong caught the big old rat in our Humane Rat Trap (notice important title with caps) TWICE. The trap is so humane, the rat got away. TWICE.

The first time it consumed all the delicious treats Mr Furlong had laid out for it and simply climbed out again because Mr Furlong had laid the trap incorrectly.

Mr Furlong laid the trap again, correctly this time, with a sumptuous, scrumptious dining table. And the rat was caught again.

But not.

This time, rattie had a friend inside our home. The insider. A co conspirator who let him out in the most ingenious way. This time rattie escaped because of an inside job, so clever, Mr Furlong arrived at my bedroom door and announced that rattie was ‘Einstein’!

But Mrs Furlong, (me) in a manner that would have made Hercule Poirot proud, went outside to survey the scene of the great escape. On the shelf that seals the exit, were four small stones weighting it down and so opening the door. Rattie walked in, devoured his loot, and walked out again. Could it be that he did that intricate calculation all by himself? Indeed the most intelligent rat in the world? He placed stones on there all by himself with little rattie hands selecting stones from the surrounding gravel?

No, Mrs Furlong had another idea. Nearby, there was an area of intensly scratched up gravel. I knew who did that. The dog. He does that occasionally to my annoyance because he flings little stones down the steps there. But this time, he’d had a real hum dinging scratch – more than normal.

So, for your entertainment, I reconstruct the crime.

Rattie climbed into the trap, feasted, and at that point, was well caught. Doggie discovers rattie there, and disconcerted by his discovery, sniffs around. Doggie makes his claim on The Furlong garden by doing a territorial scratch with stiff legs, proud demeanour, and strutts. His scratching in the gravel is so vigourous and adamant, that he flings little stones all around the place, some of which land on the closing panel, weighing it down, and opening the door.

And rattie, in his own good time, simply climbes out again, the way he had before.

We have to make another plan.

Fortunately, at this point, rattie has no idea that the restaurant he has so bountifully dined in, is actually a trap. I reckon he’d walk in again, if we placed it anywhere dog proof.