About this blog

This is a window into the weird world of Anglicanism, as experienced on a Cathedral Close. Has anything much happened since Trollope's Barchester Chronicles? You will still see the 'canon in residence' hurrying across to choral Evensong, robes flapping, as the late bell chimes. But look carefully and you will notice he is checking the football score on his iPhone as he runs. This is also a writer's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the novelist's life. And it's a fighter's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the judo mat. Well, the agony, anyway.

Saturday 7 January 2012


Already a depressing pattern is emerging.  I appear to have two modes of dress: slobbing about gear and chunky jumper/boots/leggings.  Apart from a rare foray into posh wear, like last night.  I forgot to say that with my black bodycon dress I wore a pair of 40s style fuchsia pink sandals.  This may have been a mistake, actually, but I'd lost a crucial pair of black shoes (hiding behind one of those pairs of black boots).  Besides, we don't want to be too matchy-matchy.  I did ask the chancellor whether the shoes worked with the outfit, but as I'd briefed him in advance which answer I was looking for, his opinion doesn't really count for much.

Anyway, another day, another outfit.  Well, all right, the same outfit practically.  SoulCal trackies (but brown this time, I have two pairs bought at the same CS in Church Stretton) and my St John's College hoodie.  I almost always wear this on a Saturday, because it takes me through to the afternoon when I go off to judo.  Under this I am wearing an amusing sleeveless T-shirt which bears the logo 'WARNING: Throws like a girl' with a cartoon of a woman throwing a bloke (morote seoi nage, if you're interested).  Plus ratty black trainers.  All in all, a triumph of colour non-coordination.

Later on I'll be wearing a a plain white T-shirt, a pair of Bay City Roller length royal blue cotton trousers, and a big rather shapeless cotton jacket in the same shade, teamed with a tough black cotton belt.  The belt is long enough to go round me twice and tie in a reef knot at the front.  I will not be wearing footwear of any kind, nor will I be wearing accessories, as they are verboten on the judo mat.  'No hard or metallic objects covered or not' says the rule book.  I will pull the whole look together by wearing an expression of someone undergoing a near-death experience.  This is quite usual at the first training session after a break.

That description may have surprised you if you assumed that all martial arts kit was essentially just white pyjamas.  It's what everyone thinks.  It sums up martial arts.  Robert Twigger, for example, wrote an excellent book about his quest for an aikido black belt in one of Japan's toughest dojos, called Angry White Pyjamas.  (My own book Fight the Good Fight was more Rather Cross White Pyjamas in comparison.)  But in judo these days you get a choice of blue or white kit.  This has filtered down from the highest levels of contest where it is crucial for the ref to be able to see who is doing what to whom, in order to be able to hazard a guess at what the score might be.  It makes things a bit easier if one player is in white and one in blue.  I think blue is kind of cool.  Also the bloodstains aren't as garish.

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