One of the things that I really love is music. Always have and I love live music. Strangely, I never listen to it when I'm training. The kind of Indie stuff I prefer is all minor chords and very melancholic, so more likely to make me give up than inspire me to keep going. If I put anything upbeat on the ipod it just reinforces what a plodder I am and also has a demotivating effect.
No, for me, it is just countless hours stuck in my own head: a weird and scary place to be - a bit like being in a music fight between The Fall and the Sisters of Mercy, with Leonard Cohen as referee - but slightly darker. Occasionally songs drift into my consciousness, and I want had 6 hours of an Ironman bike leg with an obscure Thompson Twins track looping around my brain again and again and again. I wouldn't have minded but it wasn't even one of the Thompson Twins' best tracks (should there be such a thing). "You Take me up" for the one person out there who might be wondering what it was.
Anyway, I digress. What I am getting on to say is that I find music inspiring and great fun. Last year when I was training for the Relay Channel Swim I made a playlist of all tracks that had a nautical theme and would play it on my trips to Dover and the Solent. I tried to introduce it as a once a week Facebook item for our Aspire Channel swim, but I think staff just thought I was a bit odd and it didn't take off. But this is my very, very own Blog, so I can introduce just what the hell I like. So each week I'll introduce a song that has some swimming/nautical element. If I have to I may have to do the odd running/cycling/Rocky style song. At no point will I have Keep on Running by the Spencer Davis Group, nor will I have Night Swimming by REM, perfect though they are for this theme.
First song up is as simple and wistful as they come. "Swimming Lessons" by the Eels. Obviously, the song has nothing to do with swimming really and is completely metaphorical. The only link I can think of between the Eels and me is that the Mark Oliver Everett, who actually constitutes the Eels, smokes cigars. I used to smoke them too, and by the time I stopped smoking in April 2001 I was smoking 3 packets of Hamlet a day. 15 sodding cigars every day, at a cost of £13, back then. I had the breath of a dead dog, and looked pale and had a permanent sweaty sheen about me. So some things don't change, eh? It was that ability to do extremes that I now apply to long distance sport. I can't tell you how much willpower it takes to light up a cigar when your mouth is as dry as the bottom of a budgie cage. Willpower is everything. Don't let anyone tell you that addicts lack willpower - they have more in their little finger than you will have in a lifetime.
Sorry, back to the song. Here it is...
And no, it isn't. For some reason every copy anywhere on the internet has been taken down. Why, how mysterious? Well, check it out on itunes or Spotify or whatever illegal mp3 you use.
Having waffled on I'll give you a short song that you won't know, but sums up the perfect end to a Channel Swim. If I get to France I want Laura Marling on a cliff top, belting this little number out: