Back in the dim, distant days of my youth, the school made us play rugby in the autumn, cricket in the summer, and go on cross-country runs in the winter term. Now, the Crotchety Lad was a bit of a swot and not very sporty at all. Distance running, in particular, I hated. It would have taken an atomic bomb to persuade my weedy little body to carry its heavy-weight brain at speed over the rough and muddy terrain of Hayes Common for a 90-minute workout.

That said, there was one cross-country afternoon that, in the end, I enjoyed. The course wound its way through public common land, a short train journey from the school. It was in a part of Kent on the other side of the school catchment area that I was unfamiliar with, so the first time my class had to do this we just followed the older boys. It was a simple strategy, but there was no way it could fail.

Leaving the train at Hayes station, my classmates and I were somewhat dismayed to see that very few boys wearing our school uniform had alighted. And even fewer seemed to be carrying bags of the kind used for sports kit. Spotting a couple of likely-looking lads up ahead, we hurried down the platform to tail them as unobtrusively as we could.

The pair ahead soon split up. One of them probably lived in Hayes and was going home. We chose to follow the one who seemed to be heading in the direction of the changing rooms, although none of our little party could quite remember the instructions we had been given. After a while, the boy we were following opened a garden gate, walked up the path and disappeared into a suburban house. He must have lived there.

That left three or four bemused schoolkids lost in a Kent town, unsure of where we should be going and uncertain whether we could even find our way back to the station that would take us home. Working on instinct and dead-reckoning, we found our way to a main street and, luckily, bumped into another boy who knew where the changing rooms were. Of course, by the time we got there, it was too late to join the rest of the boys for the run.

It was a cold winter’s day, and it had been snowing. There were 3 or 4 inches of snow on the ground, although by this time the clouds had passed, the sun was out and the air was crisp and clear. I was fervently hoping that the schoolmaster in charge would send us home, probably with one of the standard punishments for schoolboy misdemeanours – 100 lines or a detention, perhaps. But, no, he sent us to find our own way round the roughly circular course.

Obviously, for us, it would not be a race. And, as it was a cold and wintry day, we had brought warm clothing. We were soon wrapped up in tracksuits, gloves and scarves. Jogging gently along, we were able to enjoy the common with its trees and scrub, grassy fields and rolling hills. We didn’t know whether we were following the official route but, then, neither did anyone else. There were no marshals to monitor our progress. As long as we returned after the main group of runners, no-one would know how far we had run or how much we had exerted ourselves.

That little story and my track-of-the-week are both about running. But any similarity ends there. Kliffs have written about a love that has stood the test of time and is running still. You don’t need tracksuits and training shoes to appreciate this song or the sentiment behind it.

Kliffs are the songwriting duo, Mark Bérubé (guitar, keys, voice) and Kristina Koropecki (cello, synths, voice). Originally from Canada, they are now based in Berlin. They write sophisticated folk/pop songs. Or, to use their own words:

Kliffs write recycled tone poems for the perpetually bemused, and pop songs for shy dancers.

Their Spotify About panel.

Running is a single from their forthcoming album, which is due to be released on 10th February 2023, but whose title has not yet been announced. The Crotchety Listening Club is really looking forward to it.

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