A non-runner's guide to irony, greenery, Motown and Jamie Oliver

I've become nervous about using the word 'ironic'. I blame Ed Byrne. Since he famously trashed the Alanis Morrisette song of the same name it has put the fear in me. What if I get it wrong?

In case you may be in the minority of people who've never seen it, then please join me in this celebration: "It's called ironic but it's written and sung by a woman who doesn't understand irony"


Anyway, to take the risk, it was the Coventry Half-Marathon last weekend. I've run it for the previous two years and last year was my best ever time over that distance. Even weirder, considering it's 13 miles of slog, I really enjoyed it. Sadly I'm now banned from running - on a surgeon's advice, and that tends to be the kind of advice I take. It seems that I've destroyed part of the cartilage in my left knee and now if I run I'm just banging bone against bone which isn't advisable, apparently.

When I did run I wore Asics trainers, not particularly easy to find in my size, 14. A few wks ago Asics opened their first European store, it happens to be on a street down which I walk whenever I have to work in London - which is frequently. Is that ironic?

Join me now in this tenuous link. Gordon Ramsey runs marathons, his fellow celeb-chef Jamie Oliver does not. I have grown to like Jamie though; he tends not to take the easy option. It'd be easy to go on telly with a cookery prog - God knows there are enough of them. Jamie's last few TV series have had a message and a cultural impact, for this alone he should be praised. His school dinners programme made a difference, he achieved something - could you say the same of Ainsley Harriott?

His latest TV excursion, Ministry of Food, has been criticised for 'chav-baiting'. I may be simplifying the issue but I think you get the point. Heaven forbid that someone should go on TV and point out that there is a gulf between rich and poor and that has an impact upon education and diet. For this we should praise Jamie - he didn't have to do it, he could've sat at home and pocketed the Sainsbury's dollar (more of this below) but he clearly feels he has a responsibility.

No irony here perhaps. Until you reflect that the whole notion of the 'MOF' prog is to get people cooking, to share recipes. He's based it on a pyramid format where every one person he teaches passes it onto four people who in turn each pass it onto another four. Very clever, and it's aimed at people who have more time on their hands than money. It seems a shame then that the book of the series retails for £25. Would his publishers mind if we took photocopies and shared them around? I suspect they would.

As regular readers know I recently stopped shopping at 'Britain's biggest discounter'. Not for their crimes against English, but for other moral reasons. I have since been using Jamie's mates or, as I've recently seen them advertised, 'Britain's greenest supermarket'.

Does it seem green to you that 200g of Kenco coffee is more expensive than buying 2 jars of 100g? I presume there's more glass used in two jars than one, there's also considerably more glass in either of them than there is in the 200g refill pouch that is also on sale at a higher price than the 200g jar. It's probably unfair to take them to task on a single non-green issue but as it's something I purchase I can take the risk, I can also take the photos which is a very weird thing to do.

I guess I was protecting myself against legal action whilst obviously hoping that Sainsbury's are less litigious than Britain's biggest dicks-counter, as that was one of the reasons I'd stopped going there.

Once upon a time I didn't understand Motown. I thought it was music for weddings. A few acts turned my opinion. The Four Tops were one of them. Who can fail to appreciate the drama in their songs and the precise and powerful delivery of it? Levi Stubbs, rest in peace: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/18/arts/music/18stubbs.html

For more Jamie Oliver 'backlash', this is also worthwhile: http://jamiegohome.com/