Tuesday, 15 November 2016
Off My Game & On Elaine Morgan's Books
One of the useful off shoots of running is that you tend to fight infection well. I can't remember the last time I had a cold. Last winter everyone else came down with one and I sailed through unscathed (somewhat smugly, which may explain why I have now come down with the mother of all ENT infections).
A patient arrived last Monday with a sore throat and by Thursday I was not feeling well. I went for a run round the fields first thing to try and shift it, but by evening was coughing fit to burst and it's gone on from there. This morning L has come down with it too, so we are both at home crook in bed.
I don't make a good patient. I hate feeling ill. Hate being forced to be quiet. Most of all I hate the enforced inactivity. I haven't run for five days and it feels like I've never run at all. Worse, it feels like I never will again (exaggeration I know, but being under the weather tends to swamp every sensible rational thought). I'm Very Grumpy that my running programme has been interrupted and cross at all the time being wasted. I may be stuffing a cold rather than starving a fever but despite the lack of temperature and associated aches and pains I still feel like death warmed up. Grrrr.
I've done a bit of sewing (interfaced lined fabric baskets and some Crimble bunting) when I've managed to drag myself out of bed because my friend Mrs M is kindly hosting a pre-Christmas Sewing Sale for me at her house next week.
I've ordered stocking fillers for the kids (the usual chocolates, fart whistles, fortune telling fish, pencils and bouncy balls, as well as things that mark how they are all growing up, like razors and deodorants for the boys and a book of Maya Angelou's poems for J. It was a toss-up between Maya and Sylvia Plath, a poet I think every lass should read, but in the end I thought Maya was more J's scene). I've made lists of Christmas-type things that need doing, including a pile of Garden Jobs for M who is now the Proud Owner of an Industrial Flame Thrower for dealing with garden weeds. It looks and sounds like a fire breathing dragon. He's wanted one for ages and when he mentioned it to L a few years ago L's response was she'll never let you have one of those. Proper Big Boys Toys.
Other than that I've been asleep or plonked in front of the tele working my way through The Good Wife. Again. Much as I enjoy The Good Wife there are only so many hours of daytime tv I can cope with before I begin to feel I'm turning into a brain-dead couch potato. And if you're used to running you find when you aren't your appetite diminishes and the enjoyment of food goes with it. For a lass who likes her meals this is a real downer. I'm trying to do a bit of yoga before bed but it's not the same as running miles.
To combat the brain-drain I've been reading Elaine Morgan's The Descent Of Woman and the Aquatic Ape, which hypothesize that homo sapiens went through an aquatic phase of evolution and that human evolution was driven by the female of the species as much as the male. It was ground-breaking stuff when published in the 1970s largely because women had always been seen as of secondary importance in terms of evolutionary drivers. It also wasn't taken seriously at that time because Elaine Morgan was a Welsh Housewife not a scientist and academically qualified scientists felt within their rights to diminish her ideas accordingly.
Her theory rebutted the accepted model of the time, the Savannah Hypothesis, which held that evolution was driven primarily by the male of the species and his needs. Women cared for the children, men hunted. And successful hunting required bipedal effort which resulted in over-heating when it was done with a full coat of fur. The fur was lost over time as a response to over-heating, and bipedal movement became the norm.
Morgan pointed out inconsistencies in this theory, namely that quadrupeds run much faster than bipeds so how can bipedal hunting benefit the hunter, and also that women, whom the Savannah Hyposthesis had sitting at home not running about at all, had more need of hair than their mates to keep them warm but in reality have less. To this day, men retain hairy chests, backs, legs and arms.
She offered a theory touched on by Desmond Morris in his book The Naked Ape, that humans went through an Aquatic phase of development. Standing up on two legs made sense when it enabled escape from quadruped predators by wading deep into water. It explained why humans are the only land-dwelling mammals with a layer of subcutaneous fat (commonly found in aquatic creatures) and why they lost their fur. It also explained why fur was retained on the head - she suggests babies could hold on to it when their parents were in the water as their heads would be the only part that would be consistently above the water.
Whether you agree with her or not, it is a really interesting, thought-provoking read, one that is saving me from the danger of insanity brought on by complete inactivity. I don't think this bug is going to shift any time soon so I am reconciled to a week held in suspension. I might as well use it wisely and come back fighting with a bit more knowledge in my head.
How are all of you? I understand this bug is doing the rounds in the UK so if you're here I really hope you've escaped it.