Dear Reader: Remarkable runner's 80 birthday + 'issues' over raised toilet seat!

Nidd Valley Road Runners Alan Harby, centre, with Dave Seaman, left, and Tony Ledwaba-Chapman, right.
Nidd Valley Road Runners Alan Harby, centre, with Dave Seaman, left, and Tony Ledwaba-Chapman, right.
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A regular column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

Memorable birthday celebrations took place at the weekend for a remarkable member of the running club I was a member of until just recently.

We’d all gathered in a lovely back garden in Harrogate on Sunday in the unexpected April sunshine, shivering a little in the wind in the very British ‘heatwave’.

The ‘breeze’ was well worth enduring, however, for Alan Harby is no ordinary member of Nidd Valley Road Runners.

At the age of 80 he still gets his club colours on, pounds the streets and braves the tricky paths of the Nidd Gorge as regularly as when he first took up running in his fifth decade in the 1980s.

This gentleman runner is not one to buy expensive gear and stand around sipping a macchiato after a gentle trot.

Alan hails from the last generation to make their career in the era of the colonies, the last of his kind, perhaps, until the British Empire rises again from the dust of the post-Brexit world in a shimmering glow.

Whatever he’s got, I sincerely hope I have some of it if, and when, I reach his age.

One final thing. As we all tucked into tea and cake, a smiling Alan took some delight in informing us that this was actually his fourth day of birthday celebrations in a row.

Good grief, I thought. He’s worse than The Queen!

As long as you’ve got your health, that’s all that matters, they always say.

To that I would add the word ‘dignity’.

I’ve discovered recently that retaining the latter is difficult if the former is in any doubt.

I say this after having to make a couple of unusual phone calls in preparation for my forthcoming operation at Harrogate District Hospital.

The first happened after a desperate search for information on the interweb came up empty.

“Hello, is that Harrogate Hospital? I’m coming in for an appointment this week. No one has told me what sort of container I should use to give my urine sample.”

The second phone call was to Medequip.

All I was attempting to do was ascertain what time a vital piece of equipment to aid my post-operation recovery was going to arrive at my house.

I didn’t really want to stay at home all day waiting for said item to arrive, no matter how important said item was.

I had work to do and wanted to stay in the office.

I needn’t have worried.

Unlike much of this call centre world, the staff at Medequip staff were very accommodating and helpful.

Still, I surprised myself when I realised exactly what I was saying down the line to the very helpful delivery driver who was asking me where he should leave the raised toilet seat.

“Are you sure you’re going to be able to get it up my back path?” I asked him.

For anyone who remembers the naughty 1960s BBC radio series Round The Horne, I feel certain the late comedy legend Kenneth Williams would have appreciated that one.