Sunday 17 May

Each summer those people of Manchester fortunate enough to have get up and go, go out and get incredibly sweaty in the ages old running of the almost completely knackered bovines. Initially called a ‘fun run’ a massively successful legal action by the pipe-snorting Byron Badger almost bankrupt the city five years ago, since when the race has been known as ‘an adequate trot, if you like that sort of thing’ by Mayoral decree. Yet again work commitments prevent me from entering this year’s race but I am happy to lob mustard bombs from my rooftop in a bid to encourage the notoriously sluggish cattle to prang the odd adversary, and generally pep things up. Even in today’s poor weather it is certainly a site to behold – the young men literally running their bullocks off while the last half-dozen Miss Lancashire’s, fancy-dressed as bunnies, prick up their tails and flee from several hews of heifer.

Despite sharing an undisclosed number of small pints with me the previous night, and an initial, protracted nudging by an over-affectionate Friesian, Licky manages a record time this year, beating several workmates and an elderly Kenyan man in a go-cart. Pigeons swoop over the field, relaying news to a giant mechanical owl capable of calculating the times of runners to the nearest flashback; something complicated by the fact that at around 9.5k many participants witness their entire lives flashing before them. The finish time of one senior plodder is thereby recorded on the worldwidewotsit as 78 years, 11 months, three hours and a vivid image of ‘that bonny lass from French revolution.’ Within such a vast array of inappropriately clad peoples there will always be some who try to use the event to their own advantage. His manservant having reported him lost somewhere in darkest Ancoats (‘probably eaten by a Homeless’) it is small surprise to read in more than one gossip column of Lord Gallagher cavorting with a milk maid in a lopsided giraffe suit while completely off his bypass. Still, nothing unites a town like a giant, bloody feast and I eagerly make my way to meet Licky on Deansgate, off which all participating animals are assembled, roasted and served on a giant bun roughly the size and texture of Bolton. I offer Licky some wooden sachets of tomato sauce stolen especially from work. Then quickly wish I’d remembered the water.

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