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The author is eighty-one years old. He has five children: Neil, Alison and Martin by his first wife, and two daughters – Kate and Becky – with his second wife, Ruth. This is his second book. The first – in 2005 – was Questions of Music – one hundred and one programme suggestions for people intending to present classical music recitals on compact disc.

This excellent little book tells of an obsession that lasted six years and became an odyssey. It ticks all the boxes you would expect from a book devoted to running: training methods and tips, running schedules, routes and times. It describes what it is like to run a marathon and chronicles with great accuracy and humour the pains and aches involved: the pessimism, always offset with later optimism, the thoughts one has on long solo runs, and then moves into another dimension taking in mental pictures of Malvern and the hills and the nearby village of Colwall. It ends with a little sci-fi – almost!

The Big 'M' in Four

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