I'm Out Of My Depth, Let's Do It // I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again. Living Adventurously 19.
Boff Whalley, from the band Chumbawamba is a keen runner, never happier than when mud-splattered and gasping up on the windy hills of West Yorkshire. He is also a playwright, the founder of Commoners Choir, and the author of Run Wild - an account of his experiences as a fell runner.
I arrived at Boff's house after a long day in the saddle. His family welcomed me and plied me with cups of tea and a veggie burger in the sort of living room I would love to have one day: filled with quirky art and design, masses of music, and a happy level of lived-in clutter.
We had a fascinating, wide-ranging chat about success, creative ambition, and the child-like joy of running in the hills. As I left their home, Boff's wife gave me directions to her favourite river swimming spot. In short, the perfect podcasting afternoon!
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- Boff's website and Twitter
- I was in a pop group for 15 years before I had a hit song, but you can't measure success by that. The success of being in a band was just being together for that long and remaining friends.
- Success these days is taking my son to school then going for a run and having an hour of my own time to disappear, to be offline and spend time in nature.
- If you lower your expectations you can be continually happy (but don't be pessimistic)
- The creative ambition is very personal and you can judge success by yourself
- Life is like doing a run where you get lost several times, you fall over, and a series of weird dead ends and double backs. It's about the run not the finish.
- We are 'supposed' to put away childish things - stop running for the bus - but actually fell running is just really good fun.
- Early ambition: "Maybe we can go further with this [the band] than just playing youth clubs in Leeds."
- I'm not a risk-taker in fell runs. But with life and music and art I don't want to get stuck so I take creative risks to keep me on my toes.
- Try something that other people aren't doing
- Boff has an underlying confidence in what he does
- The band wasn't driven by ambition, but the creative impulse drove him on.
- The creative impulse can be hard work because you can't switch it off.
- Some of my artistic heroes (eg the Beatles) were people who changed a lot.
- Why would you want to be in a band that does the same set every time?
- I'm out of my depth, let's do it.
- Leaving the city to live in a small town (where I could go running) was one of the most adventurous things I've done in my life.
- Run Wild is about trying to nudge people into doing something.
- Social media is doing a great job of encouraging people to get into new, physical down-to-earth things