A cold and dark week in London

Sun 17 – Sat 23 Jan 2015

Cold and darkThe main memorable feature of last week was it being the coldest weather of winter to date. Minus figures at night and walking to the tube to go to work in the dark and cold. Then getting across the park to the office with the grass encased in frost. Sounds poetic, I bloody hate it. Cold and dark – two of the worst things in the world, cold particularly. Warm and sunny for me or at least dark and mild. I do love lying on the beach during the day then pottering around in shirt-sleeves in the evening.

Brighton

Down to see the two old chaps I keep an eye on, my (approximately) monthly visit. Arrived around previous Sunday lunchtime. But the usual winter train routine of a bus from Three Bridges. Cold weather made it a drag and it took me about an hour and 45 mins to get London to Brighton with no wi-fi because Southern Trains don’t offer that – archaic (the new plug points weren’t working either).

Pavilion at nightMade the most of Sunday by first meeting up with my deceased friend James’ partner. We shared a bottle of wine and he seemed OK though thinner. Amazing how the body can physcially show when someone is going through stress. He is keeping himself busy seeing people and thinking about the future – what else does one do when your partner of around 30 years has died? Then I popped round to see my friend Rob and his big German Shepherd ‘Lady’. Ten years old and a beautiful temperament though also a great guard dog – Lady not Rob. He’s just got a place in Spain so hopefully I will be going out with him later in the year. Back in the cold (winter nights by the sea are bleak) to the hotel and finished off with a drink in the bar.

Monday and up early for breakfast then made my way to Bob’s nursing home. He was up, washed and dressed unlike last time and in a good mood – also unlike last time. Despite my protestations of the cold, he was determined to go out. Indeed, it was a bit like a scene from Little Britain with me advising no and him insisting yes. So wrapped him up and pushed him in his wheelchair to the coffee shop where we had our drinks and watched the world go by. Onto lunch with Brian at our usual cafe. He looked well and his beloved dog is also OK. No great news. Life in Brighton at this time of year is really about getting through the dark and cold until summer arrives.

Time with Mum and Dave: The Joy of Being Organised and War Horse

My usual routine splitting time between Dave and mum was disrupted last week particularly by some of Dave’s relatives coming to stay on Saturday night just gone because they had an event with an early start the next day. So Saturday daytime was spent tidying up his flat particularly stuff I have there such as books, CDs and DVDs. war horseI actually find sorting out and organising therapeutic. Also enabled us to take some bits to the charity shop though filming was going on in its street. Why are film people so obnoxious taking control of things stopping the flow of normal life and telling people ‘don’t use your mobiles’? Media wankers. So Saturday night back with mum and we sat in-together watching ‘War Horse’ which is a very good film.

Health and Efficiency

Another poor week in terms of gym attendance and the cold (+ rain) making long walks too impractical. JoggingBrighton knocked out doing gym on Sunday or Monday. Then work kicked in on 3 days and on Saturday I had to tidy Dave’s flat for his family members staying over. So just made gym once on Thursday. But I did use some of the session to go on the treadmill and test my achilles. Low speed and managed about 13 and a half minutes but kept the pain in the max 4 out of 10 range recommended by the physio. It’s a start.

Weight on Tuesday suggests I put on a pound to 13-7. So not great but that really is my ‘normal’ weight and I am pleased to be back there after the post-Christmas peak.

Thursday was a non-work day (alongside Monday when I was in Brighton) so I treated myself to a haircut which always makes me feel good. Used to have a boyfriend who hated getting his haircut because he had to sit and look at himself in the mirror.

The Joy of Work

Desk workA week of ‘consolidation’. The previous week showed the value of remote working to get stuff done whereas last week I was in the office but concentrated on avoiding meetings to get things done. OK, a lot of time sitting at my desk but I got phonecalls, emails, and writing actually dealt with. Amazing how people make themselves busy through attending meetings internal and external (plus whole jobs that are created to enable people to go to meetings i.e. liaison and being ‘externally facing’). And it normally seems the more important people are, the more meetings they attend. My recommendation – at least one day a week where people refuse to attend meetings and are at their desk to deal with real work.

There’s also a task here for thinkers and tech to stop so many meetings and avalanches of emails. Indeed, ubiquitous emails really are just old-fashioned memos and letters made easier to produce so there are more of them. And more needs to be done to utilise meetings over the internet. Though the issue here is not so much tech but more what people feel ‘comfortable’ with i.e. getting out of the office and having the reassurance of seeing people in the flesh – very old fashioned.

Digital Working

This, of course, is one of my real passions:

  • Work continued on the presentation I am doing next week on how digital can be used to support ‘early action’, I think there is a good fit.
  • Preparation for the showcase event in March for the current crop of Tech for Good projecs I have funded to show what they have achieved. We have opened up attendance to other funders so everyone needs to perform well.
  • Still trying to get sorted the webpage to demonstrate the diversity of exciting stuff we are funding and involved with under the Tech for Good umbrella.
  • Linking up with key internal people to discuss involvement with 360 Giving.
  • Liaison with CAST who are running with funding from me Digital Fellowships and an Accelerator for charities and social enterprises http://www.wearecast.org.uk
  • Supporting the exciting and ambitious HullCoin project to access more funding as it has reached a key point but the original Tech for Good 6 month grant is ending.

Also non-tech stuff at work particularly getting assessments and papers sorted for Grants Committee as well as revising my Work Objectives for the next 6 months to include the work I am doing around digital. My Tech for Good co-conspirator Nissa is off to Sierra Leone for a week to work with potential grantees there around projects that will have a digital angle. I’m off on holiday instead.

Visuals and languages

Failing to re-engage with DuoLingo and not sure why. However, I did manage to see a foreign language film and TV programme that I hope are assisting with my language learning.

satan's bloodFirst I watched on Thursday Satan’s Blood I do like a good horror movie and this is a Spanish one made in the early 70s. Cheesy and very much about providing a reason for the actresses (but not the actors) to get their clothes off. There were moments where the Spanish clicked with what I knew. However, the film also revealed a lot about repression (including sexual) in Franco’s Spain.

And then I watched Deutschland 83 on Channel 4 on Sunday evening partly to help to learn German though it is spoken very fast and I could not follow as well as the Spanish film. Also a great programme because it reminds me of the early/mid 80s and tension between East and West. I went over to the former Eastern Bloc soon after the Berlin Wall came down (linked to having a boyfriend from former East Germany) and realised there was nothing romantic about state socialism. Especially in East Germany and the omni-present Stasi. One of my abiding memories is a load of twisted flagpoles which I was told were there to reprsent ‘the power of the party broken forever’.

Books and reading

ShanghaiOnly one book read last week, not because it was over-long but simply because I lacked time to read, The Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw. Rare that I read books with settings in contemporary Asia where all characters Asian rather than European. But variety is the spice of life and this had very good recommendations. Another 50p charity shop book and very good. Basically about a group of Malaysians living in Shanghai and their various unexpected inter-actions. Very much a book about the disconnections (and connections) of modern life, and particularly the hardship that comes from living in any big city and trying to survive and flourish.

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