Overall, the week just gone has been a strange one in that I have made so little progress on many of my target areas and yet I feel I have learnt a lot. I have hardly done any language training on Duolingo, seen no films, got stuck in reading the nearly 900 page long thriller ‘I am Pilgrim’ (see my review of that on this website) and really have not progressed my digital abilities beyond their current level. It’s not even been good this week for exercise – I attended the gym only once (Thursday) and did a jog on Saturday morning though that was cracking, one of my best ever particularly assisted by the rain. But non-routine things happened this week just gone and I have taken learning from them. One of the big events is that after finishing work on Wednesday, I started a prolonged period of leave with nothing specific to do such as going abroad. I need to use leave up before the end of our financial year on 31st July. So I am off from Thursday 17th until Tuesday 29th. I really am not used to having the luxury of such time off. Although I do have lots of bits and pieces of work to dip into to ensure I do not get too far behind but over the days off I won’t be doing intense stretches of work. The reality now is that we never take time off from work totally but I am taking something from the time management book I am reading in that I do appreciate that there is nothing more satisfying in work terms than recognising what ones limits are and making sure I am on top of things rather than feeling overwhelmed. This period of ‘non-routine work’ feels quite exciting and I am hoping it will benefit my sense of wellbeing.
Another way that this last week pleased me in an unusual way is through some of the conversations I had. In particular I met up with two inspirational people who have both dealt with their own addiction problems and are now trying to help others. One made me really think when he talked about the need to see every addict as your own son or daughter, and the fact that so many people suffer and no-one cares. In particular he was talking about people parked on methadone. But I thought about the Chemsex crisis happening on the gay scene at the moment and the amount of gay men stuck on drugs (including over-dosing and dying) and contracting diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C – the establishment does not care. The second person made me appreciate the different levels of addiction. It is all bad but some people pass through a phase which can be dreadful (perhaps like myself) whereas some people are inherent addicts who have to fight constantly against slipping back and can only deal with this by giving up everything that may drag them back – drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, gambling, sex, etc. I certainly knew a very good friend who was like that and almost had to seal himself off from the world. He sometimes came to bingo when I used to go with other friends and had to stop even that because of emotions it was stirring up in him.
It has also been a fairly good week in other people to people terms. I made contact with a couple of old acquaintances whom I really want to be back in contact with not least because of their digital knowledge and experience. I have had a good response from one and we are meeting up but nothing from the other. Unfortunately, my personality leads me to assume that I have upset her and she does not want to be back in contact but I do not know what I have done to upset her. I should have gone to a reception last Tuesday but I felt too knackered and realised I had to look after myself especially with such hot weather. So perhaps I missed a great opportunity by not going but I will never know (the importance of letting go). I spent a couple of evenings in with mum, she is OK but suffering with heat. And how fantastic was the thunder on Thursday night / Friday morning?! Before that on Thursday I had a great day out with my mate Andy who I usually meet up with in Scotland but who is currently down in London. We had an excellent lunch at Pierre Victoire followed by rose wine at Rupert Street then The Retro Bar. A great afternoon of chatting and getting progressively more sozzled. As the afternoon progressed into evening, we did realise we had to calm down and went onto diet cokes. I went back to Dave’s and crashed out. I was supposed to go to the gym on Friday but was still a bit too zonked so I spent the day power-pottering including reading, making work phonecalls, and sorting laundry. I concentrated in the afternoon on doing work stuff on my computer until we had a power cut; it took about an hour to come back on.
When my previous blog ended, I was in Birmingham and I then flew onto another one of my favourite cities – Glasgow; another city I could live in if I didn’t already live in London. I treated myself to a massage, one of my real pleasures in life and I particularly love having my legs pummelled. It was great weather so afterwards I sat and had coffee dipping into my reading book whilst watching people enjoying themselves at a city centre mini funfair. It’s funny how the ‘Twister’ still excites kids. Evening meal was at the Mexican I like on Sauciehall Street with the World Cup on in background. Then on for coffee at an independent coffee shop on the same street. Back to my hotel to lay in bed and keep check on the World Cup final. A Germany win which is OK but very little to get excited about. I do wonder about the wisdom of the World Cup taking place in Russia in 2018 with all the stuff that is going on there. The next day saw me involved in a very interesting discussion on whether to change a brand and image to revitalise something? I think the main thing is to just do something quickly – better to fail fast rather than fail slow I always think. Fail fast and then move on quickly to not waste time. It was weird how the weather alternated between places and in London, Birmingham and Glasgow I experienced rain and sunshine in all of them. I flew back to Heathrow which perturbs me regarding sustainability and being reliant on dodgy oil from Russia or Saudi. But the plane would have flown whether I was on it or not and a 4-5 hour train journey would have been too exhausting.
News over the last week has been dominated by two things. First the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict which just shows the evil of both sides – the Israeli government bombing Gaza and killing civilians, and Hamas throwing rockets at Israel knowing what will happen. Just as heinous was the shooting down of the Malaysian jet over Ukraine. We almost certainly know this was due to a missile fired by Russian separatists. The blame lies with Putin: if you invade and seize part of a sovereign nation using your soldiers in disguise and then arm crazy people just to cause problems for that nation’s government then it is inevitable something like the airline being shot down would happen. I really hope Europe puts tough sanctions against Russia now and we need to start stopping our dependence on their oil. Time to make life hard for these oligarchs who buy multi-million pound flats in London but rarely live in them – the same people Westminster council wants to encourage by not charging extra council tax for leaving their flats empty. A wicked policy as the money collected could be used to help poor people access affordable housing in one of the most unaffordable places in the UK.
And finally… We did a day at work on training about campaigning. It was an interesting day that made me reflect how I should perhaps be doing more around the topics and issues I care about. There is a great quotation from Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863):
‘What makes men of genius, or rather, what they make, is not new ideas; it is the idea by which they are obsessed that what has been said has still not been said enough.’
Website of the week: http://www.letsstaytogether.org.uk