Art, galleries, museums – 3 of the best things in life?

Mon 3 – Sun 9 July 2017

Hot and muggy last week with a mini heatwave that got us to near 30 degrees on several days. Wimbledon started but it doesn’t do anything for me. Pride happened, all great but too many people these days for me. I can remember ‘the good old days’ of the eighties when there were about a few hundred of us and we used to get spat at. News that my Nominet Trust colleague Annie had a little baby boy though he was a month premature weighing only 4 pounds. Prayers and thoughts that they are both OK. News like that puts life into perspective. As also the death of Bradley Lowery and the ongoing discussion over the future of baby Charlie Gard. The preciousness of life but also the inevitability of death.

Personal Development – Art and Culture

Regular readers will recall that last week I had a day and a half off work such that I was only ‘working’ on Wed and Fri mornings – I’m excluding stuff done on the pooter at other times to keep on top of everything. One of the big things was that this allowed me to so was spend time going to museums and galleries, on my favourite things in life. Is there anything better than spending time wandering around a museum/gallery then stopping to have a coffee and read a book whilst people watching?

V&A

Tues afternoon I met up with Dave (who was on a week off work) and we went to the V&A. A lovely place though very busy. Dave is a member so we get into exhibitions free. Went to the one on Pink Floyd. My comment on Facebook below sums up my feelings. Dave went round the one on Balenciaga but frocks never do it for me so I gave that a miss. Instead I spent some lovely time in the central garden drinking a coke and reading. Amazing to think this beautiful and packed space in the centre of the museum was once just storage space.

Tate Britain I

Wed afternoon we went to Tate Britain to go round the ‘Queer British Art’ exhibition (and bumped into one of my work colleagues there on her lunch break). Noticeably quieter than the V&A but £16.50 entry which I thought was a bit steep. Still a lovely exhibition showing art in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries that suggested homosexuality whilst it was illegal. Some amazing stuff including the door of Oscar Wilde’s gaol cell. One of the things that most impressed me were the actual real-life library book covers that Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell defaced and got sent to prison for. They are both hilarious and very risque even for current times. Absolute genius in stuffy sixties Britain.

Tate Britain II

Back to Tate Britain for me on Thurs afternoon. Dave decided he wanted to do his own thing. So I spent the afternoon just drifting around the modern British art and chilling in the cafe. It was such lovely weather that I was able to sit outside and enjoy the air. Tate Britain is strange in that the building and atmosphere are as important as the art. Indeed same as Tate Modern but I find that far more empty and unfriendly. The main hall at Tate Britain was dominated by a piece of art that could fairly be called vacuous (as one of my colleagues suggested). But, as I counter-pointed, it does photo well.

Languages and email

Managed to get some Duolingo done every day apart from Sat where my cold kicked in and I was busy seeing my brother and his partner (see below). But even with time off I still didn’t get the coding practice done that I had wanted to.

Also, despite being on leave, I had my usual focus on trying to keep on top of my emails. Interestingly both work and personal emails seem to be piling up, ho hum.

Friends and Family

Caught up with my old mate Dom on Tues evening and we went for a lovely Szechuan Chinese meal in Shepherd’s Bush. He is doing OK but his very close friend Ruth has died. He seems OK about it but it’s a blow. Also talked about the Grenfell fire disaster as he lives very close to the flats.

Sat night me and Dave caught up with my brother and his partner. They wanted to meet for a drink as part of a plan to go to Pride. I said I don’t do Pride cos it’s too busy these days and there was no way I was going to go for a drink in Soho which would be heaving. So we met around Victoria which was far more civilised. We got a table outside a pub and had a nice evening of drink and food.

Tech for Good

Work on Wed morning for the monthly management team meeting I keep managing to miss LOL. Also met my new boss who seems OK though I suspect she’s got a lot on her shoulders. Lots of dealing with emails particularly around next Thursday’s day to train projects in making and using video better. Also we started to get in submissions for our CrowdMatch (crowdfunding) programme which is exciting. And lots of effort around promoting the event on Mon 24 July where our latest Tech for Good projects will present what they have achieved followed by a reception. It’s an open invitation so feel free to sign up and spread the word!

Round table discussion

Fri morning I attended a round table discussion organised by the brilliant Zoe Amar around tech and the not-for-profit sector. Some really fascinating people in one room. Some I know well like people from CAST, Nominet Trust and ACF (Association of Charitable Foundations). But also new people from organisations such as The Royal Foundation, Age UK, and Clore Leadership Programme. Five hours of discussion on why and how the third sector should get better at doing digital. And five positive actions to take forward at the end. I wasn’t at my best as I had a cold which started the night before. But very enjoyable.

And then a phone call afterwards with M-ITI to check in before our main call next Wed. Really looking forward to getting this report in the public domain and having a debate around its findings. And it will be so nice not to have to proof read any more versions.

Health and Efficiency

Health good apart from a cold that came on during Thurs night. I awoke in the middle of the night to find my nose streaming. I have spent the following days snotty and sneezing. I’m old fashioned and use handkerfchiefs but I’m going through about two a day. How the hell did I catch a cold in the middle of a heatwave?

Yoga

I did my Thurs night intro session which was very good as always with our excellent teacher. We did the sun salutation then some new taxing poses which showed the tightness of my hips and legs particularly my hamstrings. Also my attempts at a handstand and generally getting my legs off the ground were pretty crap.

Gym

Three times last week: Mon, Tues, and Thurs mornings. Treadmill and weights on the first two days but this was putting strains on my legs (particularly calves) such that Thurs was weights only. Good stuff though.

Jog-run

My tweet below tells you all you need to know. The only good things are that I tried and I live to try again.

Brighton

A visit to my nemesis on Sunday so that on Monday I could visit the two old chaps I keep an eye on. Regular blog readers will know that I have a strange love-hate relationship with this place. I lived there for over 12 years but ended up hating it – 12 wasted years? Brighton always brings back many bad memories but twas central to my adult life and I still know many good friends (as well as some complete c**ts and weirdo f**kers) who live there. The weather was glorious and I chilled around town plus hit my favourite gay charity shop to buy £20 worth of retro gay literature; Dave will go ape-shit, ‘more books!’ I could have met up with many old friends but it was also nice to have some time alone with my thoughts.

Books and Reading

‘The Underground Man’ by Mick Jackson

I read this paperback that I picked up in a charity shop for 50p. Knew nothing about it though it had been shortlisted for the Man Booker prize and was about a nineteenth century aristocrat who built tunnels on his estate. It followed on a bit from the Christopher Fowler novel the week before focused on the London underground (blog here). Jackson’s book is based on the life of the eccentric Fifth Duke of Portand, William John Cavendish-Bentinck-Scott but it is also a piece of fiction. A very engaging piece of writing entering the mind of a reclusive aristocrat though the way he tries to make sense of the world reflects much of what many of us thinks.

A good short story

I was also alerted to the award winning short story below which is fantasy rather than sci-fi and with a strong lesbian theme. Also below is a link to some sci-fi / fantasy literature award lists which indicate good books if anyone is interested in some reading ideas.

‘Seasons of Glass and Iron’ by Amal El-Mohtar

Seasons of Glass and Iron

Announcing the 2017 Locus Awards Winners

Dr Who audio adventures

‘The Burning Prince’ (fifth Doctor Peter Davidson)

‘The Acheron Pulse’ (sixth Doctor Colin Baker)

‘The Shadow Heart’ (seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy)

Three bottles A trilogy but I didn’t realise that initially and started to listen to them the wrong way round – ‘arse about tit’ as my dad would say. A story that continues with the consecutive Doctors. No companions which was actually quite refreshing. Overall, I would say good but not a classic. The very normal first Doctor Who story goes a bit weird in the second adventure before turning into a perhaps too-clever, big, hopping all-over the place story in the third. At least we avoided the far too common story of Doctors being put together in the same adventure.

Looking Ahead

So the week ahead is busy as usual, oh for the quiet life:

  • See my two old chaps in Brighton on Mon – Bob and Brian
  • Tech4Good Awards ceremony on Tues where I will be presenting the Comic Relief Tech4Good for Africa award
  • Two UK Tech & HIV assessments to be done on Wed, both very interesting projects
  • Our pilot workshop for UK-based international projects on Thurs, all about making better video and using it more effectively
  • Target is at least once each next week for jog-run, gym, and yoga
  • Buying new running trainers, my current ones have holes in them where they have worn through
  • Get through at least one more book and a couple more Dr Who audio adventures
  • Duolingo every day and at least a little bit of coding practice
  • Get INR checked and hopefully still in range

 

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