One of the main features of last week was simply coming into contact with a lot of old friends and realising how nice it was to see them. Two deliberate meet-ups in London on Wednesday was followed by a trip to Brighton to see the two old chaps I keep an eye on but also meeting up with another couple of old mates there. And then in London on Friday I accidentally bumped into two more people I knew, both incidentally from when I lived in Brighton. Plus seeing my old friend Peter (the priest) at church and then for a coffee at the start of the week.
Health and efficiency
I am missing going to the gym but making the best of it by going on long walks, as a personal record I achieved last week:
- Mon: Victoria to Olympia
- Tues: Chancery Lane to Victoria
- Wed: Victoria to Vauxhall and South Bank to Vauxhall
- Thurs: Seafront to the Duke of York’s Cinema and back (Brighton)
- Fri: pottering around Brighton
- Sat: Victoria to Oxford Circus and back
My return to church
Based on my enjoyment of the masses in Calpe, the previous Sunday I attended mass at St Matthew’s in Westminster where my friend Peter is a priest and he did an excellent sermon on the prophetic role of the church and individuals with faith particularly in championing the poor. One of my favourite bible parts is when Jesus says: ‘It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven’. The weather that Sunday was dull and that suited the rest of my day pottering including checking out my favourite charity shop and buying some secondhand 50p books. Dave went swimming (at last). TV was crap so I had one of my early nights in bed listening to the radio and reading.
Dealing with a very upset mum
So last Monday I had a long overdue catch up coffee with my vicar friend Peter before a lovely long walk including a delicious bowl of pasta at Stockpot midway and part of my journey taking me through Brompton Cemetery – one of favourite places in London. Mum had gone to Ealing for an MRI scan on her very painful knee but it did not happen because the machine had broken down – she was very annoyed and disappointed. Then I took a load of secondhand books up to the Notting Hill book exchange but there were no buyers so I had to bring them home again. Amazing coincidence regarding mum’s MRI and my buyers but that it is all it was; always worries me when people try to find God and spirituality through statistically remote coincidences. Watched the soaps in the evening with mum (Deirdre’s funeral) and uploaded some new secondhand CDs to my ipod. Bath and listened to the second half of the Jo Whiley radio show.
Tuesday was a work day but I was in a consultation event all day organised by New Philanthropy Capital on Digital Transformation – identifying why the not for profit sector is so bad at digital and what to do about it. It was a very worthwhile event – good mix of people (experience and commitment), nice venue and facilities (NESTA), right length (start 10 and end 4), and agenda (presentations plus flexible space to mix and share opinions). After I had a good catch up coffee with my colleague Nissa. Then back to Dave’s and an evening in with Jo Whiley on radio plus reading 8.30 onwards.
Old friends Jane and Chris
I was in the office on Wednesday. It was a busy day, 8 till 6 though with two and half hours in the middle off so I could meet up with my old friend Jane. She is considering what to do in future and is thinking seriously about going for ordination. I reassured he she should so do it because she is a very compassionate people-person with tons of relevant experience. We met at the South Bank which was manically busy with a graduation event but then we walked along the river back to my work. I was really grateful that she had made the effort to come to London to see me. Then in the evening I met up with another old friend Chris. He has taken retirement at a relatively early age and is sorting out how to ensure he still has a reasonable income. He looked really good on it and far less tired without the pressures of work. Good friends are those you don’t have to see for ages but who you still feel comfortable with when you meet up again.
Off to Brighton and winning a competition
Back down to the south coast on Thursday to stay over before seeing my two old chaps the next day. The biggest surprise of the day was winning a ‘retweet’ competition on Twitter with the prize being three LGBT DVDs. I didn’t know I had won till I was contacted on the train down and so after I had checked into my B&B then I walked up to the Duke of York’s cinema to collect the DVDs. Hotels and B&Bs in Brighton are so expensive at this time of year. I stayed in the cheapest / best place I could find which was a very nice B&B though overall a bit too twee for me. Each room had a theme, mine was ‘safari’ – leopard skins, wicker furniture, green leaf wallpaper, and African masks. Beautifully clean but I like my places a bit more Spartan and anonymous like with Ibis and Premier Inn. In the evening I caught up with my old friend Rob. We ate at a trendy Indian restaurant and then had a pint at the Camelford Arms which another old friend runs, Mark. He was there but it was quiz night so lots of people with heads down and talking in whispers.
Bob has a grump
When I awoke on Friday I could not do breakfast as I was just too full up and it would have been eating purely for sake of it; the B+B owners were obviously very disappointed I was skipping it. Off to the nursing home to see Bob and I had to tell him I could not take him out in his wheelchair because of my busted wrist. He was grumpy not least as he was looking forward to his bacon sandwich. He was also annoyed that one day the staff had been late in getting him dressed and washed. Presumably they were short-staffed but it just shows what becomes important in such a limited setting. But we sat in the garden and had a very nice catch up as Bob took delivery of ‘The Times’ Guide to the House of Commons’ elected in 2015; he is an old politico.
Brian and bumping into two more old friends
Bus back into Brighton and met up with Brian at our usual cafe. He was also quite feisty, must have been the good weather. And his dog was well which always cheers him up. Nice chit chat, Brighton Pride in a couple of weeks. Back for me on the train and bumped into Paul at Victoria who lives in Hove and we used to be involved in politics together. Nice weather so I had a smoothie and sat outside reading round the corner from Dave’s; along came Ewan who I also know from when I used to live in Brighton. Committed to both Paul and Ewan to arrange a meet up via Facebook – who says social media is killing friendship? A quiet evening in catching up on the soaps with an early bed and reading.
Saturday arrived and I still felt the loss of going to the gym due to my wrist injury. Up by 8 and out for coffee and to put the laundry in. Another sunny day so my long walk took me to Oxford Circus and back. Lots of stopping off for coffee and to read my book. A two hour snooze in the afternoon then pottering on the internet before another early-ish night listening to the radio and reading. Dave was around but on call for work so I left him to dealing with all his phonecalls and emails.
Languages and digital
Last week I watched a couple of short Spanish films on DVD and managed DuoLingo on a couple of days so progress there but concentrating just on Spanish and no other languages. Digital – no progress, need to rethink strategy. Good bit of advice I found – always consider if you are solving problems or just rearranging them?
Third volume of Clive Barker’s ‘Books of Blood’. As good and inventive as the other volumes and I realised that being written in the late seventies/early eighties, they needed to be seen not only within the historical context of short horror / fantasy stories but also contemporary TV programmes such as The Twilight Zone and Tales of the Unexpected as well as stories in comics I read around that time such as 2000AD and Starlord.
Moved onto James Purdy’s ‘In a Shallow Grave’. Written in 1975 and considered a classic gay author, to be honest this was not the easiest book to read. I really couldn’t place it time-wise but it was the story of a very disabled veteran and involving a multitude of issues such as unrequited love and racism as well as loads of other stuff. Short but ultimately very multi-layered.
Finished off last week with ‘O Beautiful’ by Jesse Green. One of those books I found I had two copies of. I think it is the only book he ever wrote and it is not bad for a first one. Bitty but a good overall study of the problems that arise from falling in love with a ‘bad boy’ (so many gay men’s fantasies). Interesting that written in 1992 and based in 1984 but no mention of AIDS which was unexpected but refreshing.