Change in my life has been threatening for a long time and a potential restructuring at work has made this a more distinct possibility. This combined with my wrist injury and enforced non attendance at the gym has set me thinking. Ronald Reagan said ‘A big problem with government is that it doesn’t often change things merely rearranges them’ Now I normally get slagged off rotten when I quote old Ronnie who was far from perfect but did have vision and changed history so there are sometimes things in what he said. And he’s right on this – sometimes we need to fundamentally change what we do to solve a problem rather than just tinker and rearrange. So my job may change, I can’t get to the gym, and politics isn’t working (anyone who thinks Jeremy Corbyn is going to lead us all to a new socialist utopia is living in cloud-cuckoo land) – a good time to think about what I am trying to achieve with the remaining years I have on this planet…
Health and efficiency – a new way to weight loss and staying fit?
Some good news last week, I have lost weight and am down to 13 stone 6 pounds! I am really trying to lose weight but it’s bloody difficult; I so often feel hungry but that’s the reality of taking in less calories. But what is interesting is that without going to the gym I can still lose weight and I think I actually feel less tired and hungry by not going. I don’t think my musculature has totally collapsed (yet) and I will go back to the gym in the future once my wrist is better. I went for physio on Thursday at the hospital (at 8.30am) and she suggested I could return to the gym so long as I did not lift weights and only concentrated on legs and core. Good news but I think I have to work out how practical that is going to be.
I think what I do need is a new approach to exercise and weight loss that isn’t centred on the gym. And nor perhaps my jog-runs as my Achilles is still hurting despite the prolonged break in training. Indeed I eventually gave in and saw my very nice GP about it on Thursday morning (a 7am appointment) – she has referred me for an MRI scan and physio.
I suspect the future more than anything is simply concentrating on controlling my food/drink intake combined with constructive long walks plus some, but less, gym and jog-runs. Good walks achieved last week (unfortunately nothing worth mentioning on Fri and Sat):
- Sun: walking around Pimlico, Victoria and St James Park
- Mon: Victoria to Olympia including walking through the wonderful Brompton Cemetery – wonderfully decrepit and once upon a time an amazing cruising ground (all gone now)
- Tues: Vauxhall to Victoria
- Wed: Tate Modern to Trafalgar Square
- Thurs: Olympia to Vauxhall via Brompton Cemetery again
New politics to live by?
Last week I found myself not only rethinking my approach to exercise and weight loss, but also about what I intrinsically believe. In the past I have looked to political ideologies for solutions but I am not sure they are the answer. I am a Liberal (Democrat) and believe neither in socialism nor conservatism but in the power of individuals and society particularly to overcome extremism and the evil side of capitalism. And regular readers will know I am enthusiastic about the power of digital to change things. Part of the philosophy attached to tech is the idea of the shared economy and frugal innovation with so much of that appealing to me. We need to preserve the world’s resources, share where we can rather than own, and re-use secondhand wherever possible. So how do I put this into practice? The week gone it happened on a practical level twice. On Sunday I went to the car boot in Pimlico to look around actually buying very little (because I did not need it) as well as looking around the local charity shops. And then on Monday I took books I had read to the wonderfully crazy comic and book exchange in Notting Hill, swapping them for tokens to buy other secondhand books.
Is work going to be different?
A strange and memorable week at work. Tuesday I was in the office all day starting with a physical clean-out of unnecessary documents on my desk – therapeutic and aesthetically pleasing. And in partnership I did a flushing out and deleting of unnecessary emails. Finished my latest set of grant applications to be scored and did an assessment for a grant; really hard because so many good projects but limited cash and the need to share it around fairly. Though tis sad that money is really classed as the only resource that projects need to happen and mostly by the projects themselves. Lunch with my colleague who should be retiring within a matter of months to Spain – I am quite envious.
Wednesday morning I was in work and had two meetings: supervision with my boss and then a catch up with my colleague Nissa particularly preparing for next week’s bootcamp in Sheffield for the new Tech for Good projects. The afternoon I was out at New Philanthropy Capital to attend the steering group of the Digital Transformation project, identifying why the not for profit sector does not do digital better and how this can be changed. Some good stuff coming through and a group of enthusiasts – exactly what the sector needs, people excited about and committed to technology.
My other office period last week was Thursday afternoon and what a change that was from the ‘steady as she goes’ emphasis of the other two days. Didn’t expect anything major though did know I would be getting my briefing on some proposed new developments – that gave me plenty of food for thought about what I might be doing in the future. And I had to follow up on an auditor query which took a lot of researching (it was exactly like being back doing my PhD research); one wonders about how accountants and auditors failed to see the big financial disasters like the whole banking crisis that led to recession?! Absolutely shattered at the end of Thursday by such an intense few hours. Indeed had to cancel a meeting I was very much looking forward to with Mark Brown – internet and mental health guru. Left the office at 6.20 and just about made it in time for dinner with my mate Dave (affectionately known as Daisy).
My work ethic
I really worry that I work too hard – I’m always busy and tired with various people telling me I work too much. I am old fashioned in that I allow a big part of my identity be based on my work and, indeed, I have never been unemployed. But I’m starting to think I have ignored other parts of my life for too long. Remember what Oscar Wilde said, ‘I have never met a person on their death bed who said that they wished they had spent more time at work’
Beyond all this new uncertainty, something wonderful happened last Friday. Dave and I both took a day off work to go down to Brighton for the conversion of the civil partnership of my old friends Emma and Trish to marriage. All a surprise arranged by one for the other, it was a lovely day perhaps apart from the rain (July felt like October). We had a great lunch at Cote and then went to the town hall for a quite administrative exercise before retiring to a local hotel for champagne. Just truly magical – two wonderful people very much in love and restating their life time commitment to each other. They are soon off to Australia and they are so doing the right thing. A day of fun, laughter and joyfulness.
I also had some good times last week with the two most important people in my life – Dave and mum. Me and Dave spent the previous weekend together though him being on duty meant he was mostly on his mobile and dealing with emails. Saw him again on Tuesday for a quiet night (me in bed by 9pm to listen to the radio and read) and then we obviously did all day Friday together and Saturday though for that day I felt very wrapped up in doing my own thing on the computer and getting ready for another week of work travel.
Mum’s knee is still very bad but she went for a re-scheduled MRI scan on the previous Sunday and I was with her on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday nights. Lots of watching the soaps together apart from Thursday when I met up with Daisy for a bite to eat; he was on good form and actually just the tonic I needed after the intensity of the afternoon in the office. Like the previous week’s blog theme: the joy that can come from meeting up with old friends.
My development goals
OK movement on languages, digital and books last week. For the former, a little bit of DuoLingo and on Saturday I watched a great Belgian film ‘Two Days, One Night’ about a female worker who previously has been ill with a mental breakdown and has to go round over one weekend to try to persuade her work colleagues not to vote for her redundancy so they can have a bonus instead when they meet on Monday morning. Good to practice my French and a telling tale on the iniquitous situations management frequently put workers in. And around digital I have been doing some pottering looking at films on YouTube around digital innovation – what a brilliant resource that site is!
Books, I got through Terry Pratchett’s ‘Monstrous Regiment’, another cracking novel from the deeply missed master story-teller and his Discworld series. A satire on war (especially the role played by women) but warm and witty. Then onto vol 4 of Clive Barker’s ‘Books of Blood’. This frustrated me and several stories did not feel up to the high standard of some of the other ones in these volumes. It almost felt like they had been churned out (publisher pressure?). Moved onto Jeremy Reed’s ‘The Dilly – A Secret History of Piccadilly Rent Boys’ for the next meeting of the Velvet Page book club – lots of lovely gay gossip.