Halloween over and now full speed ahead to Christmas. Guy Fawkes night last week but not really a big thing in the way it was when I was a kid apart from in Lewes (went there once and it was a nightmare being packed with so many people). A few weeks and I go off for a holiday to Gran Canaria. Booked ages ago and now feels almost daunting rather than something relaxing. But already sorted out some big chunky books to take away and read.
Couple of other general reflections on last week. I agreed to run tombola stand at the work Christmas Fair to raise money for a refugee charity, now got to find prizes – any offers out there? And QPR’s losing streak continued so Chris Ramsey sacked. I said he would be gone by the end of the season and it took less time than that. Nice guy but couldn’t produce results; I think he fell into the leadership trap of wanting to be liked by the players in the team rather than respected. Neil Warnock back in charge again – as Marx said, ‘All history repeats itself, the first time is tragedy and the second time is farce’.
Health and efficiency
Gym three times last week: Sunday, Thursday and Saturday mornings. Each time about 20 minutes of cardio and a series of weights particularly to repair my achilles plus also the walking to and from the gym for most sessions (Victoria to Oxford Circus then back).
Couple of health things last week. Monday morning to the Anti-Coagulation Clinic to get my INR checked – the level of clotting in my blood. Not good, should be between 2.0 and 3.0 but came in at 1.6 which suggests a propensity to clot. Increased dosage of warfarin and back in a week’s time. That’s the main problem of this clinic, having to drag myself down to Fulham for a quick test. The testing can be done at home but you need a machine and they cost £2-300.
Monday afternoon to the ear clinic to get my ears checked out. One was fine but the other was packed with wax so had that suctioned out. What came out was pretty gross but the feeling of being sucked out was nice. Two ears costs £80 but one ear only £50 so a £30 saving. Private service but worth it for the speed and lack of mess compared to getting ears syringed on the NHS plus nurses nagging about how they don’t like doing the syringing, it’s dangerous, long-term causes hearing loss, etc though meanwhile I can’t hear anything because my ears are blocked up.
Time with Dave and mum
Poor old Dave had so much work on that he had to go into the office the previous Sunday (mind you I just worked remotely at the same time). We met up Sunday evening and had a bite to eat though not without problems finding something he was happy to eat – Mr Fussy Eater. Another catch up meal on Wednesday night which went fine because I said where we were going to eat; who said might isn’t right?
Deliberately spent three nights in with mum – Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday though for the latter met Dave to eat first. Mine and mum’s usual routine of me on the computer whilst we watched the soaps together and she moans about various things. Her knee is still giving her big problems and I nag to make sure she does her physio exercises.
Friends in far off places
Meeting with my old friend David on Friday night. His family is originally from Scotland, we met in Brighton, and he now he lives in Taiwan. Really nice to see him but unfortunate he has had to come over because his mum is ill. He keeps suggeting I visit Taiwan, hopefully I will make it happen one day. As it was Friday night went for noodles after meeting him with his mate Tomas then back to Dave’s.
Very busy last week at work with digital at heart of everything. One of the big things was reading and scoring 30 submissions for the Nominet Trust 100 best social tech projects for 2015. I was head judge on behalf of a group of people from where I work and there was four of us so we each got to be one of the Strictly judges – I got Len partly because I am oldest. Some really fab digital products and public announcement of final 100 on 9th Dec.
Other digital / work stuff that happened last week:
- Judging of small grant applications arising from the digital exploration day around abstinence based recovery the previous week;
- Planning for another digital exploration day with a big tech company in December including a big conference call last Wednesday – conf calls really are such a good way to get things done;
- Enthusiastically pitching to Grants Committee for a new initiative next year to increase the capacity of not-for-profit organisations to do digital better, and to continue the development of new digital products and services to ensure better services for beneficiaries;
- Getting project assessments done for the next Grants Committee in January – meant some weekend working;
- Presenting to the departmental leadership team on a new cross-organisational initiative to identify how digital can be used to highlight the work we do and encourage people to donate then selling this plan to another key internal constituent;
- Paying grants through our grant management system which is so much better now than the previous one
- Having a meeting to consider how we can better use the organisational website to present the digital work we are funding plus identifying new research we need to do to help our ‘digital journey’;
- Discussing the pitch to a tech company for them to come on board with an exciting new project to challenge the macho/geeky culture of the tech sector by getting more girls interested in careers within it;
- Catching up with our new head of business and information systems;
- Meeting another big UK funder to exchange information on how we are both developing our digital strategies and what we are targeting within that.
Was EHI Live last week which is a really good event all about the use of digital and technology in health. Love going but unfortunately just not enough time and so had to miss it this year.
Picked up again on Duolingo but could still be so better i.e. regular.
Thought about going to the local car boot on the previous Sunday as it was a nice day (perhaps one of the last of the year) but there comes a point where I simply need to read books and not just buy them. So reading and coffee in between work and personal bits (meds, laundry, etc).
Reading last week unusually encompassed two non-fiction books and both made me think about life in a way that fiction does not always do – sometimes it is good to have the freezing cold water of real life thrown over you.
‘Radical. My Journey from Islamist Extremism to a Democratic Awakening’ by Maajid Nawaz A very good autobiography charting Maajid’s rise from racial abuse to Islamic extremism to liberalism. He actually stood for parliament on behalf of the Liberal Democrats at the last general election. I respect and support his belief in the power of tough liberalism.
‘The Inquisition’ by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh Many church people I come into contact with these days (bar the neo-Nazi homophobic Christians) have a tolerant, questioning and intellectual faith. This book made me appreciate the evil that was done in religion’s name and still is in Iran, Saudi, and Islamic State. The level of murdering is unbelievable – usually burning to death or even being roasted alive although there could sometimes be mercy shown in garroting the victim first of all. Really important message for religion not to stop intellectual thought, new ideas, and modernisation.
And one novel last week, Jonathan Kemp’s ‘Ghosting’ read for the Velvet Page book club last Thursday night. I remember not being wowed by his previous book ‘London Triptych’ though other people and critics kept raving about it. But this was an absolutely lovely book about getting older and looking back on the past. Only four of us at the Velvet book club but quality made up for quantity. Poor turnout due to the fact it was Bonfire night, was raining, and rioters were out on the streets of London.