Sunday 22 – Saturday 28 May
What a strange week. I was supposed to be on leave, just chillin but it didn’t really work out like that and actually felt like a pretty normal work week apart from that I didn’t phycially go into the office. And then at the end of the week coming face to face with the physical reality of death – in this case primarily through smell.
I’m really cool about death. It’s what happens and we will all inevitably face it. Probably linked to the high number of people I knew who died of AIDS in the eighties. Death has always been a very open subject for me and it doesn’t hurt me to think about it. Not true for everybody, I had a boyfriend once who couldn’t deal with any conversation or thinking about death. Boy, he’s going to have problems as he gets older. Is there an after-life, who knows? I hope so as I can’t imagine ever being in contact again with all the people I love. But I can remember nothing of the infinity before I was born and there is no reason to think death would be more painful.
It was very sad to hear of death of Dave’s neighbour Celia. A fascinating lady who had worked for Foreign and Commonwealth Office including a stint at British Embassy in Moscow during the eighties – perhaps she was a spy. In her eighties, she was active and regularly volunteered at Wigmore Hall. Though she had been losing it a bit recently; she was vague when you bumped into her and had to be reminded who you were. She had not been seen for a few days and police entered her flat on Thursday to find her body. Unclear how long she had been dead but the corridor in Dave’s block had that distinct sickly sweet smell of decomposing. I remember it from a place I lived where we had rats which all died through being poisoned but then rotted under the floorboards.
The night of the day when this all happened, I had another dream of my dead friend James. It was about us buying and living in a house together (as friends not lovers), an idea we did have about 30 years ago when we were a lot younger. I woke up thinking he was still alive.
Health and Efficiency
Opposite to death, there was lots of activity around exercise and trying to maintain good health last week.
Two jog-runs in one week
Previous Sunday I did the first jog-run I had done for a month. Decent weather so I decided to take a chance on my injuries. Good result and some aching in my left Achilles and right knee but not too awful and subsided pretty fully by Tuesday.
Good Jog-run 30.23 mins, 5 km, 6.05 per km, 370 cals pic.twitter.com/c0rGWlOEdV
— Billy Dann (@BillyDann1) May 22, 2016
My joints felt good by the weekend just gone so I went for another jog-run. My course (St James Park and Green Park) was affected by a big organised run on Sunday so I decided to chance things and go out on Saturday. And all went well again. Could I possibly dare to think about doing my jog-run on a weekly basis as compared to the fortnightly routine I had been considering?
Another good jog-run a week after the last one and joints not aching too much pic.twitter.com/4stgi9KWod
— Billy Dann (@BillyDann1) May 28, 2016
But gym disappointment
Despite being on leave I only managed to make the gym once during the week. Wednesday morning but a good all over workout. Other things kicked in like taking mum to the laundry on Monday, Hull on Tuesday, and dealing with medical stuff on Friday.
Looking after my health: anti-coagulation clinic
Friday was a big medical day. First off to the the anti-coagulation clinic to check I’m not over or under clotting. The measure for this (INR) was bad at 1.5, should have been between 2 & 3 – thus I am prone to clots again like the pulmonary embolisms I had. So increased warfarin dosage and back again next week. I really try to avoid this clinic, it’s such a rigmarole for a small blood test. This could be done at home and I’ve asked twice about it but nothing has ever happened despite some warm words.
Annual hospital check-in
Then on the same day to my annual check-in with the HIV consultant.Delay of 50 minutes seeing her, an apology but no real explanation why. All OK bar my cholesterol is sky-high. I think my family’s is high anyway but my anti-retroviral (ARV) meds make it worse, an unfortunate side-effect, so doubling the new statin I’m on as well as keep on taking the other anti-cholesterol medication. Then the inevitable wait whilst all my meds were sorted out by the pharmacy. I love the NHS but one of the best ways to describe it is as a series of waiting rooms and waiting lists.
I did decide to treat myself to a massage on Thursday. It’s moderately expensive at my gym (£39) but the masseur is very good and I haven’t had one for ages. No ‘happy ending’ – I wouldn’t be interested even if that was on offer. I love massage and some of my muscles are tense and even painful. Drifted in and out of sleep which I always find frustrating as I actually want to feel my body being worked on. Some particularly annoying pains in my calves.
Now the week just gone was supposed to be leave from work. Didn’t really work out massively different because of two things (although I did make a decision to not complete a form that needed submission by Friday simply because, sod it, I was on leave). First, I inevitably had to deal with emails not necessarily answering them but keeping on top of conversations so that I can jump straight into dealing with stuff on my return next week. A risk of working part-time is that you could spend all your time in the office catching up on emails. Second, I had to do a couple of visits and I did claim back a day of leave to cover for this.
Monday afternoon up on the brilliant Hull Trains to Hull. Love this train company because it provides free high quality wi-fi – Virgin are you listening? Stayed over in a very cheap Ibis and had a potter around the marina area in the lovely Spring evening. At the HullCoin office next morning at 10 and Skype with tech person + HullCoin staff at 11. Key things were to talk about what we expect to be delivered with another six months of funding with agreed monthly milestones to be met. Then to the meeting of the company’s Directors at 1. This was the key thing I had to link in with and why I travelled up during my week off. HullCoin is a really exciting initiative to use blockchain technology to reward volunteering and enable those rewards to be exchanged in and for the benefit of the local economy. A really productive day and another good journey back on Hull Trains. Below is a nice little vid to explain blockchain technology.
And on Wednesday afternoon I went with my colleague Rowena to visit the Dragon Hall Tech Hub in Covent Garden. In a small and very busy space, this youth and community centre are developing a tech space for young people offering an introduction to the potential of digital and then a more structured nurturing of that interest particularly using corporate partners as mentors. Good stuff and what I wish there was so much more of across the UK and the world. If we don’t engage young (and all ages of) people in a healthy and creative relationship with technology then they risk just becoming passive consumers tied to their phones.
This meet-up took place on Thursday night and I should have attended. But I felt both knacked (amazing even in a week off) and chilled after my massage that afternoon. So instead I met up with Dave and we had a catch-up meal out even though he spent most of the time outside the restaurant on his mobile dealing with work stuff – ho hum, what can you do?
I like politics not least because it’s pretty fundamental to ensuring we have a nice planet and a nice life. But politics is weird at the moment. The awful EU referendum drags on and Vote Leave becomes increasingly racist day by day. It really is a chance for latent anti-immigrant feeling to be stoked up. Basically Leave’s argument boils down to three things: it was better in the past especially the time of the British Empire, we’re being swamped by migrants, muslims are particularly dangerous. Danger is that Brexit or even a close result will mean years of uncertainty with either endless negotiations or constant demands for re-runs. Referendums rarely settle things unless they deliver decisive results – see Scotland. I’m doing my bit for Remain by delivering leaflets door-to-door in my neighbourhood in my spare time and mouthing off on social media even when I get Vote Leave trolling back.
Meanwhile the rise of Trump in USA – demagogic neo-fascism in action. Actually not that different from the rise of UKIP and Boris Johnson in this country. People seeking easy answers to complex problems that doesn’t need them to change their behaviour or actions in any way i.e. it’s all the fault of migrants and foreigners. I’m praying for Hillary to win. I don’t like Bernie who is too negative, untested and idealistic (like Corbyn I’m afraid).
Thank God for the result in Austria where the anti-fascist candidate narrowly won. A close run thing but victory is victory (and defeat is defeat).
Books and Reading
I finished Salem’s Lot which was wonderfully scary. Similar to the TV series from what I remember but the main female character exited a lot earlier, more people were involved in the fight against the vampires, and there was a different ending. My other reading book for last week was by the modern author Adam Foulds. He has written other books I have read and enjoyed and this one, In the Wolf’s Mouth, I quite liked. However, at the end point it was disappointing. Beautifully well written and I enjoyed reading it until the the final pages when everything just stopped. Indeed, I’m not sure there was actually a story here but rather a collection of points in people’s lives that happened at the same time. Hopefully this one from him is just an aberration.
Dr Who audio-books
Three listened to this week as I pottered about: Creatures of Beauty, Nekromanteia, and The Dark Flame. All were OK but none were great and, sadly, in a way all three were a bit disappointing. The first two featured Peter ‘Davidson (fifth Doctor). Creatures was trying to be (too) clever and I think I need to give it the justice of another listen. Nekromanteia was enjoyable in that it included inter-galactic witches who were really unpleasant i.e. eating people’s flesh. The best of the bunch was The Dark Flame featuring the seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy. A fun little romp to save the universe featuring Ace and Professor Bernice Summerfield.
Up the Notting Hill Comic and Book Exchange on Friday afternoon to do an exchange on a pile of books I had finished with. My heart stopped for a moment as I got off the bus with two heavy bags plus my weekend rucksack as the shop was empty. Then thankfully I noticed the notice telling me it had moved along the road a few shops. £20 in exchange vouchers and I had a quick potter round the now two separate shops buying a small variety of things including horror books by H.P. Lovecraft (one of the twentieth century’s great horror fiction writers), a Dr Who book, and a Haruki Murakami audio-book. Also picked up a couple of gay DVDs at the Music & Film Exchange.