Last week was a busy but good one. Seeing my very ill mate plus the two old chaps I keep an eye on in Brighton. Also attending the Amy Winehouse Foundation meeting a living legend and several more films at the London Film Festival before it ended.
My mate James who is dealing with cancer texted me to suggest I go down to Lewes the previous Sunday to visit him and his partner. And, of course, I jumped at the chance. Trains south were buggered terminating at Three Bridges because of engineering works. It was then a bus. James himself still looked thin and pale but was actually looking a better than when I last saw him. He is eating more and we all had lunch together. Him and his partner are doing lots of day trips out at the moment and his pain is under control at last.
Onto Brighton to stay over to see my old chaps the next day. And on Sunday evening I met up with my old friend Rob, also known as ‘Swing It’ because that was his catchphrase. We went to a great Greek restaurant and over good food and wine caught up with each other. Big news is that he is planning to buy an apartment in Spain which, if it happens, I will probably regularly stay in. A glass of wine in the hotel bar and my latest book – blissful before a good night’s hotel sleep.
So up Monday morning and off to see Bob and Brian. The former at the residential home he lives in. He looked well and the weather was good enough plus my wrist/hand injury had healed sufficiently that I was able to push him in his wheelchair down to the high street in Portslade to sit outside, have coffee (and a bacon sandwich for Bob), chat and watch the world go by. Took him back to his room and then I was off to St James St to meet Brian. He can only walk now with his stroller on wheels and he has been advised to get as much exercise as possible. He was fine and in good form. Lots of stories about his beloved dog including the dog’s various bowel movements.
Thursday night was pretty spectacular as I was out at the Amy Winehouse Foundation’s Gala Dinner at London’s Savoy hotel. My invitation was linked to the abstinence-based recovery projects I work with and support. Borrowed my brother’s black tie outfit (which a waiter managed to spill champagne down) and bought a new pair of shoes though did that as quickly as possible going into just one shop and buying them. Interesting mix of people at the do including many music people who somebody more trendy than me would probably have recognised straight away. Nice food and excellent compering by Christopher Biggins. Had a nice chat with living legend Barbara Windsor. Me and my boss Gilly left around 11.15 (school the next day) and so we missed the set by Mark Ronson and others including Foxes and Conor Maynard.
Then on Friday afternoon had a quick catch-up with my mate Chris O’Sullivan before he got his train to Gatwick to get the plane back to Scotland. Lots of talk re digital and mental health matters.
Mum and Dave
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evening spent with mum. Bit of drama on train back from Brighton when the conductor asked over the public address for ‘anyone with full medical training’ to contact him. Got to East Croydon and were delayed to await the arrival of the requested ambulance to deal with an ill patient. Mum OK and happy because lost 2 pounds when weighed on Tuesday morning – my news not so good (see below). Stayed over Dave’s both weekends though he was not well during the week (man-flu).
Health and efficiency
Really bad news on Tuesday was I had put on another pound to weigh in at 13-10. I’ve decided to try to view losing weight as a hobby and see how things go over the next couple of weeks. Some walks during the week i.e. around Brighton and on Friday Victoria to Vauxhall to the South Bank. Managed to get to the gym on Wednesday as I took that as a day off work and again on Saturday morning. Both good sessions doing 15 mins cardio and then weights. Attended my last physio session about my hand on Wednesday. It has recovered well and I am even able to put heavy-ish weight on it though still some recovery to do and need to build up muscles in my hand that have atrophied over the months – this can primarily be done by putting a rubber band round my hand and stretching.
So in work all day on Tuesday and Friday morning with an external meeting on Thursday morning. Actually quite a light week on digital (and the same for reading) linked I think to the large amount of cinema I attended. I caught up with technologists around our Tech for Good projects and upcoming digital exploration days. Also planning started for a pitch to a digital company for joint-funding on a challenging new tech project, looking at legal support around our Tech for Good work (particularly around terms of agreement users sign up to, data and privacy), getting Grants Committee papers finished, dealing with branding issues, and doing ongoing shortlisting on the mass of last minute Main Fund applications.
Languages and the London Film Festival
Not on DuolLingo everyday but basically every other day and some big stints when I did it. Plus the second week of the LFF which hopefully helped me develop my language skills. Films seen were as follows:
‘The Apostate’ (Wednesday afternoon) I wrongly thought had a gay storyline. One of the weakest films I saw at the Festival redeemed by being in Spanish and the decent lead actor spending a good amount of time walking around in his pants or naked – not sure how the latter in particular was linked to the rest of the movie, perhaps he just liked being filmed with no kit on.
‘Francofonia’ (Thursday afternoon) I sat through the first 10 minutes semi-convinced this was the wrong film. A meditation on the Nazi occupation of Paris, it actually had several themes running through including several languages (Russian, French & Gernman), a modern story about a sinking ship, period drama in modern settings, alongside appearances by Napoleon and Marianne. All a bit strange.
A 45 minute gap to have a wee plus get a coffee and sandwich then ‘Truman’ (Thursday afternoon), the most mainstream of the films I saw. Spanish and about a man dying of cancer with his old best friend coming to spend a few days with him (fiction following fact in my life?). Lots of reflection on how to spend your last days and family relationships. Truman is the name of his dog and a key feature of the film is the search for a new home for him.
‘Family at War’ (Friday afternoon) A series of shorts. ‘Coach’ – a bit of a stereotype about Brits abroad; ‘Samuel-613’ – interesting film about a young orthodox Jew but not sure 100% accurate; ‘Video’ – disturbing view of sex in the modern world (Zak was fit though); ‘Black Sheep’ – sad and depressing view of Northern life; ‘Mother(s)’ – dark view of life for African migrants in France; ‘Tamara’ – depressing view of Russian provincial life. Overall a good but depressing and grim group of films. One other though I did my old trick of falling asleep during it and missing most: ‘Sunday Lunch’ – animation of a family lunch.
Lindsey Davis ‘Enemies at Home’ I love Lindsey Davis and her series of novels about Roman private investigator Marcus Didius Falco. Another series I have read my way through though it’s one I have basically got completely up to date with. Lindsey has moved onto writing about the adopted daughter becoming a female PI (I’m really not convinced this happened in ancient Rome). But beautifully written and good reflection on being a woman then plus the nature of slavery as it impacted both on slaves and their owners.
Anthony McDonald ‘Orange Bitter, Orange Sweet’ A highly regarded first novel by a good gay author. I enjoyed it, like a gay-version of ‘Friends’ based in Seville in the mid-70s. Mainly focused on the gay relationship rather than the two straight ones, it showed the problems of being gay and in a serious relationship before civil partnerships or marriage. Also wonderfully evocative of Spain itself.