Addiction and germs sums up the two dominating features of last week.
Health and Efficiency
First the germs. Said to Dave on the previous Saturday night ‘my throat is sore’ but then thought no more of it. Then on Sunday evening on the way back from seeing my brother (see below) I realised I had a really sore throat, exactly the feeling one gets as a cold arrives. Sleep on Sunday night into Monday was very poor dominated by being cold and hot populated with extremely weird dreams. Colds are a thing to joke about but it is useful to be reminded of how quickly they can arrive and how slow they can be to disperse. Basically full of cold right through the whole of last week with Tuesday the worst day and lots of poor nights of sleep. Ah, human frailty against little germs.
No gym on Sunday because of the visit to my brother and planned gym visit on Monday morning cancelled due to my heavy cold. Had to meet someone Monday lunchtime at Kings Cross so decided to take a therapeutic long and slow walk up there. I do find some exercise helps drive out disease. Gym proper on Thursday and Saturday (short but sweet) but no other long purposeful walks.
Yo-yo weight did another yo-yo and went back down a pound to 13-8.
Addiction and Recovery
The other centrepiece of last week was the gathering on Wednesday of the Abstinence-Based Recovery Communities (addiction projects) I have been overseeing the funding of:
- Nelson Trust operating across Gloucestershire
- Changes UK in Birmingham including their impressive new base Recovery Central
- Clean and Sober Living operating in County Durham
- SCT covering East London including their brilliant charity shops and Paper & Cup cafe-bookshops
We all met at The Recovery Hub Bistro in Gloucester – a key physical component of one of the initiatives being funded. The work of all four organisations is fantastic and I am always so impressed when I meet people who have recovered from addiction not just by reducing their intake but by actually having taken and maintained the key step of removing the source of their addiction from their lives. Important to note how addictions can be many varied including drugs, alcohol, sex, gambiling, porn, shopping, etc. We all carry shit lives in some way and they can lead us to addiction but we are not slaves to that and there is no inevitability of becoming an addict or staying as one.
Personally I’ve got over my own addiction to the gay druggie lifestyle and I’ve lived with partners with addictions dealing with all the scuzziness around that including the lies, bullshit, etc. I am so glad to be away from that both physically and mentally. Life is never a bed of roses but it’s better when you are clean and addictions are like being stuck in a wheel that makes facing the problems they bring a never-ending process. The only way is to step out of the wheel.
My Wonderful Family
One of the blessings in my life is my wondeful family especially my ever understanding mother and my crazy brother (plus my lovely partner Dave). My dad’s a whole essay in itself I might write about one day. So up the previous Sunday with Dave to have a catch-up lunch with my brother and his partner. They live in north London and we had a fabulous Turkish meal with the usual over-ordering and wasted food. Then back to theirs for tea and cake as well as to have some cuddles with their boisterous bulldog. He is lovely though makes me realise how hard work pets can be. Funniest thing was him getting completely enraptured by a smell on the sole of my trainers that made him start dribbling and shaking. I have no idea what I have trodden in at some point.
Weekend just gone was sad and quiet with Dave taking the must-do journey up north to spend the weekend with his mum for Mothering Sunday. Billy home alone.
Work and Digital
Managed to avoid taking any time off work despite my cold and feeling ill – wonder if my reluctance to take sick leave is some kind of addiction to paid work and the purpose/identity it creates in my life?
My long therapeutic walk to Kings Cross on Monday was to see Mark Walker of AbilityNet a charity dealing with the crucial issue of making the interent accessible to all including people with disabilities. Mark also oversees the brilliant Tech4Good Awards, the annual award scheme recognising best practice and exemplar work in terms of Tech for Good and Social Tech. Nominations open on 15 March – please think about applying or encouraging others to do so. Was great to explore with Mark the potential to get more involved with the Awards and promote them so that we increase the overall public awareness of the Tech for Good movement and encourage others to join in.
I needed to be early in Gloucester on Wednesday for the addiction projects meeting so I decided to stay over in Bristol on Tuesday and make a visit to a tech project I would like to do more work with. The charity is Knowle West Media Centre – a building established for several years and based in a deprived area but doing some really innovative and exciting work. Great to catch up with everybody there including the work they are doing developing young people’s digital skills, supporting young women, and also the practical projects offered at their ‘Furniture Factory’.
Back in the office on Thursday and Friday and good to be able to catch up with my tech for good parnter-in-crime (aka job-share colleague) Nissa. Also usual ploughing through of emails. Thursday afternoon meeting with Grants Ops to look at lessons learnt from our Tech for Good work to date especially applicable to improving our procedures to apply for a grant and then how to select and manage the ones to fund. And with the addiction projects review out of the way it was now time to prepare for next week’s wrap-up on the latest round of Tech for Good grants where the funding is ending.
Books and Reading
And so to my ‘benevolent addiction’ (is there such a thing?). Didn’t make as much progress as I wanted to getting through only two books last week. The first was specifically read for the Velvet Page Book Club I try to attend every first Thursday of the month at Waterstones on Piccadilly. The book was Getting Orlando by Anthony McDonald. I’ve read some of his other books and my favourite was his first ‘Orange Bitter Orange Sweet’ set in Spain changing from Franco’s fascism into being a modern European nation. I didn’t really like Orlando particularly disliking the quite old-fashioned dialogue. Turned out at the actual meeting on Thursday night we had the author present to talk – so lucky I worked that out before I started criticising. Free wine much appreciated and fascinating to find out how an author can continue a profitable career solely by publishing on the internet.
I recently got a voucher for filling in an online survey and used it on Tuesday afternoon in Bristol to buy a book I’ve been looking forward to reading – more details next week. But before getting into that nearly 700 page monster, I decided to read a highly recommended novella Beasts by Joyce Carol Oates. Very good – short but dark twisting from abuse to revenge.
Also continued to listen to my Dr Who audiobooks as I moved around. Indulged myself with some from the eighth Doctor period (Paul McGann). He comes over so well on audio, his voice is beautiful and his manner wonderfully whimsical but reassuring. Seasons of Fear was a great old-fashioned time chase romp whilst Embrace the Darkness was a fun if slightly horrific adventure set on a planet of darkness and blindness. Final one was the short adventure Phobos set on Mars’ moon and very much the BBC7 radio adventure it was meant to be.