Mon 6 – Sun 11 Dec 2016
The last holiday day
Last week began with our holiday ending in Gran Can. Mon was the last full day of simply doing nothing. Weather started very nicely but then petered out as the day passed. I did manage to get some time on the lounger bathing in the sun whilst Dave went for a long walk. Farewell G+T at L’Italiano in the evening followed by farewell meal at Bei Lelo. A wander around the Yumbo Centre and then the last Irish Coffee at L’Italiano again before bed. With a good book, pretty much how I would love every day of the rest of my life to be.
Return to London
But reality called and Tues it was back to London. Breakfast with the other holidaymakers in our hotel, predominantly old, wealthy, Germanic and Nordic – sadly very little totty or eye candy. The Hoppa service back to the airport was efficient and friendly in exactly the way that the trip to the hotel had not been. Hanging around at the airport which I don’t mind because I can just read, drink coffee, people watch. A decent flight which arrived at Gatwick on time. I was concerned about the train strikes but we got back to Victoria fine. Out for a bite to eat then unpacking the bags and bed.
Time for reflection on the holiday – giving up, letting go
The point of holidays
I don’t think holidays are just gaps between normality. Yes revel in them and love every minute of living a non-normal lifestyle. But life is a gift to be lived not just existed. Holidays reveal glimpses of Heaven enabling us to think and plan about the life we really want. We go to excess on holiday but that is only rebellion against the restrictions and crap we take on board in normal life.
Two big rethinks:
First, letting go of emails
My very good friend James who died in 2017 used to ignore all emails until they were sent a second time and then take action on them. My personal emails build up. I have signed up to lots of e-bulletins and love reading them then sharing info on social media (what I define as ‘pootering’). But sometimes I feel overwhelmed and can have up to 200 unread. So I decided to let go and delete a load of unread emails when I got back from hols to ease my stress. It was easy once they were gone – the fear of deleting was the problem. I may have missed something major but it could happen anyway by simply not being signed up to the most relevant e-bulletin. Ultimately emails are like social media, a conversation to drop in and out of rather than spend one’s life in.
Second, clear desk
We have a new policy and that is to have a clear desk. Everything we want to keep must fit into our own personal box. It’s been a challenge for some with lots of papers. These have accumulated through a mixture of putting off deciding when to get rid of them and and feeling some stuff must be held on physically because it is very important. Nearly everything is the online but we still crave reassurance of hard copies. Innovation can only be achieved by being forced into uncomfortable spaces and the duty of leaders is to push people into those spaces. Churchill – ‘if you are going through hell then keep going’. I have spent much time disposing of false security papers and such clear-outs do make me feel better.
These two things may not seem major. Deleting emails and physically clearing out papers does not a revolution make. But small things often represent bigger things. In this case it is that I will be clearing out my life. I am getting older and time is passing. I can’t worry about nor change everything. It is much more important for me to focus on what is important and let go of other things.
Letting go on holiday also made me realise that there are things in my personal development that I shouldn’t give up on, they mean too much to me. Indeed on holiday I didn’t keep up with emails and I didn’t do any language practice on DuoLingo. I sort of assumed being in Spain would be enough but language learning doesn’t work by osmosis. So since being back I have been doing DuoLingo evey day and that is my target.
Language learning (and appreciation of other people’s cultures and societies) can also come by watching films. I went on Sat to the ICA to see ‘The Unknown Girl’. A slightly depressing Belgian film about a doctor trying to find the identity of a dead girl. A bit artificial in parts but a perfectly decent film overall. It could easily have been a TV film or programme aka Inspector Morse. But good for me to try and follow a film in French.
Then on Sun I went back to the ICA to see a Belgian Flemish film ‘The Ardennes’. Really couldn’t follow the Dutch and kept looking at the sub-titles. An intriguing film about two brothers after one is released from prison. It touches on interesting points around tackling addiction and family loyalty. But ended up being far more violent than I expected. And there were ostriches.
Another thing I must not let go of is being in contact and meeting up with my friends. On Wed I met with my old mate James who I have known for about 30 years. He’s had an amazing history including living in West Berlin when the Wall was still there. We ate at a fabulous Korean restaurant he recommended, Lime Orange in Victoria – delicious spicy food. It is so good to see James doing well and in a relationship. I’m really happy for him. If only everybody could be happy…
Last week I worked all day Wed (so straight back into it all after getting back from holiday) plus Thurs and Fri afternoons. Stuff that happened:
- Ongoing work to arrange the assessments for the shortlisted Tech for Good applications in Jan. They are going to be back-to-back some days, it will be very intense.
- A meeting to consider whether to do more around crowdfunding.
- Conferring with our colleagues at the Legal Education Foundation around what we are both funding in the digital sphere.
- Catch up meeting with my boss including discussing the possibility of sponsoring a new Tech for Good award.
- A monitoring meeting with Apps for Good regarding the funding we have given them to challenge sexism in the digital sector and get more girls coding. This is linked to the development of their Fellowship and Experts service.
Health and efficiency
Weight and gym
This is something (and personal development in general) that I am not giving up or letting go of. Despite the fact that the holiday had taken its toll and my weight on Fri was up to 13-13 (2 pounds on). The result of indolence (laziness) and too much food + alcohol. Gym on Thurs and Sun morning. Thurs did 45 min all-over holistic workout including a sweaty 15 mins on the rowing machine. Sun’s session was mainly concentrating on boosting upper body strength. Though I also did some core and 10 mins on the new cycle machine.
Fri I went for a swim. Not totally geared up for it but, as with all exercise, didn’t regret it afterwards. Only managed 26 lengths before giving up which took me about 30-40 mins. Last few lengths I was pushed from the slow lane into the medium one due to the schoolkids arriving for their swimming lesson. I primarily did backstroke but also some breaststroke and freestyle. I am getting better at the latter but it is so knackering.
Could have gone on Sun but really in the mood for it on Sat and it is vital to grab when the mood takes. To be honest, it was a real struggle from the start. But I persevered and covered the 10 km though not a great time or pace at all. Actually went over 10 km because I had forgotten how to stop the time on my watch. It is amazing how one small break away from things can mean things needing to be remembered that previously came so automatically. The day afterwards was spent chilling on the pooter and pottering around charity shops.
— Billy Dann (@BillyDann1) December 10, 2016
Books and reading
‘The Book of Strange Things’ by Michel Faber
I love this author, definitely one of my favourite contemporaries alongside people like Hilary Mantel, David Mitchell, Haruki Murakami and Nicola Barker. He has written some fantastic books including ‘The Crimson Petal and the White’. My particular favourite is ‘Under the Skin’, a brilliantly imaginative and disturbing book that doesn’t over-explain itself. It can only be understood if read. And read the book rather than watch the film version which was OK but falls miles short of the weirdness and mystery of the book.
This book’s theme was the regular one of sci-fi inter-acting with faith. Indeed it will be a huge crisis for all Earth’s religions if intelligent life does exist in the rest of the cosmos. God did not create us uniquely and why is our faith more true than theirs (unless by some chance they all produce religion that incorporates all our major faiths in a peaceful co-existence)? A very good book though more crafted and predictable than Under the Skin. Some major unanswered questions which is part of Faber’s brilliance. But am I the only one left thinking the hero is ultimately a spoilt and unsympathetic character?
It did make me think about my own faith / spirituality. This used to be so strong but is now in abeyance. Although the need to demonstrate faith in how one lives is determined by far more than simply attending an institution. Indeed I am grappling with whether to attend the regular two yearly meeting of the Calpe retreat which is due to happen in June 2017. I simply don’t feel in the mood.
Dr Who audio adventures
Not as many of these listened to on holiday as expected. Not least because I didn’t go for many walks. Rather I preferred to spend my time lying on the sun lounger and getting to grips with the big chunky reading books. But I did listen to one.
‘Assassin in the Limelight’ (sixth Doctor Colin Baker + companion Evelyn Smythe)
A history story in that the Doctor goes back to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. But it includes an old alien enemy disguised as an out of place and time Oscar Wilde. I think this could have been a good story but it ends up veering all over the place. Fun to listen to not least because of the ever wonderful companion Evelyn Smythe but also because it includes the classic actor Leslie Phillips (Mr Ding Dong). But overall I was left feeling this adventure was in large part a great opportunity missed.