Sunday 26th Oct – Saturday 1st Nov
At the end of the week before last I was in Edinburgh for a mini-break (documented in a previous blog) and at the beginning of last week I found myself in Glasgow. I went up on Monday for the launch of the main SeeMe campaign on Tuesday morning. SeeMe is Scotland’s national campaign against discrimination based on mental health. I decided I did not want to stay over in between Edinburgh and Glasgow mainly because I wanted to see Dave my partner in London. It was a good flight up on a Boeing 767 (a big plane with seven seats across and two aisles) – I think it had stopped over in London to pick up people after coming in from an international destination. It was a bit unnerving that twice over the intercom it was stated that we were flying to Edinburgh although this this corrected later to confirm we were going to Glasgow. The main disappointment, and it is a bit of an unfortunate cliche, was that I left a cloudless bright London only to arrive in a very grey and wet Glasgow. I know a very good masseur in Glasgow and so on Monday evening I treated myself to a great intensive massage. I absolutely adore a good hard massage where my muscles are pummelled. If I won the lottery, I would employ my own personal masseur to be on call 24 hours a day.
Tuesday morning saw the actual launch of the new campaign (see the video at the top of this blog). There were about 150 people at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall with the message ‘Take Action. Change Lives’, particularly by creating conversations about mental health. And in my estimation the majority there were people with lived experience of mental health problems – like myself. There were speeches and excellent performances by the Soundsational Choir from Coatbridge, Theatre Nemo’s Taiko Drummers, and Lanarkshire’s African Choir. Research suggests that still nine out of ten people with mental health problems suffer from discrimination in work, education, health care, and at home. I saw some familiar faces and made some new contacts. It was especially heartening to see how many people were willing to talk openly and publicly about their own mental health problems and the discrimination they have faced; all very empowering.
The journey back was fine and by the time I got to Glasgow Airport, the grey skies and rain had lifted so that it was bright and sunny. Another big BA plane back to Heathrow, apparently this one had come from Orlando and was dropping off people in Glasgow before continuing onto London. No cock-ups this time in announcing where we were flying to. The flight arrived on time and the tube back home from the airport went well though it was a bit crowded – good old London.
The other big event this week was the conference I attended on Thursday. It was run by Women in Sport and took place at Lords cricket ground. The whole event was excellent though there really was too much for one day. There were about 200-250 people there, predominantly women, and celebrities such as Clare Balding and Judy Murray. The latter was very funny and talked a lot about how she had to push herself constantly to do things she does not enjoy; indeed part of her message was ‘if you have a voice then you have a duty to use it’. The size of the conference was a bit intimidating initially which was not helped by there being no delegate list so I could hunt out people I wanted to talk to. Though there is a positive that it is always good to share the feeling of what it is like to be a stranger in a place where you do not belong to any clique. The agenda for the day was packed full of big names from the sports world and two ministers spoke (the Minister for Sport, and the Minister for Children and Schools) plus there was a live link-up with Radio 5 Live to debate the issues.
Women in Sport had a very clear agenda for the day identifying key areas where more needs to be done to boost women in sport including greater participation generally, more female leaders and coaches, and fairer access to the media and sponsorship. Some of the evidence that shows how participation in sport is too weighted to men includes the fact that of all the sport sponsorship money in the UK, only 0.4% goes to women’s sport. My websites of the week are Women in Sport and This Girl Can – the latter is an upcoming campaign to get more women being active. The conference was inspirational and brought up for me how can all minority groups get more involved in sport, and how to get people more involved in fitness generally as well as formal sporting activity? I know I personally need to do more activity and many of the issues at the conference rang a bell. For instance, the six reasons women do exercise (in different percentages for different people) are the same for nearly all people I think: to look good, to feel good, to achieve goals, to have fun, to develop skills, and to nurture relations with friends and family. And apparently one of the main reasons stopping women doing sport is because they fear being judged. The overall message of the day was the need to ‘normalise’ women’s sport. And this includes backing up women who take the plunge to do exercise; in so many ways I can think how people have failed to back me up in the past in many aspects of my life when I felt judged and had a crisis of confidence.
Three fitness bursts last week and two were about jogging / running. The previous Sunday morning (I could not do Saturday as normal because I was travelling back from Edinburgh) I did my best ever jog-run time, 36mins 10secs. When I finished I had no major pains in my left achilles or right knee immediately after but discomfort set into my left achilles by the afternoon and it was hurting enough through Sunday night to wake me up intermittently. I wondered if I had done too much walking afterwards? Monday morning I had a session with Sara. My left achilles still felt tender and so we concentrated on doing some cycling together. Sara does spin classes and so she led me through a good session that put little pressure on my achilles. It also gave us the chance to catch up on general matters including her new job at the Suzie Lamplugh Trust doing training around the UK. We also planned ahead for more sessions which took us right into January – scary how time flies. Then on the Saturday just gone I did another jog. I deliberately slowed the pace down and concentrated primarily on covering the same course but without aggravating my achilles. This also meant occasionally stopping to do stretches. Sad to say that I still had an ache in my achilles all day though perhaps not as bad as it could have been. I think I may have to skip my jog-run next weekend as it is Remembrance Weekend and various bits of my route will probably be cordoned off.
Around books, I only got through two this week. ‘Bending the Landscape’ is a collection of lesbian and gay fantasy short stories. It was published in 1996 so some of the stories are slightly dated and none of the writers made it big plus some stories were a bit formulaic however there was also some really decent stuff. I then moved onto William Burroughs’ classic novel ‘Queer’. Written in 1952 but not published until 1985. I read a new edition with an introduction by an academic. I actually think this over-analysed the book more than was necessary though it did add some interesting circumstantial information like the fact that though he was gay, William Burroughs had also been married and shot his wife dead accidentally for which he felt enormous guilt. I actually think ‘Queer’ is not that much of a mystery, it is about an addicted American travelling around central and southern America whilst lusting after another man who is straight. I then moved onto Catherine Hall’s ‘Days of Grace’ – the ‘lesbian book’ which my book club will be about this week.
One of the strange things about last week was how Sunday and then the following Saturday mirrored each other but in a good way. After my run last Sunday I walked to the Pimlico car boot. I bought an array of books, DVDS, t-shirts, a couple of pictures, and some knick-knacks. A lot of stuff was for Dave – some he loved like the wooden shoe shapers for 10p and some he did not like including the Victorian photo in a very nice frame and the new plant pot. So they are going to the charity shop along with two of the three t-shirts that did not fit me. The evening was a quiet one with Dave watching Countryfile, Strictly (how do Scott and Judy survive? Though Thom was not good and no way as good-looking as Ben Cohen in last series), and Antiques Roadshow. And on Saturday just gone after my run I went to a jumble sale in Pimlico that takes place every few months as a cancer fundraiser. I got a load of books including a complete series by Simon Raven who is a very seventies writer as well as some clothes. Dave came with me and we had a little lunch together then I came back to do some work stuff on the computer (mainly proofreading) and listen to the footie results (QPR lost 2-1 to the League leader Chelsea) before having a quiet evening in watching Strictly and Doctor Who – a wonderfully dark episode; great to have the cybermen and the Master/Mistress back.
My only day in the office this week was Wednesday, so I got up early and was in by 8am. That gave me time to get work done before anyone else arrived. I had used a serviette on the plane back from Scotland the day before to lay out everything I needed to do especially as I am out of the office a lot. And so Wednesday largely became a day of planning ahead. I do not feel like I actually got much work done but I think I may have given myself a schedule to get everything done within the deadlines coming up. There were also three different meetings during the day but these felt useful – building connections, planning action, and agreeing changes. Work stuff oozed over into my evening with Dave on Wednesday night as a number of assessments and e-mails had to be dealt with. Indeed on every day of the week, I found myself doing work stuff via the internet. In many ways I am a great example of being a remote worker.
The big social event the week gone was meeting up with my friend Dan Harris after work on Wednesday. He runs the excellent Alt-Ctrl-Mad website where he blogs about mental health. He is now also working at a grant funder. We went for a drink and had a good catch up on work, our mental health problems, and WordPress/blogging. Talking with Dan also gave me a good idea in terms of digital. I used to have editorial access to a professional WordPress website and I am going to ask for log-in details again so I can have an exploration of how it is set up. Mum was away with my brother and his family last week at a lodge in Lincolnshire. She seems to have had a fine time when I saw her again on her return on Friday afternoon especially as there were not many hills though she did have a moan as apparently she does not like unpacking or packing! I saw Dave on Wednesday night and I stayed with him over the weekends at the beginning and the end of this blog period.
And finally… on languages I achieved a big, fat, zero last week – must make progress here.