Sunday 30 November – Saturday 6 December
I had to go back to hospital last Tuesday morning to collect the rest of my HIV meds. Previously when I had gone for their six month renewal, I had only got two months’ worth because there was the chance I may have gone onto a research trial but this did not work out – I am too young and too healthy; feels very strange to say that these days and I suspect I won’t be saying it for much longer. My normal consultant is on maternity leave after having had another little girl. I saw a very nice doctor but before getting a prescription for the remaining meds, I was informed I need to lose about 2 stone and get down to around eleven and a half stone. About 15% of my body weight! As said to my colleague Laura at work, it would probably be easier and simpler to chop off one of my legs.
Linked to this and as part of my general wellbeing strategy, I hit the gym three times last week – Sunday, Thursday, Friday. Sunday was an all-body workout whilst Thursday concentrated on legs and Friday on upper body. I also went for my weekly jog / jog-run on Saturday morning. I have this ongoing discomfort with my achilles and so I am running a reduced time and distance but gradually scaling up. Last week I ran for an extra 30 seconds (25 mins and 30 seconds) and covered a greater distance than last time. Lots of stretching before and after so hopefully the achilles won’t be too bad as the new week progresses. Still got my shoulder tension as well though. Partly to do with both these injuries, I treated myself to an all body massage at my gym on Thursday; massage to me is like dying and going to heaven. Linked into my love of going to the gym and trying to lose weight, my boss has agreed at work that I can change my work days so I am going to be able to get to gym on both Thursday and Friday mornings – a good example of doing something differently in the hope of getting new results. Unfortunately I won’t be able to start the new schedule until the new year but something to look forward to.
OK putting aside the fact that I have to lose shitloads of weight, something good. One of the things I have discovered from watching Strictly is realising how much I love the Charleston and how it makes me feel really happy. It is such a fun dance and just makes me smile to watch it. The two videos here simply cheer me up when I am feeling down – try it out! I am pretty crap at dancing myself lacking rhythm and co-ordination but this dance is just such a pleasure to watch. Dave tells me that family members of his used to do it at parties but I can’t remember ever seeing people dance like this till I saw it on the TV.
The weather last week definitely felt more wintry especially from Thursday to Saturday. Although there is something almost comforting and reassuring about this time of year – dark and cold days to stay inside and semi-hibernate plus some proof that climate change is not totally triumphant. I actually do love the run up to Christmas because people are generally more relaxed, and there are parties, drinks and concerts to go to. Far worse is January, February and March when it feels just dark and cold with Easter and Spring far away. That is why I always make sure I have break abroad then which basically means one of may favourite places, Gran Canaria. Dave and I went to a Christmas fair on Saturday which was fundraising for a cancer charity. Silly and tatty really but I enjoyed the tombola, book stall, and the home made cake with tea. Indeed, I won a rather tasteless pen and notebook set. This was followed later on the same day with a carol concert at the wonderful church of St James in Piccadilly by the Non Such Singers that my work colleague Rowena sings in (see WotW below). The concert was great and several times I just closed my eyes to lose myself in the wonderful singing. It was also great to bump into another colleague, Meliz, in the audience and Rowena’s mum. Dave loves Christmas, not least putting up decorations, and last week he attended a reception at the German embassy followed by a special John Lewis Christmas shopping night. Clearly penguins are very in this Christmas and they are incorporated into one of his two alternative Christmas trees as can be seen below.
There was a very strong social angle to last week. On both weekends and Wednesday evening, I was with Dave (though did have some problems getting the heating working at his flat). Monday and Thursday evenings were spent with mum who has learnt to live without her gas fire and rely solely on the central heating though I think she still gives the fire wistful looks. I had lunch with my work colleague Phil on Tuesday and he told me about his exciting retirement plans. Last Tuesday night I met up with my old friend Dom for a chilled and pleasant evening. His mum is doing OK though she has dementia. We went to a lovely Polish restaurant in Shepherds Bush called ‘Patio’, it is one of my favourites with very earthy food. I am thinking about several people it would be great to see before Christmas but realistically it is not going to happen. Perhaps arrange to see some in January during the ‘dark period’? Finally, I had lunch with Jamie on Friday and we talked about his play which I saw on stage the week before last.
Last week I again worked three consecutive days in work – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Monday it was an all-day meeting with the abstinence-based recovery projects I am overseeing our grants to and the university evaluators looking at what are the best ways to ensure people stay abstinent from drink and drugs. A great bit of the day was using Lego to create models to explain what we were trying to do. I am determined to make the evaluation as unbureaucratic and easy as possible for everyone. Tuesday was all about phonecalls and meetings especially one with the key person working on setting up an anti mental health discrimination project in Northern Ireland, very exciting. And the big things on Wednesday were a meeting with some external people about funding digital projects then the panel to sign off the proposals to go to our committee on the projects to be funded. I have also been doing contacts and preparations for my new year stay in Newcastle for a series of project visits.
Reading was centred on two books last week. Peter James was an author recommended to me by a member of the Velvet Book Club. So I started on his first book ‘Dead Simple’. No denying it was incredibly well-written with a clever plot. However, there were a number of negatives for me. I don’t really like thrillers and this did feel as though it had been written with an eye to being a TV programme or film – this feels so true of many modern thrillers and historical novels. It was set in Brighton which prodded at my bad memories and the main character (an experienced police detective) was a bit of a caricature with a missing wife and an interest in the occult. Mum reads lots of thrillers and murder mysteries (why do these appeal to little old ladies?) and rated Peter James as very good. I was supposed to attend Velvet on Thursday night but did not feel like hanging around on a grey and cold day plus we were reviewing a book I read ages ago (‘Moffie’) which I remember thinking at the time was OK but did not do wonderful things for me (though the feedback is that several people in the group really liked it). It struck me as more of a reminiscence than a novel with the traditional unhappy ending of gay books – a man falling in love with another man but they can’t deal with it and one of them dies. The other book I have been reading last week was ‘Ingenious Pain’ by Andrew Miller. He wrote a fantastic book that won an award (‘Pure’) set in eighteenth century Paris. Ingenious Pain was his first novel also set in the eighteenth century (similarly to Patrick O’Brian). I realised I had read this before but it is still bloody good and I enjoyed re-reading it. Though it is reminiscent of Suskind’s ‘Perfume’. Reading books is like exploring uncharted territory – you don’t know what you will find. Miller’s book was like going on a trail you’ve been on before but then realising how beautiful and inspiring it was originally.
Finally, a bit of DuoLingo, primarily Spanish, but no digital progress. I am thinking of restarting the free course on Code Academy. I have also been watching some brilliant retro Doctor Who – Jon Pertwee in ‘The Daemons’ first shown in 1971 when I would have been a toddler. And a great QPR victory on Saturday beating fellow bottom of the table team Burnley. Our home form is good, it’s our away form that could get us relegated. At least we are out of the bottom three for once.
Wonkers of the Week: I am having an ongoing ding-dong with Virgin Trains to try to get a refund on the £8 I spent on their crap train internet connection. The Twitter correspondents give business platitudes and they reserve 28 days to respond to my e-mail – it is only £8 surely that is a small price to pay to keep a customer happy? I also sent a tweet directly to Richard Branson but no response at all. Why do I think they are taking me for a mug and is that how they see most of their passengers / customers?
Websites of the Week: http://www.socialtech.org.uk/nominet-trust-100/2014/ Every year Nominet Trust draws up a list ofthe top 100 digital social innovations. This year’s list is a cracking one including three products I regularly use and would recommend – Code Academy, DuoLingo, and Lend With Care.