Mon 1 May – Sun 7 May 2017
Last week was when I hit 50. Generally age does not phase me but this one has got me thinking. Fundamentally I probably have about 25 years left before I’m dead or very incapacitated. I might live longer but there is always the thing about quality of life over just quantity. I’m already getting a bit forgetful on obvious names which may not bode well for the future.
My birthday weekend was a chilled affair. The main thing on Sat night was a family meal at the Union Jack Club. Great to meet up with mum and brother as well as my brother’s new girlfriend. Back to Dave’s afterwards for slices of the fabulous birthday cake that he had bought for me. A lovely strawberry mousse affair. Facebook was wonderful with all the responses coming in during the day to wish me the best as well as various SMS texts. An online and offline birthday celebration involving my friends and family. I felt really chuffed.
The beginning of the end
So the key thing is to make the most of life whilst I can. In many ways the big celebration of my birthday came not on the day itself but was built around mine and Dave’s week away in Gran Canaria. Most of it fell into the previous week and can be read in the blog before this one here. The holiday extended into Mon (May Day), Tues and Wed of last week. Standard lovely days of luxury hotel breakfast, time sunbathing by the pool then drinks and a delicious meal in the Yumbo Centre in the evening. Interspersed by time on the computer, reading, strolling around, plus drinking cocktails, wine and coffee. What more is there to want from life?
Bed on Thurs morning at 3am
Wed was different to my normal last day of holiday. I usually like to get a reasonably early flight back so I can spend time acclimatising to the return to normality. But no early flights back and we had to settle for one leaving at 8 pm. Thus Wed was spent chilling by the pool (but without sunbathing) then a late afternoon lunch. Pick-up and flight all went well. We arrived at Gatwick around midnight. By the time we got our bags and got to the train station we had to get the 1.12 am train arriving at Victoria, as it was delayed, around 2.20 am. Back at Dave’s and in bed by around 2.45-3 am. Five hours sleep as I needed to be at a work meeting at 10 am on Thursday.
Tech for Good
So three main chunks to Thurs and Fri for work / Tech for Good stuff. Meeting on Thurs morning with Dan Sutch from CAST and internal colleagues around monitoring and support to be given to Tech Vs Abuse projects. Then really good to have time to walk with Dan to the Health Foundry and have a general catch-up on TfG stuff.
Fri morning it was into work for a session around considering the future. A nice cross-section of people from across the organisation to look at where we are going and options. Then in the afternoon I had catch up conversations with Mandala Group and Epic Foundation. Mandala is a new social enterprise developing impact apps with low income communities across the world. Epic connects the world’s leading philanthropists and corporations with outstanding organizations focused on youth wellbeing. Two impressive agencies.
My lovely colleagues then surprised me on Fri afternoon with a home-made vegan chocolate and strawberry cake plus a lovely card and some Amazon vouchers. I felt quite emotional and it’s great to know I work with such a nice bunch of people.
Decided on holiday that I must help with the General Election and so started carving out time in my diary. Then when I got back to the UK on Thursday I found out that one of my local councillors had resigned and so we are having a ward by-election on 8 June as well. Thus I got drawn into helping sort out a Lib Dem candidate to stand and helping arrange for her nomination papers to be signed. Crazy timetable with the papers due in by Thurs 11th. But we have a really good candidate who wants to do lots of local work.
Local election results on Fri morning were incredibly depressing. It really is like 1983 all over again and I just hope I live long enough to see the repeat of 1997.
Some light in the darkness with the election of Emmanuel Macron as President of France. It sat at the back of my mind that Marine Le Pen might win especially with the Russian / WikiLeaks release of various fake emails and documents late on Friday. I think the public is becoming wise to their tactics. Sure there will be something similar for the German elections in the next few months. Although the Russians don’t really have a candidate they want to win as with Trump and Le Pen.
Complete failure on holiday to do language learning. Though I did get occasional chances to practice my Spanish and we were surrounded by Spanish and German. I really want to improve my language skills particularly as am not sure there is much of a future left in the UK. We’ve suicidally walked into Brexit and the long-term damage is going to be immense both to our economy, society, culture and reputation abroad. The idea of getting old in a cold and insular little island is so bloody depressing.
As per planned, I observed emails on holiday and worked my way through them so I wasn’t overwhelmed and was on top of everything for my return. Key thing was not to respond – observe but do not interfere. Emails are a bit of a drag though I actually love the information and knowledge that comes through e-bulletins in particular that I can then share with others. However I still feel a bit overwhelmed by the number of work and personal emails to deal with but for me it is important to do little and often to keep on top of them.
Health and efficiency
Decided a new tactic on hols. I am going to try to do two 5K jog-runs each week rather than one 10k. The idea being it should be easier on my joints. I haven’t been for a 10K jog-run for about a month due to holidays and events affecting my usual jog-run route like the London Marathon. So a ‘gentle’ 5K on Sat that went OK though I felt quite knacked afterwards.
— Billy Dann (@BillyDann1) May 6, 2017
I managed to get back to the gym on Sun morning. This was the first time in a couple of weeks. Did some of my favourite exercises and had a nice sauna + steam afterwards.
Books and reading
‘The City of Devi’ by Manil Suri (2013)
I read this primarily whilst lying on the sun lounger in Maspalomas. It is a book I have meant to read for ages and it is certainly a strange one. Set in Mumbai in the near future, a wife goes in search of her husband. Around her chaos reigns based on massive terrorist attacks and the threat of nuclear war. Simultaneously her husband’s gay lover is also looking for him. It’s a bit of a crazy road trip / odyssey. Perfectly good book and quite enjoyable. Indeed, in many ways it was a lot more of a sci-fi book than I expected.
‘The Gap of Time’ by Jeanette Winterson (2015)
This was the reading book for the Velvet Page Book Club which I attended on Thurs evening after a catch-up snooze in the afternoon. Very nice and well-attended meeting. Generally we all liked this book. It is an updating of Shakespeare’s ‘A Winter’s Tale’. I do not know this play and a synopsis was laid out at the start of the novel. The modern story is about two men’s relationship with the main alpha male being fundamentally a nasty piece of work that spills out into tragedy. It is incredibly over the top but actually very Shakespearean with things just happening. The quality of the writing is beautiful. Our big criticism was of the ending which is very much of a literary meditation by Winterson.
Dr Who audio adventures
‘Time Reef’ (fifth Doctor Peter Davidson + companions Thomas Brewster & Nyssa)
I listened to far less of my i-pod on holiday than planned. Preferring to spend my time by the pool reading. This is a fun little adventure with the Doctor taking repossession of his stolen Tardis from Victorian street urchin Thomas Brewster. He finds out the damage that Brewster has done in his absence by travelling to a time reef with a strange collection of stranded aliens. As well as the main story there is also a follow-on story where we find out the situation that leads to Brewster leaving the Doctor.
The combination of my holiday and hitting my half-century has made me think about the future. So little time and so many things to do. I want each day to be about making progress and doing the things I really want to do. So next week:
- Travelling up to Oxford on Tues and Thurs to spend time at Nominet Trust meeting some of their funded projects and catching up with my NT colleagues. Plus on Thurs a catch-up with Ben from Stoke Wavemaker.
- Doing some work to help the Lib Dems
- A 5K run midweek (during the evening?) and one at the weekend
- Up to four gym sessions
- Continuing to keep on top of emails
- Duolingo/language learning every day and some coding learning
- Another couple of books read
- Listening to at least a couple of Dr Who audio adventures
Tech4Good for Africa Award – nominations close 5pm on Mon 8 May
The last few hours for nominations to be made for our new Tech4Good for Africa Award – details here. Deadline to apply is 5pm on Mon 8 May. And always worth checking if you are seeing this after that deadline in case it is extended as sometimes happens with making submissions for awards.