Mon 6th – Sun 12th Nov 2017
Last week was hard. On Mon I left Brighton early to travel back to London via coach. A big work meeting was taking place which I had to be back for. Two and a half hours of travel through frosty countryside. Changes happening and it’s unsettling. The words of Julia of Norwich come to mind: ‘All will be well and all will be well and all manner of things shall be well’. However getting to that state of wellness takes time. I love change and it’s a good thing, but we should never forget that it is difficult and painful. I talk blithely about the benefits of digital transformation – and I believe in that. But it is incumbent on us all as human beings to consider how our grand plans affect our fellow human beings. If we aren’t caring and compassionate then we are nothing. This is the classic difference between a great president like Obama and a human shit like Trump.
Lots of PD thinking last week. My head has been working overtime thinking about the future. Real chance my sabbatical might not happen. Though me and Dave will definitely have some holiday then as it’s already booked. Meanwhile Dave is full guns ahead for early retirement and leaving work in Jan. 2018 could be a very different year. This is exciting and unsettling.
The rejuvenating power of sleep and do-nothing days
The caring and compassionate approach I talk about is also relevant for how we treat ourselves. I am a pretty good sleeper normally. Indeed I crash around 10pm and then wake up about 6.30am having been completely dead to the world, almost comatose. But I have had some time last week waking in the middle of the night with my brain whirring; lying there in and out of sleep for a good while. The knock-on is that I am tired during the day.
To deal with the mental intensity of what is going on, I had two do-nothing days last week. Both days I should have gone to the gym but I just didn’t have the energy. Thurs I spent time going through my beloved books and having a sort out. After a nice kebab lunch, I crashed for two and a half hours in the afternoon. Though still went to bed at a reasonable time in the evening. On Sun I was supposed to go to the gym. But I was just tired – probably linked to my good jog-run the day before. So I took a day off especially to deal with electronic stuff. Getting my blog written up and work + personal emails sorted/deleted which have gone crazy without constant attention.
Meanwhile, the small stuff…
All gone to pieces last week. Duolingo hardly touched and no coding practice done. Perhaps I need to think about doing something totally different to kickstart this whole area of my life?
Tech for Good
Lots of last minute prep to make sure everything is in place for the launch of Tech for Good 2018 on Mon 13th. I think we are there. Big appreciation to everyone who made this possible including Joe Roberson for looking after the techforgoodhub.co.uk website. And brilliant news that my job-share Nissa is back – hooray! So lovely to see her again. I know it’s hard work caring for a new baby and working but we are all delighted to have her back. Her energy, enthusiasm, and sense of humour is much appreciated.
Association of Charitable Foundations
Wed afternoon I was on a panel at a workshop at the ACF (Association of Charitable Foundations) annual conference. I forget the exact title but it was about how funders should be encouraging digital innovation. Chaired by Dan Sutch from CAST, we had a great panel including Penny from Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Will Perrin from Indigo Trust, and Tom Steinberg from Big Lottery Fund. To be honest, the funding world is traditional and sleepy. However there is a growing realisation that we need to be doing more to modernise and encouraging those we fund to do the same. My appraisal of the situation was picked up by the not-for-profit sector magazine Third Sector. As Nissa said, love the fact they quoted me saying something was ‘rubbish’. Lucky I didn’t say it was ‘bollocks’.
— Billy Dann (@BillyDann1) November 9, 2017
Tech4Good for Africa
Me and my colleague Pontso met up with Mark Walker from AbilityNet on Wed morning. He organises the Tech4Good Awards. This is where we ran the Tech4Good for Africa award category last year. All speed ahead to do it all over again in 2018.
Thurs nights I should have gone to the official launch of Yoti. This is a new identity verification platform. And there is a strong emphasis on seeing how it can be used for social good. For instance, perhaps by quicker verification of who people are so ensuring personal safety. Unfortunately with everything that happened last week, I was just too knacked to go. I hope I can be excused for letting them down though I suspect the launch was probably attended by loads of people and I doubt I was missed.
Health and Efficiency
Putting this first as it made me happy. A really good jog-run with a time of just under one hour, 2 mins, 30 secs. So much better than the previous week. Pissing with rain but apart from that I don’t know why it worked so well. Suppose it just shows that you can’t predict what will happen and sometimes just need to go for it. Video can be found here.
Just once last week – how crap is that!? The first 3 days of last week, I was working every day (so more than my paid 2.5 days). I was supposed to gym on Thurs morning but I was exhausted and took a do-nothing day. That did set me up well to go the following morning. A good workout but no treadmill so as not to tire myself out for my jog-run. Then should have gone on Sun morning but, again, too knacked.
Apart from stress, anxiety and being so tired – a not bad week. GP on Tues night to get all my meds renewed (apart from the anti-retrovirals which are done by the hospital). Then to the Clear Ear Clinic to get my ears sorted on Fri morning before the gym. I’ve always had a problem with my ears getting frequently blocked with wax. Probably to do with having narrow ear canals. Another thing due to my mother smoking when she was pregnant I suspect. So much easier to have the wax and crap suctioned out rather than syringed. But not available on the NHS and costs £85. Another tax on being ill.
Colin and Chris
Really good to see my old mate Colin and his partner Chris. Me and Dave met them on Sat and went to Pierre Victoire in Soho for lunch. It’s a nice little brasserie. Sometimes it can be empty but on Sat it was heaving. After dinner, the others went to Fortnum and Mason to look round the Christmas dept. They are all Christmas fanatics. I’m not really into shopping at the best of times so I went for coffee then we met up afterwards. Great to see C&C. I’ve known Colin since I was a teenager as shown by this photo below. I am not the one in drag… Looking forward to visiting their place for lunch.
And on Fri lunchtime after the gym, caught up with my mate Jamie. He is so good at keeping in touch. Every so often giving me a nudge to meet for coffee. I’m pretty rubbish at this. With friends, I don’t do regular contact rather suddenly thinking ‘we must meet up’ and getting in contact at random times.
Fri night, me and Dave went with his mate Patrick to see the musical ‘Hair’ at The Vaults in Waterloo. A quick bite to eat in the very busy station then across the road to the Union Jack Club for a quick drink. Really busy in the latter because it was Remembrance Weekend.
I didn’t realise but Hair is 50 years old. Indeed we are the same age. And I think we have both aged pretty well. The musical is set in 1967 and is about a group of hippies with one called up to serve in Vietnam. Lots of songs set in that time covering the war and American politics. There really isn’t that much story, rather a collection of songs. Some of their content is still very pertinent with the railing against hard right politics and pointless wars. And there are some cutting comments on being black at that time, with language that makes us feel uncomfortable now. But it doesn’t all translate with lots of references to flower power and LSD. Also too long overall. But an interesting piece of social history on stage.
Fascinating that it was so controversial at the time with all the references to drugs and also with nudity. The latter was something to look forward but it was so brief. They all took their clothes off just at the end of the first half, stood there for a couple of seconds and the lights went out. There wasn’t even time to work out which one was which! There is definitely more risque stuff now. A friend went to see a play called ‘Fucking Men’. What was it about, I said. How cares, he said.
Books and Reading
‘Devil’s Day’ by Andrew Michael Hurley
Borrowed from the library and really exciting as it has only just been published. Follow up to ‘The Loney’ – a story of social dislocation and lingering demonic evil set in edge of the world rural Lancashire. Devil’s Day is actually very similar. I think the challenge for the next book is to do something very different such as being set in a city and not having possible devils causing all the problems. A wonderfully bleak book and reminds me exactly why I hate the countryside. Lived in it briefly as a child and I hate the isolation. Alright to visit but I would not want to live there. Give me the buzz and real life human evil of a city any day.
Dr Who audio adventure
‘The Castle of Fear’ (fifth Doctor + Nyssa)
A curious adventure. Actually quite clever and self-contained. But also with a vein of humour running through it that is almost pythonesque. It really is like Monty Python’s Holy Grail film/play in parts. And the central alien turns out to be the Doctor’s old enemy the Rutans, the avowed enemy of the Sontarans. There is a actually a passing familiarity with the Jon Pertwee adventure when he travels back in time and we are first introduced to the Sontarans in medieval England (The Time Warrior). And actual reference is made to that adventure. So good sci-fi but also with a strong element of silly voices and comedy thrown in.
The Week Ahead
- Off to Torremolinos on Wed. Already lined up a messy Sat night with Phyllis + seeing David & Gordon on Thurs.
- Gym on Mon before I go away but that will be my only exercise for the week
- Only at work on Tues. Lots of meetings including Anatole from SXT Health and Rosie + Sian from Toynbee Hall.
- Using part of my time away to get on top of emails, practice languages on Duolingo, and doing coding practice
- Getting through several books and listening to Dr Who audio adventures – bliss
I never tire of this picture