Sunday 11 – Saturday 18 June 2016
‘Death to traitors, freedom for Britain’ – polititcally motivated murder
These were the words last week of the homegrown right-wing terrorist who horrifically murdered Jo Cox, the young and well-loved M.P. I was at work on Thursday afternoon when one colleague told another who knew her that she had been stabbed and shot. We were all shocked but thought she would be OK. Found out after work she had died. Immediately I felt so sad and angry as so many of us did.
The murder was committed by a neo-Nazi sympathiser who should rightly be labelled a terrorist. Though of course he is white and not brown in skin colour so some parts of the media have played this down. No we should not make politics out of this and respect her family’s right to mourn. But things like murder don’t just happen and it is too easy to say he was ‘a crazed loner with mental health problems’.
There are lots of people who are lonely and / or with mental health problems (the latter like myself). We don’t go out and just murder people. Murder is caused by something – there is always a background, a build-up, a trigger-point. Can we really pretend that this nasty referendum campaign hasn’t influenced events with its effective civil war declaration? And we are not talking here about Remain thugs and threats. What we are talking about is the inherent racism and neo-fascism of many promoting Leave. ‘I want my country back’ but from what? ‘From all the foreigners’ of course!
This from @matthaig1 via Twitter is brilliant:
I make no apology that I support Remain. The European Union is far from perfect and needs reform. But to blame it and our nearest neighbours for all our problems is simplistic and wrong. One of the UK’s biggest issue is an imperial complex we still haven’t escaped from. And also massive inequality not only of wealth but simply of opportunity. You have to live with others whether you like it or not – no man is an island. And you sort your problems out by talking, working with, and understanding people. You don’t succeed in anything by quitting, running away, and cutting yourself off.
My main practical contribution to Remain has been delivering ‘InTogether’ leaflets – the Lib Dem Remain brand. It’s a local leaflet and very positive about the benefits of being in EU. By the 23 June I will have delivered about 2,000 locally. I was out delivering last Monday. It was knackering especially climbing stairs but good exercise. Plus I feel I am doing something that hopefully will contribute to the success of Remain.
I am also posting loads of stuff on social media – the new form of campaigning. It is really scary the way that people are buying into this crap about ‘taking control’ and ‘getting our country back’. It links into nascent racism and denial of globalisation. Particularly sad to see friends voting Leave because of fatuous arguments about the EU being authoritarian. Strangley doesn’t bother them that they are voting alongside people like Farage; the danger of complacent liberalism. Tis going to be very interesting if Leave win. Yes of course England will carry on (perhaps without the other UK nations). But it will probably be a very much smaller, less significant, and introspective country. I can’t see it having much of a future nor the people who choose to live in it.
Queen’s Young Leaders
A brilliant way of finding out about other people and getting past stereotypes is actually to meet them and find out about their lives. I wonder how many Leave people have actually met and communicated with a refugee / asylum seeker? Very, very few I expect. A great initiative promoting understanding between nations is the Queen’s Young Leaders. This provides grants to social projects around the Commonwealth and rewards young people doing amazing things. Part of the latter includes bringing a group to London for a week of activities including meeting The Queen. They all arrived last week and I volunteered to meet several at Gatwick to make sure they got to their base in London safely.
Up on Friday at 4.45am to be at Gatwick by 6.15. I didn’t do this alone, I was helped by three volunteers from Buckingham Palace. They met their respective groups and escorted them to London whilst I kept an overview on the whole morning. Across the morning we met 9 volunteers who travelled into London in 3 different taxi groups.
The young people were so lovely and lead such different lives to many UK people as nearly all came from countries in the Caribbean. They were tired and excited. But as you spoke to them you realised that their backgrounds and lives may be different to ours but they are simply human beings doing wonderful things. It was a pleasure to meet them and I felt humbled. I travelled back with the last group then went home to crash out for a two hour snooze. I am pretty sure the young people were busy networking and catching up with all the other QYLs. Possbily first time they have met face-to-face alhtough they’ve all been in contact on What’s App. Below is a video about Firhaana who is one of the volunteers I met on Friday morning.
Digital and work
Digital Leaders’ Awards Dinner
Another big event of last week was attending the Digital Leaders’ Awards Dinner. This took place on Wednesday night at the Hilton on Park Lane. Into my black tie gear for the evening. Digital Leaders is an international initiative to encourage digital transformation. These Awards were specifically to reward the best individuals and projects in the UK. It is important to celebrate and highlight success. I was attending as a guest on the Microsoft table. An excellent evening of networking and a good meal. Also a fine speech by Lord Francis Maude who did a lot in the last government pushing the digital agenda. Didn’t win in the raffle but then you can’t have everything.
Meanwhile back at the ranch
In the office on Tuesday all-day plus Wednesday and Thursday afternoons (as well as my stint at the airport on Friday). Tech for Good meet-up took place on Monday evening. However it was all the way over east London and I was too tired to attend. Tuesday, as well as sorting out paying grants, I continued work on into how best to link up digital companies with charities to use their support and advice. Also worked with colleagues into considering future fundraising themes. And on Thursday afternoon me and Nissa had a big catch-up and plan ahead on all our digital work with our boss.
Wednesday my big thing was related to my work in supporting Abstinence-Based Recovery projets rather than digital ones. Me and my colleague met up with the brilliant social entrepreneur Steve Hodgkins manager of the social enterprise Jobs, Friends, Houses. JFH only started about 18 months ago and has since established itself in Blackpool. I went to their celebration event recently – details here. They have done great work in supporting people in recovery from addiction to gain new employment skills and create a new life through renovating accommodation. And it is all very upfront that these are people in recovery so challenging stigma. It would be great if we could fund them in the future and help them to progress.
Health and efficiency
As detailed in the previous blog, major disruption the previous weekend because of Trooping the Colour on Saturday and Street Party in the Mall on Sunday. So I was unable to do my jog-run and I couldn’t even do my usual walk from Dave’s place across St James Park to get to my gym at Oxford Circus (and back again). Forced to use the tube there and back which meant I lost out on cardio exercise. However one needs to take advantage when forced to do things one doesn’t want to do. In this case I gained more time to spend on the pooter.
Gym and jog-run
Gym last week on previous Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings. All good sessions. Then on Saturday I did my jog-run after a fortnight’s break. I love my jog-runs and would do them more often than weekly / fortnightly if my joints and muscles would allow. I’m pushing the distance slightly every time and up from 5.25 km to 5.33 km. Felt good to be back but not as smooth as before and time / pace was a little bit behind my previous session.
Weight down another pound to 13-11. I’m still not getting excited until it’s more of a long-term trend (if that happens with my half-hearted commitment to losing weight).
Main health thing of last week was a re-visit to the Anti-Coagulation Clinic to check my INR. Arrived at my appointment time but no nurse there. I had to go back to reception to get them to chase her to turn up. I love the NHS but it pisses me off the way sometimes those working in it assume their time is more important than that of their patients. INR itself was just about OK so I won’t have to go back for a good few weeks.
Dave’s half-birthday and mum’s bad knee
Last week was Dave’s half birthday. I gave him a specially created half-birthday card and his present – one of those dustpan and brooms that means you can sweep the floor and collect the dust without bending down. He wasn’t impressed at first but you can see him realising how useful this is as he has developed back ache. My suspicion is that this has come about by carrying his wallet around heavy with all his cash.
Laundry with mum last Monday morning and several nights with her. Me and Dave visited on the evening of her birthday. Knee is still a big problem but she’s got a date for the operation. There’s not much more to be done.
Books and Reading
Finally finished the collection of short stories by H.P. Lovecraft mentioned in my last blog. His stuff is incredibly imaginative and so ahead of the time he was writing. Yes there are flaws in his writing and I do wonder about his state of mind. But stunning stories and must-reads if you like horror or dark sci-fi.
I moved onto The Letter Writer by Robert Allison. A book I picked up left by someone in a coffee shop. It is published by Granta who generally print intriguing books and is about a group of deserters in north Africa during the last war. Not normally my sort of story and the imaging of the desert reminds me of Paul Bowles’ wonderful novel ‘The Sheltering Sky’. A good book though perhaps better as a play with the emphasis on character over story and plot. Didn’t always hold me primarily as the group of men are all a pretty nasty bunch so it is hard to empathise with any of them.
Listened to only one main Dr Who audio book. The Twilight Kingdom. This features the brilliant Paul McGann as the eighth doctor (he would have been so good on TV) and companions C’rizz and Charlie. They are in a strange world where a group of soldiers and rebels turn out to be controlled by an alien force as interested in their bodies as their minds. A perfectly good story and well performed. However I just found it didn’t gel that well with me and I ended up going back to listen to parts of it several times.