Mon 20 – Sun 26 Feb 2017
Last week was a lovely week off work. I didn’t go away anywhere, just chilled around town concentrating on reading, listening to my i-pod, and catching up on DVDs. All in all it was a great week and a little glimpse of what heaven is like. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, felt good, and achieved most of the things I wanted to do.
It all started in a damp Brighton. I woke up on Mon morning and looked out of the hotel window to see mist such that I could hardly make out the rooftops. Funny how we don’t get mist or fog in London any more. Coffee and on to see Bob at his nursing home. He looked really well – as well as any nearly 80 year old can look who is almost totally paralysed and stuck in a wheelchair.
The relatively mild weather meant we could thankfully go to the local coffee shop with me pushing him. Bob rarely has much new stuff to tell me. However several people in his home that I would recognise have died. One chap who was always in the garden having a fag, and a lady who was getting more and more demented every day but whose husband still came to see her daily.
Bus into Kemptown and I met my other old chap I keep an eye on. Brian and I decided to try out an Italian offering for lunch, any pizza or pasta for £3 – bargain! A glass of wine with it for an extra £2.50. Definitely not the best pizza I have ever tasted but for £3 what did I expect? Brian is fine and spending a fortune on his dog’s health. Vets must make a fortune. My favourite gay charity shop was closed so I pottered around the streets checking out other charity shops, drinking coffee and reading. I had deliberately booked to return to London on Tues so I could relax. Evening was spent chilling in the hotel bar and popping across the road to the student Chinese restaurant for cheap noodles – not a great idea. Tues morning on the train and back to London.
Digital and personal development
- A week off but I did a catch-up call on Tues with the M-ITI people around the Sub-Saharan Africa research. I think this was worthwhile and helps to put the research onto a good footing.
- I spent time dealing with both work and personal emails. Work ones I observed rather than responded to. A holiday is less of a holiday for me if you have to return to the office and spend hours catching up. Better to keep on top of things from a distance using minimal effort. And I spent time following up interesting internet stories with a heads-up from the various e-mails and e-bulletins I get to my personal account. It’s a way I keep up to date with what is happening tech-wise.
- DuoLingo was done everyday – a real achievement
- Some coding practice done using Khan Academy
Books and reading
Four books knocked out, a very eclectic mix.
‘To rise again at a decent hour’ by Joshua Ferris
Another 50p charity shop book that I picked up because it intrigued me. Joshua Ferris is a much acclaimed young American writer who dwells on the smallness and silliness of modern life. This is one seriously strange book. But very well written. The hero is a dentist and the author has done his research. I really believed in his character with the attention to detail about his job. Then someone starts impersonating him online and he gets dragged into the orbit of an atheistic cult. It all get incredibly religious particularly focusing on Judaism. As I said, weird but well written and compelling.
‘Leaving the Atocha station’ by Ben Lerner
Picked up in Brighton for £1. It’s a interesting reflection by an American student in Madrid on a scholarship at the time of the bombing of the Atocha station. I know this city and I can relate to that post-degree period as you try to find yourself. The main character is actually very unpleasant in many ways but one also feels sympathy for him trying to find his place in a strange setting. I love the way he’s juggling real life (back home in the USA) and the artificial life he has in Spain. It’s also brilliant the way he uses his weak language to manipulate situations. We’ve all been there learning a language trying to grasp its meaning and probably only getting half of it.
Strange as well that when I went to put this on my ‘Books I Have Read’ page on this site, I found that I had read it before. I have absolutely no recollection of this but enjoyed reading it all over again. I would have read it before I visited Madrid so I had a lot more empathy this time.
‘Men without women’ by Ernest Hemingway
This one I picked up in Brighton on Mon. Bob insisted on going to Tesco to buy some new tissues. There is a bookcase there where people donate books and you can take them in return for a charity cash donation. It’s a small book consisting of an eclectic mix of short stories by Hemingway. I’ve never read any of his novels. These stories were clearly based in his early life in America and then being in southern Europe between the wars. As the title says, a theme is that these are very much stories about men and from a male perspective such as around bull-fighting, boxing, and drinking.
‘Eye of Heaven’ by Jim Mortimore
A nice bit of Dr Who sci-fi trash. Trash in that it is easy reading but fun. It’s actually a clever novel set between the Dr Who adventures ‘The Talons of Weng Chiang’ and ‘The Horror of Fang Rock’. Dr Who fans will tell you this was one of the Doctor’s high water marks. Tom Baker at his best with Leela and immersed in Victoriana. This adventure sits well with the Doctor and Leila caught up in a Victorian adventure again that finds them travelling to Easter Island and to another solar system. Perhaps the plot is too clever for its own good and has some very silly bits such as Leela travelling on a whale for part of the journey. But fun nevertheless indulging my love of Doctor Who.
Dr Who audio adventures
‘The Architects of History’ (seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy)
The follow on adventure featuring Klein, the time travelling Nazi. Her and the Doctor meet again in 2044 on a moonbase established by the Galactic Reich. Klein has travelled in time and re-established the Nazis winning WW2. She meets the same Doctor but from a different time line although he still understands what is happening. Indeed, he (or another Doctor) has arranged for a warlike alien species to come and destroy the Reich. As you can see it’s an adventure all about different time streams colliding with the lesson being that the more you mess with things then the worse they get. And that you can’t ever totally re-create something once its gone.
‘The City of Spires’ (sixth Doctor Colin Baker + companion Jamie)
The Doctor arrives in a mixed up time zone set around eighteenth and nineteenth century Scotland. He finds weird aliens taking oil and introducing technology centuries ahead of its time. In amongst this mix, he meets his old companion Jamie who can’t remember the Doctor after having his memory wiped by the Time Lords. A weird and slightly messy adventure. Indeed the ending is interesting in that it just ends and it isn’t fully explained why the aliens want oil (is it oil?) and who is actually behind it all? We are not told if and how the Doctor remedies the mixed time lines before he and Jamie set off on a new adventure.
‘The Wreck of the Titan’ (sixth Doctor + Jamie)
I did not realise I was reading a trilogy but it turned out this was the follow up adventure to City of Spires. The Doctor and Jamie find themselves on the Titanic but then it turns into another ship (The Titan) awaiting the same iceberg fate. The Doctor then finds himself marooned on an iceberg and trying to escape polar bears. Whilst Doctor and companion are re-untied on the Nautilus. As you can gather, a story good in parts but one that doesn’t really hang together that well. There is a follow-on link to the previous adventure though it feels like the Doctor and Jamie have arrived here by accident. And then the wrapping up of the story is unsatisfactory before we find ourselves in the Land of Fiction where the second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe had an adventure previously.
Films and cinema
Time off gave me the chance to catch up on three different DVDs – another eclectic mix.
A gay film in German. It’s set in Berlin and is about a handsome bisexual serial killer. Someone who is totally obsessed with himself and his own beauty but who can charm the birds out of the trees. He actually reminds me of several people I have met. The shots of Berlin are great though the translated subtitles are a bit flimsy. And it’s all very weak particularly if you know Berlin. The good looking character manages to have sex, kill people, and dump bodies across Tier Garten which is just not realistic. It really is a film dominated by a stunningly good-looking main character. Hilarious that he strangles people but likes to cover himself in blood thereby giving an excuse for him to be filmed full-frontal in the shower.
A collection of short American gay films based around an international theme. The first concerns a young gay guy sent to India for work who meets and falls in love with a young Indian man. Then the amusing story of a young over-weight woman trying to find common ground with gay father who enjoys playing the field. The third is about a young American on a holiday in Europe who has to share a room with a man he fancies and who turns out to be gay (not just European). Final story is about two straight actors practising for a gay sex scene in a movie. There then follows reflections by the real life actors who are indeed straight.
These are very much the type of films you would expect to see at LGBT film festivals. Short ideas that can’t realistically be made into full-length movies because they aren’t beefy enough and there wasn’t the budget to do it. All the films are a bit flimsy and very American dominated by body beautiful men. However there is a humour to it all and a pleasant way to use up an hour and a half.
I like a good horror movie. And something more intelligent than just gore and zombies. This is the classic 1931 film with Bela Lugosi as the Count. It is fairly faithful to the Bram Stoker novel and includes Dracula’s enemy Van Helsing. Fascinating how the recent DVD I watched of Werner Herzog’s ‘Nosferatue, the Vampyre’ was so similar to the Hollywood version though Herzog’s vampires were far less seductive and much sadder creatures. Anything made in the Thirties (nearly 100 years ago) would be clunky compared to today’s film wizardry but this film is a beautiful and seductive black and white classic.
Health and exercise
My left knee was painful after Sat’s jog-run. Being in Brighton meant I could not go to the gym Mon or Tues. Actually last week there was no way I could do my jog-run and I wasn’t in the mood to swim either. I need to push myself to do the latter and it doesn’t win when the weather is grey and cold plus bits of me hurt.
Being on leave last week meant that I took the opportunity to attend the gym as much as possible. Thus I did five days in a row Wed through to Sun. I took it easy but did some work on my knee and lots of stretching. Over the weekend I pushed it by doing some gentle jogging on the treadmill and things felt OK though not without a slight bit of discomfort. I love the gym and the ability to go every day is one of my ultimate luxuries. No massage as planned due to my dodgy knee. The massage might aggravate it.
Weight and diet
Bad news on the weight front. Up to 13-10 so 2 pounds on in a week. Oh well, suppose it’s the rebound after my illness-induced weight loss and the fact that I’m not actually doing anything diet-wise to lose weight. Fascinating report this week that 10 pieces of fruit and veg each day will help us all live much longer. That feels like a personal mountain as I only do about two items per day. Perhaps that is where I should focus my eating, more protein, fruit and veg with less fat, carbs and sugar. Actually did have some interesting salads for lunches last week. Again a benefit of not being consumed by work.
These are the things that are going to happen this week and that are going to make it a good one. The key thing will be to carry over the goodwill of my week off into a new week at work.
- Mine and Dave’s ten year anniversary of starting to go out together again
- Attending the Apps for Good presentation of the worked up winning apps
- Catching up with other tech funders on Tues and people doing evaluation work for us on Tues and Wed
- CAST doing a lunch and learn at work on Tues – hopefully we will have a decent number of people come along to hear about the exciting work they have been funded to do
- Another M-ITI catch-up
- Four gym sessions and either a swim or jog-run though if the latter perhaps not a full 10K
- Massage if my knee is better – it’s been a long-time
- With public booking opening, hopefully getting some matinee showings for the upcoming Flare LGBT London Film Festival
- DuoLingo daily and some coding practice
- Not letting work and personal emails go wild
- Watching at least one DVD
- Reading at least two books and listening to at least two Dr Who audio adventures