Normal again but not quite ‘normal’

Sunday 3 – Saturday 9 Jan 2015

NormalNormal with a twist

The first ‘normal’ week of 2016 but not quite totally that. Two big non-normal things to record. First the funeral of my dear friend James and its impact on me. Second a strange theme that ran through the week making me consider gender matters.

GoodbyeJames’ funeral – goodbye my very good friend

Monday was James’ funeral. He died on 11 Dec but couldn’t be cremated till after Xmas / New Year. Practical aspects of dying – the crematorium had ten funerals to do on that day back to back. Me and Dave went down to Brighton in suits and black ties. Thankfully a no problem train journey but it was raining so Dave had to buy himself an umbrella as we walked to the crematorium. Met up with friends and family in the little waiting room; amazing how much one of James’ sisters looked like him. A nice humanist service, about 30 mins long (no hymns), and 100-120 people there – standing room only. Good closure and the person leading it assured us it was OK to grieve. But I take a hard view of death and the whole day reinforced that for me. There may well be an afterlife but that will look after itself. The most important thing to do is to live life to the full and enjoy every moment so that there are no regrets on your deathbed and mourners will say ‘he enjoyed himself’.

Gender issues (including gender and digital)

GenderHuman nature to try to find patterns and one unexpected theme of life last week was around gender issues. The news came in of the dreadful assaults on women in Cologne and Hamburg on New Year’s Eve. Such harrassment is not acceptable and if it was asylum seekers responsible then they should be expelled from the EU – end of. Doesn’t matter what you are trying to escape from, you don’t abuse your host like that. This on top of some dreadful videos on the internet about the general mistreatment of women in Africa and the Middle East. Women’s equality is as important to me as any other equality including that for LGBT people.

And two potential projects I assessed last week for work were about trying to deal with situations where women are treated unfairly and selfishly. The first concerns an initiative to challenge sexism in the technology sector where there are many more men than women. It is based on getting more girls into coding whilst at school / college and identifying more positive female role models to get young women deciding on careers in tech. The other concerned using digital to engage with young people around issues about consent for sex – apparently this is a big issue for young people and one they feel confused about.

And in the final bits of a gender slant, I decided to read the classic sci-fi novel The Female Man and saw the film The Danish Girl (details below).

Health and efficiency

A real surpise that my weight on Wednesday was 13-7 which means I lost 4 pounds in one week – far from normal! I had skipped breakfast on a couple of days but it still felt unreal. Before celebrating I have decided to wait until next week to see if this is a trend or just a blip.

No gym until Saturday so only one session during the whole week. Primarily because I was tied up with work, James’ funeral, and dentist on Friday – annual check up and no problems. Not even many long purposeful walks which adds to my wonder at the weight loss sensation. However I bit the bullet and decided to renew my gym membership for another year.

Work

Paid work on three days last week: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and so that was very much about getting back to normality. Details on the two digital assessments I did can be read above. Obviously I had to spend time doing these and writing them up. Other work stuff included catching up with my tech colleagues to consider how best we can collect and assess information on the ‘success’ of our digital work as well as deciding on the best digital ideas to be followed up that could boost donations based on good grantmaking. Finally I did supervision with a member of staff I manage. Me – I’m looking forward to going on holiday again in a few weeks.

Change opportunityLooks likely that there will be changes coming at work. I am not worried, change from normal is a good thing and this could be the start of something new in my life whether the news is positive or negative. My mantra is not to be scared of change or doing things differently, sometimes it can throw up wonderful new opportunities.

Some people are so thin skinned – sod them

Thin skinnedOne of the things that pissed me off last week was that I like banter and exchange, and I dished it out including around politics, sport, and other things. However I have found some people like to give their opinions but when you respond they have thin skins. And unfortunately I found such people not only on social media but also in real life. I’m not going to stop expressing my opinions (see the stuff at the start of this blog about what I took from James’ funderal) – gonna live my life to the full without regrets and not censor myself.

Cinema and films

Sunday with Dave to see The Danish Girl. Good film based on life of Lili Elbe – transgender pioneer. Bit overshadowing with a big name like Eddy Redmayne filling the lead. Not totally true to life – worth looking up the real story on wikipedia. Main gripe with it that it was too long with lots of lingering shots and padding that didn’t need to be there.

Books and reading

Finished The Emperor Waltz and discussed it at the Velvet Page book club on Thursday at Waterstone’s in Piccadilly. I loved some parts especially the story of the gay bookshop. But it was a novel of several stories and ultimately I wasn’t convinced it cohesed together sufficiently. However, when we discussed it on Thursday it became apparent that there were a whole multitude of stories and incidents going on I had forgotten about and that there were lots of (potential) links between this mass of different events. Indeed a perfect book to discuss at a book group.

Francis King was a prolific novelist who was probably bisexual and wrote at the fascinating time when gay liberation was happening but then the AIDS disaster hit. A Domestic Animal┬áis a very well written novel about a bisexual man obsessed by another man though the latter being both straight and macho though flirty. I’ve known so many gay men (ex-partners included) go stupid over flirty bad boys (who are usually complete ponces). And the story had the added complexity of the fancied man being married but carrying on an affair with another woman and the rivalry between her and the infatuated man.

Finally, caught up with The Female Man by Joanna Russ – classic 70s feminist sci-fi; more details in next week’s blog once I have finished the book.

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