So I start where my mini-blog on the Folsom Berlin weekend finished. I woke in Berlin on Monday morning feeling fine after getting really tanked up night before. The fact I drank a lot but finished relatively early probably explains the lack of hangover. Dave and I left our hotel around 8.15 and had a fine taxi drive to Tegel though with quite a nervous driver. We checked in and both of us bumped into people we had met over the weekend. A fine flight though it was a bit too early for free wine (we left Tegel at 11). Arrived back at Heathrow on time and then a straight-forward tube journey to Dave’s. I love Terminal 5 at the moment, definitely better and cheaper than Gatwick or Stansted, though I suppose my view would be different if I was trying to travel on a day that the Piccadilly line was not working. We spent the afternoon unpacking and tidying. I was determined not to have nap as I knew I needed to get back into a normal daily routine and that does not include a disco nap. I did take Dave out to lunch as a way of marking the end of our holiday weekend. There were actually a couple of good things that I could have gone to in the evening including a private opening of an art show as well as a discussion on gay men’s usage of drugs. But I was just too tired to do either so I stayed in. The highlight of the evening was double Coronation Street. Why on earth does someone not have a channel just doing back to back Coronation Street episodes from the past – the ultimate feed good TV? Bed by 10pm.
The rest of the week was really quite mundane after the adventure of our Berlin weekend though the vein of the Scottish Referendum ran through it and provided more excitement than normal. Tuesday I was up at my usual weekday time of 6.30 and, before going into the office, met up with an old colleague who now manages a faith-based anti-poverty organisation (Church Urban Fund – see website of the week). Paul has got a plan for an interesting multi-funder initiative to tackle debt crisis at a very grassroots level – hope it comes off. Then into work. It was genuinely great to see my colleagues and there were lots of questions about Berlin. Particularly impressive is the pepper plant that Dave gave me to take into the office and which my neighbour Cathy has been looking after; it is looking good and has two big proper green chillies. Grants committee took place in the afternoon. I had only one paper to present and that went through with no problems. If the funding is approved by Trustees then an exciting development phase for a bigger project will get under way. The rest of the day was just the usual catching up especially on e-mails. I left just before 5 to avoid the commuter rush, it just makes getting home so much more pleasant. An evening in with mum who is doing OK though she is having some problems with her knee. It was rubbish on TV (Tuesdays are particularly bad nights) and mum was especially annoyed that Crimewatch had been replaced by a debate on the Scottish referendum.
Wednesday marked further getting back to the normal work day routine. I got up at 6.30 and went before work to the gay Italian cafe I enjoy for breakfast; imagine the mixture of muscles, steroids, crap pop, Madonna, camp, gossip, cigarettes, and coffee. Into the office for 8 in order to do more catching up especially getting applications read before the deadline for producing the papers for the next shortlisting meeting. I did have my annual annual appraisal which went totally fine. However I must be honest and say that I think the whole process of doing annual appraisals is worthless and that applies to everywhere I have worked in (note this is a general criticism of a ubiquitous modern workplace practice and I am not bad-mouthing my current employer). If you are well managed and supervised throughout the year then why do you need one big appraisal? Of course if people request one then do it but why force everyone to do it? I think it has become a mantra of modern managerialism along with equal cultish chants like the learning organisation, the paperless office, re-engineering, change management, etc. In the afternoon we had our team meeting which was a good bonding session, indeed there is a nice sense of camraderie in the team at the moment. Using some self-discipline, I managed to leave work just before 5 again so I could get home before the rush. Another evening in with mum with us both semi-affectionately winding each other up.
There were two exercise sessions this week just gone. The first came on Thursday morning when I got to the gym and had a good all over session concentrating on all the different body parts. The sad thing was that my special offer annual gym membership had finished and so I have switched to a far more expensive monthly membership until a special offer arises again (January?). On Thursday afternoon I met up with my old friend Brian who I have known for about 20 years. He is one of those great chaps who pops up through one’s life and makes me laugh so much every time I meet him not least related to his adventures when he has a drink too many. One of his best ever mess-ups was booking a hotel in Newcastle on the computer whilst a bit inebriated only to find out he had booked for the one in Australia rather the UK one. We had some drinks enjoying the sunshine and Dave joined us. He is still on leave and doing nice things like going to the cinema, theatre, and museums. We all had coffee and cake at Maison Bertaux (a Soho institution) then Dave went home. Me and Brian continued onto a very busy Retro Bar off the Strand then up to Drummond Street for what turned out to be an iffy Indian. We were given a 20% off voucher but the prices were 20% higher than other similar restaurants and both the quality of the food and the service were mediocre. There was also a bin overflowing – never a good sign. I went back to stay at mum’s slightly worse for wear with bed around midnight. The referendum results were due to come in but I could not stay up as I had work the next day. So a night followed of intermittent sleep due to waking up every so often to check what was happening. Plus I was awoken by biblical thunder and heavy rain with my sleep addled brain trying to work out connection between the referendum and the storm.
And so I rose on Friday morning to find out the referendum result feeling very tired though less so than if had stayed up all night. I know a lot of friends did stay up all night (as did my brother with his dog who was constantly barking because of the storm) – hilarious when we reach an age that means we see the sunrise not because of a good night clubbing but because we are waiting for a voting result. Overall I felt it was a good result not only in the outcome (I want to be part of the same country as Scotland) but also in turns of turnout. However, we must make sure Scotland gets the extra powers it has been promised and not let that all become tied up with nonsense about an English parliament. Who wants that? The last thing we need is more overpaid politicians and civil servants.
Before work I had to attend the anti-coagulation clinic as I had reached the three month maximum period I am allowed to go without my INR being checked (this measures how thin my blood is with the warfarin dose altered accordingly; the main worry being that too thin could mean internal bleeding and too thick could lead to blood clots again). I had a nice walk through Fulham and had good tunes randomly thrown up on my i-pod including Ultravox and Spandau Ballet when they were both still good bands (I have put the Spandau classic ‘To Cut a Long Story Short’ on my video page – the original video, treat yourself to a look). There was a further treat in that my regular East European nurse with all the customer care skills that came from being trained in Soviet Union controlled Poland was on leave and instead I had the friendly phlebotomist Derek. I think the worst healthcare I ever experienced was the time I was requested to come back to the HIV clinic and the doctor came up to me in waiting room to say in front of everyone ‘Why are you here?’ INR was OK, 2.1 – so long as it is between 2 & 3 there is no problem. Into work for a good day as Fridays always are. Everyone was in a very good mood. I left around 3.45 to go and see my old boss Tim who now works at St Martin’s in the Field – a wonderful church in Trafalgar Square and a great example of inclusive Christianity. We had a good catch up including the areas of work where we overlap then I went to Dave’s. I was absolutely knackered; we watched double Coronation Street with me trying not to fall asleep on the sofa then I went to bed and was asleep by 9.30. I had a really weird and epic dream. I was actually in a film and watching it at the same time. It was very long and boring, and I thought (in my dream) that the film was about all the people dying apart from the group I was in but actually it was the group that I was in that would die in the end. It carried on that we all went to an after-show party which took us to a haunted place and an explosion.
My second exercise session of the week was my regular Saturday morning jog-run but this time it was definitely more of a jog. Up around 7.30, I went in the rain for a coffee at Victoria station. This gives a chance for my muscles to warm-up plus I just love people-watching at Victoria – it is very cathartic. I did the same distance as two weeks before (gap because of Berlin) – twice round St James Park and once round Green Park. But I deliberately kept it at a jogging rather than running pace with the result that my time was around 47 mins compared to 37 mins previously. My left achilles was still hurting, with some compensation going on in my right knee and hip, but it was not as bad as when I run fast on it. The rest of Saturday was then a chill day including a trip to my favourite charity shops. And at least QPR got a point against Stoke who are led by our awful ex-manager.
So in taking an overview of last week, I can say exercise was OK. Just one book read, Robert Edric’s ‘The Devil’s Beat’. This was OK but I felt the scenario was unrealistic being set in 1910 with a supposedly Satanic appearance leading to an investigation panel with the main character (the panel chairman) being from some mysterious secular ‘authority’. I am really not sure what the message of the book was – that some people are very manipulative and inherently evil so better to destroy them when one has the chance? In terms of language skills development I did manage two sessions in Spanish and German on Duolingo. No real progress on digital skills though I have learnt it is unwise to leave your phone charger at your boyfriend’s and become reliant on having to charge your mobile via a laptop.
Wonkers of the week: It has got to be all the horrible right-wingers popping up to demand ‘rights for England’. We had the spectacle of the crypt being opened and John Redwood appearing on the debate pre the referendum result. Then Nigel Farage putting his two-penneth in after the result; perhaps he is getting his party mixed up with the English Democrats – both small and unpleasant. And then Owen Paterson leading the charge. He was sacked because he was rubbish at his job so he sets himself as the leader of the anti-Cameron faction. Another third rate and overpaid MP convinced of his own self-importance.
Website of the week: www.churchurbanfund.org.uk