Tues 26 – Sun 31 Dec 2017
I absolutely adore the period between Christmas and New Year – I’m sure somebody once called it ‘the perineum of the year’ LOL. Presumably the connecting part between two good bits. 🙂 Christmas is great though the build up is better than the event. It starts fine and the meal is fab. But then it boils down to charades and a craving for something else to do beyond being sat with the family watching the Strictly Christmas Special.
Everything picks up again on Boxing Day as life gets a bit normal but without going fully normal and the usual shit. I used to work during this little period but I have discovered the pleasure that comes from having a pro-longed time off work. A great period to chill though with the danger of spending your whole time stuffing your face with Pringles.
For me, this gap period is a time to get things done. And here is a list of 15 good things that happened.
1 Boxing Day dinner with the mums
Up early on Boxing Day to go out for a coffee, read, and publish my blog. People were already rushing to the sales – in person and online. But it’s bullshit. Buying stuff you probably don’t really need. Then throwing away the old and adding to all the discarded crap in the world causing dodgy landfills and killing the oceans.
Boxing Day lunchtime, I took my mum to meet Dave and his mum at the Union Jack Club. We wanted to go there on Christmas Day but it was fully booked. On Boxing Day, the restaurant was pretty empty though two old blokes sitting at separate tables still managed to have an argument. Old blokes seem to cause most of this planet’s problems. 🙁 The bar was really busy so we had drinks in the library. All in all, a nice day and the mums enjoy seeing each other.
2 Dave retired
So my boyf has taken early retirement. He finished work officially on 31st. And he’s loving it already, how could you not? I need to make sure he doesn’t get into a habit of watching crap TV till the early hours / falling asleep on the sofa. And then getting up around midday. Rather it’s diet and swimming time. This is his chance to get fit and healthy without the strain of a high-pressure job.
3 Getting my hair shaved off
I’m at the stage in my life where I have so little hair that there really is no option apart from cutting it all off. I have thought about this for ages but clung on to the little tuft on the top of my head. Thurs afternoon I decided to hug the future and got it all cut off – number 1 side & back with number 2 on top. ‘New year, new start’ sort of crap. But no regrets especially as it’s easy maintenance. And it really doesn’t look that radically different. Lesson = just do it.
4 Gym, weight, INR
Managed to get to the gym on Wed and Thurs mornings. Two very good workouts. Still sticking to my 3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps for each main body part. My muscles do feel worked. Decided to leave the gym on Fri to be rested for my Sat jog-run but then a cold set in (see below).
Did weigh myself on NYE and that came in at 14 stone & 1 pound. So that is where I am now and where I have to lose weight from over the coming year. Not a new year resolution, simply an ambition that I am going to try to fulfil. Details to be kept here.
Fri morning to the anti-coagulation clinic to check my INR. Good news that it was just within the correct range so no blood clots and I shouldn’t bleed to death. Plus the computer says I don’t have to return for 10 weeks!
5 Complete recovery
Fri I started to feel a sore throat / cold coming on. Went to bed early that night (whilst ‘retiree’ Dave went out partying). Woke up during the night with a painful chest. Decided to skip the jog-run and switched my alarm off set for 6.30. Next awoke at 9.45. Sat was very snotty and I felt I had made the right decision not to push my body.
Then decided to skip the final gym session of the year on New Year’s Eve. My cold was still there and I slept through till 10am. I would have liked to exercise but I also wanted to be well for next week’s holiday and particularly didn’t want anything to spread via my sinuses and become an ear infection. Being positive I will have had a fantastic long body rest for the first half of Jan.
Got a portable DVD player for Christmas. Old skool I know, but I have still got DVDs and the idea is that it would be good for me and Dave to take on holiday with us so we can watch films. The quality of hotel wi-fi for streaming can be very unpredictable and you have to be very organised to download everything in advance.
This was the first movie I watched on the player, one picked up from a charity shop. It’s a French film featuring Gerard Depardieu who I have a little crush on. Though he has gone to pot plus his politics have gone a bit weird with him now being a citizen of Russia and residing there. Apparently he’s a bit of a Putin fan. Bit like being a fan of Mussolini. 🙁
This is a ‘comedy’. I put that deliberately into inverted commas as it is only funny in parts and also gets surreal in places. Without being stereotypical, it was very French. But worth a watch so long as you don’t expect it to be laugh-out loud on constant.
The second movie watched last week. A wonderfully trashy Spanish gay comedy. It’s all about the gentrification of Chueca, the main gay neighbourhood in Madrid. I’ve been there and it’s good, a bit like Soho/Covent Garden in London. The comedy itself is very much in the tradition of Almodovar. Bright colours, stereotype gay men, powerful women, and a crazy story-line. It’s not as good as Almodovar simply because it’s a copy but still fun and worth a view for some silly escapism and a new chance to try to improve my Spanish.
8 Dr Who Christmas Special
Didn’t see Dr Who on Christmas Day as I was walking back from seeing Dave and his mum. Caught up on i-player. Really enjoyed it especially the character of the first Doctor. He is so wonderfully crotchety and the references to sixties sexism were very witty.
The story itself was OK though the usual schmaltz one has to expect at Christmas. Jodie Whittaker, the new Doctor, looks like she is going to be a very interesting character. I wonder if in the future, we will look back and think that the Doctor was obviously meant to be played by a woman all along?
9 World’s Strongest Man
Another brilliant aspect of the Christmas – New Year gap is that Channel 5 features its annual strong contest. I adore watching World’s Strongest Man. The feats of strength are pretty amazing though I also find the guys a bit sexy; I do have a thing for big, slobby blokes. 🙂 It’s all wonderfully OTT and silly to the point of being a bit like a camp pantomime. It is funny how it is always the same people every year, there’s not much of a thoroughfare of talent.
10 ‘Sleeping Beauties’ by Stephen & Owen King
The first book I read last week and the most recent by the prodigiously brilliant Stephen King, this time assisted by his son. Not sure why they wrote together. Somebody mentioned that Stephen’s eyesight is deteriorating. And perhaps he just wanted to give his son an assist in the writing world. Stephen’s other son, Joe Hill, is writing some very good books in his own right (like ‘The Fireman’).
Sleeping Beauties is very long and heavy to carry around. Indeed it looks a bit like a bible. But despite its length, it is a very engaging and an excellently well-written book. Not really a horror story and certainly didn’t scare me. More a meditation on the modern battle of the sexes. Indeed, it reminded me a lot of ‘The Power’ by Naomi Alderman. Is this all part of a reflection by America on the simply misogyny that kept Hillary Clinton out of power? 🙁
11 ‘Mend the Living’ by Maylis de Kerangal
This is the second book I read during the Christmas-New Year gap. Picked it up in a cancer charity shop on Christmas Eve. It’s published by Maclehose Press / Quercus who are a publisher I like, specialising in good writing by authors from outside the UK. This is a French author and the original title is ‘Reparer Les Vivants’. I was also attracted to the fact that it won the Wellcome Book Prize 2017. And what a great book. 🙂
The story of a heart transplant. With the life stories of people involved in the process – the ‘donor’ tragically killed, the recipient, the nurses and doctors, the families, etc. It’s a beautiful and poignant story. It made me think of the importance of considering death constantly so that we can really appreciate living.
I am not allowed to donate my organs being HIV+. But if you can then please do think about signing up to do this – you can sign up here. Sorting it out now will save your family unnecessary stress and will help others. Same re giving blood – if you can do it then please do so. It’s one of the very simple things to do to make a better world. More details here.
12 Dr Who audio adventures: ‘Breaking Bubbles’ (sixth Doctor + companion Peri)
A collection of short stories, OK though forgettable. The most memorable one was that based on ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime’. A story of an autistic child whose father disappears. It is a good portrayal of what autism is like.
Interesting that as a society we do seem to be becoming more aware of what being autistic means – little victories. 🙂
13 Duolingo and coding
Finally made some progress in getting back to regularly practising languages on Duolingo. Still not the daily event I would like even in this holiday / non-work period. But at least some progress. And I even managed to get some time doing coding practice.
I did use the gap time to have a go at my email mountain. And made real progress. Personal ones down to under 100 to be read and shared if appropriate. I also had a go at my work emails and got this down to less than 100 in my inbox though all read.
15 This tweet
If this brilliant tweet doesn’t make you think then nothing will:
Did not exist in 2003
— JM Alvarez-Pallete (@jmalvpal) December 29, 2017
The Week Ahead
HOLIDAY! 🙂 Two weeks in Gran Canaria starts on Tuesday. I’m just going to chill whilst I am there. Though I also want to get through a stack load of books as well as doing regular Duolingo and coding practice. I won’t be getting much exercise and will be drinking much more alcohol than normal. So I really need to watch my food intake if this is going to be the start of me losing weight. The good thing is that with the heat then one generally doesn’t feel so healthy and our hotel is not all-inclusive. I will also be checking and keeping on top of my emails though only acting on work ones if urgent. I would rather keep on top of my emails than feel totally overwhelmed by them on my return.
Like probably every other closeted teenage boy watching Top of the Pops @MarcAlmond’s debut appearance changed my life.
He remains an artist & pioneer. Congratulations on his OBE. pic.twitter.com/9byrvDqnT2
— Matthew Hodson (@Matthew_Hodson) December 30, 2017