A chilled week based on the brilliance of Eurovision

Mon 7 – Sun 13 May 2018

Eurovision

LGBT rainbow flagAlways one of the major highlights of the gay man’s calendar alongside the annual holiday to Sitges/Gran Canaria/Mykonos. I am a real enthusiast though I’m not one of those who actually go to it every year no matter wherever it is; I do have friends who do this.

But I watched the semi-finals on BBC4 on Tues and Thurs evening as well as the final on Sat on BBC1. Though, TBH, a bottle of wine makes them all more fun.

Lisbon, PortugalI thought Lisbon was a good one. Obviously some dross but some songs that didn’t work for me on TV did work when I listened on download. Russia is an obvious one. As a country, dodgy as fuck. They didn’t get to the final (bit of a shock) but a good song.

I really liked the Israeli one and glad it won. Didn’t get Cyprus, Sweden or Austria. And some surprise low scorers – Australia and Ireland particularly.

Our one was OK though clear we as a country are about as popular as vomit in the rest of Europe at the moment. Next year should be great political fun. Tel Aviv or Jerusalem? Some may not be happy performing in the latter though I think Eurovision has been there before. Also isn’t Saturday the Jewish sabbath which could also cause problems. Fun and games. šŸ™‚

Bank Holiday Monday and chilled Tuesday

A burning hot bank holiday Mon, followed by a cooler Tues (and rain on Sat :(). I had a complete chill day on Mon – the best way to spend a bank holiday. All day I was wearing shorts which I love. Up early for the gym then spent the afternoon relaxing and watching a film plus doing stuff on pooter. Same on Tues – one of my days off work. Gym then afternoon chilling on the sofa and watching a film. Late afternoon, out with Dave for cheap cocktails and watching the world go by.

Innovation & creativity

progress being madeOnly in work 2 days last week as Mon was the bank holiday. Lots of internal stuff which is not always good. It seems to me that inward-looking organisations tend to lots of meetings whereas one of the key things is to be externally focused.

However what was good was the Influence hub meeting which showed us all coming together as a team. Also a nice general stand-up on Fri for the whole dept. We are trying to do these stand-ups each week where everyone has a chance to say anything; good team-building.

Good Tech Lab

tech matters for AfricaI did have one excellent external meet last week and that was with Benjamin and Manuella from Good Tech Lab. This is a one year project we are part funding; a European-based research project looking at international tech for good, entrepreneurship, and venture funding.

Great to find out what they are observing around the world and finding out agencies we should link with. Also good to bounce off Benjamin & Manuella the developments we are pursuing in our social investment programme.

Linked to the Good Tech Lab research, these are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that it was agreed at the UN all nations would work towards for their countries – ‘developed’ and ‘non-developed’.

SDGs

Health and Efficiency

Gym

World's Strongest ManFour times last week: Mon, Tues, Thurs, & Sun mornings. Each one being a long lazy session lasting an hour minimum. I think there’s a theory that anything over 45 mins in the gym is a waste.

But my issue is that I get into zone and become almost addicted to pushing myself in different ways with different machines / weights. My body doesn’t look that great despite all the exercise – the key problem is that my diet is crap, I like my food and drink too much. If you want a great body then what and how much you take in is as important as the exercise you do.

Jog-run

lady running in cold weatherI crashed out about 10pm on Fri, I was absolutely knacked. But I woke feeling good around 6.15 on Sat morning. Up for a coffee then out for my jog-run. I really thought it was going to be a good one. But twas not to be.

I managed to do the full 10K but the time was appalling, even worse than last weekend. The only saving grace was that I kept it under 1 hour and 10 mins. Oh well, something to build on.

Culture

Two good ‘queer cinema’ films watched last week, both non-English language.

‘Land of Storms’

An interesting film in German and Hungarian; I love listening to different languages and trying to empathise with different cultures. This was the director’s first film and it does veer around like a car out of control. The story of a closeted football player who goes back to Hungary from Germany and strikes up a ‘friendship’ with a local man. It is bleak though not in a bad way until the ending which gets very bleak. Indeed, it harks back to the days of death and unhappy endings so strong in old gay films. Though perhaps this reflects the bleakness of being gay in eastern Europe? Overall, good but flawed.

‘The Sex of Angels’

A William Blake angelA Spanish film about a straight man who fortuitously meets a gay man and they start a sexual relationship. The straight man is torn as to whether he is straight or gay with the main suffering being put on his girlfriend. But then things get reversed and ultimately we end up with a happy three-some. It’s a good film though over-long and ultimately a bit silly me thinks. Actually the most annoying thing was the poor sound quality.

Personal Development

Exploring new languages

Blog readers will know I enjoy absorbing myself in languages though I’m not very good at them. I satiate my curiosity by playing at learning on the app Duolingo. I managed to get some of this done most days last week though not on Friday – just too tired. I’ve decided to expand the languages I am learning simply to feed my curiosity. Not sure if I’m over-stretching myself but we shall see. So I started to dabble in Italian, Polish and Russian as well as my mainstays of French, Spanish, German and Portuguese. šŸ™‚

Coding and emails

I also did some coding practice last week on Code Academy. I think I like coding because it is very much like learning another language. Emails weren’t so good last week. I sort of got on top of my personal ones but the work ones went out of control. I had planned to tackle this at the weekend but there was no remote access due to a systems upgrade. šŸ™

Books and Reading

IĀ ā™„ libraries

After my jog-run on Sat, I had a coffee with Dave and then had a potter around the local library. I love libraries. Though there was a drumming class going on in one of the rooms so it was quite noisy. I wander around the different shelves finding books that I would love to explore more but knowing I don’t have the time. Still I did pick up a recently released novel that I am very much looking forward to reading.

Last week I read two books by the brilliant Nigerian-American female sci-fi writer Nnedi Okorafor

‘Binti: Home’ & ‘Binti: The Night Masquerade’

nnedi okoraforBoth books are really novellas due to their shortness. However, they represent the second and third part of a trilogy, and the 3 novellas really make one full book. I read the first book ‘Binti’ a while ago and had forgotten much of what happened. ‘Home’ and ‘Masquerade’ awoke memories and are good books in their own right.

Binti is a young woman from Africa though this is not directly stated until very late on, though from the start we are clearly in a culture that is African-orientated. She is studying at a galactic university. This is a bit Harry Potter but these are far more sophisticated books than that would suggest.

In the first book, she survives a massacre and is inter-bred with another species. In ‘Home’, she travels back to her human home to try to stop a war happening. And there are more details on this in the third book (Night Masquerade). Indeed, the third book actually gets very dark. Perhaps not the most original books in the world but Nnedi has created a story that is wonderfully imaginative and packed full of African-oriented ideas that challenge the Westernised sci-fi we usually read.

Dr Who audio adventure: ‘Blood of the Daleks’

DalekI used to try to listen to at least one Dr Who audio adventure from Big Finish every week as I walked around. Got out of the habit but I am trying to get back into it. I listened to this one last week. It features Paul McGann as the Doctor – probably my favourite Dr Who actor. And introduced Sheridan Smith as his assistant Lucie Miller. A good adventure about a destroyed planet being ‘rescued’ by the Daleks. I didn’t get every bit of the story but fun to have this back in my life.

The Week Ahead:

  • In work my usual 3 days. Amir starts who will be overseeing our social investment (Red Shed). Great news and my directly managed staff team is now in place. šŸ™‚
  • 2 full week days off on Tues and Thurs. On the former I will be catching up with my old friend and colleague David Cutler of The Baring Foundation.
  • Target is to do 3 gym sessions and a jog-run
  • Gonna carry on with learning languages on Duolingo including some of the new ones. Also dabble in coding and try to get on top of emails – my constant battle.
  • Aim to get another book finished next week. Also watch at least one film and listen to a Dr Who audio adventure.

And Finally…

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