A difficult book and concert, 3 films, and a strange jog-run

Mon 7 – Sun 13 Oct

Some weeks don’t really have a grand theme. Not that they are bad (that would be a theme in itself). Rather the week is a collection of parts. Main events of last week were completing a difficult book, good exercise, a concert that was also difficult, 3 movies at the London Film Festival, and an intense week at work.

Books and Reading

Only one book read last week. 🙁 And it was one that was difficult and hard work (bit like my dad LOL).

‘Too like the lightning’ by Ada Palmer

Always finish a book

I am a great believer in finishing a book once I start it even if I’m not sure I will enjoy it. Some books actually start weak and improve as they progress. Some never get any better like the Velvet Page book club’s ‘The Madonna of Bolton’. This book is one I thought was difficult and carried on being so all the way through. However, reviewers in general really liked it so perhaps it was just me.

A novel by a historian of ideas

It is very original. Basically covering 3 days in the year 2454 marking the beginning of the end of a phase of peaceful human development. The author is a historian with her specialism being the history of ideas. So the book includes lots of philosophy and a society that looks backwards for cultural identity. It’s very ‘early modern’ with court intrigue and factions, like a futuristic Versailles.

The future has to be different

What Ada does very well is to create a futuristic society that is very different to the current world. Sci-fi and fantasy is often dependent on current affairs. Terra Ignota is a place without nation states and instead people live in Hives based on identity. There is a balanced worldwide political system, hybrid humans, elements of magic, no gender, and super-fast travel (perhaps the latter marks the book failing to nod to the climate emergency).

And now to part 2?

This is the first part of a trilogy. I think, in due course and after a break, I will venture to the other two books despite finding this one difficult. For more info on the concepts behind this book and the plot, have a look at the Wikipedia page here.

Health and Efficiency


Would it happen?

lady going for jog-run in cold weather

Wasn’t sure if my 10K jog-run would take place on Sat morning. Chance of disruption by the joke opening of parliament dress rehearsal (actually happened 5am Thurs morning). Plus the threat of rain. It rained all Sat but wasn’t too bad at 7.30am.

A good and bad jog-run

Overall time was basically the same as the previous week – all jog-run times can be seen here. What was really annoying was that my shoe rubbed my toe last week so I covered it with a plaster. That rubbed another toe on this run. Running with a minor injury like that is so frustrating and difficult. But looking at my overall time, I was actually slower in the first half (31.45 mins) with the second 5K coming in at 31.20 mins. Really weird, my jog-run doesn’t normally pan out like that.


Male gymnast

4 gym sessions last week – mornings of Mon, Thurs, Fri, Sun. All good with the one on Fri morning focusing on strengthening my legs without tiring them for the jog-run the next day. I was definitely inspired by the Gymnastic World Championships on TV, particularly the men’s. 🙂


Mon morning to my GP for my regular INR check. This determines how much anti-coagulant medication I need to take. A perfect result at 2.5 which means stay on the same dosage and, even better, don’t have to go back for 8 weeks. 🙂

Art and Culture

Another Royal Festival Hall concert

A cultural icon on the South Bank

Wed evening, me and Dave to another great RFH concert. Not as busy as the previous week which was so popular because of the solo violinist being a bit of a star: Nicola Benedetti. Wed’s concert was entitled ‘The Inextinguishable’ and featured works by Bartok, Walton, and Nielsen.

All very good though I found it difficult and hard to concentrate after 2 full days at work – my head was very buzzy. Plus I mistakenly had a heavy meal of fish and chips at the Union Jack Club beforehand. 🙁

London Film Festival



1st of 3 London Film Festival films seen at the weekend. Took place at 8.50pm on Sat night so I had a ‘disco nap’ on Sat afternoon. A black and white film about how difficult life is for middle age men trying to live up to expectations. A man gets into very dangerous waters in his quest for toxic masculine success.

A good film but perhaps the ending could have been better. However, it did inspire me to work hard at the gym on Sun morning. 🙂 Amusingly, I mistakenly initially thought that one of the actors was from Right Said Fred because his surname was Fairbrass – doh!

‘Yves Saint Laurent: The Last Collections’

The 1st of 2 films on Sunday. I’m not really into fashion – I leave that to my partner Dave. But YSL is a bit of a modern enigma and I thought the film could help me practice my French. The film is a bit of a time capsule. Made in the late 1990s after the film crew followed YSL for about 3 years so he could get used to them. It is difficult to watch the clearly very ill YSL. And you can sort of understand why his partner / protector initially refused that the film be released. Strange to see such recent history but know basically everyone in it is now dead. 🙁

‘This is Not Berlin’

My final LFF film on Sun evening. A ‘coming of age’ film set in Mexico 1986 – so helping a bit with my Spanish. Two androgynous boys, one who likes girls and one who likes boys but not perhaps how you would expect. They get drawn into a life of clubs and drugs. All a bit silly but a fun, dark film. Just right for a wet Sunday night. 🙂

Work-Life Balance

Work did not dominate last week and it should never do so as I only work 3 days (if only it were that simple…) However, 2 full-days done consecutively. My normal all-day Wed but also a full-day on Tues as it was a whole day staff conference over in Shoreditch. This did allow me to get bagels from Brick Lane for tea afterwards. 🙂

But I find consecutive full-days difficult as they knacker me out physically and mentally. Also, my normal half-days on Mon and Thurs afternoon last week. No work on Fri as the afternoon was taken as TOIL for my full-day of work on Tues – a lovely do-nothing day-off. 🙂

The importance of a good staff conference

The staff conference went really well. A good mixture of being informed, socialising with colleagues, being inspired, and hearing about brilliant work we are funding.


For the latter, we had a talk by the brilliant RefuAid who help refugees to get vocational training and education. They sometimes provide interest-free loans to do this using a big interest-free loan we have made to them. As they get paid back, so do we. 🙂 One of the people they work with talked to us – a refugee from Syria who is also a general surgeon and converting his qualifications so he can practice in the UK.

The Week Ahead

  • Back to normal with the work routine though an earlier start on Mon to accommodate an 11am meeting (I’m showing flexibility 🙂 )
  • Fri lunchtime a group of us from work are going on a historic guided walk around Brixton to celebrate Black History Month 🙂
  • 4 or 5 gym sessions is the aim. There’s also been an email from THT about a yoga session on Fri morning for people with HIV – must give it a try.
  • 10K jog-run on Sat morning to be followed by attendance at the big pro-Europe march
  • Only one cultural event – a gay play next Sat afternoon (after the march)
  • Hopefully I will get through at least one book 🙂
  • Carry on keeping on top of work and personal emails as well as continue to do language learning via the apps

And Finally…

The brilliant letter Bertrand Russell sent to Sir Oswald Mosley explaining why he could not accept his lunch invitation.

Letter to Oswald Mosley

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