All about being fat, cultured, caring, and working hard

Mon 12 – Sun 18 Feb 2018

In so many ways, last week was about getting back to normal after Athens. But with some variations thrown in. Didn’t get as much exercise done as I wanted to and I am facing up to the fact I am fat with the need to lose weight. Work was wonderfully busy, I popped to Brighton where one of my old chaps is dealing with some real problems (not just the usual everyday crap), and I did some culture – good and bad.

Art & Culture

I suppose I’m a bit of a culture vulture (darling) and I did get to an exhibition and a cinema film last week. One was amazing and the other was not.

Ocean Liners: Speed and Style

Me and Dave popped to the V&A last Tues. He is a member and wanted to show me the new member’s dining room. Bad decision. It was half-term and the museum was packed with a queue in the member’s dining room that would mean about a half hour wait to be served.

However we did pop into the Ocean Liners exhibition. I had heard some good things about this but what a disappointment. 🙁 The V&A seems to increasingly doing dumbed down exhibitions aimed at stroking people’s memories and reminiscences: Pink Floyd, 1968, and now this.

The show just felt lazy to me. Various bits and pieces had been chucked together around a theme. The commonality being they had something to do with boats. The large room centrepiece epitomised this. Knicks and knacks including a lot of dresses by the sort of people who would travel on these ships and some big screens on loop showing people walking around in evening dress.

ocean liner It must be said that I find Jane McDonald’s TV programmes on Channel 5 about cruises infinitely more entertaining than this exhibition.

Call me by your name

Call me by your name

Elliot & OliverI have heard so many good things about this film and on Thurs me and Dave went to see it at the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square. And what a wonderful film it is.

Set in 1983 northern Italy, it is the story of the romance between a 17 year old precocious teenager (Elliot) and the older, brasher visiting American post-doc student (Oliver). It’s certainly not lovey dovey and shows all the confusion both of them would have had over how they felt and what they should do. Beautiful cinematography and it paints a great picture of a time when being gay wasn’t totally OK but the impact of AIDS hadn’t really started.

Italian dinnerThere are some annoying bits. The father’s acceptance speech to his son is just something that I don’t believe would have happened in the early eighties and not that likely even now.

Also, we know about Elliot’s dabbling with girls but we don’t really see Oliver’s though I am pretty sure he was playing off both Elliot and his Italian girl. Indeed, both of the main characters are quite annoying in their own ways; it is hard to like either of them completely. But one of my favourite things is the way the film splits between English, French and Italian constantly whilst showing European quality of life at its best. I love languages and I love Europe so what was there not to like?

Health and Efficiency


Old magazine cover

Good intentions… My plan was for 4 gym visits and possibly a jog-run replacing one of those. So what happened? I managed to get 2 gym sessions done – Tues and Thurs morning. Both good ones with weights and 20-25 mins on the treadmill. I had planned to go to the gym on Fri morning which was TOIL (time off in lieu) from helping at a work event the night before. And on Sat morning where it was possible I would do a jog-run.

pouring a latteBut both days I woke up and I was exhausted, simple as that. Thurs night I didn’t sleep well because my knee was hurting so perhaps I had overdone it on the treadmill. Fri morning and Sat became my indulgent days spent drinking coffee, reading books, doing stuff on the pooter, going to the library, and walking. I also got my hair shaved which always makes me feel good.


lose weight nowSo my lovely holiday in Athens was as damaging to my weight as I expected. Nearly up to 14 and a half stone when I weighed myself at the start of the week. The plumpest I have ever been in my whole life.

I felt ashamed and fat; that horrible feeling when you are so aware of the fat that surrounds your body and that you are having to carry around. I have been trying to cut down my food intake through the week. And by the weekend I was down to 14 stone 4 pounds. Pretty disastrous still but movement in the right direction. My plan is now incrementally to push this down primarily by trying to reduce my calorie intake.


progress being madeBusy, busy, busy. Indeed, everyone feels so rushed off their feet and they genuinely are. We are all adapting to our new structure. We will get there. It’s just a case of keeping on keeping on.

So some of the stuff that has happened last week:

  • Internal conversations around legal issues and developing new services to help people better understand what we are trying to achieve as well as providing new types of support to projects on the ground
  • A workshop for the assessors for the latest Tech for Good projects up for funding
  • Support to staff members in my team who are really committed and working hard whilst also dealing with their own private issues – true for all of us
  • Preparing for interviews next Tues for an important role in our team
  • Investigating issues around us funding an exciting new initiative. Change or die is so true but getting to change is not always easy.

I suppose the common theme of my new post is pushing on new ways to do things. Not just for the sake of being modern but to ensure our work stays relevant and impactful. People want a better world and so the thing to do is to create ways for this to happen.



Thurs evening was a bit of a different one. We hosted an event for an agency called Afford. They are an umbrella  for African diaspora organisations. These are organisations run by Africans living in the UK but who channel money back to Africa to improve people’s lives there. Diaspora communities exist across the world (such as British ex-pats in Spain) and many of them remit money ‘home’. Often it is to help family members but it can also be to do major things such as supporting health and education projects.

geographical africaThurs evening and there were presentations to a packed room about Afford itself, Commonwealth Foundation grants, and the new crowdfunding platform being run by GlobalGiving. The matched crowdfunding programme we just did with some UK projects was a success (14 out of 16 raised their target or more).

It can be a bit scary but the potential crowdfunding has to help groups raise money and connect with donors is excellent. I chatted to some of the people there (my role was primarily guiding people around) and it was lovely to hear their stories especially about how they were able to support projects around the world with quite small sums of money, volunteers, and donated equipment.



Sunday it was me and Dave down on the 8am coach to Brighton to see my old chaps. The coach was relatively empty and a nice time to catch up on reading and thinking; two hours of driving through London and then Sussex.

Straight off to see Bob in his nursing home. He’s been there 5 years now. It is sad because he needs full nursing care but his mind is still sharp whereas most people in his home are incapacitated primarily by  suffering from dementia. We went out to Portslade and sat outside for a coffee. He was so happy to be out, the temperature was quite mild, and we watched the world go by.


seaside rainOnto see Brian. He’s had some really bad news and now finds himself as a person living with cancer. He’s dealing with it but finding it difficult. Wouldn’t we all? He doesn’t feel like going out so I just chatted with him in his flat for a couple of hours.

The nurses are going in but he’s also getting confused with his medication. It is wonderful that he is in sheltered housing as the other residents are helping him out with things like shopping and doing his laundry. The warden is also great. I left him when he went down for afternoon tea with the other residents. I think I am going to have to pop down more regularly to keep an eye on him.


Pavilion at nightMe and Dave checked into our hotel then out to meet with my old mate Rob (Swing It) at the lovely Donatello’s Italian restaurant in the Lanes. He looks great; I’m envious that he, and Dave, still have so much hair. My hair choice these days is how short I want it shaved.

Great to hear about his plans to sell his flat, get a new one, and his long-term plan to retire to Spain. Sad to hear about his dog who died just before Christmas. However he acknowledges that it makes his life easier now. Back to the hotel to do some reading in the bar whilst watching the BAFTAs on the television.

Personal Development

I seem to be making so little progress each week. That will be even more true with work taking up so much of my time despite the theory that I am only working 3 days each week. But one needs to have targets and dreams so it is fair to keep an eye on improving myself.

No coding practice and a little bit of Duolingo. I try to do a bit of the latter when I go to bed around 9 before I do some reading and drift off. It’s an attempt to make it a routine that I do. Sometimes it happens, other times I am too tired.

Coffee computer pen+paperEmails have gone a bit crazy again. Though there is a new norm that when they go crazy they don’t go as crazy as they have done in the past; I have moved down the ‘normal’ total amounts of unread and to be actioned.

Weekends are my new time to slog through personal and work emails particularly whilst I’m doing something else like watching crap TV or listening to Radio One. My brother told me how he listens to Heart and Capital Gold – who wants to listen to old songs all the time?

Books and Reading

‘The Sellout’ by Paul Beatty

This has been an intriguing book to read. I picked it up at the library and it’s the winner of this year’s Man Booker Prize. It is a modern satire on the lives of black people and race relations in America. The plaudits seem to rate it as a hilarious and prescient book. Sure it’s making lots of fascinating comments and bits are amusing.  Also, it’s very modern and clever featuring some fascinating characters; our hero is a black farmer/cowboy based in Los Angeles. Basically he re-introduces slavery and segregation.

But I also found it a hard read. It is not actually a very long book but it felt like it was taking a lot of effort. I’m really not convinced it will age well in the way that the humour of P G Wodehouse is very much of its time and feels whimsical now rather than laugh out loud funny. Indeed, I’m not at all sure that it rates being the prize winner it is. To my mind, a clever and intriguing novel but not a brilliant one. It would be good to know if anybody else has read this book and their feelings about it?

The Week Ahead…

The big news is that at the end of the current week I am off to (cold) Berlin for a long weekend away with Dave. This was another part of my sabbatical and we were actually thinking about spending a longer time there. But this is all I can afford in terms of leave and it marks the last remnant of my sabbatical that I will be taking. Me and Dave were doing to see his friends David and Gordon in Mijas in Spain during March. I won’t be going now but Dave will be going on his own.

Other stuff for next week:

  • Work two and a half days including interviews for an important and senior role on Tues
  • My re-scheduled catch-up with Dan from CAST and then Nick Stanhope from Shift on Wed
  • No time for gym but hopefully I can do some walking in Berlin and keep my calorie intake under control
  • At least one book read during the week and perhaps listening to some Dr Who audio-books
  • Try to get some Duolingo done and some coding practice
  • Keep on top of personal and work emails



And Finally…

Another mass shooting in the USA

People die and we don't care



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