An economic crisis and a general malaise

Mon 26 Sept – Sun 2 Oct 2022

Another bloody awful week in the UK in geopolitical terms. 2022 really is an ‘annus horriblis’ as the old Queen would have said. In a previous blog (read it here) I pointed out so far this year we have had war in Europe, a heatwave / drought, a Prime Minister’s resignation, and the Queen’s death. We can now add a financial / economic crisis. And I am perceiving a general malaise across the country.

A malaise is defined as a general feeling of discomfort, illness, or unease whose exact cause is difficult to identify’. It’s partly linked to the weather in the UK as we shift to lower temperatures, rain, and the general greyness of our winter along with short days / long nights. Perhaps we can actually trace this malaise back to the chaos that has come from the Brexit and the 2016 referendum. It feels to me like we are a country that has realised we’ve lost our way.

I do wonder if this sense of malaise has heightened now and come more to the fore with the conscious and unconscious realisation that the Queen has gone? Someone who promised stability and safety for so long. It’s like a child dealing with the death of a parent. This combined with a government that feels both naive, inept, and ideological. We are a country realising that we don’t know where we are going and are fearful for the future in a way that we haven’t been for decades.

“There are no endings…they are all beginnings”

Hilary Mantel

Health and Efficiency

My ongoing cold

I am sure that my ongoing cold (mentioned in my last blog here) is contributing to my thinking. I can’t shift the cough, catarrh, headaches, and tiredness I am feeling. Someone said a cold takes a fortnight to get over and that time frame lasts into next week. And I suppose that my unwellness is giving me a personal malaise; I just can’t get the feeling that I am firing on all cylinders.

spreading disease

Gym

One sign I am not in a malaise would be the ability to attend the gym three times per week as I used to do. Was really hoping to get back to my ‘normal’ three sessions last week but alas there were only two: Monday and Thursday. Woke up on Tuesday just feeling absolutely knackered and had to give up on the idea of a gym session that day.

Two good sessions though not too intensive. But I was knackered on both of the following days. Both sessions I was alone in the gym.

66 gym sessions since the start of the year divided by the annual membership = £7.50 per session.

Walking

Did manage to get some good, long, purposeful walks done. I’m always happy when I’m walking. Tuesday I did a long walk to replace my missed gym session. And another one after my working day on Wednesday. Then walked with Dave on Sat morning to meet with our friend Patrick. Then another long walk on Sunday morning.

My watch keeps a track on my heart rate, number of daily steps, and daily calorie burn. Pleased to say that I am doing about 12-13,000 steps per day.

Weight

And some days I can burn up to 3,500 calories. Yet I still don’t lose weight so my calorie intake is clearly too great. Friday night was a particular disaster with a big fish and chips treat. Latest weight is 14 stone, 3 & a half pounds. Disastrous, clearly I’ve still got to get to grips with controlling my eating.

Covid booster

Had this done on Tuesday afternoon. I have said before how we should be so grateful for the different vaccines that have saved us from deadly epidemics not least flu, covid, and monkeypox. I’m definitely not one of the anti-vax nutter brigade. 6.5 million people across the world have died from Covid so far. The same number of Jews murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust. All those brilliant lives needlessly cut short.

Death

Family and Friends

Housing Association cock-up means mum is not good

A difficult week with mum. There are problems with some of the plumbing in her flat. The Housing Association have been contacted and failed to deal with the issue. Why is it that Housing Association repair services are so crap? And there’s nothing you can do. At least with the council you can complain to your councillor but with the Housing Association it’s a faceless corporation.

This made mum very tense and upset. Small things can often aggravate people no matter how irrational and out of proportion that stress may be. Mum was definitely in that space. Thankfully my brother stepped in, ordered the replacement part, and then fitted it himself. Obviously this is not right especially as the cost of getting repairs done is included in our rent / service charge but what else can you do?

Dave

He’s had an OK week though keeps giving me dirty looks when I’ve been coughing. Overall, though, he’s been generally sympathetic. He’s spent a lot of time supporting a colleague who did the London Marathon on Sunday to raise money for charity. He’s also making sure our friend Patrick is OK. Talking daily and catching up for bacon rolls on Wednesday. Then on Saturday we both met up with him for coffee.

Cup of coffee

Books and Reading

A bit of a personal malaise

A bit of my own malaise in that no books were finished during the last week which is really unusual for me. Not because I haven’t been reading. But rather because I’ve been dealing with too big and crunchy books: ‘Great Circle’ by Maggie Shipstead (excellent) and ‘Mother’s Boy’ by Patrick Gale (good). I could always do with more reading time if I weren’t so busy with other stuff. Plus also being knacked with my cold means I’m not staying up late in bed reading as I often do.

Work Life Balance

The value that comes with Working From Home

My ongoing cold didn’t put me off doing my two days at work. Though the fact I can work from home makes things easier. I can take things at a pace that is effective without being too tiring. And I can take pauses as I need them. If I had to go into work, I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have felt totally up to it for the week gone.

A survey this week suggested bosses think people working from home don’t work as hard as in the office – such a naive and simplistic view. Because you can’t see a person working doesn’t mean that they aren’t. There are clear benefits for in-person team working with the right situation. But people need to be trusted because most want to do their best whatever scenario they find themselves in. Plus the personal savings in time and money that comes from WFH.

“You can be very wild and still be very wise.”

Yoko Ono

Personal Development

Duolingo in the gym

Even through my own malaise, I am trying to keep to my daily Spanish learning on Duolingo. And I am basically achieving that. However, I’ve given up generally on doing it first thing in the morning after I get up. That does mean I often have to find time during the day to get my lesson in.

One thing I do enjoy is doing it in the gym though it’s only possible if I am on my own. I do a little bit in-between each set of exercises whilst I’m recovering. I think there is something about doing learning in unexpected and unconventional times and spaces that can make it more memorable and fun.

Curls

Art and Culture

Strictly and KaDeWe

Sadly there is definitely an ongoing malaise in terms of my personal failure to engage with my beloved art and culture. It’s akin to my failure to grapple with my weight problem. Perhaps symptomatic of this is my complete disengagement with the new series of Strictly Come Dancing. Usually I am fascinated by it. But this year, for some reason, it has passed me by. Was with mum at the weekend so we watched the show on Saturday night together. It was OK though the early stages of the competition with so many contestants often so crap is always the best bit.

Did catch up with episodes 3 and 4 of the German drama KaDeWe. Subtitled ‘Our Time is Now’, it’s a great piece of drama following the travails of 4 friends at the famous Berlin department store in the inter-war period. Some highs but the shadows of poverty, prejudice, and fascism are growing. Final two episodes next Saturday. I could watch on i-player but I like the old-fashioned approach of waiting till next week.

Sustainability

Will the the Amazon be saved?

A quiet week for me in this theme. Just the usual stuff around trying to live with less environmental impact: walking, not buying crap, trying not to produce so much waste, looking after my indoor and outdoor plants.

Worth noting the first stage of the Brazilian presidential elections. If the bastard Bolsonaro wins another term (by fair means or foul) then the Amazon is basically finished and we are closer than ever to an environmental armageddon.

The Week Ahead

  • Assuming Putin doesn’t go nuclear and destroy the world, then I suspect the malaise in the UK will continue. Tory party conference should be good for a laugh.
  • Hopefully back to a nice, normal life with a recovery from my cold. Two work days and three non-work ones. The latter providing the opportunity for three gym sessions.
  • Aim is to finish at least one of my two current reading books, hopefully both
  • Will spend time with mum. Life will be easier now the plumbing is sorted but there is still a window to be repaired.
  • INR on Tuesday. Fortnight since my last just about OK reading. If it is good this time then there should be a longer break to the next test.

And Finally…

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