Autumn depression

Mon 14 – Sun 20 Nov

Autumn, Dave, and mum

autumn leaves in St James ParkGod I hate Autumn and I can’t understand why anyone would say it is their favourite season (OK, OK, apart from the colours of the leaves). Autumn is cold, dark, and often wet. And next stop is Winter which could be very cold and even darker. At least in Winter you have Christmas and you know, even with Jan and Feb, that Spring is around the corner.

Last week was also gloomy because Dave had to go away for work. He flew off on Wed morning and didn’t get back till Sun afternoon. No-one to have a laugh with. No-one to take the piss out of me and vice versa. It was great when he came back and we went out to eat and catch up on both our news. He was in Mexico City but work took up all his time with no chance to see the city’s sites.

Whilst Dave was away, I spent some time staying with mum but also luxuriating in his empty flat. Mum came over on Sat lunchtime. We went to the fish and chip shop I have written about before. We both felt very stuffed afterwards and I walked her back to the tube which was a bit erratic due to engineering works.


brighton pierAt the start of last week I found myself in Brighton to catch up with my two old chaps I keep an eye on. First was Bob and he was OK. We talked for a bit in his room deciding whether to risk the iffy weather. We did so and were pleased we did ending up at our usual slightly scuzzy cafe drinking coffee (under cover) and watching the world go by. I then got a bus up to meet Brian stopping off at one of my favourite charity shops on the way. Brian was fine apart from a new ulcer on his leg and arguments with NHS staff about it. A new manager is starting at his sheltered housing. His dog continues to be ill with colitis and is costing him a fortune in vet’s fees. Home on Mon afternoon to spend the evening with mum and the soaps.


Tech for Good progresses

Last week we selected the longlist of projects who applied to our Tech for Good programme. Approx 55 are on that longlist. Next is to get to a shortlist of 20 and invite them to complete a full application with 10 to be funded. We also intend to publish the longlist video applications as exemplars of best practice. I worked with my paired colleague to score our batch of 7 longlisted videos choosing 2 or 3 to recommend to the shortlist. However I must also look at all 55 videos to identify any publishing issues. It is actually very inspiring and much easier to do than reading paper applications. Worth noting that lots of background work has gone on to make this programme happen. About 25 different people have been involved in shortlisting. Plus me and Nissa have spent much time giving briefings and support to the shortlisters.

Support as important as cash

old man giving adviceKey to the projects that will receive funding is the support they will also get from external experts they buy in with money we supply. Liaison with digital overlord James will sort out what support they need and then they will negotiate how many support days they can buy. James not only will give guidance to the projects on what support they need but also help source the specialist experts. Often such support is not directly tech-related but more allied needs such as legal advice, producing copy, data protection, data analytics, pricing policy, etc. Also last week I met with Dan from CAST. They will be organising support events including the bootcamp, meet-ups during the four month funding period, and the wrap-up event in Aug.

Tinder Foundation

I had a catch up with the CEO of Tinder Foundation. Their mission is very much to get people online. They run a network of UK online centres. But they are also trying to broaden this beyond traditional work of simply explaining how to use computers. It’s linked to that concept about tech making us all potential and actual creators rather than just being passive consumers. Good to hear about their current work in the UK and also overseas.

C-app, a sucess

Thurs night I attended an event at Microsoft in Paddington to celebrate C-App. This is a digital tool developed by SEAP (South East Advocacy Project) and NeonTribe with a previous Tech for Good grant. This tool assists people in applying for disability benefits and has had thousands of uses in a short period. I do find evening events hard because I am a morning person and flag as the day progresses. Several interesting evening things happened last week that I just didn’t have the energy to do including meet-ups around Tech for Good and e-health as well as a high level discussion on using tech to solve social problems. Who knows what I missed but then no point dwelling on ‘if onlys’. As brilliantly put once, ‘if your aunt had bollocks she’d be your uncle but she isn’t’ i.e. stop concerning yourself with what might have been.


Fri morning I attended a workshop on how to best use co-production. That is when we involve service-users in shaping services they use and decision-making about who delivers those services. This was particularly around a new young people’s programme. And I brought particular experience around the Innovation Labs we ran. This was when we did co-production with young people to create new digital products to help them with their mental health and wellbeing. The morning session went well. My only note for the future would be greater attention to where the service-users are in the meeting i.e. noting when they start switching off. Something similar in a draft report I received this week which was great but totally secured in language and structure that is going to make most ‘normal’ people fail to engage with it.innovation labs


Sona, my old work colleague

Tues night I met up with my old work colleague Sona. We used to work together at a TEC – Training and Enterprise Council about 20 years ago. She now runs a major social enterprise / community facility in north London. We don’t see each other regularly but it was that lovely feeling when two close people feel comfortable in each other’s company after years apart and just start talking as though they saw each other last week. We especially talked about our plans for the future. She about going to live in France and me being attracted by the allure of Spain. We also talked tech for work as well as how we use it in our personal lives such as for learning languages.

Lunch with Dom Ruffy

Thurs lunchtime I met with one of my work bosses and Dom Ruffy, who works in the abstinence-based recovery field, for a catch-up lunch. It’s always nice to meet colleagues you respect in social situations not least to remember they are human beings with all the same issues as yourself. We also caught up with Dom on work he has been doing around co-production particularly getting people with addictions involved in determining and shaping services they receive. Remember these are often very hard to reach people who are relatively small in number but contribute massively to society’s wider problems such as homelessness, crime, and pressure on the NHS.

Health and efficiency

Gym twice last week…

barbell with weightsGym on Wed and Sun mornings. Wed I felt a bit tired, not sure if I had an cold coming. Not helped by simply being Autumn and the depressing political situation. However the work-out went well. All general body parts covered plus 20 mins on the  rowing machine. Fortunately I had arrived just as the gym was re-opening after  a 24 hour closure to lay a new floor (which I knew nothing about). Sun’s gym session was all about gently stretching and activating my leg muscles tired from my jog-run the day before.

…But no swim

Supposed to swim on Thurs morning. Indeed I got all ready for it. Up and out early with stops at coffee shops so stuff done and I could be at the pool by 10-ish when it was less busy. But the tired feeling of the previous day was still there and I decided not to resist it this time. Instead ended up getting exercise by doing a long purposeful walk from Oxford Circus to Vauxhall stopping at Dave’s to drop off stuff and have a shower before my lunch meeting.

A decent but cold jog-run

lady running in cold weatherDone on Sat morning. I was knacked on Fri night and went to bed about 9, straight after Coronation Street. I still thought I might have had an autumn cold coming (probably just my crap sinuses). Amazing the things you can find to put off doing exercise. But up and out at 7 for my warm-up coffee. Then I did my jog-run. Very pleased I did it though it was hard work particularly with it being so cold; I had to wear my tracksuit bottoms. A decent enough time and 10 km achieved but not a classic. My legs and joints were aching the next day and I came across an internet article that said running was the worst type of exercise to do – ho hum.

Bloods and NHS shortcomings

bloods takenBloods done on Wed. I knew my meds were running low but I had not heard from the hospital. I am supposed to be on an automatic system where I am contacted for bloods and to collect my meds every six months. Phoned the hospital on Tues to be told I have Fri appointment but no-one had informed me. Couldn’t do Fri so I was told to come on Wed. Turned up but no prescription certificate ready. We had to get the emergency doctor to sort it. Not a massive inconvenience but took longer than it should have done. Especially annoying because fasting bloods were needed so I had not eaten for 16 hours and was starving. Also I ended up walking around London the rest of the day with a bag full of meds clanking about.

I love the NHS but it is amazing how often its systems go wrong. Similar to mum visiting hospital on Thurs. Patient Transport turned up late so she had already gone under her own steam in order to not miss her appointment. Imagine a little old lady on crutches negotiating a couple of different buses. Compare to the lazy sods who just don’t both turning up to appointments (DNAs – Did Not Attends) so causing big cost to the health service.

Books and reading

‘Broken Homes’ by Ben Aaronovitch

The fourth book in this series of the adventures of copper and trainee wizard Peter Grant. All the usual characters in including PC Lesley May, DCI Nightingale, Molly, the river gods and goddesses, Toby the dog, the Faceless Man, etc. All jolly good fun though the book felt slightly stilted at points with things suddenly happening out of nowhere to keep the plot going. There’s a great twist at the end though. I do keep needing to remind myself not to get this mixed up with Christopher Fowler’s equally brilliant ‘police and paranormal’ Bryant and May books.

Dr Who audio adventures

‘The Hollows of Time’ (sixth Doctor + companion Peri)

A lost story from famous cancelled 23rd TV series. And it reeks of eighties TV – you can imagine super-imposed Doctor ‘floating’ in space for one scene. Plus actually a quite flimsy story. Indeed Colin Baker himself in the ‘Extras’ describes story as ‘labyrinthine’ i.e. messy and confusing. All not helped by a rather precocious child actor. One of the most interesting things was that it was planned for the main villain to be the Master in disguise (Prof Stream). But Big Finish couldn’t get rights to do this so hinted at it throughout the story rather than actually letting it be stated.

‘The Condemned’ (sixth Doctor + companion Charley (Charlotte) Pollard)

A very good Big Finish adventure featuring the sixth Doctor soon after his regeneration when he is quite rude and abrupt. He rescues Charley who was companion of the suave eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) and she is surprised by the new (old) Doctor. but does not let on she knows him A nice murder mystery set in a tower block in Manchester 2008 but that slightly loses itself at points. But overall this is a bloody good audio adventure and very entertaining. Charley’s character and acting is great plus we meet ghost-like aliens who exist but don’t exist at the same time.


Don't let small minds...

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