Back in control ?

Mon 7 – Sun 13 Aug 2017

I felt a bit on top of things last week. This was very much linked to getting emails sorted and deleted both from my personal and my work accounts. This feeling of control may not last but it’s nice to luxuriate in it for a bit. A false dawn is better than no dawn.

Meanwhile the threat of nuclear war between Trump and North Korea increases. Two man-babies trying to out do each other. Plus the rise of the neo-Nazis apparent at Charlottesville. Remember how dangerous the world was with Hillary and her emails…

And on Wednesday it absolutely pissed down all day in London which made it feel like autumn which was here. All a bit depressing. Someone posted this prophetic vision written by the great Carl Sagan in 1996:

1996 writing by Carl Sagan

Personal Development


Tis rare that I make this the first section in my blog but why not. I am really pleased I got my emails a bit more under control. I love reading them and sharing interesting stuff. But when it gets to over 150 unread in my personal account and/or 150 sitting in my work account ready for action, then I feel I am overwhelmed. There is no secret to dealing with them. It is either delete unread or read and action. I concentrated a lot on the latter last week and made satisfying progress. Progress in one area of your life is better than no progress anywhere.


I also made some moves forward around languages. Although I did not manage to get Duolingo done every day. I missed out on Tuesday and that was simply because it was a busy work day with social stuff in the evening. But better than 3 missed days the previous week. And I also got some times spent on Code Academy practising coding, playing around with HTML and CSS. Baby stuff really but still progress.

The Death of Louis XIV

Still from the filmLinked to trying to improve my language skills, I went to see this film in French on Wed at the ICA. A strange film set totally around the death bed of Louis XIV, the Sun King. Interesting the way that his courtiers were trying to come to terms with the fact he was dying and desperately seeking to stop it. Sad that his departure was not pleasant and thoughtful but rather fraught and done in denial. Very well acted especially the way life seemed to seep out of the main character as really happens when someone dies. And some beautiful baroque imagery. A good film but not to see if you can’t deal with death nor if you want lots of activity.

Socialising and learning

Tues night I caught up with my old colleague Paul Fitz. We worked together about 15 years ago and have stayed in contact since. He is going to train to be a priest and is off to college in Sept. He’s suffered the hardship of a stroke but has survived and lives with its ongoing consequences. I am in admiration of his ability to get off his arse and do stuff – I wish other people had his ‘get up and go’. I also admire his spiritual belief, mine is semi-dormant at the moment. Not dead but hibernating though with no guarantee that the awakening will definitely happen.

Me and Paul ate at this Korean I like – hectic and spicy. Good to chew the cud. And it was very interesting when he asked me if I took hope from the lives I had changed by the funding I had given to projects. I had never thought of it that way. Rather I see life pessimistically, not of things created but rather chances missed and mistakes made. Perhaps that is something I need to work on? Things only change when we choose that they change.

Health and Efficiency

The inspiration of the IAAF World Championships has hit home particularly with it being on TV every night. How can one not watch such amazing athletes and then not seek to emulate them in your own small way?


I was concerned my Sat morning jog-run would be affected by preparations for the IAAF walking races on Sun. These took place on the Mall and my jog-run course covers St James Park and Green Park. But twas OK and I dealt with it by making some small changes to my normal route. Good enough effort though hard work. I really had to be resilient and keep on when part of me said ‘don’t bother, stop now’. Video report can be seen here I think I am hitting a ‘normal’ time on my 10K of 1 hour 3 mins and I need to break this.


Managed to get there three times which was excellent: the mornings of Mon, Thurs, and Fri. Heavy weights pushed for my upper body and legs on the first two days plus c.20 mins on the treadmill. Fri was all about focusing on arms and core to get some sort of rest for the jog-run the following day. Managed to get an extra day in the gym by going over to see mum and stay with her on Thurs night rather than Fri morning. Like many things, good to try something new and see if it works better. This way lies progress.


I am getting into a regular weekend habit of jog -run on Sat and yoga on Sun. It’s a good combination but I don’t want to settle into a rut. A quiet session and some good stretching with a new teacher. This is what I do yoga for whereas others do it more to relax and tackle stress.

Tech for Good

Not the most intense of weeks but some good individual moments:

  • Catching up with the internal Digital team about what we are up to in funding Tech for Good and how they might be more involved
  • Coffee with Kerri from National Ugly Mugs (formerly National Network of Sex Work Projects) to find out how they are progressing on their tech journey. To be honest, I had forgotten about their campaigning angle, I think of them so much more as doing individual case work around violence against sex workers.
  • Phone check-in with the Blagrave Trust as I will be speaking at their annual event for the youth projects they fund
  • Meeting with colleagues to prepare the workshop we are doing on funding Tech for Good at the ACF (Association of Charitable Foundations) annual conference
  • Finally last thing on Fri catching up with a couple of guys who wanted to talk about how we choose projects to fund overseas and then how we deal with issues around due diligence and user feedback

Books and Reading

‘It’ by Stephen King

Pennywise the killer clownA classic horror book that I picked up dirt cheap on Amazon and read on my kindle. It was a longer read that an I had predicted. But what an amazing book with the killer clown Pennywise. Absolutely brilliant the way the events faced by children in the 1950s are interweaved by the events they are facing as adults in the 1980s. Dark horror with some awful images ingrained into the reader’s mind. Written in 1986 so important to remember that it came before lots of similar things. And his 22nd book. The man who also wrote classics such as Salem’s Lot, Misery, Carrie, and The Shining. How can one man write so many brilliant books? Interesting to note that a new film version is released soon.

Dr Who audio adventures

‘The English Way of Death’ (fourth Doctor Tom Baker + companions Romana and K9)

An audio adaptation of a 1996 book. I am realising these book adaptations are far more messy than specifically made for audio adventures. Inevitable I suppose particularly with so much more happening in the books. Tom Baker sounds old but laid back and amusing. And there is fun characterisation of K9. Overall a perfectly decent listen – pure, escapist amusement.

Looking Ahead

Another relatively nice week ahead me thinks:

  • Keeping on top of my emails
  • Duolingo every day and some coding practice
  • Perhaps signing off the final version of the research on Social Tech Eco-systems in Sub-Saharan Africa and getting it into the public domain to stimulate discussion
  • Two panels (UK and International) to agree projects to be funded to tackle HIV issues (the UK one uses tech)
  • 2-3 gym workouts plus a jog-run and a yoga session
  • Perhaps going to see a film at the cinema
  • Meeting up with my old mate Brian on Thurs
  • Finishing a book I am currently reading and starting a couple of new ones (I like reading books concurrently)
  • Listening to a couple more Dr Who audio adventures
  • My friend Jamie’s new play ‘Skewed Judgement’ starts and I want to get to see it

And finally…

Football season is back and QPR are doing OK so far. A win in a cup competition but 4 points from the 2 opening league games. A 2-0 win at home against Reading and drawing away with Sheffield Wednesday. Grounds for minor optimism.

QPR old skool

2 thoughts on “Back in control ?

  1. Hi Billy – a first for me but I think your pal who is to become a priest is spot-on – think of the differences you have made for the good from your youthwork all those years ago to looking out for your Brighton chaps now and the good outcomes arising out of the grants you’ve recommended or awarded. Do see life as chances and things created that you personally have had a hand on rather than missed opportunities and mistakes you’ve made. That’s me off my soapbox now!

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