Bad news on health – time to take action

Sun 27 March – Sat 2 April 2016

Health and Efficiency

health cholesterolThe key thing from last week was some health-related news. I had blood tests done before I went to Berlin. Friday morning I get a call from my GP telling me that my cholesterol reading is 8.2 – it’s supposed to be under 5. Part of the issue is that my anti-retrovirals push up my cholesterol but I had to stop one of the two meds I take to counter this as I was on anti-biotics to deal with my sinusitis. I have been prescribed a new statin to take as the last lot also caused muscle aches and I assured the doctor I would start taking those straight away now the anti-biotics were completed.

Linked into this piece of bad health news was also the result of my weigh-in on Friday. I had gone up to 13-12, the heaviest I have been for ages. Clear that in terms of maintaining my own health I need to take action with the primary thing being far more vigilant on what I eat and, hopefully, losing weight.

Not a great lot of exercise because, as per usual, I was too busy with work (work will ultimately kill me or at least contribute to my death). Some walks but my main noticeable exercise was the gym on Friday morning and re-starting jogging on Saturday morning. I’ve been putting this off because of my aching achilles and, before that, my aching knee. Had physio for both with limited success and wonder how much both have been related to the meds I am on with aching muscles sometimes being caused by statins. My watch couldn’t connect to GPS so I just had to go by time rather than also being able to measure distance , pace and calories. Just under 26 minutes to go round St James Park and Green Park. Not bad and the key thing was that leg muscles ached (in a good way) but neither knee nor achilles were too aggravated.

Hospital for a CT scan on Wednesday morning to try to identify the ongoing problem with my sinuses; anti-biotics finished but still on nose drops for several more weeks. Had to go to Hammersmith Hospital by Wormwood Scrubs which is a bit of a pain to get to; a walk, bus, and walk to reach there. I had booked off Wednesday morning from work based on memories of previous scans. This one was done in 5 minutes. That suggests to me no problems found. Tube to my gym for a shower and sauna then spent time pottering on my pooter before going into the office.

Goodbye to Berlin

bauhausPrevious Sunday and me and Dave were still in Berlin. Found a fab new coffee shop where I went off for pain au chocolat and coffee for breakfast. Dave and me to the Bauhaus museum. 8 Euros entry each and quite small with officious staff. Bauhaus is an interesting inter-war art period though some members were far more influential than others. A lot of the work was very black and white with many straight lines. This style went through a renaissance in the 1980s and its stark simplicity appealed to my teenage years. Now I find it a bit cold and simplistic. Pasta lunch and then drinks in the afternoon. Dave planned to go clubbing that evening but changed his mind. I just stayed in Berlin’s gay area and chilled with coffee and wine.

Monday was all about travelling back. I like to leave early on the last day of holiday as it is always painful going home. Pastry and coffee then our taxi to Tegel. This was the day following the big storm in UK and ongoing bad winds disrupting flights. Our in-bound plane was delayed so we boarded late. Then, once on board, it was announced our slot to return to the UK was delayed so we couldn’t leave for another hour. We eventually left about an hour and twenty minutes late. Then 30 minute wait at Heathrow to find a gate so we could disembark. Should have been back at Dave’s around 3, actually turned out to be nearer 5. Unpacking, shower, shave and laundry before double Coronation St in the evening – a nice way to finish off bank holiday Monday and Easter 2016.


Worked last week on Tuesday, Wednesday afternoon, and Thursday. Tuesday was an office day with some important catch-ups. First, I had a meeting with Big Society Capital to look at potential ways to work together particularly providing funding to developing social organisations with good tech offerings. Then a catch-up with Tom Steinberg who oversaw the growth and development of the exciting tech agency MySociety (great strapline: ‘We help citizens demand better’ with brilliant digital tools such as They Work For You and Fix My Street). Finally, had an internal liaison around how we can profile better amongst our staff the exciting Tech for Good projects we are funding and supporting.

Thursday morning I attended an internal meeting on digital story-telling. We all had to put forward examples of best practice and I put forward the wonderful ‘The Power of Okay’ video created by SeeMe in Scotland to assist in tackling mental health discrimination. This discussion linked into the results of an internal consultation at work gathering ideas on how we can use digital better to get people to engage with our grant-making so making them more willing to donate money – some great ideas came out of this and I look forward to them being developed.

Thursday afternoon over to Paddington see our colleagues at Microsoft in their new office. We have jointly funded two Tech for Good / Upgrade Your World projects. Each received a small grant of £20K over 3 months to achieve something exciting and both projects are doing well. SafeLives are creating a social platform for professionals from any sector working in Domestic Violence and Abuse. Centrepoint are working on a better dashboard for their database containing information about the extent of youth homelessness so people can do queries more easily.

Personal reflections

This was the week Ronnie Corbett died. Another great character alongside those already gone this year which really has been a cull of some of the most influential cultural stars: Sir Terry Wogan, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Paul Daniels, Cliff Michelmore, Asa Briggs, Anita Brookner, George Martin, Tony Warren, Harper Lee, Umberto Eco, Louise Rennison, Frank Finlay, Black, Ed Stewart, Glenn Frey. All slightly depressing and makes one think how short and quick life is.

On a more positive note, had a catch-up with my mate Philip on Friday who has left work and is going to live in Spain – envy. It was great to catch up and I am already planning my visit to see him near Malaga.

Books and Reading

emily bronteRead an all-time classic never got round to previously, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Written in 1847 and one of the first great novels. I didn’t really know the story apart from the love affair between Cathy and Heathcliff. I did not realise it was a complex family saga nor the fact that Cathy dips out relatively early. Eighteenth century language including heavy Yorkshire dialect and very close knit inter-family relations that are almost claustrophobic. Heathcliff really is a thoroughly manipulative man and I’m not sure that his love for Cathy evens this out. A happy ending was almost certainly part of its popular appeal.

Also read a book that it is perhaps too early to call a modern classic but it is a beautiful read charting twentieth century European history. The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck is a story in the Kate Atkinson and Ben Elton mode of ‘what if’. The different and tragic turns of a woman’s life are laid out to the point where one is left wondering whether considering any changing point as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is ultimately pointless. This book resonated with me as one gets older and sees the key points in one’s life where things could have been dramatically different but without every knowing if you did the right thing or not.

Caught up on a couple more Doctor Who audio-books both featuring the 8th Doctor – the brilliant Paul McGann. Time Works is a messy adventure set in a medieval land with modern technology and a huge emphasis on time as a negative. A script with some clever bits but a story that doesn’t really engage and feels a bit all over the place. Other Lives was much more satisfying. A strange little time-travel adventure when the Doctor and his companions visit the Great Exhibition in 1851 then get separated and all have their own adventures. Quirky and fun.

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