Black Lives Matter – looking back on Lockdown(?), Week 11

Sun 31 May – Sat 6 June 2020

Hero - Black Lives Matter

Sometimes we live through monumental weeks and last week was one of those being all about, quite correctly, Black Lives Matter. We all saw the horrific murder of George Floyd by a police officer with three others present and complicit. A terrible thing to see but the fact it was videoed means that it could be seen the world over. If that video had not been made then nothing would have happened.

America erupted and Trump retreated into fascism. He sat in his bunker clearly shitting himself but revelling in the opportunity to use the military – albeit against his own people. Who would have thought we would see the US President acting like some tinpot dictator in a dodgy semi-militarised semi-failed country? He increasingly reminds me of a slightly less insane version of Idi Amin.

Black Lives Matter

The nightmare that are mavericks

Meanwhile in the UK, thanks to the failed leadership of our government, it is not really clear whether we have finished lockdown or not. I suspect the ‘mavericks’ (easy to be a maverick when you’re wealthy 🙂 ) in our govt are actually quite pleased to have this type of scenario. It’s part of the management theory that chaos is good, everything an opportunity, and we should all endorse the joys of constant change. Again, it’s great if you are rich enough to weather the crap bits.

The coming winter of our discontent?

It’s the same chaos that they look forward to with a no-deal Brexit which we seem to be steaming towards. And perhaps suffering is the only thing that will clear the sense of British exceptionalism out of this country; that one day we can just get on with existing as a normal medium-sized nation. Winter could be an absolute nightmare: ongoing underlying coronavirus pandemic, a new flu outbreak, cold weather, the shock of no-deal Brexit. 🙁

Family and Friends

My mum

Be happy about nice things

Good news last week, I finally got to see my mum in the flesh. The first time for about 12 weeks. She is safe and looked well but tired. She wants everything to go back to how it was, who doesn’t? And she desperately wants to get her hair done – again who doesn’t?

Dave’s mum

Dave also managed to see his mum. But whereas I can walk to mine, he had to hire a car for the day and drive about 4 hours each way. His also looked well and wants things to go back to normal. Indeed, she was a lot more active than my mum who really just liked to go out shopping. Dave’s mum used to breakfast at a local cafe everyday, do armchair aerobics twice and bingo three times each week. It’s only relatively recently that she has stopped going to watch the local football club. Will she ever be able to go back to how things were? 🙁

Books and Reading

Velvet Page book club – bad zoom

Managed to attend the Velvet Page book club last Thurs for the first time in three months. It was on zoom so should have been straight forward. However, I had trouble connecting eventually remedied when I got sent the correct meeting code. But I had managed to miss half the meeting and, for some reason, my internet connection was bad which meant people couldn’t hear me well. Disappointing particularly as it had been better earlier in the day. 🙁

‘Nightwood’ by Djuna Barnes

This was the book we read. It is an early gay classic, written in 1936, and portraying in print one of the first lesbian relationships. I actually think it’s about a lesbian three-some and the main male character is almost certainly a gay man. It is of its time as everybody who is gay has a tragic and sad life, the gay man sometimes wears women’s clothes, and there is virulent anti-semitism. It is a short book and one of my main criticisms is the failure to really develop the characters – a missed opportunity.

It’s a classic but hard work

Surprised woman

Unfortunately, my overall verdict would be that the book is ‘mercifully short’ as it is incredibly intense and difficult to read. The fact it is mid-1930s indicates how it would have been affected by intellectual movements of the time such as anarchism, modernism, and surrealism. This partly explains why it is a difficult and complex read. Revolutionary for its time in its portrayal of gay men and women but, for me, one to get through that I doubt I will ever go back to reread.

Personal Development

My usual commitment to language learning on the apps and I clocked up a decent amount of time committed to it last week. Plus I kept on top of emails through either dealing with or deleting them. It’s a great way to keep control, try it. 🙂

Woo Commerce webinar

Surprise on the phone

My main personal development win was watching the Pootlepress webinar on Woo Commerce. This is software designed for WordPress that means you can use a website to sell things. I don’t intend to use my website to sell anything yet but it’s an option for the future especially if I decided to go freelance.

Art and Culture

Macbeth at The Globe

Modern fringe theatre

Made progress on this theme in an unexpected way. It came through watching ‘Macbeth’ as performed at Shakespeare’s Globe. I was checking out the website when I found their recent production. Great to watch and I am slightly embarrassed to say that I had never seen it in its entirety before. Highly recommended.

Work Life Balance

Part-time doesn’t work when you WFH

depression or just work?

Work continues to be so very busy with zoom group meetings, 1:1s, emails, Slack, and Workplace. I try vainly to keep to my part-time hours but how can I turn down requests when I am not doing anything else? Wed was my full-day at work (every other day I am meant to only work half days) and I was so busy that I had no chance to leave the flat at any time not even for a little walk.

Neither does Health and Safety

Fun as well to do an online Health and Safety assessment that is based on the assumption that where you live is big enough for a proper desk and adjustable office chair. 🙁 Always amazes me how we live in a society where so many people don’t realise that not everyone lives in a big house with a garden. That has what has made lockdown so hard for some.

It’s all about problem solving

A big aspect of last week was me trying to ‘square a circle’. Fundamentally what we are all paid to do at work is to solve problems. Though clearly some problems are small and mundane, and other big and exciting. I quite enjoy this though it is interesting how the more you find out about a problem, the more you realise the problem is not as your originally envisaged it with more dimensions than expected.

Webinars are fun

One of the things I have been doing WFH is to book onto a lot more webinars. So often you can just listen and learn without having to actively participate. And it is really easy to do other work and have learning stuff on in the background dipping in and out of it as relevant. Some of the subjects of webinars last week I ‘attended’:

  • Place-based investment (when you put resources into a specific geographical area)
  • Promoting ‘assistive technology’ (this helps people have a better quality of live) to carers
  • How Covid-19 is impacting on social enterprises

Great no-agenda 1:1s

Another good thing I have started to do is to line up no-agenda zoom calls with people. Two last week. First was with the digital lead at Lancashire Women. This is part of an online ‘coffee catch-up’ arranged by CAST (Centre for the Acceleration of Social Tech) where random people are connected. The second was with my old Tech for Good colleague Dan Sutch who is one of the main people running CAST. Great just to talk, listen, and learn. 🙂

Health and Efficiency


I’m still missing the gym and increasingly reconciling myself that my old small gay gym may never reopen. 🙁 Main exercise last week was lots of walking (often listening to Big Finish Dr Who stories 🙂 )and a 5K jog-run on Sun morning. All went well though a bit slow regarding pace – time per km. And I had a little walk afterwards to a local small green space that I feel very relaxed in. Details on weight and jog-runs here.

INR – monitoring for blood clotting

blood clot in a blood vessel

Had to pop to the GP last week for my INR to check the level of my blood clotting. 2 months since the last test and this one was just outside range. So an altered does of anti-coagulants and an appointment again in a fortnight. 🙁 Fascinating how the surgery has geared itself up to protect staff and patients.

The Week Ahead

  • A really busy work week – part-time definitely out of the window 🙁
  • Digital Leaders Virtual for the next fortnight so lots of interesting webinars to attend if I have the time. I do recommend checking out and signing up. 🙂
  • Another no-agenda catch-up with an old colleague, this time Matt Haworth of Reason Digital 🙂
  • Hopefully I will be able to visit mum again 🙂
  • Am reading two very good books I anticipate finishing within next week. One is a seriously original fantasy book and the other non-fiction about the history of severed heads!
  • Will continue my personal development especially language learning
  • Also hope to watch some more movies or stage plays on the internet
  • My plan is to do a decent jog-run each weekend and supplement that with lots of walking. I would like to do more but it’s just the lack of time available. 🙁

And Finally…

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