Breathing a sigh of relief

Mon 11 – Sun 17 March 2019

And breath… Getting last week over was about releasing a sigh of relief. And now my very intense week is over, I can focus on the fortnight run-up to my sabbatical. In particular: appointing my cover, doing a handover, and making sure my team is in a good way before I go.

Dave is back

A definite sigh of relief this week with the parliamentary reception and Red Nose Day itself both out of the way and both successful. 🙂

Innovation and Creativity

The House of Commons reception

This happened last Tues afternoon. Me and my job-share colleague Dilhani have spent most of the last 3 weeks dealing with the minutiae of this. Important details to be covered because it was at the House of Commons and so security alongside engagement were both factors to cover.

The importance of me not being there

We had a very good sign-up from invited people representing our projects as well as fundraising partners. And also good sign-up from MPs and Peers. So our own staff representation had to be limited. I deliberately decided that my place should go to someone who wasn’t an old, white, man. Yes I represent diversity by being gay and positive but what matters often is to have visible diversity in terms of gender, race and disability. I was very proud that we sent a diverse team to the House of Commons. 🙂

King of social media

I stayed back in the office dealing with comms. Unfortunately the reception had only been arranged about a month previously and then the government announced the second meaningful vote on the Brexit deal for the same day and time. So we were worried about MP numbers. Also the reception coincided with the Radio 2 Danceathon and our social media team were focusing on that to boost fundraising.

So how did the reception go?

It went brilliantly. Not least due to the attention to detail by myself and my colleagues Dilhani and Irene. Plus the work done by our partner Coalition for Global Prosperity. Turned out over 50 MPs attended and the room was filled to hear Sir Lenny Henry and our two brilliant representatives from projects being funded in South Africa – Nozi from mothers2mothers and Thulani from VPUU.

Next year…

We will be following up with the MPs and Peers who came to the reception (as well as some who didn’t) to inform them about the work we are funding. Not least to try to get rights wronged through legal means rather than just funding projects to be plasters on problems. Next year will be bigger and better. With more warning – a bigger venue, a date that suits our social media team, and more work with key MPs and Peers in advance of the event. Indeed, we might be thinking about doing something similar with parliamentarians in other countries. 🙂

Red Nose Day (RND)

I actually enjoy fundraising

There is clearly a buzz you can get out of it; there is that wonderful feeling when you get a group of people working well together and achieving (or exceeding) their goals. I set up my own Facebook fundraiser (raising about £130) as well as giving numerous donations to people doing other things to raise money for Red Nose Day.

The long good Friday

Friday morning itself I was at London Bridge station with my colleagues where wearing a red nose and shaking my bucket, I contributed to us collecting about £650! I watched the night of TV though switching over to Coronation St when that was on. Off to bed around 10.30 as I had my jog-run the next day. Great to see our total raised on the night was £63m. Hopefully with money still to come in, we might make £70m. 🙂

Thank you 🙂

Thank you to everybody who gave – you are all stars and the planet is a better place for you being here. Particularly when you look at the horrible white nationalist terrorist attack in New Zealand on Friday. Evil exists in the world but so does goodness.

Books and Reading

‘We’ll always have Paris’

This was my main reading book for last week. It’s an eclectic collection of very short stories by the great writer Ray Bradbury – author of great books like Fahrenheit 451, The Illustrated Man, and The Martian Chronicles. This book was published about 10 years ago and does suggest an author in his setting sun time. Though these are not stories to be under-estimated – this is no collection just chucked together to appease a publisher demanding something new.

The stories are brief, almost like quick sketches by an artist. Generally a bit weird – sort of like stories from The Twilight Zone. But they are not just sci-fi / fantasy. There’s a couple of stories about gay men and even one about a gay sexual encounter by a straight man. There are also recurrent themes of straight couples growing old together and reflecting on their relationships. Indeed, the whole collection does feel like an old man writing down stories from his life not 100% true and embellished but with an element of reminiscence in all of them. All a bit mysterious and echoing.

Meanwhile my current reading book:

Health and Efficiency


Up 6.30 on Sat to a very windy but dry London. Out for my jog-run and another sigh of relief that my trusty old watch didn’t fuck up again. Run itself seemed to be going OK at first but I was done in by two kilometre stretches in the middle part and the penultimate one that went well over 7 mins. 🙁 Time of 1 hour 6.42 mins and a pace of 6.40 mins per km. Oh well, tis done and hopefully will be better next week. All jog-run times can be found here.

Gym news and a long purposeful walk


More reason to give a sigh of relief with the brilliant news that my gym will finally reopen at 4pm on 1st April. The opening party will be manic. Thus I think I will hit it again for the first time since August (when it closed for a 2 month redevelopment) on the morning of 2nd April. 🙂 My week was definitely brightened by this news. 🙂

I did have to work on Tues (day of the reception) so only had Thurs off last week. That meant no time for a yoga session. I did intend to go swimming on Thurs. But the morning was spent doing a long purposeful walk. Such that by the afternoon I felt too knacked to swim. It’s going to be different next week.

Art and Culture

The Saatchi Gallery was closed again

Me and Dave popped to Tate Britain on Thurs. We had planned to go to the Saatchi Gallery but it was closed for some reason. I must say, every time I go to that bloody gallery it seems to be closed to the public for some reason or other. 🙁

Why I don’t like photography

The main focus for us at Tate was the Don McCullin exhibition. A collection of very stark black and white photos, primarily of war zones but also of ‘lost’ London. I’m not a photography fan. I can’t really see it as an art form. Fundamentally anyone can take photos and if you take a hundred you are going to get at least one decent one. For me, photography isn’t comparable to painting or sculpture. Indeed one of my big criticisms of photography is that it is so ‘samey’.

Dave is the photography fan but even he didn’t get turned on by this exhibition. It is very stark and bleak. My Dave likes things a bit more colourful and cheery than that. 🙂

Other Bits and Pieces

  • Big failure on language learning in that I managed very little on either Drops or Duolingo. Simply long, busy days leaving me very knacked in the evening.
  • The school’s climate strike was on Friday. Good luck to the kids. The baby boomers in particular have screwed the world, time to let the next generation take power. Indeed, I see so many old politicians and my heart sinks.
  • I’m trying to do more of my bit for sustainability. Trying to eat less meat and reuse more things are 2 things I am pushing on with.

The Week Ahead

  • Interviews for my sabbatical cover as well as 1:1s with my staff to check they are OK before I go
  • More serious than last week about exercise. Yoga on Tues morning, massage Tues afternoon, possibly swimming on Thurs but I’m also starting a pilates course that day, and my jog-run on Sat.
  • Off to the Soho Theatre on Tues evening with Dave and my old mate Dom to see the brilliant Le Gateau Chocolat who I used to know when I lived in Brighton
  • Should finish ‘Scratchman’ by Tom Baker and might even finish ‘Metro 2033’ which I’ve been reading on my kindle primarily as I am walking about
  • Dave is off again next weekend. He’s going to his beloved Berlin which means it’s Billy Home Alone yet again 🙁

And Finally…

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