Covid, cold weather, and culture – how I’m getting through lockdown 3.0

Mon 11 – Sun 17 Jan 2021

For me, these Covid days drag. I am sure it is the same for most others perhaps with only the diversion of work for some. Though I know I should be grateful that me and my loved ones are fundamentally doing OK (though one shock – see below).

But I’ve always hated January and February: cold and grey, just waiting for Easter and Spring to come. Covid makes it so much worse. Deaths are still over 1,000 per day but there are some signs that the rate of infection is coming down. Weather is as shit as ever for this time of year. Cold with rain and even a bit of snow. 🙁

Apart from Covid and weather, main things last week for me were thinking about and planning my future, slow running, losing weight, and immersing myself in culture – some of it quite strange. Enveloping yourself in crazy culture is definitely a way to get through lockdown. 🙂

Question mark

I’m taking this up several degrees. And I have seen some interesting jobs. However, I’m identifying two big issues. First, poor salaries. Some of the posts are crazy in terms of what they want and how much they are offering to pay. Saw a really great job this week but I would be on half the salary of my previous role. Am I prepared to take such a cut in income? Can I afford it? 🙁

Second, many posts being advertised in the charity sector have huge and unrealistic expectations. So many organisations are going through difficult times financially. And the common solution seems to be to get in a new person to deal with this. You do wonder why existing people can’t solve the problem. Maybe there is no super hero who can sort it.

Being the fall guy is not the role for me. I said in last week’s blog (read it here) how I’m an honest person. Fundamentally I don’t want to take on a role on a false promise. Knowing that I can’t solve the problems and with the high possibility that I will run off to a better job when I see one.

Also, I am genuinely still thinking about other options especially setting up my own business. I have a theory that post-pandemic could be a good time to get some lower cost premises. Obviously, I know not all businesses need physical premises but a coffee shop, book shop, or coffee/book shop would. 🙂

The future - next exit

Friends: Covid gets close

Big shock this week was about my friend Philip in Andalucia. Phoned him to find he has been diagnosed with Covid. 🙁 He’s another person I know who has contracted it in the second wave. Real surprise about Philip as he wears a mask everywhere, uses sterilising gel, wears gloves, washes hands, keeps social distance. And yet some how he’s caught the virus. 🙁

Apparently no temperature but symptoms were muscle ache, tiredness, and slight cough. Had the test to double-check when he found out a friend of his family (who also live in Spain) had been diagnosed positive. He is doing OK though obviously isolating. Reckons he’s been ill for about a week so hopefully only another week and he’ll be clear. Plus thankfully his mum hasn’t tested positive.

The moral of this story = Please take care out of there everyone! 🙁

Family: Vaccines get close

The really good news on the Covid front is that Dave’s mum, who is in her 80s, has received her first dose of the vaccine. 🙂 Apparently she’s had ‘the German one’. I presume that is Pfizer but I thought they were an American company – oh well.

More good news on Covid in that my aunt and her husband, also in their 80s, are booked in for their vaccines. My mum is really keen now to hear when she will get her jab. It will be soon but she’s needs to be patient and take care in the meantime.

Friends: Amir – the social investment situation

Another good friend catch-up last week. And again with one of my old work colleagues. Good to chat about the Covid situation in general. And then to zero in on Amir’s expertise around what is happening in the social investment sector. For many not-for-profit agencies trying to be commercially sustainable, the current Covid phase is about holding their own until things get better. And that means flexibility – some grants and re-negotiation on the time-frame for the return of borrowed money.

Books and Reading: ‘Slow Running’

Completed two books this week. First one was this great short non-fiction book by Chris Bore. And it really fits with my thinking around my jog-runs. The sub-title of the book is ‘Slow Running: Running for fun without going too far, too fast, too soon’.

Basically Bore’s theory is that we should do running because we enjoy it not because we feel we should. And most problems in running come from running too far, too fast, and too soon. His premise is that we should go as slowly as we can when we run albeit so that it is not walking. And don’t fret about distance.

Second book completed this week was ‘Zodiac’ – a collection of Dr Who short stories. See the section below on Art and Culture about my Dr Who fest.

Current Book: ‘The Massacre of Mankind’

I’ve started the famous sci-fi writer Stephen Baxter’s ‘The Massacre of Mankind’. It’s the follow-up to H.G. Wells’ ‘War of the World’. So far it’s good but I’m not 100% sure if it was a follow-up really worth doing. Almost impossible to live up to the brilliance of its predecessor.

Jog-runs: 2 good ones

My current focus is on slow running. Big driver is not to antagonise my knee problems. Must get this checked out once the Covid crisis is over but the backlog of medical stuff is going to mean it probably won’t get treated (if it can be) for years. 🙁

lady going for jog-run in cold weather

First outing was on on Wed. It’s difficult with the weather at the moment but that day it wasn’t too bad apart from being very wet underfoot. A really nice slow run – pace was just 7 mins and 20 seconds per km. Took the distance up slightly to 3.2 km.

Second outing was on Sun morning. Was supposed to go out on Sat but twas raining and snowing. 🙁 Nice weather meant the park was quite busy. However, a nice jog-run that felt good even though I went faster than Wed – under 7 mins per km. So difficult not to get carried away when everything feels good. Up to 3.3 km.

Weight: it’s going down!

Fantastic news this week that I have lost another pound! 🙂 Down to 13 stone 4.5 pounds. One of the good things from redundancy, Covid, and lockdown 2.0 / 3.0 is that I seem to have taken back some control over my weight. The weight loss is due to a combination of reduced calorie intake and slow running at least once or twice per week. Details on weight (and slow runs) here.

Art and Culture: Dr Who

sixties doctor who logo

As suggested in last week’s blog, I have had a bit of a Dr Who focus on three fronts.

  • Read the Short Trips collection volume 1 ‘Zodiac’. It’s actually quite rare so it’s up for sale once I’ve finished with it. Part of the effort to declutter my life, boost the circular economy, and get some money. As with all short story collections, a real mixture – some good and some instantly forgettable. Published in the early 2000s, it includes some writers who have since become very central to the modern Dr Who era. Weirdly, I am certain that I have read one of the stories before – perhaps it was republished elsewhere.
  • Watched ‘Colony in Space’ featuring the 3rd Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and companion Jo Grant. Wonderful 70s TV sci-fi. Works best if you think how the cleverness of the story could have been better presented in modern ways.
  • Did one long walk last week (on Mon) and used that time to listen to Big Finish adventure ‘Domain of the Voord’ featuring the 1st Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara.
First doctor

Art and Culture: French New Wave cinema

I really enjoy European cinema. Less OTT and mawkish than US cinema with British films being either schmaltz or kitchen sink dramas. I have a particular weakness for French New Wave. A slightly crazy, revolutionary, and influential period of film-making and culture.

Particular film I watched last week was ‘Une Femme est une Femme’. Made in 1961 by Jean-Luc Goddard, it’s a romantic comedy which really isn’t my thing. But it was way ahead of its time with brash colours, a stimulating soundtrack, and overall slight surrealism. Great fun and fascinating that it feels so fresh despite being 50 years old. 🙂

Worth noting the two links above are to information on Wikipedia. It’s the site’s 20th birthday! Genuinely one of the best things about the internet. Please consider making a small donation here so it can keep going independently and ad-free.

Art and Culture: ‘The Nun’s Story’ and ‘The Box of Delights’

Definitely a bit of a culture vulture last week. Not only did I indulge my love of all things Dr Who and watch a classic bit of French New Wave Cinema. I also saw a crazy film and TV programme.

The film was ‘The Nun’s Story’ featuring Audrey Hepburn and made in 1959. It’s a really unusual story tracing the journey of a young woman into becoming and then leaving being a nun. It is quite old-fashioned particularly in its portrayal of Africa. But it’s also fascinating how people are motivated by faith and how they leave a life of faith.

Crazy TV programme was ‘The Box of Delights’. A BBC children’s programme made in 1984 and based on the 1935 book by John Masefield. The latter was also the Poet Laureate. The special effects are basic to our eyes now. But the presentation and the story is surreal – it’s the sort of thing you could watch being out of your head on drugs and get totally lost in. Absolutely unique.

Druggy sci-fi culture

The Week Ahead

  • Carry on with my language learning and tech knowledge development
  • Continue flogging stuff online – downsizing my life
  • Catch-up with my old colleague Claire and also Philip to check he’s OK
  • First telephone meeting with someone from the Job Centre. Be good to see how they can help me in my job search.
  • Exercise target: would like to do 2 slow jog-runs but with the weather and needing to rest, may be just one. Will be some walks and some internet exercise sessions.
  • Said before but genuine this time, happy to stay the same weight
  • Art and culture: need to build on this week’s culture fest and see / hear / read some more great stuff

And Finally…

Carl Sagan quotation

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