Cultural and autumnal

Mon 23 – Sun 29 Sept 2019

Autumnal trees and leaves

These two words definitely describe the week gone. Cultural in that I went to the South Bank Centre to see 3 concerts. Autumnal in that the weather definitely changed to be cooler and wetter. Inevitable and good to have seasons. But autumnal means to me a change to colder days and longer nights which brings me down.

Art and Culture

Last week saw 3 concerts at the South Bank themed around Weimar Germany.

Monday – ‘To the cabaret!’

Ypres after the first bombardment

Mon night, Dave and I went to the bunker-like Queen Elizabeth Hall for ‘To the cabaret!’. Actually a mix of cabaret siren songs, spoken words from German inter-war cultural icons, a full orchestra, and even bits of comedy. It sounds messy and it was; good in parts but chaotic which is perhaps what it was trying to portray.

Thursday – ‘Angels and demons’

A cultural icon on the South Bank

Thurs night I went with my old mate Dom as Dave was at another cultural event, a celebration of the work of Zandra Rhodes. Me and Dom ate at the Union Jack Club and then to the Royal Festival Hall this time. A much more straight forward concert of classical music – ‘Angels and Demons’.

TBH, I don’t get classical music though I try to really hard. But I enjoy my mind drifting to the sounds and watching a full-scale orchestra at work.

Sunday – ‘The Party’s Over’

Sun night and both me and Dave agreed an excellent evening. A selection of classical music and a piece of opera – the ‘Lulu’ suite. Generally involving the full orchestra apart from a slimmed down version for one bit. Beautiful to close my eyes and drift listening to the sumptuous music. A truly cultural experience. Though we did move in the interval to get away from the annoying fidgety guy next to me with his piece of paper folded numerous times. Only one criticism (of the whole week), the OTT clapping and encores – talk about milking it.

Health and Efficiency


Male body art

Delighted that I got in 4 gym sessions last week. OK, no yoga or pilates which I need to think about for the future. But I love my gym sessions and never don’t look forward to doing them (funny the number of gym goers I meet who hate going). In the gym on the mornings of Mon, Tues, Thurs, and Sun. Most days I was on my own; it’s a gay gym and gay guys generally don’t get up early. 🙂 General workouts each day covering all 8 main body areas.


No exercise on Fri – a rest day. 🙂 Sat morning was very autumnal: dark, drizzly and cool. Plus it’s going to get worse from her onwards. But still went out in shorts and t-shirts. It’s not time for jogging bottoms and long sleeve tops just yet.


Run itself went very well indeed. A time under 1 hour and 2 minutes. A full minute and a half less than the previous week. It felt good and no kilometre stretch was more than 6 mins 45 seconds (the penultimate km as usual was weak 🙁 ). I felt good and relaxed. Sessions like this make me think I will one day get under 1 hour. 🙂


man being pummelled

Managed to squeeze in a THT massage for HIV+ people on Mon afternoon between work and the concert. It was with my favourite volunteer masseur who works hard on my glutes, hamstrings, lower back, and knees. It was autumnal; I walked from Kings Cross to the South Bank in pouring rain.


My new normal definitely seems to be around 13 stone 5 pounds. That equals 13 pounds (so just under a stone) less than when I started my sabbatical at the beginning of April. If I am to lose more then I need to go on a real diet. Up to now weight loss has been achieved via skipping breakfast and doing more exercise; when I eat, I still eat shit – lots of carbs, dairy, sugar and alcohol.

Books and Reading

‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ by Amor Towles

The Kremlin

Still chugging through the 1,300 pages of ‘Helliconia’ with its wonderful parallel of the seasons of a year and the progression of life. I really think I am in the autumnal of my time. But I did finish ‘Gentleman’ mainly reading it on my kindle as I walked to and from places. It’s a very cultural book – the story of a Russian aristocrat sentenced after the revolution to life imprisonment in a Moscow hotel.

You can’t help but like the main character who comes over as a kindly old uncle. He makes lots of friends within the hotel, becomes a normal employee, and looks after an abandoned child. As you can tell, it is a bit syrupy. And things like starvation, purges, and WWII are basically glazed over. It’s a fairy story but perfectly nice to read. Definitely won’t change your life and screams to be made into a sickly sweet Hollywood film. The ending is slightly disappointing as well.

Work Life Balance

Usual days last week – the T-shape: all day Wed with the afternoons of the rest of the weekdays. Perhaps it’s more of an upside-down T-shape? Supervisions, leadership team meetings, discussions about KPIs and organisational strategy, risk committees, coffee catch-ups, HR briefings, and staff stand-ups. 🙂

My duty to others


I’ve realised that as a very long standing member of staff I have a part to play in being a role-model of stability. It’s a bit like being the Father or Mother of the House of Commons. I’ve seen lots of changes as well as ups and downs which I’ve just ridden. Work is always about putting your head down and getting on with it – try to enjoy the rhythm at the very least. Indeed, I think work can give a stability and steadiness in times of stress as well as being a source of it.

And I’ve realised you not only need to be calm but also to be pleasant and humorous. Most people just want to have a nice time whatever they do including being at work. Though I’m definitely not a shrinking violet. In my autumnal years I have learnt not to be scared to speak truth to power.

The Week Ahead

  • No work on Monday because I have taken the afternoon as TOIL for the extra half day I did showing Stephen Twigg around projects in Liverpool. So Tues, Thurs, & Fri afternoons plus all day Wed. The latter is chocca-block full of meetings. 🙁
  • Actually next week is quite cultural as well. My mate Jamie’s latest play on Tues night. Another Royal Festival Hall concert on Wed night (cheap ticket via work). Then on Sun night a film as part of the London Film Festival. 🙂
  • Will definitely finish ‘Helliconia’ next week. Then a race to get through the Velvet Page book before we meet on Thurs night – ‘Tangerine’ by Christine Mangan.
  • Jog-run on Sat morning (weather permitting) and 4 gym sessions hopefully. I will rest on Fri as that may have been the reason I did so well in my latest jog-run.
  • I’m keeping on top of personal and work emails. 🙂 Am doing some language learning by app but would like to do more.
  • Meeting up with our old friends Sofia and Chris on Sat 🙂

And Finally…

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