Dealing with Setbacks

Mon 14 – Sun 20 Aug 2023

I have an enormous connection with the Buddhist belief that ‘All life is suffering’. That there may be respite from that suffering but, inevitably, life is about decline and failure. Linked to this obviously you can see positives in life. But there are also always setbacks and how we deal with these is one of the key things in our existence.

In my most recent blogs, I have outlined two physical setbacks. First, a hip problem and then an Achilles disaster (read about it here). And the week just gone has been largely about dealing with these setbacks. Plus also considering how things haven’t gone the way I planned in other ways and how I can deal with the disappointment that life simply often is.

Dying lion or is he just tired?

Health and Efficiency

Gym: Trepidation but success

I promised myself that I would get back to the gym after a short period of rest to allow my Achilles to heal. It has still been hurting but RICCE (rest, raise, ice) has done a lot of good and the pain has declined. However, I am still taking it gently particularly not walking on it for too long.

Delighted to say that I got in 3 gym sessions last week as is my target. But the Achilles was a setback to be dealt with in that I had to approach my stretching far more gingerly than usual. And I really went easy on leg exercises. My focus had to switch to upper body and core. I actually like doing legs (unlike many) so it isn’t ideal but I am pleased with what I achieved.

86 gym sessions since the start of 2023 divided by the annual membership = £5.75 per session.


Swim replaces jog-run

The biggest setback from my hip and Achilles problems is that I have had to give up jogging for a bit. This is hard as I really enjoy the physical and mental benefits it gives. But when you get setbacks, you have to find a way around them. And swimming has become my replacement for jog-runs albeit temporarily I hope.

Managed to get to the pool twice last week: Thursday and Sunday mornings. Both nice sessions doing around 20 lengths though I am definitely not in the game of increasing this number week on week. Primarily slow back-stroke and slow front-crawl to not aggravate my knee. I am really happy how less panicky I feel doing the latter.



I am proud that I haven’t had a setback in terms of my weight. One theory on injury is that you find comfort in food. And I do love food (and drink) but I also enjoy the sensation of losing weight and feeling in control of things. It’s always good to feel that you are in control of something.

So a welcome drop in my weight to 12 stone, 11 and a half pounds. That’s a fall of about three-quarters of a pound on the previous week. I can’t help but feel it could be temporary if I take my foot off the pedal. So continued control of eating plus exercise to burn calories and raise my metabolism.

Be happy and grateful about nice things

Books and Reading

‘Our Share of Night’ by Mariana Enriquez

Finished this book last week and it’s a chunky one. But it really is excellent and I would highly recommend it. A supernatural horror story set in Argentina during the time of the military dictators then the shift to democracy which also brings instability and the return of the neo-fascist Peronists.

Parts of the story are horrific and hard to read but this reflects the real-life violence that accompanied everyday life in Argentina during this period. One of people ‘being disappeared’, torture in secret residential properties, mass graves, and children kidnapped to be given to alternative families.

There is also the issue of how much horror can be linked to abuse and mental health. How often can child abuse be tied to witchcraft and devil worship? And can memories of violence and abuse be linked to conditions like epilepsy? Throw in indigenous religion and mythology, the oppression of native communities, over-bearing physical environments, and impressionable children.

All this leads to a wonderfully complex, multi-layered, and thoughtful novel. But if you have a weak stomach then approach with care.

red demon head with horns

‘The Queer City: Gay London from Romans to the Present Day’ by Peter Ackroyd

A book that is perfectly described by the title. A chronological collection of real-life stories primarily drawn from the archives that tell us about the lives of LGBTQ+ people in London through the ages. More anecdotal than academic and many stories that anyone who knows about gay history will already have heard. But it is a lovely read and makes us realise three big things.

  • LGBTQ+ people have always been present in London and anywhere else for that matter. Even during periods of horrendous persecution, we exist. Russia, China, Saudi, Iran – you can never erase LGBTQ+ people because we are a natural part of humanity.
  • The LGBTQ+ community has always been incredibly diverse. There have always been gay men and lesbians. But there have also always been bisexual and trans people. Cross dressing whether female to male or vice versa has always existed. Gender has always been a very fluid and non-fixed thing for lots of people.
  • Sex matters and is nothing to be ashamed of. Desire is a huge driver of human behaviour no matter what the risk. The London in the past had a population density that we can only see as nighmarish with very little personal privacy. But people always want sex even with the risk of that being the way their sexuality is found out and punished.
LGBT rainbow flag

My Amazon wish-list

One thing I’ve also started doing is sorting through my Amazon wish-list. I know Amazon is evil but its wish-list facility is the easiest way for me to note books that I think I might be interested in reading. However, what I’ve ended up with is a messy and very long list.

So I’ve been going through it to delete stuff especially duplicates and ones I’ve already got whether in traditional book form or on my kindle. Then also exploring some to try and remember why I included them in the first place. And also to erase some.

It’s not a setback to be realistic and acknowledge that it was a mistake to include them. As well as that there is limited time and I need to prioritise what I can do. Hopefully I am left with a more realistic wish-list that can be used more purposefully.

The importance of books

Friends and Family


Two big outings with friends last week. First, on Tuesday me and Dave met up with Phyllis. Our usual meeting place in Soho and lunch at the bistro. He’s doing well and is as amusing as ever. It would be impossible to have a meeting with him and not have a laugh. Next time I see him will be in Torremolinos at the end of October in time for Halloween.

Dom and Rich

Then on Wednesday evening it was dinner with my old mate Dom and our friend Rich who was visiting London. Both are doing well and it was a very pleasant meal. The restaurant was unusually busy and I only realised later it was full of people going to the Proms. Dom also gave me details on an extras agency; could be a way to get a little bit of income until I go back to work proper.

outside a street cafe at night

Fish and chips with mum

Spent lots of time with mum as usual. Just making sure she’s OK and has company but also getting her shopping and other stuff like that. My mum is an ‘old-skool’ Londoner though not quite a cockney. But one thing she loves is fish and chips.

So on Friday she came over to Dave’s and we had fish and chips from the nearby much renowned ‘The Laughing Halibut’ – read about it here. We ate at Dave’s because the eat-in space is relatively small and Friday is their busy day (I presume it’s based on the Catholic belief in fish on Friday). Plus also it’s cheaper LOL. Finished off nicely by Dave hiring a Zipcar to drive me and mum home.

Art and Culture

Football setbacks but we’ve got the Athletics

Big congrats to the Lionesses in beating Australia in the semi-final but then a narrow defeat to Spain in the final of the Women’s World Cup. 🙁 QPR also managed to hold out against league leaders Ipwich for 75 mins before losing 1-0. Not awful but if you’ve hung on that long, it’s not that hard to keep things under control for just 15 more minutes.

The Athletic World Championship started on Saturday and I just love watching this. The world’s best athletes all competing in multiple heats, semi-finals, and finals. I just find it so exciting and inspirational. Plus plenty of dramas with some ‘favourites’ not progressing as expected. And on Saturday night we had two big names tragically falling just before the line.


TV: History and cruising

‘Becoming Elizabeth’ finished on Saturday night with the showing of the last 2 episodes on terrestrial TV. I’ve loved it but I don’t think it’s been as popular as expected. Indeed, the final two episodes weren’t shown till after midnight, their original ‘spaces’ filled by a bloody Mission Impossible movie. I will have to catch these two episodes on the internet. Pretty sure it all ends with the unexpected death of Edward VI and the unpredicted rise of Mary.

Meanwhile, I’m slightly addicted to a new programme about cruises on Channel 5. It follows several groups of people on a cruise around the Mediterranean visiting various places. Amusingly it is putting me off going on a cruise. It mainly seems to be just about eating and shopping. Whilst many of the places look interesting such as Mykonos but also too busy. Plus the ship looks horribly huge and lots of people on it don’t strike me as people I really want to spend my holiday with LOL.

The Week Ahead

Suppose the opposite of setback is comeback and my aim for the week ahead is to for a quiet one with progress being made after the last couple of weeks.

  • Intention (and what more can we do than intend?) is 3 gym sessions and a couple of visits to the swimming pool
  • Dave is away for a week from Wed on work stuff so Billy is home alone again 🙁
  • Carry on watching and being inspried by the Athletic Championships
  • Have started reading the next unread book in the brilliant Detectives Bryant and May by the recently deceased Christopher Fowler, ‘Oranges and Lemons’. Really only one last book left in the series for me to read once I finish this one.
  • Received a text to phone and book the scan to be done on my bladder that is part of the referral process to see the urologist about my prostate issues
  • Me and Dave are meeting Patrick and Frances for lunch on Tuesday. Be great to catch up with Frances after her travels to Italy and America.

And Finally…

Guns and anti-abortion

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