Death of a real-life hero


Sunday 29 May – Saturday 4 June 2016

Hero Muhammad Ali

Awoke to incredibly sad news on Saturday morning that Muhammad Ali had died. I know he had been very ill for many years but I remember him as the intelligent, good -looking young man who was also an amazing boxer and social champion – a real-life hero. Changing his name from Cassius Clay, he came to represent a powerful testimony for black people everywhere and a decent representation of Islam compared to the Islamic State / Daesh lunatics (as well as the dodginess of Saudi, Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah).

At times like this I am left wondering why someone good like him suffers and dies whilst bad people live and thrive. For the latter think of Putin, Assad, Trump, Murdoch, etc. And then the Brexit tossers like Gove, Duncan Smith, Patel, Johnson and Farage.

Indeed the whole EU referendum saga rolls onwards and I’ve been continuing to deliver Remain leaflets around where I live (coming across the unpleasantness of a huge turd in one of the stairwells of a block of flats I was delivering to!). And I implore all my friends to do what you can to help the Vote Remain campaign – volunteer, donate, post on social media, etc. And let us be honest with each other, whatever the result people will not be happy. Referendums are a classic way of not solving a problem and leaving festering resentment unless there is a minimum 60-40 majority.

Anti-hero Michael Gove

Talking of an anti-hero (the complete opposite to Ali), I watched the Gove interview on Friday and he came across as a totally greasy character. I remember him on the Culture Show on BBC2 years ago and he seemed alright but now it’s clear that he’s just a twat. Unbelievable that he (like Boris and Farage) pretends to represent the anti-Establishment; you could cut him in half and find ‘Establishment’ running through him. You really have to question whether someone who so blatantly lies and is so disloyal to his supposed friend the Prime Minister should even be in the cabinet.


Health and Efficiency

Gym, diet, weight

Gym four times over the last week: Sunday, Monday, Thursday and Saturday mornings. Trying to do more work on my core as well as my legs which were relatively ok after my run last Saturday. Got some ‘inspiration’ by watching the men’s gymnastics on the previous Sunday afternoon – the men and their exercises are just amazing. I have also been trying hard to eat a healthier diet with less sugar and lots more fibre via fruit and vegetables. Though it is not clear at all that my dieting is actually working. Weight on Wed morning was 13-13, highest ever.

Staying well and the health tax I pay

Some more health stuff last week following on from the previous hospital visit. More hospital blood tests on Thursday though thankfully not too long to wait to get this sorted. Same story on Friday morning when I went down to see my GP to get a renewal on my meds. Offer on the table that if I buy a machine so I can do my INR at home to measure my blood clotting level (c.£400) then the NHS will provide me with the strips to go with the machine on prescription. Worth noting that though I live with life-long chronic health problems that require medication to keep me alive, I still have to pay prescription charges. I buy an annual pre-paid prescription certificate at £104, effectively a tax on being sick.



Work all day Tuesday and Wednesday plus Thursday afternoon but Friday afternoon on leave – I need to use leave before our year-end which is final day of July. And nice to just have time in the office. The usual impossible task of trying to get rid of emails but also time sorting out grant management and paying people money to do stuff (though it takes more than just money, a fact I wish more people appreciated).

Tech for Good UK and International

Discussions and forward thinking around running another UK Tech for Good grants programme and also a new International one. We’ve learnt lots in terms of running the former and will have a similar offer to that which came previously. But we are also looking at refinements that fit with the open and agile ways of working so common to digital. An International Tech for Good programme would have to incorporate some aspects of what we know works in the UK but, inevitably, there will also have to be differences as we want to capture, harness and support ingenuity on the ground rather than importing it in from outside.

Tech for Good – Sport for Change

Greg RutherfordI have also been involved in some thinking around how we might link up our Tech for Good work with our Sport for Change work; using digital to support sport as a catalyst in tackling people’s problems. The first step may well be simply explaining to Sport for Change projects what is happening in good Tech for Good projects and how to develop an idea into a real digital product / service.

Awards, dinner and my Huffington Post blog

Other tech stuff going on included doing my prep work in reading the applicants shortlisted for the Tech4Good Awards as I am on the judging panel deciding the final winners. And it was very pleasant to get an invitation from Microsoft to be on their table at the upcoming Digital Leaders 100 Awards Dinner – find out more about Digital Leaders here. I will need to dig out my black tie.

Oh and my Huffington Post blog has gone live which makes me feel a bit chuffed.

Dave and friends

Didn’t see too much of my partner last week as he had to go abroad for work. We spent the previous Sunday together though he was out shopping a lot for work clothes and I crashed out in a two hour snooze not hearing him when he came back in. Bank Holiday Monday came (I love May with its two bank holidays) and as I went off to the gym, Dave went off to the airport. He returned on Wednesday night though we didn’t catch up till Thursday evening. I stayed over at Dave’s flat on Monday night so having some time on my own to potter both physically and mentally; there’s still a strong smell on the landing from his elderly neighbour’s body lying undiscovered for a few days – see last week’s blog.

Tuesday evening I met up with my old friends Dom and Kev going over for dinner. A bit rushed because I travelled up to their place after work and I had to get back to mum’s to check she was ok and have a bath before bed so I was ready for work again the next day. As promised, I arrived by 6 but I had to leave by 8 as I warned them. Dom has been made redundant but is also doing sterling work in looking after his mum with dementia. Kev is currently in-between jobs. Both have been working hard on the front and back gardens of their new flat and it really shows, the gardens looked very good.

Learning and Development

cafeI’m still trying to instigate a proper extra half day devoted to L+D so making up for the half day less I am employed now but it’s still not properly kicking in (though did get to the gym four times last week which is pretty cool). However I have done more on DuoLingo last week than I would normally do so perhaps some progress. And I still want to do more on Code Academy. On a slightly separate note, if you want to look into doing an online course then have a look at this brilliant site Class Central which lists loads of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) open to anyone.

Books and Reading

Velvet Page

Attended Velvet Page, my LGBT monthly book club, on Thursday night at Waterstones in Piccadilly. Usually we meet on the ground floor mezzanine area but the shop was very busy and so we were up on the fifth floor bar. A good turnout, about 8 of us all regulars bar one – a new person up from Bournemouth. The floor was busy but we managed to have a chat about our reading book A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale. This author has written many books and generally I find them quite middle class and twee even though dealing with heavy issues. They feel to me always as stories based around characters with names like Sophie and Henry. If you fancy finding out more about Patrick Gale then have a look at his website here – he’s very popular with middle-age straight women apparently.

But jesting apart, ‘Winter’ actually worked well for me as it was set in the Edwardian period and the la-di-da-ness of everything fitted into that era. Indeed the whole adventure felt quite over the top thus feeding into the book’s sense of period-piece melodrama. As one of the people at the Velvet Page put it, a bloody good beach read.

Dr Who audio-books

Listened to two more Dr Who audio-books both from that wonderful outfit Big Finish. The first was a very good adventure called Master; felt more like a good Radio 4 play than anything else. A well-structured story about the Doctor’s nemesis The Master and the need to make decisions that inevitably will hurt someone.

Scherzo was more disappointing. A confused story with a very claustrophobic setting, basically just the eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) and assistant Charley trapped somewhere with a sound monster. I think it’s one that demands a second listen to make a call on if it is as poor as I think it is.



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