Everyday life in a failing country

Mon 12 – Sun 18 June 2023

I suppose my previous blog (read it here) was pessimistic with its theme of how we so easily choose to lose things forever. And the week just gone, I felt a similar level of missing optimism. A week of very hot weather and nobody cares instead thinking this is a great opportunity to get a tan plus buy lots of cold drinks in throw-away plastic containers. Meanwhile the UK reveals itself more and more as a failing country.

It was shown conclusively that our previous Prime Minister was a serial liar. Whilst our current Prime Minister worries only about strengthening his CV for his post politics career. The opposition to our failure as a nation sits more with campaigning celebrities rather than bickering opposition parties who refuse to form an electoral pact to change things. Politics as a zero sum game of constantly fighting each other rather than finding common ground to reach solutions.

Our failing country

Family and Friends

Mum felt depressed and let down

I definitely felt like I was in a failing society on Thursday. A society where no-one seems to give a fuck. It was related to the repair to the mechanism that enables us to open and close the window in the kitchen. I first reported this to the Housing Association in September last year (9 months ago!) and we haven’t been able to open the window since then. Particularly bad now with the heat.

Having finally got sign-off for the repair in January and success in sourcing the replacement part, the work was supposed to be done on Thursday. The sub-contractor didn’t turn-up and we were back to the excuse ‘the part isn’t available’. I pointed out that this was the 3rd time since February that the sub-contractor had failed to turn up. Last time it was that they had the part but the person who could do the repair was sick.

Basically I politely but forcefully made my displeasure known to the person on the other end of the repair helpline. She promised her boss would phone back but, of course, she didn’t. I then phoned and left a similar message for our Housing Officer.

I felt like I was failing

TBH, this whole process has left me feeling despondent and that I was failing mum. I warned her that the repair may never be done. However, on Friday we had a call from the sub-contractor saying that they would be coming on Monday morning to do the repair! Sounds like my expression of strong displeasure made somebody follow this up. However, we still have to see if they actually turn up…

Tired man asleep or despondent

A meal to make things better

As a means of cheering her up, me and Dave took mum out to lunch. She loved having an Uber there and back to the Union Jack Club. It was a busy time for the Club with it being the weekend of Trooping the Colour. The bar was busy but we had reserved a table in the restaurant and it was a nice meal. It’s great to be able to treat mum whilst I can.

Health and Efficiency

Whilst the society I live in may be failing, I feel like I have taken control of my life in terms of regularly exercising and losing weight since my work contract finished in December. I suppose it’s that thing about finding a port of safety during a stormy sea.

Gym

Dumbells

3 good sessions on my usual weekday mornings covering several different body parts. I find now that it’s quite normal for me to spend an hour and a quarter working out. I’m sure I read somewhere that anything more than an hour is counter-productive but it’s what makes me feel good.

61 gym sessions since the start of 2023 divided by the annual membership = £8 per session.

Jog-run

A week of two jog-runs. First one on Tuesday made me feel like I was failing. The run fell apart into the second km stretch when I hit a large group of cyclists in the non-cycle lane area of Green Park who just refused to make way. It saddens me how awful some cyclists are, acting worse than car drivers. Ended up clocking my slowest 5K to date of just under 35 mins.

Second one on Sunday morning was better (no obstreperous cyclists getting in the way). But still a minute slower than I had achieved the week before and the second km stretch was over 7 mins which is bad. Also a slight worry that my ‘good’ left knee felt like it was giving way a couple of times. Is this due to it compensating for my ‘bad’ right knee?

Details of my jog-runs (and weight) can be found here.

Weight

Another small decrease in weight so I am just a quarter of a pound above 13 stone. So a bit more personal success when so many bigger things around me feel like they are failing.

man weighing himself

Books and Reading

Two books completed last week.

‘The Sea of Tranquility’ by Emily St John Mandel

A very nice piece of sci-fi / speculative fiction. Fundamentally it’s a time travel story set across several different time periods. It reminded me a lot of the brilliant ‘Cloud Atlas’ by David Mitchell – one of my all-time favourite books and a book that really got me back to enjoying fiction.

And brilliant the way this book links to some of Mandel’s other books so that she is almost creating her own eco-system. I suppose my main criticism was the central feature of pandemics which, having lived through one, feels uninspiring and perhaps even a little bit lazy. Still a book I would highly recommend.

‘God’s Children are Little Broken Things’ by Arinze Ifeakandu

I suppose I could be challenged with the fact that there are much more failing societies than the UK. Many of them in places of real poverty dealing with the legacy of colonialism and racism. True though there is an element of failing in all modern societies I would suggest in every country. It is amazing how we as human beings are unable to run fair and functioning societies without some form of inequality and exploitation.

This is a collection of short stories by an acclaimed new young African gay writer. All the stories are set in Nigeria and show the struggle that is life there for gay people as well as detailing how people aspire for better and survive amongst dysfunctionality. These stories suggest Arinze could be a great author though there’s a strong element of auto-fiction i.e. being based on his personal experience. They do remind me enormously of the sort of short stories that came out of America before the 1990s with similar descriptions of secret living and simple survival as a gay person against hostile forces.

Queer

Art and Culture

Soho and the need for centres of counter-culturalism

Every society needs an element of counter-culturalism or it is an authoritarian dictatorship like Russia, China, Iran, or North Korea. On Wednesday evening, me and Dave went to a talk at the wonderful St James’ Church on Piccadilly. It was by Chris Barlow, Chair of the Westminster LGBT+ Forum and was all about the history of Soho particularly the variety of characters that have lived there.

A really nice talk which meandered wonderfully but covered all the key personalities such as Mary Seacole, Oscar Wilde, Francis Bacon, Leigh Bowery, and Derek Jarman. A wonderful reminder of the need for spaces that craziness can exist in and so enable cultural leap-forwards to happen.

Oscar Wilde

Sustainability

We are all failing

Evidence suggests we are failing in our attempts to combat climate change and keep the temperature increase below 1.5 degrees. The results will be catastrophic but the majority of people don’t care and aren’t prepared to change the way they live. I was out in London on Saturday afternoon and the streets swarmed with people who were just there to enjoy themselves no matter what the cost. Meanwhile companies care only about profits and make no real effort to reduce their waste or carbon footprint.

The throwaway society

And I feel like I’m giving up hope

I’m despondent about the failure to address the climate crisis. Indeed, our failing establishment is dominated by parties that create new penalties for those who protest whilst reassuring people that all will be OK and nothing has to change. I’ve even be tempted to break my own personal commitment to not do more than 2 return flights p.a. Me and Dave have been thinking about going to Berlin in Sept. If I don’t fly, will it really make a difference? That plane will still take off.

Personal Development

More individual success in a bigger sea of failings

Again, I have managed to do Duolingo lessons on every day, both in Spanish and German. As normal, I find it easy to do bits in between rests at the gym. And then outside the gym, grabbing opportune moments when they arrive like when I am walking through a park. Also nice to try chatting with the people who work at the gym and speak Spanish. This practice is definitely helping me sort out some of the basics.

Making the jump

The Week Ahead

  • So the famous window repair may finally be done on Monday. After that I will be taking mum for bloods and an X-ray at the hospital.
  • Due to the above, may be down to just 2 gym sessions next week but I will also get in another 5K jog-run.
  • Looking forward to starting some new reading books. With any luck I will manage to finish one of them by the time I update in my next blog.
  • Next weekend is Glastonbury. Some family members are going and I know everyone says what an amazing experience it is. But I love watching it on TV. Frankly the idea of wet wipes instead of showers and shitting in porta-loos for 5 days is not my thing.

And Finally…

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