Family, friends, fitness, digital, & the Velvet Page

Sun 3 – Sat 9 April 2016

Friends and Family

One of the ways I keep my mental health in a good place is through the great support I get from my family (including my partner) and my brilliant friends.

Previous Sunday my brother came over to Dave’s with mum, his partner, and my lovely niece and nephew. The main reason for them coming over was for my brother to sort out some new lights with the othersBurnt coming along for the fun of it. Tony soon got his renovations sorted including putting back one of the kitchen cabinet doors that had fallen off. And it was great fun having everyone over with the kids especially laughing at stuff. Particular amusement came with me unknowingly burning the garlic bread that was cooking with the pizzas leading to smoke pouring out of the oven and everyone having half carbonated bread.

FriendsAnd some great catch-ups with friends during the week. First on Monday at the great civic space that is the Royal Festival Hall, with Dom Ruffy who has been supporting and assisting me in overseeing my briliant abstinence-based recovery projects. Dom himself works at the Amy Winehouse Foundation Then on Tuesday after work, I met with my friend Peter who is a priest though one with a grounding in real-life and a compassionate inclusive faith. And finally on Thursday I had coffee with my friend Jamie who is still writing his plays. I really should be so grateful for the network of good friends I have built up during my life who counter-act those so-called close (party) friends who let me down at a crucial phase in my life.

Health and Efficiency

Highlights of last week included:

  • Gym sessions three times: Sunday, Thursday and Friday mornings. I had planned to go for a jog on the latter but we woke up without water or electricity (er, hello – that’s a bit third world!) No point in going for a jog-run if I couldn’t come back and shower. So to the gym instead.
  • Jog-run on Saturday evening after returning from Word Camp London. Not used to jogging in the daytime and particularly like morning jogs as there are less people about and that is the point during the day when I am at my best. Still good though my achilles was aching a little bit. Decent time, a minute less than the previous week though my GPS watch still wasn’t linking up to record anything else apart from time.
  • Weight on Tuesday 13-10 so already got small dip down from my previous all time high.

HeadacheHealth generally alright though the headache over one eye that might be linked to my sinusitis came back with a vengeance during the week. Particularly disappointing as I thought it had gone off due to the medication. Perhaps it is migraine but then the question why they have started and what is causing them?



word camp londonMain event was on Saturday just gone with Word Camp London. A once a year event for people who use WordPress, the brilliant CMS (content management system) that I use to maintain my website and write my blog. I love these sort of tech community events – you can feel the enthusiasm and buzz. However, a lot of the people who attend are professionals rather than amateurs like myself. Also I’m generally older than most there and some of the technical stuff really does go over my head. Sessions attended on:

  • Moving from just being a blogger to WordPress core committee that basically oversees and manages WordPress
  • Blogging for a small business
  • Lessening the memory taken up by images
  • Running a multi-site system (in this case for the Trussell Trust and 400 Food Banks)
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) tools

Only two real gripes – dodgy wi-fi (the irony) and materials with wording that is too small to read (accessibility issue).

Attended a hack day on Wednesday organised by Tessa Cooper who works at Future Learn – a great MOOC Massive Open Online Centre. The hackathon was about Youth Employment, looking for ways to help young people into work. Baby boomersThough this involved many aspects including feelings of self-worth amongst young people and forcing them into work they don’t want to do simply to pay off debts. Baby-boomers really are a selfish generation who have done well and then pulled up drawbridge. Same can be seen in the Europe debate – we’ve done OK so let’s cut ourselves off and make sure we stay OK, sod the others. I got caught up in Question Time on Thursday and it was ghastly.

Two other useful digital things last week. First, caught up with Richard Craig CEO of Technology Trust who do a great job in providing low cost software licences to not-for-profit organisations. And they also have a broader vision of more of these agencies doing tech for good work. Very in-line with my own thinking and I genuinely hope we can work together in the future.

Working togetherAnd last week I gave a presentation to the digital team at work, the professional people who build and maintain the great digital tools we use primarily to fundraise. It is fulfilling to be able to tell them about some of the projects we are funding including those delivering digital services to beneficiaries. We are at a stage where the projects we support can be partners in explaining what we do and in raising funds rather than just being passively used for publicity. Indeed, it would be great to have more ways for the grants and digital teams to work together. This sort of cross-fertilisation is an excellent way for the not-for-profit sector to move forward in the future.

Books and Reading

MeatyVelvet Page last Thursday, the LGBT book club that meets at Waterstones in Piccadilly first Thursday of every month. Only three of us but we had good fun discussing the book I finished reading just five minutes before the group started. The Paternity Test by Michael Lowenthal. OK but a bit disappointing. Indeed a fluffy story about two gay men trying to resurrect their relationship through having a baby. Some great bits like the meal with the Jewish parents but then other major bits almost skipped over like one of the gay men having sex with the surrogate. I definitely would have preferred something better written and more meaty.

More Dr Who audio-books listened to last week – they are like reliable old friends to me:

  • The Bride of Peladon (5th Doctor + Peri & Erminem(?) – Egyptian princess) A fun adventure introducing the main characters again from Pertwee’s two adventures on this planet. Story is a bit weak and shifts dramatically into something quite unlikely about two-thirds of the way through.
  • The Juggernauts (6th Doctor + Mel who is so bloody annoying) The best of last week’s bunch. An imaginative story about the Doctor meeting Davros who has created the Mechanoids which featured in a TV episode in the First Doctor era as enemies of the Daleks (I’m sounding a bit Dr Who geeky now). Davros calls them Juggernauts and is defeated in the end as per usual. He’s ‘dead’ but all Dr Who fans know that is probably not true.
  • Something Inside (8th Doctor + Charley & C’rizz) Disappointing claustrophobic adventure about the Doctor who has lost his memory and involving working out who the brainworm (causing all the problems) lives inside as a parasite.

Read this Article

A colleague of work highlighted this article to me written by her husband and it is well worth being more widely read Did-police-homophobia-allow-a-serial-killer-to-target-gay-men-for-over-a-year?

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