Feeling a little bit in control

Mon 1 – Sun 7 Aug

The Summer of Trump

English summer countrysideWeather – a stereotypical (and there is always an element of truth in stereotype) English summer. Mixture of sun, cloud, and rain; I’m never quite sure whether it’s OK to wear shorts or not. Big political noise is Donald Trump. Wow, that guy is so thin-skinned and not ready to be president. If he wins (and it’s not impossible) then we just need to hope that the much-derided establishment will take control and stop him doing anything really stupid. Key thing for the election will be keeping the focus on Trump and not letting it shift to Clinton and prodding people to remember the reasons why they don’t like her.

What we sow so shall we reap

I suppose Trump is what we should expect from the last 40 years of celebrating unbridled capitalism and sneering at people with knowledge. Don’t forget the scary words of Michael Gove, “people in this country have had enough of experts”. Single handedly dismissing years of accumulated skill and experience whilst giving authority to every crackpot idea. We are more than post-modern now, in many ways we are post-reality.

And the disaster that is Brexit lumbers on. Don’t forget Boris Johnson, Andrea Leadsom and Liam Fox promised an extra £350m every week, the equivalent of a new hospital… And no recession, a new economic golden age. It life feels shit blame the Brexit anti-experts for the end of stability and this new era of uncertainty.

Donald Trump

Dodgy Tory and Labour peerages

Meanwhile the latest round of dodgy honours are out. I have no problem with rewarding people for achievement especially when what they do goes unsung. However, political honours are another thing. What value does it say for a knighthood if you get it for sitting on your fat arse in the House of Commons for 20 years via a safe seat? And as for peerages. Do you know the House of Lords is the second biggest legislative body in the world after China’s People’s Assembly? We do not need any new peers. Hear that Shami (What do I get?) Chakrabarti and Jeremy (I will not nominate anyone to the House of Lords) Corbyn?

Health and efficiency

Brazilian flagThe Olympics started on Friday. I did not bother with the opening ceremony though apparently it was good. I do love the Olympics in that there is so much on and you can just dip in and out. Saturday during the day I found an unknown liking for water polo (Serbia vs Hungary, dribble). Great on Saturday evening to lie on the sofa and float between my reading book and the cycling, gymnastics and swimming. It does also inspire me to think gotta exercise more and lose weight.

Gym

  • Mon morning – Following on from the previous day, I concentrated on areas not tackled – back, biceps, triceps. Pushed rowing machine up to 12 mins.
  • Thurs morning – 12 mins on rowing machine and upper body concentrating on chest and shoulders. Also some core and legs.
  • Fri morning – Another 12 mins on rowing machine and then concentration on parts of upper body not done yesterday – back, biceps, triceps. And some core + legs.
  • Sun morning – Stretching leg exercises after the previous day’s jog-run. And pushing some heavy weights on all parts of the upper body.

Taking control after too much steam room

Had a slightly funny turn after spending too long in the steam room post-gym on Mon. Amusing in a way, I had to use techniques to get physical control of my body that I learnt when doing drugs. It’s along the lines of Julian of Norwich’s ‘All will be well and all will be well and all manner of things will be well’. Keep calm, everything will be OK.

Jog-run

Jogger in silhouetteWasn’t sure whether to do my jog-run on Sat or Sun. Fri I could feel my left achilles being a bit painful. However that could just have been nerves. Woke up Sat morning and decided to go for it. No probs with route closed like last week. But my bloody GPS watch could not make a tracking connection. So ended up doing a jog-run based simply on time. Without GPS I could not measure the distance, pace or calories. Twice around Green Park and once around St James Park. Took it very gently to not aggravate knees or achilles. Time of 41.47 and felt good at the end; glad I did it.

Weight

Stayed the same, 13-12.

Digital

Next Tech for Good making progress

Three days in the office last week. All day Tues and Wed plus Thurs and Fri afternoons. Ongoing work on the new Tech for Good programme including liaison with our funding partner. Really good that we dealing with things early on. Indeed I feel in control of things which is not a usual work feeling particularly during periods when quite a few people are on leave. Strange how we become acclimatised to thinking work is about constant pressure and over-working to meet deadlines. My time included a very good catch-up lunch with Nissa on Thursday in the pleasant environment of a riverfront coffee shop. Important in a job-share to have time to exchange information.

Queen’s Young Leaders

Commonwealth posterAlso I am doing shortlisting for the Core Strength and the Queen’s Young Leaders programmes. The latter is so interesting because it’s open to young people from anywhere in the Commonwealth to apply. Some have done absolutely amazing things in their relatively short lives. Also difficult for many of them and often for the reader with the fact that English is often not their first language.

Other work wins

Meeting about an anti-poverty initiative that came out of CAST’s Fuse Accelerator we are funding. They are trying to draw up a roadmap of how it can get funding and develop on a demonstrable scale. Also pleased to be able to argue my way out of providing an ‘information’ paper (i.e. no decision needing to be made after discussing it) for a meeting with an already overloaded agenda. Victory for me in not doing work that is unnecessary and victory for the meeting participants in giving them more time to talk about stuff that matters. And perhaps end the meeting on time.

Duolingo success

Welcome in different languagesOne of the big achievements for last ‘week in control’ is that for the first time ever, I have managed to do sessions in German, French and Spanish on Duolingo every consecutive day. I don’t think I am anywhere near fluent in any of the three languages but the march of a thousand miles begins with one foot step. Didn’t view too much on YouTube about Javascript so an element of swings and roundabouts. Still, overall and despite everything, big pat on the back for me!

Friends

Andy and David

Mon afternoon met up with my mate Andy. I was saying in my ‘one year ago’ midweek mini-blog recently that I need to catch up with him. Turns out he is down from Scotland visiting his family. Met him and his boyfriend David in Old Compton St. Great to chew the cud with Andy and get to know David better. Noodles and then coffee at the crypt cafe of St Martin’s in the Fields. They were enjoying being in London before going off to Dorset. David is into amateur dramatics and they went to see Bugsy Malone at the theatre. I do remember the film which was brilliant but must be about 40 years old now?

Mark Brown

Wed afternoon had a catch-up with Mark Brown. Social media star @MarkOneinFour (c.16,200 followers on Twitter pisses on my less than 1,000), mental health campaigner, fellow tech enthusiast, and brother Whovian. We met outside on the terrace at the Royal Festival Hall. The weather was good enough though it was busy because of the kids’ summer hols. Caught up on work he is doing around young people’s mental health, tech, and CAMHS. Also talked about his recent criticism of some large-scale digital disruption attempts (click on link in tweet below). And on a lighter note we reflected on our mutual reading and Dr Who audio books listened to.

Books and reading

Skipped Velvet Page on Thursday as they were discussing a book I had read a while ago and did not appreciate when I read it (‘Becoming Nancy’). I like the people who go to this book club but it felt pointless to attend a meeting where they were discussing a book I knew I hated but could not recall why.

‘Midnight’s Children’ by Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie Previous Sunday evening, I started to read a new book and with the first page I realised I had already read it. So I decided to take a chance on Rushdie’s book. It’s been on my bookshelf for ages but I’ve always felt quite intimidated by it. Intimidating because of Salman Rushdie’s literary reputation, it’s won the ‘Booker of Bookers’ prize, and it is long and dense. However it is brilliant, both very well written and totally engaging. I am enjoying it and have no sense of duty in reading as happened a little bit before with William Faulkner’s ‘As I Lay Dying’ the previous week. It is about nothing I really should empathise with being the story of an Indian family alongside post-independence politics in the sub-continent.

Doctor Who audio-books

‘The Light at the End’ (4th, 5th, 6th, 7th & 8th Doctors + companions)

The Dr Who audio adventure from Big Finish to celebrate the Doctor’s 50th anniversary. Several of the previous Doctors and their companions meet in an adventure ultimately about thwarting the plans of The Master. As so often with these anniversary celebrations, it doesn’t really live up to its potential being quite messy in terms of story. Indeed lots of stirring orchestral music throughout – filler? Fun to have everyone together but wouldn’t give it more than 5 out of 10.

Bang-Bang-A-Boom (7th Doctor Sylvester McCoy + companion Mel)

This was far more fun. With its tongue firmly stuck in its cheek, it’s a story about suspicious murders at the 309th Inter-Galactic Song Contest taking place on a space station. And including a brilliant commentary by a soft-spoken alien with an Irish lilt called Logan. Not in anyway a serious piece of sci-fi but a great vehicle for both this silly Doctor and his infuriating companion. A real pleasure to listen and giggle along to.

And finally…

Coinciding with the theme of feeling in control, I am grateful to my work colleague Pontso. She introduced me to this lovely piece of South African electro by Spoek Mathambo coincidentally entitled ‘Control’.

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