Focus on Responsibilities and Enjoyment (like Eurovision and Dr Who)

We all have to choose what we to focus on in our lives. My previous blog saw me in questioning mode, thinking about whether I am walking the correct route(s) – read it here. Whatever, we are where we are. I have responsibilities and I fulfil those. But I also think life is about enjoying yourself – you are a long time dead.

My main responsibility is looking after my mum. Plus doing my bit to try to control global heating. But I also just want to enjoy myself without hurting others. So the big things there are doing exercise, seeing friends, reading books, and generally taking time to watch the world go by.

I have a bit of guilt about putting pleasure so central to my existence. But I think that is largely due to the negative aspects of many religions that have permeated throughout our societies. So many religions tell us about damnation, guilt, abstinence, and sin. It saddens me to think how many peoples through history (and in the current day) don’t live their life fully enjoying themselves because someone has told them this is not the right thing to do.

Only 3 things

Mum: A small bus trip is a success

Things have been a bit better since the previous weekend but mum still causes me a lot of worry. We had to sort out renewal of her meds which showed all the problems that exists with primary care at the moment. Lots of phonecalls and waiting online to try to get things sorted. But eventually alright so I could go and collect them all on Wed afternoon.

Then on Thurs morning we went out for a little shopping expedition. A bus to and from the shops. Overall went well though mum was knacked for the rest of the day. Otherwise it was mum resting or us watching TV together. I did cook some nice things and also popped out intermittently to buy little things for her.

“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only option.”

Bob Marley

Dave: Appreciating his backing

We celebrated on the bank holiday by going out for lunch. Went to a restaurant that we really like but haven’t been to since before lockdown. Indeed, we used to go fairly regularly. It’s gone up in price, but then what hasn’t? A really lovely meal. Not too big but tasty food.

I’ve really appreciated Dave’s support this week. I had a pretty awful day on Friday. I’m trying to to sort out some financial stuff. This meant focusing the whole day on chasing stuff by email and on the phone. TBH, part of the problem was my mistake but it was still draining and I got really down at certain points. Suppose that’s my perfectionism. And then when I thought all was sorted there was another setback over the weekend.

Dave was great. He really reassured me and listened to my frustrations. That’s what a partner should be and I hope I am as supportive to him. Obviously we annoy each other at certain times but it’s crucial to have someone backing you up when things are difficult.

Me and Dave are going away to the Isle of Wight next week for a couple of days with our friends Patrick and Frances. This means I won’t be able to do my ‘full’ exercise routine. Thus, for the week just gone, I choose to focus on ensuring that I did as much as I could.

Gym: Only 2 sessions because sometimes there are more important things to get done

Two sessions done the mornings of Mon and Wed. Monday, of course, was a bank holiday. I was in two minds whether to go. Bank holidays are always unpredictable. They can either be mega busy with people using this free day to exercise or really quiet because people are having lay-ins. Turned out to be the latter and I had a great session basically on my own.

Then on Wed it was me and two other guys, one of whom insisted on thoroughly wiping down and basically disinfecting every machine before he used it (God knows how people like him deal with public transport). I focused a lot on stretching. Indeed, I envisage myself being as fluid as possible in doing my exercises, trying to avoid jerky movements.

I had planned to go to the gym on Fri morning. But I became aware of finance issues that needed to be dealt with on Thursday evening. And I really had to give over Friday to sorting this. I love the gym but sometimes my focus has to be on other things to get stuff sorted.

44 gym sessions since the start of 2024 divided by the annual membership = £12.50 per session.

Swim: Good 20 lengths but annoying private swimming lessons

I was really focused on making sure I went for a swim because I haven’t been for 3 weeks (and I’m still paying a monthly subscription!). Went on Tuesday afternoon and had a nice swim. Limited myself to just 20 lengths as it’s about exercising not exhausting. Alternated between front crawl and back stroke.

I really like the pool where I swim. It’s designed for doing lengths but it’s not huge. However, it’s always annoying when a quarter of the pool is closed without announcement so a single person can have a private swimming lesson. Not sure how this is justified but something to put up with.


Eurovision: The joy of pure escapism

I love Eurovision week – it’s like the creation of an alternative world all about fun and enjoyment. The semi-finals on Tues and Thurs with the big final on Sat. Lots of good songs this year though also lots of dodgy ones that progressed to the final with me unable to identify why anyone would vote for them. But I don’t think I can remember a Eurovision so filled with controversy. I feel sorry for the Swedes having to deal with so much and stay focused on creating a show that everyone could enjoy.

Croatia was definitely a favourite from the first time I heard it a few months ago. But the Swiss song grew on me during the week and it was a worthy winner. Other ones that I really liked were Ukraine, Israel, Ireland, Spain, and Netherlands. I really loved Olly Alexander and his song was good but there simply were better ones.

tunes in darkness

Dr Who: Always a welcome diversion

Gay heaven on Saturday: two new Dr Who episodes followed by the 4 hour long Eurovision final. Not sure I’m totally bought into the big scale production of the new Dr Who series – part of me still loves the more intimate feel of the classic Dr Who era. But great fun to have a new enemy based on music. Very clever to put it on just before Eurovision.

sixties doctor who logo

‘Thebes of the Hundred Gates’ by Robert Silverberg

Silverberg is one of my favourite classic sci-fi writers. I’m exploring his vast back catalogue and finding myself engaging with him as a writer. A lot of his writing focuses on time travel which will never actually happen (scientifically impossible) but is a fun idea and opens up so many opportunities to focus on imaginative what ifs.

In this novella, a man is sent into the past to trace two missing time travellers. He tracks them down to ancient Egypt. But the relief he expects when he finds them is not forthcoming. Rather they have fallen in love with their new environment and our anti-hero is also left to explore what living in that time was like.

And it’s an amazing place. Full of colour, light, magic, and pleasure. Death is not feared but celebrated. Our people from the future are inoculated against common lethal diseases. I suppose with that protection and wealth then any mysterious ancient civilisation could be very enjoyable, the guilt and puritanism of modern life gone.

‘Deus Irae’ by Philip K Dick and Roger Zelazny

Some books are an easy read and some are bloody hard work that need focus. This is one of the latter. You can read more about this crazy novel here. A sci-fi post-apocalyptic novel with heavy theological aspects as two religious sects battle it out. There’s also a journey across a devastated mutation-filled wasteland with pockets of humanity – all that remains after a nuclear war.

Dick developed a drug addiction and it influenced a lot of his writing. Much of this novel can be seen to be based on taking hallucinatory drugs. The drug influence was also very present in Dick’s famous novel ‘A Scanner Darkly’. Indeed, I found that book almost impossible to read at points. And the whole crazy religious based post-apocalyptic setting is very reminiscent in the groundbreaking novel ‘A Canticle for Leibowitz’ – written 1959 and one of the best novels ever in this genre.


More bad news

I make no apologies for my focus on this issue. The overwhelming mass of scientific evidence tells us that the world is significantly heating up due to human behaviour and there will be massive environmental changes as a result. And I will do all I can to ameliorate this so that people (and nature in general) don’t have to suffer.

More scary evidence that the world is on a dangerous trajectory. The temperatures of our oceans are increasing year on year – read about it here. Life in the seas will decline and change as a result. And this all contributes to the threat of rising water levels. Plus on top of this in the UK we are basically allowing the water companies to pour shit into our rivers whilst using money to stop this to be paid to shareholders instead.

But there is some light

There is always a danger of being too pessimistic. Definitely an issue when we are focused on a problem. We’ve all sat doom-scrolling at some point. There is some hope that we can avoid the most nightmare environmental scenario. A report this week that 30% of the world’s electricity was produced by renewables last year – read it here.

Though every silver lining has a cloud with demand for electricity continually growing. But perhaps we can save ourselves. It might just be that the economic growth of the future will be with us finding ways to tackle the crap that we have created.

Close up of a blue tit

  • A big part of the focus for next week is accompanying Patrick and Frances to the Isle of Wight for a very short break. Itinerary is Osborne House (Victoria’s favourite home) and the Donkey Sanctuary.
  • In between the above and looking after mum, I will get in at least one gym session
  • Reading is pure escapism (and why not?): a queer sci-fi novel ‘Frontier’ by Grace Curtis as well as the fantasy book ‘The Adventures of Amina of al-Sirafi’ by Shannon Chakraborty
  • Still doing my daily Duolingo. Should I focus on either German or Spanish rather than trying to cover both? Perhaps one day the universe will direct me to which is more useful.
The Planet on Fire

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