Folsom Berlin cancelled but I am creating my new normal

Mon 7 – Sun 12 Sept 2020

Last week’s big negative was that on Wednesday me and Dave should have been flying out to Berlin for the crazy celebration of gay life that is Folsom. A long weekend of parties, clubbing, and socialising. But, of course, Folsom was cancelled because of Covid. The big positive is that I was able to start establishing my new normal everyday life. The previous week was spent with Dave’s mum (blog here) so last week was my first real attempt to sort out how things should be.

Berlin (without Folsom) soon?

Monument of Prussian victories

It did cross our minds as to whether we should just go to Berlin anyway. But decided it wouldn’t be worth it with so much closed and restricted. Hopefully we will be going to Folsom next September. And we will also be aiming to do a non-Folsom weekend in Berlin in the near future. For last week we converted our hotel booking into a credit note and simply didn’t turn up for the flight (non-cancellable). 🙁

What about Gran Canaria in Feb?

Ideally we will be in Berlin pretty soon after the vaccine is distributed. So much of life now is about hoping for the best and assuming we will be able to do ‘normal’ in the near future. Ah well, might as well live in hope with the belief shit can’t go on forever. Indeed, the next big test may be if me and Dave can go on our booked holiday to Gran Canaria in February.

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”


Personal Development

My new normal aim is to do something purposeful each day

After 11 good years at Comic Relief (details here), I’ve made a deliberate decision not to start actively looking for a new job straight away. So I am living off my redundancy money. It’s clear I am lucky in many ways but the point of luck is to use it. I need to take time out to work out what I really want to do, create my new normal, and be patient for the right opportunities to appear if I cannot make them happen.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change we seek.”

Barack Obama

The importance of social media

I love the ability of social media to cause discussion and it is instrumental in how we spread new ideas. I think it’s vital to use social media to try to change things, generate new ideas, and get people thinking differently.

Regular readers will know I am active on social media and I really don’t get it when people say they don’t enjoy using it. I love the cut and thrust of it. Yeah people are horrible on social media but they are horrible in everyday life. You simply fight back. 🙂

My post that generated most response

One of my posts that generated response last week was the one I put up criticising how far charities / NGOs / ‘not for profits’ have adopted the culture and thinking of the private sector. The point of not being a business is that you are not a business therefore stop acting like one.

Indeed, sadly I have scaled back my giving to many charities as I feel there is often little difference between what they do to achieve change compared to companies with strong CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) such as Unilever or Sainsburys. 🙁

My focus is on distinctive and scene-setting charities / not for profits. Some I have donated to and supported recently are Refugee Action, Good Law Project, Choose Love and Extinction Rebellion’s Central Legal Defence Fund – check them out! All good organisations campaigning and helping people create a different world. 🙂

Using LinkedIn to present who I am 🙂

So how does my love and use of social media fit into my personal development? Well, I need to get my CV in order. And also update my LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is fascinating. All part of the new normal. In many ways it’s a ‘peacock site’. Its purpose is for people to look for new jobs and show their wares for the next employer / customer. That’s fair enough though it can make it dull at times.

For me, the point of such a market place is to tell people who you are, what you are, what you believe in. That’s how I am using it. Perhaps it is corrupting its original purpose. But, as I have said, it’s also important to use social media to change things, generate new ideas, and get people thinking. I want people to know what I believe in and what I want to achieve. In that way we will all work out better who wants to employ me or work with me. 🙂

“There are no problems we cannot solve together, and very few that we can solve by ourselves.”

Lyndon B. Johnson


My other main piece of personal development last week was my continued focus on learning languages. Did some units on Duolingo everyday and maintained the possibility of meeting the ‘100 day challenge’ – using it for 100 consecutive days. Also signed up to Toucan, an interesting new programme that inserts non-English words into online text ( I’ve used it in the German setting (useful for future Folsom or Berlin :)) and it is a good way to remind me of words as well as learn new ones.

Health and Efficiency



Sunday morning for my usual weekly 5K. If I was at Folsom there is no chance this would have happened. 🙂 I may well be coming back to the hotel at this time. And it was a good one. Slightly over 32 mins but I’m still on trend to improve my time. And I found a £20 note whilst running. 🙂 Details on jog-runs and weight here plus video reports here.


My new normal includes getting in lots of walking which I did last week. Almost daily long walks between Dave’s place and mum’s. Also walks around my favourite parks such as Holland Park. I put my earphones in, switch on a Big Finish Doctor Who adventure, and lose myself on a lovely long walk. Or I might read on my kindle as I’m walking. I love it. My mind and my body both working. 🙂


However, such long purposeful walks in themselves don’t seem to be the answer to my need to lose weight. It continues to creep up. Basically I am going to have to do something different – if nothing changes then nothing changes. 🙁 I need to lose weight for vanity, I don’t just want to be a fat old bloke – though ageing is inevitable. It’s also about health.

man weighing himself

As I get older, the weight I am carrying will inevitably impact on my health. Pretty sure within 10 years my new normal could include cancer, heart attack, or stroke. Along with my other health problems and the daily cocktail of meds I take, I want to give myself the best chance of surviving.


One of my big aims for the new normal is not to spend too much time sleeping. But is this something I should really worry about? Perhaps my new normal is not having a sleep routine to serve a Mon-Fri 9-5 work lifestyle. I’m at my best in the morning. So if I get up early but then have an afternoon snooze, is that a problem? And those afternoon snoozes happened on 4 afternoons out of 7 last week! 🙂

A metal grater

Books and Reading

‘Goodbye to all that’

Finished this wonderful 1929 autobiography by bisexual Robert Graves. It was written when he was still young and his life went on much further than when this book finishes in the mid 1920s. It doesn’t cover his life in Spain nor the writing of some of his greatest books such as ‘I, Claudius’. But it does cover his youth in Edwardian England, the nightmare of life in the Trenches during WWI, and the aftermath.

Wonderful stuff not least for showing how utterly stupid and wasteful was the slaughter of WWI. The war that screwed up the rest of the twentieth century and that was completely pointless. A good consideration for any time that we are being led to war or being whipped up to hate other people.

Patriotism is not obedience to government

My current reading book

Sometimes you read a book and it just hits you because you weren’t expecting it. That is the case with George Turner’s ‘The Sea and Summer’. A piece of Australian sci-fi published in 1987. It was a winner of the Arthur C Clarke Award and is so prescient with its view of a future world affected by climate change and growing inequality. More details next week. 🙂

Family and Friends


I spent a lot of time with mum last week. Suspect this is part of my new normal, paying more attention to my elderly parents. I’m even thinking about if I can pay a visit to my dad when we are next up to see Dave’s mum?

Dave came over to spend time with mum on Thurs evening – she loved seeing him and enjoyed the excuse to cook some of her very thick pancakes (but no maple syrup – too expensive LOL). Also some good news that the dispute I’ve been sorting with the water company on her behalf may finally be sorted – fingers crossed.


Failed to have any major contact with friends last week. Though I did a lot of inter-action over the internet. If we had been at Folsom we would have been with our friend David. Would be great to meet up with him and his partner in Spain in the near future. However visiting there is risky in terms of Covid and would entail the hassle of quarantine on return.

Art and Culture

The Queen’s Gallery: George IV exhibition

I am determined that my new normal will have lots of art and culture. And if we had been at Folsom in Berlin then we would have squeezed in some museums or galleries. So on Friday, me and Dave made a trip to the Queen’s Gallery next to Buckingham Palace to view the exhibition ‘George IV: Art and Spectacle’ (details here); all about the art collected and commissioned by that monarch.

If you like bling then you will adore this exhibition. Across his life (Prince Regent 1811-20 then King 1820-30), he was an avid collector and patron of the arts. But it is very much high art and stuff that celebrates the ‘glory of monarchy’. It included much vaunting of royal ‘victims’ such as Charles I of England and Louis XVI of France. He also indulged in orientalism and built the Brighton Pavilion.

The exhibition doesn’t tell you much about the man himself. Though you find out some strange things like that his father George III refused to let him travel abroad. Ultimately he comes across as spoilt and pleasure-seeking which was the widespread view of him during his lifetime. It’s art that ignores the lives of normal people and glorifies the past with only limited nods to future trends and ideas.


Frugal living

Environmentally, I suppose I should celebrate that we weren’t on the flight to Berlin for Folsom. But that flight went ahead without me and the environmental damage was done. This reflects the conundrum that often faces those of us who want to live more sustainably. 🙁

My main attempt to live a new normal life in a more sustainable way is to try not to spend too much. Obviously that also links into me spending less of my redundancy money and being able to survive longer without work. I’m trying to spend maximum £10 a day on non-essentials. At the moment that is mainly coffees, Lottery, and Kindle books. If I can spend and consume less then I am helping the planet. 🙂

Support your favourite charity shop

No preparation and packing for Folsom so good on Monday (my purposeful thing for that day :)) to pop to our favourite charity shop. We gave some donations and picked up some secondhand bits – for me = a £1 t-shirt and a 50p DVD (old skool LOL). Don’t forget the sustainability mantra: reduce, reuse, recycle.

Extinction Rebellion

The Week Ahead

In a parallel world, me and Dave are still enjoying ourselves at Folsom and flying back to London on Wed. 🙁 In this dimension we call reality, I am still sorting the new normal.

  • My old employer has arranged for the people made redundant to have coaching. Will contact my coach to start the process of identifying what I want to do next with my career.
  • Carry on defining myself and what I want via social media
  • Aim is to continue my 100 day challenge on Duolingo
  • Jog-run and walking – hopefully it might contribute to weight loss
  • Enjoy sleeping and build ‘working hours’ that work for me 🙂
  • INR check on Thurs to make sure I’m not getting blood clots or internally bleeding
  • Finish the George Turner book and move onto a new one
  • Spend time with mum
  • Start catching up with friends beyond just communicating via social media – that must be part of my new normal
  • Build more art and culture into my life
  • Continue trying to do all I can to live more sustainably and help the planet 🙂

And Finally…

New Boyband

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