Going back to normal?

Mon 16 – Sun 22 Aug 2021

I suppose the official ‘going back to normal’ day was that fateful ‘Freedom Day’ on 19 July. And things have got back to some sort of normality. Though I think many people are still reticent about going totally back to normal and we still have over 30,000 positive Covid cases per day as well as over 100 dead. So going back to normal looks pretty much like accepting an endemic disease that will likely kill minimum 36,000 per year.

Can people live with that? Do we have a choice? It’s less than the number that die of cancer and heart disease each year. I think the interesting thing will be with the schools and universities going back which would well lead to more infections.

My return to the office

My personal going back to normal moment last week was going back to the office. Not the Comic Relief one I left in March 2020 but the office for my ‘new’ job at Thoughtworks. I say new but I have been in post since April which actually may be quite recent for some who were recruited earlier during the pandemic and still haven’t been able to get into their office space. I’m also aware that some people have not been able to have the luxury of working from home.

Felt strange not to get up and turn on the pooter at home to start work. And felt weird to be walking across London to go to the office. We have a really nice office in Soho which, as an area, was buzzing with people. About a dozen of us in the office and nice to meet our new Regional Director. Definitely got a sense of camaraderie with my colleagues, met some people only seen on the pooter screen, and so useful to spend real face to face time with my immediate colleague Jeantine.

Going back to normal

The pros and cons of going back to the office

Definite pros in the ability to sit with people and fully experience the important aspects of being in-person. As well as being able to share a pooter screen and work on things together. Felt very weird going back to a world of lunchtime in a busy area, looking for food and a seat in a busy food place. I did notice that it was primarily younger people than me – I wonder if there is an age difference in people who are going back to the office?

But it was also tiring and time consuming, simple time getting to and from your workplace. And I found it knackering. Was kindly invited out for drinks after work but I was too tired and a packed bar still makes me feel uneasy. Back home at 6.30, I just felt so hungry and tired; completely emotional reaction for my first day going back. In response I decided to have an early night – 9.30 on a Fri night! But not till after I had stuffed my face. 🙁

“Sometimes in life you don’t always feel like a winner, but that doesn’t mean you’re not a winner.”

Lady Gaga

Billy home-alone with Dave in Berlin and mum gone

One of the things we are all looking forward in going back is to going on holiday abroad again. Indeed, London is full of families from across the UK who you can tell are only here because they can’t get abroad. The latter, of course, would be more fun and a lot more cheaper than being in expensive UK with its dodgy and unpredictable weather.

Meanwhile, I have been having catch-up WhatsApp with Dave in Berlin. He’s enjoyed it but it has clearly been hassle in terms of showing his vaccine passport everywhere and then booking / paying for tests for his return. And on Saturday, mum went off to stay with her friend outside London.

Home alone film poster

My tentative holiday plans

Can’t believe its 18 months since I’ve been able to escape from this bloody island. I fell like I’m in a big prison. Can’t wait till I’m going back to visit my beloved Europe again, hopefully without using planes. I’m pencilling in a solo visit to Phyllis in Torremolinos and ideally some time in Berlin with Dave.

Obviously so much depends what happens with the virus here and there. I do not want to be somewhere that is declared Red whilst I’m away and I have to come back to pay two and a half grand to this corrupt govt to sit in a crap hotel for 2 weeks. Also got to fit in with the work situation.

Going back to face to face meetings with friends

Regular readers will know that I completely dish the idea that social media friends are any less real or important than ‘in the flesh’ friends. The internet makes contacting people easier and networks bigger. But, I must admit, face to face meetings are important and we have all missed these.

So on Tues night had a catch-up with my old mate Dom. We’ve known each other for nearly 35 years. He’s well and it was a lovely, long, lazy dinner. It’s really important to nurture networks of friends because ultimately all we have in life is our family and friends. What’s the point in being successful and rich if you’ve got no friends?

Be happy and grateful about nice things

Semi-starvation and exercise = weight loss

So looks like my days of not eating (linked to Fung’s ‘The Obesity Code’ and the need to tackle our insulin addiction) seems to be having an effect. I am delighted that I am down to 13 stone 6 pounds – see my weight pattern here.

Basically on several days I either had no breakfast or just a croissant and then didn’t eat till the evening. I actually don’t normally feel hungry till the evening if I listen to my body. But the risk is then that I go crazy as I did on Friday night but that was partly a reaction to an eventful day. Still evenings are my weak time in terms of eating and drinking.

man weighing himself

Plus I am doing lost of long and purposeful walks. TBH I am not sure I really have time to be going back to the gym at the moment with work, walking, and spending time with mum. However, I am happy in my life. But I am also thinking about a time in the future when I will have more time and can incorporate the gym or swimming pool back into my routine.

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”

Omar Khayyam

The danger with all changed eating patterns / diets is the risk of going back to old, bad habits. It’s definitely possible. Though if Fung is right and I am eating because of a physical hormonal / chemical addiction then that can be overcome as can any addiction. Though it is not always as simple as just removing what makes you addicted. Rather it requires a holistic package that deals with why you became addicted in the first place.

The joy of books – 3 books to talk about

Regular readers will also know I love reading. Indeed, details of all the books I have read can be found here. So in the last week I finished one book and began two more.

Rows and rows of beautiful books

‘Mainstream. An anthology of stories from the edge’ edited by Justin David & Nathan Evans

This is the book I finished. It’s a very recent collection of short stories that I’ve been reading on my kindle whilst walking about. The ‘edge’ refers primarily to writings by BAME and LTBGTQ+ people. Some very nice stories and all very readable. TBH, I do find short stories come and go pretty easily for me such that unfortunately I can’t always remember the details. However, I know I enjoyed all of these and I emotionally connected with them which is the point of writing. Plus certain stories come back to me in different life situations.

‘Hotel du Lac’ by Anita Brookner

This is my new kindle book to read as I am in transit. In reading it, I am going back in time. It’s a 1980s classic and won the Booker Prize. Heterosexual romance in a hotel on the shores of Lake Geneva. It is very bourgeois but also very well written with great character creation. The sort of book that pleasantly swirls and flows around you making it a pleasure to read.

‘Overstory’ by Richard Powers

Some books take an effort to engage with at first but sticking with it makes the journey worthwhile. This much-lauded book is that. I struggled initially but it has really grown on me. It’s a celebration of the ties between humanity and trees. Definitely in the recent ‘return to nature’ trend and not a simple read. But the complex web it weaves is ultimately engaging and I look forward to seeing where it all goes.

“No matter what people will tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”

Robin Williams

Being part of the circular economy and dodgy AI

I believe in sustainability. There is a climate crisis and going back to normal cannot just be about screwing the planet as we were pre-pandemic. I suspect many people haven’t changed and don’t care about the changes going on in the natural world even though they can see the floods and fires.

Part of my contribution to tackling this crisis is by being part of the circular economy. Did that last week by taking a load of books I no longer want up to the Notting Hill Exchange. Got pennies for them but buying and selling secondhand is so much better than buying new and creating landfill.

I’m also uncluttering my life and selling some stuff online. Though this is really pissing me off as ebay’s algorithms have a inbuilt ability to ban gay-themed DVDs as ‘explicit sexual material’. Mainstream and certificated films but still banned. Show how easy human-created AI can take on the prejudices and wrongs assumptions of its human creators.

Meanwhile, I continue to buy as little as possible. Indeed, in going back to normal I suspect my main expenditure is going to be coffee, alcohol, eating out, and feeding my small-scale gambling habit.

The Week Ahead

  • Dave is back from Germany on Monday – be interesting to find out if he thought all the hassle and expense was worth it. Mum is back on Saturday.
  • Interviews at work to decide who we will do our Discovery projects with. Not sure If I will be going back into the office, perhaps on Friday.
  • Got to try to sort out holiday dates particularly as Philip wants to come to London and I would rather visit Torremolinos when he is there
  • Gonna carry on with my semi-starvation routine + walks to use calories. Be nice to get to under 13 stone 6 pounds
  • Really enjoying reading the Richard Powers book ‘Overstory’
  • Carry on offloading and dealing with homophobic algorithms LOL
  • Continue with my personal development. Have done 365 (semi) consecutive days on Duolingo! 🙂
  • Fingers crossed that QPR’s good run continues

And Finally…

Don't believe everything billionaires tell you

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