How to make progress and solve a problem

Mon 14 – Sun 20 Aug 2017

I don’t watch much real-time TV these days

Indeed who does apart from old people? Most people under forty seem to prefer to get stuff on demand, another blessing of the internet. However, for me it’s more that lots of current TV is simply crap and I have better things to do. Indeed, I rarely have time to use the internet to catch up with stuff missed on TV or indulge in box sets. The only things I do watch in real time are the the soaps. I love watching these as much as I love reading fiction – both tell us so much more about life than we can assimilate in other ways. What I really avoid on TV now are current affairs discussion programmes. Things like Question Time or Newsnight. I find it absolutely pointless listening to people arguing with each other.

I had a difficult situation this week

It was the type of thing we all face everyday. The key thing was simply to solve a problem not just have each side arguing with each other and getting nowhere. The truth is that progress comes through problem-solving. I suppose programmes about people finding a solution to a problem would not be as sexy but could be worth trying. Indeed, why can’t we have negotiations live streamed such as around Brexit at the moment?

However, I have also learnt in any situation that you need to believe in something and stick to it

Finding a solution does not mean selling out but it does mean listening, putting forward ideas, and being honest. Last week we found a way through the current problem but we didn’t solve it. That still has to be sorted. Similarly around Brexit I feel passionately this government and Labour are heading in the wrong direction. Will I stop fighting and ‘make it work’? Will I shit. I will fight against it with every being of my body. That is what belief is about. At some point things will be resolved. But there is no value in me discussing it with people who strongly believe the opposite. Solutions happen eventually but televised arguments don’t take us anywhere.

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Personal Development


I continue to make progress around languages but not at the speed I want. The problem is simply time (again). I missed out completely doing any Duolingo last week on Tues and Thurs. Both were simply busy days. The former with work and the latter with work, gym, and social stuff with an old friend (see below). The work problem I ‘solved’ actually spread itself over several days including my non-work ones.

Some time was spent with Code Academy practising coding particularly CSS. Not masses but still better than nothing.


I was on top of my emails getting down to about 50 unread in my personal account by the start of last week. But the problem I had to deal with took a lot of time and I took my eye off the progress I had made on emails. By the weekend I was back up to 200 personal unread and about 150 work ones to deal with. I made progress over the weekend but this problem needs constant attention.

My inspirational friend

Some friends take us down but some bring us up. A lovely interlude on Thurs was meeting an inspirational old friend. And it gave me a chance to take my focus off last week’s ongoing problem. We have known each other about 20 years having met in Brighton where we played football together in a gay football team. He’s a cool guy who now basically lives in a motor home travelling around the UK and Europe. We don’t agree on everything but he’s someone who has dealt with problems successfully and built himself a life of independence and self-reliance that I envy. Is the moral of the story that you have to stop working in order to find yourself?

Getting Go

gay filmDave was away Fri night and Sat all day. Jog-run on Sat morning followed by chilling around the coffee and charity shops plus doing stuff on the pooter. During the afternoon I listened to the radio, I do like Danny Howard’s Dance Anthems on Radio One. Takes me back to my clubbing days. And then before Dave returned around 9.30, I watched a gay movie. I love gay cinema though it can be pretty ropey. I watched ‘Getting Go’. Made in 2013, it is the story of an American student with a crush on a go-go dancer. It’s fun and trashy. Plus it’s centred on making a film and communicating via the internet so there’s lots of clever screen work. Also the actors are sexy with lots of gratuitous body shots. A good film to lose yourself in.

Health and Efficiency


Video report can be seen here I am so stuck on my ‘normal’ 10K time of 1 hour 3 mins. Interesting for this jog-run how my head was in a great space and all the resistance came from my body. It kept finding constant little problem pains and niggles that I simply had to relax and work to forget them (usually replacing one pain focus with another!). But all the pains were simply mirages put in my way to stop running.

Gym and weight

Just twice last week: the mornings of Mon and Thurs. Heavy weights pushed for my upper body and legs on both days plus some treadmill. I had the time to go on Fri but just was not in the mood. Indeed I had to go and collect my meds renewal having been to see my GP on Wed.

Still avoiding weighing myself because I think it will be bad news. However I am trying to reduce my calorie intake by skipping certain meals such as breakfast before the gym or cutting back at other times.


Continuing my regular weekend habit of yoga on Sun. Good stretching which I think helps in the recovery from my jog-run the day before.

Tech for Good (and other work adventures)


Two main things last week related to work. First, was sitting on the panel to decide the projects to be funded via our UK Tech and HIV programme. Some very interesting projects and that perennial problem of working out how risky and innovative to be? All fine if things work out well but what if they fail? Then you can be accused of wasting money.

I also sat on the panel awarding International HIV grants not with a tech but rather a youth focus. Much bigger than the UK ones to reflect the greater need in Southern Africa. Please do have a look at my video page on this site to see the video by Children’s Radio Foundation about LGBT young people in Kinshasa.

Building relationships at work

Second big thing last week was all about bonding at work. We had a team meeting on Wed which was still useful despite our boss being away. And then on Fri afternoon, we had a works summer picnic. But it was raining so instead we had a grand pub quiz in our social space. My team (Jen’s Gems) won and I had to do the tiebreaker to decide between us and the other team. How many years was Bruce Forsyth in showbiz? I said 73, the other person 68 (which was also my answer before I changed it), and the answer was 72. But then we swapped the prize because my team wanted the runner up one of a voucher for the nice local cafe (affectionately known as the rat cafe); lunch for next week. The first prize was a voucher to use at a nearby bar that evening.

Books and Reading

‘Prophecy’ by S.J.Parris [actually Stephanie Merritt]

sixteenth century theologianThe books by C.J.Sansom covering the adventures of Matthew Shardlake as he undertakes investigations of crimes during the time of Henry VIII are brilliant. If you have never read them then do so. There are huge liberties taken in terms of important historical figures popping up and being intimately involved in the plot. Parris does it very similarly but several decades on and as successfully. Giordano Bruno is a real life historical character. A Dominican Friar wanted for heresy who was ultimately burnt at the stake (Mother Church?) – fascinating wiki page here. Parris / Merritt take liberty for the time he is in England at the French embassy to get him involved in plotting and intrigue at Elizabeth I’s court. Well worth reading.

Dr Who audio adventures

‘The Lady of Mercia’ (fifth Doctor Peter Davidson + companions Nyssa, Tegan, Turlough)

Paul Magrs is one of my favourite contemporary British sci-fi writers (alongside Christopher Fowler) and, I did not realise, but he wrote this time-travel adventure. It is firmly in the tradition of the Doctor’s TV adventures of the 70s and 80s when travel to other time periods were quite frequent. Indeed, I could see this adventure as a TV one. Fundamentally the Doctor and his annoying companions get involved in travelling back to the Dark Ages and so solve the problem of what happens to one of its lost Queens. Wonderfully silly but entertaining.

‘Prisoners of Fate’ (Peter Davidson + Nyssa, Tegan, Turlough)

Now this story has so many strengths. These include typing up loose ends around Nyssa’s life and bringing in as the villain the first Tardis the Doctor used but not the type 40 he left Gallifrey with. And it all goes so well for the first 3 episodes. But then it turns into one of those really confusing time travel knots when going back will change time but they still go back and it’s not clear if things have changed, etc. Listening to the episode a second time did make things a bit clearer but not 100%. I think we ended up with the simultaneous existence of two time lines…

Looking Ahead

  • A theatre week – ’42nd Street’ on Tues and my mate Jamie’s play ‘Skewed Judgement’ on Thurs before its run ends
  • Getting back to being on top of my emails
  • Duolingo every day and some coding practice
  • 2 gym workouts plus a jog-run and a yoga session
  • Some Tech for Good conversations with new people including from Social Finance and Big Lottery Fund
  • Continuing progress around supporting the projects we have chosen who will be launching their crowdfunding campaigns at the start of Oct
  • A catch up with Apps for Good, a great organisation working to upskill young people in digital
  • Attending the Collective Global Accelerator Demo Day on Thurs morning. It will be particularly interesting to catch up with the African tech projects.
  • Finishing the book I am currently reading and starting at least one new one
  • Listening to a couple more Dr Who audio adventures
  • A bank holiday weekend 🙂 but it means the end of summer 🙁

And finally…

QPR seemed to revert to normal form by losing at Norwich 2-0 on Wed night. But then on Sat they came back from 1-0 down to Hull at Loftus Road to win the game 2-1! Into the championship top 6, progress indeed.

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