Art, ageing, and illness

Sun 10 – Sun 17 July 2016

Male body art

My blog about last week is shaped by me realising the importance of art in everything we do (hence nice picture above) as well as the impact of ageing. The latter particularly seen by visiting my old chaps in Brighton. And then myself having a day of illness that changed my plans. We make plans and God laughs at them.


Last week everybody started to go a little bit crazy about Pokemon Go… A big boost for Nintendo and Augmented Reality. To be honest, digital games don’t do it for me. Mind you, neither do board games. I get very bored with chess. A big part of me thinks my life is busy enough already without getting obsessed by gaming.

Everything is art

Age and artTuesday evening, I attended the launch of a new grants programme by Nominet Trust and Baring Foundation: Digital Arts and Creative Ageing – details here. This was accompanied by an good panel discussion. This made me think about ageing, digital and art. Particularly drawing on the real-life experiences of older people I know such as Bob, Brian, mum and Peter (latter is a friend with dementia in a home). We are all art. Everything we do is art. Indeed, this blog is art. We must encourage people to express themselves and find identity through art.

Giving voice to older people who need it

And we must not take this away from older people though not at the cost of depriving it to other generations. There can be no doubt that many baby boomers have had far better lifestyles than anyone else in society. However, some older people (not all by any stretch of the imagination) face isolation and poverty such that we must take steps to enable them to express themselves. A clear example is the means to engage despite physical disabilities. A practical expression would be ensuring wi-fi is everywhere including care homes. It is so easy to criticise care homes and their staff without appreciating how shitty are most of the jobs looking after vulnerable old people. Very low paid and unpleasant, jobs none of us would want to do.

Wavemaker – creating digital exploration spaces

Art and craftTuesday daytime had a catch-up on the Wavemaker project in Stoke. I love this project. It’s about creating a digital exploration centre in a poor town targeting young people in particular. A space to let those young people (and some older ones) explore digital. It’s all about ensuring we are creators on the internet rather than just consumers. All going well and some nice ideas to expand. I am more and more convinced we need many tech spaces like this. Other great examples can be seen at Fab Lab London and Birmingham Impact Hub. We have to get people to be comfortable with digital and explore it. Basically from now onwards all economic, social and cultural progress is linked to digital.

CAST – ensuring charities are not left behind

And a catch up with this project on Wednesday. Another attempt to push the digital agenda and ensure charities don’t miss out. The Digital Fellowship programme training CEOs is going well and clear evidence of the value of getting mixed groups together. Divided by digital experience, size of organisation, as well as sectors they work in. The importance of cross-fertilisation rather than working in silos. And the Fuse Acclerator is going well. Charities and social enterprises developing new digital products and services to assist the beneficiaries they are targeting.

Getting ready for our new Tech for Good programme

Meanwhile my job-share Nissa and I keep plugging away at getting our new Tech for Good grants programme ready for later this year. So exciting that we will be able to offer more grants and develop more new tech breakthroughs.

Health and efficiency

Ill on Thursday and Friday

Illness - death headsAn ongoing problem this time of year is identifying whether a cold is a cold or whether it is hayfever (and vice versa). Felt rough on Thursday night. With hindsight I think it was a cold and I probably should have avoided going to the gym and work the next day – that bloody protestant work ethic of mine. A night of sweating, dehydration and delirium with little quality sleep. Also that one-sided headache again. Could be migraine though I wonder if it is linked to a dodgy tooth as the hospital consultant suggested could be the case based on what the CAT scan showed.

Saturday no jog-run, sleep instead

Saturday I had planned to go for my weekly jog-run but felt awful. Aching, snotty, headaches – sleep was sweaty and intermittent again on Friday night. The end result was Saturday written off. Basically against everything I normally do, I just slept using this as the key tool to help me recover. Fundamentally I slept on and off from midday right through to Sunday morning. So well over 15 hours of sleep-based recovery.

Sunday jog-run recuperation

Jog-run detailsSunday morning I felt better but not perfect. However decided to take a chance on doing my jog-run. Life is built on taking chances and the worst thing that can happen is that we die (which is going to happen one day anyway). A very sweaty and slow run but I got into a nice zone. Key thing was to push the distance which I did – 5.6km. I would like to do a 10K each week in my ideal world. But time and pace were slow which is fine (under 38 mins); something to build on. when I am not so ill. Felt OK afterwards though Sunday became a complete chill day. Good to note achilles, calves and knee were not aching too much.


Male body imageGym on Wednesday and Friday morning though the latter was probably a session too far. Although what does not kills us makes us stronger. Another nice piece of art – a photo of another beautiful male body. I would love to look like that but it ain’t gonna happen.




I can’t write a blog for posterity and not mention the hideous political situation at the moment. We really are living through a period of amazing events. And so in the horrible dimension called ‘reality’ political chaos continues.

The Tory government nightmare continues

Leadsom drops out (wonder if people will remember who she is in a year’s time?) and May has her coronation. No general election. Shame because Tories would probably win taking seats from Labour but I think Lib Dems could pick up seats particularly some of near losses of the last election. Then the shock announcement of May’s new cabinet. Brexiters given key jobs where they are going to have to sell whatever is agreed both good and bad. Biggest shock was, of course, Boris as Foreign Secretary. No-one doubts he is clever cunning but he needs to make amends with a lot of people internationally.

Labour civil war continues

Jeremy Corbyn Angela Eagle throws her hat into the ring though she’s one of the least likely people I can imagine to wear a hat. Followed by Jonny Come-Lately, Owen Smith. No-one knows who he is though that might not be a bad thing – fresh start, clean slate, etc. Nasty misogynism swirls around Corbyn and his supporters. As well as dodgy trade union based machinations and bullying at the NEC to make sure he is on the ballot. Labour split looks inevitable though we were here before in the eighties. Such conflict is the clear danger that comes from the self-centred comfort of putting ideological purists in control of a party. And could be seen to stem from Brown not going to country when took over from Blair… Does history repeat itself? I love what Karl Marx said:

‘All history repeats itself – the first time is tragedy, the second time is farce.’

Plus ca change…

Meanwhile Trump chooses a fellow old, male, pale running mate who is also a right-wing shitbag. And there’s an attempted military coup in Turkey. Erdogan was once seen as the future, now he appears so much of the past. An authoritarian Islamist. I am not sure the military is much better and probably best for Turkish democracy in the long-run that the coup failed. I think of the words of someone who lived in Egypt during their ‘revolution’ and said their sad choice was to live under Islamic fascists or military fascists.

Brighton again

Interior Brighton Pavilion No gym previous Sunday morning (though did an excellent jog-run the day before). Chill time with Dave and dealing with emails. No problems train journey down to Brighton though I believe the people who have been telling me how awful Southern trains are at moment. They really should have their licence withdrawn and the government run the train line until a new operator is in place.

Sunday – meeting with Mark

Chilled around Brighton on Sunday afternoon particularly checking out charity shops (generally quite expensive) and coffee + pooter. Deliberately decided to wear shorts. Weather not great but I love wearing shorts and if you can’t wear them in mid-July then when can you wear them? I had contacted my mate Rob to meet in evening but he was in Spain at his new apartment. So I met up with Mark, the long-term partner of my dear friend James who died of cancer just at the end of last year. He went to see the Ab Fab film, said it was good in parts. Overall he is OK. He has resigned from job and considering his future. Still unsure whether to move or not. Travelling a bit including spending time with his mum and sister. Tis only six months so I think the journey that is this stage of his life has just started.

Sunday evening nicely pissed

Surreal artBack to the hotel. Had a couple of glasses of wine at dinner. And then had a couple more in the hotel bar. It was busy with people watching the final of the European Championship – France vs Portugal. There were a number of foreign people being very passionate about it. Twas a great atmosphere to sit in whilst slightly merry. Simultaneously to keeping an eye on the footie, I was reading the gothic drama Frankenstein. All wonderfully surreal and abstract.

Grumpy Bob

Up the next morning to see Bob at his nursing home. He was dressed and ready when I got there but also a bit subdued and a little grumpy. I suppose he has a lot to be subdued and grumpy about. Stuck in a wheelchair, paralysed apart from his left arm, incontinent, and his speaking / thinking affected by the stroke. Down to the local cafe for coffee, chat and to watch the world go by.

Crazy Brian

Then onto lunch with Brian. He was on good form. Mobility only possible via his stroller but he has more of a life then Bob. Spoke about his beloved dog though he relies on the paid dog-walker to take him out each day. And latest gossip from the sheltered housing where he lives. This includes arguments with the other residents over the answers to the quizes they run amongst each other to provide social events.

Avoiding Brighton in September

Back to London. Pointed out to both old chaps that the next time I am down won’t be until September. I am tooo busy at work during August with Nissa off to complete her post-grad dissertation. Plus hotels in Brighton are too bloody expensive during the school holidays.

Learning and development

Children communicatingMaking some genuine progress with DuoLingo. It’s simply about making time and doing a specific small amount each day. And I am also using YouTube to watch vids about coding. Really coding is just like learning a foreign language which needs constant practice and attention.

Books and reading

FrankensteinMy main reading book was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It’s good to go back to a classic every so often not least to work out why it is so acclaimed and influential. For instance, I read Madam Bovary for the first time time about a couple of years ago. For me, it’s power is as a description of a woman having a breakdown. Indeed, lot of classics now seem to me to be about mental health issues. The same for Frankenstein. There is a lot more to the story than I realised including it being spread over a long time with lots of travel across Europe and several murders. A big weakness is the complete non-reality around time (as in any Shakespeare play). I do wonder if Frankenstein is not supposed to be a separate monster but rather the dark side of the main character? A bit like Jekyll and Hyde. Perhaps there is even a sexual dimension with the murders of beautiful men and women the main character is close to and the monster wanting a companion to make his life worth living.

Doctor Who audio-books

Mars surfaceThe Lords of the Red Planet is a ‘Lost Story’. That is it was never made into a TV programme but was considered as an idea for one. Set in the time of the second Doctor so brilliantly portrayed by Patrick Troughton. I think my favourite Doctor. And crucial for making Doctor Who long-term success by managing the change from William Hartnell. About the Doctor with companions Zoe and Jamie travelling to Mars just as the Ice Warriors are being created by the original Mars inhabitants. Good story and would have made a great TV episode even within the limitations of sixties SFX.

Couple of other Dr Who audio-books listened to. Dreamtime features the seventh Doctor and companions Ace and Hex. It’s one of those stories I didn’t get. Something about Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) floating separately in space and people being transferred back to the point just before it leaves the Earth. But a nice little short Companion’s Chronicle Find and Replace. This features the wonderful Third Doctor’s companion Jo Grant. She meets an alien who is trying to rewrite her history and so she has to go back to see the Doctor. Also includes the wonderful character Iris Wildthyme.

 One year ago

Don’t worry I haven’t stopped this new feature. I’ve simply decided this blog is long enough and I will post my look back separately later on this week.

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