If you can’t have an indulgence…

Mon 23 – Sun 29 May 2022

If you can’t have an indulgence in life then what’s the point in carrying on? Definitely something I am coming to believe in more and more.

Not an ‘evil’ indulgence that hurts other people or the planet. But simply giving in sometimes to the things that make you happy and cause no harm. My ultimate indulgence would be living the rest of my life in a hotel, eating out every evening, and going to the gym every day.

“Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.”

Margaret Mead

Health and Efficiency

A heavy cold

In the era of Covid and Monkeypox, I went down with a heavy cold for most of last week – very retro. It wasn’t going to kill me but it was bloody hard work. A sore throat, aching neck and teeth, and bringing up loads of nasty yellow-green mucus. And I was so tired but not sleeping well due to violent coughing fits.

Someone once said it takes a fortnight to properly recover from a cold so another week to go. No idea where it came from – perhaps related to getting my ears suctioned the week before leading to a sinus infection?

Probably should have taken time off work but the fact I had a sick day the week before for my mental health (my first in a year – read about it here), meant that I didn’t feel I could. Plus I was working from home so I could instantly crash as soon as I finished.

teddy is ill

A near death experience, Bargain Hunt, and Depeche Mode

I’m being dramatic but indulge me. Basically on Thurs before going off to meet Emma (see below), I had a bad pain go through from my back and chest down to my stomach. It felt like really excruciating trapped wind. Walked around and got some air waiting for the pain to pass which it did in a few minutes.

Probably nothing important but it did make me think. Indeed, two things went through my head. First, if this is serious then I’ve paid all that money into my pension and I’ll never get a chance to enjoy it. Second, Bargain Hunt was on the TV. It went through my head that this could be the last thing I would ever see.

These two things made me think that I need to have more indulgence in my life. Enjoy myself more and worry less. Tragic to hear this week about the death of Depeche Mode’s keyboard player Andy Fletcher. Only 60 years old and the band were a key part of my teenage years.

“You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.”

Marcus Aurelius

Gym

My plan to go to the gym on both of my non-work days failed again last week. The gym is an indulgence for me, I love it. Perhaps I shouldn’t even have gone on Tuesday but I find that a light workout can help defeat a cold. I think it’s to do with getting your blood flowing and sweating. But on Thursday I was just too knackered. The morning was spent resting and a long hot soak in the bath.

31 gym sessions since the start of 2022 = just under £16 per session.

Family and Friends

Mum

Spent time with her last week as normal. And as per usual, I was often working and she was sleeping. Though the bloody cold meant that I slept more than usual last week including when I was with her. So I didn’t always feel I was great company working and snoozing but she was happy to have me around.

I also tried really hard to make sure she didn’t get my cold – things like no hugs. Annoyingly I wasn’t successful though her cold she may not be as bad as mine.

when only bed and rest can help

Emma

One of the highlights of last week was seeing my old friend Emma. She moved to Australia with her partner several years ago. But she has only just been able post-pandemic to come over to see her parents and friends.

Me and Dave met her at the train station and it was just like old times. We had a lovely lunch as an indulgence for us finally having the chance to meet again. And her partner Trish did a video call from Oz as we were walking to the restaurant – brilliant to see her as well.

Lovely lunch, I ate too much but that is one of the normal ways I over indulge. Hilarious to hear about Emma’s adventures with savage possums whilst camping. Back to Dave’s for a cup of tea then Em was back off again to the south coast.

I am determined that me and Dave are going to go to Australia to see Em and Trish. But it’s got to be a worthwhile trip covering several weeks and several different places as it may be the only time we ever get there. The main thing that concerns me is the length of the flight but perhaps we can have the indulgence of Premium Economy. Bad for the environment but good for my blood clots and I suspect may be the only time in my life it will happen.

Plane flying

Patrick and Frances at Joe Allen’s

These were the two friends who came to Dave’s flat for tea the previous week. We met again on Saturday evening for the indulgence of dinner at the legendary restaurant Joe Allen’s. It’s an American style restaurant but very much aimed at the West End’s theatrical community.

A great meal and such fun to look at the pictures and posters on the walls. Pictures of celebrities and posters for musicals particularly from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Dave managed to be a bit late – his journey frustrated by the preparations for the Jubilee and Ride London. Great to hear from Frances about her trip to Paris during the week.

Books and Reading

One of my big indulgences in life is reading. Heaven is sitting and reading a good book whilst drinking coffee (or wine) and watching the world go by. Two books completed last week, both decent writing and thought provoking though one I preferred more than the other.

‘Notes from the Burning Age’ by Claire North

I made reference to this book in my previous blog which can be read here. Particularly as it was one of the things that was giving me a reawakened sense of spirituality. I wasn’t quite sure about this book at first, it felt a bit like just another apocalyptic / fantasy adventure. But it a reflection on many things including how history repeats itself.

In a world following an ecological apocalypse, a society based on a Buddhist type religion tries to stay connected with nature. But they are opposed by a human-centric alternative that says the old knowledge must be restored. But it’s also a story about a spy who needs to be discovered. And, rather serendipitously, it reflects the war in Ukraine. A vicious, ideologically crazed group attacks and moves on another group leading to a long drawn out cruel and pointless war.

Death anxiety and climate change

‘Summer’ by Ali Smith

The final book in her much lauded literary quartet based on the seasons and how the UK was divided and changed by the Brexit referendum. I honestly can’t remember the other 3 books though I definitely read them. This book was good but lacked something for me.

Yes we live in a divided society and racism / prejudice against foreigners is rampant. But I found the dreamy, unstructured nature of the book a bit frustrating. The story can shift in the middle of a paragraph so you are suddenly with the character several years before or in the future.

The best bit for me was the stories from the Germans who lived in Britain when war broke out in 1939 and were interned often when they had actually fled the Nazis. There really is a comparison there with some of the refugees currently interned in the UK.

Art and Culture

Art that made us

Final episode last week of the brilliant TV programme ‘Art that made us’. 8 installments each week on BBC2 and exactly the sort of quality programme that the BBC can excel at. Made me realise how little good quality arts programmes there are on TV.

It’s strange that we live in a world with so much art and culture and yet it generally doesn’t transfer to TV well. A bit like science I suppose. Occasionally you get ‘Horizon’ or something similar that blows your mind. But then generally, TV is bullshit.

Culture from the Saatchi Gallery

Radio 1 Big Weekend

Dave always laughs at me because I still like to listen to Radio 1. ‘Aren’t you a bit old for that?’ I agree but I’ve tried Radio 2, Radio 6, and Radio X – they all make me feel like I’m just listening to stuff from the past and nothing contemporary. There are occasional shows I listen to but for general listening, it’s Radio 1.

And last week for the first time in 3 years, there was a Big Weekend. This is when Radio 1 picks a place in the UK to have a weekend music festival. Coventry this year. I’m not really a big festival goer, it feels too much like hard work i.e. camping, no showers, dodgy toilets, crap food. But an indulgence for me is having big music events on the radio and TV to dip into. This is exactly how I also digest Glastonbury. Life in general should be more chilled in a festival-like way.

tunes in darkness

Sustainability / Tech For Good

Green Software Foundation Global Summit – UK event

One of the things that I have done at work is to set up a UK event for the Green Software Foundation’s Global Summit. The Summit runs 6-17 June and my event is on 9 June at lunchtime. More details about this and portals to all the events around the world can be found here.

Gerry McGovern

Our event is being run jointly by the GSF Manchester and Newcastle groups. It’s a virtual talk by Gerry McGovern who is based in Dublin. Gerry is a passionate speaker about how we need to tackle digital waste.

Me and my colleague had a catch up with him last week and it was refreshing to hear someone who honestly speaks about the damage we are doing to the planet through tech. He’s not anti-tech but he is firmly saying we need to be more personally responsible. Definitely worth looking at Gerry’s own website here and signing up there for his regular e-bulletin.

In particular, it comes down to the demand for new things and the use of energy. Control both of those things and the world would be a better place. And we must not kid ourselves that there is always a comfortable answer. As he pointed out with EVs, there is now growing demand for rare metals but ‘there is no such thing as sustainable mining’.

Please do sign up here to hear Gerry speak on Thurs 9 June 12.30-1.30.

“If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.”

Oprah Winfrey

Personal Development

Still getting a Duolingo language lesson done nearly every day. And some days it’s several lessons across Spanish and German. An indulgence I definitely would love to spend a lot more time learning languages. And, similarly, to spend more time on improving my tech skills. Perhaps one day this will be possible.

The Week Ahead

  • It’s Jubilee week and we all have the indulgence of a 2 bank holiday long weekend – yippee! Hopefully, this will be a short working week that is good for lots of people’s mental health.
  • Jubilee itself I’ve got to attend an event my partner has organised. And I am going to the platinum concert on Saturday evening. Should be interesting though a bit frustrating with artists probably not able to do more than one or two songs.
  • Target is gym on Tues morning and then on Thurs or Fri morning. Hopefully my cold will be firmly on the mend by then. Will also try to get in lots of healthy walking and try not to spend too much time sleeping.
  • Should definitely try to have a phone catch up with Phyllis – perhaps Tues afternoon
  • Will probably indulge myself and get a haircut. Did I mention I’m off to Berlin in about 3 weeks?
  • Have started reading ‘The Absolute Book’ by Elizabeth Knox – a contemporary New Zealand author I enjoy. Plus gone onto another comforting Big Fiction Short Trips collection of Dr Who short stories.
  • Try to put some more Art and Culture into my life as well as searching for Spirituality. And, obviously, push on with my Personal Development.

And Finally…

Orwell quotation

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