New Year week – looking for the positives

Sun 28 Dec 2014 – Sat 3 Jan 2015

Identifying three good things every day
Last week, I had a session with the life coach I have been seeing for several years. I was ‘prescribed’ him when first diagnosed HIV positive and after the sessions paid for by the NHS finshed, I retained him and pay him on a private basis to meet up on a quarterly basis to review how my life is going and plan for the future. At our session last Monday, it was agreed that I need to have a more positive outlook on life and really enjoy everything. To this end, at the beginning of each day I should plan something that I am really going to enjoy that day and at the end I should write down the best three things that have happened that day. I have decided to put the best three things onto my website each day and then compile them into my weekly blog when the time is right. So if you want to see my blog in draft version just log in any time.

A record gym attendance
There can be no denying that one of the things that makes me absolutely happy is going to the gym. I got there five times last week which is probably one of my best ever attendances in a single week. I was there Sunday and Monday then each day through from Thursday (New Year’s Day) to Saturday. All good workouts of about an hour and a half doing different exercises on each day. Jog-run should have taken place on Saturday (after a two week break) but the rainy weather forecast made me put it off until Sunday. I am up in Newcastle next week for work and so I won’t be able to get to the gym until next weekend; I suspect I will have withdrawal symptoms. Health was OK last week with the most exciting bit of news being that when I weighed myself on Friday, I was 13 stone 7 pounds. This puts me the lowest weight I have been for a while and starts me on my target to be 13 stone (and see what it feels like) by the time I see my life coach again at the end of March.

Two days in the office including New Year’s Eve
Inevitably last week was not a ‘normal’ one with the New Year celebrations stuck in the middle of it. I am not a great New Year fan, memories of too many crap parties during my teens and twenties with long journeys to far-flung parts of London. I was in work on Tuesday and Wednesday with a skeleton staff. Nothing much happened until 2.45 on Wednesday (we had been informed we could go home at 3) when something ‘urgent’ came up. I was forced to be assertive and highlight that I was not in a position to say if something was right or not. Caused a bit of friction but it was good to insist that responsibility should go upwards (rather than downwards). The rest of the two office days were quiet and I concentrated on online and office space tidying up including drafting some important e-mails. I did manage lunch with my colleague Philip on Tuesday at the crazy Caffe Italia and the owner Marco told us his takings had been so poor that he would not be opening on Wednesday. Indeed as he did not open till 8.30 on Tuesday – I ended up eating breakfast at Starbucks on my two work days and rediscovering the yummy-ness of their fruit toast.

After I left work on New Year’s Eve, I had a coffee to chill down after the last minute tensions. I then went round Dave’s. He had finished work at lunchtime and so was very chilled. We had a scrapped together tea including food supplied by mum that she would not use before it went out of date. TV was a bit crap apart from Coronation Street. It ended up with me reading a book on the sofa whilst Dave pottered on the internet. There was some good stuff about ABBA on BBC4 and I eventually gave into sleep with my usual lightweightedness at 10.30. Next thing I knew Dave was in bed as well, wished me Happy New Year and we both drifted into the land of nod.

New Year’s Day
I had switched off the alarm and ended up waking at 8.30. I walked up to the gym through the streets of central London being set up for the parade (boring!). I stopped off at the Pret I normally visit on the way to the gym and gave the staff my best wishes before going onto the Costa’s by my gym and doing the same. I had a great gym workout being there all on my own – different on Friday and Saturday. I then made my way to see mum and Dave met me over there. Mum was happy to have the company and we ended up having a fun tea of bacon sandwiches and pancakes with bananas, cream, lemon, and sugar. Dave went back home and I stayed with mum for the night.

Mum update and time with Dave
I have actually spent a fair bit of time with mum last week being the good, dutiful son that I am. I stayed over on Tuesday night and then on Thursday and Friday night. On Friday morning I helped her round to the laundrette and we did the laundry (I discovered a fab new cafe next door where I had a lovely coffee). I will be away next week but mum assures me she will be OK – she had my brother and the kids visiting on Saturday. She is still in a lot of pain but an urgent scan on Wednesday showed that there is no obvious reason why she should have developed a clot whilst on warfarin. The doctor also warned it could take three weeks for the clot to disperse and the pain to go.

As usual I managed to spend the weekends with my partner Dave plus New Year’s Eve. Together we met up after work on Tuesday with my friend Peter – a priest and former prison governor. He is a very chilled, caring man and we had a good catch up over coffee. Little else social news. Me and Dave did go the pictures on Friday to see ‘Enemy’. I thought it was not too good whereas Dave thought it was great – strange because he seemed to be fidgeting all through the film. We also went together to the Royal Academy on Saturday afternoon as there are two exhibitions finishing very soon. The one on Moroni was fantastic, a great sixteenth century painter particularly his portraiture which foreshadows some modern art. Unfortunately the exhibition by pop artist Allen Jones was absolute pants. He did the infamous coffee tables with women in sex gear on all fours as the base. That set the tone of the whole show, basically it felt like some old man’s masturbation fantasy – sexist exploitation.

The unexpectedly goods things about last week
My new task of keeping a list of three good things each day (and I’ve actually stretched it to five as there can be so many good things in life when you think about it) has thrown up some fascinating things:

  • The World’s Strongest Man heats have been on leading up to the final on New Year’s Day. I absolutely love this programme, not sure why – their achievements just seem amazing and I do have a thing for big, hairy blokes.
  • Monday was a strange day as I was supposed to meet my old friend David in  transit from seeing his parents before he went to Heathrow to get the plane back to Taiwan where he lives. Unfortunately it got cancelled as he was running late so I went to the Gothic exhibition at the British Library. A decent exhibition though very literary and the clinical analysis of the ‘movement’ took away a lot of its sinisterness that surrounds it.
  • I enjoy eating out and I had a lovely little meal at Yalla Yalla in Soho on Sunday (Lebanese street food) before finding some classic gay novels going cheap at the THT pop-up shop. And me and Dave had a catch up meal at Pizza Express on Saturday evening.
  • It was cold at the start of the week and so I dug out my little woolly hat to wear. I always feel a bit self-conscious in it but I thought I looked good (plus I don’t think people care what anyone looks like when we are all dressed to keep warm). And wearing the hat made me feel so snug and cosy, it was lovely.
  • Dave has a friend who is very nice but a bit posh. She sent him a text detailing the hilarious saga she had travelling back to London on Boxing Day. All other options failed so she was forced to take a packed coach journey of over five hours which included a film she felt was ‘disgusting’ and that was played twice; naughtily it just made me smile to think of her relief at the film ending only for it to start all over again.
  • New Year’s Day morning I had the pleasure of finding out the District line was running making my journey into work so much easier than expected. For some reason, I thought the District line was closed down from Boxing Day to 3rd Jan. And then I had the pleasure of that day at work being spent with my lovely and fun next desk colleague Cathy.
  • Following advice from my life coach, I have got into the habit of doing a module on the Duolingo app each night before I go to sleep. If I can keep this up then that will ensure rapid progress. Still need to find something similar for developing my digital skills.

Books – two good, one weird and silly
Another huge pleasure for me, as anyone will know who has read this blog before, is reading. This week after finishing the first book I then moved onto a pleasure I had forgotten – reading two books at once. Great fun to compare and contrast but makes getting through books slower. The main book read last week was ‘Psychoville’ by Christopher Fowler. Ultimately a good thriller / horror in a J.G. Ballard style of the dysfunctional modern society but a book that moved me in a particular way. The setting reminded me completely of the horrendous new-build town in Hampshire that I ended up living in for short while after my parents moved to after I was born (in London). An awful place and my life would have been so much worse if my parents had stayed together – thank God for their divorce.

The two books I had on the go simultaneously could not have been more different. Both are eclectic choices that I picked up very cheap secondhand because they intrigued me. The first, which I finished on Saturday, is ‘Here are the Young Men’ by Rob Doyle. A shock novel about a group of young men in Dublin caught up in a drug and alcohol dominated world. The other, still being read, is ‘The Black Book of Modern Myths’ by Alasdair Wickham. I saw it as a fun book of ghost stories but it is a really weird attempt to try and reconcile the paranormal with the normal world. Lots of references to ‘energy’ causing things as well as a suggestion that spirits and demons can make good lovers! Not only weird but downright silly.

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