Just Enjoying Passing Time

I think a lot about stuff. It does veer into ‘catastrophising’ – the process where you overthink issues and constantly end up at the worst case scenario. My last couple of weekly blogs have headed in that direction. With me focusing on how our lives are in large part about obsessions (here) and how nostalgia leads us down bad paths (here). But we all need downtime and I really have tried to spend the last week simply enjoying the time as it’s passing.

It’s that lovely feeling as when you are sitting at a coffee shop and watching the world going by. Or sitting on the top of the bus and watching the world below you; observing people without them knowing about it. Part of me screams, what a waste. Perhaps I could have used the time more productively. But sometimes life is about just letting things happen and enjoying that.

“Don’t let overthinking drown out the music of your life.”

John Lennon

Dave’s mum and our (shopping and eating) trip up North

I spend a lot of time making sure my mum is OK. Dave’s mum equally has health issues. But she lives up north still and so he cannot see her frequently. Although she does have a good social network to support her where she is.

It’s her birthday soon and so me and Dave went up at the weekend. This happened just after the redecoration of Dave’s bedroom in his London flat was finally finished with the installation of new carpet on Friday afternoon. He still wants new curtains but at least we could start the process of moving things back into the bedroom and out of the living room.

Hired a car to get up to his mum, basically it enables us to get her out and about when we are there. A leisurely drive with Dave driving and me passing time by reading and watching the world go by. Out with his mum for fish and chips on Saturday night. Then on a very wet Sunday morning to do some shopping as his mum needed a new lamp (and Dave got his new curtains). Then Sunday evening to the local steakhouse, not my choice but Dave’s mum’s favourite.

Stunning half naked man - how could you not smile?

My mum

Passing time with my mum is not always easy as we seem to aggravate each other but I do enjoy her company. As usual, lots of times spent watching TV together. Though I find myself often going to bed way before she does. One night I went to bed at 9 to do some reading before turning the light off at 10. I woke up about 1.30 needing to go a wee. And bumped into mum who was just going to bed after staying up watching the TV. I suppose she makes up for it with snoozes through the day.

She’s still not keen on going out particularly blaming the cold and showers this week. But we did get out on Friday afternoon to go to the post office and round the local shops. Not a long journey and she held onto my arm the whole way there and back but it still wore her out. Interestingly she sent me with a shopping list at the weekend on our trip up north which included a new duvet (as well as a new washing up bowl – got her a pink one!)

Lunch with Phyllis

Lovely to meet up with my mate Philip on Monday, passing time together over coffee and lunch in Soho. Though our usual coffee shop hasn’t got outdoor tables at the moment due to work on the building. He was on good form and we had a great time just chewing the cud together as friends can do so easily.

A lot of time was spent talking about our arrangements for the future as we age and head towards retirement. I suppose that is inevitable when people of my age group get together. Issues about health, where to live, looking after parents, future finances, things on the wish-list still to be ticked off, etc.

Be happy and grateful about nice things

Gym: One of my favourite wastes of time

As regular readers will know, I love passing time at the gym. It’s all about getting into the zone and feeling key parts of my body being worked out. Then having a chill in the sauna and jacuzzi afterwards. Nothing lasts forever and it won’t always be possible to do all this but I’m enjoying it whilst I can.

Achieved my favourite routine of working out on the 3 well spaced mornings of Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Really great that I had the gym to myself for Mon and Wed (though initially quite busy on Mon). Shared with another bloke on Friday and we chatted. Nice to chat to people in the gym but important never to comment on their technique unless they ask for it.

40 gym sessions since the start of 2024 divided by the annual membership = £13.75 per session.

Gym

Covid booster and no swim

Went for my Covid booster on Tuesday morning. Apparently these are going to happen every 6 months now for the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. I’m a great believer in modern medicine. I am able to enjoy time passing now because HIV medication has stopped me dying of AIDS like so many of those poor bastards before the Anti-Retrovirals became available.

My plan for Tuesday afternoon was to go for a swim but I actually felt a bit light-headed when I got to Dave’s. May have had more to do with not eating enough the night before rather than the jab. But decided to chill for the rest of the day and spent time catching up on good TV I had missed – see below. Must be honest that my arm really hurt as well for about 24 hours but that’s probably because any part of your body would if you stuck a piece of metal in it.

Great TV

There really is so much good TV around at the moment and it’s great passing time enjoying it. There’s trashy stuff I love like my beloved soaps. But also the ever-entertaining Bargain Loving Brits in the Sun. And Britain’s Got Talent has returned; the early episodes are the best where we discovering the surprisingly good as well as the predictably bad. Plus I’ve rediscovered how entertaining Googlebox is.

But there are several series that me and Dave are also following avidly:

  • Pompeii: The New Dig A three episode series that follows the excavation of a newly unexcavated area of the city. Apparently about a third of the city is still unexcavated. This new series brings to life what everyday existence was like and the horror of the disaster that befell. Dave has visited Pompeii and adored it such that he is desperately keen that we go there one day to visit together.
  • Glow Up More my programme than Dave’s but I love this competition programme. Basically a group of MUAs (Make-Up Artists) compete to find the best one overall. It’s a well trodden format and all a bit over-dramatic. But some of the make-up is pure artistry that amazes with its impact, sophistication, and the thinking behind it.
  • Civilisation The BBC is repeating this classic 1969 series. Probably the most influential art programme ever – read about it here. Kenneth Clark guides us from the fall of the Roman Empire onwards. Well worth watching the new Mary Beard intro which highlights many of its faults. Like its insularity, covering only a limited part of western Europe. And some of his ideas are very old-fashioned like that civilisation can only defined with stone buildings and written words. But still quite beautiful to watch.

Also a shout out to the much acclaimed series Baby Reindeer. Based on true life, it’s primarily (but not only) the story of someone being stalked. Brilliantly made and acted, it’s a very harrowing watch that makes you wonder what you would do in the same situation. Highly recommended.

And some great radio

I’ve never really got into the podcast thing. And I struggle to keep my attention with audiobooks. But I do like finding good radio programmes to dip in and out of. The BBC Sounds app is great for this. I have already written of my love for the Uncanny series by Danny Robins exploring supposed inter-actions with the supernatural.

On a more real world element, I have (re)discovered the wonderfulness that is Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time. Always great to hear Melvyn’s dulcet tones where in each episode he explores a particular topic. Normally something historical but not always. The format is that he is joined by 3 academic experts and they engagingly explore the topic in depth. Look at the site here to see the wealth of things that can be explored.

tunes in darkness

QPR: Hope restored and survival assured

A Friday night fixture against Leeds. A team with huge history and relegated last season so gagging to go straight back up again. The Championship is an elephant’s trap for former top flight teams. Get stuck here and you could stay for years. Best thing after a quick drop into it is to get a quick leg-up out of it.

And a fantastic QPR victory 4-0 ! Nobody saw that coming, certainly not me. We are now safe for this season. No chance of relegation. Hopefully we can build on our strengths and add to them during the summer. Play-off contenders for next season? Possible so long as nobody tempts away our very good new manager.

QPR old skool

‘Close to Home’ by Michael Magee

A novel that’s getting a lot of noise. And it’s very reminiscent of the wonderful ‘Shuggie Bain’ and ‘Young Mungo’ by Douglas Stuart. There’s not the gay element of Stuart’s work. But it is a good exploration of what it means to be a young man in the current day.

And it firmly gives you a look into real-life in Belfast in a way that Stuart tells us about the same in Scotland. Perhaps it’s me being London-centric but it’s eye-opening to know more about everyday real life outside the capital although ostensibly we exist in the same nation state.

In many ways it’s almost not a novel. There are characters but no real story or plot. Rather it’s a segment of this young man’s life. We follow him as he struggles to survive and try to find his place in the world. It’s about his time passing with us observing and empathising. We are left at the end hoping for the best for this young man and perhaps we would have advice to give him if we were able to talk to him.

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”

Stephen Hawking

  • Back to London after passing time up North with Dave’s mum. We must remember to get some yummy custard tarts to bring back to London.
  • My mum’s Covid booster is booked for Thursday so hopefully that will get her out of the flat
  • Will get in 2 or 3 gym workouts and going back for a swim at last would be great
  • With my aim of catching up with at least one mate every week, next week it’s the turn of my old friend Brian. Meeting him in Soho on Fri lunchtime – coffee, catching-up, and watching the world going by.
  • Velvet Page book club on Thurs evening. I’ve been reading the book for the evening – ‘Swan Song’ about Truman Capote who I can’t but think was not a nice person.
Ignore idiots on Covid

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