Learning to appreciate periods of relative quiet

Mon 19 – Sun 25 March 2018

So this was the week when Sport Relief happened but, overall, one that felt less busy and more quiet than other recent weeks. Indeed, perhaps even a slightly dull week but sometimes that ain’t a bad thing. There is that thing about not appreciating something till it’s gone and periods of quiet are like that. Times to breath when in the future there will be times where we are fighting for breath. And the fantastic news was that Dave got back from Spain on Thurs – so nice to have him back. πŸ™‚


Last week started with me waking up in a hotel in Brighton after a quiet night in the bar drinking and reading. Out for coffee and to publish my blog. Then a train up to London and into work. I finished phoning the list of friends Brian gave me to contact during last week. This focused particularly on his dog walking friends like Emma and Simon. Both lovely people and they are visiting him with their dogs whom he adores.

Bloody engineering works

I had planned to see Brian once every week. But for the weekend just gone it did not work out. Simply there were engineering works on the trains and getting there and back would be a nightmare. If you live in or visit Brighton regularly then you will know how bloody annoying these engineering works are. Fundamentally I would have had to spend around six hours of travelling by train, buses, and walking. I phoned Brian to apologise but promised to travel down on Easter weekend to see him when the trains are back to normal.

Sport Relief 2018

So all the effort of weeks of hard work climaxed on Fri night with Sport Relief 2018’s Night of TV. Many thanks to everyone who donated – you can still donate at www.sportrelief.comΒ A good total arising from people’s generosity which all goes out to charities and not-for-profits. True less money than raised the last time but we are trying to do things differently including using more tech, engage new donors, and change the way we present what we fund. Change takes time and I am confident we are moving in the right direction.

Challenges and the app

Particularly great to see the challenges grabbing public attention – big thanks to Alex Jones, Zoe Ball and the gorgeous Greg James. And also the uptake of the app with the target of 1 billion steps being achieved across the country on Friday. It’s a fun app and definitely worth a download simply to ensure you try to do your 10,000 steps each day.

Tech4Good Awards

I’ve been pushing Sport Relief on social media for the last few weeks. Now it’s time to push on the Tech4Good Awards. πŸ™‚ These are arranged every year by the brilliant Mark Walker at AbilityNet and sponsored by BT. In their 8th year, they are a great way to recognise achievement in tech for good / social tech. The categories are:

Tech4Good Awards categories

Comic Relief Tech4Good for Africa award

Closing date for nominations is 8 May. No cash prize but a nice trophy and loads of good PR potential. I am particularly encouraging applications to the Comic Relief Tech4Good for Africa Award – apply here. Let’s tell the good news about tech making a real and positive difference to some of the world’s poorest people living in sub-Saharan Africa.

Innovation and creativity

Other interesting things that happened last week that were work-related:

  • 1:1 with my boss as well as a meeting with her and the head of our travel team to discuss how travel can be better used as a tool to push forward our agenda with people like corporate partners and policy-makers
  • Catch-up with the person overseeing our China Red Nose Day fundraising and the projects funded by it
  • Talking with the guy who will be taking over managing Red Shed – our Social Investment fund (hopefully starts proper in May) πŸ™‚
  • Linking up with the other outcome funders on an upcoming Development Impact Bond. This is where private investors put up the funding for the work to be done by agencies on the ground and they only get paid back with our money if the work delivers the social impact expected.
  • Conversation with an MSc student who may do research around social investment for his dissertation that we can use in determining how we spend our Red Shed money
  • Phone call with Kieron Kirkland of CAST (Centre for the Acceleration of Social Technology) to identify my perspective on the ten principles that should be the new Digital Principles for not-for-profit organisations undertaking tech for good / digital transformation projects
  • Checking what work needs to be handed over by some staff sadly leaving at the end of next week πŸ™

tech matters for AfricaA bit of bad news, I was supposed to attend a very interesting ICT4D meet-up on Tues night on the theme of ‘ICT as a catalyst for gender equality’. As I thought may happen, I was too tired to attend. πŸ™

Flare – the London LGBTQ+ Film Festival

flareIt’s back, the annual London lesbian & gay film festival at the BFI South Bank. I try to attend something each year because it’s a bit of fun and there are films one is unlikely to see elsewhere (though some of them don’t deserve to be seen on a wider basis πŸ™‚ ).

However, Flare can also be elitist and haughty. Lots of arty people thinking they are the dog’s bollocks coupled with the crap customer service of the festival organisers and the BFI staff.


I saw this film on Thurs afternoon. I like the quieter and cheaper weekday matinee performances. Not specifically a gay film but primarily consisting of good looking half-naked men with a homo-erotic perspective. It is set in contemporary Beirut and follows a group of young men who go swimming and one dies in a stupid accident – not sure why this qualifies him to be the martyr of the film title. Interesting, dreamy photography and it all reminded me a bit of Derek Jarman’s work. OK though not a lot happens and I was glad when it (eventually) finished.

Health and Efficiency


Male gymnastQuiet on the gym-front: only twice last week – Thurs and Sun morning. No Tues morning as I had my Development Impact Bond meeting. Both days = straight-forward weights, no treadmill. A little bit of inspiration on Sat when I watched the Gymnastics World Cup on TV.


JoggingFinally returned on Sat morning. I was determined to get back to it and the weather was OK. However, the watch I use for measuring my performance could not make contact with its satellite (probably switched to military surveillance purposes).

So no normal measurement of my effort – distance, time, pace, calories. Instead I just ran for what I think is a course a bit under 5K. Indeed, it was nice to get back to doing a jog-run and doing it just for fun.


Sad to say I seem to just keep piling on the weight. Current weight is around 14 stone & 5 pounds. I actually don’t think I’m going to be able to go on a diet and lose weight unless I change my whole life routine. Sometimes real change needs to be big bang rather than incremental.

Personal Development

Coffee computer pen+paperDuolingo done 6 days out of 7 – cool. When language practice is constant, I feel like I’m making progress and becoming more proficient. And also a little bit of coding practice done – double cool dude. πŸ™‚

Plus really good news with emails where I feel like I have especially got on top of personal ones, they are down to under 100 unread/unactioned. Work emails need a bit more TLC not least to follow up on with people I need to meet with face to face to get business done.

Books and Reading

Notting Hill Exchanges

book exchangeTues afternoon I went up to the infamous Notting Hill exchanges with a load of DVDs and books I had finished with. Took the cash for the DVDs and vouchers for the books. Got some new DVDs and books but didn’t spend all my vouchers.

Wonderfully chaotic and unpredictable, I love the exchanges. Highly recommended to spend time wandering around and rest assured the staff are far nicer than some people make out.

‘The Sons of Blood’ by Robyn Young

Last week’s reading book. I found this in the library and was attracted not least by the endorsement by CJ Sansom who is an author I thoroughly enjoy. And this is an equally enjoyable piece of historical fiction alongside the stuff Sansom writes. I haven’t read any of Robyn’s other books but I am solidly tempted after reading this.

historic picture of kingIt’s a multi-faceted novel covering the 2 year period 1483-85 with the struggle for the English crown between Richard III and Henry Tudor (Henry VII). There’s also a hint about the upcoming discovery of America and secret societies (masons?) challenging the church. Great characters and a fun if unlikely story. But then that’s the nature of historical fiction. Also looks like this is the first book in a trilogy so more to look forward to.

The Week Ahead

Hopefully another relatively quiet one though I think it could be busier than last week:

  • Easter – my favourite holiday (better than Christmas because it signals summer is coming). Me and Dave are chilling in London this year rather than Berlin or anywhere else.
  • Getting down to Brighton next Sat or Sun to see Brian. Hopefully I’ll have time to pop to his flat as well to do some more tidying up.
  • 3 Flare films to see – 1 on Thurs afternoon and 2 on Good Friday
  • Two museum late events (Science on Wed and V&A on Fri) – would be nice to get to them. Possibly also a church service at St Matthew’s in Westminster where my friend is a priest and that does beautiful Easter services.
  • Got to get my INR (test to measure my blood-clotting levels) done on Mon morning, well overdue πŸ™
  • A whole stack of work meetings about various themes including influencing, fundraising platforms, social investment, diagnostic tools, potential new projects to fund, tech for good, & travel
  • Farewells to some great colleagues now Sport Relief is done
  • Aim is for 3 gym sessions and 1 jog-run – possible even with a visit to Brighton because of Good Friday
  • Target = Duolingo every day
  • Read at least one book. I’ve started ‘Ready Player One’ by Ernest Cline – just released as a film by Spielberg

And Finally…

If you’ve never seen this before then have treat yourself. It’s the naughty video to Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s song ‘Relax’. And if you have seen it before, still treat yourself. Wonderfully saucy, banned at the time but shown in all London’s gay bars.


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