Living The Dream?

Mon 10 – Sun 16 July 2023

The title of this blog comes from a comment of a guy at my gym. ‘How you doing?’ I asked, ‘Living the dream’ he said in jest. But it made me think that perhaps my life is about living the dream at the moment and so I should just enjoy it.

Life is horrible at a macro level

Althought life feels pretty shit in a lot of ways at the moment with the growing climate disaster, the awful rise of neo-fascism and totalitarian dictatorships across the world, and the ongoing war in Ukraine. Plus looks like Huw Edwards got crucified for doing nothing illegal, just sending messages on a gay sex app.

I’ve written before about how we can be complacent and good things can so easily be gone then they are gone forever. But there are small glimmers of hope – there always have to be. And that is what makes life bearable no matter what.

The inspiration of Wimbledon

We had great finals for both women and men though I had hoped Jabeur would become the first Arabic / African woman to win. Tennis is not really my thing but it’s nice to dip in and out of like all big sporting events like the World Cup and the Olympics (if you can put aside the politics, money, and corruption). The stamina of the players is amazing with such intense matches going on for so long. And, obviously, the further you progress then the more games you have to play.

Making the jump

And a nice coffee shop stays open

Delighted to find that one of mine and Dave’s favourite coffee shop near to him hasn’t closed. Went last week and it’s closure without any notice suggested it had gone the way of so many other small, independent cafes and coffee shops in central London. But it turned out the guy who runs it was just on holiday. Although he is also going on holiday (Morocco) for 3 weeks from next week and can’t find anyone to cover for him so the shop will be closed again.

“Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it.”

Michael J Fox

Work Life Balance

A key aspect of me being able to say I am living the dream is the fact that I’m not working. Still living off my savings because what is the point of having savings if you don’t dip into them now and then to make life easier? I’m not just saving up to pay for my nursing home fees. And I had a taste of returning to work during the week which suggested I’m still not ready to go back.

A vision of working life says I’m not ready to return yet

Got invited to a reception on Wed night to celebrate the achievements of mine and Dave’s favourite charity shop. It was nice but full of senior charity people and I ended up having the sort of conversations I always used to have when doing paid work. Deep discussions around things like relationships with government and how campaigning charities should be.

I realised I’m not at the level of enthusiasm I need to re-enter this type of world. And perhaps the lesson is that I shouldn’t go back to that world. But that is where my experience, skills and knowledge are. So a bit more time out of work to live the dream but I don’t think this can go on forever. Indeed, perhaps the answer is to do something different from but I’m getting on a bit to start all over again at the bottom.


Health and Efficiency

Gym: Doing exactly what I want

Monday did a less long session by focusing on same number of sets but reduced number of reps per set (3 x 8 instead of 3 x 10) but higher amount of weight to be lifted. Tried to do the same on Wed and Fri. Getting to the gym so frequently has been a dream of mine simply because I enjoy it so much. And it makes me feel good.

73 gym sessions since the start of 2023 divided by the annual membership = £6.80 per session.

Jog-run: A new normal time but…

A week of two jog-runs. First on Tuesday was in doubt the day before because of rain forecast. But decent weather even if quite windy. 5 km in 33 mins: a decent time and, basically, my new normal. Though still need to work on getting km stretches right with more consistency building slow to fast and less variations.

Second on Sunday reinforced that I have hit a new normal. Came in just over 32 mins and 45 seconds. Would have been my fastest time if I hadn’t got stuck behind a group of bloody tourists who wouldn’t move out of the way even when I shouted at them LOL. Also windy (Saturday had been very windy indeed) but this is a double-edged sword as sometimes the wind blows against you but other times it blows from behind and speeds you up.

…developing hip issues?

However, my right hip is playing up again. It’s fine whilst I’m running but aching once I finish. There is that thing about realising your body is in slow decline and you have to make the most of it whilst it is still operating reasonably well. Think I need to focus on doing more hip stretches. Fascinating, as always, how my body has moved its pain points from the left Achilles and right knee, almost like it’s playing games to dissuade me from exercise.

Weight: The complacency risk

If I am living the dream at the moment, then a large part of that is finally making progress in losing weight. However, I went up a pound last week. Not a disaster and due to a couple of blow-outs. What it does tell me is not to be complacent and remember that if I want to make progress then I need to work at it.

Weight scales

Treating myself to the chiropodist

Not working does mean I am having to live a frugal lifestyle. But there have to be little luxuries especially when it comes to health. Thus on Thursday I treated myself to a session at the chiropodist. Haven’t been for over 6 months and used to be able to claim it on my employee healthcare plans when I was working. But I have some discomfort and it was good to get that seen to; big toes and hard skin now under control.

Books and Reading

Two very different books finished last week.

‘Act of Oblivion’ by Robert Harris

Harris is definitely one of the best British contemporary authors. The variety of his writing is wonderful and all his writing is so engrossing and readable. Primarily I know him as a writer of historical fiction though one can’t forget his brilliant 1992 alternative history ‘Fatherland’ – one of the first books that got me back into reading.

‘Act of Oblivion’ is the true story of two regicides – the men who sentenced Charles I to death and were cruelly executed with the restoration of Charles II. These two manage to escape from England to the American colonies and spend years in hiding. It’s a story of revenge, bitterness, and reflection.

Definitely worth a read. Two main criticisms though. First, the ending is too cutesy. I suspect the character just died alone. Second, and this links into the happy ending, it feels like it’s aimed at being made into a movie. I like books written for their own value rather than with an eye on the filming rights.

Rows and rows of beautiful books

‘Gay Bar: Why we went out’ by Jeremy Atherton Lin

Like what it says on tin, stories of bars and clubs frequented by gay men (and lesbians though to a lesser extent). For such a trashy theme, it’s a wonderfully academic study based on the life of the author. It is a sad truth that gay bars and clubs are closing across the world. As LGBTQ+ rights make some progress so it feels like they are needed less.

Particularly by younger people who view sexuality and gender as a spectrum. As well as by the rise of apps which means you don’t have to go out physically to find sex. There are also the practicalities of the cost now of running any physical venue and we in London we have lost great places like XXL, The Hoist, and Backstreet.

However, every minority group needs physical space where we can go to be ourselves away from oppressive societal norms. Indeed, there is nothing I love more when I visit a new place than to discover the local gay scene. I’ve had some amazing adventures in gay bars and clubs including the London Apprentice detailed in this book but also The Bell, The Coleherne, Bromptons, and Revenge to name but a few.

LGBT rainbow flag

Art and Culture

The Rossettis at Tate Britain

Finally made some space in my life for art and culture as I have been saying I must do for several weeks. Tuesday afternoon popped into this exhibition using my Tate membership. Mixed feelings TBH. I find the work of the Pre-Raphaelites a bit dull. I used to like them as a kid, think it was the ‘clarity’ of their art. But now I find it hard to take seriously artists focused on trying to recreate dreary Renaissance bible scenes or thinking that medieval Italy was some kind of paradise.

And as well as the art, there is also poetry which I find generally hard to gel with. But am I just tarring the Rossettis with my general dislike of the Victorians and their sanctimoniousness? There are aspects of their work that is pleasing. Not least the way aspects can be seen as a forerunner of more modern styles. And the Rossettis links to both Victorian social reformism as well as their inspiration for 1960s counter-culturalism.

An exhibition I suspect I should visit again to try to appreciate it more.

Family and Friends

Mum: Planning a trip away

She is still recovering but still experiencing a fair amount of pain. Also now permanently using a crutch to get about and sleep patterns are all over the place as she can’t sleep well with the ongoing pain in her neck, shoulders, back, and wrists. But some good news in that I have persuaded her to go and stay with her best friend for a week. Me and Dave will take her there and pick her up again. Probably not till Sept but it’s a step forward.


The climate nightmare grows and grows

I wrote in my previous blog here about how we seem to be living in denial of the climate crisis that is happening. I’m writing this blog during a weekend of grey skies, wind, and rain – definitely not what one would dream of in July. Indeed, I’ve had to put on long trousers instead of shorts which always pisses me off in summer.

But what is happening in the rest of the world is a sign of the crisis times we are entering. Super hot temperatures in places like southern Europe, North America, China and India – read about some of it here. It’s interesting how reporting clearly links this all to climate change at last. However, there’s still an element of ‘isn’t this jolly’. But also a slight tinge of realism coming in of how this is going to kill people and is not a blip but the future which may get a lot worse.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

Theodore Roosevelt

Personal Development

The dream that is happening

Living the dream for me means having time to do non-work stuff. I would love to be creating my own art, perhaps this is something to work on. But I am making time to do my language learning which continues with the daily Duolingo lessons. Done particularly whilst resting at the gym but also finding times on non-gym days often when I am out and about.

The Week Ahead

  • Carry on living the dream in my terms by getting in 3 gym sessions, a jog-run, daily language learning and lots of reading
  • Will spend time with mum. So pleased she is recovering though her leg is all black and blue from the fall still.
  • To the library to return some books and spend some time just chilling there amongst all those lovely books
  • As done with the chiropodist, I need to book for the dentist and dental hygienist as I haven’t seen them for over 6 months. Experience tells me that skimping on your teeth really is a false economy.

And Finally…

How awesome the sky is

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