Mum goes into hospital for her knee op

Mon 22 – Sun 28 Aug 2016

Two memorable things about last week – the heat and mum’s knee operation.

Hot days and muggy nights

sunny sky with bits of cloudSome very hot days. Most nights I was sleeping on the sheet with no quilt over me. This is unusual, normally I need at least a sheet as a covering or I can’t sleep. It was deep but not good quality sleep as I felt tired all week long. Indeed, there were several early nights (i.e. in bed by 10pm) including Wed, Thurs and Fri simply because I felt so tired. Heat, work and London are not the best combination in life.

Mum in hospital

The wait for the op

operation Mum went in on Fri. I stayed over with her on Thurs including working at her place during the afternoon after I had finished at the gym. She needed the reassurance of me being around. Next morning we took a taxi arriving at 11 at the hospital as directed. We were shown into a little room and then, in classic NHS style, we just waited. About 12.30 the anaesthetist arrived to do his check through. About 12.45 mum told me to go off to work. She was third on a list of three but they still hadn’t finished with the first one in the operating theatre. Put my head down at work and waited for news. Nothing came so I phoned her ward at around 5 to be told she wasn’t there yet i.e. the operation or recovery weren’t finished. Mum left me a message about 8.30 sounding surprisingly well saying she was tired but all seemed to have gone well. I really did think at one stage her op was likely to be cancelled.

The next day

duck amphibious vehicleWent up to see her the next day, on Sat. After my disastrous jog-run (see below), I met up with my old mate Colin and his partner Chris. We met up between their road and river trip on the duck and them going round Buckingham Palace. There have been several events where the ducks have got into trouble on the water and I wouldn’t go on one. We can see them from where I work and apart from the problems that can develop, they sit scarily low in the water.

Bus up to the hospital. Mum looked very pale and frail. And she was clearly in a lot of pain. Her leg was swollen and bandaged up. Whilst I was there the physio came round and using a frame got her out of bed and into a chair. The nurse got her back into bed later. Mum felt very nauseous and I left her to try to get some rest. She did look so old and vulnerable but I knew she was so grateful for me just being there tidying up her space and chatting inanely. This is the future for all of us.

Health and efficiency

Good weight

A week of good and bad. The good is that my weight was down to 13-10. Slow progress but definite evidence that it is happening. Interesting on Wed that I had a nice catch-up with a colleague Susan who I had not seen for about 2 or 3 years. She asked if I was still doing lots of walking (most people ask if I’m still doing lots of reading). I honestly replied no but it made me think. In my blogs reviewing what I was doing one or two years ago, I have identified that I was doing a lot of walking and weighed less. I did actually think on Sat about walking to and from the hospital to see mum but that was knocked out by my pulling a muscle on my jog-run. A nice case of ‘what if?’ – lots of walking on Sat followed by a brilliant jog-run on Sun…?

Bad jog-run

pair of runner's calvesThe bad concerned my jog-run on Sat. All went well initially. I felt good and was making nice time hitting a pace of 6mins per km. But then into the fifth km, I felt a ‘snap’ in my left calf and I was hobbling. Must have pulled a muscle. Could not run any more so I slowly made my way back to Dave’s flat. Final details were 26.30 mins, 4.32 km, 6.08 pace, 318 cals. Also almost exactly the same as happened on 25 June – see my jog-run & weight page. Though then that was in my right calf. Still very frustrating, I know how Tom Daley feels not performing as well as expected and with such high expectations.


Not a great week gym-wise either. Only two visits. Nothing on Mon because I helped mum with her laundry. Then on Fri I was taking her into hospital. Made the the gym on Thurs and Sun only. Thurs was mainly concentrating on legs and did 22 mins on the rowing machine covering 5km. Sun I was well aware that I needed to go carefully with the pulled muscle in my left calf. Gentle calf stretching but going harder on thighs and upper body. 15 mins on the rowing machine.


Adastral Park

BT's R+D centre at Adastral ParkTues I was part of a group visit to Adastral Park, the campus in Suffolk that is BT’s centre for R&D (research & development). I had been invited by a senior BT staff member I met at the Tech4Good Awards ceremony – BT are the main sponsor. So a group of about 15 from across my organisation went. Indeed it was a brilliant way to mix and match colleagues from different departments. Several people I knew of but had never really spoken to as well as some new people. Good multi-disciplinary team-building.

Open environment innovation

A fascinating visit though the campus itself is a fair way out; train to Ipswich and then a taxi journey. We had some great talks about customer analysis, the growing emphasis on cloud, and cyber security. We also had a look round mock-ups that showed the potential of digital innovation in situ i.e. in business and the home particularly ‘the Internet of Things’ in the latter.

The biggest impression made on me was the importance of open environment innovation. I was reinforced in my belief that we can’t innovate these days in the old fashioned secretive R+D manner of the sixties and seventies. Innovation relies on openness and sharing indeed often this may be with agencies we could see as ‘enemies’. A classic is co-operation with China despite the risk of stealing ideas and plagiarism. Be careful by all means but don’t forget the potential of the Chinese market and China’s ability to produce great ideas. And in the charity sector there really is no excuse for secretiveness if we believe our common goal is to create a better world.

Reason Digital

safetynets app Meeting on Mon afternoon (after I had been to the Exchange – see below) with Matt from Reason Digital. Reason are a brilliant digital agency based in Manchester who do a lot of tech for good work. An example is their work with Ugly Mugs (National Network of Sex Work projects) to develop SafetyNets –  an app for sex workers to alert other sex workers if in danger. Reason have also produced the great new app Gone for Good which assists people in giving unwanted goods to charity.

Other tech stuff

  • Discussions about the shape of our potential International Tech for Good grant programme to be run in 2017. This also includes shaping the research to be done on this sector prior to the final definition of the new grants programme.
  • Briefing our UK regional advisors/assessors about the upcoming UK Tech for Good programme as well as doing an induction briefing on our TfG work for two new staff members.
  • Met up with a rep from an external youth agency about our TfG work – they are keen to push this area in their development. There is a real imperative for agencies working with young people to make sure that they are using tech in a form that is relevant to the ‘digital natives’ they seek to serve. For instance, not much point in specialising in twitter and facebook if most of their young people are using snapchat and what’s app.
  • Some progress on DuoLingo though still not back to consecutive days. And still can’t seem to find time just to watch coding stuff on YouTube.

Books and reading

Trip on Mon to the ever wonderful Comic and Book Exchange in Notting Hill. I took up a load of books I had read and DVDs viewed. Got about £50 worth of vouchers. I then spent about £30 worth of them on new books. That will keep my partner happy NOT – ‘Have you been buying books again?’. I don’t think he appreciates that I don’t just buy the same book thousands of time over.

‘A God in Ruins’ by Kate Atkinson

This is an author I really like. She has written some excellent books including her previous one ‘Life After Life’ where a woman is born over and over again including in one life where she kills Hitler before he comes to power. A God in Ruins has been highly commended by many reviewers and other authors. It took me a slight while to get into as there are quite a few actors and the story jumps about. But it is an incredibly well written and engaging book. I did spend a long time wondering if some amazing unforseen thing was going to happen but it’s really and very simply the beautiful story of a life. A life that like all lives could as easily not happen as happen. It left me feeling the frailty of everything and thinking how much damage we as human beings can do to each other and our common home, the planet Earth. Highly recommended.

Doctor Who audio adventures

‘The Fearmonger’ (seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy + companion Ace)

British Fascist flag from 1930sAn early Big Finish Dr Who audio adventure. Very reminiscent of ‘Live 34’ I listened to recently with the interplay between story and supposedly live radio broadcasts. It’s a prescient story of the rise of a right-wing anti-European political party in the UK. However ultimately it didn’t work as well for me as some of the later adventures. A clear sense given of how Big Finish learnt as it produced more of the Doctor Who audio adventures.

‘Something Inside’ (eighth Doctor Paul McGann + companions C’rizz & Charley)

drawing of eighth doctorDoctor and companions are caught in a prison for people with psychic abilities. There is a Mind Worm on the loose that can eat people’s minds. The ultimate battle is to try and find out whose mind the worm is living in so trying to escape captivity. I realised I had heard the adventure before but I carried on with it again and it was still good fun to listen to.

‘Memory Lane’ (eighth Doctor + C’rizz & Charley)

A very entertaining story about someone imprisoned in a dream of their childhood. This leads to the great situation where the Doctor is witness to the Tardis being carted off tied to the roof of an ice cream van.  The story itself comes apart a bit at the end and this lets things down slightly. Worth another listen not least because it has such a good script including some wonderfully funny lines like ‘I will use my super Time Lord power of looking out the window’. As well as some great lines around ‘don’t mention the Tardis is a time machine’.

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