My First Week after Redundancy…up in the North

Sun 30 Aug – Sun 6 Sept 2020

The post Comic Relief period started last week and I spent most of the week up in the North visiting my mother-in-law. Last official working day was Mon 31st (August Bank Holiday Monday). After that I was redundant and unemployed. The latter, the first time for nearly 40 years. Life on the scrapheap or a fresh start? Time will tell.

Why I find August Bank Holiday Monday a bit of a downer

So a subdued Bank Holiday. It’s always slightly depressing for me as it marks the end of Summer, the coming of Autumn then Winter, and the next holiday is far off Christmas. God knows what could come between now and then. 2020 really is the shit gift that just keeps giving. The subdued weather matched the day. In normal times I would have been at the gym but this year the holiday was just about getting ready for our journey North the next day.

Family and Friends

Catching up with the mother-in-law

No real time to begin to take stock or plan ahead or even start my whole new way of life. Rather most of last week was spent out of London and in the North. My partner Dave was really keen to travel back to Scunthorpe and see his mum. He is worried about what will happen if the second wave comes with the arrival of winter. A fear many of us have.

All the Les Dawson jokes apart (and he was so bloody funny), I actually get on with my mother-in-law OK – particularly as we see each other quite intermittently. 🙂 Indeed me and Dave both get on with each other’s mum. Didn’t really see mine last week (brother made sure she was OK) so must definitely spend time with her next week.

An unfortunate bereavement

Our trip North was very pertinently timed. It was incredibly unfortunate that Dave’s uncle (and his mum’s last surviving sibling) died after a very short period in hospital on Monday. Thus we were able to be there unexpectedly to support her. She was very stoical about it being a strong, Northern woman but it must be hard.

Our busy itinerary

It was a very tiring few days just because we squeezed in so many things:

  • Fish and chips with Dave’s mum on Tues night – classic North
  • To his mum’s local cafe each morning for breakfast and so she can catch up with her friends (she did skip bingo and keep fit as we were there)
  • Checking out the local shops before to the big Marks and Spencer so his mum can ‘fill up her freezer’
  • The local museum on Wed afternoon (see below).
  • Out to the local Beefeater on Wed night
  • Thurs morning – we checked out the local ‘market day’ getting some great, cheap plants.
  • Then to Brigg Garden Centre for a general potter around and lunch. It was amazingly busy with old people.
  • Round to meet Dave’s other relatives in the garden on Thurs afternoon

North Lincolnshire Museum

I love museums and art galleries, and local ones are always fascinating – sadly often because they are pretty awful. To North Lincolnshire Museum on Wed afternoon. We booked for the shielding hour and were the only people there. 🙂 The museum building is a strange conglomeration of a ‘modern’ building, a reconstructed workman’s cottage, and an old rectory. Sadly, the large section set around the steel works is a bit dull.

What I found fascinating was the floor based on archaeology. I had not realised how prosperous and important Lincolnshire had been. Beautiful and fascinating objects from the Roman, Saxon, Viking, Medieval, and Early Modern periods. The overall presentation across the museum was pretty standard. A nice afternoon and I would go back again. But it does need to be shown off better – the ‘municipal’ website for the museum (here) is a case in point.

This bit of the North seemed to be tackling Covid well

Covid is obviously worrying at the moment. Especially being around older people with the huge risk of passing something onto them. The stereotype at the moment is that the North is high risk and the South has completely got its act together. But that wasn’t my experience though Lincolnshire itself isn’t a hotspot.

Lots of people were wearing their masks around the street generally. And I would say more people were wearing masks in the shop than in London. Also social distancing, lots of sanitiser, and less physical contact – no kissing, hugging or shaking hands.

It does strike me that the crunch will be when the weather gets wetter and colder so that we can’t be outside so much. Open air does appear to be the virus’ worst enemy.

Sustainability

This is an area I have ignored writing about for a while. Climate change is a reality and it’s going to screw us all as much as Covid and Brexit. But it is so easy to be distracted by everyday things (like redundancy :() and thinking everything can go on as it always has.

One of my things going forward in my ‘new’ post-Comic Relief life is to live more sustainably and reduce my consumption which must include spending less.

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

Aesop

Driving – a sad necessity where Dave’s mum lives

I suppose you could say that I failed at the first hurdle as we got to and from the North by car. 🙁 Picked up the hire car on Tues morning and quite a lot of traffic on the roads (including a coach demo – Honk for Hope). Took us most of the day to drive North. I always let Dave drive as I hate it and he loves it. There then followed a whirlwind through to the journey back on Fri.

recycling symbol

Obviously having a car is something I detest in terms of its impact on the environment. But there was no other way to get there and back plus be able to travel about with his mother whilst in Lincolnshire. Basically if you live in an urban/rural setting then it is almost impossible to survive without a car. Pleased to say we had a very fuel efficient car. But what a stupid world we have created. 🙁

My love of big cities

I always enjoy my trips to see Dave’s family in the North because it is so different to London. The urban/rural area they live in is so different to my normal life and upbringing. And I find people there have an amazing ability to be more friendlier than Londoners when they know you. But also quite unfriendly when they don’t know you.

Life is more centred on the family and there are times when there seems to be little to do. You can’t just go out for a coffee any time as you sort of can in London. But it is lovely to have so much space especially gardens and woodlands. It is so sad when people don’t look after their garden. Or, even worse, pave it over. 🙁

Overall, it is a different way of life and I can particularly see the attraction of having a garden; this would make Dave so happy. But I still love the buzz, dirt, and noise of the big city. I’m basically a ‘city boy’ for better and for worse. 🙂

Books and Reading

‘Swimming in the Dark’ by Tomasz Jedrowski

freestyle

The book for the Velvet Page book club which I had to miss on Thurs evening as we were (quite rightly) with Dave’s mum. Soundings indicated that people at the club liked it. Certainly a perfectly decent first novel by someone with Polish heritage but non-resident in Poland.

The theme is about a young man discovering he is gay in 1980 Communist Poland – around the time of the rise of the free trade union Solidarity. He meets his first love and it is not a happy ending – homosexuality was (is?) frowned on in Poland.

I travelled in Eastern Europe just after the Berlin Wall came down and had an East German boyfriend. This book feels like somebody thought it was like rather than being a genuine recreation of the period. And at the end of the day it’s another coming out / things go bad story. Overall, decent and well written but also a bit false and ultimately quite unmemorable.

My current reading book

I’m still reading Robert Graves autobiography on my kindle. It’s beautiful writing with the main focus being on the horror and waste of life in the trenches of the Western Front in WWI.

Health and Efficiency

Weight edges up 🙁

Didn’t get into a new fitness regime or a good diet. That is going to have to come still. Indeed, my diet went a bit to pot with our time in the North and lots of eating out. Weighed myself on Sat and inched up so I am firmly above 13 and a half stones. 🙁

Jog-run

man busy jogging

Not very much exercise last week apart from my regular Sunday morning 5K jog-run. I enjoy this so much. And the good news is that I basically got the same time as last week – just under 32 mins. That really does feel like my new normal and a great point to build on. Under 30 mins is my ultimate aim. Details on jog-run times (and weight) here and my post jog-run video update here.

Art and Culture

Glow Up

Good TV is an art form in itself and I have been following this competition to find the top new MUA (Make Up Artist). It was the final on Thurs evening and I watched it at Dave’s mum’s place as we ate the dinner she had cooked – I don’t think she really got it. Could have watched it in one go on i-player but there’s something nice to the weekly build-up.

Ophelia's wind face

Winner was Ophelia and she definitely deserved it. Make up can be an art and her creations were often amazing. Clearly she brought her Hong Kong heritage to her work and created some wonderfully inventive images, often quite disturbing. And there were some wonderful creations by the other young MUAs such as that depicting a Berlin nightclub and another oil on water.

Dance music

Music is life and I have to have music in my life. My past includes a period where I did a lot of clubbing and regularly got wasted. I think of it as my lost 18 months where I had a big addiction problem and went down to 9 stones in weight. 🙁 It was a bad period but there were also amazing parts to it. You don’t stay stuck in addiction if it’s all shit.

tunes in darkness

One of the hangovers from that period is my ongoing love of dance music particularly dark, electronic dance music. I love listening to it as background. Weirdly my other favourite is classical music for when I want to chill and relax. I often listen to it going to sleep at night.

One of my favourite things these days is listening to Radio 1 on Fri night and then on catch-up particularly Danny Howard, Pete Tong, and Mista Jam. Dance music reminds me of feelings of freedom and it is so sad to think there are no clubs at the moment. 🙁

Personal Development

Goodbye to Berlin

poster of folsom

Another book title, this one by Christopher Isherwood published in 1939 and detailing his adventures in the German capital during the Thirties. This includes the Satanic rise of the Nazis that destroyed the wonderful freedom and liberalism of Weimar Germany. Big news is that now we are back from the North, me and Dave have decided to cancel next week’s planned trip to Berlin. 🙁

We had booked everything about a year ago to be there for the wonderful fetish festival that is Euro Folsom. It’s like an adult version of gay pride without drag queens, feather boas, and shit music.

But the festival itself is cancelled and most of the bars and clubs will be closed as well. So we’ve cancelled the hotel and taken a voucher in its place that can be used up to 18 months onwards. 🙂

That means that next week is my first ‘new normal’ week. And my big chance to start planning how my new life post-redundancy will be. I need to get into a proper exercise and diet schedule. Plus start exploring the areas of development I really want to. This is my chance to be the new me and I must take it eagerly. 🙂

Steve Jobs quotation

The Week Ahead

  • Got to be a good son and spend some time with my mum next week. Dave may come over for dinner one night.
  • My weight had edged up, time now to sort out a diet and exercise programme to get my body and health back into shape.
  • Lots of lovely reading to do. Will finish the wonderful Robert Graves autobiography and move onto some wonderful new books. 🙂
  • Time to start planning some gallery and museum trips now I have the time
  • Need to start contacting friends who have reached out and people I haven’t spoken to in a while
  • Also need to redo my CV, update my Linked In profile, and start the process of identifying what I really want to do next in my life

And Finally…

If you're not careful...

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