Nice things identified in different places make life bearable

Mon 13 – Sun 19 Jan 2020

The need for some semblance of positive thinking

I’m not a hippy but I’m not anti-hippy. My problem is that so many of the sixties’ hippies turned into baby boomer neo-con nightmares and basically fucked up the planet. But without original hippy ideologies then we would have capitalism and conservatism run rampant without alternative thinking to challenge it.

I tell you this because I don’t buy into the idea that life is always wonderful. It clearly ain’t and for many life is pure struggle. Indeed, it is to all of us in often less harsh ways. But we always have to find some light.

So one of the things to do in this never-ending struggle is to look for nice things as a way of experiencing some happy feelings. This may be macro nice things such as Thatcher having to step down from power or the 1997 New Labour landslide or Obama becoming president.

Holiday wine

But there are also micro nice things in life and lots of them. They happen all the time but sometimes they are so frequent that we overlook them: a good night’s sleep, a stimulating exercise session, a pleasant glass of wine. Dealing with life’s shit is about appreciating little nice things and last week really did have several of them.

Work Life Balance

Even nice things can happen at work 🙂

It’s very easy to compile a list of nice things when you are not at work unless you are a workaholic who only finds identity through being a slave to money. And particularly nice to identify nice things if you are going on holiday which I did the second half of last week.

But the first part of my week before I went to Gran Can was in the office, with adjusted days to get as much done as possible before going away. I don’t believe in offloading stuff to colleagues and am probably too conscientious about trying to tie up loose ends.

A great team away day at Luminary Bakery – fantastic cakes!

The really nice thing that happened at work was our team away day. Actually, it was only half an away day because that’s all the time we needed together. Rule for good working life – keep meetings to a minimum. 🙂

We met at the Luminary Bakery branch at Chalk Farm. This is a social enterprise bakery that supports disadvantaged women. We support them with repayable finance i.e. we have the option to get the funding back at some point in the future. Fantastic cakes, do go and try them.

My team is full of brilliant people

Be happy about nice things

Our away day was missing 2 colleagues tied up elsewhere. A point for meetings, just get on with them. And our clear agenda was to sign off our team’s annual strategy and identify how to integrate it with the rest of the organisation. A meeting that was well facilitated and moved at decent speed.

The nice thing was the fact that we were all signed up to a common goal which this succinct meeting totally focused on. And we still had time for a team lunch afterwards. I never ceased to be surprised by how hard-working and committed my team are as well as being pleasant people in their own right. 🙂

Art and Culture

An unexpected ‘do nothing’ day

Thurs morning was the day my holiday started. I had planned to go to the gym in the morning before me and Dave went to our airport hotel in the afternoon. So I set my alarm and awoke at 6.10 am as per norm to go to the gym.

But I felt absolutely knacked, probably linked to a bit too much ‘nice thing’ alcohol the night before as I chilled in front of the TV watching soaps and dealing with emails. So I pivoted and decided to do my day totally differently. 🙂

Turned off the alarm and back to sleep awaking at 8 am. Coffee with Dave and then down to one of my favourite galleries, Tate Britain. Spent the morning there checking out their 2 exhibitions and chilling with coffee and a book in the members’ room

William Blake and Steve McQueen – both left me underwhelmed

These were the 2 exhibitions – very different to each other though, ultimately, I found both disappointing.

A William Blake angel

William Blake’s drawings and prints are iconic. But generally they are also very small. And this felt like an exhibition of small pictures. It was an enchanting one and quite spiritual but how could it not be with all the scenes from the Bible and Paradise Lost. Plus I understood more about Blake the man especially his anger at not being recognised and his split with the establishment Royal Academy. But strangely the exhibition didn’t leave me inspired. And, ultimately, I think that was a reflection of the pedestrian way it was staged.

McQueen’s school class pictures dominate the central hall and are piled up high like remains in a Spanish cemetery. But at the end of the day, they are just school photos on top of each other. I wasn’t inspired and actually it felt a bit grubby in that all the schools featured are going to attend the exhibition to see their photo. Like some way of trying to con the kids into liking art.

Health and Efficiency


My usual exercise routine was disrupted (in a good way) by our holiday in Gran Can and my adjusted work days before we left. Sadly only 2 normal gym sessions done in London – Sun and Mon morning. Had intended to go on Thurs morning but awoke and not in the mood. Definitely must renew my annual membership when I get back to London.

A pleasant surprise when we stayed at our airport hotel Thurs night to be well-placed for our early morning flight on Friday. The hotel had a really nice gym and so I used that before me and Dave went to dinner. I was the only one there so for an hour and a half had the joy of trying out new equipment and exercises. 🙂


bloods taken

Annual meeting with my HIV consultant last week + blood tests. It’s a nice thing that these meetings aren’t 1, 3 or 6 monthly as once were. I used to say, do not get HIV+ if you don’t like needles. We discussed getting older issues (i.e. memory loss) often exacerbated by the virus. Plus the usual about my mental health which is sort of OK. She congratulated me on losing weight noting I look thinner. 🙂


man being pummelled

Now a really nice thing about last week was my monthly massage with Adrian at THT. Brilliantly firm deep tissue / sports massage. He worked on my usual problem areas though I did have to ask him at one point to bend my knees back no further. My bloody hamstrings and leg joints are the things causing me so many problems these days. 🙁

Gran Canaria

sunshine logo

The big nice thing last week was going on my annual Gran Can trip – deliberately planned to beat the January blues.

I feel guilty about the flight. But we are going for a decent 10 days. It really is flights for stays of 24-72 hours that are the problem. And my intention is to do fewer holiday flights this year than last. Plus how else to get to Gran Can?

Great to stay in the airport hotel on Thurs and the surprise pleasure of the gym workout there. To bed around 9 pm as we had to be up at 5 am. A very unhassled bag drop and boarding followed by a perfectly fine flight with only a small bit of turbulence though sufficient to really worry the lady next to me.

Our holiday is full of nice things:

  • Weather has been sunny so I am spending my days sunbathing. Although I think it goes a bit down hill next week and I looks so pale and white.
  • Lovely to rinse clothes through at night, hang them on the balcony, and they are dry the next day.
  • Nice hotel breakfast and dinner, not cordon bleu but buffet fun and lots of comfort food
  • Cocktails and wine in the Yumbo Centre – 1970s open air shopping centre that is also the centre of gay night life
  • Pacing myself so an early night on Fri but stayed out longer on Sat and Sun – hey it’s the weekend!

Books and Reading

‘How to lose the time war’ by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

blue computerised pattern

This is a very weird sci-fi novella. Highly praised and I can see why as it’s clever and almost poetic. But it’s also hard work as there is no real plot nor character development. I enjoyed it but I wouldn’t go as crazy as others have. It is only a novella but personally I would have left it as a short story or created it into a proper book. I was left feeling overwhelmed and dissatisfied at the same time – quite an achievement.

Close up purple orchid

It’s the story of two agents (Red and Blue) who travel through time as adversaries altering and re-altering things in a constant battle. But they fall in love and leave messages for each other. Red and Blue are almost certainly not humans but rather shape changers and one may actually be some kind of vegetable life-form. Seriously weird.

‘The hard drug chronicles’ edited by Jervey Tervalon, Gary Phillips, Joseph Mattson, Jerry Stahl


Chunky as this is actually a collection of 3 books in 1: The cocaine chronicles, The speed chronicles, The heroin chronicles. A range of short stories each connected to one of those drugs. As usual with short story collections, there is a mixture of very good and very bad.

Unique to this (and other addiction literature), it never ceases to amaze me how some people with addictions can be so bloody boring. Particularly when they talk about it in print or other media forms. They think they are being clever but are often just lazy (being an addict in itself is not interesting), do not make sense by being too avant garde, and ultimately come across as arrogant or self-centred.


This book appealed to me with my ‘party’ experiences from the past, now thankfully banished to memory land. Basically, as with nearly all stories about addiction, these are not happy and demonstrate how drugs can often be mistaken as a ‘nice thing’. I’m not preaching but there aren’t many long-term happy addicts. 🙁

Most of the stories have sad endings and there is frequently a kind of drug porn going on that almost seeks to glitterize actually very depressing and sleazy lifestyles. Still worth reading to understand what goes on in the head and life of addicts.

The week ahead:

Hey I’m on holiday so I’m gonna chill and relax plus read lots 🙂

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