No One Wins a War Without Knowing Fear

The title of this blog originates from the book ‘Hothouse Earth’ by Bill McGuire. It’s a sobering read; fuller review later in this blog. My holiday ended this week and it was back to normality. So much of that, for me, is currently about fear and trepidation.

We all face the fear of getting older and worrying about our mental and physical health as well as who will look after us. While I fear for the planet and its future as we speed towards a climate disaster. What kind of world will my niece and nephew and their children face? Plus the fear of Trump’s return (yeah right media, be ageist about Biden ignoring his achievements and character) and Putin victorious in Ukraine (Tucker Carlson = a useful idiot). A whole neo-fascist future may be ahead of us.

But McGuire’s quotation gives me hope. He’s right, everybody in a war feels fear. I always think how horrendous life during the Blitz must have been. The fear of dying in your sleep with a bomb dropped on you. I’m sure many people in Ukraine feel the same. But if we believe in what we are fighting for then we have to ride the fear and aim for triumph. Whoever said life was going to be easy?

“There ain’t no answer. There ain’t gonna be any answer. There never has been an answer. That’s the answer.”

Gertrude Stein

You can read about my last full holiday week in my previous blog here. The first two days of last week marked the end of mine and Dave’s lovely annual holiday in Gran Can. My chance to put aside everyday worries to just be happy. Wednesday was all about travel which went wonderfully smoothly. And we returned to much wetter weather. Also cooler but mild in general for this time of year.

My main end of holiday highlights:

  • Two days of solid sunshine (hooray) with me lying on the lounger by the pool making the most of it. I was determined to return home with colour.
  • Monday evening at Eurovision night at Wunderbar – a German drinking establishment in the Yumbo. Loads of videos of different Eurovision acts, some very obscure.
  • A man in the hotel with a laugh like a hyena
  • Discovering the British channels on the hotel TV on our last night – doh!
  • The baked fish in the hotel restaurant on the last night looked like something from the Natural History Museum with tail, head, eyes, and teeth. Strangely nobody was eating it…
  • The final result in mine and Dave’s air hockey tournament, he won 11.5 to 9.5
The jump

Obviously, my return to the UK and my various duties meant that I didn’t get through as many books as the weeks whilst I was on holiday. But some great reads still.

‘Hothouse Earth’ by Bill McGuire

This is pretty grim and so I suspect most people will avoid it. But it’s a read that everyone should undertake. McGuire is a very respected scientist who uses detailed scientific evidence to show undeniably that global temperatures are rising – as he puts it, ‘global heating’. He lays out what will be the consequences and there is much to fear.

Unbearable temperatures, extreme weather, flooding, crop failures, climate refugees, diseases, and water wars. Indeed, he points out that we don’t know what will be the exact results of global heating as we have never experienced this before. The obvious thing is for us to reduce the amount of harmful gases in the atmosphere particularly carbon dioxide and methane. So things like reducing our use of fossil fuels, eating less meat and dairy products as well as planting more trees. More use than hoping a tech miracle will save us.

But even if we changed our behaviour now (fat chance) then the patterns of global heating and extreme weather are baked in for the next 80 years. My obvious fear is that we aren’t going to do anything different and the planet is fucked. Indeed, McGuire lists numerous examples of local climate-based disasters in the last 20 years and it’s as if we’ve become immune to them (I can’t recall most of them).

Don’t forget, this was the week when it was reported that the world breached the 1.5 degrees warming limit for a whole year (read about it here) and no-one seemed to care.

Death anxiety and climate change

‘1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare’ by James Shapiro

Regular blog readers will know that non-fiction ain’t usually my bag. I prefer fiction. However, every so often I venture off the straight and narrow. And many times it can be a rewarding experience as with this book as well as McGuire’s classic detailed above.

The focus is just one year in the life of Shakespeare. But a year when he was producing some of his greatest plays. But also in detail framing the creation of those plays in the wider political, social, and economic world going on around Shakespeare.

This was the year when Henry V, Julius Caesar, and As You Like It were all written and performed. Whilst the writing of Hamlet began. Meanwhile, The Globe theatre was being built. And around this tumultuous events were happening. A failing war in Ireland, ongoing threat of foreign invasion, uncertainty over the succession of the ageing queen, and the execution of the Queen’s favourite The Duke of Essex.

Indeed, the book almost feels like a novel. And it works so well to focus on a particular key time rather than indulge in a wide sweep biography of his life. Albeit there is a lot of detail and it probably works better if you are more aware of his plays than I am.

What it has done is inspire me to try to get to The Globe in summer and see some plays if I can get some of their £5 standing tickets. Done it before and it was great although quite knackering standing in whatever weather for several hours.


Holiday friends: Will we meet again?

I genuinely met and re-met some great people on holiday. John and Chris, Dave and Mike, plus Derek – a really nice chap from Cork. Plus good to see the guys again who run Nuevo Rokoko. Holidays are great for meeting people if that is what you want to do. We become like boats passing in the night and making contact albeit just for a brief time. Hope to see these people again but my fear is this may not happen.

Mum and Patrick: Great to see them

Really great to see both of these people on mine and Dave’s return from holiday. I was a bit fearful how they would cope whilst we were away but all has gone well. Though I know they are both glad to have us back.

No trips out with mum but we enjoy watching TV together particularly ’24 Hours in A&E’ (Dave finds it too squeamish). Meanwhile, me and Dave collected Patrick’s meds and had a coffee together. We’ve also arranged for him to visit the Isle of Wight for a couple of days later in the year.

Be happy and grateful about nice things

Gym: Back to the future

I know I fear becoming incapacitated as I age. Going to the gym gives me a buzz as well as stronger muscles which should make the ageing process easier. Though it can’t be stopped nor reversed. To grow old and die is inevitable.

Managed a session in the hotel gym on Monday. And then two sessions at my normal London gym on Thursday and Friday. Deliberately only focused on certain body parts on Thursday doing a shorter workout than normal. Then doing an equally shorter workout on Friday and catching up on the body parts I skipped the day before.

11 gym sessions since the start of 2024 divided by the annual membership = £50 per session.

Male gymnast

Physio: Slow progress

Back to the physio on Friday to continue treatment for my damaged Achilles / ankle. It is very slowly getting better but still not perfect. My fear is it won’t ever heal fully and my days of jogging are over. The physio assured me tendon repairs take longer than muscles because they are not as well supplied with blood and in constant use.

Dissected achilles

He was also not too worried that the damaged Achilles is still more ‘chunky’ than the good one particularly as he could touch it without causing me pain. So I carry on with my range of exercises and we have one more session. Then the plan is to do shockwave therapy on the tendon before gradually returning to the exercises.

Weight: Holding steady after a holiday is good news

It would appear that I have managed to hold my weight steady despite my indulgent fortnight in Gran Can. My fear was that it could rocket particularly with the lack of exercise and high alcohol intake. Albeit I really cut my food intake by skipping meals. I’ve come in at 12 stone 13 pounds which is pretty much where I was before I went away.

Ever onwards

My daily Duolingo routine continues. Up to a 557 day run. Primary focus was Spanish until I returned from Gran Can but then I’ve started to add in a bit more German learning. Sat next to a group of German guys on the tube and realised how little of their conversation I could follow which was depressing.

‘All of Us Strangers’: Didn’t work for me

Finally made a trip to the cinema to see this trendy gay movie. A movie theatre near Dave’s with mega comfy seats and at a lovely time of 11.20 on a Sunday morning. So giving the rest of the day to do other stuff. However, the film really didn’t gel with me. TBH, I found it quite dreary and wouldn’t mind having back the hour and three-quarters that I spent watching it. I think I need to stick to antique programmes.

It’s got an amazing cast of contemporary stars: Andrew Scott, Paul Mescal, Jamie Bell, Claire Foy. But what is it all about? Grief, mental health, addiction, ghosts? Perhaps a mixture of all of these. I did find myself often closing my eyes and it felt like listening to a radio play (so why make a film?) My non-gelling with the film wasn’t aided by needing to go to the toilet within 15 mins of the film starting and having to deal with that discomfort for the next hour and a half. I hate having prostate problems.


QPR: Jury is still out

Saturday’s result just about turned out OK. QPR ultimately got a 2-2 home draw against Norwich. Though at one stage we were 1-0 up. Huddersfield were 2-0 up at Southampton but ultimately lost 5-3. Plus Stoke lost so QPR are still in the relegation zone but just 2 points from safety.

  • Feel the fear and do it anyway. Gotta go with the worries I am feeling and just carry on striving for the better world I want for everyone.
  • Target is at least 3 gym sessions and 1 swim. Though I’ve got to stay in Tues morning at Dave’s place to deal with workmen because he’s busy.
  • Time with mum and Patrick as per usual. In particular, me and Dave are going to have pancakes with mum on Shrove Tuesday. I’ve also got several friends I want to arrange to meet up with soon.
  • Back to sci-fi reading. Currently 2 non-easy reads but, hopefully, ultimately they will both come together in the end.
  • Juicy game for QPR on Wed night. Stoke away, a win there would be fantastic news.
The Planet on Fire

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