No such thing as an easy job or an easy life

Mon 2 – Sun 8 May 2022

With the week before last being about big events (you can read about it here), the week just gone should have been an easy one – theoretically. Bank Holiday Monday and a day off work on Friday plus my usual two non work-days. But I still had plenty to fit into my one day of paid work (if only it was just 8 hours) and a big hospital appointment.

The reality of modern life, I suspect, is that nearly all of us work too much and define ourselves primarily by the job we do. It’s a fatal flaw in our existence. And the truth is that there is no such thing as an easy job with the corollary that there is no such thing as an easy week. Not least as non-work stuff can stress sometimes as much as work stuff.

“We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them.”

Khalil Gibran

Family and Friends

We need more bank holidays

The wonderful May Day Bank Holiday was primarily about recovering from our hectic but fun trip with Dave and my mum to see his mum – you can read about it here. Our lives would all be so much more easy if we had more bank holidays. The fact so many of us feel so overwhelmed by work shows the success of WFH / hybrid working, shortened working weeks, and the Great Resignation – see below. We all want a better and easier life.

Monday was about unpacking after our return and Dave focused on planting out on his balconies the plants he had bought on our Northern visit. At least it keeps him quiet. I spent a lot of time getting my blog written. Very little time to do this whilst we were away. But then the point of being away is not to live the routine we normally do.

“Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.”

Auguste Rodin

The mums

My mum is fine. One of the two big events that happened in the week before last was taking my mum up to see Dave’s mum who was recuperating. My mum loved the time away (I wish she would do it more) and she gets on very well with Dave’s mum. I spent a big chunk of last week with mum though for much of Wednesday I was working as well as attending my hospital appointment.

Dave’s mum continues to recover. Thankfully no more phone calls to Dave during the night saying she had fallen out of bed and can’t get up as happened when we were there. I forgot to mention in my previous blog something that made me nearly piss myself laughing. It was when Dave told me about the looks he got from the hotel reception going and coming back in the middle of the night to get his mum sorted. They gave him dirty looks like he had gone to a dodgy sexual liaison – LOL.

Dave and my Friday off

Took Friday off and spent most of it chilling. A genuinely easy day where me and Dave went to Tate Britain (see below) plus a meat-free lunch at Mildred’s. Dave is a big meat eater whereas I am not turned on in the slightest by a steak. I love well prepared vegetarian and vegan food. My meal had tofu which I love whilst Dave said he enjoyed the meat-free chicken burger.

There was a Local Office Day at work where we all had the chance to socialise together – shame it clashed with the day off that I wanted but just one of those things. Hopefully I can attend the next one.

Dozing bulldog

Bumping into an old friend

Always nice to come across an old friend unexpectedly. And that is what happened on Tues morning as I was walking to the gym. Bumped into Stephen Twigg – former Labour MP. We were involved in student politics together and I did some work with him at Comic Relief. Great to have a chat; hopefully we can meet for a drink and proper catch-up in the near future.

Tech for Good / Work Life Balance

With Bank Holiday Monday last week and Friday as a day off work, that meant there was only one work day – Wednesday. Theoretically an easy week but that day itself was a busy one. And I also had to use some time to attend a hospital appointment in the afternoon such that I then worked on Tues and Thurs to make up the hours.

Key Tech for Good / Social Change stuff that happened last week:

  • Induction for new staff on how we support social change at work
  • A video conference with the other social change leads in our various offices around the world to prepare our global Social Impact Report
  • Following links made at recent events to set up meetings to explore if we can work together as has been done with other not-for-profit orgs

Over-50s are resigning en masse – new research explains who and why

I came across a great article about how a disproportionate number of people 50+ are stopping work and removing themselves from the job market – read it here. They are becoming ‘economically inactive’ with no intention to return to work. And, fascinatingly, it’s disproportionately among middle and lower income earners.

There’s a good argument that this will allow younger people to flourish. But it also means lost experience and knowledge which many businesses need. Indeed, I see so many mistakes being repeated again and again in different places.

I totally empathise with this mass resignation. Basically as you realise life is ticking away and death sits on the horizon, why would you not want it easy? This appeals to me more and more. Yep money tighter but imagine less stress and tiredness as well as not having to deal with direct and indirect ageism?

Doing a good day's work

Art and Culture

Walter Sickert at Tate Britain

Finally, I got back to visiting a gallery. And it was my old favourite – Tate Britain. I find it an easy gallery to visit. Great art, pleasant to wander around, never too busy. We went to see the Walter Sickert exhibition which I found good in parts.

A lot of his stuff is quite gloomy apart from the paintings of music hall scenes (all at wonderful buildings now sadly gone). I really don’t like his female nudes finding them too salacious – lots of legs splayed apart and it’s curious he didn’t paint male nudes. His late life copying of photographs into paintings is very interesting.

Farts in the galleries

Very funny that Dave experienced someone farting next to him when he was looking at paintings in one of the galleries. And it happened not once but twice! First time it was a woman and then a man in another gallery. Both times he said it was very loud and the first was very smelly so he had to leave the room. Poor Dave LOL.

Sun and kids

We also took advantage of the good weather to sit outside and have a coffee. It really did feel life was easy and like being on holiday. Though we were joined by a class of primary school kids who sat on the tables around us. Funny and exuberant – had to laugh when one kid dropped his sandwiches on the floor and the teacher had to sort it out.

Painting

Books and Reading

A sign of a good week is when I manage to find time to finish book. And two very good ones finished last week – one that took me a lot longer than expected. But both were deep novels although also relatively easy and pleasurable reads.

‘Ariadne’ by Jennifer Saint

Novels based on ancient Greek mythology are very on trend. This is the retelling of the story of Ariadne. A daughter of King Minos who help Theseus kill the Minotaur so the young Athenians there to be sacrificed can return home unharmed. Theseus then abandons her on the island of Naxos where she meets and marries the god Dionysus. Ultimately she is killed at a battle between Theseus and his brother Perseus where she is turned to stone by being shown the head of Medusa.

But there is so much commentary contained within this book. Two particular themes stick out for me. Firstly, the way women don’t have easy lives and are mistreated by men at each turn. Often punished for the wrong done by men in their lives like Ariadne being turned to stone due to the actions of Dionysus.

Second, the way the Gods are capricious and oblivious to humanity’s pain. They are vain, deceitful, and barbarous using people simply to fight each other. It’s a reflection of what happens when you have unlimited power.

Parthenon

‘The Promise’ by Damon Galgut

This was the winner of 2021’s Booker Prize and a very worthy one. I have read other award winning novels and not found them easy at all. A relatively short book and very unlike my normal reading. It is set in South Africa spanning the history of a white Afrikaner family from the Apartheid era to the modern day. The story is based around four funerals – in honesty, I suppose most family histories and re-connections are based on big social events like funerals, weddings, and baptisms.

Straight family sagas are not my normal reading though they are the mainstay of a massive part of fiction. Ultimately it’s the story of one family member who becomes disconnected from the others. And a promise made that is not kept. Inevitably it can be easily seen as a commentary on modern South Africa – the promise of an easier life not becoming reality for so many people alongside poverty, crime, corruption, and poor leadership. Though isn’t that true of so many countries?

Health and Efficiency

Gym

My definition of an easy life would be that I could get to the gym every other day plus incorporate jog-runs and swims. As well as lots of lovely walking. Did manage to get to the gym twice last week – on my two normal non-work days. Both good sessions though the gym on Thursday was quite busy despite being a weekday morning. Why do people always seem to do stuff on Thursdays – is it preparation for the weekend? 27 sessions – c.£18.50 per session.

dumbells in the gym

Weight

If I had more of an easy life then I reckon I could stop seeking comfort though indulging in food and alcohol. But that ain’t the situation yet and I am sure I’m not losing weight so I’ve decided to not bother weighing myself. It’s worth doing when I am genuinely trying to lose weight. Otherwise I’m just using at as a means to punish me.

Catching up with my HIV doctor

Finally saw my HIV consultant face-to-face for the first time in about 3 years. I had a couple of video consultations with other medics during the pandemic but they were pretty disastrous primarily because the hospital failed to remember I was due to be seen. I’ve worked with my consultant now for about 10 years. She knows my history and I find it easy to talk to her.

It was good to have a catch-up on HIV-related stuff but also other aspects of my life. In particular, I appreciated being able to talk to her about my developing prostate problem. Blood tests done to check on a range of things (including my fatty liver) and collected another 6 months of ARVs – Anti-RetroViral meds.

In honesty, I do think increasingly about the fact that my health is going to deteriorate (as it will for all of us) and in 20 years I could be dead. Heard last week about a man aged 48 who had a heart attack and died. Surely that is the reason to at least try to find the mythical easy life.

A cocktail of meds

Sustainability

Plants and other little things to try to make the world better

I’m very depressed by the scientific info that shows we are pelting headlong into climate disaster – see below. And so I try to do everything I can to help make things less worse like trying to consume as little as possible and eat less meat.

Meanwhile, me and Dave both make our own tiny contributions to try to help nature fight back. Dave continues to look after his balconies. My collection of indoor plants and my window ledges all look good. Nice of Dave to donate to me one of his Aspidistra plants. Famously they are known as ‘cast iron plants’ because they are very hardy and can normally survive indoors with very little attention.

Spider plant

Pigeon problems

We are having some fun and games on Dave’s balconies with the pigeons. It is lovely when you get small birds like tits, thrushes, and robins. And I like pigeons but they are much bigger and tend to gobble up the food before the smaller birds get a chance.

However, we have noticed a particular pigeon couple – one looks like a typical pigeon the other is all white and with just one eye. Indeed, his face on the other side looks a complete mess – it’s sad. But they seem very attentive to each other as a couple.

We like them and it’s OK for them to visit but we are also trying to stop them permanently settling on the balcony to make a nest and lay eggs. Perhaps this sounds harsh. But they are really noisy and I’m not sure we want lots of baby pigeons. Plus pretty sure if we allow this then it will stop the other smaller more vulnerable birds visiting the balconies.

Personal Development

I know I will be living the easy life one day when I can get down and do the personal development stuff that I love doing. When I can do my language learning. Managed to do Duolingo lessons nearly every day last week but not actually every day. And no progress on the digital learning. One day, hopefully, I will have the time I want to focus on learning.

The Week Ahead

  • It’s Eurovision week – one of the key gay parts of the year. Coming from Turin: semi-finals on Tues and Thurs then the Final on Saturday. No Russia (hooray!) and Ukraine must be in a good position to win. Our entry ‘Spaceman’ is actually very good but not clear if the rest of Europe has forgiven us yet for being being a tosser as a country.
  • Proper week to come so 3 days ‘in the office’ and 2 non-work days. That probably sounds easy to someone who works full-time. But these days no job is easy that you can partition it off from impacting on the rest of your life.
  • Should get to the gym on Tues and Thurs mornings.
  • Am taking part in a medical study on Thurs to check for indications of anal cancer. Also being chased to get my INR test done again.
  • Have started reading two new books. Another collection of Doctor Who short stories (perfect escapism from real life). Plus reading a much lauded novel by Claire North aka Catherine Webb, ‘Notes from the Burning Age’. She’s a fun writer and I have read several of her books.
  • Be nice to get to another gallery or museum. But more realistic that my Art and Culture uptake will come from watching some quality TV.
  • Try to get Duolingo done every day and quick sessions when I have spare time

And Finally…

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