Off to Denmark for a gay wedding

Mon 23 – Sun 29 Oct 2017


Big thing for last week was going off to Denmark for the weekend to attend the wedding of my old friend Brian.

UK to Denmark

flag of denmarkFri morning and it was off to Stansted nice and early. I hate arriving close to the wire when it comes to airports. Up to Tottenham Hale and then Stansted Express. Check in all went fine so it gave me and Dave time to have breakfast and chill. I was on my pooter whilst Dave toured the shops though he rapidly got bored. A very full flight. We were travelling to Aarhus which is one of the two European Cities of Culture this year. I’m pretty sure there is only one flight per day to and from Aarhus. Perfectly fine flight though totally RyanAir with no frills or sense of occasion.

Aarhus to Viborg

outline of Denmark with rainbow coloursWhilst on the flight, another friend of Brian introduced herself. She had known him at secondary school which was a good few decades ago. Her and her partner had hired a car and invited me and Dave to go with them from the airport to Viborg where the wedding was taking place. About an hour in the car and we found the hotel by a lake. It was a wonderfully Scandinavian affair with painted brick, wood, metal, and everywhere white. Think of IKEA about 20 or 30 years ago. Perfectly classy and atmospheric.

Bowling and Chinese

A quick check in and then it was the English people out for ten-pin bowling to help us bond. I knew Alan from the Brighton Bandits football days. And then there were the two Robs with their lovely little boy Thomas. Plus another straight couple with the woman also knowing Brian from their secondary school days. I am shite at bowling and duly came bottom of the table amongst the 12 people playing. Rene’s (Brian’s partner) best man (who is a woman) joined us and then it was across the road to the eat-as-much-as-you-like Chinese buffet. Really nice but we were all knacked. So around 9.30, called it a day and we were all back at the hotel by 10. Great to see the cathedral was all lit up where the wedding was happening the next day.

Before the wedding

What a beautiful night’s slumber. Apparently white helps you sleep and it was nice to have a double bed but me and Dave each having our own mini quilt. We woke just in time for breakfast. Back to wash and dress then a wander around Viborg. It is a lovely little city with plenty to do for a weekend away. Unfortunately all we had time for was coffee and a traditional Danish marshmallow cake. Back to the hotel to get into our suits.

A fine church service

The service took place in what I thought was a church but apparently was actually the oldest cathedral in Denmark. A religious service and great to see the Danish church doesn’t share the homophobic attitudes of many prominent priests in the Church of England. Indeed the priest gave a very nice speech in Danish and English highlighting the importance of love in the Christian faith. A lovely congregation including many of the people with learning disabilities that Rene cares for. Also wonderful to see Rene’s mum there having just been discharged from hospital but still in her wheelchair and on oxygen. Very moving.

Danish reception

Rice thrown on the happy couple after the wedding and a quick drink before the evening reception. Danish wedding receptions have lots of speeches. And a custom that when one of the bridal couple leaves the room then everyone gets a chance to kiss the one still there. Plus lots of toasts. Fun speeches particularly from Brian’s best man Rob. The look on Brian’s face was priceless as he sat terrified about which stories came out. We didn’t actually do some of the best ones about the stupidest things he had done when drunk as they would have been too near the mark. Lots of drinking and dancing after a very tasty beef dinner. I was up until about 2am then staggered back to my room, Dave had gone earlier. Fascinating to see some of the gay boys flirting with the straight ones.

Viborg to Aarhus

Another decent night’s sleep though it definitely helped that I had a couple of glasses of water before I hit the sack. And wonderful to gain an extra hour as the clocks went back. Breakfast for 9am and the breakfast room was packed. I wrongly thought most of our party would still be crashed out. Me and Dave were only there early as we needed to get the train to Aarhus. Goodbyes and then we were off to the train station. A nice train journey with excellent free wi-fi though the countryside was quite flat and looked very much like being in the UK. Then we picked up the airport bus. A 50 min ride – Aarhus airport does seem to be a long distance from the actual town.

Back to London

Check-in all went fine and we settled into the dinky airport. Security and passport control was wonderfully strict – probably because they often don’t have much to do. Another perfectly perfunctory plane journey and then the Stansted Express and the tube. Overall, a really nice weekend. I do love a good gay wedding, like gay relationships they are generally more wacky than straight ones. My only regret was it was such a whirl. Indeed it all took place in a little bit more than 48 hours. I really don’t get the idea of city short weekend breaks – they seem so much like hard work.

Tech for Good

TfG 2018, CrowdMatch, and Shift’s research

Ongoing work on the Tech for Good 2018 programme. Last week I managed to get the pre-launch news article done and the text for the initiative page. This week it’s about finding images and getting the application guidance finished. We also worked on the Theory of Change for the programme which hopefully will be done in time to go on the initiative page when it opens 13th Nov; same around getting completed the Exec Summary of the evaluation on the previous TfG programme.

Couple of other things last week. First supporting our CrowdMatch projects with their crowdfunding. A news article needs to be written – it’s trying to find the capacity being part-time. Second, Shift’s research on the stages of development in social tech projects arrived for reading and sign off.

Blagrave Trust

Only two working days last week as I did four and a half the previous week. Tues all-day I was in Winchester to talk about tech at the event organised by the Blagrave Trust for their partners which primarily meant projects they were funding. Blagrave is a funder that provides money to projects for young people in Southern England. I made my presentation a bit challenging particularly bringing out the need for projects working to support young people needing to empathise with young people around their use of tech. So no judgementalism or nostalgia for the good old days. Seemed to go down well in that I stimulated some lively discussion.

Great to have some young people there to talk directly about their experiences. And lots of interest from the projects themselves to enter into discussions with young people and to innovate. It was nice to stay for most of the day and listen into conversations following the morning speeches of which I was one.

Bond and Josh Russell

Wed morning and it was off to Kings Cross for a couple of breakfast meetings. First, with Kathy Peach from Bond – the umbrella organisation for international development NGOs. We talked about the work she is doing around future-proofing the ID sector. And obviously tech is going to be very relevant to both the NGOs and the societies they operate in. Then onto Josh Russell’s monthly impact breakfast. This informal gathering of people in the tech for good space is so useful in terms of making connections. We had a nice chat about crypto-currencies and ICOs. I think the general consensus was yes the majority are probably going to be a way of losing money but some will come good though it may take years.

Health and Efficiency

Not a good week. Diet was OK until I hit Denmark and then rich food plus lots of alcohol. Gym only twice: Mon & Thurs mornings. Weights but also tried the treadmill on Mon and pulled my left calf muscle again – bollocks! Thurs I did try out the cross-trainer which didn’t aggravate my calf or my knee but wow is it knackering. No jog-run and no yoga 🙁

Personal Development

Just like above, a bit of a disastrous week due to the welcome distraction of Denmark and the usual work busyness. No DuoLingo at all over the weekend though it was interesting how many Danish words corresponded to German ones. My Danish friends will probably hit me now 🙂 And, of course, no coding practice. I think real progress around languages and coding is going to have to wait until my sabbatical starts in Jan. Though perhaps I’ll get something done over my few days away in Torremolinos in Nov.

And emails went to pot. I did make some progress with the travelling at the weekend, trying to get through them whilst moving about or waiting. But I’m really going to have to put some energy into this to make big progress.

Books and Reading

‘Birdcage Walk’ by Helen Dunmore

Helen is one of my favourite authors and it’s sad that she died so young at 64 in June earlier this year. Her obituary can be read here. Her work was prodigious and her novels were wonderfully written. This was her last book. It is set in late eighteenth century England with news of the French Revolution coming into the country all the time. But it’s primarily a story about a woman living in an abusive relationship. Poignant and deep with wonderful twists and turns. This is a beautifully mature book and a great monument to a very talented writer.

Dr Who audio adventures

‘Afterlife’ (seventh Doctor + companions Ace & Hex)

A pretty weak adventure. Hex has died, I can’t recall if I knew this already or how it had happened. So the Doctor and Ace go off to recover but they also row with Ace blaming the Doctor. We then move into a world where it turns out Hex is living an alternative life as a Liverpool gangster fighting an alien disguised as a human female mobster. There are lots of scouse accents which is fun but fundamentally it’s a disguise for a weak story that really feels just like a bit of a filler.

Looking ahead

  • A busy week getting all the final stuff finished for the TfG 2018 launch on 13th Nov and supporting the CrowdMatch projects
  • Two great tech events are on – MS Future Decoded and EHI Live. Both free and full of interesting projects and developments. But I don’t think I’m going to have time to get to either 🙁
  • Cassie Robinson’s Community Squad meeting on Mon which I don’t think I can make. And probably the same for the evening event on Wed to celebrate 5 years of Bethnal Green Ventures. However it is the launch for the Shift research on Thurs evening and I really do need to be at that.
  • Fri a catch-up with Good Tech Lab on the international TfG research they have been doing
  • Sun I am down to Brighton to see Bob and Brian. A bit different in that I need to be in work next Mon so I’m going to visit them both on Sun during the day and come back to London early on Mon morning.
  • Aim is to do DuoLingo every day and, whisper it, do some coding practice 🙂
  • Try to get back to having some semblance in being on top of my emails
  • Target is 3 gym sessions (Mon, Thurs, Fri mornings) and attempt a jog-run on Sat
  • Finish the two current books I am reading and listen to some more Dr Who audio adventures

And finally…

Three very good bits of news.

First QPR beat top Championship team Wolves 2-1 🙂

Second, only one more week and Nissa my job-share is back – hooray!

Three, just two weeks and I am off to Torremolinos.

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