Olympics week

Mon 8 – Sun 14 Aug

A stack of golds and my belief in internationalism

Olympics Rio 2016So by Mon morning at the Olympics we had 15 (!) golds and are second in the medal table. It’s been great fun watching them all come in. But the most memorable ones for me:

  • Waking up Mon morning to hear about Adam Peatty’s swimming Olympic gold, our first one
  • Followed next day by Laugher & Mear’s springboard diving gold which seemed totally unexpected plus a canoeing one
  • And I was up to see the first cycling gold. Three more came later including Sir Bradley Wiggins.
  • Gold in the men’s eights the archetypal Olympics sport followed by two more in the rowing
  • Woke on Sun morning to news of Mo Farah’s brilliant win after a tumble
  • Then the beautiful Max Whitlock takes two golds in his floor routine and on the pommel horse
  • And flag-bearer Andy Murray re-wins his gold, a victory for Scotland

Of course then have been some where you wish they had done better. I also stayed up to watch the rugby sevens final GB vs Fiji but wished I hadn’t as we were massacred. And poor Jennifer Ennis Hill and the gorgeous Greg Rutherford missing out on the top podium positions.

Thank God for the National Lottery

So what is the basis of our success? Well a huge element has been the National Lottery. So much part of modern British life but only introduced in the mid-nineties by the unfairly maligned John Major. That has brought money into sports training that was never there. Look at our medal results in the Atlanta Olympics 1996 where we came 26th in the table. The Lottery has also assured more money going to charities, arts and heritage. And then the targeting of that extra money on sports showing results. There is often criticism of funding by results but what it can achieve can be seen in Team GB’s success at the Olympics.

The Olympics are brilliant because…

Male gymnastThere are so many sports I have loved watching. The one that has been particularly amazing me has been the gymnastics. Gymnasts are incredible and I can’t believe their routines don’t hurt their joints. Interesting to note the number of athletes in many disciplines with muscles strapped up just to get them through this vital period. And why not? What can be better in life than winning an Olympic medal? I’m also finding a latent interest in water polo and diving. But could their trunks be a bit smaller?

Even in the Olympics, homophobia rears its ugly head

I was very saddened by the Mail’s homophobic story berating British divers hugging after winning medals – ‘unmanly’. Similar homophobia demonstrated by an article on the internet where a straight journalist pretended to be gay to find out about gay activity amongst the athletes in the olympic village, basically entrapment.

The risk of simplistic nationalism

Obviously I want Team GB to do well. But I also don’t want to fall into the trap of dodgy nationalism. I do not believe in my country right or wrong. And the danger is that in watching the Olympics we just concentrate on how our country performs rather than celebrating the Olympics as an international sporting spectacle. There is also the danger of a good Team GB performance fanning the anti-European and racist sentiments that are so strong after the Brexit referendum. Fuelling sentiments that say we do well in sport therefore it won’t cause us economic problems if we are not in Europe. And that anyone who says otherwise is ‘putting Britain down’. Stupid, twisted, simplistic thinking. Note also that if Scotland is forced into independence then this may be the last Olympics with a Team GB taking part.

Still fighting to stay in Europe

map of europeMy interest in the Olympics as a celebration of international sport fits with my general belief in internationalism over nationalism. And so last Mon morning I was out delivering Lib Dem leaflets stating they are the only party committed to staying in Europe. True, Tories and Labour are now both committed to the UK leaving the EU.

Meanwhile crazy Donald Trump plays with fire insinuating that those pro ‘gun rights’ should do everything possible to stop Hillary winning and appointing a Supreme Court justice they don’t like. And alleging that if he does not win then it is all down to being cheated. Typical rich guy, goes around creating chaos just because he can without caring about the long-term damage he will do. Similar to Farage, Johnson and Corbyn (all very wealthy).

Health and efficiency

I have found the Olympics incredibly inspirational on a personal level. OK I ain’t gonna win an Olympic medal. But I can do my best to look after my own health and fitness.

Gym only twice

Actually not a good week in terms of gym attendances, indeed only two. But two good workouts. Thurs morning to the gym for a hard workout concentrating on chest and shoulders as well as 15 mins on the rowing machine. Actually felt a bit queer after finishing, perhaps overdid it a wee bit. Then Sun morning a ‘recovery’ workout after the jog-run the day before. Lots of stretching my legs and some upper body stuff. Plus 18 mins on the rowing machine. Just like jog-run, start slow and build up.

Mornings without the gym

Cup of coffeeThere were two mornings when I was not working but still failed to attend the gym. Mon I helped mum with the laundry and then did my leaflet delivering which was good aerobic exercise in itself. I then spent the rest of the day chilling in coffee shops and at home. Fri morning I had planned to go to the gym. But after my hard workout the previous day I was really knacked. Did not help that I stayed up until 11.30 watching the rugby sevens. Instead had a lovely chilled morning of checking out a couple of charity shops then reading and having coffee in the sun. And slowly making my way to the office as I was working in the afternoon.


This was very good news. I decided to go for it on Sat morning. Usual routine, up and out first for a walk to the coffee shop to get my legs muscles working and, of course, a coffee. Decided to focus on distance. Good news that watch GPS was working. I started off gently. I need to get into my rhythm and then build up speed as time passes. Did the same course as last week which is just under 6km. Good result as can be seen by the picture below from twitter. Felt chilled and no awful aches in my problem joints post-run.

The rest of Super Saturday

My great jog-run was followed by a great fish and chip lunch with my mum and one of my old friends Colin. He was up in London with his partner but the latter was with his children at a vlogging convention. And in line with other inspirational things for last week, QPR won their second game of the season so two clear wins with no goals against.


13-11 so a lost pound but still half a stone heavier than I was a year ago.


News about CAST funding

Fantastic news last week about CAST’s £1.12m grant from Big Lottery Fund – details here. Proud that our funding enabled them to show the value of what they are doing. Leaps forward often need resourcing (though I definitely do not turn my face on ‘frugal innovation’ digital or non-digital) and Lottery are frequently only body that can really make this scale of investment. Again see what they have done with sport.

The value of networking – internal and external

Image of networkingSeveral internal meetings to get sorted our new Tech for Good programme. But also others to brief new staff on what we are doing around TfG, explore ideas around better use of digital to tell stories, and meeting some people looking to set up an accelerator. I think in the recent past I have let slip my pro-active networking. I believe networking and partnership working are very good things. Making new links that may bear fruit in the future is one of my favourite things to do. So from now on I plan to have at least one networking element in every week.

You need boules to build a team

boulesTeam building on Wednesday afternoon. Went to a lovely square in Kennington to play boules. Left work at four. Pleasant day so took some drinks and snacks along. Nice easy going sport and not competitive. A smaller group of us stayed bit later to chat and have some drinks from pub. But all wrapped up around 6.45 so good bonding time together without eating into ‘family time’.


Continued my good performance on DuoLingo. Though I screwed up by not doing on one day and so lost my consecutive record. I just forgot to do it in the same way that sometimes I forget to take my meds. However, I found out by accident that I like taking the timed tests which are challenging. Problem that does all feel very bitty. I am still not sure I could hold a decent conversation as a result of this. I think that only comes from being in situ in that country and being forced to not speak in English.

Books and reading

‘Midnight’s Children’ Salman Rushdie

Map of British India
LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

It has taken me two weeks to read this book. It certainly deserves its accolade as an epic. And I have enjoyed reading it. But I have also enjoyed finishing it. It dynamically covers Indian and Pakistani history post-independence relating it to one individual’s life. But there is an awful lot of mysticism tossed in and, to be honest, a lot of it felt like mumbo-jumbo bullshit. The ultimate take for me from this book is the failure of the optimism that was there when the British left. Followed by constantly never learning from mistakes. Indeed for me one of the big messages seemed to be that partition based on religion was the wrong thing to do (isn’t it always?). Overall I suspect I will look back on achieving having read this book but am glad I can move to something shorter and perhaps more straight forward.

Doctor Who audio-books

Live 34 (seventh Doctor Sylverster McCoy + companions Ace and Hex)

Definitely one of the better Doctor Who audio books I have listened to. A brilliantly done drama of life under an authoritarian dictatorship disguised as democratic. Reminds me a lot of places like Russia, Iran or Zimbabwe. The Doctor and companions are involved in the legitimate opposition constantly being tainted by made up atrocities. For 90% of the time it feels like you are listening to news and features on an independent radio station. Very clever.

Pier Pressure (sixth Doctor Colin Baker + companion Evelyn Smythe)

The Doctor needs a holiday so he pops to Brighton. A fun adventure in which the Doc and Evelyn get mixed up with aliens living at the end of the long-gone West Pier. All a bit tongue in cheek and really just a vehicle to have the Doctor and Max Miller working together. Some inter-actions between Evelyn and Max are a joy to listen to.

Night Terrors (seventh Doctor + Ace & Hex)

A Doctor Who horror story. The Doctor and companions arrive by accident at a claustrophobic house on the Outer Hebrides. A group of academics meet there start dying. It’s good but a bit messy being quite unrealistic with a several stories going on at once. OK but no more than 5/10 and another one that I need to relisten to in order to really understand what is happening.

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