On my travels – Glasgow and Brighton again

Sunday 14 – Saturday 20 Dec

And so I found myself on my travels again. Always tiring but also slightly invigorating. There definitely is a part of me that is nomadic and enjoys the idea of being on the move compared to the sometimes stifling feeling of being in one place. I know one of my biggest fears is that of being stuck somewhere forever.

I flew up to Scotland last Monday. The long tube journey from Finsbury Park, following my session with Sara, all the way to Terminal 5. I am not sure if there is a greater environmental reason to take the train as the plane is scheduled and will fly whether I am on it or not. Plus I find just sitting on the train for five hours frustrating and the cost difference is not great. Fine journey with BA including my complimentary glass of wine. And I know the journey so well now that I go exactly to where the city-link bus goes from as well as the right stop to get off at. I was in Glasgow for a meeting on SeeMe – the Scottish campaign around mental health discrimination. It’s all going really well. Then after that meeting on Tuesday morning, I walked along the Clyde (impressive but I think it needs tarting up more) to BBC Scotland for a meeting with a media person there. It was not as cold as I was expecting and similar to London (bearable days but chilly mornings) though slightly cooler; no snow but a little rain. I love the grandness and solidity of Glasgow combined with its earthiness. A major disappointment that the masseur I know up there was finished until after Christmas so no massage. On the Monday I ate at a Thai restaurant (‘Thairiffic’ – lol) a lovely but very rich meal. Then on Tuesday night I treated myself to a world menu buffet but limiting myself to only two plates and no dessert. No time for culture unfortunately and I was off back to London on Wednesday morning.

Then last Thursday, I travelled to Brighton. Ongoing mixed feelings about the place having lived there so long and leaving so unhappily. Trains were messed up (power failure at Victoria followed by a broken down train on one of the East Croydon platforms) but I still managed to get to Lewes to see my mate James who is recovering from cancer. His latest treatment has meant having radioactive material placed into his liver to destroy the tumours. He won’t know whether it has been successful till January but in the mean time he is feeling rough and still losing weight. We had a nice catch up about life generally and exchanged Christmas cards before I went off to Brighton. This time I did get my massage as my favourite Brighton masseur was available. Allan is an older chap but he is great in how hard he works on my muscles particularly my legs and glutes. That was on Thursday evening followed by dinner at a cheap but popular Italian where I had my new favourite – pizza without cheese. Really tasty especially with chilli oil drizzled over it. And I naughtily had an ice cream afterwards. Then one of my favourite things, sitting in the hotel bar with a glass of wine and reading my book.

Friday was off to meet Bob and Brian – the two old chaps I keep an eye on. Annoyingly I realised in the morning that the plug had not been switched on to charge my mobile during the night but the heating had been full on; I much prefer sleeping in a cool rather than warm room – the warm room probably explained the headache I woke up with (though there may have also been a role for the previous night’s alcohol). I checked out my favourite charity shop in Brighton, the one for Sussex Beacon on St James’ Street, and bought some gay literature. Also bumped into my bloody ex again! A quick acknowledgement and we were both off in opposite directions (he said ‘I haven’t got time for a coffee, I’ve got to get to work’ – er, why  would I want to?). Bus to Bob’s nursing home and it was such a nice day that I pushed him  in his wheelchair (knackering) out to the local coffee shop where we sat and watched the world go by plus Bob had one of his favourite’s – a bacon sandwich. We also had to get him some more Christmas cards and stamps. Then on the bus again and to meet Brian at the regular café we meet at in St James’ Street. He was well and getting nurse treatment for his leg ulcers after he threatened the NHS Trust with legal action. He is wonderfully antagonistic but will be spending Christmas on his own with his dog then cooking dinner for some other friends on Boxing Day. Journey back to London was OK though train was late leaving as the driver was late and we had a dizzy guard who announced an upcoming station was the one we had just left.

No office days last week as I spent my working hours through travel to and from then being in Scotland. However I dealt with a constant stream of e-mails, surprisingly more than one would expect at this time of year. I do love the freedom that comes through remote working made possible by digital technology. One particular success was being contacted by someone I thought was annoyed with me and did not want to be in contact; probably shows I should stop always assuming the worse.

On books, I finished the McConnell book but did not really like it. It’s going to the Book Exchange rather than being kept in case I want to read it again. The problem with The Silver Hearted was primarily that it was trying to be too clever being based on an unknown Earth at an unknown time. It did remind me of Jean Genet’s ‘Querelle of Brest’, a landmark book but of its time (many decades ago) and the book plus the film both left me feeling cold as did the McConnell book. I moved onto Richard Yates’ ‘Revolutionary Road’ which is a highly recommended, brilliant analysis of middle class, suburban disillusionment. The key thing for me was about value of sticking with a partner and talking to each other. Nobody says relationships are easy and any long relationship has had plenty of ups and downs. Impossible to say neither partner will not fall in love with someone else but this can be worked through. The next book read was Russell Brand’s ‘My Booky Wooky’. A controversial character and I wanted to find out more about him particularly as I am working with him in a way via the abstinence based recovery community projects I oversee. I really admire his position on addiction issues and it’s a good autobiography, a type of writing I don’t normally like. Readable and crazy though when I think of some of the crazy things I have done in my life…

In terms of exercise, I did a jog last Sunday (Saturday was journeying back from York for Dave’s birthday) with time of 25.45 (15 second progression). I did not cover as much distance as the previous week but my achilles held up well and was not too achy afterwards. I had a session with Sara on Monday before my travel to Heathrow. We did a half hour spinning class followed by kettle bells. I managed one gym session, on Thursday before the train to Brighton. Then back to my regular Saturday jog. I used my new Garmin sports watch bought on special offer at Glasgow Airport – this told me I had jogged for 26 mins, covered 4.4 km, and burnt 321 calories. That was all very pleasing and my achilles was not left too uncomfortable. I booked in some health care stuff last including an INR check (overdue) to determine the warfarin levels I should be taking and a six month dental check. I also need to book to get wax removed at the Clear Ear Clinic and to collect HIV meds from hospital pharmacy though I’ve got enough to last several more weeks.

One of the big social events of last week was meeting up with Patrick and Stephen on Sunday for a lovely leisurely lunch at La Ballerina in Covent Garden. A friendly, easygoing, and generous couple. This was followed by an early night on Sunday as has also happened on Saturday. I was bored with the TV – even Strictly and I haven’t bothered at all with X Factor this year. I find I prefer to lie in bed and read. Me and Dave grabbed time together on Wednesday evening to have a catch up meal talking about what we both had been doing and what was planned for the week coming up. I visited mum on Sunday and Wednesday. She has put up her own little Christmas tree she puts up every year but was feeling down by the weekend partly related to the problems she is having with her knees – I wonder if she may have to have replacements soon? I put strings up for her so she could put up her cards. I finished my cards last week – like everyone I have sent less being put off by the ridiculous price of stamps these days. Very little DuoLingo and no digital – aagh failing completely on this. Should I make these my New Year resolutions or would that be just a waste of time as I normally view resolutions? Saturday was a very good day with QPR coming from 2-0 down to beat West Bromwich Albion at Loftus Road 3-2.

Wonker of the Week One thing that really did annoy me in Brighton was bumping into someone I knew who blanked me. I used to fancy this person and really admired him for turning his life around after a very difficult patch. I knew he didn’t fancy me which is fine but I thought we were still friends. He’s sort of famous in a minor and niche way these days but I don’t know why he ignored me and I certainly can’t admire him now if he can’t be bothered to acknowledge me.

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