Once things are gone then they are gone forever

Mon 5 – Sun 11 June 2023

As I get older, I increasingly realise that when we lose things then they are gone forever, never to come back. And the argument that we replace things with something better rarely rings true. Ask yourself, is the world a better place than it was? Clearly there is progress such as the way HIV has become a manageable disease with medication. But buying a house is out of the reach of many and people are weighed down with debt.

So many good places in London have gone and will never come back. Great clubs, pubs, eating places – all gone. And what are they replaced with? Corporate, expensive crap. Parts of London and other cities torn down to be replaced with glass blocks that could be anywhere in the world.

I am not anti-change. But I support change that is firmly founded on what has gone before and preserves rather than smashes it away. Like the glass roof over the Great Court of the British Museum – better then knocking everything down and building something new.

The past matters, we cannot hide from it. We need to live with it but we also need to be honest and realise how it impacts us. Then build on it rather than destroy it or pretend it didn’t happen. However, no-one says living with ghosts is always easy.

“With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone.”

Oscar Wilde

Health and Efficiency

I can’t deny what has gone on in the past when I was fat and the long-term impact that has had on my body. I’ll never be the adonis I would like to be and not least because age is catching up with me. The problem of working out at the gym is it rapidly becomes clear how you aren’t the bell of the ball no matter how hard you try; there is always younger and fitter. But I can look after my body and my health now so that I can live a fulfilling life going forward.

Gym

3 good sessions on my usual weekday mornings: Mon, Wed, Fri. All good and I fell into my usual trap of enjoyable spending well over an hour (often up to an hour and a half) working on various body parts.

58 gym sessions since the start of 2023 divided by the annual membership = £8.50 per session.

dumbells in the gym

Jog-run

Only one 5K done last week as compared to two the week before (read about this in my previous blog here). Went out about 9.30 on Thursday morning. Weather was starting to get hot but not like what was to come at the weekend. Perfectly decent run that was by a few seconds my fastest 5K so far. You can read the different times (and weight details) here.

Sprinter

Weight loss (due to stomach upset?)

Another small amount of weight is gone – an example of where gone is good. So I am just half a pound above 13 stone. Can I get to a stable weight under 13 stone? Did have a dodgy period during the week when a new med gave me a bad stomach upset. Wore off but reduced my appetite for a couple of days. Not the ideal way to lose weight but take every gift that is given.

My slow recovery

Art and Culture

Hever Castle with Patrick and Frances

A step back to a time long gone but thankfully preserved when me and Dave took Patrick and Frances to visit Hever Castle on Tuesday. This is the home of the Boleyn family including Anne Boleyn. Dave drove to this lovely castle and grounds in Kent. The grounds are beautiful and you walk through them to the castle which looks quite petite but is actually bigger than expected inside. Three floors cover history from the Tudor period onwards including when the Astors owned it.

Not always easy for everyone to get about particularly in the castle which has the usual pattern of various up and down narrow stairways. Great weather and we treated ourselves to coffee, scones, and ice creams. Big thanks to Dave for the driving – around the M25 to get there and then through central London to get back. All in all, a very pleasant day.

St Francis of Assisi with Jane

Then on Friday, met up with my old pal Jane after the gym. Weather was hot and sunny. We went to the National Gallery to see the St Francis exhibition. Small but highly recommended especially as it’s free. He’s definitely one of the nicer saints with his links to animals. Then me and Jane had a lovely lazy chat catching up on what had happened since we last saw each other about 2 years ago. Also outlining our options and plans for the future.

Family and Friends

Mum

Poor mum is dealing with constant pain. And the annoying thing is that there is so little I can do to make things better. I spend time with her and do odd jobs like shopping, taking down the rubbish, opening jars, etc. But where she is shows the classic situation of what happens when things are gone that we take for granted like our good health and the ability to get about easily to live a normal everyday life.

over-thinking and anxious

Dave away, Billy home alone

Unusually Dave had to go away for work and I was spending time with mum. Such that we didn’t see each other for several days. Absence does make the heart grow fonder and I really appreciate my partner being around. It’s important to remember that one day one of us will be gone. The other will be left to live a life without the other around. Don’t know which one of us will go first but I hope there are people to look after the one who is left.

Home alone film poster

Books and Reading

Read two great books last week which have both influenced how I think about the past and what has gone as well as life now.

‘The Darkening Age’ by Catherine Nixey

This has been a real eye-opening book for me. It’s about how early Christians destroyed so much of the legacy of the Ancient Greek and Roman (‘pagan’) worlds; indeed the book’s subtitle is ‘The Christian Destruction of the Classical World’. And the cost to humanity was enormous. They were akin to Islamic State and the Taliban in terms of their religious fanaticism and the destruction they wrought.

This book has raised several themes for me:

  • When we destroy things then they are destroyed forever. And about 90% of ancient Roman and Greek literature was destroyed and can never be recovered – a massive loss for humanity.
  • Progress is never linear nor certain. It is not the case that things will inevitably get better. Yes things can improve and we have cured diseases that once slaughtered millions as well as removing some people from abject poverty around the world. But Christian destruction of ‘paganism’ probably froze progress for 1,000 years until the Renaissance rediscovered the classical world.
  • Without tolerance and acceptance of diversity then you can easily commit cultural genocide as the early Christians did. Whole cultures and patterns of belief were exterminated through burning books, censorship, and defacing artwork.
  • It is very difficult to overcome ideological dictatorship. Basically, Christianity exterminated paganism and imposed itself as the supreme ideology such that other philosophies were destroyed and not resurrected for centuries. Our western world is dominated by Christian thought as it is with capitalism and obsession with economic growth. Domination means other options are taken away.
Parthenon

‘Bad Gays’ by Huw Lemmey and Ben Miller

A book that tells us to rejoice in progress but be honest about where we’ve been and the damage done to get where we are. It’s very easy to pretend all the battles around LGBTQ+ equality have been won and the dark ages are gone. But there is still hostility (see hostility towards Trans people), things can quickly be reversed (as can be seen in Russia and China), and there are places in the world where there has been no progress like in the Middle East and Africa.

But let us not pretend that LGBTQ+ progress is ever inevitable nor smooth populated just with heroic positive role models and experiences. This book is a series of case studies of infamous gay people. What is explored is what gay has actually meant at different times (beyond just fancying member of your own gender). And how gay people have tried to survive and understand where they sit in the world around them; ones often very hostile where survival is the simple and main motivator.

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

Marie Curie

Sustainability

Where gone really is gone

We’ve ended the week with a weekend basking in 30 degrees of sunshine. We have reached more than 30 degrees in the UK during June before but never so early in the month. I cannot deny that I love chilling in weather like this. Taking it easy to watch the world go by and not least the blokes in shorts. But it does worry me that these are the early day of the climate crisis which will only get worse.

Every day a million trees are chopped down to create toilet paper. Every minute, half a million plastic bottles are thrown away. The new railway HS2 destroys ancient forests but replaces them with new trees of which 90% will die and the survivors will take decades to become fully grown.

We really are in a situation where when it is gone then it is gone. We raise the global temperature by more than 1.5 degrees and the world enters into change it will be almost impossible to come back from.

Sun with glasses

Personal Development

Avoiding complacency

I do enjoy my language learning on Duolingo. And success last week in getting some Spanish and German done everyday. It’s easy to get complacent by thinking that because you do something everyday then you are making progress. And I am proud of having achieved 319 consecutive days of learning. But if I lose this target then it’s not the end of the world. And I need to make sure I am really learning and not just learning by rote.

The Week Ahead

  • Should get in my normal 3 morning gym workouts and a 5K jog-run on Tues morning. Be interesting to see how my weight goes.
  • In theory, the 9 month old kitchen window repair will be done on Thursday morning. Neither me nor mum are expecting it to happen.
  • Have started to read ‘Sea of Tranquility’ by Emily St John Mandel – very good

And Finally…

Absurdities and atrocities

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