Reading – one of the top priorities in my new life

Sun 13 – Sun 20 Sept 2020

The third week after being made redundant and I should have flown back from Berlin Folsom on Wednesday. Obviously this didn’t happen – see last week’s blog here. Thus I live my new life and it continues to take shape with some very distinctive normals arising :

  • Lots of reading – I love reading and trying to get through all those lovely books is one of my top priorities now I am unemployed
  • Incorporating more art and culture into my life
  • Daily language learning
  • Weekly 5K jog-run
  • Many long, purposeful walks
  • An awareness I need to lose weight
  • Quality sleep
  • Time with family
  • Maintaining better contact with friends
  • Living a more frugal, sustainable, and secondhand lifestyle

I’m also aware that I need to sort out how I am going to get money in the future. I have reconciled that I can’t be a stripper or go-go dancer as I am too old and fat plus I can’t dance very well. πŸ™ My main thing at the moment is working out what I really want to do rather than just go for any job. I want me and my next new boss(es) to be sure I am the right person. πŸ™‚

Rugby league player in skimpy trunks

Books and Reading

‘The Sea and Summer’ by George Turner

A very pertinent reading book finished last week. Written in 1987, it predicts so much of what the world has become. Indeed, reading it became difficult as it was not so much science fiction as science fact.

A story based in the mid-twenty first century with rising water levels. The world is divided between a super wealthy elite (sweet) and the rest living in abject poverty (swill) largely due to automation. To keep control, the sweet employ a secret service and infiltrate the swill as well as creaming off the most intelligent young swill for ‘training’. There’s even a virus to control the population!

Not an easy read but worth it for such insights as this:

‘The most secretive of cabals is a government pretending democracy – sometimes I think the State doesn’t give a bugger about people so long as its top dogs can cower in their kennels forever. No, that’s not fair; they just don’t know what to do as crisis piles on crisis.’

Dark Corners Collection

‘Miao Dao’ by Joyce Carol Oates

Two short stories read from Amazon’s Dark Corners horror collection. Oates’ story is decent but not totally inspiring. It’s very contemporary covering family break-up, abuse, and animal welfare. Plus it’s got that in-built American belief that ‘good’ will always triumph. Real life horror is that evil so often wins – witness Trump and the battle to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Graffiti changes Trump Pence sign

‘The Talented Woods’ by Emily Raboteau

The second Dark Corners short story and another very contemporary one. Primarily dealing with the racial divisions in America and the fear of random crazy gunmen. And Harry Potter is there too. I found it more engaging than Oates’ story but the ending was a disappointment and the story should have been developed a lot more. πŸ™

Art and Culture

The V&A

My intention is to visit at least one gallery or museum each week. And on Friday, me and Dave booked a ticket to visit the wonderful Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington. Indeed, it was a sublime experience.

A little queue to get in but then you can range around the whole museum as it is so big. We started with a coffee in the central garden lapping up the beautiful weather, it was really lovely. Then we split up – Dave doing jewellery and me doing the Cast Courts. Then back out to chill in the stunning garden and gentle sunshine whilst reading my book. I am definitely going back soon. πŸ™‚


Regular readers will know I am a firm believer that good TV is art and a definite significant contributor to modern culture (witness soaps). And on three consecutive nights last week I watched the brilliant TV drama ‘Des’ about the crimes of Denis Nilssen. Brilliant acting by David Tennant, Jason Watkins, and Daniel Mays.

I remember when he was arrested in 1983. It confirmed the message being pumped out then about gay people as sad or evil. It was the time of AIDS and these murders of, primarily, rent boys and drug addicts by a crazed homosexual reinforced the dark negativity for gay people at that time. πŸ™

β€œMankind is resilient: the atrocities that horrified us a week ago become acceptable tomorrow.”

Joseph Heller

Personal Development

My search for new employment

So after redundancy I am creating new priorities for my post-Comic Relief life including lots of lovely reading. But I don’t have any money coming in now, thus I am going to have to find new sources of income in due course.

I know I am very lucky that I don’t have to worry immediately as I have redundancy money to live off – I was at Comic for 11 years. I’ve chosen not to have children or pets. Therefore I fortunately do not have to grab any job straight away.

Thus, I am taking time to think about what I really want to do next. I’m going to be very choosy and make sure it’s the right thing whether that’s being employed by someone, going freelance, or setting up my own business. Not sure how long this will go on. Suspect it will be defined by the pandemic, the recession, winter, Brexit, and how long I can make the money last for. πŸ™‚

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”



Hooray, I hit 50 days of consecutive usage of the Duolingo language app. So I am halfway to meeting the 100 day challenge. πŸ™‚ I love learning new languages not least so you can communicate directly with people from other places. Hearing what they say or reading what they write without the ‘middleman’ translation.

Don't believe everything billionaires tell you

Health and Efficiency


A clear highlight of life is my weekly 5K jog-run. And I enjoy it even when it doesn’t go as well as it should. That is what happened this time. 5K in just under 33 mins so basically a full minute over what I have been aiming for. And I know the reason is simply that I am carrying too much weight. Details on jog-run times and weight are here.


man weighing himself

Oh dear, my attempt to lose weight is going nowhere. πŸ™ Weight has crept up to 13 stone, 9 and a half pounds. My focus on a once a week jog-run and lots of walking isn’t enough to offset a crap diet. I suppose this will new show how serious I am about losing weight. Can I actually garner the willpower to change my diet?


Still no gym so exercise is my weekly jog-run and lots of walking. I try not to wander aimlessly but rather make walking my main means of transport. So lots of long purposeful walks between mum’s and Dave’s as well as to museums and galleries and simply around green spaces. I’m often reading my kindle as I walk.

But books aren’t just about reading, they are also about listening. And I often use my walks to listen to some great Dr Who stories from Big Finish. If you are into TV-based sci-fi then their stuff is definitely worth checking out here.


warfarin tablets

Ongoing monitoring of my various health conditions (probably not very attractive to a new employer :() continues. On Thurs back to get an INR check done on my blood clotting. Good news – reading was on target so I stay on the same anti-coagulant dosage and don’t need to go back for 8 weeks. πŸ™‚


Still having some afternoon naps and not feeling guilty about them. I often start off lying on the bed to do some reading but then drift off. However I am realising that these refreshing afternoon snoozes are potentially messing up my night time sleeps. There have been a couple of nights where I can’t get to sleep and that is really unusual for me. Normally, my head hits the pillow and I’m gone.

I don’t need to do a sensible 8 hours sleep every night now. And I’m going to enjoy sleeping when I need it. But I don’t want to end up sleeping weird hours like staying up till the middle of the night then not getting up till midday.

Family and Friends

Mum and brother

Having been made redundant, I am definitely spending more time with mum. Good though I worry about accidentally passing Covid to her. We keep social distance – no hugging. But life is like Russian roulette these days and we are all taking chances everyday. Should I wrap her up in cotton wool as we did in the last lockdown? She’s not keen on ‘splendid isolation’ like that again though.

Nice to bump into my brother on Thurs morning. He’s looking well and is very busy with work as a builder.


Like my art and culture aim, my intention going forward is to meet up with at least one friend a week. Met up with my old mate Dom on Thurs morning in Holland Park. We’re both not working and it was good to reflect on this as well as politics and life as an older man as we wandered around the park.


Another friend I must see soon is Pete who was at school when I was. Both out and proud woofters now LOL. It was sad news that his dad died recently and it was the funeral last week. I didn’t attend because I didn’t know him. But I must meet up with Pete soon as his life could now also be very different.


Frugal Living

I continue to try to live a more sustainable lifestyle especially by consuming less. One of the main things I am doing is not eating out as much as before. Probably a good thing with the Covid virus around. Though it’s probably not good news for the people who rely on the low wage jobs in hospitality. πŸ™ Again one of the conundrums in sustainability – consume less and often it’s employees with the lowest pay and least secure employment who suffer the most.


The usual weekly visit to my favourite charity shop. I always try to take some donations when I go. Didn’t buy a major amount of stuff – just a couple of bits. Me and Dave are aware that we have too much stuff anyway.

The importance of planting trees

The Week Ahead

  • Main thing will be 3 days again in Scunthorpe so that Dave and his mum can go to her brother’s funeral. I will potter around whilst they are at the funeral itself.
  • Trip to hospital on Mon for my 6 month HIV blood tests
  • Will spend some time with mum before I go up North
  • Half hour catch up on Mon afternoon with the redundancy coach (I have been supplied with 2 and a half hours with him by my old employer) to lay out the coming months and help my thinking around what I really want to do next
  • More reading, it’s inevitable. πŸ™‚ I am currently reading a British Library collection of classic time travel stories written between the 1880s and the 1950s.
  • My plan to get to a museum or gallery should happen next week as we are due to visit Chelsea Physic Garden on Sat and I’ve booked to go on my own to The Wallace Collection on Tues πŸ™‚
  • Although might not be able to meet up with a friend. Worth bearing in mind the possibility of a new lockdown coming. πŸ™ Oh well, we make plans and God laughs…
  • Definitely intend to do daily language learning
  • Weekly 5K jog-run will happen as well as lots of walking. Though I’m not sure I am going to make much impact in losing weight. πŸ™
  • Continue to try to consume less and reduce damage to the planet

And Finally…

Race war in America

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