Sad busy week (Sun 6 – Sat 12 Dec 2015)

Two big features of last week. First some very sad news and second just the sheer busy-ness of getting everything done before Xmas.

The sad death of one of my best friends

Sad manJames, my long-term friend with cancer has died at the age of 56. His partner phoned on Friday to say he had passed away in his sleep and it was merciful with the pain he had been in and his general confusion about things. He kept fighting till the end but I know the last time I saw him that he was very ill. I have known James since the early nineties. We met through work and he was a great friend to me particularly in my dark Brighton days when I had a breakdown. I am sad not only for the loss of one of my best friends but also sad for his long-term partner. They had been together over thirty years. Really hard to know what to say even though it was not a shock. I am most worried about how his partner will cope in the next few months and, hopefully, I can be a support to him then. This news really hit me during Friday night – kept waking up and thinking that he was actually gone.

So what to take from this? James fought to stay alive to the very end, indeed he had been battling cancer itself for about 3 years – he became one of those people living with cancer. He believed in what he believed and lived a life based on his ideals, hard work but also enjoying himself. A worthy life.

Appreciating partner, family, friends

download (86)One of the things to appreciate for me from this sad passing is my relationship with my partner, my family, and my friends. Dave’s birthday on Saturday just gone; I’m regularly sleeping with someone in his mid-fifties! It was a peaceful day. I bought him a Danny Dyer calendar as his main present and we went out for dinner on Saturday night at the ever-wonderful Union Jack Club – a veterans club based on Dave’s navy service.

Didn’t see too much of mum last week because of my travels though did spend Monday evening with her. She is OK, looking forward to a steroid injection in her knee. An elderly couple she knows are having problems as the husband has gone into a hospice. Also managed to see a couple of friends before going north. Saw Jamie on Monday lunchtime. He is doing well and making progress with his play-writing. Then on Tuesday evening I caught up with my friend Peter who is a priest. He’s fine but busy as I suppose should be expected at this time and his wife is not very well.

Busy-ness before Christmas

Strange how Xmas in November feels so far off but then it just suddenly rushes towards you during December. Last week I basically worked 4 days plus a bit more (thus a day to be claimed back from work). Monday was my non-work day. Tuesday, in the office. Wednesday, a workshop with Microsoft followed by the Nominet Trust 100 2015 awards ceremony and then a train to Leeds. Thursday, feedback workshop from small health and tech-related grants we had funded. Finally Friday it was across to Hull to visit our Hullcoin Tech for Good project followed by the train back to London arriving at home about 20.30.

Every ticket a winner

12301492_910578512343904_7750223892253304733_nA key fun event last week was running the tombola at our workplace Xmas fair on Tuesday afternoon. Me and my colleague Cathy have been badgering people for prizes for weeks and we got about 150 which was enough to ensure every ticker won a prize – £1 a ticket and you can’t loose. OK some prizes were better than others with the possibility of winning a weekend away, wine or perfume right down to mini hotel shampoo, condoms and mini-mouthwash. £10 for Comic Relief (cost of having a stall) and £150 for Refugee Youth to help buy presents for the kids at Xmas.

Health and efficiency

Weight stayed the same on Tuesday (13-9) so not going to the gym at least has not led to weight gain. Pressure of work commitments meant no gym again even if I had wanted to go. Only viable day was the previous Sunday or Monday but I was still recovering from man-flu – still got an annoying cough. Some long walks like on Monday walking from Olympia all the way over to Warren Street then Notting Hill back to Olympia.

Microsoft exploration day and Nominet Trust 100 2015

Microsoft_logo_(2012).svgMain digital thing last week took place on Wednesday when Microsoft hosted a meeting with several of my key Tech for Good projects; a great turn-out with some very useful conversations happening. There’s definitely work to be done in ensuring charities and tech companies understand and appreciate each other better so can work to the optimum level together. And linked to that, the organisations attending were invited to bid for two £20K grants to do some social tech work over a three month period that could then be used in publicity.

From Victoria, up to Warren St and Facebook headquarters for the launch of the Nominet Trust 100 2015 – the top social tech projects this year across the world. I was one of the judges and there were some absolutely amazing projects – have a look Good to make some new acquaintances though I made a very old world mistake of not bringing sufficient business cards to hand out – doh!

Northern digital tour: Leeds

A large part of last week was about travelling especially around northern Britain. Wednesday was a mega busy day and, after the Microsoft workshop and the NT 100 launch event, it was up to Leeds with my colleague Nissa. 20.35 train I thought would be empty but was really busy. We got to the hotel about 23.30 after walking from the train station and I just crashed out.

Thursday we joined a panel to hear about 5 small grants each amounting to £4,000 that we provided £1,000 towards. It arose from the People Driven Digital Healthcare event that took place in May Five different projects that people wanted to follow up after attending and a good use of a small amount of money that got some things moving that might end up with a big outcome still. The projects were:

  • Workshops to help people with medical problems use social media better to support their wellbeing
  • Support for a person with Parkinson’s to develop an online tool to match medication intake with their overall wellness
  • Trying to ensure there is more learning from failure particularly within a health context
  • A clinician trying to develop a mental health alert app within his NHS trust
  • A lived experience organisation for people with multiple sclerosis ( giving over their Twitter feed and YouTube presence on a regular basis to people with MS to use to tackle feelings of isolation


Bitcoin_logo.svgFriday it was on the train (Trans-Pennine Express: no wi-fi) and over to Hull. I did a quick bit of Christmas shopping and then met my tech colleage Laura for a visit to the HullCoin project we are funding. A really good visit to an ambitious project. Basically they are using Blockchain technology (that underpins Bitcoin) to create a currency earned by doing social activities that can then be redeemed locally enabling local businesses and services to get customers in and move stock during quiet times. This can then link into community development, incentivising good decisions, and reduced wastage. Hopefully launching in February with a plan to take it to other localities. Very pleasant train back on Hull Trains – lots of leg room and free wi-fi.

Books and reading

S.H Horikawa – Star Strider Robot (スターストライダーロボット) – Front

Read the fourth of my five big books that I was meant to cover in my Gran Canaria holiday week. ‘The Complete Roderick’ by John Sladek including two novels: ‘Roderick’ (1980) and ‘Roderick at Random’ (1983). The adventures of a robot called Roderick unleashed into a world similar to twentieth centure America. Part of the robot literature, it does raise real issues about robots and arificial intelligence like at what point they become ‘human’ and have rights? But it was mixed up with satire and, overall, I found these hard books to read; a labour of love more than anything though something I was glad I persevered with to the end and would probably appreciate reading again at some point if I ever have the time…

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