Still dealing with Brian’s death

Mon 2 – Sun 8 April 2018

Last week felt like the start of the recovery from the intensity of the previous week with Brian’s death and everything that has to be done. It’s pretty amazing to have a whole week when you feel like you are recovering rather than just one day. I woke up on Thurs with a stinking headache and was told at work the day before that I came across as sad (in a nice way not as in the modern slang version of somebody useless and despicable). My mood may have also been linked to the dreary wet weather though that is also slowly improving.

Bank holiday Monday – chilling in shit weather

immersion to avoid emails overloadMonday was the Easter Bank Holiday. Gym and then met Dave for lunch in Victoria. Weather was dreadful – grey, cool, and wet. I had thought about a jog-run instead when I got up but the weather soon changed my mind. The afternoon and the evening was spent just chilling and pootering.

Getting Brian’s affairs sorted – stuff to the gay charity shop

tom of finland

Tuesday was the busy day I expected it to be. Up at 6.30 and down on the early train to Brighton. Then walked to Brian’s flat to pick up some of his more obviously gay stuff me and Dave had sorted out on Sat (mags, dvds, etc) to take to the Sussex Beacon charity shop. They specialise in gay stuff and every year hold a fun event called Bizarre Bazaar to get rid of the more ‘spicy’ things that have been donated.

A day together

Then met up with Brian’s cousin Sheila at 11.30 and spent the rest of the day together. She was pleasant and generous to be with, like Brian on one of his good days. And she didn’t mind me taking her on long walks to get to all our different destinations across Brighton.

Register Office

We started at the Register Office to officially register his death and get the death certificate for the solicitor plus the ‘green form’ for the funeral director. Coffee and a light lunch and I shared some mementos of Brian’s life with her like the photos of his old flat after his lodger had accidentally set fire to it.

Funeral Director

Next the funeral director including the clothes for Brian to wear and photos of his beloved dog to go in the coffin with him. All good though it is so expensive to get cremated / buried – we are talking in the region of £5,000. 🙁 Lots of difficult questions where me and Sheila just looked at each other not knowing the answer. Things like what music do you want played at the service? Do you want to follow the coffin in or be seated when it arrives? Do you want the curtains to close around the coffin at the end or do you want them left open?

Solicitor

Finally, onto the solicitor where I renounced being the executor and handed it all over to them. Plus I gave over all the papers I had located at his flat after my intensive search on the previous Saturday. The solicitor will cost another £5,000 🙁 So hopefully there is £10,000 in his estate to pay for the funeral and solicitors then whatever is left can go to charity as he wanted. I cannot reinforce enough my learning from all this: sort out your death arrangements in advance (including what service you want and how it is to be paid for), write a will, and lose some of the clutter in your life.

And back to London

seagull on a brighton railingBack to the train station to get my train back to London. Sheila decided to go to the sea-front for a walk and fish + chips. I was tempted but knew I was knacked. Both our hope is that we have now broken the main work that physically needs to be done in Brighton.

There is still some sorting to do at the flat but then the solicitors will be doing the main clearing and cleaning. And we still need to find out the funeral date that works for the Methodist minister and the crematorium.

Sunday back in Brighton to see Bob

Before Brian died, I had booked to come down to Brighton and stay over to see Bob and him. I still did this on Sunday, going with Dave on the coach. We went off to see Bob in his nursing home. He was fine and though the weather was drizzly, we all went out for coffee. Bob is actually in good form though he has lost his hearing aids which makes talking to him a bit difficult as he can’t hear very well.

In old times, I would then have gone onto meet Brian for lunch. Instead me and Dave went to his flat to defrost his fridge and freezer as requested by the solicitor before they get somebody to clear the flat. We also took all his clothes to the charity shop again as requested by the solicitor. Checked into the hotel and spent an evening chilling with a glass of wine in the hotel bar.

Health and Efficiency

Gym

DumbellsJust one little solitary workout due to being in Brighton on Tues and Sun. Went to the gym on Thurs morning after waking up with a stinking headache (probably due to me and Dave having a row the night before because he had nearly lost his phone again – left it in the supermarket). Twas a slight struggle to motivate myself to get to the gym but, as always, very worthwhile once there and I felt good afterwards.

Jog-run

I am very proud that I did my jog-run on Sat. GPS on my watch wasn’t working (no satellite connection) so I just ran for the fun of it. I knew the distance I ran the week before which was 6.5 km so I ran a bit more, roughly 7.5 km.

My time was crap – 53 mins & 18 secs. But the important thing was I kept on going when at several points I felt like giving up. And I felt good afterwards plus my appetite was suppressed. The last thing I want to do after an exhausting jog-run is to stuff my face.

INR

Back to the GP on Wed and, as I knew would happen, staying at the same warfarin dosage led to a reading below the desired range of 2.0-3.0. My actual reading was 1.7 (so it fell compared to the week before). Result is increased dosage and back again next week to check it has moved into range. Ho hum.

Sitting is the new smoking

Innovation and Creativity

Only 2 work days last week due to the bank holiday but still quite a full week. Key things:

  • Catching up with Dilhani my job-share
  • The monthly long (3 & a half hours) leadership team meeting though good discussion on our new funding strategy
  • Discussion with the internal legal team to get their perspective on the payment arrangements for a new grant
  • Sorting out the internal systems and requirements (legal agreement, safeguarding, data protection, etc) so that an MSc student can do research with our grantees that will help us in policy formation and that he can use for his dissertation

Good people

Also some good meet-ups with individuals:

  • Thurs afternoon catch-up coffee with Kieran and Nick from beneficiary.io – two great young guys creating a data collection tool that will help the charitable sector identify its impact
  • Coffee with Cosmina Pope who has been working at the brilliant accelerator for charities, Rainmaker Foundation
  • And yet another coffee, this time with Robbie Bates of UsCreates – a local design company that specialises in working with charities and public bodies. Me and Robbie have been meaning to meet for ages but it kept getting cancelled for one reason or other.
  • Finally, a big phone session with Joe Roberson of Working With Joe. He is an excellent consultant who totally gets tech for good and the issues that matter in deciding on funding for this. He’s also looks after the site techforgoodhub.co.uk (he’s good with websites).

Personal Development

  • Duolingo missed on Wed and Fri – my 2 office days. Think this just shows how paid work simply by its nature can crowd out doing more interesting stuff.
  • Coding practice – zilch 🙁
  • Emails – sort of on-top both personal and work ones though I have been more in control of them in the past

Books and Reading

‘Hidden Nature’ at the Velvet Page

Velvet pageI sped read the book for the Velvet Page Book Club at Waterstones Piccadilly on Thurs evening: ‘Hidden Nature: A Voyage of Discovery’ by Alys Fowler. This is a strange book in that it is written by a woman who loves writing about gardening and nature. But it’s also about her breakdown and coming out.

It chronicles a year in her life when she realises she is a lesbian, leaves her husband, and spends lots of times exploring Birmingham’s canals in her inflatable boat to deal with where her head is. I really enjoyed it. Not least because I love cities and urban areas but I particularly love it when nature fights back against them and they find a symbiotic relationship together.

The Velvet Page book club had about 12 people there with a more or less equal gender split. It’s not always like that and I am pleased when it is. Generally most people liked the book. It caused more conversation and analysis than many other books we have read. Fascinating for quite a short book. Though we did agree that some bits of it felt too fleeting like the almost cardboard cut-out character of the husband. Also agreement that pictures of the plants she was talking about would have been good.

‘Ready Player One’ by Ernest Cline

I finished reading this during the week. It’s been on my kindle as a cheap download for ages. I thought I would read it due to the furore around the new Spielberg film. It started off feeling a little bit like Harry Potter in a fantasy gaming world. But I really enjoyed it for 2 main reasons. First, it is very well-written. Yes it’s a bit of a young adult novel but it is totally engaging and fun. Second, there is a deeper level to it particularly looking at our relationship with the internet and social media. I love both but recognise they are dependent on a healthy physical world. Worth a read, don’t believe the cynics.

The Week Ahead

  • I have 3 days of residential ILS training Mon through to Wed. This is training necessary for foreign trips to the ‘developing south’. So dealing with issues like personal safety, attempted kidnap, aggression, first aid, etc. Should be ‘fun’ and physical though the grumpy old man in me thinks how I’m going to miss out on my comfort and routines.
  • So I get back on Wed and then Dave is away from Thurs to Mon on a trip to his beloved Berlin; Billy home alone 🙁
  • Office just one day next week – Fri. I’m sure it will be very busy with catching up on stuff though I do have an afternoon meeting with my old colleague Victor Wilmott of London Catalyst.
  • Should hear next week about the date and time of Brian’s funeral 🙁 And I’m probably going down to his flat again in Brighton next Sat so his cousin can have a final look around and Emma the dog-walker can take away the unwanted doggie bits. After all this, it is really finished.
  • Hopefully gym on Thurs morn and jog-run on Sun morn. The latter will depend on the weather.
  • INR check next Fri, fingers crossed it will be back in range and I can have a few weeks before it needs to be checked again
  • Thurs afternoon I have a sneaky plan to get to the ICA to see ‘120BPM’ – the French film about ACT-UP’s anti-AIDS work in Paris in the 90s; it is getting very good reviews.
  • The usual targets re duolingo, coding, and emails
  • My plan is to complete at least one reading book. I’ve just started the widely praised French novel about the (supposed) true-life adventures of a young gay man in a French working class family, ‘The End of Eddy’ by Edouard Louis. Though I don’t think I like it.

And Finally…

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