Taking the Past into the Future

Mon 13 – Sun 19 March 2023

The Past. It’s there for all of us and we have a choice whether to make it the centre of our life or simply something that has happened. It’s very easy to say ‘learn from the past’. However, it can be difficult to visit the past and not stay there. ‘Do you remember?’ are fatal words. What has gone has gone and whatever happened should stay there without being endlessly picked over.

My focus is firmly on the future. Maybe this is a luxury for someone who isn’t old enough yet to think there is not much future to look forward to. But then perhaps we should worry about the future of others rather than just our own one. Linked to all this, I have recently written about not being bitter plus pointing out that we all live in a connected world whether we like that or not – read my previous blog here.

The future - next exit

Just neutrally observing the past

Stuff happened in my past and sometimes I think about it. But what I’ve realised is that there is little value in dissecting it. So when I think about the past I like to think of myself as just an observer. I can go back to things that happened and observe them in my mind but without making judgement of how I performed. I did the best I could in every circumstance and what happened happened so I should not feel guilty, resentful or angry with myself.

I’ve also been thinking about the past based on the books I have read and conversations I have had with friends as well as my partner. Basically I don’t want to try to recreate the past nor do I resent progress in areas such as medicine and social values. The ‘good old days’ were not that good in terms of disease, women’s rights, and homophobia.

Reflecting and chilling

But how much progress do we ever really make?

But, in particular, I wonder about the progress that is made in developing the environment around us. I think of myself as a modernist in that I believe innovation can make our lives better. But, increasingly, I think the way we knock down buildings and build anew is a disaster. What we have ended up with are soulless cities and towns.

Indeed, cities are so much just glass boxes of flats and shops (many empty) with the same brands dominating. Such that you really don’t know if you are in London, New York, Rio, Bangalore or Kuala Lumpur. Much better to keep what we have and renovate rather than knock it down then build anew. Not always the easy solution but definitely the better one.

“When did the future switch from being a promise to being a threat?”

Chuck Palahniuk

Family and Friends

Mum: Mothering Sunday

Mum has taken up a lot of my time this week. Not least because Sunday was Mother’s Day. That annual event where we show our appreciation of our mum (so long as we don’t forget as well as give her something she’s happy with LOL). I gave flowers and chocolates – a safe bet. Also, me and my brother had a really nice lunch with mum at home. She wanted an Indian take-away so that is what we had; different but tasty.

No water (again)!

We also had fun on Tuesday when I went to make her a cup of tea on getting up and found that we had no water! Not as dramatic as it sounds in that this is the fourth or fifth time it’s happened since we moved into the redeveloped block on our estate a few years ago. Fascinating that the previous un-modernised block we lived in for decades never had this problem – so much for progress.

It generally happens after heavy rain or if there is a power cut. Basically we have to wait for a contractor to come and reset the pumping mechanism. Now we have bottles of water ready in case, and that is what we used. Plus I went to the shops and got mum some more bottles. Everything was back on in the afternoon.

The never ending repair

Also recontacted the Housing Association about the window repair. First reported in Sept and still awaiting action. Even the person on the helpline had the decency to say ‘Has that not been fixed yet?’ Apparently the usual supplier of parts is no longer available so they need to find a new one. Current suggestion is give it another two weeks and phone back if the contractor hasn’t been in contact.

David: Up North for Mother’s Day

My partner is fine but I had to have a weekend without him. This was due to Mother’s Day with him travelling up North to spend the weekend with his mum. So it was Billy home alone which was fine if a bit quiet.

Had planned to meet our friend Patrick on Saturday morning for our usual coffee (minus Dave) but the rain put paid to that. He didn’t want to come out with it pouring down and that reassured me as I would worry about him slipping over. Also took the opportunity with Dave away to go to the library and have a leisurely look around including their wonderfully large and old collection of history books.

Home alone film poster

Friends: Daisy and the need to live life to the full

The previous week I met up with my old mate Dom for dinner. The week just gone, it was the turn of another old mate – Daisy aka Dave (another one). He’s known me as long as Dom. In fitting with the theme of this blog, we primarily talked about what we planned to do in the future in light of the past. Dave is properly retired now, I am semi-retired. I was big on encouraging him to go on a nice, long holiday. We both agreed that you are a long-time dead and we need to enjoy ourselves while we can.

Health and Efficiency

Gym: Good news

I’ve said in previous blogs how in the past I didn’t always get turned on by exercise. But now I love it. 3 good gym sessions including Wednesday which wasn’t impacted by the tube strike though it was very quiet generally in London. I particularly enjoy incorporating stretching elements into my workout; my hamstrings are really tight in particular and always require good stretches.

27 gym sessions since the start of 2023 divided by the annual membership = £18.30 per session.

dumbells in the gym

Jog-run: Back to the future

Two sessions of the ‘Couch to 5K’ programme achieved. A very comfortable session on Thursday morning consisting of two 10 min jogs and a 3 minute walk in between. Sunday morning marked real progress though – 25 mins of non-stop jogging. My first jog-run of notable length (3.5 km) for 2 years. Results can be seen here. I won’t ever be as good as I was in the past (when I could do a 10K in 45 mins) but I have to be realistic in terms of getting older.


Weight: More good news

Good news on the weight front. Down to just under 13 stone and 8 pounds. I am hopeful I can get below the magic 13 & a half stones. Looking into the past, as with my jog-runs, this is the lightest I have been since mid-2021.

Weight scales

Books and Reading

‘Needle in a Timestack’ by Robert Silverberg

Finally finished this collection of short stories. I have been reading it on my kindle as I walk about. And what a revelation it has been. Silverberg is a classic sci-fi writer who I have been meaning to read for ages. Relatively well-known though perhaps not as famous as other contemporaries probably because none of his stuff has been made into a movie or TV series.

These stories are examples of Silverberg’s immense creativity and imagination. His output during the second half of the twentieth century was prodigious. I expect he’s produced some crap but the stories in this book are wonderful. Well written, ambitious, and perspicacious in predicting what was to come. Some of the things that feature in his stories are predictors of reality TV and Artificial Intelligence.

I am left in awe of him and am really excited about reading more of his output. You can read more about Robert Silverberg here as well as his bibliography here.


My current 3 reading books

  • ‘Paris’ by Julian Green A curious little book. Basically an American who lived in Paris and was in love with it. This is a lament to a city that is disappearing but that can never be fully gone. The author conjures up the Paris of the near past – the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It is obscure but resonates with me in terms of how we have also lost so much of London in post-war gentrification.
  • Utopia Avenue’ by David Mitchell An author I absolutely love. Indeed, ‘Cloud Atlas’ was one of the books that really got me into reading. This is a book about a fictional band in 1960s London. Fiction is wonderfully interspersed with real-life pop stars and celebrities. Reminds me a bit of ‘Daisy Jones and The Six’. But lovely to be immersed in the London of the 1960s when the world changed from black and white to colour.
  • ‘Doctor Who Short Trips: The Ghosts of Christmas edited by Cavan Scott & Mark Wright. Another comfort blanket. Dr Who books are of mixed quality and not always the high watermark in sci-fi. Short Trips books are collections of short stories featuring different regenerations of the Doctor and his companions. These ones are stories based on Christmas so completely out of sync with the run-up to Easter. A story before bedtime is an absolute treat.
Doctor Who's Tardis


Plymouth and HS2

When people talk about learning from the past, I am often suspicious that they actually mean let’s live in the past. However, one area we can definitely learn from the past is how we have mistreated the planet and caused climate change. No-one would want to create the pollution nor undermine biodiversity the way we have done. And yet are we prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to change the way we live?

Terrible news this week of the council in Plymouth chopping down nearly 100 mature trees making an urban forest. As well as the news that bits of HS2 are going to be postponed. Cutting down the trees and building HS2 were both done in the face of public opposition and represent wanton vandalism.

I as an individual can do only little to try to save the planet. But I can also work with others to try to stop the corporate and government attacks on the environment that we are still seeing. In so many ways we are still living in the past in terms of the way we think about the environment and our addiction to economic growth at any price.

autumn in london

Personal Development

My beloved language learning

I have written of how I wasn’t very good at languages in the past i.e. when I was at school. But now I love learning them. Indeed, it is funny how much bubbles up from what I learnt at school. Suppose it’s that thing about never under-estimating your own ability. Duo language lessons done daily in Spanish plus German and French though slightly less frequently – this all makes me very happy.

The Week Ahead

  • Dave is back on Monday – hooray!
  • Should get 3 sessions at the gym and 2 jog-run sessions. The latter are all now just jog-runs without interval walking so a real step-up.
  • Flare (aka The London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival) is on at the BFI. I used to go to several films pre-pandemic. But now I find it a bit too expensive, busy, and pretentious so I’m just doing one film (a French one) on Thursday afternoon.
  • Meeting up with my old school mate Pete on Friday evening for dinner
  • Meanwhile QPR go from slight glimmer of hope to completely landing in the shit by losing 6-1 to Blackpool on Tues evening then 1-0 to Birmingham (at home!) on Saturday. Me thinks many of the team are planning to be off if we are relegated but then who would want them…?

And Finally…

Orwell quotation

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