The little dying and influence of the Olympics (plus August rain)

Mon 2 – Sun 8 Aug 2021

Recent blogs have tried different presentation methods in order to try to help make sense of the week gone. I have particularly been investigating different spectrum and placing events onto them. This week’s blog is less analytic, it’s much more a simple narrative of what happened. But I have a focal point and that is the Olympics.

Goodbye to the unique Tokyo Olympics 2020

Two things were particular features of last week. First, the end of the Olympics. I have been watching and loving them albeit with the ongoing concerns linked to the spread of Covid. Ignoring the nationalism crap but being fascinated and inspired by this festival of sporting effort and achievement. Indeed, just the title of my previous blog (read it here) illustrates the Olympics’ influence – ‘Day by Day, Hurdle by Hurdle’.

Now it feels so sad that these unique pandemic Olympics are over. It’s that thing about ‘little dying’ – when things end in our lives that get us ready for the big ending we all face one day. It’s also about appreciating things that happened and looking back on them fondly.

Particular favourites for me were diving, gymnastics, boxing, athletics, BMX and skateboarding. I also love athletics particularly the middle distance races like the 800 and 1500 metres. Skateboarding has particularly blown my mind – its sheer skill and artistry. Wish I could go back and be a kid again getting into skateboarding. But that is what we all think and not a useful set of emotions – regret and ‘if only’ thinking rather than worrying about now and the future.

Hello to pouring rain in August

The other big feature for last week was the rain. I’ve been OK with a bit of rain as it’s good for the plants. But, particularly at the weekend, it poured. I travelled to see mum and arrived wringing wet. So a feeling of being down from the end of the Olympics and pouring rain when there should be August sunshine. I am sure we will get some sun during August and I like sunshine because it makes me feel happy whereas torrential rain does not. And these extreme weather variations are a sign of the climate crisis – the way we’ve screwed up our only home.

Difficult times ahead

Exercise and Weight

Lots of walking and semi-fasting on several days no doubt partly inspired by watching the Olympics. 4 long purposeful walks and 3 days when I ate nothing until the evening. However, my weight seems to be staying the same rather than falling off. Shows how hard it is to lose weight as you get older and how you have to stay the course. What I need to do is stick with it for some time and see the long-term effect rather than hoping for instantaneous results. It does feel like my jeans and belt are loser around my waist.

Comforting lies so much easier than unpleasant truths

Philip, Dave, and the need to travel

Spoke with Philip on Tuesday as per usual. Indeed, called him as I was walking through Holland Park having just found the outside adult gym area which I had not known existed. A less lively week for him than the one before. But also clear that he is living the vida loca in the very hot weather of Torremolinos.

My partner Dave is off to Germany next week. He’s decided he needs to have a holiday and is going to take a chance to see what happens. Vaccine passport sorted and main issue seems to be the regime of testing that needs to be arranged and paid for in order to return to the UK.

Made me think about holidays as well. I really want to visit Philip and I would love to go to Berlin again before the year’s end. We are also thinking about whether to book our once-upon-a-time normal February winter break in Gran Can. But who knows what the world may be like then?

Gran Canaria Hotel Neptuno

Books: ‘Slow Trains Around Spain’ by Tom Chesshyre

Don’t normally read non-fiction unless it’s in an area I don’t know much about simply because it’s often telling me what I already know. So I enjoy popular science books but can’t hack it with biographies unless I don’t know about the person’s life. I love fiction largely because of its unpredictability and the introduction to characters I have not met before.

But I’ve been reading this book by Tom Chesshyre whilst the Olympics and the rain goes on around me. A book about a month-long journey around Spain by train. Some places I have been but also many I want to go to. Overall, it’s a great book to dwell on the variety that makes up any country and the hidden places (some good and some bad) that we wouldn’t normally go near on holiday.

I’m actually not a massive fan of trains. Indeed, if I could walk everywhere then that would be great. But I regret ‘travel’ these days where it just means getting on a plane, flying in, then getting a plane back. Dave is doing a lot of train travel in Germany and getting the train back to the UK. He’s my guinea pig to see how it goes and if we do that together in the future.

Spanish flag

Books: ‘Mainstream’ and the Velvet Page

Meanwhile reading on my kindle a collection of contemporary short stories by ‘writers from the edge’ as I walk around. An OK selection though too many dwelling on crap childhoods. I suppose that’s what happens with lots of young writers and there’s not much to write about your childhood if it goes well. But we’ve all had crap times as a kid and I am a bit tired of misery lit. I need to be uplifted by things as with the Olympics. There’s enough to bring me down with the climate crisis, the pandemic, and the politics of corruption and incompetence.

But good news in that the LGBTQ+ Velvet Page Book Club had its first face to face meeting again last week after months being just online. It was Thurs night, the evening I met Dave for dinner at the Union Jack Club – see below. I know some regular attendees are away but hope it was a good night and look forward to seeing people again in the flesh.

Sustainability

I think the way I am trying to control my eating and lose weight is also reflected in my personal drive to live a more sustainable and less burdened life. The Olympics shows us that if you want to achieve anything then you have to make sacrifices. I am particularly enjoying resisting the push to buy new stuff as well as getting rid of old stuff I own. That wonderful coming to terms with knowing that everything will not last forever (like the little dying of the end of the Olympics) that comes with getting rid of books you know you won’t have time to read, CDs you don’t listen to, and DVDs you will probably never watch.

In particular, on Tuesday I took a load of DVDs and CDs to the Notting Hill Exchange – an institution in itself, website here. Vouchers and money back in no-way covering the amount of money I originally spent on the items. But that’s how capitalism works. Be time to take some books there soon as well. A lovely walk through Holland Park afterwards appreciating the beauty of the natural world even within a busy city like London.

Do nothing cat

Personal Development

But as I get rid of physical stuff, the Olympics show that you can constantly strive to improve yourself through diet, exercise, and new learning. I continue to plug away daily at Duolingo, trying in particular to improve my language skills in German and Spanish. And I managed some small learning around the coding language Python via the Mimo app.

Tech for Good – giving feedback and mutual learning

My ‘new’ tech for good job, getting not-for-profits better at digital, continues. Last week was primarily about giving feedback to the organisations not selected for interview. Really sad how close some people came but simply there were others slightly better. But people have taken it well and I really hope there will be opportunities to work together in the future. Indeed, giving feedback should be used as an opportunity by both sides to ask for and receive in order to learn and improve.

Main (but not the only) reason for failing to progress to interview was simply not having the internal tech people who we felt needed to be there to work with and handover to. Easy to remedy for the future and a general issue for not-for-profits me thinks. If we are serious about doing tech well then we need to invest internally rather than out-sourcing. So many services we feel have to be resourced and run internally like Finance, HR, Fundraising, Comms, and Marketing but not Digital despite it being key to the modern world. Go figure.

Doing an assessment or interview

Eating Out

Great now that we’ve reached the stage in the pandemic where we can start going out for dinner again. Don’t know why but having a nice meal out always cheers me up. I know it’s not the best way to promote sustainability but it makes me happy.

Two nice occasions last week to look back on. First, me and Dave went to our beloved Union Jack Club on Thurs for a drink and dinner. Very busy with lots of old people and out-of-London families who would probably prefer to be abroad. But we had a fascinating conversation over dinner with an elderly couple, the husband who was dealing with 3 different cancers and had had his throat removed.

The other meal out was on Sat night when me and Dave had one of our hotel nights away (see below). There is a new Turkish restaurant near where I live in Fulham – part of a restaurant group you can read about here. The portions are massive and it is wonderful to have a meal of delicious raw and grilled vegetables alongside freshly cooked meat.

Fruit and veg

Crazy hotel night

Like the rest of the country, whilst we await the return to overseas holidays so we put up with staycations. Me and Dave had a stay overnight again on Sat in Earls Court. A different hotel to our normal one as this was the cheaper option but supposedly in a better hotel. Turned out to be a very strange hotel of several houses knocked together and an amazing mixture of different rooms.

Our first room was awful. Like a cell. Me and Dave decided to not stay. So we got offered another room. Seemed OK but as we were settling in, a knock at the door to say actually we couldn’t have this room as they needed it for someone else. We ended up in a decent-ish basement room with minimal outside light. We argued about whether to leave but by this time I was just pissed off and so we stayed. In the end, a decent night’s sleep and a small lay-in to watch the final bits of the Olympics.

“Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny.”

Stephen Hawking

The Week Ahead

  • Back to normal after the end of the Olympics but how to keep on board the emotions that it generated like the drive to take exercise and reduce my over-eating?
  • Regular INR test to ensure that my blood is not under or over-clotting
  • Dave is off to Germany at the end of the week so it will be Billy home alone for a while. I’ve not only lost the Olympics until Paris 2024 but I’ve also lost my boyfriend till later on this month.
  • Finish my latest book and start on another one, almost certainly back to fiction
  • The Tech for Good work carries on with interviews to choose the organisation we will be working with on a Delivery project – a tech team of 6 full-time people for 8 weeks to build and handover a digital solution
  • Carry on with trying to control my eating, exercise as much as possible, and doing my personal development.
  • Now that the Olympics are over, I really should use the time I have free now to be used to consume more art and culture.
Tokyo Olympics 2020

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