The Unreality of the Mourning Week

Mon 12 – Sun 18 Sept 2022

In many ways, this whole year has been an unreality. The Ukraine War, heatwave (and other impacts of climate change around the globe such as floods), the fall of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, and then the death of the Queen. All this building on two unique pandemic years 2020-22. Crazy times.

But the week gone really has been one of unreality. The whole country has moved into mourning mode. Life goes on but it’s different – sombre, subdued, confused. It’s taken a while for the TV schedule to return to some sort of normality. And central London (where my partner lives) feels quieter than normal yet busier at the same time. There are less ‘everyday’ people going to work but many more tourists. Often from other parts of the UK, here to pay homage to the Queen.

I haven’t been to Green Park to see the flowers but I have seen plenty of people wandering around with them to lay as a sign of love and thanks. Temporary metal barriers everywhere and tons of police and armed forces – squaddies and sailors. Some eye candy but they seem so young to me – like they are just out of their teens, a definite sign that I am getting older.

The funeral then the day after

And we’ve got the complete unreality to come of the funeral day itself. The final farewell to the last 70 years. Many tears will be shed for what has gone and unease about what comes next. Looks like the whole country will close down with shops, galleries, museums, gyms, etc all closing. There really will be nothing to do but watch the funeral and perhaps go for a walk later in the day.

And then the pain of getting back to normal and finding out what the new world looks like. With a new monarch and government but the same old national problems still there like our failing economy, if the UK can survive as a single nation, and the whole question of what is our role in the modern world outside the EU? This is the continuation of the period of change that started last week as I outlined in my previous blog here.

“We may hold different points of view, but it is in times of stress and difficulty that we most need to remember that we have much more in common than there is dividing us.”

Queen Elizabeth II

Health and Efficiency

Gym

Hard to think that I wasn’t going to the gym for approximately 2 years between March 2020 and January 2022. That feels like an unreality with my regular gym going for years before that and its resurgence this year. But it happened and one day I will have to stop going to the gym again because it won’t be there or I won’t be able to.

Meanwhile, last week I managed 3 good gym sessions. Two with me on my own and one session with two other people there. I’m sticking to my shorter sessions focused on 2 or 3 main muscle parts. Feels good though I still have some days where I think ‘Shall I bother?’ Always good to over-ride that. Thought it on Thursday and I’m sure it’s linked to the general malaise hitting the country as we deal with the unreality of life during this mourning period.

63 gym sessions since the start of the year divided by the annual membership = £7.85 per session.

range of dumbells

Walking

Managed to get some good, long, purposeful works in during the week. I always make sure I have a good walk to and from the gym – that’s part of the exercise. I can never understand people who drive there and back, defeats the whole purpose.

I’m always happy to walk on my own as I can read my kindle. But nice to walk and chat with Dave on Saturday morning as we made our way over from his place to meet our friend Patrick for coffee.

Weight

I’m still trying to master my food intake. Sounds crazy but work days are often my worst. I always find work stressful (as outlined in my previous blog) and take comfort in food as many of us do. Though work stress isn’t the only reason I over-eat. Indeed, stress in various forms makes me want to eat. I need to find things that make me feel chilled and in control of my food intake if I am going to lose weight.

Didn’t bother weighing myself as I’m pretty sure I haven’t lost anything. Why punish yourself?

Mental health

I indicated above a feeling of malaise. This, I think, applies across the whole country at the moment as we deal with the Queen’s death. As so often with grief, we know we are dealing with an abnormal situation; that we should feel and act differently but many of us don’t know exactly what to do.

This is a unique historical moment. The death of someone who has been an integral part of our existence for all our lives. We haven’t experienced the death of our monarch and we won’t experience a Queen in her own right again in our lifetimes. We have a new King and the next two monarchs will also be Kings.

I think this unreality and how to deal with it is why so many are taking flowers to Green Park or queuing for hours to see the coffin.

I’ve felt weird this week. A sense of mortality and the ensuing thinking of what is the point of everything? But it’s not despairing rather questioning. That feeling that things have changed and will always change. And how should we deal with that in our everyday lives? We can live pretending death won’t happen, but it will.

Despair

Vaccines are brilliant

Vaccines have saved billions of lives. Common illnesses from the past that wiped out masses have been eradicated thanks to them. And Covid would not have been defeated without them as won’t Monkeypox. I’ve had both vaccines for these and at the very least they can make your symptoms much less severe if you still contract the disease.

To my doctor’s on Saturday to get my flu vaccine. I had this disease once and it was awful. I spent several days in bed with a raging temperature and in a semi-delirious state. Vaccines are another wonderful aspect of modern medicine. Like the Anti-Retrovirals I take every day have kept my HIV from becoming AIDS. I remember so well the times when people said this horrible disease could be cured or controlled through all sorts of quack remedies like Vitamin C.

Books and Reading

‘Jesus’ Son’ by Denis Johnson

A time of unreality can benefit from a book that makes you feel safe and comfortable. Or you can go with a book that reinforces the sense of unreality. This book is very much in the latter category. It’s very short and originally written in the early 1990s but not published in the UK until 2012.

The author is a recovering addict and his stories are firmly rooted in the times when he was taking drugs. These are stories about the short, hard lives of people living in poverty and dealing with their addiction problems. The camaraderie of people who are tied together by the crazy way they live and the search for the next fix.

My two new reading books

Got a couple of good books on the go at the moment. First, on my kindle it’s the rather excellent ‘Great Circle’ by Maggie Shipstead. The fictional story of two women separated by 100 years: an aviator and an actress.

Then as a ‘real’ book, it’s ‘First Person Singular’ – a collection of stories by the ever-wonderful Haruki Murakami. I am a lover of Murakami’s writing. His is a world of unreality and unexpected happenings. The literary environment he creates is rooted in real life but also dreamlike.

Rows and rows of beautiful books

Work Life Balance

In any period of unreality, it is human nature to find out things that can help us feel normal. That can comfort us of happy times that have been with the hope that they will return. I suppose that is what I do with going to the gym, it makes me feel good and gives me a comfort blanket. Same with work. My head hasn’t been in a totally great place but at times like this, I find the routine of work gives me stability so long as I don’t get too stressed by it.

Looking ahead

Meanwhile, I am preparing for leaving. In a lot of ways it is like being on a 3 month notice period as I have chosen to quit my current role at the end of December. Will life be OK once I’ve left? Will the handover go as smoothly as I want? Does it ever, it’s all part of the need to accept change, realise an ending is inevitable, and let go.

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”

Albert Einstein

Tech For Good

Following our talk to staff the previous week by Chayn, last week me and my colleague arranged a presentation by the CEO of Stop The Traffik. She laid out their vision of a world where human trafficking and modern slavery is ended largely through technology. Particularly gathering data and using it to stop the gangs from taking people abroad, screw up their financial systems, and stop businesses using the trafficked people.

Family and Friends

Family

Spent time with mum and Dave as usual who are both OK. Me and my brother are packaging mum off to stay with her best friend next week. Like many of us, she is comfortable with routine and needs a little push to do something different that is ultimately beneficial.

Old friends

Dave had a welcome surprise during the week when one of his old pals from his time in the armed forces came to London. It was just for the day, to see the procession of the Queen’s coffin from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall. A definite sign of the unreality of the times as he spent about 8 hours travelling by train there and back in a single day. But Dave loved seeing him and they had a good time together.

Let life wash over you and be happy

Then on Saturday morning, me and Dave went to see our friend Patrick. He’s doing OK after losing his partner and it’s important to us that we keep a check on him. Both me and Dave realise one day we are likely to be in his position. One of us will probably go before the other and then the survivor will be on their own. With no children, who will keep an eye on that survivor? I think this is something lots of gay couples keep in the backs of their minds as they get older.

The Week Ahead

  • As said, our period of unreality culminates in the funeral and a day of reflection. Then the (welcome?) shock of back to normal.
  • A regular week for me in that there are two work days and three non-work ones. The funeral bank holiday falls on one of my non-work days so I will only get 2 gym visits done.
  • Carry on with the two excellent new reading books
  • The INR police caught up with me last week. Not a good result, I’m prone to bleeding. So change in the warfarin dosage and back to check again on Tuesday.
  • Enjoy the changing weather. Autumn is coming with cooler days and earlier nights.
  • Definitely a sign that we are in the run-up to Christmas with the return of Strictly Come Dancing on Friday

And Finally…

How awesome the sky is

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.