The Week of the Husky Voice and Travel Up North

Mon 24 – Sun 30 April 2023

Two more tragic celebrity deaths: Len Goodman and Jerry Springer. So now we’ve lost these two plus Paul O’Grady and Barry Humphries. Yet Nigel Farage and Rupert Murdoch are still alive. There is no God. Meanwhile I entered week 3 of my heavy cold / flu. I wrote in my previous blog (here) about my slower than expected recovery. That continued last week and I had to deal with a husky voice.

The mucus and sinus problems lessened as well as far less napping than during the previous fortnight. But my throat was sore and I was speaking like someone who had ‘lost their voice’. Lots of throat lozenges. Pretty sure it’s a temporary thing though I do remember Brian, one of the elderly gentlemen I looked after in Brighton, lost his voice and that was the first sign of his lung cancer…

Health and Efficiency

Gym: fundamentally back to normal

Although my voice signalled I wasn’t 100% fit yet, I did manage to get back to my usual exercise routine and it felt more normal than the week before. Two gym sessions were achieved before our journey up North: Mon and Wed mornings. Both good, intense workouts. Though on Wed there was a lot of work being done in the gym to repair machines and so it felt really busy.

41 gym sessions since the start of 2023 divided by the annual membership = £12 per session.

dumbells in the gym

Jog-run: another decent one

Managed to get one in before our travels North. My sore throat and husky voice didn’t hold me back though I’m still definitely not 100% and I know I can do so much better when I am fully well. My last 28 minute session, next week it goes up to 30 mins for 3 sessions until then it’s just a straight forward run for 5 km no matter how long it takes. I suspect we will be looking at about 35 mins. You can see my jog-run times (and weight details) here.

animation of a fat man running

Weight: down again but obesity as normality

Lost a bit more weight such that I really am a stone lighter than I was about 5 months ago and the lightest I have been for years. I have made a conscious effort to lose weight. But I’m also feeling a bit nauseous around food which could be linked to some weird stomach discomfort I’ve been feeling.

It was sad to be visiting Dave’s mum to see so much obesity. It’s a car culture so people aren’t getting exercise. But also you could see so much over-eating of unhealthy stuff. Skinny kids with really fat adults many of whom were also drinking and smoking heavily. All the stereotypes but sadly true and shows how obesity has permeated our lives and become normal.

Horrible hospital visit thanks to the pharmacy

On Wed to see my HIV consultant for my 6 month check-in. All went well. She wants an ultrasound to investigate the stomach pains and the rapid weight loss. And she told me to contact my GP if my voice doesn’t recover. Then time to collect my meds; an electronic prescription had been sent to the hospital pharmacy and this is where it all went wrong.

Over to pharmacy. No prescription received so they told me to come back in 10 mins. No prescription still so I was told I had to go back to the clinic to chase it. Aggressive patient in the clinic reception (‘What you looking at? Do you think I’m an idiot or something?’) but I just ignored him. Receptionist checked and prescription had been sent. So back to pharmacy.

Pharmacy still hadn’t received anything and told me to go back to the clinic again. ‘Can’t you phone them?’, I asked. ‘No’, they replied. So back to the clinic again and my consultant phoned pharmacy up. Back there and meds were ready for collection. I think they could see I was getting really pissed off.


Bad attitude but deliberate under-investment

Classic example of uncaring staff in the pharmacy (why work in healthcare if you don’t like people?). At any point they could have phoned my doctor to sort things but they didn’t. ‘There are hundreds of doctors in this hospital’, they said.

I am sure they were very busy but is it seriously correct to put all the expectations on the patient to go backwards and forwards to sort everything out.? There is almost certainly also an element of this as a sign of the NHS being gradually being starved of resources to justify privatising it.

But I still put a complaint into the hospital, to the organisation that is the supposed ‘voice of the patient’. Be interesting to see if anything happens. Or is it just another symptom of ‘don’t give a fuck’ UK as with the Housing Association’s failure after six months to do a simple repair to our window?

Friends and Family

Philip and Patrick

A week dominated by family stuff though me and Dave managed to catch up with Philip (aka Phyllis) for lunch on Monday and Patrick on Tuesday for coffee. Both good meets but it’s hard to hold a witty conversation with no voice. Philip was fine and is off to New York soon. It’s that thing about returning to travel after the pandemic. Patrick was also good and is very excited about the coronation – pretty sure it’s a generational thing.

Up North

It was Dave’s mum’s big birthday and so we spent the weekend with her, also taking my mum along who regards it as a bit of a holiday. Does mean I have to constantly keep an eye on my mum and make sure she’s OK but that’s also what life seems to be about for most of us as our parents age.

Our regular routine of travel and eating out

To be honest, our trips to see Dave’s mum have a regular routine to them now. Bit like all our relationships with our parents as we get older I suppose. Unfortunately we have to hire a car so we can get the mums about. A decent journey up the M1. Always a pain getting out of London and a few congestion patches on the motorway but nothing where we had to come to a standstill completely. Also a couple of comfort stops to make sure mum was OK as well as Dave needing a break from the driving.

Friday night fish and chips

It all felt very familiar including our hotel and the fish and chip shop on Friday night. We have to keep a check on both the mums whether for diabetic hypos or dodgy tummies or something else completely. It is also quite a carry-on sometimes, constructing conversations (with a bad voice) and steering around points where it looks like there will be tension. Perhaps I should have been a diplomat but not sure I’m slimy enough LOL.

Saturday: charity shops and the Beefeater

Saturday was doing the rounds of the charity shops which are always so different to the London ones being a darn site cheaper for starters. There are a couple my mum loves which are smaller ones and less ‘corporatised’. Only bought a few bits but it was good to be able to support small, local charities.

Then, after rests in the afternoon, the local Beefeater on Saturday night. Really not my cup of tea because I don’t like steak but the mums love it. That traditional view that the height of a good meal is a ‘nice piece of steak’ which makes me feel a bit nauseous.

Sunday: the family party

Sunday saw a big family gathering at a local working man’s club. Good fun and very traditional with a buffet and games of pass the parcel which was very enjoyable especially as there were Lottery scratchcards between the layers of paper. Nice to catch up with people though I’m still not 100% sure of who everyone is and how they are related. I’ve always been crap with understanding family links which is why I probably wouldn’t be that good at genealogy.

birthday cake

Books and Reading

‘Doctor Who Short Trips: The Quality of Leadership’ edited by Keith R.A.DeCandido

With my period of illness culminating in a dodgy voice, I reverted to literary comfort blankets. I do enjoy these Short Trips collections of short stories by the publisher Big Finish (who also make great Dr Who audio adventures). However, this is probably the most unlikable Short Trips collection I have read – it’s number 24 in the series.

Basically it looks like someone had the bright idea to get loads of American comic-based sci-fi writers who had never written a Dr Who story before to write the storis. You could say it’s a radical idea to give new voice to an old concept. However to me it all felt a bit contrived with the stories being over clever and action-packed whilst lacking the warmth and familiarity of traditional Dr Who writers.

Interesting it is based primarily on visits back to Earth’s history much like was planned when Dr Who originally started on TV in the 1960s partly as a historical education programme. OK, so the theme is leadership but we ended up on a whirl of meeting famous people (history as a list of kings and queens) and we didn’t learn much about leadership.

Overall, a disappointment and one of the later Short Trips which perhaps partly explains why they stopped being published.

sixties doctor who logo

‘Desperate Undertakings’ by Lindsey Davis

Another complete comfort blanket for me especially as Davis’ output is prodigious and there are always more books to look forward to in these stories about an Ancient Roman private investigation family. Now the stories are focused on Flavia Alba (the daughter of legendary investigator Marcus Didius Falco) along with her husband and household.

Very engaging in terms of giving voice to what life was like in everyday Rome for ordinary people. Indeed, it feels a lot like normal life now which I’m not sure is totally true. We need to think of people who lived before the ideas we have now so probably more superstitious and ‘basic’ in things like sex. However, inevitably they felt many of the same emotions as us.

This is a clever story about a group of macabre killings undertaken on a theatrical group with the murders done by a serial killer and based on dramatic themes. We should not forget how theatre was one of the main forms of entertainment and a big part of culture in the ancient world.



Balcony progress

Dave finally got the OK for his stripped back balconies. We’ve managed to keep some plants so the birds can still visit. One of his neighbours lives in the flats with a big roof terrace designed to accommodate a table and chairs which she’s been told to remove for health and safety reasons; does feel over-zealous.

Our depressing reliance on cars

Depressing that we had to use a car to get up to Dave’s mum and to get the mums around generally. But there really was no other way. It saddens me to be that dependent on a car but it is the reality for many and shows that cars are going to feature in people’s lives whether we like it or not. Many, many people don’t live in cities with decent public transport.

Personal Development

Language success

My husky, whispery voice is playing havoc with Duolingo being able to understand what I say on the oral exercises. But I did make good progress last week due to my regular doing it during my gym rests and by grabbing spaces on non-gym days to do some learning. Focus was on Spanish and German.


A special mention of the great news that QPR have avoided relegation. It really shouldn’t have come to this (we were league leaders at one stage this season!) but two away wins pulled out of the hat in succession saved us. Now begins a long period of trying to build a team that can regularly win. Not sure that we will be challenging for promotion next season with some big clubs coming down to our division.


The Week Ahead

  • First of the beautiful May Bank Holidays on Monday. And we will be spending it driving back from the North. Hopefully my mum has had a nice break.
  • I’m anticipating my voice getting better and pleased that I’m going for my Covid booster on Tuesday. Been called up early because of my weakened immune system.
  • Current exercise plan is jog-run on Tuesday and gym on Wed then Fri. My regular plans are being upset by the preparations for the wretched Coronation simply making it harder to get around central London.
  • The excitement of new books and more language learning
  • Looking forward to meeting up with my old mate Fang Fang on Wed night
  • Not looking forward to the Coronation on Saturday #NotMyKing

And Finally…

The woke 'threat'

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