Twixtmas – this year it meant films, books, gym, and weight loss

Mon 26 Dec 2022 – Sun 1 Jan 2023

HAPPY NEW YEAR ! To all my wonderful readers whether you catch up with me on a regular basis or perhaps you are a virgin dipping in for the first time.

Making the jump

Twixtmas

It’s been that weird week in-between (betwixt) the two key points of the festive period; you can read about my thoughts on Christmas in my previous blog here. Twixtmas is a point of the year different from our normal existence, a time to chill and review. TBH I used to enjoy it immensely when I was working but it hasn’t had the same relief to me this year with my new normality of pre / semi-retirement.

Indeed, I have found myself getting a bit frustrated with in-between period; things not being as normal. Particularly coffee shops in London which seem to have completely unpredictable opening hours. Presumably based on the problems they are having in getting staff.

Weather and notable deaths

Another week where it seems to get dark early and light comes so slowly in the morning. I set my alarm for 7.15 because I want to get up and do stuff but the room is still dark. Weather has been relatively mild though chilly on a couple of nights when I was out. Rain seems to be the main weather feature at the moment.

Difficult times ahead

And the week in which we lost Pele and Vivienne Westwood. Both greats in their own way that charted a new course in human existence. The old Pope also died – I’ve got much more mixed feelings about that one. Plus we can say that Greta Thunberg massacred Andrew Tate – hooray!

Art and Culture

The Prince Charles Cinema – films from 1962

Decided to use Twixtmas to put into practice one of the plans I have for my new future, namely getting to the cinema a lot more. In this I was helped by the wonderful independent Prince Charles Cinema running a series of films from 1962 to celebrate their own 60th anniversary.

  • Jules et Jim A film I have seen before – indeed, Dave says we saw it together but I can’t recall. My treat on Boxing Day evening when Dave was still up North. French New Wave and of the sixties though set in the early twentieth century. It’s the story of a love triangle featuring the actress Jeanne Moreau. You can read more details about it here.
  • Vivre Sa Vie Another lovely French film, this time directed by Jean-Luc Goddard. It’s in 12 parts documenting a young woman who becomes a sex worker. It’s really engaging and refreshingly short at just over 80 mins. But it provides a good commentary on life as a prostitute including details on the formal and informal rules that govern it. More details here.
  • The Manchurian Candidate Saw this on Thursday afternoon straight after Vivre Sa Vie. Dave joined me but not for the previous one as he can’t do sub-titles. It’s a Cold War classic I’ve been meaning to catch for ages. A group of Korean War soldiers are brainwashed and used to cause political upheaval when they return home. A bit stylised but nevertheless a masterpiece starring Angela Lansbury and Frank Sinatra that foresaw the assassination of a president. More details here.

“Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you act.”

Leonard Cohen

Books and Reading

‘The Dispossessed’ by Ursula Le Guin

It’s been a good Twixtmas in that I have seen some great movies and I finished this wonderful book. I have read it before but I can’t remember it. My key worry was that I could recall an incredibly sad ending. But thankfully I was wrong and it reached a far more hopeful end point.

Written in 1974, it reflects the Cold War world at that time. Namely different societies co-existing but totally alien to each other (the Communist bloc and the Western capitalist nations). And the occasional exchange of dissidents who tried to make sense of the differences.

Shevek comes from a planet called Anarres – an experimental anarchist society. He defects to the nearby planet Urras that is primarily run as a capitalist society but also with socialist centrally-controlled nations. Inevitably you see the good and the bad in all societies but none is perfect. Interestingly Earth (Terra) is a separate planet with an embassy on Anarres and basically seems to have barely survived from catastrophe. And there are also other planets that are known about particularly the wise Hainish.

Overall, a book brimming with ideas that makes you think. You can read more analysis here. It’s like swallowing a mind stimulant and I would massively recommend it.

A room full of books

Health and Efficiency

Gym

Pleased that I managed to get to the gym 3 times during Twixtmas: the mornings of Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Walked there each day including when it was pouring down. Generally London was quiet early in the morning and on each session I was alone in the gym.

I had a bit of a spring in my step inspired by my annual treat of World’s Strongest Man. I love this programme and I always think how I need to aspire to the achievement of those guys. Also continued with the heightened focus on core exercises started last week. It’s an area of my body I’ve ignored largely because it’s covered in fat. But I think it is something I want to put more emphasis on going forward.

WSM

95 gym sessions since the start of 2022 divided by the annual membership = £5.20 per session. So failed in my attempt to get down to an overall cost of £5 per session. But how bloody close did I come ! I’m actually well pleased with what I have achieved. And look forward to seeing what I can achieve next year.

Weight – an ongoing success story

I end the year with success in my weight loss campaign. I’m down to just over 13 stone 11 pounds. I actually didn’t eat that much on Christmas day as it was just me and mum. Plus I had at least one day last week (Thursday) where I skipped eating right until the evening distracted by the gym and cinema. The meaning of this weight loss is that I’m basically where I was a year ago in how heavy I am which is most definitely progress.

weight

Family and Friends

Dave and the mums

Dave came back from the North on Tuesday. His mum and wider family were fine and he was pleased to see them but he wanted to spend the rest of Twixtmas back home in London. Looks like we will be up to visit his mum for her birthday not too far into 2023.

I spent Christmas day with my mum which went fine. Then on Boxing Day (Monday) she went off with my brother to visit his girlfriend and her family. Overall, she’s doing well and a lot better than a couple of weeks ago when her flu was at full strength. Indeed, she was off with my brother to his girlfriend’s again for New Year’s Eve whilst I spent it with Dave.

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day

Not my favourite time of the year. I love the build up to Christmas but not New Year. When I was younger I would always go out and nearly always spend a fortune to have a mediocre time. I suppose it marks the end of Twixtmas and everything goes back to as it was. But with the expectation of a new start. I would rather enjoy the possibility of starting afresh whenever I want instead of putting everything onto one moment in time.

As such, now I normally just stay in for NYE. And that is what happened this year. Spent it with Dave but we went to bed early and I listened to the distant fireworks. Dave himself was knackered after going out clubbing on Friday when I wasn’t around and spending most of NYE during the day with American friends visiting Windsor.

New Year’s Day itself was very uneventful. Morning quest to find a coffee shop that was open. Then back to watch a series of good films and TV programmes. Dave loves the NYD Concert from Vienna and then we watched Cleopatra (made 1963 and still spectacular) plus The Planet of the Apes (made 1968 and still has a punch). Evening it was the final of World’s Strongest Man and Digging for Britain – the archaeology programme.

Clock face showing time

Patrick

Reason I didn’t go to the gym on Wednesday was because me and Dave met up with our friend Patrick to make sure he was OK. He had hurt his knee so we met him local to where he lives. Beyond that he was pretty good. The plan had been for me and Dave to walk back for exercise but it was pissing with rain. A feature of this Twixtmas really has been how wet it has been.

Sustainability

Don’t buy for the sake of it

One of the traditional things to do in Twixtmas is to go shopping. Clearly the chaos of the New Year’s sales is long gone. People don’t queue up overnight any more to buy a cheaper TV or a reduced set of china. Shopping is as likely to be done online now. But this orgy of consumption is quite depressing. We all own far more stuff than we need. And we really don’t need to buy more.

However, it’s easy to slip into. I popped into Waterstones on the way back from the gym one day. I love bookshops but I was there to see if there were any bargains. Not because I needed or really wanted a new book, simply to see if there was anything so reduced that I had to buy it. Pleased to say I resisted the temptation to buy anything.

over consuming

Personal Development

My Duolingo learning routine

Another good week in terms of getting Duolingo language learning done. Indeed, if you can’t make progress during Twixtmas then when can you? However, I suppose my life is different to many in that I have chosen not to have children nor pets demanding my attention and time.

There was one day when I didn’t do any Duo which was Wednesday, taken up with seeing Patrick and fighting our way home in the pouring rain. Indeed, my main time for doing my language learning was when I was in the gym. As I was on my own on each of the three times, I was able to practice both my Spanish and German between sets.

In the past, I have tried to make a habit of doing my Duo lessons either first thing in the morning or last thing at night. This suited me at that time in my life but now it really suits when I am in the gym (so long as I am on my own). It’s that key thing about making learning part of your routine whenever best suits you and to change this when it suits you better another way.

Our Future is Greater than our Past

The Week Ahead

  • Twixtmas finishes with the Bank Holiday on Monday. Then it’s all back to our normal existence.
  • My gym target is 4 days next week with Wednesday off as I need to be around for mum when the annual gas check is due
  • Can I keep up my weight loss when things are more normal? We shall see.
  • Should finish the Terry Pratchett biography as well as ‘The Sense of an Ending’ by Julian Barnes that I started during Twixtmas – it’s a relatively short book
  • Determined to get to the cinema again. Would also be nice to visit a museum or gallery.
  • Must start setting up meetings with friends though not sure how many I can see before Gran Can later this month

And Finally…

Here’s hoping

Here's hoping

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