Variety is the spice of life (but you can have too much)

Mon 27 June – Sun 3 July 2022

I’ve definitely had a week of variety. And it’s been good fun. But it’s also been a bit exhausting and I’ve appreciated the pauses during it. 35 degree Berlin on Monday and a day of travel on Tuesday. Back to work on Wednesday and Friday but with an evening out on Wed night. The week also included gym, mum, and a medical examination. Thankfully a more measured weekend but still with Pride and a cultural experience.

“Spontaneity is a meticulously prepared art”

Oscar Wilde

Berlin and back

My previous blog covered our lovely, relaxed time in Berlin – you can read it here. Not really a week of variety as me and Dave just chilled and primarily went back to the restaurants, cafes, bars, and clubs we know and love. Monday was another day of 35 degrees – ‘lucky’ that our visit coincided with a heatwave.

Tuesday actually saw a drop in temperature to the high 20s. Our flight was an awkward late afternoon slot so we had lots of time to hang about. But on the positive side, it meant we weren’t rushing. A morning of coffee and reading (Dave did the shops) before an uber to Hauptbahnhof for a train to the airport. All went well and we were back at Dave’s place by 8.30 – just in time for Love Island!

Sustainability / Tech for Good

Gerry McGovern’s brilliant talk

Great news that the talk by Gerry McGovern I set up for the Green Software Foundation’s Global Summit is finally available on YouTube – you can see it here. Gerry starts speaking at 11.50. His message is challenging and thought-provoking.

Basically it’s that we need to stop thinking that creating masses and masses of more data has no impact on the environment. It’s definitely made me think about how I can change my practices. And often it’s simple things like ‘do I really need to use that hardware or software at this current moment?’

Death anxiety and climate change

My plants

Regular readers will know that I haven’t got a garden but I try to help the environment by keeping a variety of indoor plants and maintaining plants on the window ledge of my flat. Similarly, my partner Dave takes a big pride in maintaining the plants on his balconies. Basically, his plants survived our time away. My plants were generally OK but I did lose 2 window ledge plants.

One was on its way out anyway but the other simply dried out and was irretrievable even with a big, long soak. One of my indoor plants was also pretty fucked but that did recover overnight with a massive soak. Wish I had lost none of my beloved plants but saving one was a good thing. And nature determines that all things live and die.

Spider plant

Health and Efficiency

Exercise

Some variety in my normal exercise routine. Hotel gym on Monday – just me on my own. Then back to my regular gay gym in London on Thursday. Though again, I was there on my own. And walking on most days particularly power walking on Friday to get to my hospital appointment in time.

39 London gym sessions since the start of 2022 = just under £13 per session.

range of dumbells

Weight

Pretty sure I would have put weight on during the holiday based on the variety of rich food we ate at different restaurants. And the alcohol intake must have made an impact. The week gone didn’t feel like a ‘normal’ week with all the different stuff happening. So haven’t weighed myself and need to get back to a normal eating and drinking routine to see if I can lose some weight.

Cancer checks – unpleasant but vital

Had an appointment to check for anal cancer based on me being a high risk category (man, old, gay, HIV+, had anal/genital warts in the past). Squeezed into the middle of Friday, things didn’t go well with no bus and bad traffic which meant a power walk to get to the hospital in time.

I was seen on time and the staff were pleasant. But the examination itself wasn’t. I was told it would be a couple of swabs from my bum. It was a lot more than that including one swab that took about 5 minutes to be completed. No obvious problems but the lab results will say if there are any cell abnormalities.

Last week saw the tragic death of Dame Deborah James. And if she taught us anything, it was the importance of talking about unpleasant things. We need to have these checks done in sensitive places to keep a watch for cancer.

I am pretty sure my anal smears were as horrible as those for cervical cancer. And the colonoscopy I had once was also deeply unpleasant. But they are a necessary evil if we are going to catch cancer early.

“It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.”

Marcus Aurelius

Art and Culture

The irony of going away on holiday and not doing too much cultural stuff. But then coming back to London and doing a couple of cultural events in a busy week.

Country at St Martin’s Crypt

Wednesday was a bit of a whirlwind with an evening return from holiday the day before, a full day of work, and an evening cultural event. Mainly my idea but Dave came along. We went to the Crypt of St Martin in the Fields again. Previously, it was for a selection of songs from West End musicals. But this time it was five country performers doing a selection of their songs.

And it was a really fun evening. Wonderfully atmospheric in a dark crypt with a variety of different types of country music. I like country, I think it’s one of the things I inherited from my dad. Similarly, I like folk. I’m not a serious enthusiast of either but I just find them pleasant to listen to.

The evening had each of the four performers (one was a duo) taking it in turns to play their instruments and sing their songs. Country is a bit predictable in terms of appearance and sound. Plus it’s all based on America which seems a bit strange but then superimposing British life on it wouldn’t work i.e. Maidenhead inserted in place of Nashville. An alternative and nice evening overall.

Spiritual

‘A letter to Harvey Milk’

To the Waterloo East Theatre on Sunday afternoon to catch the final performance of this musical. It’s a small theatre that seems to be run by one man as a labour of love. But it has some great shows especially related to gay stuff and comedy. Worth checking out its website here.

The musical itself was an eclectic and unexpected one. A better description would be a theatrical drama with music. This was not a singing and dancing spectacular. Indeed, it’s was as much about Jewish life as about the life and murder of gay lib icon Harvey Milk. Worth seeing but don’t go thinking it’s a gay musical.

Family and Friends

Mum and long Covid?

Mum was OK whilst I was away with my brother looking after her though he’s not been 100% himself. She does think she’s may have long-Covid with all her headaches and aches. To be honest, she may well have. I think it’s possible to have had Covid without realising it and, if that is the case, then you could also end up unexpectedly with long Covid. Turns out mum’s best mate has gone down with Covid last week. There’s definitely a resurgence.

Dave and military Pride

Dave remains fine. Obviously we had a whole week together in Berlin. And we went together last week to the couple of cultural events. Plus we treated ourselves to dinner at the Union Jack Club on Saturday night. It was Pride during the day but I’m not too interested these days. I’m glad it’s there for the new generation. But after having been to hundreds’ of Pride marches and events in my life, I’m quite happy to let others do it now.

London was incredibly busy due to Pride. Indeed, Dave was pissed off as he was unable to get through the crowds to Leicester Square to see a James Bond film (I find these as boring as Wimbledon). And the UJC was busy with lots of primarily young people in the forces having been on the march and now chilling out with drinks in the bar before hitting the clubs later.

We ended up talking to a couple of friends in their 80s who had also been on the march. They were fun though one was dealing with dementia and was quite uninhibited in talking about his sex life which was a bit disconcerting.

Dave had very mixed emotions about all the people at the UJC celebrating Pride. He was very happy they were there. But he had been in the military when it was illegal to be gay and spent his whole time hiding his life through fear of being dishonourably discharged.

Queer

Books and Reading

‘Revelation Space’ by Alastair Reynolds

I read a variety of books but with regular return to favourite authors and themes. As I wrote in my previous blog, Reynolds is a much recognised British sci-fi writer and I have been looking forward to exploring his books. This was his first and it is a sci-fi classic particularly considering it is over 30 years old now.

Some ideas that are very distinctive including the recognition that space travel will take decades and so events need to be spread across big periods of time. Also the idea that artefacts will be found and reused as space is explored without understanding their history or original purpose. Plus the inevitable merger between sentient beings and machines. The book felt like a video game at times but perhaps the ties between novels, movies and games is so intertwined now that we can’t think about the former without considering the latter.

Phobos

‘What Abigail did that summer’ by Ben Aaronovitch

This was the other book I finished last week. An author I really appreciate and particularly his ‘Rivers of London’ series about police constable and apprentice wizard Peter Grant. This is a novella offshoot of the main series featuring Peter’s cousin Abigail as she dabbles in her first major magic investigation. It’s an easy read and fun particularly as Abigail ends up working with a group of talking foxes. A nice easy read – just the sort of thing you sometimes need (especially after completing a 600 page sci-fi classic).

Personal Development

My Duolingo daily practice went a bit off the rails whilst I was on holiday. As said, I focused on German as I was in Germany. But now I’m back, I’ve returned to my daily dose of German and Spanish learning. And that habit has been re-established since our first ‘normal’ day on Wednesday. I am trying to get into the habit of doing the sessions once I wake up and before the variety of the day hits and distracts me.

Do you speak German

The Week Ahead

  • Should be an interesting week but hopefully with not quite such variety as I’ve just had
  • 2 normal working days on Wed and Fri. Includes prep for a possible new Social Change Lab application process and an induction for new staff.
  • 3 normal gym sessions on the morning of Mon, Tues, and Thurs. So looking forward to this but really need to think about doing some swimming as well.
  • Meeting Phyllis on Monday and off to celebrate my niece’s 21st birthday
  • Main ‘cultural’ event is Dave’s insistence that we go to a ‘Beating the Retreat’ event at Horseguards on Wed evening. Not really my thing but will be different.
  • Carry on with ‘Atomic Habits’ on my kindle. And for my ‘real’ reading book, I’m back to a Big Finish Short Trips collection of Dr Who short stories. This time they are all centred on the Daleks.
  • Carry on with my focus on Duolingo language learning

And Finally…

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