We all have a shelf life – get over yourself

Mon 4 – Sun 10 July 2022

Obviously the big news of the week gone was the eventual resignation of Boris Johnson as PM – him realising he had reached the end of his shelf life as Prime Minister (or has he?). It was hilarious how the two senior resignations from his cabinet on Tuesday had a domino effect. And then Johnson’s attempt to tough it out. We were talking about a constitutional crisis with him refusing to go on Wednesday. Then on Thursday, he threw in the towel.

We all have a shelf life as do most things. None of us are indispensable nor irreplaceable no matter how much we would like to believe otherwise. The key thing is not if we go but when we go. When do things end so that something new can begin? When do we admit that we’ve reached the end of the road and move on? This is relevant for us all in so many aspects of our lives. Not just about careers but also in life generally to know when to change and move onto something new.

Our awful Prime Minister

I wrote in my previous blog about how life had been very busy with lots of things happening – you can read it here. Busy and occupied is good but I’m craving for a bit less. My shelf life of being a super active person is over. I don’t want to retire to the countryside and do nothing – can’t imagine anything worse. But I do want more time to be able to chill and take things easy.

And the week just gone was a bit less frenetic than the previous one. But the one coming excites me most as I have cleared the decks and made sure it’s going to be a quieter one. And in that way, it may be more productive than others.

Sustainability

One thing that doesn’t have a shelf life is the planet Earth – well not for a few billion years when the Sun expands and absorbs it. However, what isn’t guaranteed is the current environment continuing nor the human race surviving. And climate change threatens that the Earth will change and life will become much harder for many of its current inhabitants including human beings. Trying to make things easier for future generations is what motivates me to want to do what I can to tackle climate change.

Realising your shelf life and living with it

There is a definite shelf life for all our possessions no matter their practical, financial, or emotional value. Ultimately they mean nothing and we can’t take them with us. Indeed, I have found out through firsthand experience that stuff just becomes a burden for someone else to get rid of once you are ill or dead.

And so I continue in my drive to get rid of stuff bit by bit. I read a book and sell it or give it away. Same with DVDs. And I am totally clear that I only need new clothes when I really need them and then I investigate if secondhand will suffice. I like the idea of being able to carry everything you need on your back though I know that isn’t realistic.

“Independence is happiness.”

Susan B. Anthony (an American social reformer and women’s rights activist)

We need to save cities and combine them with nature

The book I read on urban gay erotica (see below) made me think about how much I love cities. But I also love nature – I simply don’t want to live in the isolation that is the countryside. The trick is to combine the excitement of cities and urban places with the circularity of nature. Ultimately if we don’t do this then we will destroy the planet. And I really don’t see that happening. Rather we just make cities just for rich people to have fun in – I detail this below.

Books and Reading

‘Doctor Who Short Trips: Dalek Empire’ – the Daleks are Nazis and Russians

Interesting that some people thought Dr Who had reached the end of its shelf life before it was brought back to the TV in 2005 by Russell T Davies, Christopher Eccleston, and Billie Piper. In between the Paul McGann movie and the new TV series, the dream was kept alive through books and audio CD adventures. Some of the purists think these ‘don’t count’ in the history of the Doctor. But, for me, they are some of the best adventures.

The volumes of Big Finish collections of short stories (Short Trips) are something I love reading as a real comforter. This was volume 19 and one of the best. This collection actually doesn’t feature the Doctor and his companions that much. Rather it’s primarily a series of inter-connecting stories that dwell more on the horror of the Daleks themselves and the fight back by the populations they seek to enslave.

The Daleks are comic book evil and can be seen in a humourous light. But if you look at their fanaticism, sense of racial superiority, and disregard for the lives of others – this was actually a comparison for the Nazis when the Daleks were originally created in the early 1960s. But now you can’t help but see them as replicas of the Russians with what they are doing in Ukraine.

Dalek

‘Where the Boys Are – Urban Gay Erotica’: reflections on how cities are being sanitised

A collection of stories by various edited by Richard Labonte, some very erotic and others just about relationships. This book dwells on the relationship between gay men and cities. It’s a wonderfully eclectic collection that illustrates how much gay men need cities to have fun. OK, they can settle down in the countryside after meeting someone. But gay identity, culture, and companionship relies on the anonymity, seediness, and crowds of the city. Some great reflections on the wonderfully crazy gay scenes we have lost like those in San Francisco and London. Same for Brighton where I once lived.

Indeed, there are two things I am particularly realising about city life around the world.

First, we are not creating cities for people to live in but rather as places for rich people to play in. All the best places to live in cities and the things to do are based on people with money. Which is why we are seeing so much accommodation bought just for investment and not lived in. So creating cities as ghost towns.

Second, we always argue that we are making things better. But renovating cities doesn’t make them better. It just creates expensive flats, shops, and offices that suck the life out of the local environment. I think of all the great things we have lost in London like The Scala, XXL, The Hoist, Portobello, Camden, Docklands, Paddington, Kings Cross – they have all gone or their ‘modern’ replacements are soul-less places.

the iconic late 70s NY club

Art and Culture

‘The Tin Drum’

Spent a large part of Saturday afternoon watching this cult classic film before going to the UJC to meet Dave for an evening out. It’s one of the DVDs I have that I have never watched and I am letting go of. But I wanted to see it to find out what the fuss was about.

Made in 1979 in what was West Germany, it is the film of the Gunter Grass novel. A boy stops growing and comes into adulthood looking like a child. At the same time, the rise to power of the Nazis goes on. Indeed, his life covers the rise and fall of Nazi Germany.

It’s weird and good. But I can see why it was controversial as the actor in the main part was only 11 when he acted in the film. And his character is involved in ‘scenes of a sexual nature’ which is uncomfortable and disconcerting. More details on the Wiki page here. Pleased I have watched but no concerns in letting it go as part of my commitment to getting rid of stuff.

An evening of military music vs Saturday night dinner

Dave got tickets for us to see an outdoor military music event on Horse Guards last week. He enjoyed it and I’m glad he did. However, it didn’t work for me. No doubt the musicians are very talented but it reeked of nostalgia and the ‘golden’ era of the British Empire that never existed.

Like so many things in modern cultural life (i.e. exhibitions at the V&A), it just seems to be about giving old people something to reminisce about. I would rather think about the future than be obsessed with the past. Again people who can’t come to terms with the fact they have a shelf life.

Much more my thing was our trip on Saturday evening for dinner at the UJC. It’s also a bit of a nostalgia fest but I like the sense of faded grandeur and I can just take the bits I like. Chilled waiting for Dave in the bar (he went to a James Bond film), a reasonably priced dinner, then a couple of post-meal drinks in the bar. Far more quiet and less eventful than the Pride evening of the previous Saturday as per my previous blog.

Health and Efficiency

Gym

So nice to get back to 3 gym days at my regular gym. There is definitely a shelf life on me thinking I can ever be ‘fit’ again. That ain’t going to happen. But I can do strength exercises to improve my health. I can feel by being in the gym and making my body stronger so I feel healthier.

And 3 more sessions = 42 since the start of the year. Divide this into the annual membership = just under £12 per session.

Weight

There could be a shelf life on me thinking I can lose weight. I’m still not making any progress. Obviously I still haven’t reached the right state of mind to focus on dealing with my food and drink addiction. Am I going to lose weight? I have to if I want to be more healthy. Over 14 stone for my height and age is not good news. I know that but I’ve got to translate it into the way I think and then into what I do. Losing weight is a state of mind.

Family and Friends

Happy 21st!

A real treat last week in that it was my niece’s 21st birthday. So me and Dave travelled on the train to spend time with her and her partner as well as my brother, his partner, and my mum to celebrate. So nice just to chill in their garden then out for a meal and drinks at a pub. I know my niece really enjoyed it and it was so nice to be with the family. A slight hassle getting back on the train but things like that are far outweighed by the happiness the event bought. It’s memories like this that make up a life.

birthday cake

Phyllis

Also great to catch up with him before he finished his 3 week stint in London. Just before the heatwave started but still a nice day. We met up on Old Compton St to have coffee and watch the world go by – freaks et al. Then a relaxed lunch before back for more coffee and people watching.

I really admire Philip. He decided at a certain point that his working life was over, packed it in, and moved to Spain. He knew when his shelf life was up in terms of working. And he lives a good retirement life in Spain without being mega-rich. Really looking forward to visiting him later in the year probably around Oct / Nov.

Spanish flag

Personal Development

Again that question – does my desire to do more personal development have a shelf life and I should give up striving? Or is it a dream to hold onto and realise it in the future? I’m erring towards the latter on this one. I think doing more daily personal development around languages and technology is more likely than losing weight.

The Week Ahead

  • I am so looking forward to what should be one of the quietest weeks I have had for ages. A deliberate plan on my part – we decide if we want things to be easy or not.
  • Normal routine of 2 days in work (some interesting meetings with potential new partners), 3 gym sessions, time with mum and Dave, and daily Duolingo
  • Still chugging on with the book ‘Atomic Habits’ on my kindle. Meanwhile, also reading in traditional book form ‘Fault Lines’ by Emily Itami – a study of urban Tokyo life and a wife’s affair to escape going crazy.
  • Carry on with my personal efforts around sustainability though I do wonder if it’s too little and too late?
  • Treating myself to a session at the chiropodist. My feet get a lot of punishment so it will be nice for them to have some TLC.
  • No specific culture plans but perhaps I’ll get through another cult classic DVD before I get rid of it

And Finally…

Being woke is good

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