What day is it?

Mon 20 – Sun 26 Dec 2021

We all need a good break. And the sign of a proper one is when you wake up in the morning from a good, deep sleep and ask yourself ‘What day is it?’ Then that lovely sensation of knowing you are on holiday. So whatever the answer, it doesn’t matter! Whereas in normal times when you ask yourself that question on waking knowing the answer could well be a work day rather than the blessed weekend.

Family and Friends: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day

Obviously I was off work for Christmas Day and Boxing Day (actually Saturday and Sunday). But also not working on Christmas Eve. So when I woke up on these mornings asking myself ‘What day?’, I knew whatever the answer that it didn’t matter at all.

The mums’ lunch on Christmas Eve

Dave drove up north on Wed and stayed in a hotel that night before driving back with his mum the next day. This meant that on Christmas Eve, we could take both our mums out for lunch. They get on well together and my mum was due at my brother’s place for the big day. So me and Dave took them to the Union Jack Club.

Twas very quiet which is sad for the UJC as it needs to make money. But good from the perspective of trying to ensure our two ‘old ladies’ don’t get covid. A really nice meal with a drink in the bar before and afterwards. The two mums got on great and my mum said later that day (after my late afternoon nap) what a nice time she had had.

Christmas day dinner

Christmas Day

It was mum who woke me on Christmas morning at 8.30, I could happily have slept on till goodness knows what time. We then opened our presents. A local cafe was open so I popped out for coffee whilst mum got herself ready. My brother came to pick her up and I did an exhilarating walk across London to meet Dave and his mum at the UJC again.

A bit busier than the day before but far more quieter than we have ever known in years past for Christmas Day. Indeed, there have been times when we’ve had to wait for our table as the prior booking still hadn’t finished their meal. This year I went vegetarian (celeriac in pastry) simply because I had turkey the day before.

Then back to Dave’s in the car he had hired for the day. We opened presents and chilled. In the evening Dave drove me back, mum was staying at my brother’s partner’s place for the night. So a lovely Christmas evening on my own relaxing and watching the soaps. Plus my guilty pleasure , Mrs Brown’s Boys LOL.

lights on the tree

Boxing Day

This really was a chill-out day. Dave was looking after his mum and mine was over my brother’s partner’s place so I had the flat all to myself. Up early and out in the pissing rain for a coffee. Then a bit of time reading my book about Paris 1944-9 before walking over to Dave’s to see his mum before she went the next day. And then another walk back to await the return of my mum accompanied by my brother. Always good to catch up with him.

Tech for Good – a time to pause gives optimism and hope

3 days at work as usual but different days of Mon, Wed and Thurs. Obviously a quiet week though a chance to simply catch up on emails. Filing or deleting them. Plus reaching out to people I want to stay in contact with. My co-colleague was off but back on the 23rd so we had some very useful time to catch up together on that day.

Overall, a week to ‘breathe’, when it’s not simply about running to catch up but having some time-out to steady oneself and think how to move forward. Indeed, it is weeks like this that you need to give you some hope again in life. My previous blog (read it here) was about how it is hard to be optimistic at the moment. But when you can have a chilled week like this that allows you to feel on top of things and see people at their best, then it gives you optimism and hope again for the future.

A sigh of relief

Books and Reading

‘Broken stars’ edited by Ken Liu

Subtitled ‘Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation’ – this gives the game away. A nice collection of short stories by current Chinese sci-fi writers. Like many others, I have only become aware of this genre with the advent of Liu Cixin’s brilliant Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy particularly the brilliant ‘The Three Body Problem’. You can read more about him here though his politics are disappointing.

Like all shorty story collections – some brilliant pieces and some mediocre ones that just wash over you. A lot are founded in Chinese history and mythology. Though it is disappointing how little these contemporary authors seem to be willing to challenge authoritarianism in China. Indeed, I suppose it’s inevitable as the only way to be a success in an authoritarian state is to tow the party line.

Phobos

‘Other rooms, other voices’ by Truman Capote

Written in 1948, this is what they call Southern Gothic. Capote is a fascinating character from the USA in the second half of the 20th century. The writer of ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ and ‘In Cold Blood’ as well as a star of the 70s gay scene regularly visiting Studio 54. More can be read about him here.

‘Other rooms’ was his first novel and follows the adventures of a young boy in a decrepit mansion in a southern American state. He is surrounded by strange characters and there is clearly an autobiographical element to the story. Fundamentally it is about a boy coming to terms with the fact that he is gay. It’s a short book but actually quite hard to read as in places it veers into fantasy and gothic horror.

Doctor Who

I’m not really into audio-books nor podcasts, never seems to be enough time to listen to them. But walking back from Dave’s on Boxing Day I did listen to a couple of Dr Who Big Finish Short Trip stories. Both silly and forgettable but fun just to immerse myself in that nice world for a while. Peter Capaldi regeneration tackling an Antwerp based plot against Charles II that is impacting on the history of British culture. And then Leela and the Brigadier in a memory stealing story that ultimately includes the Tom Baker Doctor.

sixties doctor who logo

Health and Efficiency

Weight and exercise – damage limitation

Christmas is really not the best time to worry about your weight. Indeed, it’s really all about damage limitation. My abiding memory of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be feeling full up after lunches at the UJC. But also snacking on Quality Street and Heroes. Pretty sure I will have put on weight.

Although I did do a lot of walking. Two hours worth to the the UJC on Christmas Day. And then an hour a half there and the same back on Boxing Day to get to and from Dave’s. Plus lots of walking during the week including there and back to the GP and hospital on Tues – see below.

The NHS, both crap and brilliant at the same time

Don’t get me wrong. I love the NHS and would in no way swap it for some nightmare health system like the one in America where you can die on the streets from cancer if you can’t afford the treatment. The NHS saved my life when I had blood clots on my lungs. And it is just about coping with the covid crisis despite the arseholes that are the anti-vaxxers doing everything they can to undermine it.

But, that is it it – basically the NHS is brilliant at emergency care but falls down when dealing with chronic health problems. Classic example on the constant measuring of my INR which I could do at home and I know how to change my warfarin dosage to get it back in range (it’s what’s called being an ‘expert patient’) but this is refused. So I trudge backwards and forwards to the GP’s for tests. Went there last Tuesday to find that the nurse to do the test was on sick leave. No apology from the receptionist, ‘You would have been told.’ ‘No I wasn’t,’ I replied. She just shrugged her shoulders and showed she didn’t believe me.

Then Tues afternoon up to the hospital to get my 6 monthly HIV bloods done. All good though slightly delayed as the (very nice) nurse couldn’t work out how to log onto the computer. Though good news in that 6 months’ worth of anti-retrovirals had been electronically lodged with the pharmacy so I went to collect them and they were ready for me straight away.

How I feel after a difficult week

Sustainability – warm minimalism

I made my little protest about Christmas extravagance by giving most of the key people in my life money rather than presents. None of us need more crap to throw away later. I’m still trying to get rid of stuff but with the charity shops shut then that’s on hold for a bit. And no chance of me going to the Boxing Day sales. I read an article that said that ‘warm minimalism’ is in at the moment. I like the idea of that – living without unnecessary clutter but not with everything just sterile, puritan white.

Personal Development

It’s been busy with the run-up to Christmas Day but I did manage to find time for Duolingo nearly every day. I’ve realised sometimes I can walk along and do it on the street. Perhaps people look at me talking to myself but I don’t care. Hopefully I will get into the habit of doing some daily coding practice again.

Art and Culture

No great shakes but then it was busy with Christmas preparation and a full week at work. Plus most galleries and museums are shut Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day.

“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

Sheryl Sandberg

The Week Ahead

  • A proper week off when I can really not bother what bloody day it is. Everyone at work is off so there really is no need to even log into my work email account.
  • Gonna use all these 7 days to focus on reading and personal development. On my kindle, I have started the next volume of historical fiction by SJ Parris – fun escapism.
  • Possibly some art and culture, perhaps a gallery or museum visit?
  • Really doubt I am going to lose weight. But the absence of work may allow me to get some mastery over my appetite and stop comfort eating.
  • No health appointments for a change. But will try to get in plenty of walking for exercise. And while I do that I can read my kindle or listen to more Dr Who adventures.
  • Got to keep on with my day by day effort to live a more sustainable life. And so provide my little contribution to tackling the climate crisis.
  • I won’t be doing anything for New Year’s Eve. Indeed, I don’t really like the pressure to do something and would much rather have a quiet time. Dave’s the opposite and this often causes tension between us.

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