When you are going through Hell, keep going

Mon 28 Jan – Sun 3 Feb 2019

Winston Churchill

The title of this blog is a great quotation attributed to Winston Churchill. Perhaps he said it, perhaps he didn’t. It’s still one of my main inspirations. And was he a white supremacist? To an extent, yes. He was a staunch believer in the inherently racist British Empire and was adamant India shouldn’t be given independence. But he was also the right person at the right time who saved us from Fascism.

Why are we in Hell?

The quotation is my feeling about this time of the year generally. And it’s made worse this particular year by the shit around Brexit and the looming self-imposed 29 March deadline. However, we are through January – hooray! February is the second half of the worst time of the year when it comes to the weather. It’s been cold this week and that gets me down. Indeed, I could happily hibernate through winter. But March will hopefully be better despite the Brexit deadline and Easter not being till April.

silver pines against the night sky

Innovation and Creativity

Dealing with it day by day

Headache

It’s quite a stressful time at work so I take everything day by day. Getting through Hell – keep going and do it hour by hour, day by day. We are all working towards a common goal and trying to do our best to make things successful. So there is no reason to be unpleasant to each other and we just need to roll with the waves that crash upon our boat, tossing it about in a stormy sea.

Meeting power

Mon afternoon, me and my job-share Dilhani met with Stephen Twigg M.P. An important person as he chairs the parliamentary International Development committee. A good conversation focusing on how we can ensure best practice in ID and how we can tackle the negative campaigning against it. I knew Stephen at university so it was amusing to see how much older he looks now though I am sure he thought the same when he saw me. ๐Ÿ™‚

work

Health and Efficiency

No jog-run

I’ve been nursing a semi-cold all week. Mixture of catarrh and a sore throat. Not a Hell-like all out cold and nowhere near the deliriousness of flu. But that combined with the sheer cold temperature meant I decided to give my jog-run a miss last week. I did feel disappointed with myself but we should not be slaves to a routine. Change comes from doing things differently and a rest for one week is possibly a good thing.

teddy is ill

Long, purposeful walks and healthy eating

I have been trying to be healthy despite the colds. My days off were Tues and Thurs last week, and on both I did a lot of walking. Tues it was Olympia to Stockwell (treated myself to a blast of heat in the sauna) then up to Victoria. Thurs it was Olympia across to Victoria via Millbank. And I’ve been deliberately trying to eat more high fibre, low calorie food. Generally this means non-meat stuff which is fine.

Weight and first liver test

Weight pretty much stayed the same last week, perhaps there was a little bit of loss. Not bad during this shit time of year. ๐Ÿ™‚ Fri afternoon I had my first liver scan at the request of my HIV doctor. Not hard which is good (so I don’t need to give up alcohol) but a higher level of fat surrounding it than is normal and healthy. ๐Ÿ™

Teeth and why skipping the dentist is always a false economy

Went to the dentist for a check-up after the liver scan. My lovely dentist reckons I haven’t seen her since 2016! I knew it was a while but I thought only a year. Anyway teeth were good – I suspect the result of daily flossing. She did a scrape and polish which opened up bits of my teeth I didn’t know I had running my tongue around my mouth. I must go once a year, skipping dental visits is such a false economy. One of my successes in life is persuading a friend to look after his teeth when I first met him.

nice teeth smile

Books and Reading

‘La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One’

My main reading book last week. The author wrote a classic trilogy ‘His Dark Materials’ which I read many years ago which I was both impressed by and enjoyed. This is the prequel, the story of baby Lyra who becomes the adult heroine of Dark. Dust is going to be another trilogy and ‘Belle Sauvage’ is the first volume. Indeed, the title refers to the canoe that is central to the story.

It’s a long and strange but enjoyable book. Fundamentally it feels like a book aimed at teenagers / young adults. But then some of the themes it features are really dark: sexual grooming, fascism, rape. And there are chapters that are like pure fantasy though the book itself is set in an alternative England that can feel very similar to the current one but also massively different.

It was nice to get back to Pullman’s world and to revisit characters who we first met in Dark. Also great to come across some of the inventiveness of Pullman’s mind such as the daemons that everyone possesses. Basically animals who share the personality and character of their human and can never be parted from them.

Culture

Art: Edward Burne-Jones at Tate Britain

Thurs I went to Tate Britain to have a look at the Edward Burne-Jones exhibition. TBH, I don’t really like the Pre-Raphaelites. I find them generally an example of Victorian melodrama and sterility. So I went to this exhibition because it was free being a Tate member and to test my assumptions.

The Star of Bethlehem

There is no doubt that EBJ was very talented and his draughtsmanship is beautiful. Plus he was clearly hard-working and prodigious in his output. But, overall, I’m still left cold by his art. It feels false and over the top looking back to a medieval past that would only have been hard and brutal not colourful and happy. He works best for me when he veers into modernism and there are some examples of this in his work.

Cinema: Mary Queen of Scots

Sat I met up with my old friend Rob (Swing It) who travelled up from Brighton – see below. We went to see ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ and I really enjoyed it as did Rob. Dave didn’t like it at all. I loved the story of political intrigue and the darkness of it all. Totally true to the times it was set in. There is nothing worse than period drama that makes out everything was clean and didn’t stink.

Mary Queen of Scots

Inevitably there was some dramatic licence taken with the facts – it’s a drama after all. I’m pretty sure that Elizabeth and Mary never actually met. And I’m also pretty sure they hated each other with neither being a nice person. How else could either survive without bieng heartless, mercenary and brutal? Of course, Mary lived most of her life in France so would have spoken English with a French accent. Just like that other Scottish hero Bonnie Prince Charlie though I think he actually spoke English with an Italian accent. Neither Mary nor Charlie would have sounded Scottish.

Friends and Lovers

Swing It

So no jog-run on Sat because of the shit weather. But I made the most of the day in a different way. First I popped to the library to return some books and just enjoy the atmosphere. Then me and Dave walked into the West End to see my friend Rob who was up from Brighton – also called Swing It.

Dave

Dave is well though I stayed at his place on Tues night and had to listen to him puking up all night in the bathroom as he had been out with a friend and been drinking – him and alcohol really don’t mix well. The problems of going out with somebody who has a social life. ๐Ÿ™

Cinema and food

Sat afternoon, the three of us went to see ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ – see above. Frankly there weren’t many other films I wanted to see. ‘Vice’ – why remember the shit times when you’ve lived through them? Dave went home afterwards to prepare for going out whilst me and Rob went for a very nice Italian and to catch up on life. I talked about my upcoming sabbatical and he filled me in on his lovely flat in Denia in Spain.

The Week Ahead

  • Work days a bit distorted so I can be around on Thurs morning when my friend Matt Haworth of Reason Digital comes to do a presentation at work. Same day we’ve got Sir Lenny Henry coming in to talk to us at lunchtime. So should be a very inspirational day. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Definitely aiming to do my 10K jog-run next Sat if the weather is good enough and keep controlling my food intake. Praying for news on my gym reopening.
  • Some external things I may make. First, presentation at NESTA on Tues lunchtime. Second, Future of Work event at the RSA on Wed afternoon. Third, evening presentation on Thurs at NESTA on connecting different generations.
  • Also on Thurs evening, and my higher priority, it’s the Velvet Page book club
  • Aiming to complete 2 books I am reading at the moment: the book for the Velvet Page on Thurs and one by another favourite contemporary author of mine, Claire North
  • Language learning, coding practice, emails – the usual

And finally…

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