Why is the past always our default?


Mon 16 – Sun 21 July 2018

HistoryIt really struck me last week how much we as human beings are constrained by the past. In nearly everything we do, it is the measure by which we calculate everything – happiness, wealth, health, etc. We always look backwards to make sense of where we are now.

I suppose some people do use things like ideology, philosophy and religion. But even they are often based on events and experiences in the past.

Can we ever escape this constraint?

Nothing represents the past more than dinosaursCan we do wonderful things without the past setting the agenda? I’m not sure. Certainly in so many ways, I look to the past for measure. When have I been happiest, weigh least, wealthiest, etc?

We can’t pretend to be new-born babies but we can try to live our lives now without simply measuring it against what perhaps are mythical times. Though this may be a bit post-modernist (there is no such thing as the truth) which in itself has led to Trump, Brexit, Putin and Fake News. There has to be such a thing as reality and a focal point for our actions.

Planning ahead

So how can I personally escape making the past my default? I can continue to try to do this by constantly looking to the future and forward planning. It’s that thing about living as though you will die tomorrow and that you will live forever. One of the good things I must grapple with is my sabbatical next year i.e. when will it start, where will I go, what do I want to achieve? ๐Ÿ™‚

Poor Mr Chubbs

Dozing bulldogWe are still all getting over the death of Mr Chubbs, my brother’s beautiful dog. I moaned about him but I miss his sheer sense of innocence and desire to live for the simple pleasures of life – eating, shitting, having sex, sleeping, etc. My brother is bearing up well and mum is doing her best.

Time as a great healer is a definite truth. The hardships of today slip away ultimately often leaving only memories of the highlights – back to the past defining the future again?

Dave is back – let the insults fly!

Tues and Dave was back from his break in Germany; he visited Rostock and Hamburg. The latter he particularly liked. Great to have him back not least so we can bounce banter off each other. Relationships are about making each other laugh and be happy. Though that doesn’t mean it’s a 24/7 party and I do appreciate times on my own to feed my introvert.

Tech4Good Awards

One of the highlights of the year for me because the shortlisted and winning projects fill me with amazement and a little bit of a feeling of inadequacy. Tues afternoon (working that afternoon meant I could take Fri morning off to go the gym) at the BT Centre in London. These awards have lots of corporate sponsors but don’t feel too corporate. But they are bursting full of ‘wow’ ideas and projects. The underlining fact is that people are doing the work we are recognising as a means to help others.

Unlocking Talent Through Technology

geographical africaWent with my lovely colleagues Dilys & Chibwe. The latter presented our Tech4Good for Africa Award to VSO International’s Unlocking Talent Through Technology. A Malawi project where children work on solar-powered tablets with headphones to complete numeracy and literacy classes at their own speed in their own language.

tech matters for AfricaYou need to remember how education is in parts of Africa. You can have children sometimes too hungry and exhausted (having walked miles) to learn and places with no teachers or books plus class sizes of up to 100.

Unlocking Talent has seen improvements in attendance by children and better attainment in their learning. Lovely as well that someone was attending from Malawi to accept the award.

Check out these other amazing winners

The award ceremony is quite unique in that we all have glow sticks and use them to vote on our winner of winners. The ultimate contest was between Be My Eyes and Tap SOS – 2 great projects, the first aimed at helping visually impaired and the second at deaf people. Be My Eyes won but all the award winners and nominees were fantastic. The people’s vote went to waytoB, an initiative to help people with learning disabilities get about. Winners in all the award categories can be found here.

Tech for Good

Health and Efficiency

Jog-run – not great, move onto the future

runners making progressNo apologies that one of the highlights of my week is my 10K jog-run. I do it because I enjoy it though there is also part of me looking back to the past, to the days when I could run it around 45 mins (which was 20 years and 4 stones ago).

Sadly not a great one last week but the important thing is to just get on with it. I did the gym Fri morning and felt v knacked on Fri night plus I didn’t eat very well. Key thing is that I kept going even when I felt like giving up and little bits of my body were trying to tell my brain to stop. Just over an hour, 7 mins & 30 secs. I am sure it will be better in the future.


Male body art

On countdown till my gym shuts for its refurb start of Aug. Will be good for me as I’ve been going for about 6 years and need a shake up. 4 gym sessions on the mornings of Tues, Thurs, Fri & Sun. Generally usual mix of cardio and weights. I love going to the gym and it is going to be a real challenge when it is gone albeit temporary (or perhaps I’m being a bit of a drama queen ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

Innovation & Creativity

Where did this happen in my life last week?

Innovation workshop

Mon morning I attended a training session at work on Innovation. OK though it fits with lots of internal discussions over the last year about us changing direction, being more agile, etc. And generally I’m a person who likes change. I was a bit disappointed with the training being very focused on how we can be innovative in our jobs rather than looking at innovation in a personal context.

Other good things last week

  • Several internal meetings especially around how we use our tools and resources to influence and persuade people particularly working around the 4 principles of trust, position, platform, progress. Very important that we give voice to those with the most experience and we create empathy for people who are suffering.
  • Catch-up with my colleague Sarah who is our new Sport Partnership Manager. Basically she is ensuring the the main Sport for Change / Sport for Development orgs work more strongly together. Sport, art, music, entertainment – all can create a better world. We can’t just leave it to politicians.
  • Continued my scoring of applications to the new Violence Against Women and Girls programme. Some great applications and clearly a big issue out there of how women and girls are exploited in many different ways. Unfortunately, there is only a limited pot of money so it will probably just be funding amazing projects with even some very good ones not receiving a grant simply due to lack of funds.

Personal Development

The power of sleep showed itself with some great naps at the weekend. And progress on language learning & coding practice using various apps throughout the week. Although bit of a blitch mid-week, busyness of work & other stuff getting in the way. ๐Ÿ™

Emails have increased in number and I feel less in control again. Sigh – constant battle to keep them under control. Interesting the way we constantly talk about negative mental health from the use of social media but the bigger threat may be out of control email numbers.


SMITFAnother ‘Great Sacred Moment’ at St Martin in the Fields lunchtime on Thurs. This one was all about Nelson Mandela to fit with the 100 year anniversary of his birth. A lovely event with great singing and, unusually, lots of clapping.


Books and Reading

‘The Tsar of Love and Techno’ by Anthony Marra

arch enemy of liberalismA book I bought in my local Oxfam bookshop. Never heard of it before but the cover and the blurb interested me. And it is good. A series of stories connecting different characters across modern Russian history. In its structure, it reminds me of the brilliant ‘Cloud Atlas’ by David Mitchell – one of my all-time favourite books (& I liked the film as well). Nearly all of Marra’s stories are pretty grim which I suppose is often true for life in Russia. Though there are redeeming bits of sunshine as there is in life everywhere.

Dr Who Audio Adventures: Iris Wildthyme

Iris is a sort of side character in Dr Who. I don’t think she’s ever been on the TV programme but she does appear in the books and Big Finish audio stories. Basically she’s a crazy female Time Lord. Her Tardis is disguised as red London bus. On Big Finish, her adventures are particularly eccentric and tongue in cheek. Her character is brilliantly played by the Doctor’s ex-assistant Katy Manning (Jon Pertwee’s Jo) and her companion is a sarcastic toy panda. All very silly but great fun to listen to.

The Week Ahead:

Could be a relatively quiet one (famous last words…) and that would not be a bad thing.

  • Work on the normal 3 days. Mainly internal stuff though got to present to Trustees on Wed evening
  • Jog-run next Sat though it is the big cycling day in London which may disrupt my route. Gym 3 times
  • Gonna carry on reading my new book, ‘Elmet’ by Fiona Mozley (shortlisted for the Man Booker prize 2017)
  • Listen to some more silly Iris Wildthyme adventures
  • Continue my language learning via Duolingo and coding practice via Grasshopper and Mimo (might also dip back into Code Academy)
  • Keep on top of bloody emails
  • Think about my sabbatical


And Finally…

Still relevant







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