Personal Status Update

Two weeks, 29th May, ago I sent an email to an old friend Bill – essentially updating him on my life. I am reproducing that update here as a kind of status report:

Dear Bill,
Thanks for your belated birthday greetings. This is my belated reply to that and your other posts. I can’t in fact find the birthday post now but I remember you mentioned there and in your post about the coup that had sprained your wrist. I hope that you have now recovered from that. I recall that you asked about my retirement and I thought that recently my retirement has not seemed very relaxed.
This morning in London is wet and grey. No, just grey. It has been wet since Monday but today, so far, it’s just grey. I have about an hour before I set off to Tooting to take my mother out. I do this two or three times a week. My sister has her twice a week and we get people from an agency to take her out two or three days a week also. She manages on her own during the evenings and nights but since about this time last year we have made sure she does not go out on her own. Last year there were a number of incidents where we were called because she had been stopped by shop security for shoplifting and the community police had been called. Also she fainted while out five times and had to be taken to hospital. After taking her off some of the medication mother seems to have stopped shoplifting and the fainting has stopped. We also ensure she eats more adequately.
Mother still goes out to the local shops on her own, in particular the local Lidl where she buys foodstuff and groceries she does not need and which we have to dispose of later. From time to time my sister or I will visit to tidy the house while she is out with someone else as mum is resistant to ‘being controlled’. Despite the Alzheimer’s she is generally contented with life, we, my sister in particular, are more stressed by her condition.
I came home at 1:00 am last night having taken Lisa to the hospital in Chelsea where we were joined later by Sandy after she finished work. Lisa is in the last stages of a difficult pregnancy which has involved gestational diabetes that the doctors are worried about. When I am not with my mother I make myself available to give whatever support I can. Sandy is supporting Lisa by spending much of her time at the new and larger home in New Addington where Lisa, Dane and Xavier moved to with Anita, Orin and the others in the family.
Sandy of course has her own longstanding diabetes issues and is doing her best to cope with the pressures of this and her job. Again, I give whatever support I can. I currently have no overt health issues apart from some dental problems.
My retirement for work is not complete. Every summer I have managed courses as part of Newham’s Summer School Programme. I was doing this as part of my job with the youth service and continued as an independent contractor when I left. It’s not a big deal and this year involves running only six courses over four weeks. This is the same as last year but less than in previous years as cutbacks have affected even this more prestigious council provision that unlike the youth service is seen as structured, more formal and more successful in getting kids involved.
[At this point I save my missive as a draft and set off for Tooting. Coming back a little after 5:00 pm I pour myself a lager]
Since the beginning of this month I have been running after school clubs for kids in a local primary school on Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s been somewhat frustrating since I’m running computer/Internet based activities and the computers don’t work properly. The school boasts a computer room with about eighteen computers but some of these don’t work, the space is very cramped for my groups of 14 and 28 kids, the machines are running Windows XP with Internet Explorer and there are restrictions on access to websites that I need to use. I have to say that the organisation is poor though the manager means well and I am grateful for the opportunity to get back to working with kids even though I have to deal with their understandable frustration over the problems. The money will be useful but I know that I have accepted the work because working with kids stimulates my creativity. I’ve relaunched my NYPO,, website and project to support work with the group.
I help a local charity, with their website which I designed and manage. I’m doing this mainly to develop my own skills in setting up and managing websites. All the work I’ve mentioned so far I do as an independent provider with my Netstorms Limited company. This does not make much money because I have not been sufficiently proactive about it but it has not lost me anything and perhaps adds about £2k to £3k to my annual income. In addition to this I offer ‘non-managerial supervision’ sessions to three Informal Education students from the YMCA’s George Williams College. I have been doing this work for the college for the past 25 years.
All of this does not add up to a full time job, except during the four weeks in Summer, and leaves me plenty of time to waste. Maybe it gives me an excuse to waste time. I know I waste a lot of time sitting at the computer browsing the Internet. Sporadically I wake early for a morning run. Each Wednesday evening I attend a three hour Tai-Chi and Qigong class. This is as far as my spiritual discipline goes at the moment. I think about politics and post stuff to Facebook that most people ignore. I notice that some of my political posts do not appear and wonder if I am being watched and censored by the powers that be. I have not been following the situation in Thailand but since John Kerry condemned the coup I am inclined to think, pending further evidence, that it may have been good or necessary. I have been following the situation in Ukraine with considerable interest; the hypocrisy of Obama, Hague, Cameron et al. in supporting the violent fascist coup in Kiev while condemning the ‘pro-Russian’ separatists in East Ukraine and Russia for annexing Crimea has been the most wondrous example of ‘doublethink’. Those of us who get our news as analysis from the alternative media rather than sound-bites for the mainstream media (MSM) have long seen through the scam that the mainstream politicians, with the collusion of the MSM, is playing on us but this is now being seen by the general population whose most notable vote in the recent council and EU elections was their refusal to vote. Those who bothered to vote gave the victory in the EU elections to UKIP.

Since I wrote that the most significant change is that Lisa gave birth on Friday – 6th June. Here is a picture of baby with me and Sandy:


The Bouncy Castle and the Pagoda



On Saturday, at Lisa’s baby shower I sat in a bouncy castle, Sunday, on my birthday, I sat in Victoria Park Pagoda. The small child in the foreground watched me, waited patiently and then, when I got up, imitated my gesture by sitting in the same place and pose.

Rome: A Flying Visit


Rome is possibly the greatest tourist city in the world; it’s been at it for a very long time. We visited the Basilica in St Peter’s Square and saw the tombs of dead popes. A night walk from St Peter’s Square to Trevi Fountain via a few long cuts left us both quite tired. A lot in a day. Sandy did well to do it despite painful feet. We will take it easier when we return. And perhaps learn to ignore the myriad street traders.

This is a short film on our short trip using photos and video captured on my Motorola G Android smartphone. The phone is new and the photos would probably have been better if I had been more familiar with it. I downloaded the music from


I see thine eyes gazing at the dark of my heart,
Lord of my life,
I wonder if my failure and wrongs are forgiven.
For many were my days without service
and nights of forgetfulness; futile were the flowers
that faded in the shade not offered to thee.

Often the tied strings of my lute slackened
at the strains of thy tunes.
And often at the ruin of wasted hours
my desolate evenings were filled with tears.

But have my days come to their end at last,
Lord of my life, while my arms round thee
grow limp, my kisses losing their truth?
Then break up the meeting of this languid day!*
Renew the old in me in fresh forms of delight;
and let the wedding come once again in
a new ceremony of life.

~Rabindranath Tagore

At the beginning of a new year we hope for renewal. About a week ago I wrote in a Facebook post:

I didn’t want to make my resolutions all at once at the beginning of the new year. Hitting myself with a long list hasn’t worked well in the past so this year I will add one new (behaviour change) resolution each week until Lent at the beginning of March. My first resolution, to run at least three times a week, has survived its first week. My second resolution, is to get away from computers, TV, smartphones, tablets, the Internet and even radio for the 12 hours between 21:00 and 09:00.

My first resolution has now survived the first two weeks but the second lasted two days. I am not dropping it however; I am persistent if not consistent and this will continue as a rule even if it is not always and entirely observed. All Sabbaths are made for us and not we for the Sabbaths and the breaking of a Sabbath does not mean that it is not useful to us or that we shall not return to observance of it.

My third resolution, prompted by my return to a very unhealthy looking belly and being overweight by almost three stones, is to change my eating habits in order to lose weight and become healthier. At minimum this means giving up confectioneries and sweet drinks including juices with the exception of an occasional morning orange juice. I will also give up alcohol with the exception of an occasional glass of wine and give up milk products with the possible exception of plain yoghurt and cottage cheese.

I am currently reading a diet and exercise book called ’10 Pounds in 10 Days’ written by ‘celebrity trainer’, Jackie Warner. The book is good enough for me to have read beyond the first chapter and to have started following some of its advice. I have reintroduced chicken breast (free-range) to my diet and cooked this with broccoli, carrots, spinach and new potatoes as my main meal yesterday. I also bought a pair of 6 kg dumbbells and did over an hour of exercises from Warner’s book with these. This morning, after my shower and before breakfast, I weighed 12 stone 10 lb. I will, mostly, follow Warner’s programme over the next 10 days but as I won’t be following it exactly (I never follow anything exactly) I won’t be able blame her if I don’t drop 10 pounds in that time.