Last week’s “Poorly Sick” has continued on for the last week – although also not helped by my own general idiocy.
On the Tuesday, while coughing my lungs out (mmm, tasty) I drove up to Manchester to see friends, and then go with them to see Massive Attack at the Manchester Arena. And then drove home afterwards, like a friggin’ lunatic. By the time I got back – Wednesday morning, 2:30am – I’d twatted my ribs with the coughing I’d done, and felt fairly rough.
Wednesday was spent at home feeling ropy (while also getting enough work done to keep people happy) and Thursday I was on-site down in Chesham. I was feeling shitty enough there (and cold enough, the office being ridiculously cold) that I left at lunchtime and came home to thaw out.
Friday was also quiet, spent mainly at home.
Saturday was a trip to London to meet another friend and see “When we have sufficiently tortured each other” at the National Theatre (Spoiler : Don’t bother, it’s cobblers)
And then Sunday was another daft day-trip, this time down to the edge of Somerset to see other friends. And back home the same day, getting back at midnight on the dot.
So yeah, a week of being comprensively unwell while still being daft.
Hopefully things are back to a more even keel this week, but time will tell.
This weekend, I saw my final performance of the year – I know there’s only three weeks to go, but still, I’m pretty sure I was seeing stuff ’til later in the year last time round.
This weekend I was at the BBC Radio Theatre (as a plus-one for the friend who’d managed to get the tickets) to see Neil Gaiman recording a programme that will go out on BBC Radio 4 on Christmas Day. As it turned out, he’d also brought along some friends, including Mitch Benn, Peter Capaldi, and some refugees (his words, not mine) from the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. It was a good evening and lot of fun to see. It’ll also be interesting to see what makes the actual broadcast.
The previous weekend, I’d been to see Tamburlaine at the RSC in Stratford for the matinee performance on its final day. I did enjoy it, although some casting choices were a bit odd to me, particularly in the second half, where the same actress is doing two roles – one as the wife of Tamburlaine, and one as the heir of the dead king, aiming to overthrow Tamburlaine. It’s a credit to her that it was impossible to confuse the two roles as she played them, but it still made things rather more complex and odd than they needed to be.
I’ve already got several theatre visits lined up for next year, but just for now it’s on pause. Which is fine by me.
From here on, the rest of this year is considerably calmer than the rest of it has been.
I’ve no more overnight stays away, and while I’m still doing stuff, it’s to a lesser degree than before. And about time too.
While it’s easing off, I’m also working out what I’m doing – and what I want to do – next year, which is entertaining.
As usual, I’m trying to not fill things up too much for the coming year – although there’ll be enough stuff to keep me going.
But for now, I’m going to just enjoy it being a bit quieter, a bit calmer, and hopefully just catch up on some downtime. Hopefully
As has become traditional round here, it’s time for a list of what I’m aiming for and hoping to do in the coming year. Some will be familiar (because I keep starting and not finishing) but I’m also hoping to get rid of a couple that never really happen, and maybe add a couple to replace them.
- Keep on working on losing weight.
This one is a long-term thing, and one I’ve written about before. For me, it’s a struggle – I’ve worked with a number of resources this year so far, and feel better-informed than I was, but there’s still a long way to go. If nothing else, this year so far has eliminated a lot of options and bullshit.
- Keep on improving fitness/health
Linked to losing weight, I’ve had more success with this one over the last 12 months, but there’s still stuff to do and improve.
- Continue doing the stuff I enjoy
Various bits here – but basically, do stuff I want to. Not as a “fear of missing out” (“FOMO”) thing, but just as in “I really want to see/do [x]” and doing so. (This is, of course, in direct contrast to ‘doing less’ in the list below, so it’s a bit of a balancing act!)
- Be more sociable
I’ve realised this year that I’ve been utterly crap with seeing friends – I’ve been doing a lot of stuff, but at the same time it hasn’t been overly sociable, hasn’t involved going to see friends at all. And that needs sorting.
I’m getting rid of some of the longer-running goals. They’re still things I want to work on – I’m not giving up on the plans, just on the having them as goals – but it affects me more when I see my ongoing failure to complete/do/start them year on year.
So I’ll note them here as reminders, but they’re not part of the main “What I’m aiming for” list. See if it works better for me as advisories, rather than as targets/goals. And those reminders are…
I want to do more writing – I’ve got the ideas, but it’s finding the time, inclination and drive to get them actually going. I hope to schedule more in – I’ve also invested in some tools that should allow me to do so – but we’ll see.
- Business plans
As with the writing, I’ve got the ideas, but need to allocate time and energy to getting them to work. In some cases I’m frustrated by time, in others by funding for getting them how I want them. We’ll just have to see how things go.
- Doing Less
This is kind-of related to the above two – if I could sort my brain out so that ‘doing less’ was better, then I’d hopefully have more time to spend on the writing and business ideas.
- Plan Better
And the final one, which controls all of the others – make better plans, notes, and be better organised.
This week I was in London during the week, attending the 2018 Lead Developer conference. I’ve been before, both in 2016 and 2017 (so I’ve only missed the first one, back in 2015) and this year was as good as the previous ones. It’s gone from size to size, and this year had 1,100 delegates – which also meant that it’s outgrown the QEII centre, so this time we were at the theatre in the Barbican centre instead.
I had decided this year that I couldn’t be arsed with frantic travelling, so instead went down to London on Tuesday afternoon, checked into a hotel in Islington (so I had plenty of opportunity to keep up with walking and so on as well) and stayed for two nights. On the Tuesday I also darkened the doors of Mac and Wild, where I had a truly ridiculous (and rather excellent) off-menu burger. Following the first day of the conference I also walked to Mere (again – and I hadn’t remembered I’d done much the same thing last year until I re-read the post from then) and back.
On the Thursday, once the conference was done, I walked up to where I’d parked the car, and had dinner in Wahaca up there before driving home. This had been planned, as it meant I left London just at the time that England started their kickyball match in the World Cup, which meant that the roads were comparatively much quieter than usual, and that the drive home was pretty easy.
Along the way, I’ve also been able to complete a full working week, allbeit crammed into three days rather than five. It’s been pretty tough, but at least it’s all done now.
After this weekend, things calm down a lot – and I honestly can’t wait.
Seeing Danny Baker on stage was never one of the things on my to-do list. I’d never been overly taken with his character, or the (very little) I knew about him.
But last weekend, I heard an interview with him on the radio, and he seemed… less of a dickhead than I’d previously thought, and actually with a pretty interesting life. So when I got home, I had a look at details for his current theatre tour, and saw that he was playing in a week’s time in Northampton. And there were still seats available. So I thought “Well, why not? The most that can happen is I decide I still don’t like him“. Ticket booked, and on Saturday evening there I was. In Northampton.
As it happened, the show was a lot of fun. And bloody long. He’d said in the interview (and at the start of the show) that he’s taken over the mantle from Ken Dodd and so on for marathon shows. (My parents used to say about Doddy telling the audience “I’m the only one who knows when you’re going home”, and this was much the same) In this case, he started off at 19:45, there was a 15-minute interval at about 21:30, and he finally left the stage at 23:30. Pretty good going.
Also, it’s worth noting that this is the third tour of tales about his life, and by the end of it we were only just getting to where he started in radio at the age of 30. (He’s now 61) So I’m pretty sure there’s material for a few more tours in him as well.
As it was, a good portion of the first half was concerned with filling out the information from previous tours, so people knew what and who he was talking about during the second half. The entire thing was accompanied with photos to illustrate the events and places – all with bits being pointed out by the snooker cue he was using as a pointer throughout. He’s also incredibly energetic, constantly walking across the stage. God only knows how many miles he’s covering every night – but it’s certainly not an insignificant number!
The stories he told were pretty epic, with a fair amount of name-dropping and so on – but they weren’t all about being the Big I Am. Obviously there’s a degree of this, as it’s Danny Baker telling The Tale Of Danny Baker, but it’s not excessive, this is the stuff that has happened, and he’s the first to admit he’s been incredibly lucky along the way, along with not always being the hero of his own tales.
Not always funny (although more often than not) the entire show came together really well, and the only thing that actually made it feel as long as it was (Steady on, Matron) was that the seats at Derngate get bloody uncomfortable after a while.
I can’t deny, I really enjoyed the entire thing (poxy seating notwithstanding) and came out with a better impression of Danny Baker than I’d had on the way in.
If the tour is playing anywhere near you, it’s worth seeing. And if he does another one, the odds are that I’ll go along again. It might even make it onto the to-do list!
So, where was I last week? To cut a long story short, Toronto.
Basically, last year I got really lucky. CocaCola had a summer holiday promotion where the label of each Coke product was printed with a design and a code. And as I drink a lot of it, I thought “What the hell”, and kept entering codes from them.
And I won.
At the time, they were saying that you could claim the holiday at the destination on the winning label – and in my case the winning label was for Dublin. I really wasn’t overly bothered – I’ve been to Dublin, after all. But I got to the point of thinking “Sod it, might as well claim, at least it’s a break”, and then when I spoke to them they said “Which destination on the list did you want?”. So I went back to the list, and saw that Toronto was on there, which has always been on my list. And that’s what I did.
The prize was actually for up to four people, and included flights, half-board hotel, and transfers between the two. All told, quite a significant contribution. I only went with one friend in the end, with a room each, so it was all good.
The run-up to the break had been fraught – it’s where a lot of the “You had one job” post came from – but the break itself went well. (It turned out that the agency in question had made fuck-ups in every single aspect of the booking, although I’d caught all but one in the run-up to the holiday, and the last one finally bit us in Toronto, where the agency had booked the transfer to the wrong hotel – same brand, different location, a $100 taxi ride apart)
All of those fuck-ups are being dealt with, and have been referred back to both the agency and to CocaCola as well, so it should be entertaining to see what crap hits the fan from that.
Anyway, the week itself was great. We had a hotel right in downtown Toronto, which meant that everything was easily available, and during the week, we covered pretty much everything we wanted to in the city. It’s a very walkable city, and we covered about 70 miles all told during the week. As well as the classic touristy stuff (CN Tower, driving to Niagara Falls etc.) we got to do culturey stuff including the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario, and also visiting most of the local districts and regions within the city. It’s been busy, but not hyper-busy.
We got back yesterday, having been awake from 6am Toronto time, flying back at 18:30 Toronto time, arriving at Heathrow at 06:30 BST, and I then beasted my way through ’til gone 10pm on Sunday before admitting defeat. Hopefully that should enable me to reset my body-clock somewhat.
It’s been well worth it though, and all told I reckon it’s pretty much balanced out a bundle of the money I’ve given to CocaCola over the years…