25 of 365

In my post yesterday about wellness I wrote about being relaxed as one of the components of mental wellbeing.  It’s only 15 days since the end of our last holiday and already we’re on holiday again.  The trip to Cornwall was short and only for 6 days, and we are now staying in a beautiful hotel in Tenerife. This holiday is also only about a week long.

I am hoping to use this time again to re-charge my batteries.  I was thinking about this phrase recently and how appropriate it is to the present time.  With a high percentage of the UK population from ages 16 to 54 having smartphones, I would expect recharging the phones is something quite high up on people’s agenda on a daily basis.

But do we take the same care with ourselves?  We are not machines and can’t be expected to go on and on.

Charging a phone is cheap.  It costs according to the article, around £1.00 a year.  Holidays are not so cheap.  And whilst I am not bemoaning the cost, it would be nice to find a more cost-effective way to recharge the old batteries regularly.

A friend of mine has a caravan that he uses and another has a camper van.  I am going to make sure I have a couple of conversations with these wise people and find something that helps move me in the right direction.  Regular relaxation without the high price-tag is what I’m looking for, but first it’s time for breakfast!

24 of 365

Something in an email yesterday caught my eye.  It labelled 3 elements of wellbeing; mental health, physical health and financial health.  It was particularly timely and interesting from my perspective because yesterday I was blogging about my weight (an element of physical health) and finances.

These 3 elements are intrinsically linked.  And here’s a few bullet points of what these things mean to me.

Mental Health

  • Belonging and connecting with those around you, maintaining good relationships
  • Being self-aware of both emotions and mental state
  • Having a mixture of time with others and time alone
  • Being relaxed whilst having a degree of good stress for motivation
  • Not overworking
  • Recognising when things are off-kilter and taking positive action to resolve

Physical Health

  • Eating well, good nutrition, not over-eating
  • Regular exercise (walking, yoga, running, swimming)
  • Getting enough sleep

Financial Health

  • Having enough savings for an emergency
  • Living within one’s means.
  • Having a good understanding of one’s financial position.
  • Having a long term financial plan
  • Being in control of finances (payments in and out)

I am sure there are a lot more comprehensive blog posts on these subjects than this one.  But having a simple model is often useful.  And thinking about wellness as consisting initially of these three components is useful to me.

As far as the relationship between them goes;

  • Physical health aids mental health
  • If your in a good frame of mind you’re more likely to exercise
  • If you’re finances are in good shape, this is one less mental stress
  • If you’re finances are ok, and are more financially self-sufficient you’ll have more time to exercise

I wish good mental, physical and financial health for me, my family and anyone reading this post.

23 of 365

It’s the end of the month (almost) and as we’re away on holiday tomorrow I’m taking today as the last day, for the purposes of the weigh in.

During May I was having a friendly competition about losing weight.  And in that month I lost approximately 5lbs.  I’ve now lost another 1lb 8oz.

Reaching a more healthy weight is one of the goals I have been working on (largely unsuccessfully) for at least the last 15 years.  My weight fluctuates about 1/2 stone either way around a weight I’ve been stuck on for some time.  I would say I need to lose about 4 stone to get towards a healthy weight.

Don’t worry, this is not going to turn into a weight-loss blog!

If getting to a healthy weight is one life goal, being free from debt is another one.

I’m comfortable with mortgage debt (although I would like that to disappear soon), but I really would like to pay off car loans and credit card debts, as well as have an amount of money in savings for an emergency.

So in summary, I am looking for a healthy weight and healthy finances.  These are quite personal topics and not ones I’m overly comfortable to go into a lot of detail about.  But, I know I have the resources at my disposal to make progress towards both of these goals over the course of the coming 242 days that are remaining of this 1 year experiment.

I may well come back to you and let you know what’s working and what’s not towards these goals.

22 of 365

A few days ago I blogged about Erik, who was a film-maker looking for summer work.  Since then we’ve had a few chats and swapped a few emails about a mini-project working together in the summer.  We have now broadly agreed terms.  And the idea of the project, in brief, is as follows:

Goal:  To setup a mechanism to regularly capture, edit and publish short clips of comedy material online.

Activities:

  • Set up a place/studio to film with equipment
  • Graham to record raw material
  • Erik to edit rushes into short sections for publishing
  • Graham to review edits and publish

We were not sure that YouTube was the right channel for this material, as the clips are likely to be short, so perhaps FaceBook would be better.

We still need to nail down the objectives of this work, but initially I hope it’s just a lot of fun.  And I’m looking forward to working with Erik when I get back from holiday.

21 of 365

Yesterday I had a touch of writer’s block – and today I have another bout.  Yesterday’s was solved because I decided to review the blog and it triggered a thought about what to write about.  Today I have 2 main ideas but neither seem to have enough meat on their bones for a full post

  • Graph databases
  • Our upcoming holiday to Tenerife (booked yesterday)

I’ll say a little about each:

At work I’ve been working with a graph database called Neo4j.  It has really re-ignited my passion for technology.  A graph is a way of storing data as nodes and relationships between them.  Neo4j is a property graph which means each node and relationship can have a set of attributes associated with it.  Here’s an introduction to graph theory.  I’m hoping to learn more about graph databases over the next 6 months.

We booked the holiday to Tenerife.  All 5 of my immediate family are coming and we’re looking forward to some down time in an all-inclusive resort.  Holidays, I feel, are a bit like buses, none for ages and then they come along at once.  So this is the 2nd holiday I will have had in a short space of time and I’m really looking forward to it.

This post represents 3 weeks of posting every day.  And I’m enjoying it, despite being a bit stuck for things to say yesterday and today.

20 of 365

It’s six weeks to the day that mum passed away.  And tomorrow we will be meeting social services Bucks to discuss our complaint against the care agency that was looking after mum.

Mum had suffered with dementia for many years.  And I had made a complaint because I had witnessed, prior to mum’s last admission to hospital, treatment which I can only describe as abuse.  I had also notified the Care Quality Commission and raised the issue with the local police, who advised that it was a matter for social services.

After mum was admitted to hospital she also became the subject of a safeguarding process.

I feel it’s important that social services investigate the circumstances around the complaint fully.  I would like to see that key lessons are learned and all appropriate actions are taken.  I would also like to understand how well the safeguarding process was implemented and whether lessons could be learned from this too.

We are meeting with social services tomorrow.  If possible it would be nice to get an independent participator at the meeting; like healthwatch – because that would reduce the burden on us as a family to hold social services to task.

 

19 of 365

As a contractor I have to send annual accounts to companies house and a tax return for the company to HMRC.

This year, for the first year I can ever remember, my company accounts are late.  There is a statutory deadline to submit accounts – which is 9 months after the year end date for the company.  My year end for my company BizDev Limited is 31st July and the accounts to year end 31st July 2018 I believe needed to be submitted by 30th April 2019.

I have had several chasing letters from companies house – but want to make sure the accounts are right before submitting them.  My accountant had prepared them some time ago, I just hadn’t sent them back to him signed, and for that reason they hadn’t been filed.

Last week I reviewed them in detail and sent some queries to Peter and Eddie which they had duly replied to, and after further reviews this weekend – we have established that I wasn’t looking at the final copy – and therefore I have to complete my review again.  This is in fact good news.  One of the chasing letters from companies house came just before our holiday to cornwall, Denise had sent the copy I emailed her down to Cornwall for me to sign – and instead of signing them (I wanted to give them a review, because a brief flick through gave some indicators that they weren’t accurate), I had written to companies house to tell them they would be late – due to mitigating circumstances, which I would explain at a later date.

So it’s fair to say, there is still some work to do before they’re signed.  But I am determined to get my house in order and file a copy that’s accurate.

 

 

18 of 365

We are very lucky in Beaconsfield that we have the National Film and Television School.  This has been in the town ever since I can remember.

When I was a boy, mum answered an advert in the local paper and soon after a TV crew turned up from the school and made a short.  To my knowledge, the school has been there for over 30 years, probably far longer.

I have the opportunity of working with a young film-maker this summer; Erik Winzell.

I saw Erik’s advert locally and got in touch yesterday with a view to discussing some ideas.

Erik Winzell's Advert

For those of you who know me – you’ll know I am passionate about comedy.  This year,I’ve posted a comedy cv here and over the last year I’ve given about half a dozen live comedy performances.  3 of them have been with Big Nose Comedy hosted by the multi-talented David Lewis.

My comedy mentor Chris Head and I discussed a couple of interesting projects this year.  And I have an interesting ideas for a comedy character.  Basically I’d like to get time in front of a camera to see what comes out of these ideas.  Because Erik will be in Beaconsfield this summer, it’s something I can do locally – that could help us both out.

17 of 365

22nd June 2019

An open letter to the Hope Church Beaconsfield:

Dear Tom and all of the congregation,

Thank you all so much for the support, love, care and attention that you have showed all of our family, but especially Mum, during the past years.  And thank you so much for all of the support, generosity and kindness that you have all extended to our wider family during the period before and after her passing.

As you know, Mum was disabled following a hip-replacement operation in 1999 that left her with a girdlestone hip.  And for 20 years, lived with that condition.  Dad passed away in 2006 and so Mum lived the next 13 years largely on her own until a few years ago when she had a 24/7 live-in carer.  She received a diagnosis of dementia some years ago.  And she battled with these, and other health conditions, until her death last month.

There was so much love and kindness shown to Mum, Dad and the family from her friends at the church during those 20 years.  From ladies bringing soup, lifts to and from church and house group meetings and people popping in.  But there are far too many to acknowledge in a single letter.

And more recently of course, the church held the funeral service – and took care of all the finer details;

  • the flowers (hand-picked) and wreaths (hand-made)
  • the wake (home-made scones, in a most wonderful afternoon tea) and
  • the broader wishes of the family (including the musical tributes)

during this incredibly difficult time.

We wanted to say a big thank you for everything over the 50 years or more that Mum was a member of the church.

With much love,

Graham, Denise and Steven (and our respective families).

16 of 365

Gangsta Rap is a children’s book written by Benjamin Zephaniah.  I enjoyed reading it and finished the book this week.

Gangsta Rap – Benjamin Zephaniah

It was at the Bedruthan last week, that I realised the book I was reading at the time was taking an enormous amount of effort to read and assimilate.  I was just starting Chapter 3 of that book on Moore’s Law (#geekfest) – and it was going to start to get even more technical.  What I needed was a mental slowdown.

“I am on holiday” I thought, I should be reading for pleasure – not to give my brain more complexity.  This book caught my eye, in a charity shop in Newquay.  I’d been an admirer of Benjamin since I heard some of his poetry at Brunel University in the late 1980’s.  So why not?

This book introduced me to a culture I know little about, hip hop and living in East London (Stratford, Newham etc.).  I used to work alongside Stephen Timms when I worked for Ovum Ltd in London (1986-1987), and I think I went go-karting there with Barclays.  But those are my closest connections to Newham – and Stratford is a place that I’ve only ever really passed through on route to somewhere a bit more middle-class.

Anyway, the book, the book I hear you cry.

As the primary audience is children, it’s unsurprisingly quite easy to read.  It’s based around three main characters;  The protaganist Ray or X-Ray-X his rapper/street name, Prem (Prem de la Prem) and Tryone (Pro Justice).

These three teenagers are expelled from school and start a rap outfit called positive negatives.  The band acquire a  manager – have a moderate amount of success before troubles start to hit the band – in particular Ray.  The troubles come from a rival band in the West End of London.  And an east versus west mentality is fueled by the press.  The police appear unable or unwilling to understand or get to the root of what is happening.

Ray has a sister Kori, and she likes R&B – and even though this book’s main story line is around the boys, Kori and her friends and the band’s girlfriends are also key characters.  Ray’s Mum and the Mum’s of the other band members are also featured.  So I quite liked the diversity.  Although it did seem that most of the white people in the book were either crooked, naive or gullible (apart from Fingers, sorry I almost forgot Fingers – he was safe and a legend – you nearly got me there BZ).

Most of the main characters seem to have nick names like Marga Man and Bunny ( based on Blacker Dread perhaps?).

I won’t spill any more beans, just to say if you have a teenager who likes their music, or is feeling isolated or having a tough time – they might like this book.  It is wonderfully written and uplifting.  It was a lovely escape for me.  And an important eye opener into culture.

Will it impact my life, yes probably; now that I know that rapping is just street poetry – it’s made me very curious to listen to some more.  So Dr. Dre, Tupac, Busta Rhymes you’ll be coming onto the streaming gadget soon, just as soon as I finish listening to Pino Palladino on No Parlez.

As an aside, I did wonder this morning as I was writing this review whether Dr. Benjamin Zephaniah (multiple honorary doctorates) had a more important message to portray in this book.  Was it a parable for society in general?  Is the east-west divide just talking about the local music scene, or is he referring to world politics?

If you ever end up reading the book, I would be interested to hear what you think about that !

Now that I’ve finished with the book, if you would like it, please get in touch and I’ll send it to you.  I only have one copy though, so be quick.