Week 27.2020 – rolling on into the second half of 2020

After a grim start to the year, I am feeling a little more positive and a little more energetic as the second half of 2020 rolls in. Let’s hope I’m not mistaken in my feeling.

This week’s TV: We did some catching up on TV this week after a few weeks of not watching much at all. We caught up on the TV series Dracula, which, because we are wimps, we had to watch early in the evening and then follow up with something funny. That meant we finally got to the end of the second season of Derry Girls. I really enjoyed both seasons of Derry Girls; it was sharp and funny and well put together.  And it wasn’t so much about the troubles in Northern Ireland, it was more about the awkwardness of being a teenager and all the things that make your life great and awful. The main cast were great but highlight roles go to Siobhan McSweeney as Sister Michael and Tommy Tiernan as the much put-upon Dad.

This week I also finally got to watch the first episode of Hip-Hop Evolution this week, taking it back to the origins of hip hop in 70s and interviewing some of the main names, such as Kurtis Blow, Grandmaster Flash, Grandmaster Melle, Africa Bambaataa. I knew the name Africa Bambaataa but I didn’t realise he was from the US, for some reason I thought he was from the UK. I’m not sure I will get through the whole four seasons but I would like to see some more from season 1. I know I may not seem to be the target market for Hip-hop but growing up in the white Australian suburbs I really had not much idea about the rest of the world but The Message by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five described in detail what life was like for people on the other side of the world.

On Friday, after an intense week at work, I like to relax watching a TV series about serial killers. Mindhunters is set in the 70s and based around the first people to profile serial killers for the FBI by going into prisons and interviewing serial killers. It’s quite intense viewing due to the subject matter but the acting is kind of theatrical and formal, so I also find it relaxing. (I know, I’m weird.)

This week’s exercise. So help me, I’ve started jogging. Now I am part of the parklife I used to observe while walking. Week 1 of the Couch 2 to 5k running programme is complete. No major aches and pains yet, but it doesn’t feel easy. Let’s see if I can stick with this for 8 more weeks.

Running and taking shadow selfie is not easy

This week’s webinar: I “went to” a workshop on How to thrive at work from the How To Academy – one of many such online things I’ve attended lately. There’s a lot of overlap in all these webinars in terms of recommended behaviours and mindsets. I have plans to condense all of this information into  one post to share what I’ve learned. I just have to put aside the time. Which leads to my next point.

This week’s writing: I downloaded by text from 750words.com for June and dumped it into “the novel file” and yes, I have breached the 75,000 word barrier. I have (more or less) written a book. Now I just have to read through and edit and re-write, which I really am dreading. And what’s the best thing to do when faced with something you dread? Avoid it and fill your time with other things. Like research. A bit late to be doing research now, but it does lead into my next point.

This week’s podcast: I have been listening to Cold War Conversations, any episodes discussing the GDR (or East Germany as you may know it) or East or West Berlin. I’m trying to get into the minds of some of my characters, or at least that’s what I’m saying I’m doing. As noted above, what I’m actually doing is avoiding re-writes.

This week’s culture: After several disappointing Shakespeare plays, we finally got a good one from the National Theatre – A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I was a little confused because it took me a while to realise they had swapped the roles of the fairy king and queen. In the original, the king casts a spell on the queen but in this version they did the opposite, so it was the king who fell in love with Bottom. Great production, great acting and great use of acrobatics for the fairies.

This week’s disaster: It’s time for the cat’s annual check up at the vet. We had him booked in on Thursday morning. Most mornings he is out but comes home around 8.30am, which gives us plenty of time to get him boxed up and to the vet for 10.00am. Except this particular morning. No sign the little blighter despite us calling him and shaking his packets of treats and tapping on his food bowl – all the sounds that normally bring him running. He didn’t come home until 5.30pm. It’s almost as if he knew. How did he know? He’s booked in again in two weeks time. Let’s see how that goes.

This week’s social event: No, I didn’t go racing out to the pub on 4 July like so many other crazy people. Instead we had a team picnic / get together at the Olympic Park at Stratford. Most of us haven’t seen each other since 13 March, our last day in the office. And I haven’t seen the Olympic Park since I was there in 2012, so it was a day of much excitement. It was a little overwhelming actually to see so many people in real life all at once and I came home with a headache. Although that could be due to two glasses of prosecco and too much cake. We met up around 1pm and it was getting on to 5pm when we finally started packing up to leave. It was so exciting to talk to people!

I took the bus there. It was my first bus trip in quite a while and first time I left my borough in months. Despite the requirement to wear masks on public transport, wearing a mask seems to cover a variety of behaviours: wearing a mask over your nose and mouth; wearing a mask to cover your mouth only; wearing a mask so it warms your chin, leaving your nose and mouth exposed; wearing a mask by having it hanging from one ear and nowhere near your face; wearing a mask by holding it in your hand; and wearing a mask by not wearing a mask at all.

I stared out the window of the bus at a whole other world I haven’t seen in ages. The gym on that corner has moved all its equipment into the car park to keep open and provide open air workout space. People are still queuing up for coffee. They are queuing up for haircuts too now, a lot of men’s barbers had clusters of young guys hovering outside. I thought Pakistani mango season was over but there are still shops with boxes of Pakistani mangos for sale.

This week’s gardening: We took the netting off the gooseberry bush at last and harvested the gooseberries. (It’s the only bush we net up, after the year the pigeons stripped all the fruit from both bushes.) We got 800g from the two bushes, 600g green and 200g red (yes, there are more red ones underneath not just that sad lonely one on top). And every year we ask ourselves the question; what do we do with gooseberries? In the past we’ve made chutney but we have five jars of chutney in the pantry from last year so we do not need more chutney. For now we have stuck them in the freezer.

We also picked most of the remaining redcurrants – another fruit we are confused about what do with. These ones we decided to ferment with kefir water, but we still have another big tub of them in the freezer too. Suggestions for redcurrants and gooseberries are welcome!

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