Green Wall, Blue Wall

I had an unexpectedly good weekend, considering the weather. On Saturday I went for a walk round Watermead Park with a friend; it’s a lovely backwater just North of Leicester comprising the river, the canal and several lakes including King Lear’s lake (King Lear is supposed to have been buried nearby, according to Geoffrey of Monmouth.) I also attacked the bindweed with the strimmer; I tend to get a bit vicious with this as the bindweed has been particularly prolific this year so I swing the strimmer in a wide arc shouting bastard bastard bastard and not stopping until it surrenders. On the Sunday I had my second jab (yay!) then went to visit mother-in-law, pick up a very intrusive chair she’d been wanting to get rid of for ages, and deliver it to a friend of Daniel’s who is in need of just such a chair; all of which was surprisingly satisfying. I wouldn’t have minded having the chair here but it’s a big bastard, one of those chairs that takes up far more room than it should considering only one person can sit in it. I didn’t go for a bike ride over the weekend but I will today I expect.

Politics has become slightly interesting again – as opposed to merely depressing. Cracks are appearing in Johnson’s hitherto teflon surface; not only from Cummings – which may not have much effect overall – but John Bercow, the former Speaker who has now defected to Labour, and most of all the Amersham and Chesham by-election in which the Lib Dems gained a significant victory. There may have been local issues involved, but it’s clear that they don’t like Johnson – and if they don’t like him, who else doesn’t like him? It’s interesting to see that it isn’t all one-way traffic and that the blue wall can look as vulnerable as the red wall.

We’re very up-to-date with the news in this house because over the weekend we bought not only the Guardian but also the Observer. On the whole I prefer the Observer to the Saturday Guardian; on the other hand I like doing the Prize crossword by hand and reading all the supplements (apart from what we call the ‘handy throwaway sections’ – sport, cooking, adverts) as it gives me something to do on a gadget-free Saturday. Speaking of which I found it pretty dull this time, especially on the Friday night; not having TV or radio or phone or music is a bit trying especially if you don’t have anything to read (as my current books are audio books on my phone that was out.) In the end we played pen and paper games like hangman and boxes, like I remember doing on a dull and wet Sunday afternoon, and went to bed early. Still, there’s no doubt it is good for us to have a digital detox; it kind of re-sets the brain.

So that was my weekend. How was yours?

Kirk out

Turn Me Off and On Again

Well, we did the digital detox thing – and it was good. It’s hard at first because these habits are ingrained, but we had a great conversation on Friday night and on Saturday the son and I went to visit a relative. She lives in sheltered accommodation overlooking Watermead Park and we took our lunch out onto the balcony and ate there. It was delightful, a beautiful day with lovely views. I can’t say I really missed my phone and in the afternoon I sat in the garden and read a book almost cover to cover with no distractions. Excellent. And a double dose of Casualty in the evening: what could be better?

Sunday was good too; I went for a short bike ride and after Quaker Meeting tackled some of the frankly horrendous weeds in the garden. Then in the evening I watched the new Jimmy McGovern drama Time, which is shaping up to be an excellent series. It is utterly devoid of cliche and has the hallmark of someone who absolutely knows what he’s writing about. So I recommend that. I also attacked my hair yesterday; I’m fed up with it being long and straggly but can’t summon the enthusiasm – let alone the cash – to go to the hairdressers so I thought, let’s up and at it again. Which would have been fine except that the clippers, which are battery-operated, ran out of juice before I’d finished, so right now I look as if I’ve been scalped by a blind man on a rampage. Not to worry, I’ll finish it later and meanwhile I don’t have anywhere to be so it doesn’t matter; I can always cover the mess with a baseball cap if necessary.

A propos of which, some photos emerged over the weekend. First I had my son take one of me in a red baseball cap which he calls my MAGA hat; then my sister sent over some photos of me when I was about 14; one in a bikini in the vicarage garden and one with our father in York. The thing that struck me was how thin I was; the comparison is quite sobering. I’m now slightly overweight and can’t seem to lose it; I’m thinking of going to the doctors for a thyroid function test to see if that’s the cause.

And that’s us up to date. How have you been?

Kirk out

Forget Hand-Sanitiser. You Need a Digital Detox

Thanks to Brian I discovered The National Day of Unplugging – or what I prefer to think of as Digital Detox Day. Methinks I’ll give this a try, I said to myself, and full of enthusiasm, rushed to convey the news to OH. ‘Hmm,’ said they, ‘this hath the very sound and trick of speech of that stuff on the Talmud I’ve been reading. Let me see…’ and lo! we discovered that digital detox day is in fact the same the Jewish Sabbat, only once a year rather than every week. The idea is simple; from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday you turn off all devices and connect with other people. And so I set an alarm for 5.37, then turned off my phone (the battery was dead anyway) replaced my laptop with a book and kept the TV dark. It helped that I was going out on Friday night, but all day Saturday I read, contemplated, focussed on my food instead of my phone and had actual, real-life conversations.

At the end of it I could feel the difference in my brain. At first I got all twitchy and reached for my phone every few minutes to check the weather or look someone up on imdb or see if there was a reply to my email – but after a few hours I got used to not having it and began actually to focus on what I was doing. Instead of reading the paper with my phone and laptop on and switching from one to the other, I just read the paper. I focussed entirely on reading the paper. Then in the afternoon OH and I went to our favourite cafe and talked – no phones, no distractions – and it was the best conversation we’d had in a long while.

If you’ve been following OH’s blog (and who hasn’t?) you’ll know that their current obsession is following the Talmud, so we’ve decided to do the detox thing together every week. Which means that from now on every weekend, from sunset on Friday to the same time on Saturday I will not be available via phone, Facebook, email, Skype or What’s app, so if you want to talk to me you’ll have to come over. There’s an excellent list here of what to do with your time during this period – it’s very positive and includes such things as ‘drink wine’ and ‘get outside’. Much better than a litany of thou shalt not‘s.

And as a sign of my commitment to reading more, I’ve bought a floor lamp. It’s very bright…

Kirk out