Sunday, 12 August 2018

Leaves and Rain Fall, is this the End?

Gentle rain falls in my part of the world. It is mild but overcast, still and stifling. I first noticed the leaves had started falling a couple of weeks ago. Believe it or not I have been back at work for nine weeks. Where has summer gone? In a little over two weeks I turn 49. Seems just a short while since I turned 40. On that day my lovely friend Jayne came back into my life after a four year hiatus triggered by my mania. Oh that that mania would return! I would certainly cope better with my fears.

Sadly on this Sunday afternoon you once again find me worrying about work. Not that there is too much on. It is just that working with people with what is sometimes referred to as "communication difficulties" is hard enough anyway. But when they barely speak English I don't rate my chances. Once again I battle expectation. People keep telling me I put it on myself. But I simply don't know what I can do tomorrow.

There is some time though. Opera is put on hold today because of the cricket and West Ham being on TV. I can't see much more play in the Test and West Ham are losing. So doesn't look promising.

Tonight I am going out to a friend's for dinner. My intention was to cook roast pork today but the invitation came just before I went to see Gareth the butcher. Instead I will have Ann's roast belly pork. She does cook so well.

Wish me well for tomorrow as I must wish myself well. Be kind to yourself is Ros's famous mantra, not a bad plan. Just so hard to do sometimes. In a brief few weeks the sun will have gone, the leaves will be cascading down and the whirlwind that is term time will be upon us.

I Heard a Voice.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

To and From Italy.

The fierce heat has finally broken. Softened by gentle breezes and less intense sun the world outside is a little easier to manage than in recent weeks. You find me as usual on opera night. Relaxing to Don Giovanni, a couple of books which I'm dipping in and out of and the prospect of a cold beer later.

The week has been shorter than normal as I had Monday off. We had a wonderful trip to market. Aside from glorious food and shopping we met a delightful young woman who hails from Naples who was working as a waitress in Brindisa. She told us how kind and polite we were to take the time to talk to her. The implication is that many customers are not like that. I asked about post Brexit hostility and the arrogance and racism that is displayed by some in my country. It was sad that this young woman who was a nurse was uncertain of what will happen to her in this time of great change.

How hard is it to be polite and kind to people like her? Sarah tells me regularly of the arrogance and hostility of some customers where she works. I only really see glimpses where I work where some think their needs come above those of other people. It makes me sad that people can be like that. I don't respond too well to that vibe.

Returning to work yesterday my anxiety remains there, the count down is ever closer and the summer slow down still holds. Today I spent some time with a young man I have known for several years. After many battles he finally got his first. And by curious coincidence he is going to Italy just as the young woman came to England. To work. He too is uncertain on Brexit and how long it will be possible for him to stay.

That fateful decision the electorate made two years ago. The ripples will continue for many years. I am no more in the know of what will happen now than when I battled my own lack of knowledge and reluctantly cast my ballot on a thundery evening in June 2016.

Whatever the outcome I wish both these young people well. The young are the future so we must accept decisions affect the many not just our own selfish ego, need and indulgence. No man is an island as a famous man whose name I forget 30 years later once wrote.

As for me and my little world, uncertainty remains on many levels. But at least today and on Monday through those short conversations I can believe I did some good this week. See you soon.

I Heard a Voice.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

This Little Piggy Went to Market.

On another glorious summer's day I'm home with all the windows and doors open, an ice cold glass of water and the wonderful sounds of Beethoven's String Trios to accompany me. This eternal summer goes on and on and we are making hay so to speak. In a literal sense too as all the grass has turned to the colour of straw and the parched earth worries gardeners but not others. I well recall mum obsessing about the heat and lack of rain and the eternal battle to water the garden.

For me it has been a long weekend. Having tentatively planned to go down to Arundel to see Kiwi Sarah but heard nothing back from her I thought I might as well take the time and relax. Well not all relaxing, finally caught up on the domestic tedium of cleaning and washing. That has rather been neglected since I went back to work. So must be done.

Yet to not worry about getting up, to not be in such a rush and a chance to slow down have been good. Work was mixed. I ploughed my way through a 120 page report which appears to suggest I have done no good at all in my career in Hertfordshire. Curiously enough one of the participants in the "research" contacted me and said the complete opposite yet somehow that didn't make it into the final draft. I fear once again political egoism is coming into play.

Despite that I do feel quite relaxed. I have a nice free range chicken to roast, friends are coming round and a crisp New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is chilling in the fridge. Part of that comes from the fact that I booked tomorrow off as well. And I'm going on an adventure.

Intending to catch the 11.52 train Sussex Sarah and I are headed to Borough Market. What fun! Nowhere near as crowded on a Monday I will sacrifice a few closed stalls for the calm and leisure that rarely happens at a weekend. I don't know if Sarah has ever been but I intend to take her to Brindisa for lunch and then I wander in the market. I suspect she will buy a lot of cheese. I too am under instructions to buy cheese for Ali. She will insist on paying me for it but I will certainly decline that offer as it was her birthday on Friday and I owe her a little present.

Do enjoy the rest of the day. I now plan to immerse myself on Beethoven and get under way with the roast chicken.

I Heard a Voice.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Held Back by the Past?

I've been doing quite a lot of reviewing this week. Much spent trawling through a long academic paper that whilst having some interesting points does not actually reflect trying to hold the dam that is being overwhelmed by a tide of mental health issues that is the 21st century university. I'm not sure what to make of it really other than wanting to scream come and do my job for a day.

The problem with a lot of research is it is designed to fit a pre-conceived idea of what is going on. If one takes a stance that looks at some not others you will get a skewed answer. I have spent a lot of time over the years reaching out to academics and schools trying my best to help. Yet the only people who responded to the call for participants were overwhelmingly people I hadn't come across despite those efforts.

Last year I offered and delivered a two hour interactive workshop to all academic schools. I delivered to most, some failed to respond. The anecdotal evidence was that they were a success. Short of forcing all staff to come to training I cannot realistically reach out to everyone. My message over my time there has been consistently ring me up if you are stuck.

All this has left me questioning once again what I'm doing, my purpose and just what do people expect of me? Later in the day I looked back in reverse on my blog posts since it all went wrong at Christmas. I realise just how far I have come. But from what? And to what?

I'm working hard to right myself with some help. Everyone is making the right noises but still I feel quite adrift at times. Do I still have a place there? And if so what is it?

Time is ticking away. In less than six weeks it all kicks off again. Lost in the heat and intensity and general ebullience from the World Cup is that soon it will all disappear into the dust replaced by cold, damp and intensity of a different kind. Such is my autumn and the coming of the new year.

I cannot dwell on that though. I have my opera, my Rioja and my books on a Wednesday night. The cricket has finally started up again and I have a long weekend booked. Only a day to go.

I Heard a Voice.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Celestial Washout.

The rains have well and truly come to my world. After weeks of bright sunshine, parched land, intense heat and energy sapping humidity it all finally broke on Friday evening and the heavens opened. It feels equally glorious to finally cool down as it had to experience a rare sunny summer.

Sadly it had to coincide with a big celestial event of a blood moon and Mars close to the earth. The result was we saw nothing at all. Such a shame. The pictures I have seen looked spectacular. But it wasn't to be.

I have had a visitor for the weekend. My old friend Marie hasn't been up for over a year. So it was nice to take Friday off and meet her off the train. A wander to The Waggoners when she got here then Dan Dan Mian noodles for supper. A weekend ahead was unfortunately marred her feeling unwell. We did make it St Albans as we had hoped but she ate little, drank less and after slept poorly. No doubt she will recover soon but was somewhat concerned should she have passed it on to me. I do hope not.

On this dank wet Sunday afternoon she has now gone home. I cooked roast beef for lunch, very good. And now listening to Handel's Orlando after a swift pint in The Sun at Lemsford. I have no doubt the hours will slip by quickly.

All too soon the alarm will go and I will start the next week of my journey. My intention is to go up to full time hours from tomorrow. I think I'm doing okay there although the bumps in the road, the little sensitivities do not bode well for the autumn. I must keep working and trying to get to where I need to be.

I do have holiday to use up before then so some long weekends will be in the offing. Just not sure when. Enjoy the rest of Sunday and don't get too wet out there. Until next time.

I Heard a Voice.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Ferocious Heat, Still Air and All Round Summer.

According to my phone it is 33 degrees out, there is barely a breath of wind and humidity remains high. For all of us who fear and moan of our cold wet winters summer is fighting back. It has been like this for weeks. More than 40 years have passed since we had anything like this. It ages me I suppose but most of my colleagues have never witnessed anything like this.

You find me on a hot Thursday evening dressed in shorts and tee shirt and with all the doors and windows open. My flat which is usually a cool place to reside is like furnace. I have a chilled glass of Muscadet, the radio on and a long weekend in the offing. My friend Marie is coming to visit so I decided to take tomorrow off. Start as I mean to go on I think hence the wine.

Things are progressing and I aim to do my full time hours from next week. Yet still the turbulence is catching me out at times and making life uneasy. I'm taking on board what I'm learning but trying to undo the fierce expectation I place of myself is hard to do. I've been doing this too long.

My history leaves me suspicious of people's intentions. Too often I've heard one thing and experienced another. Too many times I have been lulled into belief then savaged by the false promises and deceptions. The world can be a fearful place. But onward I go.

I do not know my destination for I know that recovery is not that but a journey of many twists and turns. To find peace is an aim that sometimes feels out of reach. Much to my surprise after a difficult start to Sunday I achieved a brief few moments of peace and enjoyment and realised that for all my doubt I can triumph. And the BBQ was a triumph.

Since then in response to the intense heat I have turned to South East Asian salads for sustenance. They certainly know how to combat heat with the most radiant of salads. Why are we so poor at cold food here? Refreshing and healthy it gives me a sense of wellbeing that so often I lack.

If you're not feeling too overwhelmed enjoy this glorious summer and remember living in moments of goodness can far outweigh the darkness if we just let it happen.

I Heard a Voice.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Low Level Annoyance.

On Thursday evening a strange message appeared on my TV saying that some channels would no longer be shown on Virgin Media. Given how fond I am of watching food programmes as well as nature programmes I assume it would just be moved somewhere else on the spectrum of programme slots and continue as normal. But as I discovered after midnight they simply won't be shown anymore.

Given how much I spend on their service it will come as no surprise that I'm slightly more than irritated by this turn of events. Doing some digging this morning it would appear Virgin had a spat with the BBC which is involved in UKTV programming over on demand services. The term used was "dinosaur" for those not using on demand services. Well I may be a dinosaur but I still would like what I pay for.

The upshot of this will now be that aside from keeping up with the news and during the NFL season I will likely be watching very little TV from now on. Maybe that is a good thing but it still leaves me annoyed and a little downhearted.

In its stead I'm listening to a prom on Radio 3 of organ music from the Royal Albert Hall. I'm a little way through reading the paper and my thoughts are turning to lunch. After that I must prepare for this afternoon's BBQ. When I lived in Kent at least once every summer we had a beach BBQ. Used to love preparing for those. Now as I contemplate doing that again I wonder why it is that I feel on edge. Has my anxiety got to such ridiculous levels that I want to run away from that too? Still that doubt lies lurking in my mind. I'm trying to temper my expectation of myself. But it is hard.

If you have been reading today you may have seen there was a rare comment on my last post. The writer correctly points out that King Canute did not really fail just proved himself right by showing he couldn't hold back the waves to his subjects. The intention of my comment was that I cannot hold back the sea any more than King Canute could. The mention of resources in the comment is interesting. The response of some might be that my department if more heavily resourced than ever before. But we still can't keep up with demand.

My fears for September still lurk just as my daily anxiety lurks. I'm managing okay at the moment. Yes there are things that stick with my and grate but I'm managing. But I know the storm will come soon. By my reckoning we must be around seven weeks until that happens. So seven weeks to build back some resilience and self esteem. Is that too tall an order for me? I hope not for I must be there ready or not at the end of those weeks.

I Heard a Voice.