I stayed at my grandparents' house the night my grandfather died. He'd dropped dead on the sofa, suddenly, although we knew it was likely to happen because we were told his heartbeat sounded like a wet paper bag.  For some reason, I thought it appropriate to wear a suit that night - my recollection confirms that I had a history of that when family members died.  Somehow I always switched to formal, funeral, "I have a job to do" mode.

I've probably written about it before here, over the years, but I can remember my grandmother having to go upstairs for something that night.  My grandfather's body was in his coffin in their bedroom.  I can remember her hesitating about going upstairs, while she stood in the middle of her living room, and then saying "I'm feared".  There she was, at maybe 77 years old, and she was feared at the prospect of going upstairs in the dark because there was a dead body up there.  To this day, something changed inside me because I saw the humanity - the weakness - in a woman who was the centre of my world and who always seemed fearless.  She was afraid and I thought, in my naivety, that at her age, and with her strength, that she wouldn't be afraid of anything.  I remember falling asleep as I sat upright that night, because I was exhausted.  I remember my aunt being there, who would be buried out of that same house and same room, only a few short years later.

I find it odd that she didn't show fear when she died herself approximately five years later.  She hugged me and told me her body was "done".  She told me she us all and that we were her children.  There are times when I miss her so much - her love and that protection that meant we could be innocent and vulnerable children - that it still physically hurts.

Its also made more real because I now know what she meant.  I love my daughter more than I ever thought I could ever love another wee person.  There's a bitter sweet beauty to this life and I wouldn't trade it, despite its sorrows, for anything.

Many years ago, when I spent a summer delivering Chinese takeaways, I went to a man's house to deliver his dinner.  He was standing in the doorway as I pulled up and I called his name to make sure I was at the correct house.  "George Gibson?", I said.  "What's left of him", he replied.

I knew George, from years previous, because we lived next door to his son.  The frail figure who stood in front of me was indeed a shadow of the large, square-chested man from my childhood.

My father is a lot more frail now.  He's a shadow of his former self and it pains me greatly to see him sitting in an armchair with no motivation to do anything.  Every conversation is laboured and we often go over the same talking points from our previous conversation.  He's really thin now, which I suppose is a good thing on account of his diabetes, but it has robbed him of the zest he used to have.

This is life, unfortunate as it is.  We are all on a slow slide down a slippery slope into the unknown of the world that is after.  Perspective is needed.  We shouldn't let little things, which seems like big things in the prime of our lives, to warp our perspective and rob ourselves of the joys of this time, because it will pass and with it hope, opportunity and potential.

I haven't had much to eat today, so I opened a packet of cookies I had in my desk.  I decided a cookie would go well with my coffee.  The problem is that I can't remember if I ate the entire cookie or if I set it down somewhere.  I've looked but it's not sitting somewhere obvious.  A little part of me hopes I left it down because I don't feel like I finished the cookie. I am unfulfilled, but I don't want to eat another cookie because my 6-pack is finally showing and it would be a shame to undo all that good work by eating excessive amounts of rubbish.

Being unfulfilled is a subtle but powerful feeling.  It's like you're getting something, which might be better than not getting it, but you're not getting enough.  It could be sleep, food, conversation, job satisfaction - anything.  There are times when nothing is better than a little because, with a little, you're getting towards fulfillment only for it to be cut short.  It would be like getting two gulps of coffee in the morning or half a slice of toast.  It would be better to have nothing.  Unfulfillment becomes an issue as you get older because you can't carry things through to excess like you can in your youth.  Everything gets moderated and you become more philosophical when you can't have what you want.  The problem is that blow-outs happen.  Well, I imagine they do because I've never reached that point with anything.  I can imagine, though, the desire to say "stuff it" and eat six cookies instead of one.  What it is to be young.  I can remember eating a full cake for lunch once.

 

Cake. Not for lunch.

My office, which used to be one of my garages, gets a lot of attention from my international colleagues.  Some of them are working from home in a cramped corner of a bedroom in whichever part of the world they're based.  This is possibly one of the first times in my life that I have a feeling, not only of pride, but that I deserve this because I earned it.  The cat seems to think she earned it too, or at least that it somehow belongs to her, but I'm willing to share so I can deal with her hogging the recliner in the corner.

My desks are at the far end of the room, sort of where this picture has been taken from, and my webcam is strategically placed to capture as much of the room as possible.  Nothing is by accident - at all times, during our career, we are presenting an image of, if not success, then at least impending success.  Success begets success.  Long may the begetting continue.

Office. Pleasant.

About six weeks ago, I deleted the Facebook app from my phone.  I had found myself wasting too much time scrolling through content which I had no desire to read.  Every evening, my screen was filled with posts with people virtue signaling, attention-seeking or just painting a fake picture of happiness.  Even if these posts were genuine, the bottom line that I had no interest in seeing them.  It was nothing to do with the posters, or their motivations, it was entirely on me.  So Facebook was deleted and then, about a week ago, I deleted the Reddit app from my phone.  It was, more or less, the same situation - lots of random posts, except this time I didn't know who was posting.

So here I am, back where I started.  Here, I still get a moment to breathe out; five minutes without people to manage, emails to read, meetings to attend.  Here, there are no nappies or dishwashers or "broken this" or "leaking that".  This is still five minutes away, except I'm not filling the five minutes reading content which bores me, or annoys me, more than the stuff I'm taking five minutes away from.

I doubt anyone is reading this anymore, and that is completely fine.  Here, I will talk to myself for five minutes, every so often.

Sometimes I join meetings with my team when they're not expecting me.  It could be late at night for me or, in the case of today, when I'm off.  A fifteen minute meeting is worth the effort, in these circumstances, because nobody can be completely sure I'm not going to suddenly appear at any moment.  It keeps them alert like ninjas.  As soon as they start to relax, breathe out and settle back into their seat, then "SURPRISE!".  I would have hated to be in a team with someone like me running it.  On the other hand, I look after them so maybe I'm talking through my bottom.

We've been told we won't be back to the office until at least 2021.  I don't care if I'm never back in it.  We always had a work-from-home culture, but there was an expectation to drive in a few days every week.  Invariably that meant dealing with traffic and then the fact it was hard to get anything done in the office with people talking so much.  I am much happier at home.

I wonder if it will ever permanently change to working from home.  If this COVID-19 situation continues then, at some point, big companies are going to notice that their productivity hasn't been affected by people working from home and decide that the huge, expensive offices aren't worth it.  All that is needed is a handful of meeting rooms and a few, smaller break-out rooms.

I won't even miss a foreign holiday this year.  The gloss gets lost on the flying experience when kids come along.  Home it is and long may it continue.

 

A few weeks ago, I bought a smart turbo trainer after following some encouragement from a friend.  A turbo trainer, for the uninformed as I was about a month ago, is a device that you bolt your bicycle to so that you can use it indoors.  You pedal for all your worth and some mechanical gizmos produce resistance so that it feels like you're riding on the road.  A smart turbo trainer provides some riding statistics, in it's simplest form and, in the case of the one I have, allows software to control how much resistance you experience.  This means that, when you're pedalling up a steep hill on the simulation software, it get's much harder to pedal in real life.  Similarly, you can almost freewheel down some hills.

The point of it all is exercise and it really works.  It also means I'm not out on the road annoying traffic like the rest of those insufferable twits.  I also wouldn't look right on a racing bike because I'm quite muscle-bound and I'm at odds with the skinny, wiry men you normally see in their skin-tights.

I was supposed to get 5 or 6 miles in tonight but it didn't happen.  Jessica is teething again and she start on a marathon guerning session for maybe 4 hours.  It's not that she's really crying, it's just that she whines when anyone looks at her the wrong way.  Whatever is about it, it sucks the energy from me and I was ready for bed at 8 pm.  I'm really hoping these last few teeth pop through quickly because daddy's girl hasn't been daddy's girl for about 3 days now.

The worst part about teething is that it causes a temperature.  The nursery called on Friday to say she had a high temperature, should be collected as quickly as possible, and shouldn't be brought back until she had been tested negative for COVID-19.  This meant a mad dash to the testing place, swabs jammed up her nose until she squealed, and then the wait until the results came back.  Fortunately they came back quickly, are negative, and she can go back to nursery tomorrow.  I cannot run a global team of 14 people and manage a guerning child, every day, for however long the isolation period is.  Roll on normality and new teeth.