Thursday, 22 July 2010


Yesterday I attended Brian's funeral. A very sad occasion. It also gave me the opportunity to give thanks for Brian's friendship and to celebrate his integrity, his goodness and his gentleness.

And of course such sad occasions make me realise that many of the things that I think are problems for me are in reality fairly trivial things. It made me realise my good fortune in having reasonable health, and has given me the impetus to ensure that I use that good fortune to be a kind and supportive person to others.

The service itself was very high church; a full Catholic Mass in the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Farm Street, London. Since that church meant a lot to Brian, it was entirely fitting that it should be there. However for me the service was too far removed from its central purpose. It was about a general affirmation of faith from the congregation and little about the person whose passing we were marking.

I just know that Brian was taken from us too soon and I hope that he Rests in Peace.

Monday, 19 July 2010


A couple of weeks ago I played 4 competitive games of tennis in 4 days. As a result of which, I hurt my foot.

Bit sore, but no big deal.

Then on Tuesday, the eve of my 5 day golfing visit to Wales, I was just walking to work when 'Owwww'. A pain shot up my leg. Now I have a severely sprained foot and can hardly walk.

The trip to Wales had to be cancelled and I have spend 5 days immobile in the flat doing little but watching the British Open on TV. And still my foot is sore.

I managed to go to work today, but that was a mistake as the foot is more painful than ever this evening.

It is all deeply frustrating.

Monday, 12 July 2010

The Lottery of Life (2)

A few months ago, I blogged about the random nature of life and luck. I thought about this again this week. At the start of the week, an elderly relative died. In the middle of the week, a good friend, roughly my age, was found dead in his flat. And at the end of the week, another relative was killed by a car.

The first death was of someone who was 89 and had been ill. So was not really a surprise nor could really be said to be a tragedy.

But the second person was my age, was someone I had worked with and had not been ill. He had been made redundant from the SouthBank Centre 5 years ago, as had I. Whereas I was lucky to get another job immediately, and had viewed my redundancy as an opportunity to get out of a job I was increasingly hating, he had difficulties getting suitable work and had grown increasingly bitter about the forced redundancy. I do not yet know the circumstances of his death, but it reminds me that, whenever I get a bit down, I am still very fortunate.

To compound the feeling that life is a lottery, the person who told me of that death, also someone of my age, revealed that he has recently been diagnosed with cancer.

And the third death was very ironic in its circumstances. A relative, living in the USA, who had recently retired after 50 years working in the Salvation Army. Someone who was deeply religious. He died when he was hit by a car - in the church car park! Just when he was looking forward to retirement.

On the other side of the coin, over the weekend I was in Ipswich with a group of friends, again most of around my age, and some of whom have been able to retire early with no real worries about money. Someone I played tennis with last week, has a new expensive car and a huge house.

So what is the lesson of all of this? I suppose it is one of acceptance of the cards which life has dealt, keeping envy at bay when others seem to have been dealt a better hand, but awareness that still others were dealt much worse hands.

Ths breeds a determination to make the best of the hand one has. I want to live the rest of my life as best I can, and as energetically as I can, being friendly and supportive to others, always wanting to learn and experience more of life, being able to give and receive love, planning for the future but not being constrained by the planning process. And trying to help those who need my help, whilst still forging out a unique path for myself.

Wow. That all sounds a bit serious, a bit restrictive, a bit analytical. Let's just get on with life and remember that life is for living and not for just existing; for being open to new experiences; for living 30,000 days and not living one day 30,000 times. Starting today.

Friday, 2 July 2010


I love Antwerp. It is a city of contrasts and variety. A city of art and culture. A city of diamonds and fashion. A city of bars and clubs. Hustle and bustle and lots to do - yet a quiet serenity on the shores of the river Schelde. And all takes place within a very walkable, manageable heart.

Last week, for the third time in three years, we were in Antwerp, this time for the annual convention of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA). Andrew, through his company, AMRO Worldwide, has been a member of IGLTA for 8 years. He is committed to working with IGLTA and to hopefully contributing to its success. I enjoyed the convention, though I do find the networking difficult. I not naturally gregarious and as both a Brit and someone who does not run a travel business, I felt that I was a bit of an outsider.

It was good to see IGLTA having a convention in Europe. They do passionately believe that they should be an international organisation and not perceived as purely an American one. We hope we can help them in this aim. However they do make some unfortunate errors in this regard. They instituted a new series of awards at this convention, the IGLTA Honors. I do think they could have chosen a word that did not have a different spelling on each side of the pond. Using the American spelling will reinforce the perception that they are fundamentally an American organisation.

Nonetheless, I wish them well. AMRO remains a huge supported of IGLTA and will continue to work with them and will encourage travel businesses in Europe to join IGLTA..

Another strange aspect of the weekend was that AMRO has a mascot, Amro Bear, with its own facebook page. So we had to take the bear to Antwerp to take some photos of it. And here they are. I did get some strange looks as I walked round Antwerp with a teddy bear taking photos of it!