Hello again. I hope you’re doing well, in what I know are worrying and stressful times for many, given all the economic, financial, environmental and political turmoil at the moment.
It’s certainly not the ideal time for me to be made redundant, that’s for sure – not that there is a ever a good time of course. Fortunately my mother and I are doing fine though, despite that. We’re lucky to be in a comfortable financial position where we can ride this out for a while, and I can have a nice break to reset while I consider what to do next. I’ve got plenty to keep me busy as well. But hopefully it won’t be too long before I find a new career. Given all the financial and economic uncertainty, however, we have decided not to move house for the time being – but then that was never essential anyway, it was just something we were considering. It will happen eventually, at a later date, and in the meantime we’ve got some small improvements we can make to our current place.
Anyway, I’ve now finished my first ever job, and I’ve made a post all about my last month at work and the wonderful messages I’ve received, including a lovely gift I was sent by one department, so do check that out for more details. I’m flattered and humbled by the amount of kindness everyone has shown, and I will miss my colleagues very much.
Beyond that, because work was my main focus, I haven’t done a huge amount this month, and there were even a couple of weekends where I couldn’t go out at all. But there are still a few happier things to mention, as I celebrated my birthday, received an award and briefly visited a couple of museums. Plus I really enjoyed watching the Commonwealth Games on TV, so I’ve written quite a bit about those in this post, and I revisited the 2012 Olympics & Paralympics on Blu-ray, which I’ve already written about elsewhere. So, while August wasn’t very eventful overall, I hope you still find some items of interest in this latest roundup!
I celebrated my 39th birthday this month, which means I’m now entering my 4oth year – and you know what they say about life at 40. New beginnings lie ahead for sure, this will be quite a significant year for me in one way or another.
I got money from my mother as usual, some t-shirts and money from my aunt, and an audiobook from my friend Claire (which I will tell you about in next month’s post after I’ve listened to it on my travels, but it is a fun book I’ve had my eye on). We also bought a couple of lovely birthday cakes from Sainsbury’s for Mum’s birthday and mine, amongst other little treats that we got in for ourselves. So we’ve eaten well!
I also had a lovely surprise from the Aniridia Network this month, who very kindly gave me a Volunteer Award and a £20 Amazon voucher, in recognition of the video editing and social media posts that I occasionally do for their events and campaigns. So many thanks to them for that!
During September I’ll start editing the videos from this year’s Aniridia Network Conference that took place online during August, and it had some interesting talks as usual, so keep an eye out for those presentations on their Youtube channel in the weeks ahead.
And as I mentioned earlier, I received a nice gift from one of the departments at work in response to my redundancy, so check out my leaving post to find out what that was.
Out & About
I haven’t been out a lot this month, as there were a couple of weekends where I couldn’t go out at all – once because of another major heatwave alongside Tube line closures, and another week because of a stomach bug that Mum and I had for a couple of days (it quickly passed, we’re fine now).
However, I have been to a couple of museums for brief visits, both of which I had never been aware of before.
One I’m not going to mention just yet, as I was visiting on their invitation to discuss the accessibility of their proposed new signage, and I know they’re talking to other people as well. So I’ll talk about them at a later date, after I’ve been back for a return visit to see how things are progressing.
The other museum is one that I briefly visited with my friend James. I joined him and his wife for a walk with their adorable greyhound through the Walthamstow Wetlands, which took us to the Markfield Beam Engine & Museum in Tottenham. We didn’t look around the museum itself, as we were only stopping off for lunch at their café. But before we ordered our food, and while the dog was looked after by his wife, James and I went to watch a demonstration of the museum’s huge Victorian steam engine that we were just in time for. It’s very impressive, and worth a look if you’re in the area, I had no idea it existed before. I’ve posted a short video of it in action that you can look at.
Sport has dominated my TV viewing this month. Sure, I’ve watched my usual comedy shows as well – with the new episodes of The Last Leg & Cats Does Countdown on Channel 4, and Season 20 of Family Guy starting on ITV2 (with the first episode about Lois briefly going blind) – and some more of my favourite comedies are returning in the autumn schedules. But athletes have had my attention more than comedians overall lately.
You will have noticed, for example, that I’ve been revisiting the London 2012 Olympics & Paralympics to mark their 10th anniversary, and have made detailed review posts about the Olympics Opening Ceremony, highlights from Days 1-8 & 9-16, the Olympics Closing Ceremony, highlights of the Paralympics and related TV shows that I recorded. So feel free to check all of that out, I really enjoyed going through it all again.
And now this year the UK have held another major sporting event, with the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. They did a remarkable job at staging the Games, considering they had to take them on relatively late after Durban pulled out, and the pandemic severely disrupted their preparations as well.
I enjoyed watching quite a lot of the coverage, and it was fantastic to see 8 para sports integrated with all the others, meaning they all contributed to the same medal table. It was also great to see the BBC covering several of the achievements by the disabled participants within their extensive coverage of the Games, and Ellie Simmonds was on their presenting team for the Opening Ceremony. There were also more medals awarded to women than men for the first time. It was very inclusive indeed.
I wasn’t hugely into the ceremonies, as I recorded them and ended up skipping quite a bit of them. A lot of it just felt hard to follow or just wasn’t my type of music. But it was wonderful to see them celebrating the multicultural history and heritage that is so integral to the city.
In the Opening Ceremony, the huge animatronic bull they had was really impressive – and I’ve since seen it in person during a trip to Birmingham, which I’ll tell you about in my next Favourites post. I enjoyed seeing the various classic cars as well, and it was fun to see the England team arriving to the sound of Queen’s We Will Rock You (a hybrid mix of the slow and fast versions of the track), including a blind athlete with a guide dog. Duran Duran put on a good finale show too.
Meanwhile in the Closing Ceremony I enjoyed seeing Dexys Midnight Runners singing Come On Eileen, Musical Youth performing Pass The Dutchie and UB40 doing Red Red Wine. But the highlight, of course, was Ozzy Osbourne’s surprise reunion with Tony Iommi, with Tony playing the intro to Iron Man before Ozzy rose up to the stage and performed his classic Paranoid, with lots of fireworks and flashing lights. The 73-year-old ‘Prince of Darkness’ hasn’t performed for several years due to ill health from Parkinson’s, so it was a special moment.
As for the sporting action itself, here are my main highlights:
- The artistic gymnastics was particularly special and impressive for various reasons. England’s men become the first team to win three successive Commonwealth golds. And the women’s team also won gold. We also did well in the individual events, with gold and silver for the men in the all-round final, silver in the women’s all-round final, and more golds on the separate apparatus competitions. 20-year-old Jake Jarman was a particular star, coming away with 4 golds in total, while Joe Fraser got 3 golds. All in all, we had the most successful English artistic gymnastics team ever at the Commonwealth Games, with 10 golds, 5 silvers and 1 bronze. And as for Scotland, no woman had ever won a Commonwealth medal in artistic gymnastics, but Shannon Archer changed that by getting a bronze.
- We also got our first ever gold in rhythmic gymnastics, courtesy of 17-year-old Marfa Ekimova in the women’s individual all-round competition (where she performed 4 routines to music, with a ball, hoop, clubs and ribbon respectively). Wales won gold too, thanks to Gemma Frizelle in the hoop event.
- In the velodrome, visually impaired Neil Fachie won his 5th gold to equal the Scottish record, and also got a silver, the first time he’d been beaten. As for England, our only gold came in superb style from Laura Kenny, and was all the more impressive after a difficult year in which she’s had a miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy. There was a big crash for England’s Matt Wallis though.
- In the swimming pool, Alice Tai won gold for England in the S8 100m backstroke, less than 200 days after having her right leg amputated. And Adam Peaty secured gold in the 50m breaststroke, the only event he hadn’t already won before.
- As for diving, England took all 3 podium places in the 3m springboard final, with Dan Goodfellow getting the gold. We also won both gold and silver in the mixed synchronised 10m platform, with Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix & Noah Williams getting the top spot. 17-year-old Andrea also won gold by herself in the 10m platform final. And Matty Lee got bronze in the 10m platform after an incredible gold winning dive by Australia’s Cassiel Emmanuel Rosseau. Altogether England had their most successful diving team in Commonwealth Games history, with 6 gold, 4 silver and 5 bronze medals. Meanwhile, Grace Reid & James Heatly won the mixed synchronised 3m springboard for Scotland.
- In athletics, Scotland’s Eilish McColgan beat Irine Cheptai from Kenya on the home straight to win an incredible gold in the women’s 10,000m, with the crowd roaring her on increasing loudly during the last lap. She broke the Games record and emulated her mother Liz McColgan’s previous victories in the event, and she was there to witness it and congratulate her daughter. There was also another great commentary by Steve Cram accompanying it. Eilish went on to win silver in the 5,000m, and there was further success for Scotland when Laura Muir won the 1500m. Meanwhile, for England, Katarina Johnson-Thompson successfully defended her heptathlon title, and we comfortably won the men’s 4 x 100m relay, while getting silver in the women’s equivalent. But our sensational photo-finish gold in the women’s 4 x 400m was disqualified after Jodie Williams was seen to have accidentally crossed lanes by a matter of millimetres during the first changeover.
- In the para athletics events, Hannah Cockcroft won her first ever Commonwealth gold in the T33/34 100m final, while visually impaired Zachary Shaw won silver in the T11/12 100m. However, David Weir suffered a puncture in the wheelchair marathon, yet still managed to push on and finish 7th, while the race was won by teammate Johnboy Smith.
- Away from the stadium, England won all 3 golds in the triathlons, including the men’s and women’s races for the visually impaired, which were won by Dave Ellis & Katie Crowhurst, along with the mixed team relay (in which Wales got silver).
- Guernsey won their first Commonwealth medals for 28 years, with Lucy Beere winning silver in the lawn bowls, and Alistair Chalmers gets bronze for Guernsey in the 400m hurdles. It’s only the third time that Guernsey have won two medals at a Commonwealth Games since they started taking part in 1970. And there was further history in the lawn bowls when 75-year-old George Miller won the B2/B3 mixed pairs final for Scotland, becoming the oldest Commonwealth Games gold medallist.
- In the para powerlifting, Micky Yule won bronze for Scotland. This was significant as he had previously been treated at hospital in Birmingham after returning from military service from Afghanistan in a coma. JJ Chalmers, the presenter of the BBC’s nightly highlights programme, is a good friend of Micky Yule, so he got very emotional on the show as he praised Micky’s achievements and thanked the city for saving both their lives. It was very moving.
- And finally, even though it’s not a sport that interests me, it’s still worth celebrating the fact that England’s women won their first ever gold in the hockey, with a 2-1 victory over Australia. The crowd eagerly counted down the last 10 seconds of the match before going wild.
So there was a huge amount going on, with lots more that I haven’t mentioned here. In the end, England came 2nd in the medal table with a record 176 medals, consisting of 57 gold, 66 silver and 53 bronze!
And just a few days after the Commonwealth Games, we also had the multi-sport European Championships in Munich, as well as the spin-off European Aquatics Championships in Rome for the swimmers. I did see some of those too, but they were harder to follow as the BBC didn’t broadcast highlights programmes each day, so I just caught little bits of live coverage and other little updates online when I could. But I particularly enjoyed seeing how successful we were in the gymnastics again, as well as watching some of the diving and athletics. And overall Great Britain did very well indeed, coming second in the medal table with 24 gold, 19 silver and 17 bronze!
So that’s basically it. This really has been a somewhat quiet month away from work, as I expected it to be. But I hope you enjoyed this little catchup post as always.
September is going to make up for that in any case, as I’m going to see a few shows, do a bit of travelling and socialising, and take part in an intriguing research project involving something I’ve never done before. Then October and November have exciting things lined up as well. So there will be plenty to mention in the weeks ahead, I’m looking forward to sharing it all with you!