It’s Lights Out…

On-Line Gaming
As I have probably mentioned before, I love watching people play video games online. My current favourite is Codemasters’ F1 2019 – soon to be replaced by this year’s iteration of the game. The lock down period has been a blessing for discovering Formula 1 Twitch live streamers.

As I write these words, however, I am listening to an LMP 1 car race around LeMans in a virtual 24 Hours of LeMans live stream. Each team has four drivers, each of whom drives for a certain number of hours before handing over the to the next person. I don’t know who organised this race but it must have taken a lot of work. I imagine the stamina required to race is also pretty high!

The Last of Us Part 2
I discovered Twitch in 2014 when I started watching The JHN Files play the original Last of Us game. I was captivated by both game and the live broadcast. The Last of Us Part 2 finally came out on Friday, and I can’t wait to play it.

The game was originally meant to be released at the end of May but earlier that month was suddenly and indefinitely delayed. A specific reason wasn’t given for this, which led me to wonder if it was because the game – in which your character has to survive in a world that has been ravaged by a pandemic – might not sell so well in a world currently being ravaged by, well, a pandemic.

Fast forward a few weeks and all of a sudden, Naughty Dog, the company behind the game, announced that it would come out on 19th June. Why? Probably because an irate developer who had left the company/been sacked published spoilers about the game online. Thankfully, I managed to avoid those so can still look forward to diving into the game as soon as I have a chance.

The Path to Rome
Today is 21st June. In 1901, Hilaire Belloc is eight days away from Rome. I have written my tweets (@PathtoRome1901) covering his journey up to the 25th. Today, I hope to write the last four days worth. Then, I will be able to relax and think about ‘what next’? I want to read more Belloc. Do I have the time? If I do, what should I read?

Protests
The protests that started out as a reaction to the death of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis (USA) are now in some places morphing into a wider campaign against statues of people from various periods and backgrounds.

Predictably, statues of slave owners have been pulled down – here in the U.K. a statue of Edward Colston was dropped into Bristol Harbour by protesters.

Less predictably, I have seen photos/footage of a statue of Union General and U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant being pulled down; the same treatment has been meted out to a statue of George Washington and St. Junipero Serra. A bust of the novelist Cervantes has also been defaced. All these have happened in America.

What’s going on? I have read that Grant only ever owned one slave, who he inherited, and who he set free as soon as he was able. Cervantes was not a slave owner but rather, held as a slave for several years. Maybe these details are incorrect. But if they are right, they provide proof that for some people, what started out as a Black Lives Matter protest is dissipating into a campaign against anyone they happen to dislike. If that is the case, their campaign, lacking any solid foundation will surely collapse in due course.

But maybe they know perfectly well what they are doing and these acts of destruction are part of a deliberate campaign to destroy public remembrances of the past. Is this a good thing? No. Individuals or unauthorised groups who destroy statues are declaring that they have the authority to shape how society remembers the past. But this authority belongs only to the people as a whole (through the government) or the private organisation that owns the statue. Individuals who destroy statues or any public remembrance make themselves petty tyrants.

If the government or private organisation takes down the statue without considering first the pros and cons of doing so also acts in a tyrannical fashion. Once a statue goes up, it should only come down after the matter has been given full consideration. Nothing else will do.

When we ask ‘what is going on’, there is, of course, another option that we should be alert to: that agent provocateurs are acting in order to discredit their rivals.

Football Returns
The Premier League returned last Wednesday. Sky Television is broadcasting its games on two channels – one with fake crowd noise and one without. Neither are satisfactory. Hearing the fake crowd noise and seeing the empty stands is too distracting to be acceptable. Watching a game without any crowd sound at all takes away any sense of urgency and almost all the excitement. With that said, I prefer watching the games with no sound as at least its more honest.

I am not fond of the fact that all the players take the knee/have the Black Lives Matter wording on their shirts. I dislike particular causes getting so much publicity when there are so many others out there that are extremely important and necessary yet get little or no publicity at all.

Sainsbury’s
Up till last Friday, the queue for Sainsbury’s was getting shorter and shorter every week. On Friday, though, it was a rather longer. A sign of things to come? Probably not. I think I just arrived at the wrong moment. For example, a week or two ago, I arrived at the store when there was virtually no queue and left when it was as long as this week’s.

Also, per Government guidelines, I have started wearing a face mask when in store. Strangely, though, most people are now not doing so! The other week, one of the Sainsbury’s staff very kindly showed me how to wear it in a way that reduces the amount of fogging over on my glasses. Very useful! (I’m probably the last person in the world to realise this but in case you don’t know, you just bend the metal strip so that it follows the contour of your nose).

The Camino
I have heard that the Camino is opening again in July, which is great news. It won’t be like before, though: face masks must be worn in albergues, and I think there will be a reduced number of beds available. Next year is a Holy Year for Santiago. This should mean that pilgrim numbers go up, up, up. It will be interesting to see what happens if the coronavirus remains an issue (as will likely be the case bar the discovery of a vaccine). I would like to walk the Francés again next year. In the current climate, I really don’t know if that will happen.

An Unexpected Letter
This week, I received a letter from HMRC saying that I had paid too much tax over the last year. The reimbursement will be very gratefully received. This week, I found an old USB stick and on it was a document with my Government Gateway number on it. This means I can finally sort out my tax status for my current job, which is a great relief.

Lessons Learnt From The Camino

On Sunday morning I got to thinking (once more) about what I learnt from my first Camino. At the same time, I asked myself if I was remembering what I had learnt. Unfortunately, I realised that I was not. Here are the lessons that came to mine:

  1. Appreciate water, and drink it regularly
    This is hard: day-to-day how does one truly appreciate a thing? It’s easy with a person – you show them kindness, etc – but with a thing?
    As for drinking water regularly, I know that I don’t do that. For several weeks now, I have been meaning to look on-line to see how much I am supposed to drink per day but have not yet done so. I have in the past, only to forget the information and drink less.
  2. Eat healthily
    I would say that my diet isn’t too bad, but it still involves regular amounts of sweets, crisps and fizzy drinks. They need to either stop or at least slow down until I get a sense of balance in my diet.
  3. So Far As You Are Able, Look After Your Body
    I have failed badly in this. In May 2018 I developed a muscle complaint in my right thigh that my doctor suggested I go to physiotherapy for. He gave me the requisite form to fill out and send off but I didn’t do anything about it: I didn’t want to take the time off work. As a result, the complaint got worse. It didn’t stop me from walking the Camino but it did make me need Ibuprofen on a pretty regular basis and it did make trekking polls a fairly essential part of my kit. When I got home from the Camino, I should have sent the form off then but still didn’t for the same reason as before. I am only now doing something about it. Yesterday, I sent the form away. The physio’ will be on the NHS so I will have to wait a while for a response but hopefully they will be able to alleviate the problem if not cure it. After nearly two years of doing nothing I have to admit that I just don’t feel deserving of a cure.
  4. Travel Lightly
    This has multiple meanings.
    On a day-to-day basis it means keep as clean a desk as possible, throw away any paperwork you don’t need, get rid of any possessions – whether it is tech, books, or anything else – that you don’t need. All this is important as I am a bit of a hoarder. I do try to be tidy but so far it is more of an on-off thing than a permanently on, if you see what I mean.
    Travel Lightly also has a deeper meaning, for example, don’t let yourself be attached to material possessions, don’t buy anything except for what you really need (whether on account of beauty or utility or anything in between). As with the day-to-day meaning, I currently get rid of what I don’t need on an on-off basis. In the depths of my heart, I love what I have too much. I know this to be true because whenever I am ill and start thinking about worse case scenarios I am sad at what I will lose by dying. A Christian who is truly aligned to God should not be thinking in this way.
  5. Be Prepared to Make New Friends
    Since coming home from Santiago I have not made any real effort to make new friends. I definitely need to think about this more and then come to a conclusion and then act upon it. But why must I make new friends? That’s a good question with lots of answers, one of which is because I am not, and don’t want to be, a recluse.

So, five lessons learnt from the Camino. What next? First of all, don’t be surprised if I come back to this subject in another post – especially if I think of more lessons. In the meantime, I am going to use this post as an opportunity to ask myself how I can implement the ones above. For example, I have just looked up how much water should one drink per day. The website said two litres (three pints) so that’s what I am going to try and do. What about the other lessons? Let’s see.