The Workers’ Day day tarnished by high blood pressure and sad news.

Spent half the night trying to work out who Nick ‘Forest’ Offerman, lead character in DEVS reminded me of – then it came to me . It was Paul Beasley, former Labour leader of Tower Hamlets Council (back in the 1980s) last heard of backing Respect in 2004, as an antidote to New Labour.

DEVS felt overdone. I could have been sorted in six episode without losing its ‘message’. Its main characters were not persuasive. Only Alison Pill as the icy second-in-command, and the enigmatic old man Stephen McKinley Henderson held the screen, in my book. In the end I found it rather mawkish.

The highlight of the morning was the unexpected arrival on foot and pushchair of my son and his two children. They sat outside on the bench and I sat on the front garden steps and we had coffee and chocolate biscuits, and some of my coffee cake. They went off with 6 fresh eggs, some seeds and my latest acquisition – a power washer. My son has ripped up half the decking that was in his garden and is planting vegetable. He’s not sure if that makes him mature, or just getting middle aged. (I hope he doesn’t read this.)

While they were here I learned that the milkman had had the postman’s chocolate! I suppose that is one form of solidarity. I gave the postman another bar, even though there was no post for me, again.

Blood pressure very high again today. Contacted health centre this morning and the doc will ring this afternoon. Never know quite what to do when its high – exercise or rest? Padded around the garden doing odd jobs.

I spent a part of the afternoon, when the rains came, trying to get into Ema, a special preview of the Chilean film on MUBI. Maybe I just don’t get dance, but the reggaeton sequences did nothing for me. And the convoluted story around a couple’s angst about abandoning their troubled adoptive son did not hold me.

A friend called from Tanzania just as the doctor was about to call, so we delayed the conversation, while I went described my symptoms. The doctor recommended upping the dose of my medicine and instructed me to get my weight down. So its the exercise machines for me – evidently gardening is not enough.  

Things are getting tough in Tanzania, where the tourist industry is on its knees and unlike Kenya, where the government is providing some support  to a key element of its economy, many safari companies are facing collapse.

Other shocking news from Africa arrives. A cousin has come across an obituary for another of our cousins. Terry Dempsey was killed instantly when a gyrocopter fell out of the sky while the family were attending the dispersal of a relative’s ashes at the Vaal Marina never Vereeniging, South Africa. That was more than a year ago. 

Terry was a songwriter and impresario. His biggest hit was Daydreamer, a 1973 hit for David Cassidy. A year later Terry adapted it as Le Mal Aimé which gave Claude Francois a No. 1 in France. His songs were also recorded by Cilla Black, Petula Clark, Tom Jones, Cliff Richard and Tina Turner,.

The last time I saw Terry was in 2007 when I was working in Johannesburg. Initially he had seemed reluctant to meet when I told him I was only there for a short time at the 5th World Summit on Media for Children. I had last seen him at family funeral, and had hoped it would be an opportunity to get to know each other. I would have known him as a child when the family lived in Bristol, but we had lost touch. His branch of the family had moved to southern Africa in the 1950s.

He belatedly dropped out of a scheduled evening meeting and when we met for breakfast next day he seemed reticent, contradicted much of the received wisdom about his early days, and abandoned our conversation after less than twenty minutes. It was all a bit odd and sad. So today’s news had added poignancy.

I prepared my signature fish pie for Iftar tonight. Our meal was ‘shared’ with friends by Skype, an interesting experience. I went without white wine, as an indication of  my commitment to losing weight… Not sure how long I will be able to keep that up.

Another cheerful edition of Gogglebox nicely rounded off the evening, though I had seen almost none of the programmes under review.

Mike J

Journalist, trainer, editor; storyteller; amateur historian.

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