Well, things have been a bit interesting since last I posted. In short, I was made redundant. The contract for the peer and social support project I coordinated was terminated, the funding cut. I had a feeling it was coming, there had been a pretty dramatic reduction in funding a few years ago, and it never fills you with confidence when contracts are only a year, or 6 months at a time.
When I first got the news my anxiety went into overdrive – I spent the following week or so constantly nauseous with it. I was sure I was going to give myself an ulcer. Then, after a few of the formalities, when I was able to see how long my settlement would last it got a bit easier. Facts help. Tangibility. Something solid with work with.
There was a slump in physical activity – so much to get my head around trying to draw the project (which had been going since 2012) to a close in less than a month. I was on holiday for a week too during this time – a family get-together which is a long-standing tradition. I skipped bmx, I was out of town and not near any park runs, I was drained from worry. The last few weeks at work where incredibly busy. This seemed rather perverse to me at the time. One leaving do (with the therapists who I’ve been working alongside), then a week in Wales. Usually I have the bike with me but not this time. I made do with coastal walking and a run along the local beaches. Then back to London, a leaving do with my clients. Then… done.
I felt a huge sense of relief, much larger than I expected. That’s when I came to fully appreciated just how stressed (consistently!) I’ve been over the past 2-3 years. This probably shouldn’t have surprised me as much as it did.
So I’ve been reflective. Soooo reflective. I’ve been considering how started warming to the idea of riding, and how it was a rather soft entry to the world of cycling. Truth is, and I might have already written about this but I can’t remember and I can’t be arsed to check, it was the social side and the community spirit which brought me back to the Eastway Cycle Circuit in East London again and again during the summer of 2003.
The Beastway Summer Mountain Bike Series at Eastway was a warm environment within which I grew to love riding. And that was without participating in the races themselves. Actually, I did one and it both nearly killed me and brought the revelation that I Could Do Stuff I Thought I Couldn’t. With a bit of encouragement, that was. Aside from that you would have found me setting up the course, at the sign-on desk, and at the finish line as part of the lap-scoring team week after week. The Beastway sign-on desk was where I first encountered Grayson Perry. He was up for the Turner Prize that year but when I met him it was before the results had been announced. It was not a surprise that we didn’t see him after that as he was very much in demand, to say the least! I think a fair few people who know his ceramic work are unaware of the significance of cycling to his life.
I caught a notice of an event with him next Thursday (24th Oct). Some of my London readers might be interested as it promises to be a fab evening in Grayson’s company. I’m gutted I can’t make it as I’ll be out of town. Someone go and let me know what it was like! I’m presuming there’ll be a bit of everything – mental health, pottery, gender identity, but maily about the joys of both pootling about and thrashing about on a bike. There are still some tickets left so grab one while you can.
Tickets are £18.50-£22.50 and you can give the box office a ring on 020 7739 6176 or visit the venue site and book online.
Meanwhile I’ll be off to Spain for a few days (though back before the 31st *stares*). This trip, also without bike (feels weird), has been planned for sometime – it’s been great to have it to look forward to whilst going through all the redundancy nonsense. Some of you may remember that I visited Anna Glowinski out in Spain back in March, and I’ll be heading back there again. With the clocks changing the end of next week it feels like a good time to be heading somewhere warmer and coastal. Sea breezes always sweep the cobwebs away.
In the meantime, while I’m job-searching, the landscape stutters from last throes of vibrancy to more muted tones in the inescapable forwards slip of the seasons I will be employing my usual tactic of AGGRESSIVE EXERCISE™ to see out the winter months. More on this in due course. (Spoiler: lots of group turbo training. I bloody love it.)
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