All posts by Lloyd Davis

Tony’s Memorial (day 2? or 4?)

It was good to give myself a break over the weekend even if it means I’m thinking about trivial things like day numbering…

Untitled

Having chosen this topic, it was easier for me to tidy up the most immediate stuff around my desk, making a “Tony” box and putting everything else away. But that did also remind me of the sheer amount of stuff that I’m giving myself to work through.

That’s good, it’s a stage in the project, it’s working out the actual scope of something doable in the next four weeks rather than trying to fool myself into thinking I can do the most perfect, most complete job and never have to ever think about any of this again.

One way to come at this is to ask “What would be a good end product, something that you’d feel good about sharing, that was beyond the most basic, but still had room for extension in other projects? What would that end product look like? What elements would it have?” That reminds me that there are roughly three high-level processes to go through, which I will call “Cataloguing”, “Digitizing” and “Presenting Online” – ie a first product would be a complete catalogue of all the things I have, some description or whatever metadata is appropriate and where it is. This is a first round of organisation, going from vaguely-known chaos to some initial structure and some boundary around what’s in and what’s out. It also gives some pointers to where to start with digitisation and how much effort there may be involved. Going through the digitisation not only give us something that looks more like the end product, it helps to refine the catalogue or index and to improve the metadata. Then thinking about how to present it online, how to talk about the stuff, how to link it together into a collection of stories and actually writing those stories.

Having written all of that down, I’m now better informed about the size of the whole thing and the likelihood of completing all that in 28 days is pretty low. So I’ll have more of a think about what I’d be satisfied with before starting to make some lists.


The picture is from a family trip to Oxford in the mid seventies. My brother’s age is probably the best indicator – he was born at the end of 1970 and he could easily be five or six here but probably not seven, so I’d say summer of ’77 (because you know what the British Summer of ’76 was like and it wasn’t wet like this!)

Family History Project Day 1 of 28

Today was a thinking day. Starting a new project. Well, choosing a new project first of all.

Last weekend I went through the cards I’ve been using for the last 28 days and wrote down what project idea I had for each of them. Just the first thing off the top of my head. Today I looked back over it with a view to choosing something. As I read them I realised that a couple of them had the added benefit of helping me to clear up my physical working environment and that that is quite important to me.

So I chose the Family History one, which I’d written down as “a memorial of some kind to Tony, using the stuff I’ve got of his and about him to make a something, not clear exactly what yet.”

Tony in Minehead 1973

So today I turned this into: cataloguing, digitising and writing about the materials I have from my father (he died six months ago, suddenly and unexpectedly). I have personal documents, letters, notebooks and diaries, but I also have lots of photographs of him playing music, some recordings and then press and publicity materials. And then there are other bits that are from his work as a computer programmer, again marketing materials, but also descriptions of the work that he did for ACT/Apricot in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

So that’s it. He’s not notable enough (I don’t think) for a Wikipedia page, but it would be nice to have some sort of organised memorial to him on the web, working from all the physical evidence I have and helping his descendants know who he was.

That’s it, that’s as clear a project brief and product description as I can muster right now. I think the next thing is to have a think about what might be a realistic product in 28 days, working around existing commitments and the day job, so that I can make a better plan.


Writing this reminds me that not all blog posts have titles. I mean it’s annoying to have to come up with something. Next blog software needs to not have it as a requirement, just let me write man.

Share Something Every Day – Community From What’s Lying Around

Again, building connections between people through social objects. Social objects that are things or ideas that are sitting around waiting for someone to go “oh this is interesting” and someone else to go “yes I think so too” because that’s the beginning of a new relationship and lots of those together make a community. That’s the schtick.

It’s why blogging and social media can be really good for building community. At the moment, we give more attention to the connections that people make with each other through anger, resentment, confusion and hatred – finding common bonds in who we don’t like and in the arguments that show other people are just wrong.

So I try to weave into that environment some positive and useful bonds, ones that encourage diversity and start from the principle of inclusion. That’s why working in a church ought to be a good place to do it. Not all churches are as at home with diversity and inclusion as they profess to be on Sunday. I’m grateful though that I landed in one where it’s written into our mission. One of my worries at the moment is that the members of the Muslim community, who use our Hall for Friday prayers might not be able to come to lunch because they’re praying.

I had a few people to contact today after yesterday’s post about Friday Lunch. I also had some work to do on the website. Oh and the Bowls Club has some vacancies.

Following yesterday’s order of service from 1965, today I pulled out 18 chorister’s caps from the box. One or two of them still had name labels in them. I think they might have been the non-standard sized ones. It must have been important that they got the same cap every week because they had a bigger head than everyone else. Or perhaps it was lice…

choir caps

And then I started counting out the dead batteries from the waste-box, but realised that some of them were a bit leaky and just needed to go to the recycling centre. There were a lot. We’re looking at all the things for which we might be able to be a central point for collection. To make it easier for people to recycle and re-use. Social objects again – something to talk about, something to do that feels useful.



OK that’s 28 days of making, sharing or at least being conscious of my creative process in a randomly guided way. From tomorrow I’m going to choose a project to work on for the next 28 days – it will be something big enough to take a few weeks of thinking, making and then probably re-thinking and re-making. It might not be finished in 28 days. I don’t know what it’s going to be yet, that’s the first decision.

Share Something Every Day – Community (and Wife)

A gentle day at work today. I was a bit tired after going to London last night.

The Sunflower CafĂ© group are getting to know each other better and relaxing a little. They’re excited about the music group that we’ll be restarting soon.

We found an Order of Service from the opening of the building I work in. Four Ministers and and Organist!

Untitled

I spent a lot of time this afternoon on tidying some loose ends and writing copy to promote things (and then getting up and walking around regularly to keep my brain going). I posted a thing on one of the local community groups on Facebook about our Friday Lunches and it’s had lots of nice responses.

But the main thing today is it’s my wife’s birthday (her work has sent her birthday cupcakes), so I’m not writing much and taking her out to dinner instead 🙂

Share Something Every Day – Coding

I pulled the coding card again today and carried on working on automating my general knowledge management workflow, basically how I take notes, organise ideas about things that I’ve read or written in the past and turn them into something new.

Today this involved fiddling again with Drafts to do something that’s basically a mail merge, taking some structured data and inserting it into text. This used to be word-processing bread and butter, but I don’t do it at scale in the same way. It’s also about re-using stuff that I’ve already written without digging into documents. The philosophy of Drafts (or the bit that appeals to me) is that you write stuff without knowing what it’s going to be and then when you do know, it will probably be more than one thing and so you can send it to different places. If you have several blogs and you want to post roughly the same thing to each of them, then you compose in Drafts and then just press a button to publish to each blog.

Talking of having several blogs, I was also pointed at sheet-posting (yes the pun is intended) which takes a set of Google Sheets and turns them into a blog. It’s ridiculous and distracting, but I did learn a bit about CSS and also about Google Fonts, which for some reason have passed me by. Here’s my effort.

It’s late and I shouldn’t really be writing, and it shows.

I also had a trip to Central London today. It’s still weird. I took this picture by County Hall, of Westminster Bridge which at 5pm on a Tuesday would normally be heaving with road traffic, office workers and tourists, but today was empty.

Untitled

Walking to Victoria Station from Westminster Abbey later on, it felt like it should be more like 11pm than 8pm. Even on the station most of the food and coffee outlets were already closed or closing. And there just aren’t as many people there. I encountered a woman who was lost over the road from the station, looking for the Coach Station (a common issue in that part of SW1) and I walked her round to Buckingham Palace Road and pointed her in the right direction. She was going to get a coach to Bristol I said I hoped she got there before midnight. She said “There are just so many people here.” And I’d just been thinking exactly the opposite.

On my way home, I realised that I’d just been to my third church service in as many days. I don’t know what that means, if anything.

Share Something Every Day – Various

First thing is that 13th September is my blogiversary. It’s now seventeen years since I bit the bullet and committed to keeping a weblog at https://perfectpath.co.uk and not deleting it. The main things I thought about this today were how much stuff there is in here and how I’ve never quite achieved the goal I had at the start of using it as a learning tool, it’s been great for recording and capturing and supporting that first burst of creativity but I’ve not managed the double loop stuff. Not on the blog material itself. This is probably a lie and if I went digging I’d find the evidence – the most obvious kind of thing is to see how my thinking does develop over a number of posts, just through the writing down of ideas and arguments and rambling nonsense.

I made some progress today on automating the workflow – especially making a pipe between Drafts and logseq – I’m bored with thinking about it and why it’s important – it’s not that important, but it’s neat.

I was at work this morning and most of the time was at a funeral. It’s an occupational hazard of working with older people that you see more death than the average person. I think so anyway, it sounds right, but then I think of all the people I’ve worked with who died, who were (almost by definition) below retirement age and there’s something about the structure of this sentence that makes it sound like they died because they worked with me. Which they didn’t. I am not a psychopath. Psychopaths don’t keep a blog for seventeen years.

No matter, a Requiem Mass on Monday morning is a sobering thing, whoever you are. None of the silly things floating through my head over the weekend were important compared to the visceral grief of a woman who’s lost her husband and partner in joy and laughter, even in the face of a strong faith in the resurrection. And we got to sing Psalm 23 to Crimond, which is one of my favourite things to do at any time. I’ve always loved belting it out regardless of whatever reedy wheezing and croaking of those around me. I miss Roy, who I met through his attendance at our dementia-friendly cafĂ© and singing group. He had a great smile and a twinkle in his eye. He was always smartly dressed and loved his bow ties. And despite not being able to remember much about what he’d done earlier in the morning, he loved talking about his working life as a chauffeur for the top brass at British Aerospace. I already missed his face for a while because of COVID when Julia told me that she was having a bed put up in the living room to look after him and that he wouldn’t have long. I last saw them both just after Christmas – there wasn’t any point in them getting excited about restrictions being lifted particularly, they knew that they didn’t have too much longer together.

I scanned this photo of my grandma today. I’m sure she’s in her garden – a middle-aged 1950s housewife. It was taken by my dad on his twin-lens reflex. She couldn’t see without her glasses but she also refused to be photographed wearing them. She’s probably about ten years younger in this picture than I am now. Being in your mid-forties then was not as it is now, her life must have felt like it was nearly over. Her older sister had died a few years previously. Her youngest son was a teenager, her oldest had just come back from Oxford early. She didn’t like her husband very much. She didn’t know it, but in a few years time she’d have a bleed on her brain and almost die. She also didn’t know that she’d got another thirty-odd years to live and would see her first two great-grandchildren. Who knows what she was thinking here.

Olive Davis in her garden c1958-60

Time passes.

Share Something Every Day – Sunday Review

I overdid it this week. I found that adding in exercise, more water and better sleep this week worked well on my ADHD, but left me vulnerable to doing too much. It all needs to be balanced with rest outside of sleeping at night. Yes it’s all common sense. No I still am not able to do it consistently. Also Friday has become this really busy day where I do Tuttle and then Friday Lunch at church and try to catch up with everything I’ve missed in the afternoon without having a proper lunch break… again.

Using otter.ai while I’m walking to talk through what’s on my mind has been really useful. It’s like having the ability to write index cards while I walk along the road. And I’ve been using logseq more this week, it feels more hypertexty and wiki-like for some reason. It also creates Markdown files by default, which I like.

I spent some time today going through the 15 cards (some of them I haven’t done anything on yet at all!). Again, I used otter, but this time at my desk. And I pulled them out of the box randomly and said what I thought the most important project and product for each card should be. It’s an exercise I’ve been meaning to do for ages, but have found it hard to write. It’s hard to write spontaneous notes like that, especially if you try to type them. So it’s a rambling mess, but I’ve got some more structure now. Some of them are long-form, long-term projects, others are the sort of thing where I might choose to do something every day for thirty days, or even just try to incorporate them into my morning or daily practice – like making photos, for example, it’s just good for me daily to give myself even 15 minutes of focusing on the visual and what’s going on around me that might be photographed – no obvious project jumping out at me, except make more.

So here’s some beans for you.

Untitled

I’ve noticed frustration setting in this weekend. With lack of progress, with having to rest, with people having expectations of me (which I’ve totally encouraged) with the things that are just not being touched at all – basically just by not being able to do all the things, all the time.

I need to prepare better for the week and choose some things that really need to be done to get done. There are a couple of family and work things that really need sorting.

Share Something Every Day – Music/Performance

Untitled

I put today’s gig in the book late in November 2019. Just after a holiday in Iceland, my last flight and last trip out of the country. It came out of one of those random conversations on Twitter – someone said something like “do I know anyone who’s a busker?” to which friends of friends said “@lloyddavis” and we took it from there.

It was scheduled for 17 April 2020. And rescheduled on 24 March for 1 October 2020. If you want to make God laugh, tell her your plans.

But today, having stuck a tickling stick up my nose and getting the all clear, masking up and braving the (delayed, natch) trains of the Southern Region, I toddled off to the coast to entertain the folk while they queued up to get into the Brighton Centre for the brightonseo conference.

I had a coffee afterwards with my old pal Al Robertson (who turned out to be a delegate at the conference) and then had a little walk around post-COVID Brighton, had a quick lunch and then toddled home again, tired, but happy.

A few things.

I had to take a lateral flow test and be able to show a negative result this morning in order to get a wrist band that let me into the building. I don’t mind doing this – especially since it turned out negative… – but it’s not a great thing to have to do at 10pm, let alone with the prospect hanging over you of it being positive and so not only losing the gig, but also having to isolate and worry about who I’ve been in contact with in the last few days. But also, it’s incredibly fake-able, if you really want to – you do a test at home, fill in a form to report the result and then get a text from the government saying yes, you’ve reported a negative result. So if you’re on a very low income and the opportunity to work comes up for the first time in 18 months and you haven’t ever had any symptoms but you get a positive test, the pressure must be huge to just go “nah, I’ll report it as negative, no-one will know.”

I’m really out of practice in the social niceties of going somewhere else. Partly because I wasn’t sure until 10 o’clock last night that I’d be going, but also because I just haven’t been anywhere on this basis (a little bit of work that might have been nicely rounded out by seeing some friends). In the olden days, I’d have been open about it on social media and messaged the people I know in Brighton (probably all of both the Sussexes) to see if we could say hello, but it just didn’t occur to me until this morning.

I’m also out of practice with being fully prepped for a public gig. I need to have a good sign and a range of ways for people to tip that don’t involve cash which people just aren’t carrying around any more. I need to have plenty of water and give a bit more thought to repertoire – I’ve got a standard busking set, but ordinarily I just, um, busk it – ie I don’t worry too much about repeating songs or starting in the wrong key, none of which is terrible, but it puts me off my stride, reduces my confidence and what people want to see is cheerful confidence. And I need to think a bit more about what to wear – today was the nightmare, British cold misty day after a few days of hot sunshine in September, the weather when I left home was different from the weather when I started playing which had brightened up a bit by the time I stopped playing.

But mainly – It’s bloody great to be out performing again. I just stood outside the main entrance to the Brighton Centre and played and sang and made people laugh and helped them feel a bit more OK about going out to something like this, perhaps for the first time in a few months. I really hope that this isn’t an awful super-spreader event that I should, with hindsight, have known not to support, but it felt good to be out being me in the world after so long. Oh and invoice!

Share Something Every Day

Untitled

Community

Today I learned that there are (at least) two model railway societies in Guildford. The one that most people seem to know about is the Guildford Model Engineering Society who have a base in Stoke Park. They have 3½, 5 and 7ÂĽ inch gauge passenger railways and have open days throughout the year. I didn’t know this level of detail, but now, of course, I’m going to have to plan a trip. Anyway, I met someone today from the other group, the lesser-known Astolat Model Railway Circle. I understand there was a break between the groups about fifty-years ago based on whether to work on fixed layouts (GMES) or portable ones (AMRC). So now you know too (though I’m open to being put right on details by anyone who knows better).

We heard that the church garden got a Gold medal from Guildford In Bloom. Ian, who does the garden, is justifiably proud.

I also got a list of films that we might be able to show at our Film Club. It’s tricky because of the Netflix problem of (near) infinite choice but also because we don’t really know who’s going to be interested, so we’re just going to have to plump for one and see how it goes.

We did make some progress on Panto planning today too, although again it will be interesting to see how our plan fares in contact with the people hereabouts.

I spent a brain-numbing hour on reviewing the new website layout too. At least I now know the things I need to do next and it’s not a terribly long list.

Podcast/Writing

I’ve been experimenting today with talking to otter. Otter.ai that is, the transcription service. So when I’ve had a walk (to work and back and into town for something) I’ve chatted away to my phone, which is recording what I say, sending it to otter for transcription and then at the end of the day I’ve been able to download some long rambling monologues in text and audio form. That helps me identify the (potentially) interesting bits and now I can use them either as the basis of a written piece or perhaps dropped into a podcast. In any case, it’s a good exercise for me in opening my mouth, rather than just thinking things over and over – stuff moves in me when I’ve said it out loud and I just look like an average idiot talking on their phone, whereas when I was doing this sort of thing in 2005, people thought I was proper odd.

Oh and I’m making progress using logseq.com as a general note-taker and knowledge-organiser, getting my head around syncing between all my machines and thinking about tagging and workflow. Baby steps.

I have to have an early night though because I’ve got to be up for a gig first thing in the morning and I need to polish my ukulele!

Share Something Every Day – Community

Friday Lunch With Friends

When I wrote my review of the week on Sunday, I forgot something that I’d meant to say.

I regularly forget that making Community is something that I probably work on every day. If I’m not actively doing it, I’m thinking about it. I’m writing about it or writing something that will help people connect with each other.

I have a part-time day job now. I’m Community Worker at a church just up the road from where I live. It’s lovely work and it can be challenging to do for someone who’s recent experience in community building has been mostly with people who want to be online and want to organise online – the congregation I work with are open-minded and enthusiastic about digital things but they just don’t have much experience and often default to the ways that they’ve always organised things. This isn’t always wrong but it can carry a bigger overhead, which might not be achievable or sustainable in a two-and-a-half-day week. There’s a big need to attract new volunteers and for me to delegate much more.

I managed to write a weeknote for the church website last Friday. That’s a discipline I’d like to maintain, even if it finds a different home.

I’ve rejigged my week to be Monday morning, Wednesday all day and Friday all day. That gives me days like today to do other things. Wednesday’s main thing is Sunflower CafĂ©, our dementia-friendly coffee morning and Fridays revolve around the community lunch. I’m hoping that doing that every Friday will serve as a focus for attracting those new volunteers and collaborators.

This week I’m also going to be working on making the website a bit more useful, how we bring back our dementia-friendly singing group and working up the idea of a community theatre group – aiming to do a panto at Christmas.

On Friday mornings I also have been running Tuttle (my long-running networking event for people who don’t like going to networking events) on Zoom since March last year. It’s been fun and we’ve settled to a regular core who enjoy seeing each other.

And I’m aware that blogging again regularly (in my personal capacity) is also helping to recreate and revitalise some connections that had faded away somewhat.