Week 7 of 2020 brings inspiring tasty moments in the new job, Valentine’s curry, Green campaigning, more On The Side people, yet another digital bank, Harley Quinn and boozy idioms.


Second week at WorldFirst and still loving it. Finding a better balance with remote working days, typically one day a week from home (so far it’s been Fridays but considering Thursday next week to mix it up).

A range of projects to focus on is challenging me (in a good way), especially with shifting priorities, but having a number of different things to work on is giving me plenty opportunity to get around the company and meet people.

On that note, Tuesday was fun; every week, newstarters are asked to take a trolley of treats around the office to introduce yourself to colleagues. I naturally jumped at the chance to meet new faces but messed up by visiting my home floor second with a lot less stock (they were very vocal about this).

My new line manager is smashing it out the park too. She’s an inspiration with the way she handles some extremely awkward conversations, our first one-to-one was about objectives, sharing her own and asking me to consider something personal over shared team/competency goals, and she’s constantly checking in to make sure all is good. Coincidentally, Nat text me the other day about some personal problems and how I was always concerned about people I managed, clearly a relevant skill to be mindful of.


School’s out on half term for the rest of the family but that means very little to me, just being more quiet in the morning when leaving for work.

The Boy had a mental wellbeing life skills day at school which presented some interesting topics including sex education with plasticine, mouling vulvas and being perplexed by the variety of shapes.

Valentines Day came on Friday, something we try not to make too much a fuss of (#LoveIsntCommercialism) but both of us end feeling guilty the night before and end up grabbing some impulse junk. Nice excuse for a few bottles of decent wine and food though and we decided to take the kids out for a curry at our favourite Indian restaurant in Rugby, Titash.

I’ve also started preparation for my local political efforts as a non-standing candidate for the Green Party. I’m equally excited and nervous about the prospect of this but it is something I get incrementally passionate about every time I talk to someone about it. It’s not about me though – it’s about the bigger picture, the planet and improving local culture to support a sustainable future for my children and their generation. Check out my WIP “campaign” page for more.


The first episode of Make Life Work series two is now done, ready for a preview with guest Naomi White. It was wonderful going through our conversation again after nearly a month since recording. I’m also mindful of how much time I spend editing to what I call the “Nicholas Parsons” effect; no hesitations, repetitions or deviations (in memory of the host of Radio 4 comedy show, Just A Minute – another blog post in the making).

On The Side has been quite active this past week too. Regular Dom Hodgson helped me grow the community a little as we welcomed Rhys and Alan to the fold where they’ve shared their side project stories. Co-founder Ben also returned after a break, finding the solution to a painful long problem he was having on some UE4 collision physics.


I managed to visit Xercise4Less on Tuesday – the new gym I signed up for in Rugby. It’s not quite the same as ASOS with the number of people in there and less engaged staff but there’s plenty equipment to use and some 99p fitness plans customised to individuals. Their app is quite impressive too so I’ll be returning next week, hopefully for two sessions.


Some new apps I’ve been playing with this week;

  • Xercise4less (as mentioned before) has some impressive UX, conveniently connected to Apple Health for synchronising any workouts (not just in their guns)
  • Curve is another online only bank I’ve signed up for, this time because it’s a clever aggregator for all other banks (thanks to Open Banking). The USP for shifting transactions between accounts is quite handy too (such as work-related budgets on one card and allowing the kids to borrow a Contacless card for convenience)
  • Dingtalk is the preferred chat app for work so I’ve been adapting to that platform where possible. Nowhere near as user-friendly as Slack or Teams but, with Alibaba support, it’s always good to “eat dog food”.
  • Ferrite (as mentioned last week) has proved really useful for editing audio in a seamless workflow. It seems to be quite battery intensive though, using about 20% of my iPad Pro 12.9″ with 45 minutes usage.

I’ve also been configuring an old iPhone and Windows PC for my daughter. I was a little reluctant to do this but her viewing habits and photos were mixing up with mine which can be a little awkward when sharing with friends and confusing recommendations. Apple Family, Microsoft Family and Google Family Link definitely come in useful for enforcing limits, monitoring behaviours but sharing suitable content together. Her first text to me whilst shopping highlighted her Brummie phonetics (despite being born-and-bred in Northampton):

Princess's first iMessage chat
What’s with the Brummy dialect?


Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey from WB/DC was an enjoyable escapism action movie with some female antagonists to hold the fort. Nothing clever (like most comic conversions) but great performance from Margot and wonderful to see a dominant female force on the production side too. The trailers for Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Wonder Woman 1984 also kept our eighties addiction on tender hooks.

As I finished Red Herrings this week, a few more idioms caught my attention worth sharing;

  • To good health” harks from the 19th century cholera outbreak in London when Dr John Snow (not that one) suggested it was linked to the local well water so people drank alcohol instead.
  • Minding your P’s and Q’s” is another classic alcohol origin whereby bartenders would keep tabs under the bar of drinks with P for “pints” and Q for “quarts” (two pints) and customers were advised to check them at the end of the night.
  • Warts and all” is from Oliver Cromwell’s days when artists typically “air-brushed” portraits of their models but Cromwell instructed his artist to break convention, highlighting a wart on his chin.