I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t happy to be working from home this week. For late April, and less than eight weeks till the nights start drawing in, the weather has been shocking. We’re kinda used to four seasons in one day in Scotland, but this week has been ridiculous in the extreme. The only thing we were missing this week was fog, but my brain managed to make up for that. Work has been right in the zone.
I’m probably going to bore you forever with my assertion that I’ve landed the best job in Scotland, because this must be the third week in a row that I’ve mentioned it. It’s now been five weeks since I was deemed surplus to requirements at my last place but I’m definitely starting to think that I’ve never been happier or more personally challenged in my work…
Just like LCFN: the challenge is relentless.
I now realise that in a standard 9 to 5 job, you turn up when they tell you, work, watch the clock then leave again. And if they’re lucky, you’ll do a wee bit extra for free. My new role is nothing like that. I have so many interesting technical challenges lying ahead that the kiddie in a sweet shop scenario is totally bang on. My professional life and my LCFN life are now intertwined by a single common theme: I only get paid by turning up and delivering the goods. It’s a responsibility I love.
I just checked my timesheet for the week: morning starts at 7, half 7, a couple at 8, and one at half 9. And finishes at 4, a couple at 6, one at half seven and another at 8. I am my own boss. But before you baulk at those late finishes, let me tell you that if Carslberg did lunchtimes , they’d do LCFN lunchtimes. Never less than two hours, and often stretching out to three depending on the route. Except yesterday when I went out at 7am because I knew the snow was coming. Yesterday, just like the old days, LCFN beat the weather forecast. Again.
My work reflects the bike: when I’m on it, I’m seriously on it. Some people from my old job who know me well know that my best ideas come when I’m out there on the road. So get this: smash four or five hours in the morning, get to a point where your brain is frazzled, then head out on the road for two hours of mental regeneration. You would not believe how stimulated I return to the keyboard for the afternoon shift. It works: it really, really works.
And see the best bit: my new boss down south believes in me. He believes not only in what I can do and what value I can add to his business (half of which he doesn’t even know yet by the way…) but most importantly he believes in the way I deliver it. Work / Play / Work / Play… I’ve seen me bang in three or four sessions a day, all serious stuff and all broken up by walking away from the keyboard. And still ending up with more hours at the end of the week that I’ve done in years. I work hard at my job…
Just like LCFN: it’s relentless
Changing the subject completely, but for good reason, when I was wee, I learnt that that the best way to enjoy life is to do the things that you don’t like first. That way, if they take longer than expected (or you want) then it really doesn’t matter because you got the job done on your terms and in good time, whereas if you cherry pick the good stuff first, then you just get left with the miserable shitty stuff at the back end, and that’s no way to be. That’s called stress. Once upon a time I I used to do stress: not anymore. Today I got to 4 o’clock, knew I’d had enough and I stopped. No clock watching, no filling in the rest of the day. I clocked off and went to buy beer.
Now: this is the season when people emerge from the darkness of winter and go fundraising. Last week it was the London Marathon and 38,000 duly plodded their way round the capital of South Britain because it’s the thing to do. It’s the fundraising equivalent of having a personalised number plate: a party piece if you like “yeah, I’ve done London…”. I don’t know what it costs to enter the London Marathon these days, I read somewhere that it’s a hunnerd tokens just to sit at the table, and that’s before you start fundraising. LCFN might be small fry by comparison but you know what? Against one corporate run round England’s capital city, I’ll raise you 557 days (and counting) of 42.7 miles a day, on top of a full time job. No frills, no corporate sponsorship, no jollies and certainly no nice weather: just me, my bike and my desire to raise awareness for kids who I believe get a raw deal. Kids cancer doesn’t do nice corporate days. They’re all days like mine. Hard…
I saw a stat today. It landed on my timeline courtesy of a friend who was disgusted by the corporate branding of kids on Cancer Research UK’s front page. The story went on to explain that a parent had played email ping pong with the charity in order to ascertain exactly how much of their fundraising goes specifically to kids cancer. The ping pong exchange was evasive, and no wonder… Cancer Research UK is probably the best known cancer charity in the UK, just like Just Giving is probably the best known online fundraiser. CRUK’s budget for kids’ cancer is just 1.2% (yes you did read that right, it did say one point two percent!). So the next time they rattle a tin under your nose, ask the question. And remember the answer: 1.2%. They are using images of sick kids for branding and little else. And that itself is sick in my opinion.
When I started LCFN, I took out a Just Giving account to feed the NCCA as it was back then (Solving Kids Cancer as it is now) then one of the guys at the NCCA asked me if I knew that Just Giving took 6.7% as an admin fee. I didn’t know. And that’s why I now have a second fundraising account: Virgin Money Giving take 2% by comparison. Online fundraising is big business and it pays to shop around.
It’s like Children In Need, Comic Relief and Sport Relief. The last time I looked (about three years ago), these establishment charity corporations employed about 25 people earning a hundred and fifty grand a year. Imagine how far that £3.75m would go if people donated it to their local foodbank instead of chucking it into the corporate establishment pot.
Life as I see it is not about glitz and unearned gongs. Real life is about doing things that take you waaaaaaay out of your comfort zone, to a place where basically you don’t know whether you’ll survive. Do your homework on a bloke called Sid Sidowski. Sid is to kids with brain cancer what Tommy Melly is to kids with neuroblastoma. Tommy runs as Batman: Sid runs as a morph. And right now, this minute on this day, Morphman is five marathons into seven in seven days round South Britain: and suffering big time. I saw his video blog at seven miles this morning and thought for a moment “this is it: Sid might not make this today”. Pain beyond pain. But Sid knows how to handle pain, especially the mental sort: he supports the Villa. I like Sid. I like him a lot. But what Sid doesn’t know (yet) is that he needs to team up with Jimmy Harrington. These guys are one when it comes to helping kids with brain cancer: no frills, no big deals, just a burning personal desire to get the job done. Which reminds me… I’m walking with Tara Gladys in a couple of weeks to raise awareness of Foodbanks and Mental Health issues in the north of Glasgow. That seven mile walk across the top of the town replaces the Highland March on my agenda this year.
Apart from Sid, I haven’t namechecked anyone this week, so I’m gonna give a big shout out to Nic Naish and ask people who read my blog to follow Nic’s weekly exercise and nutrition blog (on Facebook). It’s short, it’s sharp and it’s always relevant. Because Nicola has good reason for making it so: she’s a survivor.
Now, I said earlier that my new role is a lovely mix of work and play. But unfortunately not so (as much) for the next two weeks. I’m in Landan next week, learning new tricks so I can be even more useful to my new bossman. And the week after that I’m all over the place in South Britain, combining more new tricks with meeting people at the sharp end. But the sharp end pays the bills. And it saves lives. That’s as cryptic a clue as you’re ever likely to get in terms of what I actually do these days, but my new role is every bit as inspiring as LCFN has been these last 557 days.
PS: stick Kids Cancer Cycling Neuroblastoma into Google… It’s like having a Christmas number one.