Out and about in sunny weather

The new normal, eating out wearing a coat, buying drinks with an app

I read an article last week, written by Suzanne Moore, about how she's feeling a bit wobbly about the easing of lockdown.

I know the feeling.

On the one hand, I'm looking forward to eating out without wearing my winter jacket. On the other, I'm worried about being near people indoors.

I'm bored senseless of looking at the same four walls every day while being apprehensive at the consequences of being able to look at whatever four walls I fancy means for my health.

Managing to get by on very little for the past six months and suddenly recognising that my monthly drinks allowance (about four bottles of semi-decent wine) is just about going to stretch to two meals out with friends.

I can't help thinking about what happened when they let us all out and how that turned out, shutting down all the shops a week before Christmas. Are we really out of the woods? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

A week later…

This weekend I dipped my toe in the water of the new normal and walked around Kensington and Waterloo. I had my second jab, and I was feeling more confident than usual about defeating the virus. Bob and I walked from London Bridge to Waterloo, and it felt just like the old normal on any other unusually sunny day in the Capital. It was as busy as Oxford Street on a pre-pandemic Saturday. People of all ages dressed for all weather – from young women in light summery dresses and bare legs to (mainly) men in long trousers and jackets, anticipating that even though it was hot and sunny, the clouds might roll overhead at any moment.

We went to a pub and had to order drinks via an app, which I suspected might be a total pain in the a** but turned out to be reasonably straightforward, with the drinks arriving at our table minutes later. I spent far too much money. I felt a bit high on the people and the laughter and the fact that I wasn't wearing a coat while sitting outside a pub. It all felt a bit surreal but in a good way.

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Startup School for Seniors kicked off again this week, thanks to a last-minute service level agreement from Ealing Council. We were in the process of trialling a paid-for version of the course and very quickly had to do a complete about-turn, refunding the participant's money and changing the home page of our website. 

It was both a relief to get the contract and an incredible amount of pressure, having to sign up 60 participants to the course with less than a week's notice. Working for local government is new to me, and, like any other sector, there's a vernacular of which I'm unfamiliar that I have to comprehend quickly. Who knew, for instance, that a 'learning aim' is not what participants should know by the end of the course but a funding code?

I continue to write grant/funding applications. Last week we were rejected by two (it could have been more, I have lost track), and then we gained one. A funder said we had been shortlisted and were going to receive money, from £15k to £50k and then emailed to say they had changed their mind. Another invited us to pitch for a fund and also rejected our application. I have developed a thick skin for what I believe to be accurate and the actual truth. I had a meeting with someone that potentially has a contract for us worth over £1m. It would set us up to deliver our programme nationwide, to over 200 people per month. I have put this to the back of my mind. It’s about as healthy to dwell on this particular outcome as it is to believe I might win the Lottery, especially as I only buy one ticket per week.

There's a side to application writing that I enjoy. It's repetitive, mainly with subtle changes to each. It's very satisfying when we’re successful and disappointing when we’re not. It has a flow to it and, like anything else, practise, while not consistently delivering the desired outcome, definitely improves one's chances of being selected. You have to be able to stay just the right side of the positive all the time. Otherwise, it's completely soul-destroying.

Speaking of soul-destroying, I suspect I have talked to about 200 investors/Angels/scouts about nestful this past year. The business flatlined during the pandemic, but there are signs of recovery. Hurrah! Last week we had half a dozen or more homeowners list their property which was a good week. We had 71% more people looking at the website than the week before, and we are up for an impact award. 

The organisers say, “The doughnut model inspires the Impact Shakers awards to recognise and celebrate pioneering impact businesses in Europe.” (I don’t know what a doughnut model is but apparently we fit the criteria).

Public voting is now open!

Please cast your vote and help us take this award home! (We’re in the Housing category). 👉 https://www.impactshakersawards.com/

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Finally, now that venues are about to reopen shortly for live entertainment, I've started rehearsing again! It's great to get back with George and play the dirty blues and jazz tunes we love. Our first gig is on 8th July at the Green Note, and it would be fantastic to see you there.

That's all from me. Enjoy the sunny weather and stay safe,

Suzanne