Open Thinkering


Weeknote 19/2023

Sunderland's Stadium of Light with huge flags reading THIS IS WEARSIDE and 'TIL THE END

This has been a week of celebrations. Although I love my children very much, let’s talk first about the football team I support: Sunderland. On Monday, a combination of results — including their 3-0 thrasing of Preston North End — meant that Sunderland crept into the Championship promotion playoff places. This is quite the achievement, given they were promoted via the League 1 playoffs only last season.

I’ll not bore you with the details, but the process of actually getting tickets for the first leg of the playoff semi final between Sunderland and Luton Town was almost as nailbiting as watching them play on Monday. When I did manage to secure tickets for my dad and me, we were in nearby seats but not sitting together. Thankfully, on the day, we managed to swap seats and Sunderland came from behind to win 2-1. It was an amazing atmosphere.

Immediately before that, I’d been at our daughter’s football presentation awards ceremony. She received the Players’ Player of the Year award, and a special mention for having scored so many goals (41 in all competitions, because I counted!) In the second half of the season she played for a boys team and, again, received a special mention for having helped rescue their season. I’m very proud of her.

On Thursday, it was my son’s Year 11 awards ceremony. It was such a positive event, with him receiving subject awards for Computer Science, English, Graphics, Science, PE. He also received an award for services to sport, the number of house points received, and a tutor award. It’s his football awards ceremony in a few weeks’ time. I’m also very proud of him!

I haven’t had enough art in my life recently, so I decided we’d go as a family to the BALTIC to see a Chris Killip retrospective. We went earlier today and had lunch courtesy of the Quayside market.

Chris Killip photograph from 'Pride and Fall'. Huge ship at the end of a terrace street.

Killip passed away in 2020 and I’d seen a small exhibition of his pre-pandemic. What’s particularly poignant to me is the hardness of the lives he documented through black-and-white photography.

Chris Killip photograph from 'Pride and Fall'. Partly-demolished housing with graffiti saying DON'T VOTE PREPARE FOR REVOLUTION

Not only did he photograph the decline of shipbuilding on the Tyne, but a community of seacoalers in Lynemouth not far away from where I used to live. This community was also photographed by Mik Critchlow, who passed away recently. Critchlow photographed Hirst, the area of Ashington in which I grew up.

In terms of work this week, there was an extra Bank Holiday that I worked through because I don’t recognise monarchs. We had a WAO co-op half day on Tuesday in which we continued working on the even-over statements and bento boxes from last time. We also made plans for next month when we’ll be in Amsterdam for a meetup and to attend MozFest House.

I also worked with Laura and John on projects for, the Wellbeing Economy Alliance, Participate, and Greenpeace. We also recorded an episode of The Tao of WAO podcast and said goodbye to Anne for a few weeks as she finishes off her final year university projects.

Over at Thought Shrapnel, I published:

During the writing of this, I finally relented and allowed my daughter to download Snapchat. We’ve been pretty protective of our son in relation to social networks, which has had benefits and drawbacks. Boys and girls are different, though, and while I read about lots of issues relating to Instagram, I don’t see much negative media round Snapchat.

Still, I was ready to tell her to wait until she turns 13, until her tears made me look at the Commonsense Media review of the app. This is usually a bastion of extremely conservative parenting that I use to back myself up when my kids think I’m too harsh. However, even the comments by parents on that review said that as long as your kid is mature, it’s absolutely fine.

So she’s got it. Her brother is currently showing her around it, and she’s got a huge smile on her face. Parenting is great, but quite often I feel like I’m doing it wrong. Hopefully this will pan out for the best.

Next week, it’s a normal working week. My son starts his GCSE exams so it’s walking-on-eggshells time trying to keep him leading a balanced lifestyle.

My ankle, which I went over on a couple of weeks ago and then aggrevated again earlier this week, still isn’t better. So it’s probably a tendon injury rather than soft tissue. That’s meant I’ve been on the exercise bike for cardio instead of running. Looks like I’ll probably doing the same next week.

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