It's been good to have the week off. At the back end of last week I think I was going slightly mad. My mental and physical processes had slowed to a crawl. On Friday it took me half an hour just to walk home from work; I was drumming on my lunchbox and mumbling to myself (well a bit more than just mumbling) the whole way. If I hadn't already decided to take this whole week off, I'd have called in sick last Thursday and Friday. Unusually, I'm fairly sure what triggered this latest episode. In this instance it was work, which is a hair-trigger for me.
Continuing the subject of madness, perhaps, the body of Australian tennis coach Paul Arber was found in the Waikato River this morning. An exceptional tennis player in his own right, he was in Hamilton for a junior tournament. Some passers-by saw him swimming in the river in the early hours of Sunday morning. They talked him out of the water, but he went back, and that was the last anybody saw of him alive. His behaviour was described as being "distant and spiritual" shortly before he went missing. Something clearly wasn't right with him; I doubt anyone will figure out exactly what. It's all very sad.
Last Friday somebody at work saw on the Stuff website that Nelson Mandela had died, and apart from some Chinese-whispers-style confusion where a few people thought that Nigella Lawson had popped her clogs instead, nobody really paid the story much attention. I suppose it has been coming for some time, and most people at work are too young to really remember apartheid and what the great man stood for and achieved. I'd put myself in that category. I remember watching the 70th birthday concert - he was still in prison then - but at that age (eight) all I thought was, old man, in prison, that's bad, let him out. There were a lot of musical protests and tributes back then too; I still think Paul Simon's Graceland album, though controversial at the time, was amazing.
Mandela's passing has received wall-to-wall media coverage and rightly so. New Zealand has always had close ties to South Africa through rugby and the high numbers of South Africans (50,000) living here. Being in Browns Bay on the day of the World Cup final in 2007 - oh my.
I've just read that the sign-language interpreter at Mandela's memorial service, whose gestures were pure gibberish, has claimed he suffered a schizophrenic episode prior to appearing on stage.
On Saturday I attended the anxiety group Christmas party along with nearly thirty others. It was quite enjoyable, mainly because it was pretty low-key. I could tell the staff at the Speights Ale House were hoping we could all just go home and put them out of their misery. We weren't drinking very much Speights. The guy who runs the group, whom I know reasonably well, has done a remarkable job. The group has grown from fifty-odd members when I signed up to about 350 now. A real success story. (For me the increased numbers has actually made things harder; there are now so many events organised by so many people - heck, even I organised one - that it's hard to know whether I'm coming or going.)
This week I've been busy using my brain in a way I want to be using it, which is a rarity for me. I've been trying to revamp a website using WordPress. The user interface is great, but it's still really really hard. I've had to monkey around with the code (and I'm really just fumbling in the dark there) more than I expected. I struggled to find a so-called "theme" that was appropriate so I had to pick one and customise it - that's a bit of a dangerous thing to do. I've installed a couple of plugins to stop things from happening (I guess most people install plugins to make things happen, but not me.)
I toyed with the idea of going to the test cricket, what with taking the week off work and being a two-minute walk from the Basin where it's all happening, but I've really got to crack on with this website business.
On Monday Tracy, Tom and I played an extremely crazy and chaotic (but enjoyable) board game called Wiz-War. Luck played a huge part, so even though I had to ask Tracy what this or that card allowed me to do (which meant she'd know what I had and could plot a strategy accordingly) I ended up the winner. It was a very close finish - in cricketing terms I won off the last ball with only one wicket left.
Tomorrow they've got the work Christmas party. This year they're kicking off the party at lunchtime with some kind of team-building event. The dinner bit starts at 4:30. Last Friday my boss asked me whether (on my day off) I'd be going to the whole thing or just the dinner bit. Umm, are you sure there isn't another option? So I'll pop along at half-four (or quarter to five) and hope I don't have to stay too long. The first couple of hours (food, the odd drink) will be OK, but at that point I hit the wall. I mean, what are you supposed to do then? More drink, just because it's something to do, and tactical loo breaks every half-hour. That's about as good as it ever gets. I spoke to Mum on the phone tonight, and mentioned the party. She enthusiastically told me to enjoy it, asking if I had a smart shirt ready, adding in "be sociable". There are several helpful things she could have said, but she didn't pick one. It's funny - over the last few years her understanding of "what it's like" has improved no end, but she still comes out with things like this that make me think she's got no idea.