[S05 E06] “The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco”

The Good Place

Well that was a better week I must say. Nary a single anxiety attack or sleepless night. No (serious) transport problems. Zero existential crisis. I even finally started to feel the benefits of all these lifestyle changes.

That said it did not start in too auspicious a manner. I felt pretty ropey Monday morning. Weak and light headed and generally a bit out of it. It seems it was just the previous week catching up on me and I managed to shake it off throughout the day.

It allowed me to get back to moaning about some more mundane things anyway. My journey into my co-working office has become an increasing drag since the summer — I suspect there is at least one fewer bus running in the morning and it is frequently a full bus that reaches my pretty northern (Bristol) outpost which becomes impossible by the time we reach town. Twice this week I missed my stop as wasn’t able to fight my way off the bus! The silly thing of course is that I don’t need to go to the office — we are a remote organisation and many of the other mySociety-ers work from home. I just lack the discipline for this though and appreciate the separation of church and state that an office provides. I also like being in town and being able to visit places for lunch and attend meet-ups etc easily. The other wrinkle in all this is that my co-working space is fast becoming untenable as a work place for me. I’m pleased for the team who run the place as it is clearly hugely successful but increasingly it is like working in a crowded call centre and even for someone like myself who appreciates the buzz of an office it is too distracting. I absolutely need to find somewhere different in the new year.

Anyway it was a pretty good week. I felt productive and energised in a way I hadn’t done in quite a while. I polished off a load of things from the to-do list and fronted up to a couple of things that I had been putting off (that ended up pretty painless — as usual.) It wasn’t an easy week though. There is LOADS going on and much of it is both challenging and extremely important.

So what was happening?

My high tech to-do list for the week — ‘work out what job is’ is a recurring addition 🙂

Well work on Blooming Rose continues apace. This week there were check-in calls (almost derailed by technology), contract wrangling and documentation editing. All good stuff though and we are much closer in expectation and approach now. I have some work to do early next week to really lock that down — making things crystal clear as to who is responsible for what and when but it is useful and also reusable I think — especially as we have another FMS Pro client coming on board. We will call this one Locust Grove. They are keen to get things moving and have already been really open and helpful in sharing their current processes with us. This one will run through until early 2018.

Monark Springs continues to be the gift that keeps on giving. We are learning a lot about the dangers of not doing enough testing with the end-users of an internal system and relying a bit too much on local intermediaries. There is a lot of tweaking needed — not quite bugs but also not quite new features. It does have the obvious benefit of improving the product as a whole though.

There was an unexpected return of Kickapoo but that ended up being reasonably straightforward for Dave to sort and I also had a catch up about Hinkletown which is a case of my reach exceeding my grasp and now having to deal with the consequences of that. We simply don’t have the people to do this work in the timescales the client needs and it isn’t part of our strategic focus now so I am helping them find a new supplier better suited to the project. It is a pity — I like the team and the project is interesting.

Scuffletown popped back up on the agenda. Earlier in the summer my health issues derailed things at a crucial time but amusingly the client hasn’t actually had another meeting since on the project (multiple public sector stakeholders does not make for rapid decision making) so we are back in the fold. I had a call this week and will be making a trip up to the north west in a couple of weeks to follow up.

Thursday I was in London — I coordinated my travel down with Tony so we could talk more about our Wikidata work and general ambitions for the ‘democratic commons’. It was a useful chat (for me anyway). Then I met up with Jen near Baker Street. Jen wears many hats at mySociety but mainly she acts as some kind of Product Owner/Delivery Manager for the Parliaments team as well as an internationally focused partnership manager. Jen is from Bristol (albeit she abandoned us long ago) so of course we get on 🙂 The lack of clarity around some of the detail about my new role has not been helpful for Jen and the team in general really — especially around the Facebook projects — so it was good to talk things through in person and discuss some tactics on how I can help improve that. A work in progress I think but I found it useful.

Then I had an afternoon of talking about Facebook — including a Hangout with some international partners and the Facebook product team themselves. I found the whole afternoon really useful — again it wasn’t easy but it seemed well timed and I really came away from it feeling pretty inspired. Part of this I think is that while I can see a bunch of hard tasks and obstacles in our path they are things I understand. We are talking about embarking on an ambitious, important, open data project with multiple important stakeholders, a lot of people watching, a need to promote the vision to get people involved and a need to build up our team to make it happen without breaking people. This, as they say, is my jam 🙂

Friday there was more partner talk, more contract drafting, more email support and some thinking about FMS Pro marketing. There was also a bunch of travel admin as next week I’m in New York for a bunch of meetings and it hasn’t been that straight-forward to organise (and I am less relaxed about these things than some colleagues!).

I ended the week feeling like I had a really productive week — but still had a couple of big things on my to-do list of scribbles that need sorting (either this weekend or on the plane!). There is so much to do — but this week I am the right kind of tired.

OK. What’s next?


This was a frustrating week — I didn’t really end up losing any weight — I think I might be 0.5lbs down on last weekend. I upped my portion sizes a bit this week and also cheated and had a takeaway on Thursday as I didn’t get home until 21.30 from London. Still it is a bummer. I am so close to hitting the two stones loss milestone. That said I do feel better and now noticeably look like I have lost weight I think.



The Deuce is the latest David Simon, the creator of The Wire, show. He co-created it with George Pelecanos, who is my favourite writer, so I was primed to be a big fan. It is amazing looking — recreating that 1970s New York beautifully. It is a bit slow so far — especially as I think it is only 8 episodes — but it is worth it for the atmosphere alone. It stars James Franco, pulling double duty as twins, and Maggie Gyllenhaal (I’m not a fan of Franco but he is OK. I am of Gyllenhaal and she is fab as ever.)

I also watched the new Baywatch and King Arthur movies. I do this so you don’t have to! They are both slightly worse than their poor reviews!


Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly by Adrian McKinty. I am a big fan of this series of books set throughout the Troubles. I’ve enjoyed all of McKinty’s novels — he is a rare British crime writer whose work I consistently enjoy and Sean Duffy is his most likeable character.


Spotify did one of their occasional personalised auto-generated playlists. My ‘Time Capsule’ really did hit the spot — full of classic rap, some Prince, a bit of Massive Attack (and randomly the Damned!). Love it — quite a few forgotten (by me) classics!

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