The Interesting Times Gang

Has it really been three years? That’s when I shared Interesting Times, just before the first UK COVID lockdown. It was a strange time, and that strangeness seems to have been magnified and distorted as the last few years have unfolded. Since then we have had other global events, cost of living problems, social and political challenges and much more.

Two years ago I shared Still Interesting Times. Last year was Interesting Times Forever and I wondered if that might be the last time I made special note of the date, but I have at least this one more post in me.


The late and wonderful Iain M. Banks introduced The Interesting Times Gang in the novel Excession: the Gang are a group of super-artificial intelligences in a far future who convene when they encounter situations that are beyond even their remarkable abilities. They meet, they talk, they ask questions, they brainstorm and do the equivalent of whiteboarding any and every scenario they can think of. And then they get to work and do their best to meet that novel situation.

In the present day, interesting times are here to stay, and interesting times impact everything, big and small. So make sure you find your own interesting times gang – for your life and for your viva. As I’ve noted in the last few years of interesting times posts, everyone needs help. You might need help or you might be in a position to offer it.

Ask for help when you need it. Offer to help when you can.

For your viva you might need someone to listen, someone to share expectations, someone to help you get past anxieties or problems (real or imagined), someone to discuss your work with or someone to tell you that it’s going to be alright and why. And once you’ve had your viva, you can offer the same to others.

The last three years have been a lot. The next few years are bound to have some more of the same, at least sometimes. Rest when you can. Help when you can. Keep going, and remember that you have got as far as you have by being good, by growing, by learning and by being persistent at what you do.

Ask for help when you need it. Offer to help when you can.