The Creativity Context

By Andy Mouncey, November 20, 2020


The last blog entry was very definitely in the upbeat category but it’s taken me 5 weeks to post again. This either means I’ve been skipping around leaving sparkly rainbows in my wake…


Sh**’s gone t**s up again.


Sh** hasn’t gone T.U.A. by any reasonable measure but one has been back to a cycle of up and down and up and down.


I’ve been OK with the task-orientated stuff but anything requiring any remotely creative element is another matter. 

Which is all my coaching work.

And what am I mostly doing at the moment?

You got it…

Now I’ve puzzled at this pattern for a while ‘cos if I look back in my diary to the start of first lockdown in March the evidence is all there: the start of a week can feel like pushing water uphill and I very definitely have had a pattern of getting more productive as the week goes on. Monday is worse if I’ve had a relatively inactive/unfocused Sunday and the pisser is that even if I do successfully grasp and follow my Absolute F**kin’ Minimum Start Of Day Thread at the appointed time…





Tea 1.


Tea 2.

Wake plus 30mins: Start mobility routine

Wake plus 60mins: Finish mobility. Cold shower. Dress. 

Start breakfast for Small Boys & Wife.

…I can drop into an abyss once the boys leave for school (sigh).

All of which means that the first 24-36 hours of the week I can be mainly shouting at myself inside my head along the lines of:


But come Friday I’m f***in’ flying.

Not every week by any means but more times than I was comfortable with given the following:

Family Mouncey are all OK on any measures that matter.

Our shit is definitely in the ‘First World Problem / Inconvenience’ category.

I teach this shit and therefore have more strategies than most.

And in my defence those strategies have been in use – honest:

Get ready the night before.

Get ready to start before anyone else is up.

Get ready to start with exercise.

Write your intentions.

Share those intentions with Significant Other.

Remind your S.O. that they have permission to poke you with a stick.

Make those Intentions Activities that you can move through in sequence without thinking too much.

Make your list.

Reduce that list.

Order said list.


And yet I still wasn’t exactly a role model for consistent productive practice.

The last few weeks especially have seen a cycle of arrangements made and unmade. Chinks of light have been emerging in the criminal justice world as prisons moved slowly back to some restricted version of normal. Visits re-started. I knew some providers were back in and able to do Something… and suddenly I had opportunities to visit and do scoping work in readiness to re-start working on the inside as well – and to actually see people in the flesh: At last! Because god knows that Something is desperately needed…

But with the pandemic situation still very fluid, site status and access would change suddenly as Something Else Happened and government reacted with another round of restrictions. The invites went on hold and it was clear that Zoom would be in ascendency for a little while longer.

Something was missing and 8 months on it was pissing me off that I still hadn’t figured what that might be.

And then came this:

Over the summer I’d found a new author and quickly hoovered up anything of his that I could find. John Scalzi is a US sci-fi author and commentator on all things social and political. He pulls no punches. His commentary is recorded in his blog and after I’d done with my hoovering of his back catalogue I started dipping into that. Of course there is a US-focus but many of the questions he addresses have a wider application.

‘Sure made me think.

Then in one entry for 2017 he dug into his own ‘feels like pushing water uphill’ thing. 

His conclusion? Trump infects all and everything all the damn time even if you’re a wealthy straight white guy not in the crosshairs of his spewing bile

And that was before Covid.

Of course there is individual responsibility to choose to get our own shit together.

And yet.

Bring the Scalzi insight to this side of the pond in 2020 and instead of Agent Orange we have Boris & Chums-Brexit-Covid every f**kin’ day on a 24 hour rolling cycle of news and views.

And – like Scalzi – I’m a healthy educated white guy with means so I will ride this out way better than most and I’ve also ’unplugged’ and changed how I consume my news:

I don’t do social media.

I only buy a paper on Saturday.

I check the BBC website once a day for a few short minutes at a time.

And yet the evidence is there in my records: I continue to struggle periodically to rise above the bollocks. But at least now I have ‘why’…

And a reason/excuse to work with.

But the redemption piece to all this is that there’s also an antidote available free on demand thanks to the BBC: DIY SOS The Big Build

Here’s a clue if you’ve not seen it: it’s not about the DIY – it’s about people and their amazing capacity to give a shit about other people who are struggling and then choose to collaborate and do something amazing to help.

‘Tops up my Hope Tank and makes me proud to be human every single time.

Timeline RFYL CIC

So you think it’s hard breaking out of prison? You want to try breaking in. 

This is what it takes for a new social enterprise with One Big Idea to get going in our Justice sector – as lived by Andy Mouncey of Run For Your Life CIC 

Timeline To Date

2012 First invitation to a Category C prison. Project pulled pre-start 

2013 First short pilot delivered (unpaid) at a Cat D prison

2014-16 More testing – more pilots – still no ££

2016 RFYL Conception. Doors open–doors close-funding bids/rejected

2017 RFYL Community Interest Company formed. Doors open-close/bids (sad face)

2018 Doors open–close/bids etc: Getting boring now. Still no ££

2019 March: Second ‘Proof Of Concept’ pilot delivered HMP Stafford (unpaid) 

2019 June: First business sponsorship (v surprised smiley face) from Kebbell Homes

2019 Dec: First paid work secured HMP Wymott, Lancs.

2020 March: Covid19 pandemic hits - work stops as prisons enter lockdown

2020 June: Start an online service supporting prison governors as prisons stay shut

The Numbers

Funding Bids Written & Rejected: 37

Times I’ve Honestly Thought About Quitting: 4 

Times My Wife Has Given Me Permission To Quit: 2

Times My Wife Has Really Meant It: 1

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