The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

The Beginning Of The End …
December 1, 2023, 7:45 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, England

It’s the first of December.


How? How the hell are we in the last month of 2023 already?

It seems like yesterday we were spending December locked in our houses – told to not go outside for fear of getting or spreading COVID.

But here we are, ready to welcome 2024.

Madness. Proper, proper madness.

Now I have good news and bad news.

The good news is there won’t be any more posts until Otis’ birthday on Monday 11th.

[Which is a whole other thing as Otis turns 9 and that blows my mind, given it seems only a few years ago since this happened]

No, it’s not a Christmas present, it’s because I’m going to the UK for work and frankly I’ll be too jetlagged to write anything while I’m there. Acknowledging that it would probably make more sense than the stuff I write normally.

The bad news is I have a few more posts in the can before we break up for the holidays.

Including my ‘end of year’ round-up that I know no one reads, but is for me to remember and take stock of all I’ve done this year – which even I admit will feature a bunch of freebie holidays, ha.

I’m pretty excited and anxious to go to the UK.

Excited as I get to pop to Nottingham … I get to catch up with some friends – including Andy and George who I’ve not seen for over a year – and I get to revel in a bit of ‘proper’ Christmas atmosphere, albeit having to endure some of the worst Christmas ads I’ve ever seen. Especially the Sainsbury’s and Asda one’s which are just horrific. [Sorry, to anyone involved who reads this blog, I know there will always be a bunch of reasons why it happened]

Anxious … well, because it involves me having to deal with some stuff that has been tough for me to accept and deal with over the last year. Nothing involving me directly, but something that directly impacts me … among many others.

I know … it feels a bit pathetic for me to even suggest I’ve had some shit to deal with when there’s so many people who have – and are – really suffering. Which is why I don’t forget how fortunate I am … almost as fortunate as you having 10 days without my ranting bollocks.

However before that, we have the 2nd annual Colenso ‘Fuck Off And Pie’ competition to get through.

Last year was a rollercoaster of emotions.

Sadly, my pie – despite looking wonderful – was definitely a low.

It’s the one, higher up in this post.

I know … stunning eh.

Sadly only on the outside.

Anyway, given this year the challenge is to ensure ‘mint’ is a key ingredient, it doesn’t look like anything will change.

On the bright side, maybe my colleagues will have got over their food poisoning by the time I’m back to blog again. Ha.

Have fun, see you soon.

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A Pet Isn’t A Matter Of Life And Death … It’s Much More Important Than That …
November 30, 2023, 7:15 am
Filed under: Family, Love, Loyalty

If you have a pet, you will probably understand.

That feeling of love that’s almost impossible to express in words.

The deep compulsion to ensure they remain happy and content.

The ability to spot the nuance in every look or sound they make and translate it into the specific action they need.

It’s a relationship. A real – but unique – relationship.

Which may explain why this note, from the musician Fiona Apple, hit so hard.

A letter to her fans about cancelling a concert so she can stay close to her poorly dog.

It’s utterly beautiful. Proper, proper beautiful.

And while some may not understand how she could come to this decision.

For others, it’s the most obvious thing in the world.

Because they’re not a pet, they’re a partner.

It’s 6pm on Friday, and I’m writing to a few thousand friends I have not met yet. I’m writing to ask them to change our plans and meet a little while later.

Here’s the thing.

I have a dog, Janet, and she’s been ill for about 2 years now, as a tumor has been idling in her chest, growing ever so slowly. She’s almost 14 years old now. I got her when she was 4 months old. I was 21 then — an adult, officially — and she was my kid.

She is a pitbull, and was found in Echo Park, with a rope around her neck, and bites all over her ears and face.

She was the one the dogfighters use to puff up the confidence of the contenders.

She’s almost 14 and I’ve never seen her start a fight, or bite, or even growl, so I can understand why they chose her for that awful role. She’s a pacifist.

Janet has been the most consistent relationship of my adult life, and that is just a fact. We’ve lived in numerous houses, and joined a few makeshift families, but it’s always really been just the two of us.

She slept in bed with me, her head on the pillow, and she accepted my hysterical, tearful face into her chest, with her paws around me, every time I was heartbroken, or spirit-broken, or just lost, and as years went by, she let me take the role of her child, as I fell asleep, with her chin resting above my head.

She was under the piano when I wrote songs, barked any time I tried to record anything, and she was in the studio with me, all the time we recorded the last album.

The last time I came back from tour, she was spry as ever, and she’s used to me being gone for a few weeks, every 6 or 7 years.

She has Addison’s Disease, which makes it more dangerous for her to travel, since she needs regular injections of Cortisol, because she reacts to stress and excitement without the physiological tools which keep most of us from literally panicking to death.

Despite all this, she’s effortlessly joyful & playful, and only stopped acting like a puppy about 3 years ago. She is my best friend, and my mother, and my daughter, my benefactor, and she’s the one who taught me what love is.

I can’t come to South America. Not now. When I got back from the last leg of the US tour, there was a big, big difference.

She doesn’t even want to go for walks anymore.

I know that she’s not sad about aging or dying.

Animals have a survival instinct, but a sense of mortality and vanity, they do not. That’s why they are so much more present than people.

But I know she is coming close to the time where she will stop being a dog, and start instead to be part of everything. She’ll be in the wind, and in the soil, and the snow, and in me, wherever I go.

I just can’t leave her now, please understand. If I go away again, I’m afraid she’ll die and I won’t have the honor of singing her to sleep, of escorting her out.
Sometimes it takes me 20 minutes just to decide what socks to wear to bed.

But this decision is instant.

These are the choices we make, which define us. I will not be the woman who puts her career ahead of love & friendship.

I am the woman who stays home, baking Tilapia for my dearest, oldest friend. And helps her be comfortable and comforted and safe and important.

I need to do my damnedest, to be there for that.

Because it will be the most beautiful, the most intense, the most enriching experience of life I’ve ever known.

When she dies.

So I am staying home, and I am listening to her snore and wheeze, and I am revelling in the swampiest, most awful breath that ever emanated from an angel. And I’m asking for your blessing.

I’ll be seeing you.


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Why We Need To Value The People Who Have Done It, Not Just Judge It …

About 6 or so months ago, I interviewed one of the most successful football managers of all time. I wrote about it here.

Anyway, in our conversation, he said something that really stuck with me. Something that feels especially important in these times where organisations seem to value complicity more than experience. Specifically, experience gained and earned at the very top level.

He said this:

“Learn from winners, not players”.

It’s important to note this has nothing to do with age.

I’ve met as many brilliant young people as I have met average and old. What this is about is remembering people who have done great stuff have at least as much value [but really, way more] as those who talk – or just judge – stuff.

Which is why this slide is for my friend ‘Grizzly’ who has been thinking and experiencing this for some time. And why he would have loved the debate it ignited when I presented it as the audience was made up of award winning game designers and procurement people, hahaha.

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Lost In Colloquialism …
November 28, 2023, 7:30 am
Filed under: Advertising, America, Comment, Education, Relevance, School

We’ve all seen those signs where countries that don’t speak English, try to translate things into English with tragic – and sometimes hilarious – consequences.

Then there’s those signs in English speaking nations, where they’ve chosen words and/or symbols that massively undermine what they’re trying to say or represent.

But recently, on a trip to LA, I saw another angle of error.

Where the choice of words are perfectly acceptable in the home nation, but have a very different meaning somewhere else.

Case in point, the name given to this pre-school …

Morning Glory!!!

They named it ‘Morning bloody Glory’.

Jesus Christ.

Now they obviously have no idea how this is interpreted in England.

And I am sure they are a very good place of education.

And a name that reflects optimism and happiness in a city that is always sunny, makes sense.

But … but …

Morning Glory?!

Next they’ll be saying, “it’s great to be ‘up’ first thing for the day”.

Whatever … I just hope the police patrol that area especially well.

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Customer Care Is When You Go Beyond The Process And Rules …

So as you know, I was in China recently and when I was flying from Chengdu back to Shanghai, my plane was 5 hours late for takeoff.

While that is a pain, what made it worse was it meant we didn’t even take off till nearly midnight.

Now the good news for me is I sleep on planes.

In fact I sleep better on planes than anywhere else.

I’m fast asleep before takeoff and tend to wake up on landing … and that’s what happened to me this time, aided by the late hour.

However what was different this time was I found a package and this note next to me.

Specifically this package and note …

Apparently the crew on the plane were worried I’d wake up hungry but didn’t want to wake me up as they could see I was fast asleep and it was very late so they made up that package and wrote that note.

While I am not sure if the food I received was worthy of that much care and consideration, that level of service – despite the note being written on a sick bag, hahaha – is ‘TV ad worthy’.

China gets a bad rap for customer service, however in my experience it’s miles ahead of most other nations [which suggests it’s driven by ignorance and/or prejudice] because this small act on a China Eastern flight between Chengdu and Shanghai shows what happens when you train your people to not just blindly follow a corporate, cost-efficientprocess, but to actually and actively care about your customers.

Thank you China Eastern.

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