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

Never Trust A Brand That Talks About The Future …

Hello there.

Not that you asked, but yes – I did have a good birthday thank you very much.

I didn’t get anything stupid [which for me, means awesome] but it was lovely.

Jesus, how old do I sound!

Talking of old, I recently came across this …

Believe it or not, this photo is not all that old.

But what I love about it is that huge sticker declaring it to ‘never be obsolete’.

That’s some big claim.

It’s also a massive pile of bollocks.

Given the alleged breakthrough by Canadian company, D:Wave, all computers may soon be obsolete so for some company to suggest their 90’s PC Tower would be able to withstand decades of focused innovation and technological breakthrough is both massively misguided and massively misleading and anyone who fell for it deserves all they got.

But the other thing this photo did was remind me of the ‘stickers’.

Oh my god, back in the day, every computer had them.

Little logos explaining either what the machine claimed to do or the manufacturer of some of its components.

And people fell for it, because we didn’t know better and we were looking for some reassurance we weren’t being taken for a ride.

Even when they put a massive fucking sticker on it claiming ‘NEVER OBSOLETE’.

God we were gullible fools weren’t we and while I’d hope we have got past that, the fact is I know we haven’t.

Sure, the tech industry have started moving away from sticker pollution, but there’s a whole host of brands in a whole host of categories that have started taking it on. Just look at any car ad these days and it seems they have more logos on the page than words… which is why it seems this video is the perfect way to sign off this post.

Microsoft may no longer as bad as they once were, but it seems a lot of brands are still forgetting that confidence in your product is about what you don’t say, rather than what you do. By all means use channels to explain the benefits of your product … hell, you can even talk about who has been part of it’s development … but when it comes to the actual product, be focused and make it glorious.

I will go and lie down now.

Inching Towards Oblivion …
June 10, 2016, 6:20 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Comment

So on Sunday I turn 46.


I seriously don’t know how that happened.

In some ways, I still feel about 28 … however I realise that for all my immaturity, bad dress sense and obsession with stupid, there are signs that I’m not.

No, I’m not talking about my son.

I’m talking about things like my declining eyesight.

Given it’s always been bad [I have 12% vision in one eye] I’m fast approaching Mr Magoo standards.

Then there’s my stamina. In the old days, I could survive on 4 or 5 hours sleep. No, seriously. However now, when I wake up the first thing I look forward to is being able to go back to sleep that night. Then I rush for copious amounts of coffee to get me through the next 5 minutes.

But it’s not all physical collapse, one other thing that has happened is the realisation that at 45, I don’t have to be so considerate to others anymore.

Now some of you may be wondering what the hell I’m going on about, given I’ve always been one to call a spade a spade. And I have. However there have been occasions in my life where I’ve kept quiet when I should have spoken up. I’m not talking about big issues – I’m perfectly good at dealing with those – I’m talking about those small conversations where things are casually thrown into the mix but you let it pass because you don’t want to look like you’re making a mountain out of a molehill.

But here’s the thing, it’s those small things that have the potential to derail you down the line.

It’s those small things that can lead to big things affecting who you are and what you do.

It’s those small things that the people behind them often use to justify their later actions by saying, “I mentioned this to you and you didn’t say anything”.

But now, I don’t feel the need to keep quiet.

I don’t feel it wrong to speak up and elevate that throwaway comment into the real issues being discussed.

And I have to say, it’s kind of liberating.

That doesn’t mean I’m a rude prick when I do it, nor does it mean I want to make any difference of opinion a major issue … it’s just that I’ve realised that if something unsettles me, I have a right to talk about it or challenge it.

I admit there have still been times where I’ve felt myself slipping into my old ways, but now, instead of letting it go, I act on it.

Recently I was in a situation where someone was saying something about a colleague I respect. On face value it seemed relatively small, but the implication of what they were saying was very bad for the person in question.

So I asked for more clarification on their point.

And asked them to help me understand how they came to their conclusion.

Then informed them “this is not how this will go down” and highlighted their perspective was based on opinion not fact so they need to share some of the blame rather than own all of the accusation.

And it felt good.

Not purely because I protected my colleague – though that was nice too – but because I felt I’d been true to myself.

By speaking up at the exact moment it happened – rather than wishing I had or worse, only realising the implication of what had been said a few hours after the event – it made me feel sharp, alert and living in the present. It gave me a sense I was actively looking out for myself which, in a weird way, made me feel like I was more in control of my own life.

Yes, I know this sounds mad but it did.

Plus there was the added benefit that I’d sent out a subtle statement of what I will and will not tolerate to the other party, which can only be a good thing in terms of standards and expectations.

Look, I get I’m making a small thing sound like a big thing … but I’ve allowed too many of those ‘invisible, mini bombs’ to go off in my life and finally being at a stage where I feel completely at ease with dealing with them is a revelation to me. A genuine revelation.

So happy birthday to me. Age might be a bitch physically, but it’s liberating emotionally.

PS: For the record, the photo in this post is the uber-birhtday cake Jill made for me last year. Isn’t it great. It’s even the actual size of the Birkenstocks I wear. Hopefully this year she’ll make me the left foot Birkenstock so I’ll have a pair. 

Old News Recap …

A few weeks ago I wrote about the British Government’s shortsightedness in deciding NOT to name their new £200 million research ship, Boaty McBoatface.

As was expected, they went with ‘Sir David Attenborough’.

However, in a bid to appease popular opinion, they decided the onboard sub, would be given that name.

No seriously, read this …

Now while we could sit back and celebrate a small win for the people, the fact of the matter is:

+ The momentum for Boaty McBoatface has gone, which means so has the potential for this boat to help solve environmental conditions rather than just report on them.

+ Surely it should be called Subby McSubface?

Which all goes to show, the Government we elect – or should I say, the majority elect – don’t give a fuck about us, happily treating us as fools by giving us ‘small wins’ to occupy us as they destroy everything that helps the majority of society cope, hope and function.

Jesus, this is waaaaaay too political for a Monday morning.

On the positive, I’m off to Tokyo and LA this week, so this will be the last post till Friday.

[George, Pete, Baz … prepare for me to demand dinner. On your dime]

I know I’ve said that before and then haven’t been able to resist writing something in-between, but I’m actually going to be super-busy.

No honestly.

Oh god, why am I writing it, it’s not like anyone cares. Or even reads what I write.

Till Friday then …

When Was The Last Time You Did Something For The First Time …
June 3, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Dad, Daddyhood, Family, Food, Jill, Otis, Parents

I’ve written previously about the privilege it is to see my son experience things for the very first time in his life.

His first word.

His first food.

His first crawl.

His first plane trip.

His first time in the sea.

I cannot put into words how magical and amazing it feels.

The only downside being it is a constant reminder he is growing up in the blink of an eye.

Before I was a Dad, I used to listen to parents say that about their children and think ..

“It takes 18 years for your kid to grow up. 18 years is a bloody long time. Get over it”

… but now I am a father, I totally get what they mean.

Every day something new happens.

A new word.

A new experience.

A new interaction.

And you both relish it and hate it because it means they’re growing up. Developing. Moving towards a time where they will no longer be reliant on you … a time where you will no longer be the most important people in their World.

The best thing about technology is I can capture these things in perfect clarity.

Not just so I can embarrass Otis when he’s older – though that is pretty good too – but so I can remember the feeling or love and wonder I have every time I am given the honour of witnessing my son grow up right in front of my eyes.

Which leads to the point of this post.

Recently we gave Otis his first taste of ice cream.

A product he could neither quite grasp in terms of taste or how to eat it.

But he liked it … or at least the concept of it.

I won’t say anymore – I’ll let you see it for yourself – though wouldn’t it be great if we were all this happy about such simple pleasures.

God, I love that kid so, so much.

Have a great weekend.

A Slither Of Light Always Finds Its Way Into The Darkness …
June 2, 2016, 6:30 am
Filed under: Comment, Death, Jill, Love, Mum, Otis, Paul

So as many of you know, I lost my wonderful Mum in 2015.

It was – and still is – a hugely traumatic incident, but as I wrote [and wrote and wrote] at various times over that dark period, there were moments of relief.

Some of that came from the outpouring of compassion and care I received from so many wonderful people, some of it was through the inappropriate – and yet utterly perfect – actions of my son, but there was one other that I haven’t talked about.

When we were organising Mum’s funeral, I was asked about what music we wanted.

While there were so many possibilities, I thought the best thing to do was choose songs that Mum loved and the easiest way to do that was to look at her iPad and review the ’25 most played songs’.

It was quite an eclectic list but that also was testimony to my Mum’s openness to music, regardless of era.

So after talking it through with Jill, we got it down to 3 pieces …

Nat King Cole’s Wonderful World
Emeli Sande’s Clown
Christina Perri’s Jar of Hearts

So far so good.

So we come to the day of the funeral – a day I was dreading – and the ceremony was beautiful.

The church was full of people wanting to pay their respects from far and wide, little Otis slept through the whole thing – ensuring we didn’t have to worry about him crying through a very emotional moment in our lives – the celebrant was utterly wonderful and I even managed to make it through my eulogy without breaking down too much.

As funerals go, it had been beautiful.

And then it happened.

You see, when we were choosing the songs for the funeral, I didn’t really listen to more than 5 seconds of them.

Part of this was because I knew the songs already and the other part was I had been too emotionally raw to hear all the songs all the way through given what they were going to be associated with.

Now before I go on, I should point out I’ve never been good with lyrics.

Even when I was in a band and wrote some of the songs, I could never remember what were the words. I am much more a melody person than a lyrical one … which is my way of explaining what happened as the funeral drew to a close.

The ceremony was over and people were invited to leave the church.

As we sat there, waiting to depart, Christina Perri’s song started to play.

Maybe it was because I had nothing to do as I waited to be able to leave my seat … maybe it’s because I was in deep reflection of what I had just experienced … but I started to listen to the lyrics a bit more intently.

This is what I heard:

I know I can’t take one more step towards you
‘Cause all that’s waiting is regret
Don’t you know I’m not your ghost anymore
You lost the love I loved the most

I learned to live half alive
And now you want me one more time

And who do you think you are?
Runnin’ ’round leaving scars
Collecting your jar of hearts
And tearing love apart
You’re gonna catch a cold
From the ice inside your soul
So don’t come back for me
Who do you think you are?

While the sentiment of the song is what I assumed it was – the sadness of the people you have left behind – the context of it was ENTIRELY different.

Instead of it being a heartfelt message of goodbye, it was a middle finger to a cold, selfish bastard of a player.

In other words, the most utterly inappropriate song to play at a funeral … especially at my wonderful Mum’s funeral.

On hearing this, I literally grabbed Jill’s hand and said, “Let’s go. Now”.

Fortunately, I found the whole thing a bit amusing – which stopped me from falling too deep in the darkness that I was feeling – plus there’s the fact it was one of her favourite songs so it was not an entirely random choice.

Later that night, I told Shelly – my best friend Paul’s wife – about the incident and she admitted that when she heard it, she had thought it was rather “an unusual choice of song”.

The thing is, I think my Mum would have found it amusing too.

I can imagine her laughing about it … like she is in the photo above.

Which is why if people were to ask me how my Mum’s funeral was, I would reply – as funny as it may seem to say – it was absolutely perfect.