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


The Power Of Home.
December 6, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Childhood, Colenso, Comment, Family, New Zealand

This is a photo of my home. Obviously taken at night.

I love this place.

It’s probably my favourite place of all the places I’ve ever lived.

Of course, being able to have any home is a total privilege … so having one you really love is bordering on obscene. I get that.

And it’s obscene how much I love this place.

The fact it’s built into the trees.

That it’s surrounded by nature.

That it has outside decks on multiple floors.

That it’s close to work and yet feels a million miles away.

And then there’s the fact we bought it without having seen it – or even being in the country – which just makes it feel like we won the lottery. Except we paid a shitload for the ticket, haha.

So knowing one day we’ll leave it makes it all the more difficult.

Of course we don’t know when, but it will happen.

And while we’ve talked about trying to build an exect replica wherever we end up next … we know even if it was identical, it wouldn’t be the same.

Because a home is more than those walls.

It’s the environment. The surrounding area. The community. The moment in time.

Which is why I especially love the top pic.

Because while it doesn’t show much, it shows just enough.

A big steel door that holds a warm, inviting shelter.

A place where my family could blossom again after the challenges of covid.

A building where my son, wife and cat could connect to the privilege of living in New Zealand.

In many ways, it’s the most ‘family’ home we’ve had.

I don’t mean that in terms of size, but in our connection to it … which given we’ve lived in other places for far longer is testimony to what it means to us.

What New Zealand has done for us.

What Colenso made happen for us.

Leaving it will be terribly, terribly hard.

And while people reading this may rightfully say, “stop wishing your life away” … the reality is it means we’re not taking anything for granted. We notice and embrace every detail. We remain thankful for what we have. And in my book, that’s an act of love … which may be the most mature thing I’ve ever said, let alone done, in my life.

Comments Off on The Power Of Home.


Your History May By Ugly, But It’s Yours …
November 23, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: Age, Attitude & Aptitude, Childhood, Comment, Music, Nottingham

Recently I was reading the Nottingham Evening Post when I saw a pub I knew, was being knocked down.

To be honest, I was more surprised it’s taken this long, because it always was a shit hole.

The food was shit.
The decor was shit.
The service was shit.
The clientele was shit.

It was a venue with almost no single redeeming feature.

In fact the only thing that surprised me more was that it looks just as shit today as it always did … and I have not stepped foot in that place for 36 years.

THIRTY SIX. [So yeah, I was underage when I stopped going there, let alone started]

And yet, hearing of it’s impending destruction made me nostalgic and a teeny bit sad.

Because for all it’s horrificness, it played an important part in my history.

This was the place I played my first ever ‘grown up’ gig.
This was the place where the council told us we were too loud.
This was the place where a biker gang told us to play certain songs or face the consequences.
This was the place my parents first saw me perform.
This was the place that got me addicted to gig life.
This was the place that introduced me to new characters and friends.
This was the place that started – even though it lasted just a few years – a life and career that was beyond anything I could ever imagine.
This was the place I walked the bridge between kid and adult. From food to nightlife to feeling a member of a gang to believing – and seeing – a new life and world was possible.

So yeah … The Forester’s was always an undeniable, unmitigated shithole.

But it was also my university for life of adventure.

I’ll always be grateful for it.

Comments Off on Your History May By Ugly, But It’s Yours …


Happy Big Birthday Mum …
November 3, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: Childhood, Comment, Dad, Family, Jill, Love, Mum, Mum & Dad, New Zealand, Otis, Parents

So today would have been my beloved Mum’s 90th birthday.

NINETY!!!

My god, it seems impossible.

What’s bizarre is that while Mum died at age 83, I never considered her old.

She looked very well.

She was active and sharp.

She retained a huge interest in what society was interested in.

But of course, underneath her heart was failing – more specifically one of her valves was.

And yet despite that, I still find the idea of her turning 90 shocking, even though it’s just 7 years on from when I last saw her.

Of course a lot can happen in 7 years.

7 years ago we were living in China.

I was working at Wieden+Kennedy.

And we’d just become parents.

To think in-between then and now we’ve moved country 3 times, I’ve changed jobs 3 times, we’ve called 4 houses home and I’ve entered a world of creativity where I’m interacting with individuals/bands I never would have imagined in a billion years I’d be working with … I guess seven years has a lot of capacity for change.

But despite all that, I remember my time with my Mum clearly.

The good. The not so good. The happy. The devastating.

But underpinning all of that is just what a brilliant human and Mum she was.

From playing tennis with me on our small patio in the back garden through to encouraging me to still go on my life adventure when she so easily could have asked me to stay … my Mum’s selflessness was one of her defining characteristics.

As I wrote when she died, this generosity towards others continued after she passed.

I still remember finding a notebook where she had meticulously detailed all the account numbers, phone numbers and people I should contact now she was gone.

Which means in the lead-up to the operation we hoped would give her a better life, she was preparing for it maybe not to.

That breaks my heart.

The idea of her being alone in the house, writing these things out for me is almost too much to cope with.

That she could deal with her mortality with so much dignity, grace and love for me … that she would put her emotions to one side to make sure life would be easier for me, in my darkest moments … is a definition of love that is overwhelming in its generosity.

She even had found the time to cut out articles on people I knew from my childhood that she wanted me to know better.

Who would do that?

I’ll tell you who … my Mum.

My beautiful, kind, compassionate and loving Mum.

And today she would have been 90.

God I wish she was here to celebrate it.

We’d either all be in the UK or we would have brought her here.

She would love this house. The quiet … the nature … the peacefulness.

And as much as she loved our home, maybe she would have been in the right frame to make a leap. To come live with us.

I don’t know. Mum was fiercely independent so maybe she’d be against it, but I have a feeling there would have been a chance.

Towards the end, we had found a new rhythm to live by. We’d always had a wonderful relationship but over the years a few niggles had entered into our interactions. Nothing much. Likely less than most. But when you have never had it, you notice it more.

However the last few years were different. It’s as if we had finally recognised that the things that irritated one another weren’t being done to annoy one another … they were simply our ways of trying help each other, even if we didn’t understand it. And from that moment, a new peace and acceptance came. It felt good. Conversations that had previously triggered us, were now open and easy. It was lovely and it’s for that reason I think Mum may have said yes to coming to live with us.

Sure, the house we live in doesn’t have the garden of the house she helped us buy, but I think she’d like it just the same.

I hope so.

I know it is a long way from England, but she was up for going to the North Pole to see the Northern Lights when she was 80.

So I’ll be thinking of that today when I celebrate her milestone.

Her, living in the house with her son, her daughter-in-law, her grandson and cat-in law.

Ahem.

Because while I know she’s not on this earth, she remains with me and that is some comfort.

It’s why I have 90 yellow roses being delivered to work today.

So 90 people in the office can take one in her honour.

To give to a loved one to show how much they mean to them.

Something that lets my Mum’s spirit be alive in the World.

Because while I know she wouldn’t like the attention, she would forgive me for the sentiment.

So Happy 90th birthday to you, my dearest Mum.

I love and miss you so much.

Give Dad a big kiss from me.

And know I am so glad you were my Mum.

Rx

Comments Off on Happy Big Birthday Mum …


A Trifle Untrifle …
August 2, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Childhood, Food, Immaturity

I admit I have terrible taste.

I don’t mean in fashion or music, I mean in food.

The food I like is the food foodie people, hate.

It’s so bad, that on the occasions I get to fly business class, I ask for an economy meal. That is unless it’s the Chicken Satay on Singapore Airlines, then I will definitely have that.

Pathetic?

Oh I know …

Which is why I’m about to hit peak ‘first world problems’ with this post.

A few weeks ago I found myself in Melbourne.

I’d just enjoyed an ENOURMOUS Chicken Kiev – or, as it should be known, a Chicken Kyiv – when they offered me the dessert menu.

Among all the poncey, fancy stuff was a trifle.

A TRIFLE.

Trifles for me were a childhood party staple.

Strawberry Jelly. Custard. Sponge Fingers. Cream.

When you served it, it would make a sound like a Wellington Boot being pulled out the mud. It was glorious, gratuitous splodge and I bloody loved it.

So of course I ordered it and waited with glee.

My first clue should have been the dish it was served in.

It was fancy as fuck.

It’s the one at the top of this page.

My second clue was that it looked like a complete trifle rather than the road accident the typical served trifle resembled.

But if that didn’t get me, the taste did.

Instead of being transported to my childhood, I was taken to a place I didn’t belong.

Refined tastes of ingredients that don’t ever belong in a trifle.

Lemon.
Coconut.
Rose water jelly.

And don’t even get me started on the custard.

More insipid than a Tory councillor at election time.

The whole experience was this blend of bland and sour … literally ruining trifles and my childhood for ever.

I’m sure people with a evolved palette would love it.

However for people from Nottingham … it was edible violence.

But then, I do love Angel Delight, butterscotch flavour and Viennetta.

Comments Off on A Trifle Untrifle …


Some Things Go Deep. Really Deep …
July 19, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Childhood, Comment

Today is Brian May’s birthday.

He will be 75.

SEVENTY FIVE!!!

And he’s still playing massive concerts around the World.

But unlike last year where he had a whole post dedicated to him, this year I’m going to write about surprises.

OK, it’s hardly something dramatic, but it certainly shocked me.

It was this …

What the hell?

Look how deep those post boxes go?

I always thought they were just cemented into the pavement but now I think about it, that would have been a stupid thing to do.

But bloody hell. No wonder you couldn’t shift them.

I remember as a kid, there was a post box at the top of our road. When Mum wanted a letter posting, I’d ask her to count how long it took me to run to it, post it, and come back again.

I was unsurprisingly … much, MUCH healthier back then. But that postbox became almost a symbol of my development.

A measuring stick for my abilities.

It seems so long ago, and yet I can remember it so vividly.

From running out the door, jumping through – not around – the garden and trying to cross the road to the postbox without hopefully hitting a car coming down the road.

Good memories. In fact so good it’s made me a little homesick.

By homesick, I mean family-sick.

Which is quite a tangent from a post that is simply about how bloody deep postboxes go.