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

Identity …

I was born in 1970 in Nottingham.

For 25 years, I lived there, worked there, socialised there.

Sure, I also worked in London … but I always came home to NG2.

Every. Bloody. Night.

But in 1995, I left.

I went to Australia and started an adventure all over the place. And while I back to the UK after 24 years – I never went back to living in Nottingham.

And yet, despite having now spent more time away from Nottingham than living in it, it’s still what I regard as ‘home’.

Sure it’s where my formative years were spent.
Sure it’s where my parents ashes have been spread.
Sure it’s where my beloved Paul still lives.
Sure it’s where my football team resides.
Sure it’s where I spent the longest period of my life in.

But still …

What is also interesting is that when I go back, while I feel a sense of familiarity, I also feel disconnected. Of course, that’s to be expected when you’ve been away for so long … but it means when I think – or am in – Nottingham, I feel displaced and comforted at the same time.

It’s a weird feeling, caught between 2 emotional poles …

A stranger in where you believe you come from.

Of course, I go through similar feelings when I visit previous places I once lived – especially Shanghai, which is the place I probably felt the most connected to – but Nottingham is where I have roots [or where I used to have them] and so while I am far away, I am increasingly surrounding myself with stuff that reminds me of the place.

But I don’t want to go back.

It is my past rather than my future.

And that’s where it all gets complicated because I want Otis to have a place where he can build roots like I did with Nottingham, but I don’t know if that’s possible or where that is.

He’s 8 and lived in 4 countries already.

More than that, at some point we’ll be leaving here.

Don’t get me wrong, we love NZ.

We adore our home.

But we feel our life still has other places to go.

It won’t happen in the short term …

We are happy here, Otis absolutely adores it, we want him to be in a place longer than the 2 year periods he’s experienced so far in his life and I haven’t yet repaid the generosity the country has shown us … but it will eventually happen and so I wonder what Otis will regard as his ‘identity’.

If you ask him now, he’ll say, “China”.

I love that, but it’s also more because of where he was born rather than where he was raised.

So we shall see.

Of course we could just stay here and remove the issue … and while there’s a big part of us that would like to do that, we also would like to be closer to the people who matter most to us.

At some point.

This may all sound like a reason to never move country and if that’s how it comes across then that would be wrong.

It’s dead easy to think about what you will miss by moving away but you need to think about what you will gain. And in my case, apart from Paul and Shelly in Nottingham … every single thing in my life is because I took that leap.


My wife.
My son.
My cat.
My home.
My career.
My life.

So while identity is increasingly important to me, I’m not going to devalue the utter privilege of the adventure we’ve had – and will hopefully keep having. Especially given nationalism is increasingly acting as a barrier towards the understanding and acceptance of others… rather than a way for people to identify, share and grow.

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Lost In My Own Selfish Sorrow …
May 16, 2023, 8:15 am
Filed under: Comment, Dad, Death, Family, Mum

As I mentioned at the time, my Easter holiday was rubbish.

I got a virus the day before Good Friday and basically was ill – in bed – for the entire holiday.

To pass the time between falling asleep, I watched endless TikTok’s and Reel’s.

In-between the wannabe’s and impressive, there were more than a few that triggered a lot of emotions in me.

Posts that talked about memories and loss …. whether of friends, family or pets.

I’d love to say that I cried a lot because I was feeling sorry for myself, and while that is true – there was a lot more going on.

Despite being 52.

Despite my parents being gone for 8 years and 24 years respectively.

Despite having an utterly wonderful family and professional life.

I’m a bit of a mess.

There’s a whole host of reasons – part of it simply being a sentimental emotional bastard [as Andy used to say] but there was one clip that dug deep.

It was a kid on the streets of London who was asked what was one of the saddest times of their life.

They talked about the loss of their Dad and then they mentioned how amazing their Mum had been, because even though she had to deal with the loss of the person she loved most, she had to also ensure their son didn’t fall too far.

And while I’ve always recognised and realised that, something in their comment hit me hard.

There have been far too many occasions where I’ve been stuck in my own pig-headed selfish world. Thinking about the impact of things on me, not really considering the impact on those around me. And while most people have let me get away with this – knowing I’m going through a hard time – it still upsets me I can get so lost in my own shit.

That’s not how I was brought up. That’s not how I used to be.

So with that I want to say thank you to Mum.

Thank you for your love and support.

Thank you for sacrificing your pain to help me get through mine.

Thank you for always being there with your gentle encouragement.

Thank you for your strength when everything was falling apart.

Thank you for your love, support, patience and protection.

I am so sorry I took more from you than I gave.

I am so sorry I chose to be ignorant to the truth for so long.

Believing you were being negative about Dad’s situation when you were caring for him 24/7 and I was visiting from Australia.

I appreciate now how much additional worry I must have caused you, wondering how I’d cope with his health reality, when I chose to finally let it in.

When I would be forced to let it in.

I wish I had not been so blinkered and blind and lost in my own distress.

I wish I had been stronger so you could fall, rather than always pick me up.

I wish you had not lost the man you loved so much so early.

I am so grateful for all you did for me. And continue to do for me.

Thank you for being the best Mum I could ever have.

Love you Mum.


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When You Realise The Best Of You Isn’t You …

The above photo was taken back in 2020.

We were living in Fulham.

Everyone was working from home.

And we suspected Otis may have had COVID.

As it turned out, he didn’t – thankfully.

But I love that photo.

The closeness.

The intimacy.

The caring Mum and the curious kid.

A shared moment ruined by me coming in and taking a pic – as usual, hahaha.

But who can blame me? Those two are everything to me.

And the older I get, the more I realise how much time I didn’t spend with them.

That realisation started with COVID.

While the pandemic was so devastating to so many – it was very good to me.

I got to be with my family for longer than I’d ever been in our time together.

Waking up together.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner together.

Putting Otis to bed and then going to bed with Jill at the same time.


Now I know for so many that’s a regular thing but for me it wasn’t and the experience was wonderful and confronting.

Wonderful for how it made me feel. Confronting for how I had allowed that to happen.

Don’t get me wrong … I love work. Or should I say I love parts of work.

And as much as it may not be cool to say anymore, but I loved the travel.

Not being on a plane for the COVID years – bar, moving to NZ – felt like a genuine loss.

Not at first – initially it felt amazing, given how regularly I had been travelling – but after 2+ years, I was ready to hear those engines whir into life. Just not so regularly as I had before … because flying internationally at least once a week, every week for years was just plain idiotic.

And while I don’t want to let all of it go, I have been changing big parts of how I am choosing to live and it all came from something my Dad once said to me.

You see, my Dad had quite an eclectic early professional life.

Not just changing jobs, but whole industries.

I remember asking him why he had done it and he said this:

“I love you and your Mum. So if I’m going to be away from you both for most of the day, I better like what I’m doing because nothing would be so disrespectful as being away for something I hate”

Now I appreciate the privilege in that statement.

There are many who don’t have the opportunity to chase after things that interest them.

And for my Dad, that was enabled by the stability of my brilliant Mum – similar to what Jill has done for me in allowing me to uproot us every few years for an adventure in some other far distant part of the world.

But while I’ve generally enjoyed what I have done … as I get older, it’s becoming more and more apparent that I want to ensure my family is given even greater prioritisation in what I do. That doesn’t mean they weren’t before … but I realise they could have been prioritised a fuck load more.

In some ways, it’s a perfect time for this to happen.

I’m approaching a point in life where some decisions will have to be made regarding my future.

What do I want to do?

Who do I want to do it with – and for?

What do I want to explore, experience and achieve?

Where is the best place for us to be located?

What are the conditions we need to protect what we have?

For me, these are revelation questions.

Previously, I just went with whatever excited/scared me/us the most.

And while this doesn’t mean we’re now happy to settle – because let’s face it, I suck at it, thanks to my only-child inspired, competitive, curious and annoyingly ambitious energy – it does mean these questions ensure my/our decisions are focused on ensuring my family get the best of me, not just what is left of me because the one thing covid taught me is nothing is as important as being together.

It’s pathetic I needed a global pandemic to really drive that home.

But to paraphrase my dad, nothing would be as disrespectful to my family than ignoring what became one of the most precious times of my life with my family.

Thanks to Easter, I get to spend the next 4 days with them … hopefully eating chocolate.

So wherever you are and whoever you’re with, I hope you get to spend it with someone that matters.

Even if that’s just yourself.

Happy holiday … and I apologise for the indulgent, happy-clappy post of today.

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It’s All A Matter Of Taste …
April 5, 2023, 8:15 am
Filed under: Childhood, Dad, Nottingham, Otis, Paul

Every October in Nottingham, we have something called Goose Fair.

Goose Fair is as massive attraction with food, games and rides. Its history stretches back to 1541 which means it may be the oldest fair in Europe.

OK, so what it is today is very different to what it is now … but for me, it’s something filled with brilliant memories.

In many ways, it was as exciting as Christmas.

Not just because it was an annual event, but it was a life so different to my normal life.

Lights, colour, sound.

It was a trip into another world.

So many moments of my childhood are connected with Goose Fair.

From going with my Dad in my earliest years … winning my first ever ‘pet’ [a goldfish] … falling down an incredibly muddy hill because Dad thought he saw a short-cut to the car park … the hilarity of bumping into everyone on the dodgems … taking the ever-beautiful, Danish Mia there … then, when older, getting given a bag of 10 pence pieces from my parents, so I could go with Paul and spend it on rides, slot machines and food.

Oh the food …

Burgers, hot dogs and mushy peas.

The mushy peas stand out the most because you didn’t ever get them anywhere else.

A polystyrene cup, filled with piping hot mushy peas that you would then coat in mint sauce.

I know … it sounds disgusting, but it tasted like heaven.

And I know for a fact that is not my memory talking because this is what I bought last weekend …

… and it was delicious, even if Otis thought I was an insane animal.

Him aside, I will always be grateful to Goose Fair.

For the memories, the experiences, the moments and the history it has given me.

One day I will return, until then, I’ll just have my questionable food choices to comfort me.

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It’s Not Easy, But It’s Worth It …
March 28, 2023, 7:15 am
Filed under: Dad, Family, Love, Mum, Mum & Dad

I haven’t heard your voices in years.

But everyday my heart still has conversations with both of you.

Sometimes together.

Sometimes on your own.

Grief hurts.

They say it gets better with age, but it’s not that it goes … it just changes and evolves.

From starting as a tsunami to eventually some waves … waves that seemingly come and go as they please, sometimes close, sometimes only seen from afar.

But when they hit. Oh boy, do they hit.

That intense feeling of being overwhelmed.

Being lost in the dark. All by yourself. Wondering if you’ll survive.

Which is ironic, given those are the moments when we’re probably as close as we can be these days.

So I remind myself all that pain is an expression of love.

A longing. A tension. A harmonious connection.

And so while the pain is pretty agonising when it’s in full flow, it’s so much better than the alternative.

Which is why I love letting the conversations go on … with the hope that one day, your voices are heard, not simply felt.

I miss you Mum and Dad.

Happy 59th anniversary.

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