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


Time Machines Suck …

I’ve written this blog consistently for 15 years.

FIFTEEN!!!

My god …

But it gets worse.

Because bar a few weeks of holiday, it is something that has been written every single Monday to Friday.

That means there has been over 3,900 posts of utter gibberish for over 780 weeks.

And as tragic as that all sounds, there’s an awful lot of people who comment on here who have been here pretty much all that time.

LOSERS!!!

Now, I have to say there are some lovely benefits to long term blog writing.

In some ways it’s like a diary … capturing what I was thinking or doing at any given time.

It also is a lovely way to see how my opinions and thoughts have evolved over time.

Plus there’s the hope that when I’m gone, Otis will still feel his Dad is close.

OK … OK … there are some posts I definitely DON’T want him to read, but there’s others I’d be glad for him to keep going back to.

Putting aside I basically write the same 3 or 4 posts over and over again … there is a lot of my life contained in these pages.

From getting married to losing my Mum to having my son.

Proper life-changing stuff … and that doesn’t even cover the moves to different countries, jobs and homes.

The best and worst of my life is detailed here which is why – despite all these big life events being sandwiched between endless amounts of shit – I still like it.

Occasionally I randomly click on a date and just see what I wrote.

Recently I did this and was reminded what a little shit I was.

OK, can be.

It’s this.

Yep, it’s the time I tried to auction off Martin Sorrell’s business card so people could send him stupid messages or texts.

On the plus side, I was offering to give any money to charity.

On the negative, I was working for WPP at the time.

If you think that’s stupid, there was the time I wrote a post featuring a photo of Sir Martin with a picture of Toad of Toad Hall under the caption ‘Spot The Difference’.

And the weird thing is that while I don’t agree with his approach to creativity, I do respect him. I have met him on a number of occasions and he was very, very impressive.

Though it’s fair to say that respect was only one way, Especially when there was an agency Q&A and I asked him ‘what do you spend all your money on?’

So Sir Martin … even though I know you would never read this blog [more proof you’re clever] I would like to take this opportunity to apologise for my stupidity. It was ridiculous … but if it’s any consolation, at least it wasn’t as bad as this.

I know … I know … this was a terrible post even by my standards.

So celebrate in the fact that tomorrow is Good Friday so I’m off till next Tuesday and you’re not going have to deal with any more of this shit till then.

I don’t know about you … but it’s the sort of news that makes you almost believe in God, doesn’t it.

Happy Easter, enjoy the sugar rush.



Terrifying Insanity …
March 30, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Death, Empathy, Fear

Putin’s evil acts in the Ukraine have obviously repulsed the World – even though, the World has contributed to this situation by their inaction over many years.

However it is the rise of conversations relating to nuclear war that has got everyone terrified.

I don’t mind admitting I have found it very triggering and it’s the most fearful I’ve ever been about another World War.

Of course, compared to the poor people in the Ukraine, it’s nothing – and that’s why they need our support and our commitment to making our governments responsible for righting wrongs and dealing with the Putin situation that actively enabled.

Nothing highlights the craziness of the times than this headline:

That this newspaper headline can exist again – in 2022 – is mindblowling. Almost as mind-blowing as the idea anyone can be ‘well prepared’ for a nuclear attack.

But while this ‘news’ should have put me in a terrified state, it actually managed to raise a smile because the reality is London goes to pieces when there’s an inch of snow so to suggest it could deal with an all out nuclear attack is actually hilarious.

So thank you Sadiq Khan for the smiles and fuck you Putin for the fear.



There When They’re Not …
March 25, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Comment, Dad, Death, Family, Fatherhood, Home, Jill, Love, Mum, Mum & Dad, Nottingham, Otis

A few weeks ago, I saw a tweet by the comedian, David Baddiel.

It was this.


It was late, but there was something about it that really touched me.

Of course, hearing a parent has died is always sad. And over the years, my stance on Mr Baddiel has gone from ‘annoying’ to ‘wonderful’. But I think it was the sight of the worn chair that got me. A reminder of a parent who preferred comfort over new. A father who saw the chair worn in rather than worn out. An extention of the parent rather than just another piece of furniture in the home.

I definitely related to that.

I still remember going into Mum’s bedroom after she died – the bedroom that my shared my entire childhood – and saw it was a bit worn out. Needed some care, some attention, some updating. But what’s interesting is that while I’d been in that room a million times, it was only then that I the condition. Because when my parents were in that room … in that bed … the whole room radiated love and life and all the worn paint and old carpet disappeared from view.

But I also know how important it is to hold on to some of that.

Getting rid of your parents belongings is devastating.

I definitely remember genuinely considering hiring a security guard to just sit outside the house so I could keep it exactly the way it was. Hell, I even tried to buy the home phone number from British Telecom, or whatever they’re called these days – so I would have a connection to my past … to my parents … forever.

Jill gently convinced me that wasn’t the best way to move forward. Reminded me that wouldn’t be what my parents would want. But she also knew I needed to keep a physical connection to them and that house … so she came up with a brilliant idea that I thought may help a man I don’t know, get through a terribly painful situation I do know all too well.

So I responded to him with this and went to sleep.

The next morning I woke up to my phone screen full of twitter notifications and saw this.

Thousands of likes.
Hundreds of comments.
A mass of retweets.

I couldn’t quite believe it.

And when I read the comments, every single one was positive.

No snark. No pisstaking. Just a mass of lovely, considerate, words. Which was more wonderful than I could ever have imagined, because as much as it’s nice to have something you said/did liked by so many, what made the biggest impact was so many people saying they now had a way to take their family and home with them, when their family and home are no longer there.

A bit of calm in the worst of storms.

And since I wrote this post, the number of people who liked it and commented on how this can help them deal with their grief has increased more and more.

So thank you Jill.

You helped not just make one of my hardest times, less dark, you have helped others see a way out of their darkest moment.



Why Nothing Says Love Like Forgetfulness …
March 9, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: Dad, Daddyhood, Death, Family, Jill, Love, Mum, Mum & Dad, Otis, Parents

I almost forgot today was your anniversary Mum.

That’s twice that has happened.

Though this time I remembered weeks before the date, which makes me feel a little less guilty than last time. Which was literally a few days. And that was because someone wrote to say they were thinking of me, because they knew your anniversary was close.

But I still feel bad.

I just can’t work out why Jan 16th is so burned in my mind for Dad, but March 9th needs me to actively think about it.

I remember your birthday. I remember your anniversary – in fact I wrote a post about it on the same day I wrote this – but the date of your passing is one that can pass by.

That doesn’t mean I don’t think of you.

I think of you so much. And Dad.

Those memories make me laugh, smile or sometimes, can tip me over the edge into a land of tears without too much effort at all.

Especially when I think about how much I wish I could share things with you. Or discuss things with you. Or just have you as part of my life … and my families.

Now I know you would say, “don’t worry about it”. You’d then back it up with something like, “you have your family to think about and you’re so busy”.

But you’d be wrong.

Because it’s never about ‘making time’ to think about you. You and Dad are always there which is why you’re definitely part of my family, even though you’re not here.

In fact we talk about you all the time.

Otis talks about his Nona, and asks if you ever met him.

He loves hearing you loved him and loved seeing him over FaceTime. He also talks about Dad a bit … and how “he died because his brain had a bleed”.

He doesn’t say it to be mean, he’s fascinated … so it actually helps me feel you are both still around. I mean, you are – in my heart and mind – but you know what I mean.

But forgetting the anniversary of your death does bother me.

I remember every single second of that entire day. And the days after it. You could ask me anything. If I was on Mastermind, it would be one of my specialist subjects. Every single detail is burned in my mind. From the moment I woke up early so I could see you before your operation right through to watching the ticking of the clock and not understanding why you were still in there right up to the moment Paul and Shelly took me back to their house so I wasn’t alone that night.

Hell, I even have it tattoo’d on me.

But maybe I’ve answered the question with this post.

Because when I look at what I’ve written, it reveals I think far more of the life we enjoyed, rather than ‘the’ moment it ended.

It took me 10 years to get to this place with Dad, but with you, it was much quicker.

I was older.
I was married.
I had experienced the tragic sense of loss and despair together.
I had a 3 month old baby – your grandson – to stop me falling too far into the abyss.

So your life is part of my everyday rather than defined by this single day.

And when I think of it by that, today suddenly is filled with optimism and love rather than darkness and despair.

And I know how happy that would make you, which would make me happy too.

So here’s to more anniversaries of pain that I remember late.

Because nothing shows how much I love and miss you than thinking about you every day of the year rather than just this one, tragic day.

Rx



Emails From History …
February 10, 2022, 8:00 am
Filed under: Childhood, Dad, Death, Family, Fear, Love, Mum, Mum & Dad

A while back, I received an email from someone at Queen’s Medical Centre.

The QMC is a hospital near where I lived in Nottingham.

It was once the biggest hospital in Europe, but its real significance is it is the hospital that saved my eyesight, saved my Mum’s life, saved my Dad’s … until they couldn’t.

It’s a place that ignites an insane amount of emotions in me.

I obviously haven’t been in it for a long time, but the last occasion I was there – when I went with Mum to see her specialist to try and delay her op as it was going to coincide when Otis was going to be born – so much came flooding back.

It smelt the same.
It had the same bustle and noise.
It had the same cafes and newsagents.
It had the same corridors, doors and places of eery silence.

I have spent too much of my life in that place.

It may be a place that saved me and the most important members of my family … but it also subjected me to feelings that I never want to experience again.

Fear. Worry. Pain. Confusion.

So it was strange to receive this email from a medical student [QMC is also a medical training and research hospital] saying they had found this blog and discovered the posts I had written about my Mum and Dad dying.

They told me they were doing a project where they were reaching out to people who had suffered great loss to see if they would be willing to write about their experience and how they came back from their darkest points – so that it could help others going through a similar thing.

I was both flattered and terrified.

Flattered to be asked. Terrified what it may reignite.

Because despite Dad having been gone 23 years and Mum 7, I can still be affected by their loss with the most random of triggers.

And it was then I realised why I had to do it.

Because while Anthony Hopkins eyes can make me think of my Dad … or random elderly women in Thai Restaurants in Manhattan Beach can make me feel compelled to give them a hug … the rush of emotion they ignite has gone from drowning to reconnecting.

I know that might sound strange.

And I can assure you that isn’t how it feels when you’re in the moment of it.

But after – when the moment has been allowed to overwhelm – it is exactly how I feel.

Which is why I sent them this. I hope it does someone good, somewhere.

I hope it lets Mum and Dad know even though their loss can stab me with pain.

I’m OK.

And so is the pain.

Shadows

And then there was no one.
He was on his own.
An adult who still felt like a child but had no other choice than to grow up.

This was not part of the plan.
Yes, he had some vague notion of the concept of death.
But they were going to live forever.

But silence reinforced truth.
They had both gone.
And despite the decades of life he’d lived.
And despite the family he’d raised.
He never felt so alone.
Abandoned.
An orphan.
Drifting in a sea, with no life jacket left to protect him.

And as truth took hold
He entered a black hole of time.
Not knowing if he would be able to cope.
Not sure if he wanted to.
But somewhere deep inside there was a will that was starting to take hold.

And while the first days and weeks made him a slave to his tears.
Bit by bit he crawled his way back.
Out of the darkness and back into the light.
Still struggling to make sense of anything.
But out and alive.

But despite all the years
A shadow still remained.
In the background.
Far enough to be out the way.
Not far enough to fully escape it.
And it stays there, waiting to pounce whenever it pleases.
Waiting to drag you back into its darkness.

They say time is the great healer.
But that’s not exactly right.
Because time doesn’t heal, it reframes.
And while you never know when it will happen, you know when it does.

Because one day the shadow will strike.
Envelop you to drag you down.
Take you to a place that feels like a prison … except of being locked in, emotions escape out.
But the tears now have a different role.
They’re no longer about what you don’t have.
They’re for memories of what you did.
The silly, the ridiculous, the bland and the majestic.
Each tear becomes a memory of what those two meant to you.
The people you would give all you have to see again,
But now you realise they’re not completely gone.
Because the shadow is no longer a sign of loss.
But a reminder, they’re still there.