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


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.



Nothing Is More Appropriate Than Valentines Day Falling On A Monday …
February 14, 2022, 8:00 am
Filed under: Advertising, Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Culture, Fear, Love, Valentine's Day

Valentines Day.

The day of fear, disguised as love.

The day where society has been culturally bullied into making excessive expressions of adoration at hugely inflated prices.

OK, I appreciate I sound a total bastard … but I just find the whole thing ridiculous.

Maybe in the days where it was supposed to be anonymous, it had something going for it – though maybe these days, that qualifies as stalking – but now it’s just the worst example of marketing exploitation.

Oh I can hear the arguments …

“It makes sure there’s at least one day in the year where people feel loved and appreciated by others”.

It’s the same excuse that created Fathers Day, Mothers Day and god knows what else the flower/card industry came up with.

I remember when Earth Hour started to great fanfare.

For just one hour, turn off all power to save the planet.

And people did do it.

Literally.

An act of symbolism that achieved absolutely fuck all in changes of behaviour or changes to the climate. It was the ultimate act of convenience activism.

But to be fair, Earth Hour did want to change that.

They wanted to a bigger impact than simply awareness.

And can you remember what they did?

They added a + sign to their name.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Having Valentines Day on a Monday is perfect because both are days you generally wish didn’t exist but you have to deal with.

The sad thing is love is a wonderful thing.

Yes – as Joy Division once sang – love can tear us apart.

But it is such a beautiful force of power.

It makes you giddy with joy, it makes you feel invincible, it creates safe environments, it gives you the confidence to take risks, it helps overcome barriers, it makes it OK to reveal emotions, it inspires songs and poems and stories …

Love deserves so much more of a celebration than a bunch of $100 flowers and a shitty card.

On a Monday.



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.



Hiding Behind A Mask …

Recently I was interviewed by 2 creatives who have set up a podcast about imposter syndrome.

As I wrote a while back, imposter syndrome affects pretty much everyone in the industry and can be utterly debilitating.

In that same post, I suggested one way to deal with it, is not to hide from it, but to embrace it.

Because in some circumstances, imposter syndrome can help your career.

Seriously.

It means it never let’s you phone something in.
It means it always demands you push your talent further.
It means it will force you to keep exploring possibilities.

I’m not saying that isn’t painful, but it may change your relationship with it … because instead of undermining your career, maybe you can use it to build it.

Maybe.

Anyway, I was interviewed about this and a bunch of other issues connected to imposter syndrome and if you want to listen to that – or the much better ones, such as Nils from Uncommon – then you can go here and find out more about something that more people than you’d imagine have to deal with.



A Glimpse Of The Future …

Every Saturday, the Guardian Newspaper runs a feature where they interview 2 people who have been out on a blind date over dinner.

And every week, they ask the same questions to both parties.

Sometimes they find love …
Sometimes they find a friend …
Sometimes they find their worst nightmare …

… but it’s always an enjoyable read.

Now while you may think my favourite stories are when the couple hate each other – and some truly do, with a total inability to hide their distain behind their one word, printed answers – that’s not actually my favourite.

As soppy as it sounds, it’s quite marvellous when people find someone they want to see again. Maybe it’s because it’s so rare, or maybe it’s because I’ve found my inner-romantic in my old age, but it’s really lovely.

The thing that makes it even more warming is how they answer the questions.

It’s not simply that they say, “I really like him/her”, it’s the way their answers have a real warmth and respect for the other person. It’s not simply about what they feel, they describe how the other person made them feel. It’s delightful and a very different experience to people who didn’t like their date.

Some get very personal.

Expressing themselves in a way that shows they genuinely think they were aesthetically, intellectually or morally superior. Which, of course, has the result that you find them actually the uglier person inside and out.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I read about these 2:

Sadly Johnny – 24 and an artist – and Gen – 23 and a post-grad student – didn’t hit it off. But I couldn’t stop looking at their picture.

Or more specifically Johnny’s.

Not because I’m a weirdo, but I kept thinking how he looked like an older version of this one:

Yes … the hair is a big part of it, but there’s other things.

The gentle face.
The compassionate energy.
The wry smile.

I know it’s ridiculous, but it felt like I was seeing my son in 18 years time.

You see, when you’re 51 … your father died at 60 … and your son is 6 … you start to think about death a hell of a lot more.

I don’t like it. I don’t like how it sometimes makes me feel. I don’t like how stupid it can make me … but the reality is there is a chance I won’t make it to see Otis at Johnny’s age and that terrifies me.

I mean, I hope I do.

I hope I live a lot longer than that.

But then my Dad wished he could have seen me get married and become a Dad and he never got that chance … so seeing Johnny felt like a bit of a gift. A chance to glimpse the future, which I appreciate sounds utterly stupid. Because it is.

But it gets worse.

I found myself reading Johnny’s answers over and over again – wanting to make sure he was a nice guy because for a moment, I’d convinced myself that meant Otis would be to. [Good news. They both are, hahaha]

Then I found myself wondering what sort of artist he is and how he got there.

Is he happy?
Is he fulfilled?
Will he achieve what he hopes?

Obviously all of this had triggered my fears and insecurities … projecting the life of a complete stranger who looks a bit like my son on to my son.

Fortunately Otis – who was sat next to me at the time – was living in his own world playing Roblox on his iPad, not giving a fuck that his Dad was having a bit of a meltdown, hahahaha.

So to Johnny, I want to apologise.

I’m sorry an old bloke got kind of obsessed with you for a minute.
I’m sorry I temporarily stole your life to give it to my son.
I’m sorry Gen and you didn’t click. [though you may be happy about that too]

And to Otis …

Well my wonderful boy, know I love you.

Know I wish I could be here forever … to be near you.

To see you grow and blossom. To watch you discover a life of adventure and fulfilment. To witness the choices you make and the life you create.

I hope I see you at 24 and beyond.

And I hope you know my interest in Johnny was not because I want you to live his life, but because I just want to see you live yours.

For decades.

Rx