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


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.



How A Venus Fly Trap Proves We Have Got Nature All Wrong …
March 22, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Family, Love

Recently we bought a Venus Fly Trap.

And it’s safe to say, I’m transfixed.

These plants shouldn’t exist. They’re literally bonkers.

A plant that eats the living. EATS. THE. LIVING.

It’s the sort of thing you’d expect to come from the mind of a z-grade movie writer, not a bloody gardening shop.

But here it is, living in our house and trapping flies like a serial killer.

Which reveals a truth about nature we often forget.

You see when marketers talk about nature, they tend to position it as calm … fragile … innocent. A gentle place where humanity can be restored by its peaceful resonance.

But as the Venus Fly Trap shows, nature is actually the original hard bastard.

Of course it should be obvious …

She’s lived sustainably for billions of years.
Survived dinosaurs, meteors and nuclear bombs,
Found ways to evolve regardless of environment or climate.
Created an eco-system far more impressive than anything DHL or Amazon can muster.
Sustained life for longer than all mothers put together.
Kept the planet breathing despite our best attempts to choke and burn her.
Developed an operating system light years ahead of anything Apple could come up with.
Knows more about life than every scientist, doctor and self-help guru in history.

Nature isn’t gentle. She’s as fierce as a tiger with a set of nunchucks and a bazooka.

Which begs the question …

Why the hell do all these brands keep flogging ‘nature’ as passive when she created things like the Venus Fly Trap?

It just goes to show they don’t even understand their subject matter, let alone their audience.

Thanks VFT. You’re nails.



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



It’s Not Just Phil Collins Who Survived Against All Odds …

A year ago today, Jill, Otis, Rosie and I left our beautiful family home – that we only had bought and moved into 6 months earlier – to get on a plane for the first time in over a year and fly to the other side of the planet to start a new life in New Zealand.

Now of course, because Kiwiland is so fucking far away from everywhere, it took us 2 days to get here which means we’ve not officially been here a year … but if you will excuse the early anniversary, it still something I wish to celebrate.

Despite having moved countries more times than anyone should be allowed to … the build up to this move was the most stressful we’d ever had.

Of course, the reason for that was bloody COVID … but with changing rules, changing flights and changing timelines, it felt like an impossible dream when we boarded the plane 12 months ago today.

Then there was the 2 weeks of quarantine we had in Hamilton.

While it was restrictive, it was actually an amazing way to settle in a country because whether we liked it or not, we were not allowed to do anything.

Normally when we land in a country, it’s mayhem trying to learn the areas, find a house, buy a car. But this time it was easy, mainly because – in a moment of madness – we had bought a house and a car when we were in England.

While that might sound mad, the car was easy because it was simply the latest version of the car I bought in the UK. Which was the same as I bought in the US. Even down to the colour.

As for the house … OK, that was bonkers, but sadly for our bank manager, that wasn’t the first time we’d done it.

But it all worked out.

Not just in terms of house and car, but life.

We’re settled.

Otis loves his school.
Jill loves we live in the trees.
Rosie loves she can watch birds all day.
I love the talented mob I get to work with each day.

Colenso has done some lovely stuff – but it’s only the start – but we’ve won some global business, awards and a bunch of friends [not to mention the odd bitter enemy] but even more importantly, is that I’ve lucked in with the people I get to work with each day.

What a top bunch they are … with a special mention for my wonderful team who are a bunch of beautifully opinionated, creative and interesting assholes.

Just as I like them. [Most of the time, hahaha]

In fact the only thing that has been horrible has been the timezone … which means when I’m doing my Metallica duty or Gentle Monster duty, it ends up being so early or late I could cry.

Actually, for the first few weeks I probably did in shock … but now it’s second nature and they’ve all been ace. Hell, even the 4+ months of lockdown didn’t dampen our spirit.

Sure, we had travelled half way around the World to end up back where we started … but COVID here was very different to COVID in the UK.

Here there was a plan with clarity and communication.

And while people here say there’s a bunch of stuff the government could have done better – which, in some cases, is fair – compared to what we experienced in the UK, it’s all A+.

While we know we won’t be in NZ forever, we do love it here.

We are so appreciative of the chance we have been given … even more so when so many Kiwi’s have found it so hard to come back. NZ has been generous, supportive, open and encouraging. Hell, not only did they let me meet Noel Edmonds, James Cameron and brilliant Jacinda, they even looked after us when we all individually found ourselves having to go into hospital. In terms of ensuring you can deal with the sadness of not seeing friends and loved ones, NZ did it with absolute bloody panache.

I hope in our time here, we are seen as contributing to the nation. We want to do that so much. Celebrate it. Honour it. And – where possible – help it. Not just so we can learn and know more about this special place, but so we can say thank you for letting us be here.

Happy [almost] anniversary NZ.

You might wish it hadn’t happened, but we’re glad it did.



It Takes All Sorts …
February 21, 2022, 8:00 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Distinction, Emotion, Hope, Love

Not too long ago, someone on Twitter posted a ‘wedding announcement’ that had appeared in their parent’s local newspaper.

It’s one of the most fascinating pieces of writing I’ve ever seen.

A cross between a 1970’s intense paperback romance novel and a twisted remake of the film, Mean Girls. With maybe some sprinkles of Dungeons and Dragons in there.

There’s nothing else to add, other than read it because it’s utterly awesome and slightly scary.

Plus it serves as a great reminder that there’s someone out there for everyone.

Though I am not sure if you would want to meet them.

Oh well, love is love and they are most definitely in love and however way you look at it … that’s pretty wonderful.

Happy Monday.