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


We All Need Someone …

It’s easy to think some people can have whatever they want.

That they have the money to buy whatever they choose.

Or the business empire to create whatever they desire.

And while it’s no doubt easier to have things when you’ve got things … the reality is everyone – rich or poor – needs someone at some point in their life.

My Dad always said if you know people, you’re rich … and while mortgages can’t be paid in Linkedin contacts, I do understand what he meant.

When I look at my career, I realise so many of the opportunities I have enjoyed have come because of people I worked with or met along the way.

That doesn’t mean I had things handed to me on a plate – or no more than any other white, male has had that as an advantage – it just means because of the breadth of people I know, I’ve been able to do things that others may never have had the chance to experience.

While I think I’m pretty good at what I do, I am under no illusion I’m special – and yet I’ve been able to do so much that were beyond my expectations, whether that’s living around the World or working with Metallica – which highlights how much of life is down to luck.

In my case, while I didn’t go to a private school or a fancy university [or any university for that matter] I was born a white male … which means I was already hugely advantaged with ‘luck’ where life was concerned.

While this could easily become a rant about how fucking unfair this is – especially if you’re a Person of Colour or a female or gay or someone who does not identify themselves by male/female identity – I’m going to be writing about that next week, so I’ll end this week with the point this post was originally meant to have.

Recently I came across a letter from the writer John Steinbeck to Marilyn Monroe.

While it reinforces my point about the value of knowing people, the reason I’m writing about it is because it’s just beautifully written and shows a side of celebrity rarely seen.

Somewhere along the line, we seem to think all celebs know each other. Hanging out in each other’s pools and houses. Well, while it may be true now [it’s not] it certainly wasn’t true then – as this lovely letter to start your weekend by, clearly shows.

Have a great one.



There’s Three Types Of Old Person …

Contrary to the quote of Oscar Wilde above, I don’t think the young think they know everything.

Sure there’s some … but the vast majority seem to simply be curious to explore and learn. It’s why I have far more faith in the future of the planet in their hands than my peers.

In fact, I meet far more older people – normally white men – who have the attitude of being the font of all knowledge.

In fact, they all fall into one of 3 distinct groups …

Those who think they know everything.

Those who know they don’t know everything,

And those who do know everything.

Given the last group consists of one person – Mr Martin Weigel – that means the vast majority fall into one of the first 2 camps.

The scary thing is that there seems to be far more who think they know everything versus those who are open to keep learning. I do sort-of understand. A life lived is a life experienced. Except it isn’t … plus life is constantly moving and evolving so to come in with some condescending, self-important. “I know it all” attitude is literally the worst thing you could do.

And yet so many still do it.

The funny thing is, because they come in with an attitude of forcefulness, they rarely have people speak up against them so they go off thinking they’re right while everyone around them whispers how stupid they are.

My Mum – as usual – had it right.

She was always open to the new.

It didn’t mean she liked it.

It didn’t mean she understood it.

But she felt if it mattered to them, it should matter to her.

And that’s why she went out of her way to watch, listen and learn.

What’s even more wonderful is that people who saw her being interested in them were then interested in her.

She loved the idea that she could mess with the expectations people had of an elderly Italian woman.

Not so she could pretend she was young, but so she could feel she still was an active member of society. Someone who still had something to offer, even if that was to stop older people blindly discounting what was emerging in culture.

God I miss her.

Which is why her, “be interested in what others are interested in” should be something we all follow. Young, old, rich, poor … because the more we understand, the more we can actually create change rather than conflict.



Forever Connected By An Invisible String …
March 9, 2021, 7:30 am
Filed under: Comment, Death, Family, Love, Mum, Mum & Dad

When Otis was young, we bought him a book called The Invisible String.

It’s a delightful book about family … love … and connection … and helps kids understand the idea of being together even when their parents aren’t around. Whether that’s because they’re at work or have sadly passed.

I write this because 6 years ago today, my wonderful, beautiful Mum died.

It seems so long ago and yet I can remember every second of that day.

From waking up early to see her before her operation … to the rise of worry as she was in theatre for longer than the person before her … to the relief when she came out and I could sit by her side … to the confusion I felt when the nurse asked me to sit somewhere else as an alarm started to sound … to the horrible, painful moment the doctor and nurse told me the worst thing that could happen, had happened.

And like when my Dad died, the memories of her are consumed by the moments of this day.

However, also like my Dad, I know that will eventually pass to be replaced by the moments of love, happiness and wonder I shared with her.

She was an amazing woman.

Her capacity for compassion knew no bounds.

I felt – like with Dad – loved and supported, even at my most ‘difficult’ times …

Her loss was – and still is – a huge hole in my life.

She never got to meet Otis.
She never got to know we had moved to America … then England … and now NZ.
She never got to see the beautiful garden at our house in Herefordshire or the mad treehouse in Auckland.

But I know she would be happy about it all.

And that makes me happy for very different reasons.

Because while for her, it would be that her only son was enjoying his life, for me it would be that I am making my Mum proud.

That’s all I want to do.

Always.

I miss you Mum.

I can still feel our string.

I hope you’re holding hands with Dad and laughing at my jetlag.

Love you.


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We’ll Meet Again …

So even though we are not leaving for NZ for a month, this is my last post for at least a month.

Moving countries always requires a bunch of things to be done, and despite us being old hands at it, doing it during a pandemic means we have a bunch more stuff to do – hence the blog post rest.

Being back in England has been a special time.

Part of it is because I never thought I would have lived here again.

Part of it is because I have been able to catch up with old friends once more.

Part of it is because I love big cities and always wanted to live in London.

Part of it is because despite its bullshit, it’s still my home and I’ve loved being in a place where so much of it just felt natural.

And part of it is because of the new friends I have met along the way.

To think I didn’t know people like Tanter, Nils, the beautifully irresponsible – in the most responsible way – Mike and Sam, the entire planning gang at R/GA [though Lachlan did remind me when I started that we had once met in Australia … when he was a student, hahahaha], Michael Roberts, Ben Major, Tarik at Onroad, Sam Clohesy, Ian Preston, Trudie, the inspirational [whether he accepts that or not] Murray Calder, Keerti, Munraj, Larissa Vince – who is a better Nottingham Forest than I could ever be, John, Nana at POCC, Asheru, Louise Jack, Eduardo, Sara Tate, Holly Day, Ally and everyone at Brixton Finishing School, Dorcas, Abi, the incredible Kay Adekunle Rufai from the S-M-I-L-E-ing Boys project, Nick Hirst, Tom Roach and countless other people from work or – shock, horror – Twitter [including one of my ad-icons, Trevor Beattie] … is astounding.

And while I am thrilled to be going to New Zealand for our next adventure, leaving England is much harder than I thought it would.

Without doubt, a big part of that is because as much as I’ve been away, it still feels like home.

Not just because we bought our beautiful house here, but because my beloved Paul and Shelly are here.

And while the pandemic meant we didn’t see each other as much as we would have liked, it’s more than I’d had in quarter of a century and I will treasure that as much as I treasure the fact Paul and I are still as stupid together, as we were when we were kids.

England is where I was raised.

And while I have sold the family home to buy our new family home … it doesn’t take away from the fact, so many of the things that made me who I am, were made here.

Of course I wish my Mum and Dad were still alive.

How I would have loved to have made them happy to be ‘home again’.

How I would have loved to have spent so much time chatting and remembering together.

But maybe it they were still alive we wouldn’t have gone to NZ and so it appears they are still encouraging me to explore, even without them here anymore.

Though I would happily swap it all for another day together, even though I am also happy they have not had to endure the hardship that COVID has placed on the country. I can’t imagine what it would be like for them to have to deal with it and I have nothing but admiration for any person trying to manage/balance that situation with their own family.

But we’re off … and frankly, the idea of going to New Zealand feels like one of the greatest gift in the World.

That we will soon be in a country where WE CAN GO OUT TO DINNER IN A RESTAURANT seems almost impossible.

That we will soon be in a country where Otis CAN PLAY OUTSIDE WITH HIS [NEW] FRIENDS WHENEVER HE WANTS is a dream.

That we will soon be able to go visit Jill’s Mum IN A MATTER OF HOURS is madness, given it’s been 17 years since she could do that.

And that I get to do this while working at one of my favourite companies in the World – the brilliant Colenso – is, frankly, insane.

I’m so excited for the adventures we’ll have.
The experiences we will discover and learn from.
Not to mention the work I will able to be a part of creating.

That said, I cannot thank all the brilliant people who have made my return to England so special, enough.

I will miss so much about here, but the memories will also last me through till our return.

And we will be back.

Don’t know where. Don’t know when.

But – not wishing to make it sound like a threat – I know we’ll meet again, some sunny day.

Take care of yourselves. Thank you for everything.

See you on the other side. Literally and metaphorically.



Days With My Father …
January 15, 2021, 7:30 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Dad, Daddyhood, Emotion, Empathy, Family, Mum, Mum & Dad, Otis, Parents

So if this blog being back wasn’t bad enough for you.

I’m ending the first week of posts with something sad.

At least for me.

You see, tomorrow will be the 22nd anniversary of my Dad passing away.

Over the years, I’ve used this anniversary to write both good and sad memories about dad.

From his last days to reminiscing about some of my favourite ones.

Recalling moments burned in my heart and mind.

Some big, some so small … it could easily have got lost in a corner.

Except to me, they are everything.

Despite him being gone 22 years, I still feel an urge to make him – and Mum – proud.

I am pretty sure they would be anyway – despite the odd ‘episode’, which only Dad ever knew about – but it still is a driving force within me.

But here’s the thing, he – and Mum – never put any pressure on me regarding what job I should do. None at all.

Of course they wanted me to do well, but it was about my life, not theirs.

OK, so they would have loved me to follow in the families footsteps of law, but while I adored the idea, I just couldn’t stand the idea of ending one period of education and then heading straight into another.

Hell, even when I told them I didn’t want to go to university, they backed me.

Of course they wanted to know why.
They also wanted me to apply just in case I changed my mind.
But they never guilt-tripped me into doing something I wasn’t interested in.

That doesn’t mean they were passively interested in what I did.

Nor does it mean they were going to pay for my life while I worked it out. [We all knew there simply wasn’t the cash for that, even if they wanted to]

It’s just their focus was ensuring I never settled.

I don’t mean that in terms of being arrogant or picky.

I mean it in terms of them viewing contentment as a terrible waste of a life.

What they wanted for me more than anything was to feel fulfilled.

That whatever I did made me feel better because of it.

Not because of what it enabled me to do, but because of what it was, how I did it and how it made me feel.

I don’t know if I really appreciated how huge that was until much later.

To give me the time, space and backing to work things out on my own.

Of course they were there for questions, worries, challenges and failures … but they were steadfast in wanting this to be about what I wanted for my life, not what they wanted for it.

Because at the end of the day, all they really cared about was me being happy.

Of course they knew there would be bad days … challenging days … days where I would want to give everything up. But they trusted me – and the lessons they’d taught me in terms of how to deal with life – to be able to work it out and keep moving forward.

It’s possibly the most wonderful, generous gift anyone could give their child.

It’s behind most of the things I’ve done in my life … from where I’ve worked, where I’ve lived and what I’ve done.

It’s also – contrary to popular belief – why I work bloody hard.

Because apart from the fact I deeply enjoy what I do [most of the time], it’s my way of repaying the faith my parents showed in me.

Showing them it wasn’t wasted or lost on me.

I’ll forever be grateful to them for it.

And hopefully so will Otis.

So thank you Dad. I miss you. I wish you were here for us to chat about the adventures.

Give Mum a kiss for me while holding her hand.

Rx

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