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


Happy Birthday Dad …

Today would be my Dad’s 83rd birthday.

The age Mum died.

That means he has been gone 23 years.

Twenty three!

That’s almost unfeasible for me to comprehend.

And while I am now 51 … married … and a father … I still feel his little boy, a kid who needs and wants his Dad.

But as today would be his birthday, it would be my turn to look after him.

Make sure he felt spoilt and loved.

And for me, that would mean getting him something that was a ridiculous enjoyment, because he – and Mum – taught me a gift is something you want but could never justify in getting.

Of course they never followed their own advice, because when I would ask them what they wanted, they’d either say, “nothing, but a card” or something insanely practical.

I never listened to them.

And while my kid version of ridiculous enjoyment was limited by price – and imagination – right now, I would get him something that would push the boundaries of his wildest expectations.

Which would be a canary yellow, 1970’s Rolls Royce Corniche convertible with white-wall wheels.

I have no idea why he loved that car so much.

He sure as hell never drove one.

I don’t even know if he ever sat in one.

But throughout my childhood that would be the car he would constantly talk about and point to.

He even had a terrible Dad joke about them which he would tell me on an almost weekly basis.

Which is why I would do all I could to get him one today.

It might be a bit knackered.

It might not be able to go long distances.

He might only be able to afford one tank of fuel.

But to see his face as I led him outside to see his present, would be magical.

Of course, Dad isn’t here …

I can’t celebrate his birthday with him.

So instead, I ordered this on eBay …

It might not be the real thing.

It might not be a convertible.

And it might not have white wall wheels.

But it is my way of letting my Dad know he’s still with me, even though he’s not.

Not to mention, he’d probably love receiving it nearly as much as he would a real one.

Happy birthday Dad, I hope Mum is spoiling you rotten.

Love you.

Rx



One Day In September …
September 1, 2021, 8:00 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Anniversary, Comment, Dad, Emotion, Jill, Love, Mum, Mum & Dad, Singapore

Today is an important day, because back in 2007, Jill and I got married in Singapore.

We wanted it low-key [read: easy] so we hired out our favourite restaurant – Coriander Leaf – told all the locally invited guests it was an engagement dinner [we told our overseas guests what was going on or they wouldn’t have bothered coming] and then, when everyone turned up, we announced our true intentions and got married in front of our family and friends.

Yes I was wearing Birkenstocks.
[Mind you, so was Jill, albeit expensive Heidi Klum ones]

Yes, with hindsight, the Diet Coke Fountain was a stupid idea as everything fixed up and all the glasses got hidden by fizz and foam.

Yes, importing the wedding cake from Australia was a bloody nightmare.

But even with all that, it was a truly special day to celebrate the best decision of my life.

I still remember the joy my Mum had on her face.

As you can see from the photo below, she was so happy.

Not just that I was getting married … but I was getting married to Jill, who she adored in every possible way from the moment she met her.

Of course I wish Dad could have been there, but we took a photo of him with us and so in a way he was … and that made everything feel complete. What made it even better was Jill had her parents there, who hadn’t been in the same room together – as one lives in Australia and the other in Canada – for over 20 years, so it really was a family affair.

Marriage gets a tough wrap these days.

But for me, it has been amazing.

And while Jill and I were living together for years before we made it official, making it official did change things.

I don’t know why given not much changed.

And I don’t know if I can properly put into words what did change.

But for me, it led to a greater feeling of commitment … a deeper connection … a bit more wonderful. Now marriage is a deeply personal affair and people will have many different perspectives, but from mine, I can tell you it was – and remains – the best thing I have done.

Even more than buying Audi’s and Robot Dogs.

THAT’S how brilliant it is.

But while that day all those years ago is filled with wonderful moments, I have to say the one that sticks out the most is when my colleague, Angela, came to the restaurant straight from the gym … thinking it would be a couple of drinks before she could go home.

I love that she stayed when she realised what was going on.

I love that she stayed when she realised how she looked.

I love that she didn’t hit me when I mentioned it in my speech.

Because while she was mortified to turn up to a wedding in her post-gym sweats … ironically it made it even more perfect for us.

So thank you Angela.

But most of all, thank you Jill.

Happy anniversary my wonderful wife. I bloody love you.

[Even though I know you will have forgotten it’s our anniversary, haha]



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.