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

Crime Doesn’t Pay …
September 9, 2021, 8:00 am
Filed under: Comment, Culture, New Zealand, Police

I passed my driving test in 1987.


And while there were 25 years where I basically didn’t drive – except when I popped back to England to see Mum from living in Asia – the reality is that while I got the odd parking ticket and got stopped by the odd breathalyser check, I only got 1 speeding ticket in all that time.

In 1991.

And while I bought cars in America and the UK, that single speeding ticket was maintained.

Then I moved to New Zealand.

Despite being here 6 months, I’ve managed to ‘achieve’ the following.

2 x parking tickets.

2 x breathalyser checks.

2 x speeding tickets.

1 x road tax sticker error.

And – last week – I received the ticket for the icing on the cake of my fucked-up, stupid day … where I was caught holding my mobile at a red traffic light while a Police Car was next to me with the police officer staring right at me while I was doing it. [See above]

And while I am guilty of ALL these things, the thing that surprises me is that I’m a much safer … much more conservative and considerate driver than I ever was as a teen.

Which highlights 3 things.

1. I obviously have my mothers Italian genes in my driving style.

2. I am even more amazed I passed my US driving test first time.

3. I now understand why there’s so many episodes of NZ Traffic Police show, Highway Cops.

Would You Travel Through Time And Space To Go Back To Where You Came From/
August 18, 2021, 8:00 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Context, Corona Virus, England, Health, New Zealand

Yesterday, my life consisted of the 2 movies above.


Because despite moving 12,000 miles to NZ to get away from covid, we found only ourselves back where we started.

In lockdown.

OK, it’s only for 7 days [for now] … but the feeling of it happening was so familiar.

The gathering of your work stuff.

The dark humour between colleagues tinged with truth.

The sense of things closing in and taking over beyond your control.

You’d think having had well over a year of lockdown, I’d be OK with it, but it still felt uncomfortable, even though I am fortunate to have already had one of my vaccinations.

But there was one big difference between yesterday and March, Friday 13th, 2020.

And that was the way the Government handled it.

Where in the UK we had chaos and confusion … here we had incredibly valuable detail, clarity and calmness.

In addition, the schools not only sent out an immediate message that detailed how online lessons would be handled, the note also said the following:

Given how badly the UK government handled providing parents the tools to teach from home – not to mention the additional pressure they placed on parents to keep up with the curriculums – it was amazing to see them acknowledge the importance of providing reassurance rather than just demand adherence.

It’s a weird time, even if it’s just for a week, but the way it has been handled is light years away from what we experienced not that long ago.

Not only that, the fact the patient and doctor identified and reported their case immediately – and this was followed up with not just track and trace info, but down to individual locations and destinations – is also another reason to be hopeful that if anyone can deal with this situation effectively, it’s NZ.

We’ll see. But regardless of the outcome, thank you to the patient, the doctor, the government and the people of NZ.

If it wasn’t certain before, I can categorically say Jacinda is miles better than Boris.

Communication Requires Listening Not Deafness …
August 6, 2021, 8:00 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Comment, Creativity, Culture, New Zealand

I posted about the one thing that is doing NZ harm.

It’s reluctance to talk about suicide.

[The link is from 2017, just to highlight this is not a new thing]

The more it sits with me, the more it confuses me.

Let’s not forget – as I also wrote in that post – this is a government who have demonstrated the power of open discussion over issues such as COVID and terrorism.

And while this issue has been around for longer than the current government have been in power, I would have thought Jacinda – who is one of the most inspirational leaders of my life time – would be the first to recognise the current approach is actually working against them.

Anyway, whether popular or not, I decided I would bring up the issue with everyone I meet. To see what they think. To discuss how they can help. To encourage them to do things things that are directly for youth, rather than about them.

I am so happy the people I’ve spoken to already are open to helping in a range of ways.

This is important because there’s seems to be some strange views in terms of communication here that I feel is complicit to the problem rather than help defy it.

I say strange, but I get where it’s coming from.

For example …

“With a population of less than 5 million, you need to go mass with all communication to make anything stand a chance of getting a return on investment.”

It makes sense doesn’t it. Except it’s not true.

It’s a ‘throw as much stuff against a wall as you can’ strategy.

Maybe that explains why so much work doesn’t have a point of view, just wants to be noticed.

Though we are also seeing some adopt an alternative route – the same alternative route favoured by so many around the world … precision marketing.

The thing with this data-driven approach is that while it sounds amazing – the reality is, as we have seen around the world, there are some pretty inherent flaws in it. It will get better, but right now, it’s not quite precise enough and/or not personal enough and/or not emotive enough.

The irony is in a nation of less than 5 million, we should not only be able to reach everyone, but we should be able to do it in a way that is much more intimate and individual. And while I’ve only been here a short time, I’m not seeing much that does that … instead it’s far more super generalist messaging to super generalist audiences with – in many cases – super generalist benefits or offers.

ie: Price.

Add in the communication attitude that often feels like that goal is to ‘only target people with the cash right this second’ – rather than any play towards the future of your business – and it’s no surprise youth can feel isolated, ignored or limited in their choices.

Now I appreciate I sound like a prick.

A condescending, patronising, judgemental prick.

One of those British assholes who comes to a new country and says, “let me tell you everything about your country”.

The irony is this is the last thing I want to do.

I totally appreciate I am new here.

I completely respect I have so much to learn here.

And I absolutely acknowledge the country is doing pretty fucking well in so many other areas – areas the rest of the world are terrible at.

But I also have the benefit of experience and looking at things with fresh eyes and – as I said in my previous post – this is the first country I’ve lived in, since China, where I see a generation who feel they don’t see the ability to express who they are but have to live up to who others want them to be.

Not all, but a lot.

And regardless of the size, the implications of this on individuals – and the nation – are huge.

But as much as people leaving the country or simply accepting the status quo has huge economic impact on the direction on this wonderful country is heading, the loss of life is far, far worse. And it’s happening in – proportionately – huge numbers.

I know no one wants this to happen.

I know many of the public feel helpless in what to do.

But one thing we can all do – even before we lobby for the government to change their stance on talking about suicide in the media – is to recognise them and value their individual tastes, beliefs, habits, ideas and ambitions.

To rob them of that is to rob them of something fundamental.

It’s really important for me to leave this by saying how much I love this country.

It has already been incredibly kind, generous and compassionate to me and my family.

The actual intent of this post is not to point fingers, but to try and repay my faith in the country that has been so kind to me by trying to do something that gives back. Whether that is as an individual or as family or something more.

And while I may cop flack or be told I don’t know what I’m talking about – which may all be true – one thing I do know is not talking about the issue is not helping the issue.

More Than The MD, But The Boss …

This is Angela.

Her official title is the Managing Director of Colenso.

But actually she’s the boss.

Not just because of how she is sitting, but because of how she operates.

Leading without dictating.

Encouraging without patronising.

Liberating without restricting.

The great, great thing about Angela is that for all the experience and success she’s gained, she is open and hungry to let the energy, ambition and values of youth to keep shaping and changing where we are going.

Angela’s strength is she wants everyone to win.

She opens the door to opportunities for talent to run in and do their thing rather than closing it behind her so she can have all the power.

But then female leadership has always seen winning differently to a lot of men.

Progress for all rather than power for one.

And before certain men start spouting their sexist shit at me like they did when I wrote about how more female leadership will give the industry a real chance to grow, I appreciate not all male leaders are like this.

But a hell of a lot are.

And – if you look at Corporate Gaslighting and/or read Zoe Scaman’s brilliant, brave but totally unsurprising Mad Men and Furious Women – many of them are doing stuff … and are being allowed to get away with stuff, often by companies that talk about their commitment to their staffs wellbeing and mental health … that is a fuckload worse.

Remove The Wires …

I recently wrote a post about the situation with youth culture in NZ. How such a brilliant country that does so much right is failing its youth at an epic level.

Not all is its fault.

It is a small country, far from other nations with an incredibly small population so for many brands – especially more youth culture focused – it is a market that offers little profit potential or industry influence so it is a very low priority to go there.

Hell, if IKEA or Amazon aren’t here, you can be sure Supreme etc won’t be.

So what this means is what is in NZ is – in many ways – the very same things that have always been in NZ … resulting in a belief among youth, there’s not much here that is specifically for them, reinforced by the internet allowing them to see what is happening in other countries, which all contributes to a feeling of isolation, a lack of opportunity and pressure to conform.

While this is not the only reason for the terrible statistic of being the number 1 country in the World [per capita] for youth to die by suicide, it is one of them … and when I wrote about this a while back, the beautiful and generous Nils from Uncommon sent me the brilliant poem above by Philip Larkin, which pretty much sums up the issue NZ needs to deal with.

Because whether for protection or control, wires make your World smaller, which eventually will make a smaller World for everyone.