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


Your History May By Ugly, But It’s Yours …
November 23, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: Age, Attitude & Aptitude, Childhood, Comment, Music, Nottingham

Recently I was reading the Nottingham Evening Post when I saw a pub I knew, was being knocked down.

To be honest, I was more surprised it’s taken this long, because it always was a shit hole.

The food was shit.
The decor was shit.
The service was shit.
The clientele was shit.

It was a venue with almost no single redeeming feature.

In fact the only thing that surprised me more was that it looks just as shit today as it always did … and I have not stepped foot in that place for 36 years.

THIRTY SIX. [So yeah, I was underage when I stopped going there, let alone started]

And yet, hearing of it’s impending destruction made me nostalgic and a teeny bit sad.

Because for all it’s horrificness, it played an important part in my history.

This was the place I played my first ever ‘grown up’ gig.
This was the place where the council told us we were too loud.
This was the place where a biker gang told us to play certain songs or face the consequences.
This was the place my parents first saw me perform.
This was the place that got me addicted to gig life.
This was the place that introduced me to new characters and friends.
This was the place that started – even though it lasted just a few years – a life and career that was beyond anything I could ever imagine.
This was the place I walked the bridge between kid and adult. From food to nightlife to feeling a member of a gang to believing – and seeing – a new life and world was possible.

So yeah … The Forester’s was always an undeniable, unmitigated shithole.

But it was also my university for life of adventure.

I’ll always be grateful for it.

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Still Proud, But Devastated …
November 2, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: Football, Nottingham, Nottingham Forest

I was trawling my drafts blog file and found a post I had written a few months ago.

Specifically when Forest were playing their match against Sheffield United at the City Ground to get to the Premiership Playoff Final.

Obviously I wasn’t feeling too optimistic given how the second half was going.

Though to be fair, after 23 years of pain – including that terrible situation in 2020 – I had reason to be doubtful. Which is why what happened was so amazing … and why I am so, so glad I was there to witness it.

Though this post may not be wasted.

Given the competitive nature of the Premiership, maybe I can use it in our last game of our season in the ‘big league’. Though I hope I don’t have to … even though if it the worst did happen and we were relegated, I can honestly say having a season back in the top tier would be regarded as a gift I feared I may never see again.

Who knows …

On one hand we have lost so many of the players who helped us get to that place.

On the other hand, we have replaced them with arguably better players … not to mention most of the previous regime were there when we were underperforming, hence the magic of Steve Cooper as our manager.

My main hope is we just keep him, because regardless of what happens, he created miracles we’ve not seen since ol’ Big Head and who wouldn’t want more of those?

Come on you reds.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

At the end of the day it was a match too far.

It all looked so good, but after a season where we went from bottom to touching distance of second, the young team – full of injured players – just couldn’t see it though.

It was so close though.

Closer than we’ve been in decades.

And for that I’m so so proud. But also devastated.

Even more so for the brilliant young players who will leave us now. But have earned their shot at the big time.

So to them – and all the players, the manager and staff – thank you for all you did.

You Reds.



Underwhelming Aspiration …

A few weeks ago, the Nottingham Evening Post had this story as the front page lead on their website …

Putting aside the fact it’s a story about a local cafe going up for sale … using the words ‘nice’ and ‘good’ to describe it hardly ignites excitement in you does it.

But there’s maybe something to learn from it.

The marketing world seems to think the way to connect to real life is via a firehose of marketing superlatives.

Amazing.
Outstanding.
Revolutionary.
Extraordinary.

But maybe – just maybe – that approach has worn thin with culture.

What if they now can see past the hype and the spin and simply put up blinkers whenever faced with it.

That for all the eco-systems, friction removal processes and product subscriptions the real way to connect to them – or at least local communities – is via the anticlimactic wonderfulness of simply acknowledging you’re solid.

Not amazing.
Not outstanding.
Not revolutionary.
Not extraordinary.

Just solid.

The stuff that Martin Parr captures so well in his photography.

A grandeur in the ordinariness.

Something that allows us to connect to more easily than the most refined UX approach and feel more engaged with than the results of the most rigorous focus group.

Because maybe the marketing world’s strategy of elevating the importance of your individuality is no longer as influential or aspirational as the desire to feel part of something real.

Where a brands distinction is in their mundane honesty rather than their superlatives or brand assets.

Or as George coined decades ago …

Massperation is born from wanting to belong not wanting to be apart.

I still loathe the term, but not as much as I despise he may be right. Again.



Some Weeks Last A Lifetime …

So I was supposed to be back today, but the gods had other plans.

I got covid.

After avoiding it for 2 years.

After moving to the other side of the planet in the middle of the pandemic.

They decided now was the optimum time to give it to me.

And maybe they were right.

Because this trip has – so far – been filled with nothing but miracles and love.

I got to see the wonderful Martin and Mercedes get married in Portugal, surrounded by old friends who I’d not seen in an age.

Including the brilliant Clare Pickens who I love enormously.

Not to mention Nusara and her husband … who I discovered actually exists.

Now it’s fare to say all weddings are special, but this was magnificent.

There’s many reasons for that – from the people, the venue, the moment – but it was something more than that. As I said on the speech I was asked to give at the last minute, we needed this. All of us. Not just Martin and Mercedes … but every person who was – and continues to be – affected by the devastation of COVID. Which means every person in the World because whether it has been small or big challenges, we’ve all had to deal with them.

And from there, I then got to see my beloved Nottingham Forest pull off the miracle.

From bottom of the league with the worst start in 108 years to playing at Wembley after 30 years and getting promoted to the Premiership after 23 years away.

And to be able to do that with my beloved Paul – who I’d not seen for almost 2 years – by my side, was just even more special.

I don’t mind telling you I cried when I saw him.

When he got out his car and gave me one of his massive hugs hello, I clung on and cried. God I’ve missed him.

Don’t get me wrong, I love NZ, but it is the first place I’ve ever lived that genuinely feels ‘far from everything’ … so with that and all that has gone on in the past 2 years – not to mention the fact this is the longest I’ve not seen him in my entire life – I realised how much I’ve missed and needed him around in my life.

So to have that and then watch our beloved Forest get back into the promise land together was – well, just unbelievably special.

Now if you remember the post I wrote when I was setting off on this adventure, you will note I have not mentioned seeing Paula and her baby yet and that’s because of the COVID gods. But they’re still being nice to me …

Because not only has COVID not been too bad for me – especially compared to what some people have suffered – it meant I had to move my flights as NZ travel rules meant they wouldn’t let me catch my plane. And even this set back has a silver lining.

Because of the demand on airlines – and the time it takes for RAT tests to show a negative reading – the earliest flight I could get was next Tuesday. So not only will I have the time to see her before I go, but I also get to see Paul again when we go to the Queen concert we booked back in 2019 that they had to cancel because of COVID.

Seeing Queen with my best friend and his wonderful wife Shelly is like the ultimate gift to end this incredible visit to Europe.

But there’s more …

You see the Queen concert is on the day the UK celebrates the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

I mean the royal one, not the musical one.

The reason this is significant is way back in 1977, my Mum and Dad brought me to London to watch the crowds celebrate her Silver Jubilee. I remember it well, despite being so long ago. So to be back in London – albeit by pure coincidence – on a day where England yet again is celebrating a landmark moment in the Queen’s reign takes me back to that day with my parents and that is a feeling I will really treasure.

What this all means is not only has this trip been more wonderful than I ever imagined, it’s ended up giving me more miracles and love than I ever expected. Miracles and love that I needed more than I ever imagined.

So while I can’t wait to get back to my family – and my team – I can honestly say this has been a couple of weeks that are one of the most important and memorable weeks of my life and for that, I thank everyone who made it possible … from Martin and Mercedes, Paul, Nottingham Forest, Colenso, Q-Prime, NIKE, Paula, Queen, Lee Hill and Virgin Atlantic and my brilliant supportive wife and son right through to, bizarrely, covid.

I don’t know how you did it Mum and Dad, but thank you.

So till next week.

R



We’re Going To Fucking Wembley …
May 18, 2022, 8:45 am
Filed under: Football, Nottingham, Nottingham Forest

Bottom of the league after 7 games.
Worst start in 108 years.
Team down and out.

And yet, since the brilliant Steve Cooper came in as manager, we have fought our way to a position where we are going to Wembley to play in the Championship final with the prize being a seat at the Premiership table.

Last time I saw Forest at Wembley … it was a different millennium and Wembley was a different stadium.

[We lost, thanks to an own goal – in fact the only goal he scored in his entire carer – from Forest defender Des Walker. Not to mention the ref not sending off Gascoigne when he blatantly fouled one of our players so Spurs didn’t end up going down to 10 men. But hey, am I bitter? Errrrrm, yes … yes I am actually]

But all that aside, this is amazing.

As in, truly, truly amazing.

I was definitely scared for a moment … especially when it went to penalties, but we did it.

Win or lose, this is a season that will long live in the memory. Up their with our most glories of glory years.

And yes, I cried. Sue me.

Need to go and lie down, my blood pressure is threatening a nuclear meltdown.

You fucking beautiful reds!!!