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


For Once, I Would Like Some Luck Rather Than Insults …
November 25, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Daddyhood, Family, Mum & Dad, Otis, Parents

So today will be the last post for a while.

Surprisingly, it is not because I’m going on holiday, it is because my beloved Otis needs a little operation and we’re going to have it done in Australia.

Just to be clear, it is a little operation but it still scares me to death.

Part of that is because I don’t want any child of 23 months to require a general anaesthetic.

Part of that is because I don’t want to see the worry and concern in my wonderful wife’s eyes.

Part of that is because the last time I was in a hospital, my beloved Mum died.

Part of that is because we just love him so so much.

And while I appreciate that compared to many, our situation is not very dramatic … it is a very concerning time for us right now, so wish us luck.

If things all go well [and they will, they will] then this blog will be back on December 5th but until then, I’d like to leave you with one of my favourite videos of my brilliant son.

I love it for so many reasons.

His enthusiasm.

His unadulterated joy.

His participation … both in [Chinese] words and actions.

The way he quickly adapts to the dance when he makes a mistake at around 55 seconds.

And then, at 1 minute 2 seconds, when he morphs into a dance that Bez from The Happy Mondays would be proud of before hearing the music start again [1 minute 12 seconds] and bopping his head to the beat.

Otis, you’re perfect to your Mummy and Daddy … never forget that.

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History Repeats Itself …

So a while back I went to see Queen with Adam Lambert.

The last time I saw them, Queen were made up of the original four.

It was also the last time the original 4 would ever play live together.

Of course at the time, I didn’t know that was going to be the case – though rumor says Freddie did, even if the rest of the band weren’t yet aware – however despite only 50% of the band being on stage, it was still exhilarating to watch.

It was also a bit weird … because rather than see them in Europe, it was in China.

And rather than see them with my best mate Paul … it was with my wife [and a bunch of Wieden folk]

That might not seem that strange to you, but it was mental for me because the situation was the absolute opposite of that mad summer in 1986 where my parents, reluctantly, let me follow them on their tour.

I must admit, when I walked into the venue, I was nervous for the band.

This was the first time they had ever played China and the venue – an 18,000 seater – was only 10% full.

Of course I knew people would come in as the lights went down and if they really hadn’t sold many tickets, they’d have cancelled the show … but I felt some kind of responsibility given I was a fan from England living in China and wanting their first impression of this amazing country to be a good one.

Of course I shouldn’t have worried because as the lights went down, the stadium was packed – to the seats high, high, high in the rafters – and that made the whole night even more wonderful and emotional for me.

The band was brilliant.

The sound was brilliant.

The lights were brilliant.

And Mr Lambert was brilliant.

Sure, he is no Freddie, but he is an amazing singer with perfect levels of campness that did the songs, the show and Freddie … incredible justice.

But the real reason it was emotional was because the moment they hit the stage, they momentarily transported me back to being 16 … where I was on the cusp of entering a life full of adventure and possibilities.

Of course I hope I still have a lot more adventures and possibilities to come [more of that in a few months] but that doesn’t change the fact these concerts represent significant bookends of my life.

One where I was about to start my journey. One where I am its midpoint.

And I don’t mind admitting that when they came on stage, I found myself crying.

I know, it’s pathetic, but it was less about seeing a band that I love with all my heart [though it has a bit to do with that] and more a reminder that despite all the wonderful and sad things that have happened in my life over the past 30+ years, they were still there.

My friends.

My confidents.

My escape.

To paraphrase the great Bill Shankly, some say music isn’t a matter of life or death.

They’re right, it’s way more important than that.



Fly The Unfriendly Skies …

Remember a long time ago I wrote about the Air France lounge in Paris.

In that post, I talked about the brief I got from Richard Branson for his Virgin Atlantic lounge at Heathrow.

Well recently I was in LA and went into the United lounge and this is what I saw.

Now I appreciate this may come across as a massive ‘first world problem’ and it is … but it’s also a massive brand problem for United, because if this is how they treat their business class passengers, god knows how you must feel if you’re in coach.

Seriously, how hard is it to put a bit of effort into your lounge.

Now they will claim they’re in a temporary location because they’re building something new and special … but that’s not really an excuse. Surely they could have sorted out a viable alternative while work was going on.

Is it so hard to arrange the room to look like it has had some care put into it. Offer some food that looks like you actually give a damn about the passengers who are going to eat it.

But here’s the bigger thing.

If your normal standards are going to be inhibited due to building work, then I’d imagine the sensible thing to do would be to over-deliver in terms of food and service so that your customers still feel valued, despite being in a smaller room with less natural facilities.

But not United … oh no … for them, they see this as a cost saving exercise, which is why they’re about as friendly as sitting next to Donald Trump on Air Force One.



How The Mighty Have Fallen …

OK, I don’t like Gwyneth.

I don’t know why I have that opinion given I’ve never met her, but I don’t.

Maybe I’m just a victim of media propaganda?

Maybe I’m just channeling my loathing of Coldplay on her?

Maybe I’m just a dick.

But her holier-than-thou attitude and pretentious Goop corporation get on my tits.

Recently I saw this ad featuring her.

What the fuck?!

Ignore the fact I haven’t got the faintest idea what it’s for … what about that image?

It may just be one of the most ridiculous images I’ve ever seen.

Are we supposed to believe she is in the throws of laughter while perfectly balancing an unfeasibly small tea cup?

I know her acting gigs have dried up, but I don’t think this ‘act’ will get her very far on America’s Got Talent.

And what is ‘tender’ about that picture?

I’ve seen wrestling matches less contrived than that.

I know Gwynnie is an actress, but I was always under the impression that the best actors make everything seem natural … which means I see more Golden Raspberries in Gwyneth’s future than Oscars.

She must absolutely loathe Jessica Alba.



Cultural Schizophrenia …

An Italian buffet.

In China.

Featuring a German fräulein.

Holding a massive jug of beer. And a pretzel.

Without a single piece of pasta or pizza to be seen.

I honestly don’t know if this is insulting or genius.

But it certainly ups the ante on this Italian, Irish restaurant in Singapore.

I really want to know to things.

1. What sort of cultural Frankenstein food are they’re going to serve?

2. Who do the organisers think this is going to attract … apart from idiots?

And me.



Great Creativity Leaves Scars …

So a few weeks ago, I talked to The Kennedy’s about something that rarely gets talked about … and that is there’s times where the creative process feels like a battle.

Sometimes it feels like you’re fighting your colleagues … sometimes it feels like you’re fighting your clients … sometimes it feels like you’re fighting yourself … but here’s the thing, it’s absolutely OK to experience these things because in my experience, nothing great happens if there hasn’t been tension along the way.

Of course there’s a point where decisions and directions have to be made and everyone needs to unite behind an idea to make it sharper and push where it can go [which should happen once you’ve tried stuff rather than just talked about the theory of it] but the fact remains nothing worth doing can be achieved without some scars and frustrations along the way … so rather than hide from it, embrace it.

8 little things that can ensure it’s only a momentary battle, not a bloody war …

1. Focus on the idea not your ego.
2. Try things, don’t just talk about them.
3. Be passionate but never be personal.
4. Remember everyone wants the same thing.
5. Hear feedback as help, not attacks.
6. Listen before you speak.
7. Rally behind decisions.
8. You can tell when the work was fun to make.

It has taken me almost 30 years to learn these things, but the difference it makes is huge – both to your personal fulfilment and the work you get to be a part of.

Of course, for it to work, everyone needs to understand this and practice it* … but when they do, more often than not you come out of it with something you’re all excited and proud of, which is what it’s supposed to be and why this industry – when it’s good – is very good indeed.

Don’t worry, I won’t be writing any more semi-professional posts for at least 1000 years.

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* It hopefully goes without saying that stuff like having a great brief, a great team and a fair amount of time to explore possibilities [etc etc] has already been accounted for.



Kids. Innocent Bastards …
November 17, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Cunning, Daddyhood, EvilGenius, Otis, Parents

Remember a couple of days ago, I asked if you could spot the difference between me, a ghost and a muppet, because Otis couldn’t?

Well I put this t-shirt on with Rick Rubin’s head on it and Otis pointed at it and said “Daddy”.

Way to make me feel special son. Thanks. Thanks a lot.