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


Running With Only The Odd Glance Back …
March 9, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: Anniversary, Comment, Dad, Death, Emotion, Empathy, Fatherhood, Mum, Mum & Dad, My Fatherhood, Parents

Today is the 2nd anniversary of my wonderful Mum passing away.

If I’m being honest, I’m going through a strange time with it.

On one hand, it seems like yesterday.

The pain. The sadness. The despair.

When I stop and think about it, it re-awakens all the trauma from that day and the days that followed.

However, I am conscious that these thoughts only occur when I give them time to happen.

They are no longer just sitting in my mind, waiting to jump out … I have to open the door to let them in.

I think Mum would be happy about that.

She would never want me to still feel paralysed by the sadness of her loss.

All she would want is for me to think of her in happy terms … remembering the good times we had together.

And I do.

Almost every day.

But I have to admit, I feel a bit guilty about that.

It’s as if I’m not honouring her properly.

Part of it is because it took me 10 years to come to terms with my Dad dying.

Of course the circumstances between the two situations were entirely different, plus I now have Otis who ensures there is never enough time for darkness to fill my heart … but it still feels strange that only on her anniversary do I go back to ‘that day’.

I loved my Mum so much.

I still do.

I miss her every day.

I would do anything to talk to her one more time.

There is so much I want to tell her.

Of what has happened in the past 2 years.

Of what is about to happen.

I’d love to hear her opinion.

I’d love to hear her reaction.

I’d love to hear her questions.

I know this will sound ridiculous, but there are some days where I think I can.

No seriously.

It’s as if I’ve forgotten she has gone and all I have to do is ring her up.

I can’t tell you the amount of times I have stared at her Skype photo, just looking at her face.

I’ve talked to it. I’ve gently caressed it. I’ve even clicked on it a couple of times and let it ring … hoping she’ll pick up and everything will carry on as before.

But of course she doesn’t and she can’t … and yet there is something comforting that I still feel she is in my life.

By that I don’t mean it in terms of my memories – she’ll always be there – I mean the feeling that I’ve simply not spoken to her for a little while.

It means she lives in my present, not my past.

I know that sounds weird and I don’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable – but while today represents 2 years since one of the worst days of my life – she, and Dad, would be happy to know I face this day looking forwards rather than being stuck in the past.

Love you Mum.

As you can see from the photos, we’re doing well, especially Otis, so don’t worry about us.

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

Rxxx

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The Last Week Of 2016 …

OK, so the title of this post is wrong given we have almost 3 weeks left before it’s 2017, but this is going to be the last week for this blog because [1] I’m going to be in LA all week [be afraid George, Pete & Baz … be very afraid] and [2] I can’t be arsed to write anymore.

Frankly, I can’t believe how quick this year has gone. It’s been stupendously quick.

And yet, when I look back at the past 12 months, I see a lot has happened … and I’m not just talking about my holidays.

From Bowie dying.

The worst Toyota campaign in years.

My favourite quote of the year.

A time of self realisation.

My best friends penis. [Hey, it wouldn’t be this blog if I didn’t reference that]

The power of design.

My beloved Mum’s first anniversary.

The launch of The Kennedys in Shanghai.

[With updates on whats going on here]

My failed April fool.

A reminder of the importance of empathy.

The best Rock n’ Roll mash-up. Ever.

China showing that for all their progress, a lot of it is only on the surface … here and here.

How Cannes is bringing the worst out of adland.

My amazing June consisting of an amazing conference in Paris, my wife’s birthday and a phenomenal holiday in too many places.

An idea that should be celebrated for it’s humanity.

My argument about what the ad industry needs to do to be relevant to the next generation of creative class.

… and recognising what new creative talent actually is.

Parenting.

The importance of fearlessness.

Saying goodbye to a couple of people who were very important to me. But only goodbye in the ‘I’m leaving Wieden’ sense. Ros and Paula.

As you can see, there’s been a lot that’s happened.

OK, so some you may agree with, some you won’t … but it’s important [for me, at least] to see it because the speed this year has gone, it would be easy for me to convince myself nothing has happened.

Recently I read an interview with ex-Take That star, Robbie Williams, that kind of summed up my attitude to working.

I know … I know … it’s Robbie Williams, but the fact is I have always liked him.

I’ve liked his attitude and his honesty – even when he’s ended up being screwed over by what he said – but for me, his viewpoint that ‘if the brain stops working, it’s all over’ feels very relevant to me.

You may not believe it, you may say there’s a lot of evidence to challenge it … but it’s something that feels incredibly true to me.

So true that 2017 is going to see quite a few changes for me … all in a bid to make sure my brain remains energised and exercised so that I don’t need a blog post to remind me that my days have been filled with stuff that has been interesting and exciting.

But that stuff will be discussed later, so until then, enjoy the final 5 days of this blog in 2016.



Wonderful Gets Another Year Older …
December 9, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: Anniversary, Birthday, Daddyhood, Jill, Love, Mum & Dad, My Fatherhood, Otis, Parents

So on Sunday, my beloved little boy turns 2.

TWO!

How the hell did that happen, so quick?

It honestly feels like yesterday that he came into this World and while I love seeing him develop and grow, I do wish he would slow down a little.

One of the best/worst things has been seeing his vocabulary grow.

While I am in awe of his ability to say words – both in English and Chinese – to articulate what he wants or where he wants to go, I must admit I miss hearing the sounds he used to make before he could clearly communicate. I used to love the enthusiasm and gusto he would put behind his utterances … it was pure joy.

But on Sunday he turns 2.

He’s packed quite a lot into his life so far … from travel to hospital visits … and through it all, he’s smiled, laughed, swept and danced his way through it. Well, 94.2% through it, the rest has been screams, tantrums and looks of disappointment.

I still go through periods where I have to remind myself he’s my son and I still wish with all my heart my Mum and Dad could have met him … hugged him … kissed him.

The best compliment I can give Otis is he has changed my World.

The things I once valued no longer have the same appeal.

That doesn’t mean I don’t like those things, it’s just Otis’ happiness and development is most important of all.

The decisions I/we make are now revolving about issues we had never considered before.

Of course, that is nothing new for most parents, but for us, it’s a bit of a revelation … but it’s worth it because he is worth it.

So to my delightful son, Happy Birthday [for Sunday]

Your Mummy and Daddy love you with all our heart. Even Rosie the cat, kinda likes you.

For me, everything you do is wonderful, but when you say, “Daddy’s home” as I walk in the door, there is literally no better feeling for me in the World.

You have brought so much joy into our lives, it’s impossible for me to articulate.

We will do all we can to equip you with the skills and knowledge to handle whatever life throws at you and all we ask in return is you stay cheeky, curious and happy. Be safe knowing we will always support you in the things that excite you and move you and will love you, regardless of what trouble you cause us through the years.

But don’t push it too far …

I love you so, so much and I am so proud to be your Dad and as always, I will do all I can in my life to ensure you will be proud to call yourself, my son.

Happy birthday my darling Otis.

Rxxx



If You Want To Feel Really Old …
October 12, 2016, 6:20 am
Filed under: Anniversary, Attitude & Aptitude, Culture, Film, Happiness, History, Music

… read the first 2 lines of this article on the 25th anniversary of the brilliant movie, The Commitments.

Scary eh! Almost as scary as the fact The Commitments is 25 years old.

TWENTY FIVE YEARS!!!

Then I remember how good that movie is and realise there won’t be many films made today that I’ll want to see in 25 years time, which helps me feel a teensy bit better about being an old fart. Which is handy, because on top of the first 2 lines of that article making me feel ancient, I’ve been spending the past few months working with Spotify and after every meeting I feel super excited and oh-so-old.

Anyway, for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about – or just want a dose of nostalgia – cop a load of this:



Happy Birthday Freddie …
September 5, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Anniversary, Comment, Death, Emotion, History, Music

Today would have been Mr Mercury’s 70th birthday.

SEVENTY.

If he was alive, I very much doubt he would be touring with Queen.

He would probably still be their singer, but he would only be making music with them, not performing it.

I would imagine that if he was going to perform, it would be more in terms of opera, as he did with Montserrat Caballé … because it offered him a chance to still command a stage, but without the need to run around in a leotard.

But he isn’t alive. He died at 45.

FORTY FIVE.

Which means I am older than he was when he passed away.

Things like that freak me out to be honest.

Both in terms of comparing what I have achieved in my life versus what he achieved in his [which is stupid, I know] and the reminder that life isn’t forever.

But that’s a post for another day, today I simply say ‘Happy Birthday Mr Mercury’ and thank him for the memories and the music.

God, I’m such a sad bastard.



On My Wife’s Birthday, There’s Been A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On …
June 15, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: Anniversary, Birthday, Family, Jill, Love

Today is my wonderful wife’s birthday.

Despite the fact she looks ridiculously young [she once was mistaken for being my daughter. Sadly, that is not a joke] it’s a ‘big’ birthday for her.

There are many things I love about my wife, but this story explains one of the biggest reasons.

So I wanted to buy her something special. Something that really marked the occasion.

I decided it was going to be a piece of jewellery but then I was stuck with what to get her.

I’ve bought her earrings before.

I’ve bought her necklaces before.

She refuses to wear a watch.

In the end, I decided I’d like to buy her a ring – but because I didn’t want to stuff it up, I told her my plans and said I’d love her to come with me to choose something she’d really love.

When I told her, she looked at me and said,

“Errrrrm, would you be OK if I suggested something else?”

Of course I replied yes … not suspecting what would come out of her mouth next.

Now before I go on, I should explain how my wife loves Elvis.

Yes, THAT Elvis.

God, she adores him.

When I took her to Graceland for her 30th birthday, she cried when I told her what we were going to do … she cried when she got to the house and she cried when she was by his grave.

She loves him so much she even has his name tattoo’d on her.

She doesn’t have my name I should add, just his.

Anyway, I tell you this because she replied to my interest in hearing her idea with this.

“You know Kristen from Real Housewives of New York is an Elvis fan?”

Sadly, I do … so I nodded.

“… well she’s a huge Elvis fan too and she wears a TCB necklace and I would love that if that is OK with you”

I should explain what TCB is.

TCB stands for ‘Taking Care of Business’ and it was the name Elvis gave the musicians who formed the core of his band.

Along the way, he designed a TCB logo and had it made into gold and diamond jewellery that he gave each member.

Now Elvis was a very talented man. Sure, his movies sucked – but where music was concerned, he was a god. However being a good singer doesn’t mean you’re a good designer because the TCB logo looked like this.

I know … Microsoft Clipart is better isn’t it?

So what is a man who has no right to be married to such a wonderful woman, to do?

I’ll tell you what … find a way to make it happen.

So after some searching, I found out Elvis’ jeweller was still alive.

Yes, his actual jeweller … the one who made all the jewellery Elvis gave to his band.

Anyway, after some of the weirdest email exchanges I’ve ever had in my life, I was able to commission him to make a necklace for my dear wife using the exact mould and materials from the exact design that Elvis originally drew for him … which is why today, the birthday girl is walking around like she’s Pricilla at Graceland.

And she deserves it.

So to my darling Jill … happy, happy birthday, I am so happy you are mine and I hope you have a wonderful day.

And remember, this is only part 1 of the present, part 2 happens in a couple of weeks. In Italy.

Boy, I hope it makes you feel a little bad for only getting me a picture on my birthday.. Only joking, that was bloody amazing. Bugger. 

Have a wonderful day my sweetheart. 

Love you.



Signing Off One Of The Worst Years Of My Life With One Of The Best Things That’s Ever Happened To Me …

So this is the last post of this year.

Yes, I know it’s only the 11th December, but frankly, I can’t wait to see the back of 2015 and I need to spend a few weeks letting out all the angst of the past 12 months so I can start 2016 as I mean to go on.

It’s no exaggeration to say this has been one of the worst years of my life.

Of course, the main reason for that is my wonderful mum passed away.

Having a parent die is always going to be tough … but when that parent is so full of life and – after her operation – expected to blossom, it makes it especially hard.

Alas, things didn’t work out the way they were supposed to and the events of that day on March 9th, still haunt me.

The high hopes.

The precious time together.

The slow, almost torturous, delay in being told any news.

The creeping fear of what may be happening.

The battle between hope and devastation.

The realisation of tragedy.

The hell of loss.

That 5 weeks in England seems like another time. Involving other people.

Recently, I was sent a new credit card from my bank in Australia.

When I opened the envelope, there were 2 cards.

One with my name on it. One with my Mum’s.

I’d forgotten I had given her a supplementary card. Not that she ever used it – getting her to take anything from me was always a struggle – but there it was, with her name embossed on the front.

It affected me deeply.

It was something precious and sad all at the same time.

Despite having organised so many things following her death … things that honoured her legacy, respected her beliefs and gave me a sense of peace for the future … I still feel I haven’t truly grieved.

I need to. I want to. But I’m also scared to.

It took me 10 years to come to terms with my Dad’s loss.

He – nor my Mum – would not want me to experience that duration of pain again, but I feel haunted by her loss … reinforced by the numerous beautiful things my son does that I wish she could see, experience and share. But the fact is she died this year and it casts a dark shadow on how I will look at 2015 for the rest of my life.

But there is a but.

Despite living each day carrying a burden of loss and sadness, there have been moments of sunshine pushing through the clouds.

I find it amazing how the human spirit can still move forwards when you feel everything around you is collapsing.

At first, I almost felt guilty when there were things that I found filled me with joy – as if I was dishonouring my Mum – but I knew in my heart of hearts, it would be something she would want for me.

Despite the utter tragic reasons for it, one of the things I treasure from this year is that I got to spend 5 uninterrupted weeks with my wife and son and my best friend and his wife.

To have that period of time to spend with the most important people in your life is always a gift … to have it at your greatest time of need is almost divine intervention.

To be together – just hanging out – sharing, talking and being an active part of each others lives was something I will always treasure.

By having it … by feeling connected to it … it highlighted how much I miss that interaction. Don’t get me wrong, I utterly love my life and the fact I have lived around the World … but being able to just drive over to my best friends house with my family and just hang was something I feel I’ve not had for 20 years. I felt I belonged. That I was home. That I had come full circle.

And maybe that is why another of my favourite things from 2015 is when Shelly, Paul’s utterly awesome wife – and Otis’ “oddmother” [because we are not religious] – came to visit us in Shanghai.

She was only with us for 2 days, but being together reinforced how much I love her and Paul being close.

It’s brought up a lot of questions for me, things I don’t have the answers to yet … but I feel so lucky that they are in my life.

Talking of ‘in my life’ … another thing my Mum’s passing did was reconnect me to her family.

We were always a relatively ‘independent group’ … my Mum, Dad and me.

That doesn’t mean we had issues with the broader family, just we loved our independence.

But Mum’s passing brought them all into my life again, especially her Italian family … and reconnecting created a connection we have all embraced and nurtured and it feels good.

I cannot tell you how happy I am that Mum’s beloved sister, Silvana, got to hold Otis.

If my Mum tragically didn’t get to do it, I’m so, so glad her sister did.

And then there’s the other stuff that made sure there was a silver lining in a dark year …

Seeing members of my team reach new stages in their life and career … getting one of my colleagues to have a perm … somehow being recognised for being OK at what I do [not to mention, what I don’t do] … finally passing my teacher exams AFTER FIVE BLOODY YEARS … being given a level of support and compassion that reminded me just how special Wieden truly is … meeting old friends, travelling, laughing, feeling loved and cared for by people that stretched much further than I knew or deserved.

And that includes everyone of you who reads or even insults me on this blog.

But there’s 3 people that made sure this year had moments of happiness in them that transcend everyone and everything else.

Rosie my cat.

Jill my wife.

Otis my son.

Without taking anything away from all the people who helped ensure this year was not be as black as it could – or should – have been, those 3 protected, loved and cared for me during every bump in the road.

The big ones and the small.

From the worst moments of my Mum passing … to the hell of the legalities that death forces you to deal with … to the sadness of other situations occurring involving people I care about.

OK, so Rosie did it by being annoying.

Regardless how down I was feeling or sorry for myself, she would miaow as if she was the only one having a hard time.

And while I would never want to tell her this, her selfishness was kind-of lovely. It forced me out of my darkness to sort her out. It gave my brain an excuse to focus on something else.

The other person is my wonderful wife, Jill.

I have no idea – no idea at all – what I have done to deserve her, but I am so glad I managed to convince her I was worth having.

Her compassion, care and love got me through moments where I wonder how I’d cope without her. That may sound dramatic, but it’s true.

She makes me a better person. She makes the darkest days brighter and I can never thank her enough or show my love to her enough for what she means to me.

Thanks Jilly, you’re perfect.

And the last person is of course Otis.

12 months ago today, this little bundle of perfect came into the World.

Yes, my son is a year old.

Today.

A year old. Today.

That is bloody amazing.

[When you’re older Otis, click here for a birthday message]

A year ago, I literally had no idea what to expect … I was a mixture of nerves, fears and anticipation.

Nothing – absolutely nothing – could have prepared me [or should I say, would make me believe] for the joy this little boy has brought into my life.

Watching him grow has been one of the most beautiful and wonderful things I have ever experienced.

He has done far more for me than I have done for him.

He has made me feel a sense of pride and happiness I didn’t know existed.

Literally didn’t know.

He has shown me that the wonderful woman I married, is even more wonderful than I imagined.

He has made Rosie – that selfish, self-centred, pampered moggy – start to be a little bit gracious.

Sure, it’s only to him, but that’s a start.

He gave my Mum an energy and happiness that literally radiated out from her.

She sadly may never have got to meet him in the flesh, but he ensured the last 3 months of her life were filled with joy and pride.

For that alone, I can never thank him enough, but he did even more than that.

At my greatest time of need, he ensured I didn’t fall.

From giving me the most infectious smiles imaginable to the most delightfully inappropriate behaviour at the most inappropriately appropriate times … he made sure I always had hope and love to cling on to.

He has been a revelation.

I am so proud and honoured to be his Dad and I hope I can repay him for everything he has done for me in his first 12 months of life.

[Let’s face it, I probably can and will … especially if he starts developing the same tech tendencies as his old man]

OK … that has been a super long post.

Few – if any – will have probably read all of it, but this was done more for me than any of you, so I don’t care.

All that leaves me to do is say this.

To my beloved son, Otis … happy, happy birthday.

You are perfect in every single way.

Literally, every single way.

I am a better man for having you in my life.

Thank you my darling son, I love you so, so much.

To everyone else … every single one of you who was gracious and kind enough to care and be part of my year this year … I wish you a Happy, Happy Christmas.

Whether you gave me hugs, laughter or just a well-timed message, your actions meant more to me than you could ever imagine and I wish I could see you all in person so I could return the gesture.

I’m so grateful for all you did for me and I wish each and every one of you, nothing but happiness and the hope that 2016 is a stellar year in your life.

We all deserve it and I need it.

Have fun and make sure you tell everyone who needs to know, that you love them.

See you January.