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


When Love Turns To Apathy …

You might just be getting over the shock of yesterdays post, where I showed the world I was wearing shoes.

Real shoes.

Proper, proper shoes.

Well hold on to your hats because it’s going to get worse.

As many of you know, I have had a long, long, long, long, long time love affair with Taiwanese restaurant, Din Tai Fung.

I have been there so many times.

Literally hundreds.

The food is amazing.

The service is amazing.

The whole thing is amazing.

It’s the first restaurant I took my son to.

It’s the first restaurant we went to when we moved to LA.

It’s the first restaurant I looked forward to going to when we moved to the UK.

Now, to be honest, the food wasn’t quite the same in LA compared to China/Asia.

Don’t get me wrong, it was nice … but some of the ‘classics’ had been adapted to American tastes.

A bit sweeter.

A little less spicy.

But I could deal with it because apart from the free soda refills, it’s Din Tai Fung and that’s all that matters.

OR SO I THOUGHT.

You see when we moved to London, the restaurant had not yet opened.

In the 3 months between moving here and the doors opening, I had told everyone – and I mean EVERYONE – how this was going to change their life.

Well, we went … and I was right, it did change my life.

FOR THE WORSE.

I know … this is possibly even more shocking than the Birkenstock situation.

You see, while they had food that was on all their menus around the World, it was a poor imitation of it.

Worse, the sizes were smaller … it was less well cooked … it was served by people who were severely lacking in the kind, seamless service I had come to expect and a shedload more expensive.

As you can see from the receipt, a meal for my wife, 4 year old son and me was over £100.

ONE HUNDRED POUNDS.

No booze … no excessive amounts of ordering … and yet it cost about twice as much as my biggest ever order in China and trust me, that was a huuuuuuuuge order.

Now I get London is more expensive than China.

I get people in London may not have a frame of reference for what Din Tai Fung should be.

But it utterly destroyed me.

I went in their with such high hopes and came out disappointed and dismayed.

OK, so they have just opened and may still be having teething problems … but sadly, I doubt that is the real reason. As in the fashion with many companies trying to duplicate the success of one thing, they tend to focus on the ‘big things’ to copy and completely miss – or ignore – the small.

The details that make the big things sing.

While I’ll give them one more chance, the reality is I fully expect I won’t be back until I am back in Asia and while that might not sound a big thing, the fact they have lost such a massively loyal customer should be of concern to them.

Sadly I doubt they’d even care.



If You Want A Fright On A Tuesday …
February 5, 2019, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Birkenstocks, Comment

… then have a look at this.

They’re not just my feet in that photo.

But my shoes.

AND THEY’RE NOT BIRKENSTOCKS!

I know … I bloody know.

Don’t worry though, I’ve not suddenly come to my senses regarding footwear relevant … the fact is [1] it’s bloody cold in London – though I appreciate that never stopped me in the past [2] they were free – as are the multitude of lovely NIKE’s I’m also now in possession of and [3] apparently wearing birkies for 25+ years none-stop is not great for your back so I’ve been ordered to wear proper shoes for a bit.

Please note the words ‘a bit’ because once the sun comes out [which I appreciate in London, is not often] I’ll be back to insulting the eyes and tastes of England’s most populous city.



We Are All The Same. We Are All Different.

So for the past 2 days I’ve been writing a lot about equality.

It’s a subject very close to my heart.

To be honest, it always has been but being a Father has raised it’s importance.

In some ways, having Otis grow up in China made things easier as it meant he was exposed to different cultures from day 1 but I didn’t want to take that for granted, so when we knew we were going to move to the US, I spoke to a friend of mine – a Brit, who is black and lives in the US – about the [thankfully small] issues his kids faced being in the US and what he thought parents should teach their kids to stop that happening.

His response was phenomenal.

In essence there were 2 parts.

The first was the obvious one – treat every person from every culture the same way – with respect, appreciation and consideration.

So far so good … but it was the next bit that really made an impact.

Don’t tell Otis different cultures are all the same.

Don’t ‘whitewash’ our differences, acknowledge them … enrich Otis with understanding about different cultures history, struggles and values.

Or said another way … celebrate the differences but treat everyone the same.

Brilliant.

Absolutely brilliant.

In a World where so much hate is built simply on ‘being different’, helping break down those walls through knowledge and understanding is even more powerful than just saying ‘don’t see the colour, see the person’.

Of course it’s vital to treat people the same, but understanding the background isn’t just a mark of respect – it’s a way to celebrate strengths and understand behaviours that you may otherwise judge for no other reason than your own in-built prejudices.

So among Otis’ books on animals and dinosaurs and Peppa fucking Pig, he has books that explore the cultures associated with Africa [‘Africa Is Not A Country’ & ‘Sundiata’], Mexico [‘Tequila Worm’] and the Middle East [‘My Fathers Shop’].

Now I appreciate some people may think we are going a bit over-the-top with this.

After all, Otis is only 2 and a half.

But, as I have written before, I’ve learnt not to care what others think.

I’ve learnt people often mistake being a parent with being an ‘expert’ on kids.

I’ve also learnt kids develop so many of their behaviours by being masters of mimicking how their parents behave.

[Jill hopes she can stop him fall victim to ironic t-shirts and Birkenstocks]

At the end of the day, we believe we have a responsibility to him – and society as a whole – to encourage the values and beliefs that can enable him to be a good human being … someone who doesn’t just contribute to society in terms of what he achieves, but in terms of what he helps others achieve.

Of course we know he will face challenges.

Peer pressure. Unexpected circumstances. The allure of mischief.

And while we can’t dictate how he handles those things, we hope we can prepare him to deal with them in a way where he can hold his head high … which is why on top of being loving, supporting parents, we will buy him books on understanding different cultures, give him dolls to play with and encourage him to play with his beloved pink kitchen.

Being a Father is one of the most amazing things that has happened in my life.

I feel embarrassed to admit I had no idea how good it would be … and while being a good parent is basically a matter of trying things with good intent, I want to say a big thank you to Karrelle Dixon … because he may not realise it, but he made a big difference to how my little boy will grow up. Not in terms of respect, but in terms of understanding … and when you think about it, that’s one of the most wonderful gifts you can give anyone.

I hope my parents would think we’re doing good with their grandson.

I think they would.



Mask. Cape. Birkenstocks?

So yesterday I wrote about my new birkenstock t-shirt … and I bet you were thrilled with it. Ahem. Well today I’m keeping with the birkies theme, but I’m adding a bit of Hollywood glamour to it.

No, seriously.

You see I was recently reading a copy of Empire Magazine – the film monthly – when there was an article on the classic 90’s romp, Con Air.

For those of you who need a reminder what it’s about, have a look at this.

Did you watch it?

They don’t make movies like that anymore do they.

Sure, it’s bollocks, but it’s absolutely amazing bollocks.

Hmmmmm, that doesn’t look so good written down, does it. Oops.

“So where’s the birkenstock reference”, I hear no one cry.

Well, in the article, they talk about how John Cusack – one of the movies stars – was a bit of a dick on set.

Apparently he didn’t really want to do the movie but – having resigned himself to having to do it – he decided to throw his star power around.

This is how he did it …

Have you read it?

Have you?

Really?

Well if you have, you’ll know that he insisted on his character wearing Birkenstocks.

Yes, bloody birkies!

Apparently his rationale was …

“I want to be the very first action hero who wears Birkenstocks. Charlton Heston wore sandals and he kicked ass. I wanna do the same”.

Amazing eh?

But even more amazing than that is that we now can understand why John Cusack’s career went the same way as MH370.

Which also explains why I ended up in advertising which, a friend of mine recently called, The MH370 of careers.



The Only Way I’ll Ever Wear Socks With My Birkenstocks …
August 30, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Birkenstocks

… is by wearing my new t-shirt from my friends at RedBubble.

Trust me, if you think you’re offended by it, you should see how my colleagues feel.



Celebrities All Want To Be Me …
August 4, 2014, 6:12 am
Filed under: Birkenstocks, Comment

… sure, some of them are decidedly z-grade and only one of the featured ‘celebrities’ is a man, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this appeared in Bloomberg Business Week Magazine [which I appreciate is hardly the bible of style] alongside a massive article which – in a desperate attempt to show I’m not fashion kryptonite – you can read here.

Move over Gok Wan, the real fashion forward, style leader is here.