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

Goodbye Mr Gee …
January 18, 2019, 7:30 am
Filed under: China, Chinese Culture, Death, Empathy, Insight, Marketing, Media, Planners

When I first moved to China, I heard of this ad man who was highly regarded for his authentic insight into Asian culture but without the smug arrogance shown by so many of his peers.

His name was Ian Gee.

A few years later, I had the pleasure of meeting him when we were both invited guests on an episode of the now defunct, Thoughtful China.

Unsurprisingly he stole the show with his smart comments delivered in his understated charismatic way.

Despite his brilliance making me feel even more of an imposter than I normally do, we hit it off and while we only met in person that one time, I was thrilled we stayed in touch – often instigated by comments he made on this blog.

Sadly today I heard from his son that Ian passed away yesterday from cancer.

Few people knew he was ill because he kept it to himself as he didn’t want it to define him.

He need not of worried because lots of people know he was a kind, generous, humourous, intelligent man with unwavering and unapologetic standards for doing what was best for the work, the people around him and the culture he represented … and anyone who tried to shortcut or short-change had better watch out.

It was a true privilege Ian.

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The NHS Put The Great In Great Britain …

The NHS is 70 years old this year.

While that is a remarkable age, it blows my mind there was a time when it didn’t exist.

The story of its foundation is a remarkable one … one filled with foresight, fight and a governments desire to raise the standards, dreams and potential of an entire nation.

Whether we will ever see something of such audacious good from a government anywhere in the World is debatable.

Obamacare may have come close, but thanks to America’s blinkered fear of socialism [despite having one FBI for example], it means its potential has been destroyed by that criminal, also known as The President of the United States of America.

And all the Republican sheep.

But back to the NHS.

Despite having not lived in England for 24+ years, it’s been a quiet partner throughout my life.

Helping me deal with some of the best and worst times of my life.

And even though there was a time I grew to despise walking along the corridors of the QMC hospital in Nottingham, I was always grateful for it … because it ensured the people I loved weren’t allowed to fall through the cracks at their greatest hour of need.

The NHS has saved my parents life, saved my sight, looked after my dear Paul when he’s undertaken acts of complete stupidity, taken care of my son when he came down with an illness [despite not yet having a British passport] and ensured my parents were given dignity in their final days … it is the single most important and valuable institution the UK has.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have lived all around the World and while there have been a number of occasions where I have needed the urgent and serious attention of Nurses and Doctors, I’ve paid heavily for that service.

Of course I’m grateful for all they did for me – they were excellent – but I was also in a privileged position where I could afford to pay for it which is why the NHS is so important because the reality is, everyone deserves the right to being looked after, not just those with a healthy bank balance.

Countless UK governments have tried to undermine or strip away the NHS … seemingly ignorant to the fact it’s one of the few things that is the envy of the World and should be treasured, not pillaged.

So to everyone who has ever worked for or fought for the NHS, thank you.

You deserve so much more than just a nations gratitude.

The Worst Days Don’t Have To Stay The Worst Days …
March 9, 2018, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment, Death, Mum

So 3 years ago today was one of the worst days of my life because it’s the day I lost Mum.

I’ve written a lot about what happened and how it affected me, but 3 years down the line, I am more focused on the joyful memories we had together rather than the tragic last days.

Infact the shift in mindset is so great, that I was only reminded this day was approaching by friends writing to me to send their love and support for this most horrible of anniversaries.

Now don’t get me wrong, Mum is always on my mind.

Just last week I saw an elderly lady who – for a number of reasons – reminded me of Mum.

She looked kind and gentle. Her grey hair gently framing her face. And as she sat alone, waiting quietly for her takeaway order to arrive from the restaurant kitchen. I couldn’t stop stealing glances at her. Of course I knew it wasn’t Mum and yet there was something about her that made me feel like her energy was very similar.

Then I started crying.

Not loudly, not even obviously … but tears were running down my face and when she walked out the restaurant, I had to tell myself not to chase her out to the parking lot and tell her she reminded me of my wonderful Mum and could I have a hug.

Thank god for my brains objectivity or I could be writing this from jail.

But as I sit here, on the 3rd anniversary of her passing, I feel a different person.

Of course I miss her and would give anything to see her hold the precious grandson she never got to meet in person, but I’m in a much better place than I was and that is something I know Mum would be very happy about.

Of course part of this is because of time. Part of this is because Otis keeps us focused on the future and the joy of life. And part of this is because I now have a very different lifestyle to the one I had when all this happened, but that doesn’t take away the fact I now feel able to enjoy the life I had with my Mum rather than the last days.

And that is why, if she was here today, I would want to say this to her …

Mum, I love you.

I love you so much and I am so grateful for all you did for me and – in a weird way – continue to do for me.

I remember the days before your operation, we were talking about things that highlighted there may not be the outcome we all hoped would happen.

I tried to brush it off as I wanted us to stay positive but the fact I discovered how much organisation you had done in the weeks prior to your operation – in case the worst happened – showed this was something you had thought about a lot.

It breaks my heart you went through that.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like to sort through your papers incase something happened.

To put things aside for me to find.

To label things for me to be aware of.

To say a potential goodbye to the things you cared about.

And while I wish you didn’t feel you had to do it, I know it’s another demonstration of how much you loved me and it made a difference to how I dealt with those first few weeks of you passing.

But if you were around, there would be something else I’d want you to know.

One of the conversations we had was you saying how sorry you were for not having much to leave me.

I told you, you were wrong but now I can articulate that more clearly.

First of all, you left me a house.

Our house.

Our paid-for house.

That in itself is amazing and I’m so happy the family we chose to help in your name are enjoying it as much as we did.

But there’s more.

An incredible amount more.

You left me with a lifetime of wonderful memories.

Of love and support and values I live by.

You gave me recipes I feed my family with.

You gave me paintings [& some of your owls] that lets me always feel a connection between the life I had and the life I have.

You gave me the gift of playing a musical instrument by encouraging me to learn after thinking I showed ‘talent’ on the 2-string acoustic that was lying around the house.

You gave me the gift of growing up in a loving, caring, compassionate and supportive family that has become an amazing guide for how we want to bring Otis up.

[He’s an amazing little boy and calls you Nonna whenever he sees a photo of you or looks at the owl tattoo I had for you]

The reality is you gave me so much, but most of all, you gave me the best Mum I could ever wish for and for that I will be eternally grateful.

I’m so sorry you’re gone Mum but I’m so happy you were mine.

And always will be.

Hugs to you and Dad.

Love you.


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My Dad Is In The Music …
January 16, 2018, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Anniversary, Attitude & Aptitude, Dad, Daddyhood, Death

So today is the 19th anniversary of my Dad passing away.

Every year I write how this time between him passing and now blows my mind because while in some ways, it does feel long ago, in others it feels relatively recent.

I’ve been having a number of conversations with people about death recently.

People who have lost loved ones and are struggling to cope.

And to them all, I tell them it’s OK to feel that way.

It’s normal because the situation is terrible.

I tell them how it took me until the last week of my Dad’s life to come to terms with the fact he was dying and then a subsequent 10 years to come to terms that he had gone.

I don’t say this because I want them to think they will feel this way for years – because there’s a good chance they won’t – I say this to let them know they’re not weird, or wrong or bad for feeling and thinking these things.

And while I wish the reasons for me knowing this didn’t happen, they did and I feel grateful that I’m able to acknowledge my Dad has taught me as much in his death as he did in his life.

That’s quite a gift when you come to think of it.

It means he’s still with me even though he’s been gone for 19 years.

And while I would still do anything to see him and talk to him – especially as so much has happened in the time he has gone that I’d love to hear his perspective on – I’m so, so happy the memories I have of him are now the joyous ones rather than the hardship he went through in his last few years.

One of those memories is from 1984.

I know it was that year because it revolves around the launch of Queen’s ‘The Works’ album.

Oh I was so excited. It had been a couple of years since their last album – the much maligned ‘Hot Space’ – and the reviews said this was a return to form.

Paul – my best mate – and I had been debating what the songs would be like based on the titles we had read in the Fan Club magazine and all we wanted to do was get our hands on that piece of vinyl.

Then some good news … our local radio station, Trent FM, were going to give away the album to the 10th caller on the rock show that night.

I went home and laid out all the albums on the floor in front of me – sure they were going to ask a question relating to one of their songs.

As the time for the competition came, I got more and more excited.

I tuned the stereo to 96.2FM, ready to pounce.

The question was asked, “What year did Queen write Bohemian Rhapsody?”

I knew this. I KNEW THIS.

As the DJ started playing a Queen song, I dialed the number as quickly as I could.


Urged on by my watching parents, I pressed redial [my Dad LOVED telephones so we always had the latest, ha] …

Engaged again.

And then, as the Queen song faded out, I heard the fatal words from the DJ that they had a winner and it obviously wasn’t me.

Gutted. Absolutely gutted.

Zoom forward the next day and I came home from school.

I came into the lounge and was preparing to watch a bit of TV when my Dad asked if he could listen to a song of his.

[The stereo was in the lounge with the TV]

Of course I said yes, and while Dad was playing with the record player, I just faffed about doing something.

But then something strange happened.

Rather than the expected operatic tones coming out the speaker, there was a drum rhythm … a semi-recognizable drum rhythm … THE DRUM RHYTHM THAT FORMED THE START OF RADIO GAGA!!!

I’m guessing the look of confusion on my face forced my Dad to hold up the album cover of Queen, ‘The Works’.


Dad – and Mum – had bought it for me.

An impromptu present because they knew I loved that band with all my heart and was sad I didn’t win the competition from the night before.

It might have honestly been the first time my Dad had ever bought a popular record, but I ran up to him and gave him a huge hug and a big kiss on the cheek.

“Enjoy it” he said … and with that, he walked out the room, leaving me to bathe in the music of my favorite band.

Now don’t get me wrong, my parents were very kind and generous to me … but we never really had much cash to splash, so while they did all they could to make sure I didn’t go without, the things I got most from them was love, support and encouragement.

But here I was with an album.

And it wasn’t even my birthday.

Talk about feeling like you’ve won the lottery.

I remember that day as if it was yesterday and even now, when I listen to that album, I feel a sense of warmth from it … a sense of togetherness and love.

And it’s for that reason I’ll be listening to the album today, because I want to have that feeling again because while my parents ensured I felt their love to last a lifetime, you can always do with more.

I miss you Dad.

I miss you so, so much.

I would give anything for one day to just talk to you.

Discuss all that has happened. Discuss all that is going on in my head. Introduce you to my family. Take you to your garden.

Hold you hand and kiss your head.

It might be 19 years, but I miss you like it was yesterday.

You were the best and I’m glad Mum is with you so you are no longer alone.

Love you.


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Ends And Beginnings. Beginnings And Ends.
November 13, 2017, 7:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Death

Death tends to viewed as an ending. Where something – or someone – passes, finishes or leaves.

But sometimes death is a beginning.

We often don’t realise that for a while, but it can happen.

Where new journeys begin and new possibilities start.

That doesn’t mean we forget what happened.

It did and it was horrific and painful.

But with time, memories triumph over sadness and life will invite joy to return.

Not to replace but to restore.

I am there for you my friend.

I won’t let you fall too far.

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If More Proof Was Needed …
October 17, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: America, Attitude & Aptitude, Corporate Evil, Culture, Death, Social Divide

A few weeks ago I wrote about everything I thought was wrong in America.

For such an amazing country, it’s mind-blowing to me that there is resistance to dealing with the issues undermining it.

Worse, there’s resistance to even talking about the issues undermining it.

In the post, I highlighted one issue in particular.

Gun control.

Despite the mountains of evidence, the NRA continues to ignore the damage and dangers of gun ownership.

They fight aggressively against any challenge to it.


They use ‘government control’ as their reasoning behind their obstinance.

That if they give in to this, what else will the government want to take away.

It’s a fucking stupid argument made worse by the fact I received this in my letterbox recently.

Admittedly it was addressed to the person who used to own our house.

A cop.

But that doesn’t take away the fact an organization felt it was necessary to send out a pamphlet about how to deal with school violence – specifically violence that goes ‘beyond the active shooter’.

I don’t know about you, but this makes me ill.

School should be a place of safety.

I know that’s unrealistic, but there’s a massive difference between worrying about bullying and worrying about being shot.

And yet the NRA choose to ignore their role in this situation.

Preferring to blame the shooter rather than acknowledge any role the guns play in allowing people to kill on a mass scale.

The fact this pamphlet had to be sent out at all should be enough for America to realise the gun laws in their country need a major overhaul.

Sadly it won’t be.

A Very Sad Day For The Planning Community & Society As A Whole …
October 10, 2017, 7:33 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Death, RoObin

I’ve just learnt my kind, caring, talented friend RoObin Golestan has passed away.

I saw him a few months ago in the horrible Jamaica Blue where we talked about our hopes and plans … me in LA, he in Germany.

It was one of those chats you remember because we shared the type of stories you only pass onto someone you trust and respect.

I knew be was ill but I told him how he looked better than me. He told me how good he felt and how excited he was to meet the doctor in Shanghai after we had finished our chat.

I am utterly devastated by his loss. He was much too young and my heart goes out to the family he loved so much.

RoObin, you were a generous soul.

Whether it was in person or through reading the excellent chapter about you in Heather’s book, I hope you know how much you impacted the people around you because you did – both in terms of your generosity and infectious spirit.

I am at a loss.

Shine bright matey with your wonderful wild hair. RIP.

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