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


The Last Month Of 4.0 …

So today is June 1.

In 11 days, I wave goodbye to my forties and enter a decade that seems impossible for me to fathom.

50.

FIFTY.

Seriously, how did this happen?

I still remember sitting on the hill outside Erica’s newsagent with my best mate Paul around 1978, when we worked out that in the year 2000, we would be turning 30.

But here we are, 11 days from 50.

[Though it’s 15 days for Paul, who will LOVE those 4 days where he can bang on about how he is a decade younger than me … though he will also moan that my present for him isn’t like the full page newspaper ad I got him when he was 40, but a Forest shirt signed by all the members of the 1980 European Cup team. Asshole. He knows about this present as I bought it for him years ago so I’m not ruining anything for him. But I still have a surprise for him. Oh yes.]

Turning 30 bothered me a bit.

I was totally fine with becoming 40.

But 50!

I’m both bricking it and utterly casual about it.

And while there are some practical reasons for the shitting myself part – health, work, life in general – the fact of the matter is the older I get, the better my life has become.

I totally get the privilege of that statement, I don’t take it for granted at all, but it is definitely true.

Personally, professionally, emotionally …

Sure there have been some bumps along the way – some terribly hard and emotionally destructive ones – but looking at the big picture, the reality is my life has generally been on an upward trajectory.

Now even I know that it can’t keep going like that forever … but it doesn’t mean I have to stop trying.

The fact is, the older you get, the more you discover …

From what you like, what you don’t … to what you didn’t know and what you want to know.

And what makes it even more amazing – and annoying – is that every step you take, in whatever direction, reveals a whole host of other possibilities you would like to explore and investigate.

The problem is time is now officially, not on your side … so there’s a point where you have to accept you won’t get to try, play, experiment with all you want to do, so while that might put some people off, it kind of makes me want to try and pack more in.

And I am … because on top of work, Metallica, the school with Martin, I’ve already agreed to do a couple more projects that are intriguing and – frankly – ridiculous.

But there’s another reason for this attitude and it’s because my Dad died at 60.

Death is something I’ve talked a lot about over the years – mainly due to both my parents passing away.

I’ve talked a lot about the importance of taking about it, but I must admit, I’m scared of it.

I’m in generally good health, but fifty is still 50 and my Dad still died just 10 years on from this age.

Now of course it doesn’t mean I will … and I’ve come to this completely unscientific view that I should live till I’m at least 71 because if you take away my Dad’s age of dying [60]from my Mum’s [83] … that leave 23 years. Halve that … add it to Dad’s age … and voila, I will live till at least 71.

But then that means I only have 21 years left.

TWENTY ONE.

That’s nowhere near enough.

My wonderful little boy is only 5 for fucks sake. 26 is way too young to lose your Dad … hell, that’s even younger than I was when I lost mine.

Years ago, an old boss I looked upto said that if you can’t feasibly double your age, that is when you know you are – at best – middle aged or – at worst – the last stage of your life.

Well I suppose I can still feasibly double my age – even if it’s against the average age of death for a man in the UK [79.2] – but the reality is where I’m going is shorter than where I’ve been.

But shorter doesn’t mean less interesting.

And arguably, I have more exciting things in my life now – both personally and professionally – than I have ever had.

It also helps I am insanely immature with a desire for mischief, experimentation, creativity and adventure.

And I intend to fill it up with even more.

Fortunately I get that from a number of sources.

My wife.

My son.

My job.

My other jobs.

My friends.

My mind.

A while back, Pete said something I found pretty profound.

He said the narrative of strategy tended to focus on the importance of curiosity when discovery is far more valuable for driving the standard of the work you create and the adventure you go on.

Now I’ve written a lot about how I hate when planners talk about curiosity – as if they’re the only people who have it – but I really, really like that idea of the hunger for discovery.

I absolutely have that.

I owe so much of what I have to that.

The countries I’ve lived in. The people I’ve worked with. And most importantly, the family I am fortunate to have.

So while I enter a new decade, I will continue to live like it’s the old one.

Not in terms of dressing like I’m younger than I am – mainly because I have always dressed like I live in 1986 – but with the hunger, ambition and desire I’ve always had.

I genuinely believe my best work is still ahead of me.

Truly believe that.

And the goal of this decade is to achieve some of that while discovering new things that make me believe even better work can still lie in my future.



Happy Anniversary Mum And Dad …
May 28, 2020, 6:15 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Childhood, Comment, Dad, Emotion, Empathy, Family, Love, Mum, Mum & Dad

Today would have been Mum and Dad’s 56th wedding anniversary.

That’s a photo from their wedding day at the top of this post.

They look so young.

So happy.

A life of adventure ahead of them.

And while they had their ups and downs – some of them insanely challenging due to health, money and family dramas – they stayed strong … they never left me wanting for their love and support and, at the very end, they were possibly even closer than they had ever been.

Of course part of this was because Dad was utterly reliant on Mum after his multiple strokes.

At the beginning that was hard on Mum.

Here was her husband – a proud, eloquent, independent man – suddenly needing her presence, love and support 24/7.

Don’t get me wrong, she loved him, but it was so different to their normal relationship that in some ways, her husband had become her child and that required a huge readjustment for her mentally as well as emotionally.

But there was no question she was not going to look after him.

This was her husband.

Looking after him was what she wanted to do.

It was how she could show her love for him.

Even when it drove her to the point of physical and mental exhaustion and stress.

I remember one day, Mum anxiously told me [I was living in Australia at the time] a Doctor had said she needed rest or she would become seriously ill.

He suggested Dad go into hospital for a few weeks so she could take care of herself.

She immediately said no, but realised that if she got ill, then Dad would be in an even worse position.

It took her days to do it, but finally she gingerly, tenderly and tearfully told Dad what the Doctor had told her.

She was so upset as she didn’t want him to think she was sending him away … but actually wanting to look after him.

And Dad, with tears in his eyes, nodded he understood.

Because he loved his wife.

And while he hated the idea of being away from her, he hated being a burden to her and wanted to help her feel stronger and better.

So they could be together again. Where he felt safest and happiest.

The great irony is that a few days before he was supposed to go into hospital, he ended up there with another stroke …

And never came home.

The end of a 3+ year journey of utter sadness.

One I would not wish on anyone, especially Mum and Dad.

I’m not religious in the slightest, but I have to admit, I really hope they’re together again, holding hands.

Miss them so much.

Happy anniversary Mum and Dad.

Rxxx

____________________________________________________________________

After I typed this I realised I was wrong.

2020 had screwed me so much I had written this 2 months late as Mum and Dad’s wedding anniversary was on March 28.

What the hell?

What makes it worse is that this is the first time of the 14 odd years of this blog, that I’ve screwed it up.

So while all the words are right, my timing – as usual – is a little off.

Love you Mum and Dad.

Rx

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Memories From The Past …
March 10, 2020, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment, Dad, Family, Mum, Mum & Dad

The building above is called The Chateau.

But this wasn’t in rural France – oh no – it was in deepest West Bridgford, Nottingham.

It was also a Berni Inn.

For those not of a certain age, a Berni Inn was a restaurant where you could get a steak main with a strawberry and cream dessert for £4.99

Sounds cheap doesn’t it?

Well it was, but they still made it feel like it was posh.

Hence restaurant names like, ‘The Chateau’.

We didn’t go there much.

In fact we didn’t go out for dinner anywhere really – except for the odd birthday.

But that’s not the reason I am writing about it.

It’s because it’s also the last place I ever went out for lunch with Mum and Dad.

I was living in Australia, but had flown back for Mum’s birthday.

Dad had had a stroke, but even though he couldn’t talk well, he was still able to walk – albeit with a wobble and a stick.

To be honest, I don’t remember much about the lunch, but I do remember it was lovely.

A gentle time as a family.

All together.

Enjoying a moment that we probably all secretly knew may not happen again.

There’s some things that stick in my mind …

Getting a taxi to the restaurant as we no longer had a car.

The surreal moment where I had to go to the bathroom with Dad to make sure he was OK [he was], which brought home the severity of his illness to me.

Dad managing to utter the word “knickerbocker” to the waiter/waitress when he was asked if he wanted dessert and he absolutely loved it.

For anyone who saw us that day, they would have just viewed a family – like the countless other families around us – having a nice lunch.

But to us, it was so much more.

A moment of normality at a time our lives were in chaos.

A chance to enjoy the privilege of the mundane.

An opportunity to be a typical family once again.

It was the last time it was to happen for us.

I miss it.

I miss them.

I’m so glad I have a photo to remember the day by.




And In The Blink Of An Eye, The Years Pass By …
March 9, 2020, 6:15 am
Filed under: Dad, Death, Family, Jill, Mum, Mum & Dad, Otis, Parents

Oh Mum.

5 years.

It was the worst day of my life.

The hope. The love. The nervousness. The concern. The fear. The confusion. The horror. The prayers. The goodbye.

A lifetime of emotions run over the space of 12 hours.

I remember every minute. Literally.

And while I try not to think about it, I will. I will go back to that place so that I can feel close to the last time I was next to you.

Holding your hand.

Whispering words of love and hope.

Telling you how I would ensure Otis would know you and that I would always honour you when the tragic events of the day played its final act.

Oh how I still wish it ended on a positive.

Everything was set up for that … we had plans, big and exciting ones … but no, a rare condition put paid to that.

I still feel there was some weird circle of life stuff going on – from the conversations we had in our last 6 months together to the fact Otis was born 3 months before your operation [so I’m extra grateful that the doctor agreed to delay the operation to ensure both things didn’t happen at the same time] to the tragic reality that you died in the hospital where I was born.

And while that all fills me with sadness – even now – it also let’s me feel things were done to completion. Where the things we needed to say or show were done right. Where I could say goodbye to you in a way where I have no regrets.

Of course I am sad that we have not been able to share and talk about the adventures of the last 5 years. The moves. The madness. The wonderfulness of your beloved grandson … but given Dad’s situation changed so quickly, leaving us in paralysis and so many things frozen in time, it is a ray of light in an abyss of sadness.

That said, I miss you.

I miss you so much.

I would give anything to have one more chat … one more hug … one more kiss.

I always felt it, but now you’re gone I’m even more thankful you were my mum.

Honoured even.

Everything I am is because of something you – and dad – did for me.

The support and encouragement.

The lessons and the ideals.

The patience and forgiveness.

You were the one that taught me the importance of caring. You were the one who taught me to be open with my feelings and emotions. You were the one who created the foundation for me to build myself upon.

Believing in me in ways – and at times – that seemed madness.

Offering your gentle confidence.

A quiet shelter.

The time, space and attention for me to grow, explore and share.

Nourishing and nurturing me.

I cannot put into words all I am grateful to you for, other than to say my life is filled with memories either created with you, designed by you or encouraged by you and that is the greatest gift anyone could ever receive.

I miss you.

Give dad a kiss while you’re holding hands.

Rx

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Add To Society, Don’t Just Take …

That quote is from my Dad.

I love it.

Not just because it’s from him, but because what it means.

You see he taught me – through his actions and behaviour – that the key to pretty much everything and anything is spending time really getting to know people rather than just focusing your attention on chasing the answers you want from them.

Given my Mum had a similar view means I guess I was always destined to place greater value in the authenticity of subculture than the simplistic, convenience of a focus group.

The reason I’m saying this is that everyone is banging on about the importance of speed, efficiency and optimisation, but are forgetting there’s a huge difference between information and insight … which may explain why society has so much but values so little.

What makes this even more frustrating is companies spend billions each year attempting to ‘earn loyalty’ from customers by trying to do things that they think are more personal to them … which is why I would suggest that if they’re serious about resonating with their audience [rather than just being mildly relevent] they could do with being more like my Dad. And Mum.