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

My Friend Paul Is A Hero To Me …
March 1, 2018, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Confidence, Family, Paul

As many of you know, my oldest and dearest friend is Paul.

We were born 4 days apart and have spent all our lives together.

Through school.

Through our teenage years.

Through the best of times and the worst.

Through moments of stupidity where we should have immediately denied knowing each other.

And while we have physically lived far apart from each other for over 20+ years, that bond is still there and it’s one I treasure so much.

Now, if you ask my wife or Paul’s wife what we’re like when we’re together, they would probably say we become our 9 year old selves.

Cheeky. Mischievous. Daft.

There’s definitely a lot of laughing.

And while we have only really had a couple of genuinely serious conversations in our life – forced on us due to tragic circumstances that was going on in our lives – I’ve always taken our friendship, and him, very seriously.

Put simply, Paul is a bit of a hero to me.

There’s a bunch of reasons for it, reasons I choose not to share as they’re very private and personal, but his attitude to life is one we should all aspire to, exemplified by the fact that at 47, he’s decided he wants a career change.

Now wanting a career change isn’t that unusual, but actually doing it – without circumstances dictating you have to – is.

You see Paul, a printer and part-time bouncer, is starting his own business.

A coffee business.

A mobile coffee business.

A mobile coffee business called The Frothy Coffee Man.

He’s bought a van with all the machinery, he’s done his training, he’s got his council approval and he will soon be located around parks in Nottingham helping tired Mum’s get their desperate hit of caffeine as their kids run them ragged.

Are their risks?

Sure – he knows that – but there’s far greater risk if he doesn’t.

For the last 20+ years, he’s been doing the same job in the same company, and while he enjoys it, he doesn’t want to be someone who has fallen into ‘comfortable’. He wants to challenge himself. He wants to be more in-control of his destiny. He wants to feel alive.

I think it’s wonderful.

I also think he’ll do brilliantly.

He’s cheeky, charming, kind and – at 6 foot 5 – a walking billboard for his company, so on top of buying a coffee if you ever find yourself in Nottingham, raise a glass for my best mate Paul … who is doing something the majority of us only wish we were doing.


It Seems I Am The Fine Line Between Famous And Infamous …

How is your 2018 going so far?

I know it’s still early days – but is it looking good or bad?

Well, if it’s looking positive, I’m about to ruin it for you and if it is looking dodgy, I’m going to help you solidify your opinion.


Well, a few weeks ago, a nice guy called Paul McEnany asked if he could interview me about my career.

While I’m sure his reasoning for his request was to help planners learn what not to do, my ego said yes even before my mouth did … and while the end result is the bastard love child of rambling randomness and base-level swearing, it’s the perfect way to justify your pessimism for 2018 or to ensure your optimism for the new year doesn’t get too high.

So go here and errrrrm, enjoy [if that’s the right word for it, which it isn’t] and after you’ve heard my crap, listen to the brilliant interviews with people like Gareth Kay, Russell Davies, Richard Huntingdon, Martin Weigel and the amazing Chris Riley because apart from being hugely interesting and inspiring, you’ll get the added bonus of [1] undeniable proof I’m a massive imposter and [2] the knowledge that if I can have some sort of semi-successful career in advertising, you certainly can.

You’re welcome.

If You Read This Post, It’s The Equivalent Of Winning Survivor. Kinda.

So this is it, the last post of the year.And what a year it has been.

The biggest thing was obviously leaving a company I loved in a country I loved to move my family to the other side of the World to start a new adventure.

The impact of that move has been bigger than we thought or expected.

For me personally, it has revealed a bunch of insecurities and self-doubt that I thought I had kidded myself into believing I’d kept locked away for good.

I was wrong.

However 6 months in, not only do we feel settled and confident about where we are, what we’re doing and what we want to do … we are reminded of the reasons we made such a major move on an almost daily basis.

Put simply, Otis has literally blossomed living a healthier, outdoor life and while we will always miss many of the parts of the life we enjoyed in China, his happiness and well-being makes the move worth while.

Of course that won’t be enough to make us stay here forever …

If truth be told, we’re wanderers so the idea of staying in one place forever freaks us out. Or at least me.

Don’t get me wrong, we are loving our life in America and are incredibly grateful to be here, but the reality is it’s probably not our long, long-term home so in the time we are here, our goal is to enjoy the opportunity, get as much out of the opportunity and make as much of a difference because of the opportunity as we can.

[For the record, I reserve the right to delete the above sentence because if moving countries again ever becomes a real possibility, I imagine the idea of leaving a house next to the beach – see photo at the top of this post, a photo I took on my way to work – to go some place in the middle of nowhere will suddenly feel a lot less appealing]

And one of those opportunities that has presented itself is having my best friend come to visit us over Christmas.

In all the time I’ve known Paul – 47 years – he has not once spent Christmas with me.

Or me with him.

Sure we have met up on Christmas day for a drink or to swap presents, but we have never spent the whole holidays together.

More than that, in my 7 years living in China, he didn’t visit us once.


His wonderful wife did – twice in fact – but not Paul, but now we’re in LA – where even in winter it’s sunny and beautiful – he’s on the first fucking plane over here.

And despite that showing me he’s a ‘using little prince’, I’m happy.

Ridiculously happy.

As is Otis …

For us, having Otis ‘odd parents’ [we’re not religious and they’re definitely odd] come stay is the perfect way to end a particularly interesting year.Ever since my Dad died in January ’99, Christmas lost its power.

Sure, I still looked forward to it, but it was always underpinned by the feeling it was when my Dad fell ill for the final time.

However since Otis came on the scene, that darkness has been broken and I fully expect this year – in a proper house with my family and the people who feel like family even though they’re not – to be the one where that spirit of the holiday truly comes back into force.

I’m grateful for that too.

As I am for everyone who has looked out for me, my wonderful wife, my epic Son and even my pampered princess of a cat, Rosie.

Whether it was in comments on this blog or conversations over the year.

Which is why I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and – even more importantly – a wonderful year ahead.

For a boy from Nottingham who wasn’t very good at school, I do feel I hit the jackpot and while there are many reasons for that, a big part is the community I feel a part of which has been formed – in part – through the insults thrown at me on this blog.

Long may they continue. [I know they will]

With that, I leave you with a family photo we recently took to commemorate our ‘LA life’.

All was good until we discovered that every shot clearly highlighted my poor choice of t-shirt.

Shit! Literally.

Happy Christmas everyone.

Happy New Year.

See you in January.

PS: To my darling Clare Pickens, I know today is your last day at Wieden Amsterdam. I can tell you, it will be as emotional to everyone there – and beyond – as it is to you. You’re an absolute legend and I’m so, so glad you’re in my life. And have put up with me. See you soon. Love ya.


Happy Birthday King Dong …
June 16, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: Birthday, Comment, Family, Love, Paul

After a wonderful day for Jill’s birthday – which included a surprise visit from her Mum, all the way from Australia – today I celebrate another incredible precious person in my life … Paul.

I’ve written so much about this guy over the years …

From our childhood.

To his clumsiness.

To our epic holidays.

To his appendage.

To our history.

To my love for him.

Now my parents have gone, he is the person I have known the longest in my life and is now even more important to me today than he was before.

Every single important moment in my life has involved him.

Some directly, some indirectly … but always with him a part of it.

From my first days in the World to starting pre-school to failing/passing/failing/passing my exams to being in a band to getting a job to moving countries to experiencing family tragedy to getting married to becoming a Dad.

I swear he is one of the main reasons I’ve been able to get through the highs and lows of life relatively unscathed because at the heart of it, he brings incredible happiness into my life.

Not just for a moment.

Not just every now and then.

But every single time I’m with him or think of him.

Part of this is because when we’re together, we immediately revert back to who we were as little kids and part of it is because he gets into all manner of ridiculous scrapes, but a lot of it is because he’s just a kind hearted, wonderfully-natured idiot. Ha.

Of course he would probably say the same about me … and I’d be extremely happy about that, because despite us living very different lives, we are still fundamentally the same as we always have been – at least where we are both concerned – and I regard that as one of the greatest things that’s ever happened to me.

Sadly, I won’t be with him to share his special day today, but I will be with him in a few weeks and I look forward to smiling and laughing till it hurts because he’s more than a special friend, he’s literally good for my health and wellbeing.

Happy birthday lovely man, I hope you enjoy a day of presents, drink and general stupidity.

See you soon.


A Slither Of Light Always Finds Its Way Into The Darkness …
June 2, 2016, 6:30 am
Filed under: Comment, Death, Jill, Love, Mum, Otis, Paul

So as many of you know, I lost my wonderful Mum in 2015.

It was – and still is – a hugely traumatic incident, but as I wrote [and wrote and wrote] at various times over that dark period, there were moments of relief.

Some of that came from the outpouring of compassion and care I received from so many wonderful people, some of it was through the inappropriate – and yet utterly perfect – actions of my son, but there was one other that I haven’t talked about.

When we were organising Mum’s funeral, I was asked about what music we wanted.

While there were so many possibilities, I thought the best thing to do was choose songs that Mum loved and the easiest way to do that was to look at her iPad and review the ’25 most played songs’.

It was quite an eclectic list but that also was testimony to my Mum’s openness to music, regardless of era.

So after talking it through with Jill, we got it down to 3 pieces …

Nat King Cole’s Wonderful World
Emeli Sande’s Clown
Christina Perri’s Jar of Hearts

So far so good.

So we come to the day of the funeral – a day I was dreading – and the ceremony was beautiful.

The church was full of people wanting to pay their respects from far and wide, little Otis slept through the whole thing – ensuring we didn’t have to worry about him crying through a very emotional moment in our lives – the celebrant was utterly wonderful and I even managed to make it through my eulogy without breaking down too much.

As funerals go, it had been beautiful.

And then it happened.

You see, when we were choosing the songs for the funeral, I didn’t really listen to more than 5 seconds of them.

Part of this was because I knew the songs already and the other part was I had been too emotionally raw to hear all the songs all the way through given what they were going to be associated with.

Now before I go on, I should point out I’ve never been good with lyrics.

Even when I was in a band and wrote some of the songs, I could never remember what were the words. I am much more a melody person than a lyrical one … which is my way of explaining what happened as the funeral drew to a close.

The ceremony was over and people were invited to leave the church.

As we sat there, waiting to depart, Christina Perri’s song started to play.

Maybe it was because I had nothing to do as I waited to be able to leave my seat … maybe it’s because I was in deep reflection of what I had just experienced … but I started to listen to the lyrics a bit more intently.

This is what I heard:

I know I can’t take one more step towards you
‘Cause all that’s waiting is regret
Don’t you know I’m not your ghost anymore
You lost the love I loved the most

I learned to live half alive
And now you want me one more time

And who do you think you are?
Runnin’ ’round leaving scars
Collecting your jar of hearts
And tearing love apart
You’re gonna catch a cold
From the ice inside your soul
So don’t come back for me
Who do you think you are?

While the sentiment of the song is what I assumed it was – the sadness of the people you have left behind – the context of it was ENTIRELY different.

Instead of it being a heartfelt message of goodbye, it was a middle finger to a cold, selfish bastard of a player.

In other words, the most utterly inappropriate song to play at a funeral … especially at my wonderful Mum’s funeral.

On hearing this, I literally grabbed Jill’s hand and said, “Let’s go. Now”.

Fortunately, I found the whole thing a bit amusing – which stopped me from falling too deep in the darkness that I was feeling – plus there’s the fact it was one of her favourite songs so it was not an entirely random choice.

Later that night, I told Shelly – my best friend Paul’s wife – about the incident and she admitted that when she heard it, she had thought it was rather “an unusual choice of song”.

The thing is, I think my Mum would have found it amusing too.

I can imagine her laughing about it … like she is in the photo above.

Which is why if people were to ask me how my Mum’s funeral was, I would reply – as funny as it may seem to say – it was absolutely perfect.


Now That’s A Big Cock …
March 14, 2016, 6:20 am
Filed under: Family, Friendship, Paul

As many of you know, my best friend in the whole, wide World is a guy by the name of Paul.

I’ve literally known him all my life and he is, for all intents and purposes, my brother.

I’ve written a lot about him on this blog.

I’ve talked about my childhood with him.

I’ve talked about how much he means to me.

I’ve talked about how he has been part of the best moments in my life.

I’ve talked about his propensity for stupidity. [Beyond just being my mate]

I’ve talked about how much I miss not being near him.

And yes, I’ve talked about the size of his penis.

Over the years I have faced a barrage of abuse and derision from those who comment on this blog about this.

Not – I should hasten to add – because you find it inappropriate, but because you think I have some sexual urging for him.

I don’t.

It is true that if I was gay, I’d happily marry him – but I’m not – so my love for him is purely in the friendship sense of the word, though I can’t say his feelings towards me are as innocent.

The point is, the only reason I mention it in posts is because he big ‘down there’ and when I write it, I’m simply stating a [jealous] fact … there is no other reason.

Anyway, to put this tittle-tattle finally to rest, I’d like to provide you with some empirical proof.

A few months ago, Facebook did a video for ‘Friends Day’.

On Paul’s, there was a photo of him kicking a guy out of a concert [he is a part-time security guy at festivals] and the Facebook video showed the comment I wrote at the time.

“Wanted your cock again? He’s only human I suppose”

I know … I know … I’m an immature, pathetic man, but there is a point to this.

You see by me writing this comment on Paul’s Facebook, it proves there is widespread acknowledgement that his ‘appendage’ is huge, but if you’re still in doubt, here is a photo of the comments Paul and I made after I watched his Facebook ‘friend’ video.

See … not only does Paul acknowledge it in words, he does it in emoji’s.


And with that m’lud, I rest my case while also accepting this might be the worst post in the history of all blog posts.

And it’s only Monday.

Now normally I would say ‘you’re doomed’, but you’re not.

NOT because you’ve grown immune to my rubbish.

NOT because you’re all big and strong.

But because I’m in Tokyo all week so I [probably] won’t be posting until Friday … which is handy, because that’s about as much time as you’ll need to get over today’s mental violation.