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


A Half Century Of Beautifully Ridiculous …
June 16, 2020, 5:15 am
Filed under: Anniversary, Birthday, Comment, Daddyhood, Emotion, Family, Friendship, Jill, Love, Loyalty, Otis, Paul, Shelly

I know I’m on holiday and there should be no posts this week, but today – like yesterday – is a moment that needs to be celebrated, even if I’m not around.

June.

1970.

2 amazing things happened.

The first was I was born … hahahaha.

But the second occurred 4 days later, when Paul Hill popped out.

Though some of you in Nottingham will know him as the Frothy Coffee Man.

Since that day, we’ve basically been inseparable.

From discovering we lived on the same street – at least initially – to going through every school class together, every drama and hardship together and every exciting adventure together.

From kindergarten to college … divorce to death … mortgage to marriage … we’ve always been together.

Always.

And now my parents have passed away, he is the person I’ve known – and who has known me – the longest my life and that might be part of the reason why I genuinely regard him as family.

Hell, I haven’t bought a full page ad in a newspaper for anybody else … and that includes my wife and son!

I don’t know what it was, but we just clicked from the second we met.

A bond that has remained to this day.

And I genuinely mean a bond.

Even when I spent 25 years away from the UK, Paul was always my best mate.

We could go a month without talking – or a year without seeing each other – but the moment we were back together, whether in the flesh or on the phone, it was there.

The bond.

Solid as all fuck.

Like no time had been between us.

Now if you ask my wife, there is one thing that defines this … our immaturity.

You see, while life has changed for both of us, when we’re together, we return to being cheeky, mischievous 10 year olds.

OK, some of that is because Paul has done some momentously stupid things that makes me cry with laughter … and some of it might be that we have a lifetime of memories and experiences we’ve built up … but generally, when we’re together, we get younger.

Or more precisely, act younger.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am that our wives put up with it.

Just like I can’t tell you how happy I am our wives adore each other.

But there’s something even better than that, and that’s how Otis talks about his odd-parents.

Having my son see my oldest friend and his wife as part of his family is such an amazing feeling.

Maybe part of this is because Paul and Shelly don’t have kids of their own …

Maybe part of this is because Otis has spent so much time with them …

Maybe part of this is because Paul acts younger than Otis …

But whatever the reason, I am so happy he see’s ‘Uncle Paul and Auntie Shelly’ as being important in his life because I want all of them to know how important they are in ours.

To reach 50 with my best friend is a wonderful thing.

I would love to just sit down and talk about all the things we can remember together.

And while I could do that today – when I go to see him – it would take a long time.

But there are some things that stand out to me …

From him ALWAYS picking me as the ‘dog’ in the song ‘Old McDonald’ … so all the kids in kindergarten would smack me on the head.

To the time he came back from a family trip to Hong Kong with the first digital watch I’d ever seen with a calculator in it.

When we bumped into each other in LAX, not knowing our wives had spent 6 months secretly planning a trip for us all to go to Vegas and renew our vows with an Elvis impersonator.

That year he came back from the school 6 week holidays about 10 feet taller than when he left.

When we stayed up all night in Sheffield so we could get to the front of the stadium to see Queen – only to learn they weren’t coming and we got Five Star instead.

To Mr One Eye, Round Table Christmas Tree, shoes on the wrong feet, the girls at Glens, BMX petition, the ‘Jessops’ mirror, Duchess, the ‘Denmark’ incident, wheelie competitions, a coach reversing up his parents driveway at midnight, Rock City on Friday night, Bangkok Shakes tours, sawing my finger off, his insanely large appendage, Passport to Pornland …. he has been involved or connected to every single event in my life.

Good. Bad. Happy. Sad. Big. Small. Fun. Stupid.

And yet in all this time together, we have only ever had one falling out.

One!

And all I can remember is that it was about a local radio DJ who had committed murder.

God knows what we disagreed on but all I know is we were waiting for the number 45 bus to take us into town from Greythorn Drive … we had an argument … and I walked off in a huff.

I think I rang him the next day in tears to apologise and he was like, “what are you apologising for?”.

And that’s him.

Kind. Generous. Stupid. Lovely.

The reality is, Paul and I have a friendship based on enjoying life rather than worrying about it.

That doesn’t mean we are immune from pressure, troubles and hardship.

We both have had – and will have – situations that have been challenging and devastating to us. And when they happen, we are there for each other. But when I think of my relationship with Paul, I think of happiness.

That I still think that 50 years down the line is both incredible and testimony to his character.

I am proud of who he is.

I am proud of what he’s doing..

I am proud I get to call him my best mate.

Happy birthday beautiful.

Can’t wait to see you.

Here’s to the next 10.

Rx

_________________________________________________________________________________

Oh hang on, I’ve forgotten the best part.

As you know I’m a sentimental fart.

When Paul turned 40, I wanted to get him something that would show him how much I adored him and so – as I mentioned earlier in this post – I bought a full page ad in the Nottingham Evening Post newspaper.

The ad is the picture showing Paul at different stages of his ‘development’.

What’s funny is the paper then interviewed me to find out more about my ridiculousness gift and for some reason, they kept referring to Shelly – his wife – as ‘second wife, Shelly’.

They even printed it!

Fortunately she took it in good humour, which is handy as I then bought her mugs and tea towels with it proudly emblazoned on them.

But 50 is a whole different age …

So while I wanted to get Paul something that celebrated his birthday milestone and showed how much I love him … I wanted it to be more subtle, more respectable, more in keeping with people of our age.

So I got him this … I hope he like it, it took me an age to edit it all together

Happy birthday big fella.

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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.



If A Lot Can Happen In 24 Hours, Imagine What Can Happen In A Year …

So it’s September.

SEPTEMBER.

What the hell …

That means, in a few days, it’s been a year since I moved back to England.

And in a month, a year since I joined R/GA.

A YEAR!

I have to be honest, I find it amazing how quick that time has passed.

New job.

New house.

New car.

New life.

It has been a lot and I am so happy and grateful for it.

It’s pretty obvious I didn’t really enjoy my time in LA.

I liked an incredible amount of people there and Manhattan Beach will – without doubt – be the most beautiful place I’ll ever live, but there was stuff there I found challenging, stuff that went against who I am. That said, I’m very glad I did it and incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have done it, but I must admit I’m a happier person now I’m out of it.

That said, England still doesn’t feel like ‘home’.

It feels familiar … it feels nice … but having lived in so many countries over so many years, home for me is ultimately where Jill, Otis and Rosie are as opposed to a particular place, city or country.

In fact, I would say if I was made to choose a place where I feel I most ‘belong’, I would say Shanghai, that’s how much I love and loved that place.

That said, I’m incredibly excited we have just bought our first proper family home and I love being so close to my best friend – and Otis’ odd parents – Paul and Shelly, so while the country is acting in ways that are downright madness, I can honestly say I am in a happier, healthier place than I was a year ago and for that, I am grateful to everyone and everything that got me here.

Happy Monday.



Here We Go …

So here we are, the last month of 2018, and what a year it has been for me.

Started out in the sunny life that is Los Angeles and end it in the rainy life that is London.

From Deutsch to R/GA.

From Audi’s to the Tube.

From LA Din Tai Fung to the new London Din Tai Fung.

[Let’s be honest, I’d never of come if they weren’t here]

But I’m happy – very happy.

Sure, there’s a bunch of things I miss, but apart from the fact many of them will remain in my life for ever, the rest I can look back on as experiences I am fortunate to have had so I’m grateful I got to have them rather than sad I’ve lost them.

I know, who am I?

But all that is for a an even more boring post sometime in the next few weeks, so I’ll end this far-too-positive post with one of my new favorite songs, ‘Love Can Only Heal’, by Altered Bridge and the Slash band, Myles Kennedy.

I know you will think it’s bollocks – but apart from the fact that means you’re all a bunch of musical heathens who can’t appreciate the brilliance of a melancholy melody that’s orchestrated with a slowly building pulse of drama – you’re forgetting the alternative would be suggesting you listen to Queen.

Suddenly not so bad it is?

And it gets better … because for reasons that make no sense whatsoever, I’m going to be on my way to the US again by the time you read this. Which means you’re free from my blog rubbish till Thursday and given the following week is the final week of blog posts from me for 2018, you are exactly 7 posts away from ending the year on a positive.

If that doesn’t make you enjoy today, then nothing will.

Happy Monday.



One Of The Best Things In The World Was Born This Day In 1976 …

I’m writing this from Berlin where it is already the 15th June.

This is important because today and tomorrow are the birthday’s of 2 of the most important people in my life.

My beloved wife, Jill.

My beloved best mate, Paul.

While I’m sure they’re happy I’m in Europe on their special day, I know I cannot imagine my life with either of them not in it, which is why I want to mark the occasion with this post.

[Which is also cheaper than a present, despite the fact I’m sure being away from them on their birthdays is the best present of all]

Paul has been there since 4 days after I was born.

Causing me trouble, mischief and immense amounts of laughter.

Literally pretty much every memory I have in my life involves him.

Every. Single. One.

From first days at pre-school, school and college.

Concerts, booze and accidents.

Girls, games and gigs.

You name it, we have shared – and been there for each other – at every significant high and low in life.

Whether that’s being a shoulder to cry on or a person to point at and laugh ourselves stupid at.

Plus he is the only other person I knew when I was growing up that had a Philips G7000.

Paul is, quite simply, someone I absolutely and wholeheartedly regard as family.

Truly.

I am a better and happier person for him [and the wonderful Shelly] being in my life.

So to my dear, wonderful idiot of a friend, I wish you an amazingly brilliant and immature birthday tomorrow. May it be filled to the brim with immaturity and stupidity, which – let’s be honest – we both know it will.

And then there’s my Jilly.

My wonderful, kind, considerate, beautiful, funny, smart Jilly.

What she is doing with me is anyone’s guess.

From the moment I met her 14 years ago, she has been the one.

More than that, she has been my support system … holding my hand and giving encouraging words of support as we have embarked on a ridiculous journey together.

Different countries. Different challenges. Different adventures.

She’s never complained.

Never demanded anything.

She’s embraced every situation and made it something we can look back on with happiness.

Even those points where I was convinced I’d led us astray, she has backed us to come out the other side and we have.

She is insanely talented, creative and just plain wonderful.

And while everyone who meets her recognises how special she is, they often misunderstand one thing.

She is strong.

Stronger than most people I know.

Not just because she puts up with me, but because there’s not many people who would move countries to be with someone they had only met a 6 weeks earlier.

But she did.

Because she felt it was worth it.

Which means she felt I was worth it … which is utterly incredible.

I’ve written before about her unbelievable levels of compassion, support and love.

How it took me some time to come to terms with the fact I had met someone who wanted to take away any pain or troubles I had in my life.

Not just say it, but actually want to do it.

And she did and does … whether it’s the way she gently consoled me as I tried to deal with the tragic loss of my Mum or simply being the person I turn to when I feel lost or unsettled.

As much as I always felt my life was pretty great, things became infinitely better when Jill came onto the scene.

Then she raised the game by giving birth to our beloved Otis.

I always knew Jill was going to be an amazing Mum, but she does it in ways that continues to inspire and blow my mind at the same time.

The way she focuses on what he needs not what others say he should need.

The way she is teaching him to be a good person, not just a good boy.

The way she fiercely protects who he is when others are quick to judge.

And the result is an amazing, cheeky, pink-adoring, kind, chinese-speaking, curious, creative, mischievous, broom-sweeping, loving, Bez-dancing little boy who I literally couldn’t love anymore.

Not a single milligram more.

Which ultimately means I couldn’t love Jill anymore.

Not a single bit.

She makes the best days better and the worst days, less dark … whether that’s a well timed moment of love or an act of Jillyism brilliance.

I don’t know what I have done to deserve her.

I don’t know if I will ever be able to describe how much I love her.

I don’t know if I will ever be able to do enough to show how much I adore her.

But I’ll keep trying, because as much as this was an amazing present … she’s the best gift I could ever receive.

Happy birthday my darling Jilly, I love you so much.

Rx


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