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LOVE & LIFE

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A Lifetime Guarantee is a promise. 

That something will last a lifetime. 

And it either will. 

Or it won’t.

Lifetime Guarantee. 

Here’s what I think you should do with anything you have that claims to have a Lifetime Guarantee…

Kick the shit out of it.

Use it. 

Bruise it.

Wear it… OUT! 

Share it. 

Stretch it. 

Test it.

Push it WAY beyond where you EVER imagined it’d cope. 

Why? 

Because you will get absolutely zero satisfaction, on your deathbed, if you squint across at your pristine leather jacket.

Hanging smartly on your wardrobe door.

With it’s Lifetime Guarantee certificate folded neatly in a pocket.

Then die.

Wear the fucking thing! 

And cook the hell out of that frying pan you have with it’s Lifetime Guarantee. 

Make crazy-beautiful flambéd meals that make your wallpaper, eyebrows and fringe turn dirty brown.

That make your friends scream that you’re fucking bonkers.

And that make the best goddam memories that any frying pan can.

Wear, wear, wear that belt or sweater until they twist and bend and bruise. 

The world’s greatest clothing makers can make clothes for anyone. 

But only you can make the clothing ‘yours’.

The point of a Lifetime Guarantee is NOT to give you the peace of mind that it’ll still be functioning when you die. 

It is a challenge!

WEAR!

IT!

OUT!

Because – and this is the real point of this story – there is only one thing you own that you know with absolute surety, has a lifetime guarantee.

And that’s you.

Now let’s see if we can wear the fucker out!

It is natural to feel sad that you didn’t meet that special someone sooner.

It is natural to feel sad that you didn’t start something, a business or a relationship for example, sooner.

And it is natural to feel sad that you didn’t end something, a business or a relationship for example, sooner.

However, it us unnatural to dwell on this notion so much that – now your time has come – you don’t embrace it or them with all you have.

1,000 Months. 

So in this 1,000 month life of ours, if we discover something or someone we love after lots of our months have been used – surely we should love it or them even more?

Because eventually.

Thank goodness.

They came.

This is a gift for your daughters.

From me.

It is, sadly, not a gift that I can gift to my lovely daughter.

Because I am her dad.

Daughters.

From what I have learned so far, and that is not that much because my daughter Izzy Willow is only 2, there is a very important gift that all daughters should be given.

Especially between the ages of 10 and 25.

It is:

Please – never worry about anyone else’s opinion on what you look like.

Following on from this, the gift includes:

Your difference is your power.

And:

Your beauty, though you don’t realise it yet, really is your above average sized nose – or your below average sized nose. Because real beauty comes from the extraordinary. Not the ordinary. Or the average. This is a theme that will recur throughout your life – in every part of it.

It is also valuable to help daughters understand how bullies work:

Bullies are lonely people. They know they are less good than you. They have to push those that are better than themselves down, because they don’t know how to lift themselves higher. That’s why the worst bullies tend to pick on the best people.

I think most daughters will be 25 by the time they start to realise these things.

And, maybe, 30 by the time they believe it.

For Your Daughters.

And as I said at the beginning, this is a gift from me, for your daughters.

Not my daughter.

Because just like your daughters won’t listen to you, Izobel won’t listen to me.

So if you see my Izobel, please tell her what I said.

(Just don’t tell her it was her dad that said it).

‘Ever feel like you’re living in a sitcom?

This actually happened last Sunday at our house.

At just after midday.

Background:

I write at home on Sunday morning.

A 2 year old Izobel distracted me for a couple of hours which is fine of course.

But it did affect my schedule.

So I was – inside – slightly tense as I went downstairs to make some toast.

And couldn’t find the butter.

Me:

Where’s the butter?

Lisa:

It’s in the fridge.

Me: 

Where?

(I was was conscious of my entirely undeserved, curt, monosyllabic tone with Lisa.

But I didn’t deviate.)

Me: 

I can’t find it!

Lisa (slightly higher pitch but still relaxed):

It’s in the fridge door!

Me (holding up butter):

Is it this one?

Lisa (Still slightly screechy but in control):

Yes! That’s the butter!

Lisa again, this time lower:

Anchor.

Now; I didn’t hear this last word clearly…

I thought she’d said, in her then lowered voice… something else.

I paused for a moment.

But said nothing.

And after I had buttered my toast I wandered back upstairs.

Smiling and reflecting on how something so trivial could have escalated, just because Lisa mentioned the brand name of the butter.

At least – I think that’s what she said.

I am not sure that I’ll do this now she’s here. 

But I had always imagined that when I had a child I would paint a continuous line around their bedroom wall.

On the line I’d write the following years:

  • 1600
  • 1700
  • 1800
  • 1900
  • 2000
  • 2100
  • 2200

This would allow me to highlight, in words, world wars.

World cup wins.

And with lines, I could highlight the life and death of Charles Darwin, Salvador Dali, David Bowie.

And me.

And Lisa.

And Lisa’s mum who is no longer here.

And Izobel’s 100 years, too.

The Visit.

It’s unlikely that I’ll do this.

Today, it feels like a blunt tool.

Although the principle – to show Izobel that this life of ours is merely a visit – is a sound one.

Why would I want to do this?

It’s simple really…

Whenever I visit somewhere – a holiday venue, a new city or town – I ask myself a question.

It is:

What will I do when I get there?

I think this is a good question for all of us to ask about this visit.

The most important visit of all.

I am spending some of my 50th year wishing I was 30 again.

So this week, I thought I’d address this properly.

Over a cup of coffee.

I am a determined kind of guy so I concentrated.

And I have actually worked out how to do it.

The Plan. 

Here’s my plan.

All I have to do to feel 30 again (I can’t ‘be’ 30 again, but this is as close as I can get) is the following:

  • Think about all 50 year olds as ‘nearly dead people’ with ‘buy milk’ as the most important thing they have to do today.
  • When I go to the pub, go out early and stay out until closing time.
  • Drink much more alcohol.
  • Go out to the pub much more often.
  • Eat in no pattern at all, and giving no consideration to what I am actually eating.
  • Sleep on the settee fully clothed a few times a week.
  • Don’t change  the bed for 3 months.
  • Put myself first in most circumstances and don’t think about the world after I’ve gone.
  • Go to the cashpoint and get out as much money as possible in one go. Then cheer, smile and pat the shoulder of the stranger behind me as I wandered off, notes in hand.

30 at 50

But it’s rubbish idea.

I suppose it’s called, ‘behaving like I’m 30 when I’m 50’.

That’s different to ‘behaving like I’m 30 when I’m 30’.

50

Instead, I am going to work out how to be an excellent 50 year old.

Because, in theory at least, the age I do best at 50 –  is 50.

I have 5 months left.

So I’d better hurry up.

The best advice I’ve given myself in ages.

Is to be a tourist in my own city.

And better still – in my own life.

Tourists.

I was walking home one night last week along Newcastle Quayside.

It was about 7.30pm so it was just dark.

Lights on bridges, buildings and landmarks glowed twice.

The second time in the mirror of the River Tyne.

As I walked, I dodged quite a few smiling and laughing people taking pictures of each other.

They really did wonder at the architecture and the bridges.

But also in the street furniture, the neon signs, the laughing hoards and the cobbles.

These are the big things, and the little things, that make up my home.

I forget that where I live, and where we all live to varying degrees, is really great.

We’re lucky.

So I continued to imagine my hometown as a tourist would, just for a moment.

And smiled.

Home.

And when I arrived home 20 minutes later I once again arrived a place that could be bigger and could be better.

We could own a boat for example, sat bobbing up and down on the marina over which our house looks.

But we don’t.

Yet we could also own a house that didn’t overlook a marina.

Perspective.

I suppose it’s all about perspective.

There are many things I want.

But there are many things I have, too.

Some I don’t even notice.

They’re too familiar.

Unless I think like a tourist of course.

And just then, as Izobel runs over to me and my own front door closed behind me.

I imagined I was watching Izobel and I cuddling, as a tourist in my own life.

And I am reminded how lucky I am.

As I was paying for my petrol this week I looked down at the little machine I’d popped my card into.

The screen was asking me if I wanted to add 25p to the total bill for a charity.

I stared at the screen.

I could tell the man behind the counter was staring at me.

So I stared up at him.

Then I stared back down at the screen.

And pressed, ‘no’.

Charity.

I have a love/hate relationship with charity.

I suppose I dislike the fact that they have to exist in the first place.

But I understand that they do.

The passion of those that love the cause pulls against the inadequacies or indifference of whoever or whatever should be helping out.

Charity fills the gap.

Guilt. 

I do feel guilty sometimes though.

For not supporting, well, everything.

But that just can’t be done.

By me or anyone.

However I do also get annoyed by the fact that, sometimes, when I do support something – there is follow up. 

I don’t like the follow-up.

The systems they’ve developed to ask me, who has given money once, for more money.

Again, I understand it.

But I don’t like it.

And I actually think that it works against the ultimate goal of increasing donations over time.

OXFAM. 

I popped a couple of quid into an OXFAM bucket a wee while ago.

And gave them my mobile number so they could text me something, or so I could text them something.

I can’t remember.

But I do remember them calling me one night at 7pm about a week later to chat to me about helping out in some other way.

I really didn’t like that.

Their short term grabbery has scuppered any chance of my long term sympathy for their cause.

There are other charities I can move to.

Unless they do the same of course.

And if they do, I’ll move again.

Better way.

What’s a better way?

I’m not sure.

Telling the story well.

Building the brand so I understand the change they are making.

Making me feel part of something.

Clarity about exactly where the money goes to.

All these things help I suppose.

And even though half of the world’s wealth is owned by just 1% of the world’s population, they – whoever they are – don’t seem to be doing that much.

So in the meantime, let’s all chose a charity or two and help out where we can.

Just until they start calling us at home in the evening, asking us for more money, when we’re relaxing with our families.

If they do that – they can sod off.

I overheard this conversation a few days ago.

I imagined a much younger me listening to the same conversation and hearing it totally differently.

It was between two guys in their (I think) early 20’s.

It went something like this:

First guy:

So, Saturday. ‘We out?

Second guy:

Nah I can’t. I’ve got my daughter with me all weekend.

First guy:

Aw can’t you get someone to look after her for the night?

Second guy

“I’ve no idea.”

First guy:

Well have you tried?

Second guy:

Nah.

First guy:

Well; why not?

Second guy:

“Because I’d rather be with her than you.”

Interesting.

This was really interesting for me.

Because I’ve been the first guy.

And I’ve been the second guy.

I found it interesting how these two guys saw the world so differently.

Yet were still friends.

Both focused on their own realities and priorities.

But what struck me most was the unflinching language from the second guy.

His surety.

I liked that.

He was not going to be pressured.

And his friend just knew it.

He was a young man that knew his own mind and what he wanted.

And, from what I saw and heard in the five minutes I was earwigging, he had the makings of a good dad too.

Long may it last.

Buying a dog at 50 is different than buying a dog earlier in life.

Because when you’re older, you have to check how long that particular dog might live.

So you don’t die and leave it wandering around on its own.

Older.

There are many things that I have started doing as I’ve got older.

And doing the following (some might say) morbid (but sometimes sensible and necessary) mathematical sums is one of them.

If I live for 1,000 months (I am 606 months old now) I have 394 months to go.

That’s just under 33 years.

About 1,694 weeks.

About 11,858 days.

8 world cups.

33 Christmas days.

And about 2 dogs.

Life.

It doesn’t sound like a lot does it?

But – and this is the truth of course – it never was a lot.

Yes, 8 Wold Cups until death sounds shit.

But from the day I or you were born we were only ever going to live long enough to see 20 World Cups.

So why the surprised face?

Life is a mere visit.

That’s why it’s important to make it count.

PS. A lot of this is to do with perspective.

I have about a quarter of a million hours left.

‘250,000 hours’ sounds better than ‘2 dogs’.

So that’s the story I’ll tell myself.