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LOVE & LIFE

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Mending things is good.

But things are getting cheaper.

Time is getting shorter.

And mending skills are undervalued.

So we throw things away.

Kintsugi

Kintsugi is a Japanese art form in which breaks and repairs are treated as part of the object’s history.

Broken ceramics are carefully mended by artisans with a lacquer resin mixed with powdered gold, silver or platinum.

The repairs are visible — and beautiful.

Kintsugi means “golden joinery” in Japanese.

In. Not Out.

I think valuable things wear in.

Not out.

Clothing I mean mainly.

But other things too.

I tend to buy less and buy better.

I know what I like so I don’t really want loads of things.

Just a few, excellent things!

And if they bend or break or bruise I like repairing them or having them repaired.

In fact, at Always Wear Red we have a Forever Repair Service.

AWR customers choose to have black knitted pieces repaired with black thread, or red thread.

Visible mend.

Or invisible mend.

In time, I’ll let you know what people plump for.

And in the meantime I hope that you, with regards to clothing, plump for a “Wear It, Share it, Repair it”  approach.

It must be the right thing to do.

It rhymes.

Here are a couple of suggestions.

The first suggestion is a bit strange.

The second is stranger still.

But both are worth doing.

Why?

Because today or in a few days, you can do these things.

There will come a day when you can’t.

Suggestion 1

Ask someone you love and that loves you to stop what they’re doing, switch off and look you in the eye.

Then ask that someone you love and that loves you, this question:

Would you like to come on an adventure?

Then watch their face…

Surprise?

Happiness?

Joy?

Suspicion?

And would they trust you?

Before you ask, you will have already thought about what they would really like to do.

With you.

A meal?

A hotel?

Both?

Something else?

But I think it is important to phrase the question like this:

Would you like to come on an adventure?

And why should you do it?

Because today, or in a few days, you can.

There will come a day when you can’t.

Suggestion 2

The next time you are alone at home, stand in front of a mirror and ask yourself a question.

Out loud.

Would you like to come on an adventure?

Then pause.

And think.

And watch your own face.

Would you trust you?

Adventure.

I hope you smile when you ask yourself this.

And that you feel a little excited.

And that you start to imagine.

And to create.

And to plan.

Why should you do it?

Because today, or in a few days, you can.

And there will come a day when you can’t.

Life is little.

I am writing a Fuckit List. 

It’s like a Bucket List but more immediately gratifying.

A Bucket List – a list of things you think you should do before you die – is good because it may focus you to do more things in this very short, 1,000 month life of ours.

But a Bucket List takes time and planning and the real gratification only comes when you actually do the things you’ve written.

A Fuckit List is quite different.

Fuckit list.

A Fuckit List is a list of all the things you’re not going to do before you die.

Either because you can’t be arsed or because you’ve realised that the only reason you thought you wanted to do them in the first place was because some other person thought you should.

You never really wanted to do them anyway.

Anyhow, here’s my Fuckit List.

It is work in progress:

FUCKIT LIST. MICHAEL OWEN. VERSION 1.1.

  • Bunjee Jump. Stupid.
  • Parachute jump. Stupid.
  • Swimming with Sharks or Dolphins. It’s too deep. Any big creature could just swim up and get you.
  • Tightrope Walking. Stupid.
  • Understanding Quadratic Equations. Why?
  • Learning to ride a Unicycle. Why?
  • Skateboarding. Looks like it can hurt if you fall off.
  • Ski-jump. Stupid.
  • Speak another language fluently. I concede that this is because of lack of application.
  • Eat Sushi. Texture of raw fish is too slimy. And it can make you poorly.
  • Eat Steak Tartare. See above.
  • Being World Snooker Champion. Too much practicing. I’d get bored.
  • Being World Darts Champion. See above.
  • Poaching wild animals or indeed any animal. Because that would make me a bastard.
  • Vote UKIP. See above.

Work in progress, as I say.

It was love at first sight.

The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him.

The only man that I have ever fell in love with at first sight was Frank Cherry.

I was about 14 and he was about 60 when he married my grandma I suppose.

He was very lined.

And very kind.

And as my grandma’s first husband Harry had been dead for a few years – all was well.

Men. 

At that time, the two most influential men in my life were my dad and my stepdad.

The first most influential man in my life, my dad, wasn’t in my life.

Because when I was 11, not paying maintenance payments was a more attractive proposition for him than being with me.

And my stepdad was, around that time and for all of his life from memory, being abusive.

The Gentleman.

My love for Frank was, initially then, because of the juxtaposition.

I had never experienced a selfless man this close up.

A patient man.

His eyes listened to me like no mans eyes ever had.

And, most notably, he seemed to really enjoy making the lives of the women around him better.

I had only ever seen the opposite.

But this early love grew into a different, more independently cultivated love because of something else.

Consistency.

Frank’s mask never slipped.

Because – and this was new to me – there was no mask.

He was sincere.

He made me feel respected and listened to when I was with him.

And he made me feel important and that I mattered when I wasn’t.

He had given me something to hold on to.

Hope, I think.

My coward of a stepdad didn’t like him of course.

But he doesn’t matter.

Joseph Heller

Joseph Heller said he found a way to start writing Catch-22 when he heard in his head a version of the first lines.

Heller’s lines are the first two lines of this short tale you’re reading now.

I first found a way to start living as a young man when I met Frank.

And all he did was to listen to me.

Never mould me or put me down.

He just listened and smiled.

He was the first gentleman I ever met.

Now I am in my 50’s, and I am older, I have more to remember. 

This is worth remembering.

I remembered to remember what I have to remember at a bus stop in the middle of Newcastle last week.

One evening at about 6 o’clock.

I chose a busy bus stop up near Haymarket, because I knew there’d be a lot of people milling about.

Living their lives as I went about living mine.

Then I did this…

Cantona.

Do you remember when Cantona scored that goal against Sunderland in 1996?

The video is at the end of this story at 50odd.co.uk if you don’t remember.

Well, I stood like he did after he’d scored.

Looking around for a few seconds.

Taking it all in.

Thinking what a privilege it is to be here.

Sad that it’d soon be over.

But remembering to love the fact that I am here today.

That my life is filled with good people, family, possibility and opportunity.

It is worth remembering – that all of this is worth remembering.

 

Who would you gift immortality to?

And how would you decide?

For me, I was gutted when Terry Wogan died.

So I’d give it to him.

Because (I think) he was kind.

And I would have liked him to have been my dad.

And George Michael.

Because I think his best work was yet to come.

And David Bowie because I loved his surprises.

And he was a visionary.

(Bowie got old.

His ideas didn’t.)

And David Attenborough because I think that he is caring and true.

And Anthony Bourdain because he was raw.

He was just – well – himself.

Authentic.

Kind. Creative. Authentic. Brave.

Basically (and I have just worked this out) I would give the gift of immortality to anyone that scored highly in my little world in the areas of kindness, creativity, authenticity and bravery.

So, imposing my thinking on the rest of the world (as I do), in order to get on other people’s immortality list, I am going to be as kind, creative, authentic and brave as I possibly can.

From today.

Thank you.

What are you most frightened of?

Regret?

Or change?

Regret versus Change.

I think the answer to this conundrum is easier than we at first may think.

If we think short term, we are more likely to fear change than regret.

Because change is right in front of us.

If we think long term, we are more likely to fear regret than change.

Because of things that we know we will think about as we get older.

Like doing what we were born to do.

And legacy.

Two Things.

Here are two things to help us to embrace change and minimise the potential for regret.

  1. Remember that you are going to live for about 1,000 months only.
  2. Think about the things you can no longer do because of the age you are now.

With number 1. – there is little we can do about this.

Stop smoking, drink less, eat better, run around more etc. yes.

But whatever you do you are going to die at around 80 years old.

Man or woman.

Give or take 10 or 20 years.

With number 2, think about it, there are not that many things you cannot do any more actually.

No matter how old you are.

If you get your mindset right.

Endnote

There is no rewind button.

So if you’re going to do it, you should perhaps do it now or soon.

Regret is NOT inevitable .

Change however, is.

I wonder if someone will come and rescue me?

I really do wonder this sometimes.

When I’m feeling down.

Rescue.

Then, I play it through…

If my rescuer did abseil down the side of my house, the soles or his or her boots crashing through my patio doors to rescue me, I’d have to ask him or her to pause for a second.

You see, I don’t want to be rescued from everything.

I’d be selective.

So I’d have to make my rescuer a list.

On a little bit of paper.

Yes; rescue me from boredom.

And bills.

And uncertainty.

(But not all uncertainty.

Because I like some uncertainty).

And don’t rescue me from Lisa and Izobel of course.

I need them.

Life.

Life can be bloody hard.

But I don’t need to be rescued from it.

Naturally, I will occasionally crave ‘the other’.

There will always be an (apparently) better ‘other’ – no matter where am.

So the best tactic is to stay where I am and rescue myself, I think.

One by one, removing the things I don’t like.

And showing more love for the things that I do.

Responsibility.

I don’t want to be rescued.

I just need to find the strength to stop comparing, and take a bit more responsibility sometimes.

To find out how lovely something can be, you have to actually experience it.

Swimming.

Singing live in front of people.

Loving someone.

Allowing someone to love you.

Running your own business.

Having children.

Fostering children.

A friend of mine explored this idea of ‘experience’ with me very recently.

It was David Bradley, who played Billy Casper from Kes.

David stayed with me when he was visiting the North East last week.

Rainbows.

David referenced rainbows.

David asked us to imagine trying to describe a rainbow to someone that had never seen one.

One could take the ‘meteorological phenomenon’ approach.

Dispersion.

Refraction.

Reflection.

Or one could talk about colours and how they hang in the air.

There… but not really there.

Experience. 

In the end, we agreed that no number of words can describe some things.

If you really want to know…

… you have to experience it.