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LOVE & LIFE

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When I was younger, in my teens, I used to pop out to the Video Shop.

It was normally some kind of a cobbled-together concession inside an off license. Or inside a general dealers.

Then ‘Blockbuster’ came along and it all seemed a little more glamorous.

But it was the same thing really.

I was popping out for a film to watch.

True.

I remember, there was one line of text on a VHS box that always caught my eye. It was:

Based on a true story.

And the slightly less convincing (now I’m older I realise this):

Adapted from a true story.

I’m reminded how irresistible this idea is.

Today.

Now, in October 2018, the world is different. But I still think that, deep down, the magnetism of a true story is real.

Two things:

  1. Social Media allows us all, if we want to, to tell lies. To exaggerate or spin.
  2. Authenticity is as valued as it has ever been in business and in life.

For the first time, about 6 months ago, Instagram noticed more traction on their ‘Stories’ than their ‘Feed’.

It is no coincidence that Stories are much more authentic. And Feeds are much more doctored.

Question.

And so I suppose the question I am left with is, is the story that I am telling about my life:

  1. True.
  2. Based on a true story.
  3. Adapted from a true story.

It is very exposing to tell your true story.

But it is also irresistible to others. Because I want to learn about my life from your life. And the reverse applies, too.

And anyhow, if we lie we are not just lying to them out there are we? We are lying to ourselves, too.

So, and this is especially true as we get older, isn’t it about time we all started telling our true story?

That way, we all might stand a slightly better chance of learning from each other. Helping each other.

And all living happily ever after.

I wanted to give you something nice. 

To say thank you for reading 50odd.co.uk.

So I had a good think.

To try and find a gift that was really, really valuable.

The Gift.

Even though I know some of you that read this, I don’t know all of you.

So it was quite hard to think of a gift that you’d all like and all value.

Something that would make every single one of you feel nice.

But I have done it.

Watch.

Please watch this 36 second clip from a 2012 film called ‘Hit and Run’.

This is an entirely unremarkable film by all accounts.

Apart from this 36 seconds.

Because once you’ve watched this 36 seconds you will have received a really valuable gift.

It’s something that, weirdly, far too many of us forget about. We don’t look at it properly. Or calmly. Or lovingly.

If you want it to work really well, imagine that you are saying this to someone you love, or that they are saying it to you.

It’s the gift of…

Today.

I am in my 6th decade. Because:

  • 1-10 was my first decade.
  • 11-20 was my second decade.
  • 21-30 was my third decade.
  • 31-40 was my fourth decade.
  • 41-50 was my fifth decade.
  • 50-60, the decade I am in now (I am 50) is my sixth decade.

To come (maybe):

61-70, my seventh decade.

71-80, my eighth decade.

81-90, my ninth decade.

91-100, my tenth decade.

100-110, my eleventh decade.

Death. 

All of the figures below are approximate because I looked at the UK and America and a couple of other European countries and took an average. And also it is massively influenced by when you were born and how old you are now. As a general rule, the younger you are now, the longer you will live.

15% of men die during or before their fifth decade. 85% of men go on into their 50s.

30% of men die during or before the end of their sixth decade. 70% of men go on into their 60s.

45% of men die during or before the end of their seventh decade. 55% of men go on into their 70s. 

65% of men die during or before the end of their eighth decade. 35% of men go on into their 80s. 

90% of men die during or before the end if their ninth decade. 10% of men go on into their 90s.

Over 99% of men die during or before the end if their tenth decade. Under 1% of men live over 100.

Almost all men die during or before the end if their eleventh decade. Very few men live over 110.

No man has ever lived into a twelfth decade. No man has ever lived over 120.

So What?
If:
  1. You read and accept the above as fact. And you should. Because they are facts.
  2. You build in that almost all the percentages (except the last one) may swing (say) 5% and even 10% either way. And that you might die today.
  3. In the light of knowing these truths, you are not spending every SECOND of your waking life either:
    1. Being the version of you that you really love and want to be, or
    2. Working towards being the version of you that you really love and want to be, or
    3. Helping someone else to become the version of themselves that they really love and want to be…

… you’re an idiot.

You’re welcome.

This is a short post with an important message.

It is:

Stop taking things too seriously.

There is a simple three-step test to work out if you are taking things too seriously.

Here are the three simple steps.

  1. Say, out loud, the thing that you are wondering about. The thing that is making you wonder, “Am I taking things too seriously?”
  2. Judge, accurately and without prejudice, whether you sound like a bit of a dick.
  3. If you do sound like a bit of a dick, stop being a bit of a dick and taking things too seriously.

That’s it.

The Chicken Game

If you look at the image at the head of this little story and find it funny (you will have to be at the 50odd website to see it) – chances are you are not actually a dick and stand a good chance of not taking things too seriously in your future.

And if you don’t find it even a little bit funny then, sorry, I can’t help you.

Have a nice day.

Every morning, when I get to my toothbrush, I find these two tablets.

Each day, I pick them both up and I swallow them.

I am honestly not sure what they are. But they’ve been there for a few months now.

Occasionally, if I forget to take them, the next day the dose is doubled.

So on those days, I am given four.

Trust.

It struck me today that I could be being murdered. Slowly but surely.

Murdered.

But because I trust Lisa I just take the tablets.

However this morning, as I left the bathroom, I looked over at her through slightly squinted eyes.

She looked back.

Nothing.

This cold and terrible act. This frozen blooded monster, killing me slowly. Silently.

Thinking back, I think she gave me a half smile this morning. And then glanced over my shoulder to check the pills had gone.

Then she left the bedroom.

Evil.

What evil is this?

I shall face her tonight. And for anyone reading this, if I don’t write a story ever again, you know who to talk to.

Lisa.

I am glad I am thinking reasonably and rationally about this. And not stirring myself into a panic because of silly self-talk.

I never do that.

And before I go, the front door key is under the green plant pot. THE GREEN ONE.

Just in case anyone needs to get into my house to give me CPR tomorrow morning when SHE, after reading this, accelerates her evil plan.

Thank you you for being there for me.

We just found the most valuable bag of crisps in the world.

Crisp Life.

But first I remember that – way back – crisps were priced at 2p a bag. Space raiders. I was 10(ish) years old.

I remember looking down at the 10p piece in the palm of my left hand and thinking how amazing it was that I could buy 5 bags of crisps with this one coin. I had the (crisp) world – literally – in the palm of my hand.

Also amazing was the fact that the 10p piece, with a debossed lion wearing a crown, almost covered my palm.

Were 10p’s bigger back then? Or was I much smaller?

This is more commonly known as ‘The Wagon Wheel Phenomenon’.

The Wagon Wheel Phenomenon. The effect of an evil plan hatched by the bastards that work in Wagon Wheel Towers. They make Wagon Wheels smaller at the exact same rate that we get bigger, ruthlessly hammering home the fact that that childhood is finite.

Teens.

Suddenly, in my very early teens (the late 70’s and early 80’s), a single bag of crisps broke through the 10p barrier.

And with the advent of Phileas Fogg crisps (1982, I was 14), single handedly inventing the ‘adult crisp’ category – my awareness of crisps and their price point was about to change again.

Beautiful advertising and crazy flavours (Punjab Puri etc.) changed everything.

My ‘Crisp Price Index’ went bonkers and we now have £2+ bags of crisps in this crazy world of ours.

Time passes quickly, doesn’t it? No matter how we measure it.

The Most Valuable Bag of Crisps In The World

Anyhow, the reason I am writing this little story is because we are selling Lisa’s mum’s house at the moment.

Because Lisa’s mum died earlier this year.

And in a cupboard in the kitchen Lisa found a small, crinkly, out of date bag of crisps that her mum had bought for Izobel.

It’s a teeny bag. And a bit squashed.

But in the history of crisps (and the history of crisps is of course laid out in it’s entirety in this highly educational story) there has never been a more valuable bag of crisps than these.

It’s because I know what Mary was thinking when she bought them. As she placed them in the cupboard for the next time she saw Izobel.

She will have played through Izobel’s reaction. And imagined her own. And smiled.

The price she put on those moments, and so the price I put on these crisps, is too high to fathom.

I suppose it’s because, in the past, I used to value things because of what other people told me they were worth.

These says – I decide.

I was invited to 10 Downing Street a year or so ago.

A PR type thing by government really. To show that they interact with fledgling businesses from around the UK.

Nevertheless, it was nice to be asked.

Ralf.

Ralf Little came with me. Ralf and I own Always Wear Red together. He’s the chap that was in The Royle Family (Antony) and is becoming an increasingly great actor and writer as his career develops. He is good to have around.

Ralf is super-bright. A former Junior Doctor. Ralf regulary sparred with Jeremy Hunt in front of his 190,000 twitter followers. And commentates on a broad range of issues online to this day.

He’s funny.

The NHS.

Anyhow, on the way to Downing Street, we stopped to chat to some brilliant campaigners for the NHS. We gave them a few pounds and got some stickers. The stickers said (something like) “Jeremy Hunt’s a Bastard”.

The stickers didn’t say that. But I wish they did. The sentiment was similar.

Grow up.

As we left Number 10, people took the opportunity to take photos. Most were proud British citizens, puffing chests out to create images they could show their grandchildren.

So how come a couple of guests thought it’d be funny to take a picture on the doorstep of Number 10 with a sticker saying (something like) “Jeremy’s a Wanker” stuck to their tie?

The stickers didn’t say that. But I wish they did. The sentiment was similar.

Do some people never grow up?

Apparently not.

Double Maths. 

Getting told off at school was a bit embarrassing. Just for a moment though.

Then comes that deep guffawing laugh as you run across the playground with your friends, back to reality.

In case you were wondering, it’s a similar feeling aged 48 when you post a photo like this to 190,000 Twitter followers, a few hundred people comment and laugh after about 5 seconds, and Downing Street’s PR catch up with you after about 10 seconds to ask you to take the picture down.

There was no playground to run across, guffawing.

So we ran across London instead, swinging our satchels and bunking off double maths.

That’s what it felt like to me, anyway.

Don’t grow up. It’s overrated. 

IMAGE: Ralf wearing AWR Red Camo Tie

So, Lisa gets back from the supermarket and texts to let me know she’s OK.

She’s got some ‘treats’ for Izobel (she’s 2) and some ‘treats’ for me too.

Treats.

I pause before texting back to ask what my treats are.

I like Brewdog.

And really adventurous pizzas.

And really great coffee. Maybe Lisa has found some really ‘treaty’ coffee that I can grind and release the flavours from, as I do with my Extract Coffee subscription each month.

Or wine. A £10 bottle of red wine is a treat for us. Especially if it was reduced from £15. We look out for those.

Anyhow, I texted back eventually to ask what my treats were.

I didn’t get a text.

I got a picture. It’s attached to this story at 50odd.co.uk.

Is this really what ‘treats’ look like in your 50’s?

I said thank you.

Then quietly got on with my day.

About 5 years ago, we had the house done. 

Walls knocked down. Extreme stuff. Everything was bashed, moved about, re-skimmed and made right again.

We spent a lot of money.

Pans. 

Towards the end, we had this new space above the cooker. I wanted a very precisely made rail that could be screwed to the wall in 6 places. So it was held firmly. And it had to have 20 S-shaped cast iron hooks too, to hold many pans.

Google helped me to find a small cast iron forger chap. He quoted £150. Away we went.

Money.

The house refurbishment took longer. Cost more. Stressed us more. They always do.

We had to cut back on a few things. But with something like this, once you’re in – you’re in!

Anyhow, pretty much on time and looking pretty good, the pan rail thing arrived. It was wrapped in old newspapers covered in big, back, carbon fingerprints. It was a charming thing. A hand written invoice for £150 clung around the ironwork too.

There was a wooden plinth waiting for it and it fitted.

The Test.

Two days later, I received a text message. It was the iron chap. He asked, in a short and misspelled text message, if we had received the ironwork. And when he’d be paid.

“Two days.” I thought. “It’s only been two fucking days.”

I was being asked similar questions by plasterers, joiners, plumbers, painters and decorators.

I was looking for ways to save money not spend money.

Too busy to send a text back, I hit ‘call’.

A quietly spoken man answered and I thanked him for the rail. He didn’t mention the request for payment but did apologise for the noise in the background.

Cows mooing.

He explained that he was a farmer and that he did a bit of what he had loved to do years before every now and then. Metal forging. To make a bit of extra money for the family.

He then said, unprompted, that if £150 was too much, I could pay him less if I wanted. And he suggested (I think) “something like £100”.

Excellent! I’d been trying to save money right left and centre.

So I thought about this guy, miles away, that I didn’t even know, that I’d never even meet, that had just given me the opportunity to save money. And I had a really excellent rail that was hand made, worked perfectly and was worth £200 at least!

This guy really didn’t understand business. Underpricing product, exposing his vulnerability as a businessman and as a family also.

I seized the opportunity to do what was best for me as a man and my family.

And sent him £200.

Apparently, when groups of children are asked to respond to this, very few put their hand up.

Put your hand up if you like yourself.

What a shame.

And I’d bet if groups of adults were asked the same question, there’d be a similar response. Maybe a few more people would put their hands up. But certainly not everyone.

I wonder why?

For me, it could be guilt.

Guilt

Not walking the dogs enough.

Or being with Lisa enough.

Or being with Izobel enough.

Or doing enough for good causes.

Or working hard enough so I become better.

Or being good enough so I don’t have to work so hard.

Or something else I can just pluck from thin air at a moment’s notice.

Or if not guilt, then comparing.

Comparing

I am not rich enough.

Or successful enough.

Or fit enough.

Or tall enough.

Or good looking enough.

Or a good enough partner.

Or a good enough dad.

Or trendy enough.

Or consistent enough.

Or reliable enough.

Or adventurous enough.

Hands

I wouldn’t put my hand up if asked to think about this.

I think it’s because I am aware, more than anyone, of my shortcomings.

And, for some reason, I’d think about them first if asked to consider this.

So I suppose to fix this situation, and put my hand up, all I have to do is to celebrate the good things about me.

I’d have to not worry about what people thought of me too. Because admitting you like yourself is weird isn’t it?

I don’t know. It’s confusing. It feels weird. Even though I know it shouldn’t.

What Would You Do?

There must be something about timing built into this. Because if today was my dying day, I’d put my hand up.

I’m OK, actually. I do like me.

I’d stocktake ‘me’ differently if I was about to pop my clogs.

Maybe, as I hope I am going to be alive for at least a bit longer, I worry that I am not doing enough?

I’ll work on that…

What would you do?

Would you put your hand up?

Do you like yourself?