September 2018


This story is best read at the 50odd website, not by daily email (as some do).

Two things.

First, I sometimes hold back from giving my absolute all to what I do. Because of being judged. What might people think? About what I look like or sound like. Or what I am doing. What might they read into it?

Is this holding me and other people back from creating the most timelessly beautiful things I can?

Yes. I need to work on this.

Second, I don’t want to die. But I know I will. I don’t know how to express my fear and concern about this.

Hope There’s Someone

This song, by Antony and The Johnsons is timelessly beautiful. And expresses better than anything I’ve ever said, how I feel about dying. It addresses both of my aforementioned issues, in one.

If this is the first time you’ve heard this artist – I hope you love what they do.

Oh I’m scared of the middle place
Between light and nowhere
I don’t want to be the one
Left in there, left in there

A Stunning Hour:

Here’s a nice story. ‘Worth remembering.

Jack Straus began playing in World Series of Poker events in the early 1970s.

He finished in fourth place in the 1972 Main Event. He won his first bracelet in 1973 in the $3,000 Deuce to Seven Draw event and also finished in third place in the Main Event that year. He won the 1982 World Series of Poker Main Event, earning $520,000 and a second WSOP bracelet. His appearances at the final table of the Main Event in 1972, 1973, and 1982 put him in a small elite group players to have made the final table three or more times.


1982 World Series Of Poker Main Event

Famously, Straus’s 1982 win was a comeback after being down to a single $500 chip, supposedly the origin of the common tournament poker aphorism: “a chip and a chair.”

Although accounts vary, the most common story is that he pushed his chips into the pot, was called and lost the hand. Straus had thought he was eliminated from the tournament, but when he got up, he discovered he had one chip left under a napkin on the table.

Because he did not declare himself all-in, the tournament directors allowed him to continue playing.

With one chip.

Still In the Game

Straus, from this single chip, went on to win $520,000 in 1982.

Today, that’s worth $1,400,000.

At Always wear Red we created 100 Limited Edition Poker chips to commemorate this. As a reminder to us all. Take a look at  the photo, above.

So long as we are still here, we can do amazing things.

We’re Still in the Game.

I am not particularly well read, political or at all religious.

Salman Rushdie was, to me, nothing more than that chap that caused bother writing ‘The Satanic Verses’.

Or something.

But one thing that I did read from him, was about ‘Endism’.


I don’t know whether Salman Rushdie invented the concept or picked it up from elsewhere and simply quoted it. But I do remember, very clearly, the sentiment of his narrative. Even though it was over 20 years ago that I first read it.

In fact, I clipped the original quote (which I have now lost) from a newspaper and pinned it next to whatever desk I sat at, for over 10 years. The newspaper cutting turned coffee brown because I had it for so long.

Anyhow, Salman commented that we all worry far too much about things ending and beginning. He suggested that, in fact, we are almost always in the middle of things, not at the beginning or the end at all.

He wanted us to think less about things starting or ending because (this is what I read into it, anyway) these are the stress points. The parts that cause most worry and concern.

Getting on the bike for the first time and wobbling. Tricky.

Stopping and getting off the bike at the bottom of the hill as the wall or the edge of the cliff is approaching. Tricky.

The bit where you are coasting down the hill – that’s cool!

The Middle

There is something in this.

Let’s simply define Endism as overly focusing on when things start or end. Forgetting that we are in fact simply in the middle of hundreds and hundreds of things.

So let’s enjoy them. All those lovely other things that are happening right now.

There. I feel better already.

If you’re a guy aged 40 or above, take a look at

It’s run by a chap I know called David Evans. David champions quality British makers. Here is a link to his spreadsheet. Always Wear Red are on the list.

David is great for other reasons, too.

David looks at style for the older guy. Personally, I am not a fan of fashion where it is patronising or controlling – telling me what to wear. Always Wear Red customers wear what they want to wear.

But the way David does it is to, somehow, simply present cool options. Sensibly, simply and well.

Grey Fox Blog also knows what it is for.

This may seem like a strange thing too say but what I mean is that David understands the needs he is fulfilling.

Much of the fashion industry ignores the older guy, even though he is likely to have more money, more self awareness and – because he is less inclined to be worried about what people think of him – a more adventurous approach to style too.

So there you go. Grey Fox Blog. Spread the word.

Image: David Evans, Grey Fox Blog, featuring in The Rake Issue 56 March 2018.

So what did you do today?

One day last week I was with John Miles in the best pub in the North East of England, The Black Horse in East Boldon.

He was telling me about a song he wrote, called Music (was my first love). In the video you can link to from the 50odd website John is playing it to about 150,000 people in (I think) Germany.

He wrote it in 40 minutes. In a hotel room. The guy he normally wrote songs with was in the car outside. That’s bugged him a bit ever since, apparently.


John was telling me about the first time he met Tina Turner. Before she eventually chose him to be his Director of Music…


… And how Elton John stormed out of one practice session because Tina asked John to show Elton how to play one of her songs ‘properly’.

Elton John didn’t like that.

Suzanne and Seal

When I met John last week  he was resting for a week or two before buzzing off to play in Europe with Suzanne Vega and Seal and a few others, I think.


I was sat listening to such an incredible and friendly and humble and brilliant man for two reasons:

  1. I’ve created a project for my Always Wear Red brand called PIONEERS. It celebrates what I think are the most pioneering people in the North of England. John lives near East Boldon (just outside of Newcastle upon Tyne, England). AWR customers are pioneering you see, confident people or people that value confidence highly, so that’s the connection.
  2. I asked John if we could take his picture.

That was it.

I suppose I’m writing this because, if ever you find yourself stuck having shitty days, there is something you can do about it.

If you want to that is.

Make better ones.

This is something I find hard to fathom or deal with.

In earlier parts of our lives, very little is perfect. But it doesn’t matter for three reasons:

  1. We’re young. There’s a degree of built-in ‘Can’t be bothered-ness‘ to youth because we’re busy being young. Trying things for the first time. Working out who we are.
  2. There’s time to chase perfect later.
  3. For most people and most circumstances, everything can be mended or bettered with a little application and focus. Everything is (or seems) fixable.

Now I am older, things are starting to happen that mean perfect is impossible to achieve any more.

Even though lots of things are getting better. The baby, togetherness, adventure, new friends.


This year, Lisa’s mum died.

The photograph with this story at the 50odd website is Izobel with her granny a few days before granny died.

So what do we do now?

There is a shadow that won’t go away. No matter what we do. A blemish. A scar. An empty space.

An imperfection than can never be removed or repaired for as long as we live.

If our life were a jigsaw there is one piece missing.

This is awkward. Unsettling. Sad.


I guess all I can do is accept that imperfect is OK. This or something like this was always going to happen.

I’ll never accept that things can’t be better, of course. Much better.

But perfect is gone.

So what about you?

What do you do about this?

Do we have to settle for ‘better’, now there is no ‘perfect’ to aim for?

On Saturday I:

  • Woke up and kissed Izobel.
  • Buzzed out for an hour, came back and Izobel ran from the back of the house to the front of the house and jumped at me.
  • Taught Izobel to wee in a potty. Then we both looked at the wee.  And cheered.
  • Went supermarket shopping with £20 as money is tighter than it was.
  • Bought a second hand slide for Izobel for £20 as money’s not that tight.
  • Polished the slide with Pledge to humorous effect.
  • Relocated to the second floor of the house to work on my laptop. Izobel wanted to jump on the bed, watch “Inside Out”, play on her slide and eat Parma Violets all at the same time. No work happened.
  • Watched TV with Izobel after clearing up the mess she’s made over two floors of the house.
  • Match of The Day. With Izobel (snoring).

How come the days I do nothing are the days I do everything?

The Jurassic Period, which we’ve all heard of, lasted 54,100,000 years.

The Triassic Period, which I’d not heard of, occurred just before the Jurassic Period and lasted 52,000,000 years.

The Cretaceous Period (never heard of it either) occurred just after the Jurassic Period and lasted even longer. 79,000,000 years.

I don’t care too much about those periods really. I’m not a palaeontologist (yes, I’ve been at Google and have probably still got some of that wrong).

The Michael Owen Period

The Michael Owen Period is occurring right now.

It’s been happening for about 50 years and will last for around 80 years.

I do care very much about this period.

All 80 years of it. Eighty.

Not 54,000,000 (54 million) or 52,000,000 (52 million) or 79,000.000 (79 million).


If I stay healthy.

The “You Period”?

It’ll last about the same.


I just wanted to point out that when we’re walking around museums and watching Steven Spielberg films with our children – and referring to The Jurassic Period by name – what we are really talking about is this…

A period of time 145,000,000 years ago that lasted for 54,100,000 years.

But we rarely explore the idea of a “You Period“…

Now. 80 years.

God; we’re here for a short amount of time aren’t we?

Let’s be more conscious of our time here.

The “You Period“.

We talk about the Jurassic Period by name and it means nothing to us really.

But we so rarely talk about or even think about the “You Period”.

And that means everything.


It is all we have.

80 years. About 1,000 months. 30,000 days. About 720,000 hours (and we’re awake for only about 500,000 of them, sleeping for the equivalent of 220,000 days).

So there are about 11,000 days left before the Michael Owen Period is over.

For good.


I am not sure exactly what I’ll do with my 11,000 remaining days.

But these figures focus me. I hope they focus you too.

One thing’s for sure. If I want to do something – I will.

And I intend to have as much fun as possible.

Image: The absolute living legend that is Mr. Bingo.

You know those annoying people that seem to be good at everything.

Don’t you just hate them?

But don’t you want to be a little bit like them, too?

Well – I think that you can.


These people are not good at everything. I think they just try lots of different things. And, mostly, we remember the ones they were good at.

David Bowie will, in my mind and in the mind of millions of others too, go down in history as a genius.

His music, his characters, his film roles, his quips and wit in interviews, his sense of style.

All great.

His Laughing Gnome was not so great though. And his acting with Bing Crosby at the start of The Little Drummer Boy was a bit weird.

A genius nonetheless.

Ricky Gervais has had hits and misses. James Corden is a hero to some and downright annoying to others.

But the reason I mention these examples is because they have all done good and bad things. Things that people loved and things that people laughed at.

But they kept on going anyway.

Do It For You

Perhaps the key is to do lots of different things for yourself? And to not worry what people might think.

These guys didn’t know they were going to be good at it before they did it.

How are we supposed to know what we’re great at until we try?

They had to give it a go to find out. So I may give one or two new things a go myself, and not worry about being a little ropey at the beginning.

After all – to get to ‘great’, we almost always have to go through ‘OK’ and ‘good’, don’t we?

When I was 30, I talked about retiring at 50.

Or 55.

Or something.

Because other people spoke about it and it felt like a club I should be part of. A badge of honour.

Now I am 50, retiring is the last thing I want to do. What the hell would I do every day?

Probably drink too much, spend too much money and get into trouble.


I have to be productive.

I cannot tell you how much of an unfathomable and unattractive concept retirement is now that I am actually 50.

Stick or Twist

All of that said, as I get older, big decisions are starting to feel even bigger. Because I am more aware that I am going to die. Probably between 1 and 30 years from now.

Lots of decisions feel like ‘Stick or Twist’.

And it’s quite unnerving.


When I was 45 I simplified my life by closing my businesses. I had money in the bank. Enough for me to do not very much for a few years if I wanted to. I chose ‘Stick’ for a moment in time.


I decided to ‘Twist’ two years later. I started a new business in a new world. And invested a chunk of money.


And at 50, it’s going well.

Stick or Twist Again.

As time goes by I am faced with yet more ‘Stick or Twist’ decisions.

I shouldn’t be surprised.

That’s what happens when you run businesses and I’ve ran a few.

Risks, or ‘Twists’, are part of the game.


However all of that said, I am finding that ‘Stick’ is a risk too, as well as Twist.

I’ve never known a ‘me’ that does nothing at all. I am always up to something.

I have almost always chosen ‘Twist’. So if I were to ‘Stick’ that’s just too scary for me. I don’t really understand ‘Stick’.

So, and I have very selfishly written this story for me of course, I now feel a little bit better about choosing ‘Twist’ all those years.