November 2018


I met a photographer for the first time today.

‘Nice chap. He’s 55.

We chatted about age because he’d been poorly recently and we contextualised it with how old we both were.

Playing out.

Anyhow, my new friend referenced an old friend. He chatted about how nice a recent reacquaintance had been.

The two guys had known each other all their lives.

So long in fact that, when they were very young – they used to ‘play out’ together.


I like that phrase… ‘playing out’.

It made me feel warm.

(I bet you smile, inside or outside when you say it silently to yourself. Go on. ‘Playing out.’)

I used to play out in the seventies and very early eighties.

Then, in about 1982 when I was 14, ‘playing out’ turned into something else.

Up until then playing really was playing. After 14 there were new agenda.

Girls. Fighting. Muscles. Pubes. Haircuts. Money. Bullying. Cliques. Clothes. Oh, and girls. Did I mention girls?

These Days.

These days, I crave the warmth of ‘playing out’ that had been so spontaneous and wondrous and free-flowing back then.

And, you know what, at 50 I feel more able than ever to get that warmth back.

All I have to do is to think less.

To go out and to be in that moment.

To not worry about what other people think.

To relax.

To forget.

So, if anyone fancies playing out – let me know.

I get my spends at the end of the month.

I’ll buy you a Wagon Wheel.

These two gentlemen are both highly respected for what they do professionally. 

Phil is a Producer / Director type.

Carlo founded and leads a property development brand. And he co-founded The Do Lectures.

Mucking About.

It has however come to my attention that, alongside these positions of responsibility (and I think that this photograph goes some way towards supporting my claim) they spend time ‘mucking about’.

It’s a disgrace.

When I was about 20 I imagined that 50(ish) old men should not be doing this kind of thing.

Rather, they should be reading the broadsheets in their sheds, watering plants and working out whether PEPs were better than ISAs or ISAs are better than PEPs.

The Baker Boy caps they are both wearing (blatant plug coming up) are as classic as they are cool.

They are from Always Wear Red.

Do I want the brand that I created associating with men that somehow manage to join the dots between  leading their profession, having a giggle and looking cool? All at the same time?


I do.

Have you heard of Mr. Bingo?

At the end of this post at there’s a 27 minute video of him.

I am writing about him at this precise moment in time because of the illustration that appears alongside this story.

It’s what Mr. Bingo did for Black Friday.

By the way, he’s called Mr. Bingo because he won a bit of money at bingo when he was younger.


Mr. Bingo, or whatever he is called, is one of the most creative people I have ever seen.

Because he doesn’t care what people think about (almost all of) what he does.

I think I am creative.

And others think I am creative too, I think.

But I am nowhere near as creative as I could be.

Because I worry and wonder what people think about what I do. Not all the time. But some of the time.


I am at my most free and my most creative when, just like Mr. Bingo, I really don’t care about the judging.

I can sum up what I am trying to say with this:

Creativity is the opposite of fear.

This is true.

Once we let go of fear.

Fear of what people think.

Or failure.

Or being found out (we’re all afraid of being found out).

Only then can we start to be our most creative.

Try to keep this in mind.

I am.

And in the meantime watch Mr. Bingo…


I can present a good case that the more you know how to do a thing ‘well’ – the worse you can get at it.

I am defining ‘well’ as more technologically advanced.

Or more polished.

Or more expert.

Or more experienced.

Or ‘cleverer’.

Willy Wonka.

I watched Jonny Depp being Willy Wonka recently.

Yeah; he was OK. (I’m being kind there).

But he’s no Gene Wilder.

That mad-eyed, unpredictable force that just makes me light up as I think about him.

His mischief is just amazing.

It’s a Wonderful Life

Can you imagine if someone decided to remake Frank Capra’s ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’?

You know what – it does not even register with me as an idea.

It cannot be done.




Because cameras are better (or some other technological somethingorother).

Err, no.


And I am not being sentimental.

I am talking about unique moments in time that were brilliant then because they happened then.

And because they could only have happened then.


And I am also taking about things that we all have – now – and that we always have had.

Things that the passing of time does not touch.

In fact, the passing of time can actually kill them.





Shit; to lose any of them is frightening for me.

We – and our children – NEED these things.

A world without them? Replaced by steely technological cleverness and formulaic approaches?

Now that does give me the willies.

I’ve been in luxury clothing design/fashion for almost 3 years. 

And I am 50 years old.

Nigel Cabourn has been in fashion for 51 years and he is (about) 69 now.

I watched Nigel for years. I love his single mindedness.

His focus.

And his expertise.

I first saw him in the flesh as he was served a noisy meal in a little cafe on Gosforth High Street in 2017.

The meal was noisy because it was one of those sizzling Chinese things.

I didn’t approach him. I’d have stuttered. I’m like that with my heroes.

And anyhow, he was eating.


I saw Nigel talk in London, too.

Again, I didn’t speak to him one-on-one but I did ask him a question.

So that counts as ‘talking to him’ in my book.


In 2018 I had an idea for a photoshoot of people I considered to be pioneers in the North East of England.

Nigel is one of them, so I asked and he agreed.

The Always Wear Red team spent a couple of hours in his Jesmond studio.




Playing table tennis.

Design Network North

And just last week I went to a talk where Nigel was chatting to business people in the North East.

He shook me by the hand and we chatted away for 5 minutes or so before we went in.


Meet your heroes.

Nigel is someone I’d admired for years.

And now I learn from him.

Not because he mentors me. Simply by being around him.




Meet your heroes.

I have some good news for you today. 

It is:

There is no direct correlation between how cool you are and how old you are.

Most significantly, it is not true that the older you get the less cool you get.

In fact – if you do it right – you get cooler as you get older.

Classic cool.

I am in dangerous territory now.

The wrong kind of 50 year old guy using words like ‘cool’ or ‘disco’ is a terrible thing.

But I just wanted to point out that the coolness of Paul Newman, Steve McQueen and Marvin Gaye is ageless.

And timeless.

So if you’re knocking on a bit, all is not lost.

Classic cool is the best kind of cool.

These days, most ‘cool’ is manufactured.



So take a look at the images that go with this post at

And channel what they’ve got.

Most of them are sadly no longer with us. So they don’t need their ‘cool’ any more anyway.

Good luck.

I have developed a way of thinking that is really helping me with Always Wear Red.

And I am not sure where it has come from.

But I hope it sticks around.


Always Wear Red is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

It’s complex, competitive and fluid.

I’m very goal driven and I have always been quite good at looking at a goal and:

  1. Being really focused on the goal so I get there no matter what. OR:
  2. Pretending to be really focused on the goal so I get there no matter what.

Most times, there is no difference between the two in practical terms.

‘1’ is easy when confidence is high.

I default to ‘2’ when I have to. When confidence is not high.

But this week I was really ‘on it’ because I wasn’t confident and I defaulted to ‘2’ automatically. Without thinking. I don’t know what that’s called.

Here’s what happened…

AWR was ‘rejected’ from something.

But when I explained this to someone an hour or so later I replaced the word ‘rejected’ with ‘redirected’ – automatically.

I didn’t know whether to be proud of myself or just put myself down as a bit deluded.

Anyhow, the reason I am mentioning this to you is because, and this may be useful to you, replacing the word ‘rejected’ with ‘redirected’ felt entirely natural, instantaneous and it also put me in ‘strategy mode’ straight away.

I didn’t mope at all.

I just got on with it.

Try it…

Next time you’re redirected.

I go face-to-face with a personal trainer three times a week. Each time, it’s 1 hour.

I’m 50.

And I will be in the best shape of my adult life in about a year from now.

6 days. 

The only way I was going make this happen was to do one magical thing. I’ll mention what that magical thing was at the end.

But before I do, I wanted to point something out.

The maths bit.

1 hour, 3 days per week is 3 hours per week.

12 hours per month.

144 hours per year.

Or 6 (24 hour) days.

Under 2% of my year, to get to the shape I want to be.


I am not sure exactly how I’ll change shape of course.

But I will keep to the schedule.

And here’s the magical thing I mentioned earlier, the thing I did that makes me go face-to-face with a personal trainer 3 times each week.

I decided to.

That’s it.

I am going to suggest you do something today that I know you have the capacity to, with ease. 

It’ll take you between 1 and 15 minutes and it will make at least two people feel good.


Praise someone. Properly.

I wrote this on LinkedIn yesterday:

Taylor has a deep and authentic understanding and appreciation of the theories behind – and the practical application of – world-leading brand thinking.

This is quite rare for someone in the early stages of their career.

The benefit you will have by working with Taylor and his team specifically, is that he is brave. He thinks clearly and cuts to the chase. This freshness, anchored by Taylor’s knowledge of the timelessly clever Al Reis and Jack Trout (the authors and architects of POSITIONING as a branding approach) makes for a unique offer.

In summary, working with Taylor for your Business Communications will take you backwards.

And that is exactly as it should be.

He will reverse you away from wasteful, inane, me-too, blend-in marketing approaches that have been eroding your profitability for years.

He will take you back to brand. Through strategy. Through tactics. Through creative communications. To profitability.

Stick with him. He’s good.

Business Communications at its best.

Taylor Gathercole.

Taylor Gathercole is as good a business communicator as I have ever known.

What’s most remarkable however is that he is 19 years old.

He had a wobble recently. Because he forgot how good he was and because his youthful energy meant he wanted to change the world today.

He can change the world. We all can. But it’ll take him a bit longer.


Anyhow. If you get a moment today, maybe you could say something nice too?

Make them a coffee before you say it. Look them in the eye. Mean it.

Two people will benefit.