December 2018


I need to choose whether I am actually ‘in’ work or ‘out’.

If I do what I did yesterday, which is to be ‘out’ but just pop ‘in’ to the AWR Studio to see if everything’s OK and look at emails – that’s not out.

And if I go ‘in’ and then do a bit of Christmas shopping and move things around of a shelf, that’s not really ‘in’.

Both are ‘INT’.


INT is is what people do when they are being stupid.

Because I’m either ‘in’ work and not doing great work because I am thinking about Christmas and the family.

Or I am ‘out’ and not relaxing over Christmas and with the family because I am worrying and wondering about work.

So no more ‘INT’ for me.

Because it’s stupid.


I’m off to catch the news.

Which is talking about politicians again.

Those highly paid people that we all rely on to build our futures and run the country for us and our children.

They are looking after Brexit for us.

Which is that thing about being ‘out’ of Europe.

Whilst still being ‘in’.

(INT is what people do when they are being stupid).

Merry Christmas.

The last live act I saw was George Michael.

It was his Symphonica tour in (I think) 2012.

It was the most perfect live performance I’ve ever seen.

He opened with a song that I’d heard before, ‘Through’ – but it didn’t resonate with me until I heard it live.

It was sublime.

And I am privileged to have seen and heard him.

Here are the lyrics.

And a link to the live performance, opening the show, is below.

Is that enough?
I think it’s over
See, everything has changed
And all this hatred may just make me strong enough
To walk away
They may chase me to the ends of the earth
But I’ve got you babe
And they may strip me of the things that I’ve worked for
But I’ve had my say
So hear me now
I’ve enough of these chains
I know they’re of my making
No one else to blame for where I stand today
I’ve no memory of truth
But suddenly the audience is so cruel
So God, hey God you know why I’m through
I guess it’s tough, I guess I’m older
And everything must change
But all this cruelty and money instead of love
People, have we no shame?
They may chase me to the ends of the earth
But I’ve got you babe
And they may take away the things that I’ve worked for
But you’ll pull me through
It’s so clear to me now
I’ve enough of these chains
Life is there for the taking
What kind of fool would remain in this cheap gilded cage
I’ve no memory of truth
But suddenly the audience is so cruel
Oh God, I’m sorry
I think I’m through
I think I’m through
I think I’m, I know I’m

Just so you know…

9% of UK shoppers admit to buying clothing so they can be photographed wearing it on social media.

No other reason.

Here’s a quote:

For some, the constant compulsion to record their lives on social media means they’re unwilling to be snapped in the same outfit twice.

This fuels fast fashion – cheap garments bought only ‘for the gram’ and then returned or not worn again, as observed in a recent Barclaycard study.

According to the bank, which surveyed 2,002 adults, 9% of UK shoppers admit to buying clothing just so they can be photographed wearing it on social media.

OK, two points.

  1. Buying stuff to wear and take back really hurts brands. I understand someone doing it as a fun thing, I really do. But if someone does this once they’ve had their eyes opened to the fact that it can put little brands out of business – it says a lot about that person. (It doesn’t happen to Always Wear Red by the way. So this is not coming from a personal experience. We have had one thing returned in almost 3 years. But it is a bit selfish. So don’t do it to any brand, please).
  2. Wear clothing for you. To tell the story of who you are or who you want to be. Look in the mirror, not down the lens of your camera phone. What you think is enough. In fact, what you think is all that matters.

Here’s the full report:

A friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, once had a wee in a maze.

Harmless enough I suppose. And a bit funny.

He felt safe weeing there because of the perfect storm of being hidden away, undisturbed and – if he had been caught – having the perfect excuse.

Well; I couldn’t get out could I?


I wonder how different my behaviour is when I am sure I won’t be seen or ‘caught’?

Don’t get me wrong… I am not about to admit to anything horrid.

Because there is nothing horrid to admit.

But I wonder if anyone, even the most lovely, behave exactly the same wherever they are?

Whatever they are doing.

Whomever they are with.


And what about you?

Weeing in the shower?

That’s a test we can all take part in.

Yes or no?

Answers in the comments (I won’t hold my breath…)

P.S. I’m a ‘yes’.

I used to drum in a band in Derby when I was in my teens.

I had a few lessons. I was OK.

I played live a few times and liked being in a band.

That’s why I started to play the drums, by the way. Because I wanted to be in a band.

My confidence wouldn’t let me play any other instrument at that time though.

I had to be at the back.


I came to Newcastle to study and I still wanted to be in a band. And like everyone else arriving at the same time, I had the opportunity to reinvent myself. So I could have done it in any way I liked.

But there was a lot going on. New people, new city, new influences. So much to experience and do.

I wanted to get back into music but it didn’t happen until I left Polytechnic three years later.

If I am honest, it was because I integrated at Polytechnic quite well (I tried hard to fit in; I wanted to belong) and being in a band would have been too risky.

I’d have been judged.


But in a world of work, after I’d left studying, everything shifted.

Work was steady. A bit dull. So I was ready to go again. I had room to create.

This time as a singer.


Oddly, I didn’t want to be a frontman. I just wanted to see what it was like to be a frontman. I wanted to see what it felt like.

I could sing. A bit. And as history has proven that that’s enough for Chris Martin, I was right to have a go.

And I was OK!

Much better than a lot of the kids around at the time.

I enjoyed it. For a bit.

I didn’t push things.

But I enjoyed the view.


I had jobs through my twenties.

At thirty I started my first proper business.

I was now the frontman in business. And that’s never changed since.


I am writing this because in 2019 I am going to explore more what being a frontman in business really means.

I personify Always Wear Red. In the same way that a singer personifies their band.

But am I enigmatic enough?

Cool enough?

Memorable enough?

Brave enough?

Am I playing the role properly for this creative thing that I have built?

Not as well as I should, is the answer.

Frontmen and women have ‘something about them’.

Next year I am going to explore what my ‘something’ is.

I just hope I am more Paul Hewson than Darius Campbell.

Always Wear Red is a brand with a purpose.

It is a brand born to create confidence.

When you wear our Collection you look amazing.

When you look amazing you feel amazing.

And when you feel amazing you do amazing.

You might even feel so amazingly confident that you do that thing you were born to do.


The problem I have sometimes though in the AWR business, is that there are too many ideas.

I have lots of ideas about how I want to create product, grow ranges, tell stories.

I want to change people.

And I believe I can.

know that the relationship between what we wear and how we feel is real.

It is an existing conversation. People are feeling this right now. 

People ‘get’ it.


I want to build a brand that is famous worldwide for its customer experience, quality British craftsmanship, edgy yet classic design approaches, a bonded community that exists around it and its dedication to causes that encourage individuals to be more confident and address their potential as human beings.

I’m driven by this.

I am bursting with ideas and vision, but – I am finding – with the lack of support to see some of the  ideas take shape.

I think I am a leader who can see the end game and gets excited by the creative ways to get there.


I need more people around me.

Lisa, Co-founder of Always Wear Red is amazing at getting things done.

But I need an additional sounding board.

Someone to fire ideas at and brainstorm with.

Someone to capture my ideas and put them into a plan, sometimes parking ideas that sound exciting but aren’t commercially ready yet. Someone to hold me accountable and put a strategy in place for the brand.

And I need that person to also be ‘hands’ for the business, though.

A do-er.

Someone to get things done for me and with me.

This can’t be someone to just talk with.

I also need additional creative minds to help me shape what the brand looks like, to add value at each stage of the customer journey and create content – graphics, video, photography –  that wow and inspire our customers to want to join us on our journey.

To be a part of our story and to allow us to become a part of their story, too.

I need a team that can be flexible and react to new ideas quickly, to come up with coherent and relevant ideas I never even imagined and guide me to think differently based on their own extensive branding and marketing knowledge.


I’m working on this. As we approach 2019.

And what about you? In your business or venture.

Who do you need?

No great brand was ever built by one person.

Not one.

Have a think.

I intend to accelerate in 2019.

And I know I can’t do it alone.

Is it just me, or is this the first year that the John Lewis advert has flared brightly then just kinda died?

I’ve not really thought much about it at all.

Have you?

The John Lewis gals and guys will be around a table already pondering the 2019 advert of course.

Budgets tend to be between £5 million and £10 million from memory. Plus media spend of tens of millions more (paying for the spaces to put the advert).

So they have quite a bit to think about.


But maybe we’re just a bit tired of these annual spend-fests?

I think they’re just a bit crass now.

Self indulgent.


There this year just because they were there last year.

And I don’t just think I am saying this because I worked in advertising… I just think we all know what advertising is now.

And it’s not that nice really.

It’s boring.

It’s just getting us to buy things.

And so much of it is lazy and regurgitated.

Are brands actually trying to make us love them? To help us to understand why they are different and better? To build relationships with us? To look for win:wins?

Or just trying to dazzle us for a few seconds with me-too messaging.

I think it’s the latter.

Please, please, please. 

Anyhow, in my own self-indulgent moment, here is the music from the 2011 John Lewis advert.

The last advert I actually liked.

It didn’t help me to understand why John Lewis should be my store of choice.

But it did remind me that Morrissey is a genius.

If you’re a business, big or small, wanting to get a message to your market – know where they are focusing. 

Know what they are reading and where they are reading it, so you know where to tell your story.

This might help (percentages include multi-tasking):

In 2012, a UK adult spent 11% of their day staring at their phone. In 2018 it will be 31%.

In 2012, a UK adult spent 2.2% of their day staring at a tablet. In 2018 it will be 9.3%.

In 2012, a UK adult spent 40.9% of their day staring at, or being around a TV. In 2018 it will be 30%.

In 2012, a UK adult spent 18.4% of their day listening to, or being around radio. In 2018 it will be 13.3%.

In 2012, a UK adult spent 4.5% of their day reading printed content. In 2018 it will be 2.7%.


Gary Vaynerchuk is imploring businesses to message more online using the mighty Google and Facebook.

And whilst this powerful duopoly might make some feel funny about boosting their dominance further, it seems we have little choice at the moment.

The upside, and Vaynerchuk talks about this too, is that messaging on these platforms is only going to get more expensive. So you get a lot for your money right now.


The above figures are a trend.


Or be left behind.

The photograph with this story is a burger and fries.

It’s a great burger.

Loads of flavour, not too expensive, loaded with two cheeses and from The Merchants Tavern in Newcastle.

It’s independent and good.

The Black Horse Pub in East Boldon is amazing.

REALLY amazing.

The food!

It is independent and good.


Small businesses make up 95% of all businesses in England.

The government gives billions (I cannot remember how much, my friend Tony knows) to big businesses and single figure millions to support small ones.

The government, for a whole host of reasons of course, is stupid.

But worse than stupid is callous, aloof, arrogant, elitist and, in far too many ways, just couldn’t give a fuck about small people and small things.

The government thinks that big, rich people and corporations are big and rich because they deserve to be.

And that small and poor people are small and poor for the same reason.

When I last checked, we pay them to listen to us and look after us.

But because they do neither of these things, I’d like to suggest that you do what they should be doing.

Think small.

Buying things.

When you’re buying things, please try to appreciate how valuable it is to buy from small, hard working businesses.

There’re big hard working businesses too of course.

But please think on.

Any decent smaller businesses will love you more because you have taken the time to seek them out, learn to love them, then buy from them.

It’s a good thing to do.


And one last thing.

If you have on the tip of your tongue with regard to this subject:

But why are they so expensive?

First of all, when you look closely for the answer, you will probably find beautiful stories and great value in the answers.

And they probably aren’t as expensive as you imagined.

Honestly, and you will LOVE the answers you find.

And anyway, there is a much more valuable question than this.

About the big corporations.

It is:

But why are they so cheap?

Please ask.

And believe me, you will NOT love the answers you get.

Merry Christmas. 

Make a small business’s Christmas.

The feeling you get by doing so will make yours too.

Please read this poem:

Our first Christmas together

I had been so excited to have



I started tiptoeing

down the stairs

And he had a surprise waiting… he threw me

a party

He knows how to spoil

A simple girl!

He called me

in front of everyone

Then he cut me off

a sprig of mistletoe

We shared a kiss underneath

Our friends cheered as

outside, the snow silently settled

Now read the poem again, but read the last line, then the second to last line and so on.

So you’re reading from bottom to top.


Domestic abuse charity Refuge has a history of using shock in campaigns.

This new Christmas campaign, created by McCann Bristol, continues this trend.

As a young boy I lived with a man cowardly enough and stupid enough to think that there are reasons for a stronger person to bully a weaker person. A woman or a child.

There are none.


If you sense domestic abuse is happening, take a closer look.

Help them.

If you see domestic abuse is happening, report it to the police.