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October 2020

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Here’s a funny thing I’ve noticed.

When I was younger, I used to say:

Why on earth would you want to do that?

If it’s not making you any money?

These days, I somehow find myself saying this:

Why on earth would you want to do that?

If all it is doing is making you money.

There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

50odd is stuttering right now.

Because the world.

(And my world).

Is stuttering right now, too.

Stutter.

There’s Covid of course.

But I’m also moving house.

And we’ve relaunched Always Wear Red, ANGELFYSH and mychael this year.

(By choice of course.

‘Not complaining).

The result is 50odd is not being written every day.

So it’s not being sent every day.

And where I’d normally deep-dive into something emotional or ‘thinky’ with 50odd.

Three or four times a week.

Current I am not.

The 50-odd Project.

The 50-odd project is still on though.

I will still write 3,650 stories.

1 story each day.

For 10 years.

(I’m 2 years in).

I’m just a few days behind .

November 2020

So please stay with me.

Things will stabilise as we move through November.

I’ll catch up and fill the gaps.

And 2021 will be good.

I’m exploring a 50odd book.

And a 50odd club.

Both of them for you and people like you.

So thank you for being involved so far.

See you soon.

The first winner of The Mercury Prize was in 1992.

Primal Scream for Screamadelica.

Then Suede

M People.

And then Portishead for Dummy.

Badly Drawn Boy in 2000.

The xx in 2010.

Michael Kiwanuka in 2020.

The Mercury Prize.

It is the music equivalent to the Booker Prize for literature and the Turner Prize for art.

The main objectives of the Prize are to recognise and celebrate artistic achievement, provide a snapshot of the year in music and to help introduce new albums from a range of music genres to a wider audience.

Nice.

Here are all the winners:

https://www.mercuryprize.com/previous%20shortlists.

And here are the 2020 judges:

https://www.mercuryprize.com/news/meet-our-2020-hyundai-mercury-prize-judges.

I was most selfish in my thirties.

Not nasty selfish.

Focused selfish.

Selfish.

It was a raw selfishness.

A selfishness that led to neglected siblings.

Neglected friends.

A neglected mother.

Neglected relationships.

And probably more besides.

Achieving.

I was achieving, you see.

I was growing my first proper businesses.

I was afraid of failing.

And because I was doing a whole load of things for the first time.

Simple things took longer.

So to get the results I wanted.

I had to work harder.

Harder than I’d have to do now to get the same results

Because I have more experience now.

But I was young back then.

And inexperienced.

The Selfish Thirties. 

I see this now.

A mirror of me.

How I was.

I see it in people in their twenties occasionally.

And in their thirties much more often.

The Selfish Thirties.

And I just wanted to say that it may be worth pausing from time to time.

If you sense that this is you.

Or if you sense that this is someone you know.

Because The Selfish Thirties.

Like all decades.

They fly by

And I actually don’t think that selfishness or success are an either-or choice.

I think you can have both.

So check yourself.

Check your siblings.

Check your friends.

Check your parents.

Check your relationships.

Then check yourself.

Because The Selfish Thirties are real.

And they needn’t be.

It’s SO annoying.

Take a look at the photo alongside this story.

And then I’ll tell you all about it: https://www.50odd.co.uk/bathroom-cabinet/.

The Bathroom Cabinet Game.

So.

This is the game we play.

Lisa and I.

Even though neither of us has ever said we are playing it.

Even though neither of us has ever explained or had the rules explained to us.

We both know we are playing it.

And we both know how to play.

Tubs.

Every time I go for my tub of hair stuff.

In the bathroom cabinet.

Lisa’s face stuff is on top of it.

So I catch myself in the mirror.

Mouthing obscenities.

Frowning.

As I slip my hair stuff out from beneath her face stuff.

Use it.

And put it back on top.

Lisa.

Then.

Next day.

Lisa must go in there too.

Catching herself in the mirror.

Mouthing obscenities.

Frowning.

As she slips her face stuff out from beneath my hair stuff.

Uses it.

And just as I had done the day before.

She puts it back on top again.

Tolerate.

And so this goes on.

These little things we tolerate.

These little games we play.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday.

Yesterday.

I paused.

And I wondered how I will feel.

Or how Lisa will feel.

(Because the day will definitely come).

When I reach for my hair stuff.

And it is still top of the pile.

Or when Lisa reaches for her face stuff.

And it is still top of the pile.

Because that day.

One or other of us might think that we won The Bathroom Cabinet Game.

When in actual fact.

That is the day that whoever is left standing there.

Left to catch their expression in the mirror.

As their eyes flick across to catch their own gaze.

At that moment they will know that they have not won The Bathroom Cabinet Game at all.

Instead.

They will in fact realise.

They lost.

The conversations in my head.

Conversations beyond my control.

Between me and my brand monster.

Arriving without me inviting them.

Here’s an example of what they sound like.

IKEA.

OK.

So IKEA say,

The Beautiful Everyday.

And I can her that bloke’s voice.

Saying it.

So what exactly IS that he’s saying?

It must be a brand thing.

Because that bloke keeps saying it.

Over and over.

Repeating it.

For years.

And because IKEA understand brand.

They understand that brand is consistent.

And simple.

And repetitive.

And ownable.

That’s why they keep using that same bloke’s voice.

Because the fact that no one else is saying this quite like this.

And the fact that IKEA keep on saying it.

Over and over.

Means they own it.

And even when they start saying:

Tomorrow Starts Tonight.

Which is also excellent.

They don’t bloody say it INSTEAD of:

The Wonderful Everyday.

Because they know damn well that:

The Wonderful Everyday

Is a BRAND SLOGAN.

Created to build a permanent perception about improving your life.

And they know that:

Tomorrow Starts Tonight.

Is a CAMPAIGN SLOGAN.

Created to sell things in the here and now to help you sleep better.

Focusing you on you having a great nights sleep.

By buying IKEA mattresses.

And beds.

And pillows.

And duvets.

And they also know that:

Tomorrow Starts Tonight.

The CAMPAIGN SLOGAN.

Feeds into:

The Wonderful Everyday.

The BRAND SLOGAN.

(Bloody hell these two three word sentences even sounds the same when I read them.

In my head).

Because the words dance similarly.

And the IKEA brand gets stronger. 

Because they really do understand how to build a brand.

And layer campaigns on top. 

So that.

Together.

Everything becomes stronger.

And more familiar.

And they sell more stuff.

Whatever stuff they want to target with today’s campaign.

Without damaging yesterdays and tomorrow’s brand. 

Yes. 

I see. 

That’s how IKEA are making it all work for them.

Voices.

And so it goes on.

The conversations in my head.

Conversations beyond my control.

Between me and my brand monster.

Arriving without me inviting them.

Change is disconcerting.

Because it’s scary leaving familiar.

To set sail for unfamiliar.

Another reason.

But there’s another reason that change is scary, too.

And if you acknowledge this reason.

Change itself becomes a whole lot more palatable.

Lost. 

When you think about change.

And moving from ‘here’ to there’.

You demonise ‘here’.

And you romanticise ‘there’.

Because that kind of thinking gives you the impetus to make the first move.

It’s an understandable tactic.

But it can also have an unfortunate side effect.

It can take the focus away completely from the space in between ‘here’ and ‘there’.

And you can end up feeling completely lost.

Here and There.

The space between ‘here’ and ‘there’ is valuable.

It’s where you learn.

So by definition it’s where imperfection lives.

And mistakes.

And disappointment.

And demotivation.

And worse!

And it is important to acknowledge and expect these things.

Because you have to go through bad to get to good.

Then through good to get to great.

Insecure.

If you start to feel insecure as you travel between the ‘here’ and ‘there’.

It’s because you’re meant to feel insecure as you travel between the ‘here’ and ‘there’.

You are literally ‘without security’.

So enjoy the journey.

Because if you are ambitious by nature.

And restless by nature.

(And if you have read this far you probably are).

You’ll set sail again.

Because you’ll very soon be seduced.

By another, different ‘there’.

As it once again dawns on you.

That last year’s ‘there’

Just became this year’s ‘here’.

Most of the time.

I’m just making things up.

Thinking.

Imagining.

Letting my mind wander about with strange, conflicting notions.

Spitting out words and ideas.

Life and Business.

I like living life that way.

And most times.

I like doing business that way, too.

Graffiti Embroidery.

I did business that way last week.

Thursday it was.

When my mind started rattling on about ‘Graffiti Embroidery’.

With Erica Akerlund.

Erica Akerlund.

Erica is a bloody brilliant artist and illustrator.

Finnish.

And Erica embroiders her illustration too.

Labels. 

Erica illustrates the current Always Wear Red labels.

With weird little characters doing weird little things in a world of ‘OFFNESS’.

And as well as that.

Erica is going to embroider 12 or 24 jumpers and scarves in 2021.

In an Erica Akerlund x Always Wear Red Collaboration.

And that’s where the phrase ‘Graffiti Embroidery’ comes in.

We just made it up.

Jumpers.

Erica will take jumpers that already cost over £1000.

And embroider them in whatever way she likes.

Pushing the price point towards or over £2000.

The embroidery will be weird.

And unpredictable.

Unpredictable because I don’t know what Erica is going to embroider.

Because neither does she.

And that’s the way it should be with artist collaborations I think.

It’ll be ‘Graffiti Embroidery’.

Because if the brief is boring.

The garment is too.

Limited Edition.

Most of the time.

I’m just making things up.

Thinking.

Imagining.

Letting my mind wander about with strange, conflicting notions.

Spitting out words and ideas.

And it is because of this approach to doing business that a Limited Edition Erica Akerlund and Always Wear Red Collaboration is going to happen.

‘Graffiti Embroidery’ we’re going to call it.

Coming in 2021.