Category

CREATIVITY

Category

I’ve been on drugs of one kind or another all my life.

Actual drugs I was rubbish at.

I was 30.

With cocaine I just kept sneezing.

With ecstasy I just got dizzy and fell over.

So after about two weeks, I stopped.

Money.

Money was a drug when I was about 40.

I had made some money so I bought some things like houses and cars and clothes.

The buzz from this drug lasted quite a while.

It probably made we walk with a bit of a swagger.

Raise one eyebrow from time to time and say daft, patronising things.

‘Look a bit stupid and superior.

I wasn’t that good with this drug.

I quite liked making money but didn’t spend (some but not all of) it wisely.

Whiskey.

Alcohol is the drug that I’ve been involved with for longest.

Swimming pools full of the stuff whilst studying and in my 20’s.

Probably the same in my 30’s.

In my 40’s slightly less because I started to see how silly or inappropriate or dead alcohol made people.

I used to anaesthetise with alcohol in my 40’s.

In my 40’s I didn’t drink alcohol to remember how great life’s good bits were, I drank to forget how good the bad bits weren’t.

And in my 50’s (I’m a beginner) I drink in fits and starts.

Aware that there is a direct relationship between how many days I get to see Izzy Willow and how many  glasses of whiskey I swallow.

Other Drugs. 

Other drugs through my life include girls, cigarettes for a few years and my new drug (which I am noticing is giving me a similar high to the other drugs I’ve tried in my life) which is creativity.

I am being very creative, these days.

More creative than I have ever been in my life.

And I am SO annoyed that I have waited this long despite something I have known for years but refused or resisted to internalise and act upon.

These days, I am simply less fearful of what people think.

I am creating for me.

Like when I was 3 years old when I knew no other way of creating.

I am annoyed because I was told about this phenomenon years ago.

By Pablo Picasso.

It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.

Creativity.

I am just starting to learn and believe this.

And that creativity can be a drug.

A good drug.

And it’s not a day too soon.

Because when my 1,000 months are up – I will be gone.

My creativity however, will remain.

Who would you gift immortality to?

And how would you decide?

For me, I was gutted when Terry Wogan died.

So I’d give it to him.

Because (I think) he was kind.

And I would have liked him to have been my dad.

And George Michael.

Because I think his best work was yet to come.

And David Bowie because I loved his surprises.

And he was a visionary.

(Bowie got old.

His ideas didn’t.)

And David Attenborough because I think that he is caring and true.

And Anthony Bourdain because he was raw.

He was just – well – himself.

Authentic.

Kind. Creative. Authentic. Brave.

Basically (and I have just worked this out) I would give the gift of immortality to anyone that scored highly in my little world in the areas of kindness, creativity, authenticity and bravery.

So, imposing my thinking on the rest of the world (as I do), in order to get on other people’s immortality list, I am going to be as kind, creative, authentic and brave as I possibly can.

From today.

Thank you.

Here is a truly brilliant song.

With a truly brilliant video.

Please go here to watch and listen.

I’d predict you will want to watch this more than once.

The music becomes more ever more beautiful at around 2:10.

And the video ever more harrowing shortly after.

So do please be prepared for that.

Creativity

This is what happens when creativity is not questioned.

And doesn’t look for pointers for what to do from what went before.

One person’s vision.

Raw.

I consider myself to be expressive.

And I imagine that many people would consider me to be expressive too.

But I am not unflinchingly so.

I have dials and filters because, I suppose, I still worry about what people think sometimes.

Notwithstanding politeness and thinking about people’s feeling – I think I’d benefit from being more expressive.

Many interesting, impressive and creative things happen when we just ‘let it flow’.

Pete.

My friend Pete is very often unflinchingly expressive.

Probably not all the time.

But most of the time – he is.

He just can’t help himself.

His expressiveness is balanced with him being caring and kind and thoughtful… so it is a very attractive thing.

Here’s an example.

When Pete’s young son went abroad for an extended period, tens of years ago, Pete continued to paint.

Pete is a chef/musician/artist/photographer so clearly he is very creative.

But in the immediate aftermath of his son going abroad for quite some time – years in fact – Pete could only paint one thing.

Sad boys.

It’s what came naturally.

The paintings were expressing… something.

Grief?

All Pete could paint was the same thing over and over and over.

This new invention coming from somewhere inside.

Sad boys.

Three of the images are pictured here.

In my house.

Pete gave them to me for Christmas in 2018.

Authenticity.

As I experience more of life, I value authenticity, spontaneity and raw expression much more than even the most beautifully constructed and planned artistic statement.

Something from the heart, I find much more interesting that something engineered.

And in an increasingly 3-D printed, AI, AR and algorithm world – I’d predict that unfiltered, spontaneous creativity and ideas will become increasingly valued.

Because they’re much more interesting.

Instead of working out how something was created, I’d much rather just look at something for the purity of what it is.

Sad boys.

To find out how lovely something can be, you have to actually experience it.

Swimming.

Singing live in front of people.

Loving someone.

Allowing someone to love you.

Running your own business.

Having children.

Fostering children.

A friend of mine explored this idea of ‘experience’ with me very recently.

It was David Bradley, who played Billy Casper from Kes.

David stayed with me when he was visiting the North East last week.

Rainbows.

David referenced rainbows.

David asked us to imagine trying to describe a rainbow to someone that had never seen one.

One could take the ‘meteorological phenomenon’ approach.

Dispersion.

Refraction.

Reflection.

Or one could talk about colours and how they hang in the air.

There… but not really there.

Experience. 

In the end, we agreed that no number of words can describe some things.

If you really want to know…

… you have to experience it.

I like Sir Billy Connolly.

Years ago I didn’t like him much, actually.

Because I thought he was one of those people that you’re supposed to like, as opposed to really like.

So I stayed away.

It was my loss.

Billy.

Anyhow, here’s a 12 word quote from a poorly Billy Connolly.

He’s not well at the moment.

He’s older and wondering how long he will be around.

Well I want to thank him for these 12 words that he said in a recent TV programme.

It helped me.

And it will help you.

In fact, it is much more than a quote.

It’s a test.

For those wondering if you are creative (believe me, you are) and if it is worth doing your DAMNEDEST to get your creativity out and do your best work, not giving a toss for what others think or say about it, here’s what he said:

When you’ve created and created well, it is good company for you.

Alone. 

Sometimes, we are alone.

And those that put you down or laughed at your creativity and your bravery and your beautiful self-expression will not be there for you then.

But whatever it is that you have created – will.

In December 2018, Greggs the bakery had an idea.

One of their 1,850 stores is directly opposite Fenwick in Newcastle City Centre.

And it is a well known fact that every Christmas, families with young children – tens of thousand of them – actually queue to see Fenwick’s Christmas window display.

They film it and photograph it too.

As do much of the the press and media in the North of England.

Knowing this, Gregg’s award winning in-house creative team decided to do something very simple.

They decided to flip the signage of their city centre branch so that it was written backwards.

The result?

It appeared the right way round as it reflected in Fenwick’s window.

It also appeared the right way round in thousands of photos and movies.

And in many dozens of column inches about the stunt too.

Ideas. 

There’s a lot to be said for ideas.

I don’t know where they come from.

But I do know three things.

  1. To get to the great ideas, you MUST first go through many, many bad ones.
  2. To go through many, may bad ones you must be patient. And you must kind to yourself and (if appropriate) your team too. Only by doing this will you get to great.
  3. The greatest ideas are often the simplest.

Gnirebmemer htrow.

I’ve never thought about it quite like this before…

When someone criticises something you have put your heart and soul into, they are actually criticising your heart.

And your soul.

So of course, it’s going to really hurt.

Hurt.

Knowing  this, it puts us in an awkward position on the subject of creativity.

Because the more creative you are, the more you’re going to get hurt if someone doesn’t like what you do.

So if you want to reduce the risk of hurting, all you have to do is to put less of your heart and soul into being creative.

It’s much safer.

The risk is reduced.

The worst that can happen is that this thing you’ve been half-hearted about is attacked.

And because you’ve not given your heart and soul you have the perfect get-out.

You can shrug, smile and openly admit that you didn’t invest all you could.

So of course they’re not going to like it.

Perfect!

Perfect.

But it’s not perfect, is it.

It’s far from it.

So, I’d advise, do one or both of these two things instead.

  1. Learn to live with the hurt.
  2. Don’t listen.

The price for not doing this is to be ordinary.

The prize for doing it?

The possibility that, one day, you will be considered extraordinary.

Extraordinary hurts.

But it’s worth it.

Izobel is 2.

I am amazed, having never had children before, how much a 2 year old can know and process at such a young age.

How deeply they think.

Earlier this week, as I sat on the settee watching the television, Izobel was sat – still – to my left.

After a little while, her fidgety legs lifted her and – quite suddenly – she jumped clean over my lap and landed to my right.

I was concerned she’d fall on the wooden floor of course.

But I smiled as she paused to considered this new game.

Then, Izobel jumped back across my lap and landed once more to my left.

There was a pattern now.

And it continued.

Dizzy.

After 8 or 10 if these jumped, I called her name and began to explain something.

“Izobel” I said, “You might fall. You’ll get dizzy.”

She listened silently.

She was looking at my eyes.

Thinking.

“You’ve not fallen yet…” I continued, “…but you surely will, the dizzier you get.”

“Now – what are you going to do? Slow down and be safe here at my side? Where there is no chance at all of you falling. Or getting hurt?”

“Or are you going to continue to make your self dizzy? To bounce and fly?”

Two seconds passed before she flew across my lap once more, laughing.

Then back again.

And again.

“I have just seen the future”, I thought.

“And I have just seen a little bit of me, too.”

I honestly don’t find many things more exciting than owning a new, hard backed notebook and a new, great quality black permanent ink pen.

It’s blank pages, as I run my fingers over them, wake me up.

It’s because of the possibilities.

I can write what I am going to achieve.

I can design a new thing to develop with Britain’s best makers for the Always Wear Red collection.

I can record beautiful and poignant things that people say to me.

I can capture the future on these pages.

But much more than that – I can write it.