It’s a small-big thing. And it’s obvious, really.

It’s easier to love people or businesses that are ‘for’ something, than it is to love people or businesses that are ‘against’ something.

‘Just Stop Oil’ want to change the world. Your world. But most people right now aren’t listening. Nike want you to be the best possible you. We spend over 50 billion dollars with Nike each year.

Whatever the change you want to make (I sometimes forget this) it’s better to focus on the benefit of doing it, than the danger of not. Framed that way, more will be interested in listening.

I love my house in the same way George Bailey loved his.

George loved the house that trapped him and kept him from conquering the world.

The house that leaked and was never finished, the bannister post coming loose in his hand each time he climbed the stairs.

And I love my house too, despite sneaky spiders, ruinous ivy, unfinished rooms, creeping lychee and leaf dunes.

George Bailey and Me.

Nature and people made me a home.

It took me a while to see.

My home is spiders that make us scream.

Ivy that coats the walls and, somehow, waves green fingers into rooms.

Rooms that contain nothing but overdue ideas.

Lychee maps that tattoo walls and trees like magic.

And leaves that dance.

George wasn’t trapped.

It just took him a while.

It took George a while to see that Mary, Pete, Janie, Zuzu and Tommy were all he wanted.

That and the old house.

The one where the bannister post came loose in his hand as he climbed the stairs.

The first time we realised Charlie was blind was Christmas 2022.

He was sitting staring at our Christmas tree’s bright, red berry lights from just an inch or two away.


His nose brushing the needles.

As it turns out, Charlie was doing this because red is the colour that those with seriously fading vision see most vividly and for longest.

Before, eventually.

The lights go out.


Charlie is happy enough now his sight has, we think, almost gone.

For a fat and fading 16 year old cat he still purrs like a razor.

His already simple life getting ever simpler.

And darker.


I’m writing quite a bit at the moment for clients.

And for myself.

I have to get better at writing less words.

And making sure the things I write, like the world Charlie now sees, is more focused on just one bright, red berry light.


When thinking about what I do for businesses I help, I wrote (and will endeavour now only to write) this:

The very best way to get more people interested in you. Is to be more interesting.

Because this simple notion drives everything I do, write and advise.

And on the subject of brevity, I will leave it there.

Go grab a coffee.

And check if Charlie’s OK.

Because he just walked into the door.

We’ve heard this question before.

But it’s such a good question it’s worth asking again.


What do you do?

Is a question that is easy to answer.

What are you for?

Is much harder.

But a much better question, don’t you think?


When I consider the ‘do’ question versus the ‘for’ question.

My brain clicks.

From one place to another.

From one gear to another.

When I am thinking about the ‘for’ question, I sit up straighter.

And I think it’s because if I really had worked out what I am for.

I’d be doing it, and only it, now.


This ‘for’ question is something I am thinking about and working on right now, actually.

Because my chatter is too noisy and diverse.

It, and I, lack focus.

Let’s see what happens.

I used to think that funny people used humour to amplify who they are.

But the more funny people I meet.

And the better I get to know them.

I almost always discover that they are using humour not to amplify who they are.

But to mask or hide who they really are, instead.

Funny, that.

If you really do see yourself as unlovable.

And someone really sincere and brilliant comes (or has already come)  into your life and falls (or has already fallen) in love with you.

You may dismiss them as insincere and flawed.

Then treat them as such.

Because how on earth could someone sincere and brilliant fall in love with someone as unlovable as you?


This is how that saying, ‘you have to love yourself, first, before you can ever have a proper loving relationship’ – works.

I think I understand.

It’s certainly what I’ll tell my 7 year old daughter Izobel as she grows.

On the days she forgets she’s breathtaking.


Anyhow, you or someone you know might need reminding.

Not every day necessarily.

Just some days.

Maybe today.


(This is where, and how, I first learned this:

I just forget sometimes).

Fourteen people turned up to last week’s spinning class.

One fewer than the expected fifteen.

Such minor absenteeism normally goes unnoticed, of course.

But not today.

Because today’s absent person was Jenny.

The instructor.


At start-o’clock, we were told by an apologetic young Health Centre chap that Jenny was on a beach in Majorca, instead of on a bike in a Health Centre in Northumberland.

And from that second, the Spinning Class was no longer a Spinning Class.

It was a Social Experiment.

The Social Experiment.

The apologetic young Health Centre chap bluetoothed music into the otherwise silent room.

Before smiling and shuffling away, to ‘do his best’ (with zero minutes notice and on a Bank Holiday) to find a replacement instructor.

We weren’t hopeful.

But we were cycling.

And the Social Experiment began.

The Fourteen.

The fourteen, didn’t look at each other.

Two ladies chatted.

And another two.

And it was these four that, before anybody else, muttered something about ‘coffee’, abandoned their bikes, wiped them down – and left.

And then we were ten.

20 Minutes. 

By the time I’d been cycling for 20 minutes, I think I was in competition with another 50odd year old chap right next to me.

I think we were both imagining we were neck-and-neck as we silently counted kilometres and calories.

Two more people left.

Then two more.

Leaving six.


The spontaneous Social Experiment continued.

And to raise the stakes and alleviate the boredom.

(And address the cramp in my right calf).

I stood up and started to do that bounce thing.

A few seconds later, other 50odd man next to me did too.

I pretended not to notice of course.

Just as I pretended that standing up and bouncing on pedals was easy.

I was unconvincing at both.

When I eventually sat down, other 50odd year old man remained standing, as we approached the 40 minute mark.

45 minutes.

After 45 minutes, the race that wasn’t really a race, was over.

Two more people had left, so just four remained.

I dismounted first, made a hilarious comment about the last remaining cycler winning a bun, and left.


As I sat in my car a little later, I was pleased that I’d had a little workout.

And it was fun!

Funner than I had imagined.

Silent, structureless freewheeling with strangers.

And the thing I felt best about was the presence of the two ingredients that reap the best rewards in any area of my life really.

Even though I was slow and chuggy and spent half the time with no clue if what I was doing was ‘right’.

“First, I turned up.”

I thought, between bites of my two Greggs bacon sandwiches.

“Second, I stay the distance.”

As I moved the Greggs Yum Yums to one side in order to grab my flat white.

“And that,”

I thought to myself,

“Is why I shall very soon have the body of an athlete.”

I wandered into Waitrose today.

I was clumsily couriering my phone, scarf, bag, keys and a book in my not-big-enough-for-this-task hands.

Unsurprisingly, and without immediately noticing, I dropped something.

My scarf.

The Scarf. 

Two Waitrose peoples, one chap and one lady, just behind me, noticed the scarf on the floor.

Waitrose chap picked it up, looked me up and down a bit (scarf-in-hand), then looked back at the scarf, then looked away.

Waitrose lady reacted differently.

She asked me if the scarf was mine.

I said yes, thanked Waitrose lady, took the scarf from Waitrose man, and off I went.

Unconscious Bias. 

We read a lot about unconscious bias.

From one angle, unconscious bias can be interpreted as lazy, opinionated, cruel, something-ist and, according to some, is deserving of punishment ranging from being frowned at, shouted at, outed, sacked, punched in the ear, or killed.

From another angle, it’s just clumsy, daft, and forgivable.

Like Waitrose man.

You see, my scarf is a flowery, brightly coloured, flouncy, ladies scarf.

And I’m a chap.

But I’m also a flowery, brightly coloured, flouncy chap.

Something that seemed a bit odd to Waitrose man.

So he didn’t think the scarf was mine.

Which is all fine.

Because I got my scarf back.

Waitrose man met a chap that, sometimes, wears ladies clothes.

No one chose to be upset.

No one got bullied.

And I went off to buy some overpriced shit I didn’t need.


The lesson for me?

Whether I’m offended by this that or the other, is up to me.

The (imagined) lesson for Waitrose man?

Ladies clothes can look and feel cool on men, and his wife’s underpants felt lovely under his green polyester slacks the following day.


Everyone’s a winner.

In business, people generally treat you how you treat them.

But what’s not so obvious is that, in business, people treat you how you treat yourself, too.

Old Post Office. 

Old Post Office is our two little holiday homes in Northumberland.

Both are so very carefully and precisely considered.

We treat the rooms and the whole experience with a lovely big helping of care and creativity.

And this has a very pleasant side effect.


Sometimes, when guests leave us, they apologise.

They apologise because they have not been able to return their little temporary home back to exactly how they found it.

This, of course, is not our expectation.

But how nice it is that many people seem to care as much about this thing created as we do.

Treat Yourself.

So it would seem that, in business, if you want customers to treat you with care and respect.

All you have to do is to treat them, and yourself that way – first.