Category

LOVE & LIFE

Category

I used to think that there could not be anything worse than having nothing.

Feeling unfulfilled.

Empty.

Sad.

And alone.

But nowadays.

I think that there is.

It’s having everything.

Yet feeling unfulfilled.

Empty.

Sad.

And alone.

Choose.

Choose what success looks like for you.

With great care.

Because chasing the wrong everything.

Is worse than chasing nothing.

I voted today.

I voted yesterday.

I’ll be voting tomorrow, too.

And so will you.

Voting.

I bought a coffee from LANEWAY today.

Nick owns that place.

On High Bridge in Newcastle.

He knows who I am and gives a shit about who I am.

He shows this by remembering my name, remembering what I drink, encouraging his team to do the same and by shifting what I pay from time to time – as a thank you.

Starbucks don’t do this.

So my money was a vote for Nick.

(I voted for Nick 6 times today actually.

Because I met 4 friends at LANEWAY later on.

Each of whom ‘Voted Nick’ as well).

Iceland.

I met Richard Walker at The Do Lectures this year.

He’s the MD of Iceland Supermarkets.

Iceland is working hard to remove Palm Oil from all they sell.

And plastic.

Against a backdrop of a core customer demographic that find it hard to pay more for lots of life’s basics.

So these moves hit Iceland’s profits and not what their customers pay.

It’s a conundrum for Richard.

But he is doing this because he wants to.

Not because he has to.

So this weekend I will be voting for Iceland.

By buying from Iceland.

Patagonia.

I am after a tee-shirt or two in the next couple of months.

I am going to vote for Patagonia when I buy.

Because Yvon Chouinard’s book chronicles how he built this billion dollar business by doing good business.

As opposed to relentless profiteering and not giving a shit about makers.

And not giving a shit about the fragile world we live in.

Like so many high street clothing retailers.

You know the ones.

The ones you will see today.

And tomorrow.

With £3 tees lined up on a shitty rail in the corner.

Reduced from their original £6 RRP.

I vote for Patagonia.

Sunday.

And on Sunday.

I will vote for a £6 chicken.

Not a £2.80 chicken.

Because the £2.80 chicken spent it’s entire life millimetres from the backside of another chicken, confined to floorspace slightly smaller than a piece of A4 paper.

Before having it’s throat cut.

Hey!

Don’t frown at me.

It’s not my fault.

I voted for the £6 chicken.

And anyhow.

How else do you think a whole chicken gets to someone’s ovens for just two hundred and eighty pence?

If it’s anyone’s fault.

If you are one of the people that buys £2.80 chickens.

It’s yours.

Change. 

Yes; talk about the change you wish for

But vote for the change you wish for, too.

Every single day.

And guess what?

Your wish will come true.

As will the chicken’s.

I drew my entire lifestory last night.

It took about 20 seconds.

Here it is: https://www.50odd.co.uk/lifestory/.

Lifestory. 

When younger, I wanted stuff.

Oftentimes, just for the sake of having stuff.

I’d accumulate… things.

Now.

As I get a little older.

I feel the urge to do things that matter more.

And impact less.

50odd.

On my highly complicated diagram you can see where 50odd started.

This diagram assumes that I will live until about 90.

I might not of course.

I have about 1,000 months.

As do you.

And that is, in fact, 83 years and 4 months.

So I am being slightly optimistic.

Purpose.

Nevertheless.

From now.

Every new thing I start.

And every big decision I make.

Is tinged with a question or questions about purpose.

Why I am considering doing it.

What is the change I can make.

How I and the businesses that I create can contribute.

Learning.

I read about Yvon Chouinard.

And from this month, any new businesses that I take on through our ANGELFYSH business will be contributive in some way.

Or they will genuinely crave these credentials.

It’s because I only want to work with brands that matter.

Brands focusing only on self actualisation for the consumer – are dying.

And quite right too.

(‘Interesting how life changes.

This basic diagram also works for me.

If you replace the word ‘indulgence’ with ‘nightclubs’.

And the word ‘purpose’ with ‘sleep’).

Read this here: https://www.50odd.co.uk/beanbags/.

The photograph helps.

Beanbags.

The beanbags at The Do Lectures are not very comfortable.

They’re too long.

They’re filled with unknown stuff that just doesn’t support you.

It moves somewhere else!

So that you are quite literally brought down to earth.

Landing with a firm ‘bump’ on your arse.

On the cold, hard floor.

So when I sat there one morning.

Eating my cereal.

Alone.

I felt, well, lonely.

It seems to me that those Do Lectures people really haven’t thought this through.

The beanbags at The Do Lectures are not very comfortable.

Rona

The evening before.

I sat on the same beanbag.

Chatting to Rona about life.

The beanbags at The Do Lectures are really comfortable.

They’re perfect for two.

They’re filled with unknown stuff that supports you beautifully.

Because one person balances the other.

You raise each other up.

You float.

Above the cold, hard floor.

So that when you sit there with gin and tonic.

Together.

I feels lovely.

It seems to me that those Do Lectures people really have thought this through.

The beanbags at The Do Lectures are really comfortable.

Life.

When Rona and I chatted, we chatted about life.

About how life can be very uncomfortable.

And feel too long.

Filled with unknown stuff and people that just don’t support you.

They move somewhere else!

So that you are quite literally brought down to earth.

Landing with a firm ‘bump’ on your arse.

On the cold, hard floor.

Feeling, well, lonely.

Life can be uncomfortable.

Another Life.

After a little more gin, we chatted about life some more.

About the fact that life can also be really comfortable.

Perfect for two.

Filled with unknown stuff but the other person supports you beautifully.

Because one person balances the other.

You raise each other up.

You float.

Above the cold, hard floor.

So that when you sit there with gin and tonic.

Together.

I feels lovely.

The beanbags at The Do Lectures.

They really are a very comfortable place to be.

The Do Lectures is an annual occurrence in Wales.

And it is the only truly 100% World Class event I have ever attended.

So when I was there this year.

Why did I find myself stirring coffee with a dirty spoon?

Coffee.

Coffee at Do is Extract Coffee.

It is excellent coffee.

Every bean roasted just for Do.

Your beans ground – just for you – while you wait.

In a Do farm outhouse.

And very often just as the sun is rising.

Morning 3.

On morning 3 of 3, I got my mug – and a hug – from the barista.

It was great to see him.

He knew what I wanted to drink by now.

And he knew the colour of the enamel mug I chose each day.

So he carefully crafted my first coffee of the day in front of me.

In a shiny, red enamel mug.

And laid it down – gently – in front of me.

File right.

Silently.

Sleepily.

With a smile.

I file right.

And at the end of the bench there is sugar.

And there are spoons.

I plop one lump of brown sugar into the foamy flat white.

And I pause.

Dirty Spoons.

I look down and in front of me and I see two white mugs sat side by side.

Both mugs contain spoons.

One labelled ‘Clean’.

One labelled ‘Dirty’.

I stand perfectly still.

And I pause some more.

Until – after 15 seconds or so.

I decide.

I reach for a dirty spoon and – with a satisfying clink, clink, clink – I stir my coffee in the sunshine before smiling and popping the spoon back into the mug from where it came.

And I shuffle away.

Decisions.

When something truly affects you.

When an experience is truly world class.

Relevant.

And real.

It changes how you see things.

And your behaviour.

And your decision making.

Instantly.

You see; these spoons weren’t dirty.

They had just been chosen by some of the most excellent people in the world.

To stir some of the most excellent coffee in the world.

And considering what we had all shared over those days in Wales, sharing a spoon seemed fine to me.

And, of course, it’s less washing up for the superb volunteers that drive this event.

Change.

I pondered this part.

The ‘less washing up’ part.

As I sipped my coffee.

I wondered if it really would make a difference.

Me choosing one solitary dirty spoon.

The answer is – I have absolutely no hesitation in telling you – yes.

Anything you or I or anyone does makes a difference.

Because from every tiny spoon decision.

Will spring much bigger decisions.

Do 12

I don’t know how deep Do goes with people.

I don’t know if, at Do 12 next year we will see one mug packed to the brim with ‘Clean’ spoons.

And in the other mug – a single solitary ‘Dirty’ one.

But because of one simple truth.

That little actions really can change the world.

Maybe we will.

If you are reading this story in your email.

Pop to this link because there’s an image you need to see for it to make most sense: https://www.50odd.co.uk/echoes/.

This House. 

This house makes me feel funny.

Honestly.

It makes me feel tingly.

Backstory.

I was brought up on Manchester in a small semi-detached.

My dad cleared off when I was 11.

So my mum brought up me, my sister and my brother – alone.

We were always a bit skint, I suppose.

But we were OK.

I had many paper rounds and retail jobs and bar jobs so I was fine financially.

But I was lazy academically back then.

Quite childish, actually.

So I came out of Northumbria University with a very ordinary 2:2 result.

Graduation.

Between the age of 20 and 40 I worked hard.

I loved my work.

I was so naive, young, inexperienced, fearlessly creative and blind to what was risky and what wasn’t risky in business – that I was brilliant at running businesses.

I built 4 of them in this time.

Businesses that turned over seven figures for a few years at their peak.

And Lisa and I bought this house.

The one in the picture.

Hirst Head Farm.

Seeing a photo of Hirst Head Farm still makes me feel excited.

It was – and probably still is – beautiful.

In every single detail.

We made it palatial and characterful and deeply experiential as a place as well as a home.

Lisa, Colin the dog and I had everything.

In our ‘forever house’.

Yet, as sometimes happens in life.

Surprises come.

And after just one full year in our forever house.

Maybe a little longer.

Lisa and I separated.

Echoes.

There are echoes of this house in my life even today.

8 years later.

Echoes of regret, mostly.

And confusion.

Because even though I know regret is a fruitless emotion.

And even thought I know the house was the right home at the wrong time.

It still hurts a bit.

Because it is a great source of regret for me that we are no longer there.

Yet it also reminds me of my sadness.

My loneliness.

My bad behaviour.

My selfishness.

My cruelty.

But mostly.

‘My fault.

Years.

I’ve waited years for the echoes of this chapter of my life to go away.

But I don’t think they ever will.

Life’s like that I suppose.

Confusing.

Because whilst I know that I’d never go back there.

Even if I could.

The echo remains.

PS

As a PS.

Two things quieten the echo.

  1. Remembering that what I still have, and now have, are far more precious than anything in the photograph with this story.
  2. Everything that I loved that  is in this photograph, with the right application, focus and hard work – can be won again.

There.

The echoes are a little quieter now.

Here’s someone to avoid.

In most circumstances.

It’s that one person.

That is these two things.

Both at the same time.

Two things.

The two things I refer to are:

  1. They have low self esteem.
  2. They have a big ego.

Because if you get these two things.

In one person.

Both at the same time.

It’s a bit like being with Liam Gallagher.

But without the talent.

They’re just – well – a bit Nobby.

Context.

Context is important, though.

Because on a night out.

Nobby is great fun.

Because Nobby is childlike.

Nobby is dancing before anyone else.

Singing and mouthing all the wrong words to songs.

Winking at people he (and it normally is a ‘he’) really shouldn’t be winking at.

(Actually – should anyone ever be winking at anyone?)

Nobby can be funny.

Nobby.

And you can’t help feeling a bit sorry for Nobby.

Unless Nobby is your boss of course.

Then you’re knackered.

Here’s what to do if Nobby is your boss.

  1. Laugh at his jokes.
  2. Praise him a lot.
  3. Remember his birthday and get him a card.
  4. Be there for him when his true colours show. (He’s probably a nice person really. He just forgot).
  5. Bite your tongue (a lot).

In summary, if you help raise Nobby’s self esteem.

His ego should shrink a little.

And even thought it’ll probably be temporary.

It’ll make life better.

Get to know the Nobby in your life.

And (and Nobby would love this line, I think) be careful…

Because there’s probably a little Nobby in all of us.

The other day someone asked me how I became a blogger.

On 50odd.co.uk.

A blogger that writes every day.

A blogger that – somehow – writes something every day that means something to at least one someone.

Even though I’m only really writing for myself.

The answer?

Because I decided to.

Decisions. 

It’s that Stephen Covey thing.

Habits (true decisions) form when three things are present:

  1. What to do
  2. How to do
  3. Want to do

I know what to do to create a blogging platform.

(Or I know someone that does).

I know how to blog.

(I didn’t know if I’d be good at it, of course.

But I knew how to do it).

And I wanted to do it.

I thought it would be good for me.

To get ideas out.

To make room for more.

And it has.

So I simply decided.

Decisions.

Anything you want to do.

Follow the Covey thing.

What to do.

How to do.

Want to do.

And that’s why, when anyone says to me:

Eeeh; I really want to go to the gym and lose some weight.

I reply:

No you don’t.

Because if you did.

You’d be doing it.

Now.

Decisions.

So if you really do want to do something…

Decide.

Your downtime is precious.

It’s when you recharge.

So waste it wisely.

Downtime.

What I mean is, plan your downtime.

Your time off.

As a first principle I recommend you avoid these two things:

  1. Anaesthetic.
  2. Work.

When I was ‘off’ I very often used to do one of two of these things.

They are extreme opposites.

Yet both are as fucking daft as each other.

Anaesthetic.

Anaesthetic (for me) was getting pissed.

It was binge drinking so that time disappeared.

So that all experience was dulled.

And memories were blurry.

It made me feel regretful.

And empty.

And that I’d not actually recharged at all.

Work.

The other thing that I very often did.

When I was off.

Was not be off.

I worked.

I faffed on with email.

Or phone calls.

Or I was thinking about work problems.

It made me feel regretful.

And empty.

And that I’d not actually recharged at all.

List.

The list of things you could be doing is endless.

For me it includes walking Colin the Collie and Frank the Bichon around in circles.

It’s planning and instigating taking a 3 year old Izobel to do a ‘first’.

It’s listening to an album I bought when I was in my late teens.

End-to-end.

To see what memories it evokes.

It’s cooking something I’ve never cooked before.

It’s asking Lisa what she wants to do today.

Anything.

With or without me.

Without any sneaky, subliminal persuasion towards something that I want to do.

It’s visiting a friend’s small business to boost their cash.

And their morale.

And their confidence.

Or it’s revisiting an old talent.

Or attempting to discover a new one.

Like sketching.

Or singing.

Or baking.

Or growing a fresh herb garden.

Precious.

Your downtime is precious.

It’s when you recharge.

So waste it wisely.

There were bats in the attic of my uncle Chris and auntie Helen’s house in London.

Or so I was told.

When I was 9 years old in 1977.

I never actually saw them.

But they still terrified me.

This is all part of childhood, I think.

Childhood.

Another thing that was part of my childhood.

Was a problem I had with roles.

Roles were never clear for me.

My dad disappeared regularly and then permanently before I was 11.

And as I had a younger sister.

It wasn’t clear whether I was to be a brother.

Or a dad.

It wasn’t clear whether it was OK to be playful and silly and adventurous.

Or whether, instead, I had to be watchful and sensible and protective.

So when I was at my uncle Chris and auntie Helen’s house in London.

When my uncle Chris told me about the bats in the attic.

His wide eyes on mine as he let out a deep, shoulder-wobbling laugh.

His face close enough to mine that I could smell him.

I was unsure whether this was a childish yarn.

Meant to excite and entertain.

Or whether it was a call to arms.

To beware.

To be on guard.

Bats.

You see, a 9 year old me was scared of bats.

A 9 year old me was scared of most things I had not yet seen.

And I remember thinking to myself that – if a 9 year old me is scared of bats.

Then my seven year old sister is probably petrified of bats.

And that was a concern.

The Sentry.

That night, I lay awake.

The room pitch black.

In the top of the house.

And whilst I realised the non-sense of being afraid of these things I’d never seen.

I really was frightened.

For myself.

And for my sister.

My role as sentry was real.

50.

At 50 years old.

I still, sometimes, silently fear things that I’ve been told about but have not yet seen.

Sometimes lying awake in bed.

Imagining.

Not about bats.

But about the new threats.

The new threats that people have told me about.

Things that I have never actually seen.

But that are real to me.

This is all part of adulthood, I think.

Bats.

There were bats in the attic of my uncle Chris and auntie Helen’s house in London.

Or so I was told.

I never actually saw them.

But they still terrified me.