I live in a skinny three story town house.

And I have 3 toilets.

3 Toilets.

The first one is on the ground floor.

Which we need because we spend most of our time there.

The other two are on the top floor.

The second one we need because it’s got a shower in it and it’s accessible from the landing.

So if we have people staying on the top floor they can use it.

And if people stay on the middle floor they can use this second toilet too.

The third one we need because it’s adjacent to our bedroom.

En-suite I suppose.

So yes.

We need 3 toilets.


It’s weird isn’t it?

What we persuade ourselves that we need.

1 toilet would, of course, be absolutely fine.

1 freezer (we have 2).

2 or 3 pairs of shoes (I have many).

As I do coats, pairs of jeans, pairs of trainers and every other category of clothing and footwear too.


The best things in the world – I think – genuinely satisfy a big need and a big want.

Both at the same time.

A strategy you can adopt to try to achieve this, if you want to, is to buy less and buy better.

So that’s what I’ll do from now.

Anybody want a toilet or two?

Rik Mayall is an Honorary Doctorate of the University of Exeter.

The 9 minute video showing his acceptance speech from 2008 can be found on YouTube here.


Rik Mayall died in June 2014.

It was a heart attack.

He was 56.

He’d just been jogging.

Then – just died.


Rik Mayall was a performer.

On camera certainly.

Off camera probably.

In his early years, he spent time failing exams, drinking a lot, bobbing in and out of lots of relationships and – by the sound of it – having a bloody good time.

Five Mantras.

Rik said he had five mantras for life.

They are:

  1. All men are equal therefore no one can ever be your genuine superior.
  2. It is your future. It is yours to create. Your future is as bright as you make it.
  3. Change is a constant of life. So you must never ever lose your wisdom.
  4. If you want to live a full and complete human life, you have to be free. Freedom is paramount.
  5. Love is the answer.

Rik further summarised.

  1. Equality.
  2. Opportunity.
  3. Wisdom.
  4. Freedom.
  5. Love.


Rik’s personal presentation of this is important though.

Because I love Rik Mayall’s uniqueness.

Such talent and couldn’t-care-lessness is so rare.

And for it only to have been on this earth for 56 years, or just 672 months, is a travesty.

Let’s see if his legacy impacts you.

Because it impacted me.

Here is the video on YouTube.

The key ingredient in the recipe for an adventurous life – is confidence.

It’s powerful.

Yet transient. 

I am not sure where it comes from. 

Or where it goes.


It’s important to get the balance right though. 

So you don’t get a little too cocky or slimy.

Confidence, for me, is eye contact. 

And smiling. 

And listening. 

And being interesting and interested. 

And it’s an open posture with warmth and vulnerability and kindness and maybe even awkwardness. 

Because you are just being you – and you are totally happy with that. 

Awkwardness and vulnerability can be very engaging, actually.


You know you’re not perfect.

Yet you show your full self. 

Confident people do that. 

Three things.

Here are three things that confident people do:

  1. They think first about how they can make people around them feel good. 
  2. They ask people how they can help them. 
  3. They ask for help themselves, when they need it. 

I mention these things because so many people seem to wish they were more confident. 

Or (as some frame it) ‘naturally confident.’

I think that, if you do these three things, you will be. 

Almost immediately.

Give it a go!


When you FINALLY commit to doing that thing you’ve been thinking about doing for ages, push it down.

Internalise it.

Just build it in to your life invisibly.

That way, you’re much more likely to keep on doing it.

That’s the way habits form.

They just become ‘something you do’.

The Trap.

I go to a personal trainer 3 times a week.

And apart from the odd story on 50odd I don’t talk about it.

It’s because I find that when people do rattle on about things like this, they are as much fed by the reaction of the person they are telling, as the thing itself.

Ooh. This diet I’m on is a bugger. I had a cabbage for tea last night. What do you think about that? Cabbage. That’s all I had. A cabbage. But if I want to lose this 5 stone, I just HAVE to do it. What do you think about that? Cabbage. Oooooh!

I fell into the trap a week ago.

I’m off caffeine and alcohol at the moment as I was knackered and dizzy.

And I mentioned it to far too many people.

It somehow became a badge.

I think that – for some reason – I wanted to say it, then see what people said.

To see how they reacted.

I think I did that because I wanted to turn a very personal decision into a group decision.

So that someone might talk me out of it.

Oooh I’ve had these headaches. Because I’m off alcohol and caffeine. Aren’t I great being off caffeine and alcohol? Do you think I should stop off alcohol and caffeine for ever? Or shall we go to the pub tonight? What do you think? Are you busy later? Pub? Me and you? 7?

I didn’t say this, exactly.

But something weird was going on in my head.

So I’ve decided to shut up now.

And push it down.

That way, I sense it’ll just become part of what I do.

A habit.

And I actually think I’ll get a better feeling if someone ever comments on the effect of the change I’ve made, as opposed to hearing their comments on the change itself.

I am not sure that I’ll do this now she’s here. 

But I had always imagined that when I had a child I would paint a continuous line around their bedroom wall.

On the line I’d write the following years:

  • 1600
  • 1700
  • 1800
  • 1900
  • 2000
  • 2100
  • 2200

This would allow me to highlight, in words, world wars.

World cup wins.

And with lines, I could highlight the life and death of Charles Darwin, Salvador Dali, David Bowie.

And me.

And Lisa.

And Lisa’s mum who is no longer here.

And Izobel’s 100 years, too.

The Visit.

It’s unlikely that I’ll do this.

Today, it feels like a blunt tool.

Although the principle – to show Izobel that this life of ours is merely a visit – is a sound one.

Why would I want to do this?

It’s simple really…

Whenever I visit somewhere – a holiday venue, a new city or town – I ask myself a question.

It is:

What will I do when I get there?

I think this is a good question for all of us to ask about this visit.

The most important visit of all.

Do you believe in ghosts?


Are you sure?


A ghost, I think, is someone or something that died and still haunts you.

So it could be an idea you had but didn’t follow through.

An opportunity you didn’t take.

A relationship that didn’t make it.

An abusive person or partner that you let into your life and allowed to stay a while – unchecked.

Regret – is a ghost.


I have memories.

And sometimes they appear in my head as regrets.

They really do feel like ghosts that haunt me.

But these days I spend time looking forward much more.

Not back.

I don’t know how bright the future will be, but I believe that if I keep going and stay determined and stay focussed I should be OK.

I don’t believe in ghosts.

And so it follows, I suppose, that I don’t believe in regret either.

This is good to remember.

It is quite revealing when you ask Google what Brexit means.

When I asked, I actually wanted reminding where the contraction ‘Brexit’ came from.

‘Brexit’ the word.

Not ‘Brexit’ the thing.

I couldn’t remember.

It’s “British Exit” of course.

Brexit is an abbreviation for “British exit,” referring to the UK’s decision in a June 23, 2016 referendum to leave the European Union (EU). … (Alternatives are known as “soft Brexit.”) “Leave” won the June 2016 referendum with 51.9% of the ballot, or 17.4 million votes; “Remain” received 48.1%, or 16.1 million.

Anyhow, I didn’t get the result I wanted.

(In the Google search or the Referendum, actually).

Instead of Google reminding me where the contraction came from, it threw back many thousands of definitions of what Brexit actually is, was and/or might be.

And I’d wager that no two definitions were the same.

I find this quite ironic.

Two Points.

So I want to make two points about Brexit.


If politicians are supposed to look after us in a vaguely similar way that parents are supposed to look after children (because they know more and it’s their job), we have been asked by our parents whether we want to stay on this side of the road – or cross it to the other side.

And when, holding their hand, we looked up at them and asked them what traffic might be coming, from what direction and how fast, they replied, ‘dunno’.

And we got the same shoulder-shrug when we asked them what the other side of the road looked like.

Or they fucking lied.

And then they said (something like), “…But it is sure to be better than just standing here.”

And, “You’ll be alright!”

And we said, “OK then.”

And we stepped into the road. 

And they watched.

No one.

No one knows what Brexit means.

In any of its guises.

Not even the politicians.

Not even now.


I find it silly that politicians and adults in general call this thing ‘Brexit’.

This ‘British Exit’.

We’re grown ups.

This is serious.

And important.

It’s affecting business.

And lives.

It’s not a silly game.

So why this stupid fucking contraction?


So, politicians… Brangelina; yes.

Brexit; no.

You stunts.

Izobel arrived two and a half years ago.

At almost 50, to make an Izobel with someone that is just a couple of years younger than you requires some medical intervention.

So that’s what we did.


If you’ve done this too (not necessarily the medical intervention bit – the other bit) you’ll know how dumbfounding it is.

Making an Izobel.

How they become actual little people so quickly.

In 24 months they go from a pink mole-like creature that can’t even move – to an actual person that reasons with you why reading the same Meg and Mog story over and over and over is a good idea.

Or that thinks it’s OK to smile at you and steal the best bits of food from your plate.

How does Izobel know that this is OK for her to pinch the best things from my plate?

How does Izobel know that, in actual fact, it’s OK for her to have everything on my plate?

No matter how hungry I am.


If I last my allotted 1,000 months, Izobel will watch me die when she is 34 years old.

This would be acceptable to me.

It’s probably enough time for her to love me, then hate me, then boomerang back to love me again.

But to spend 34 years with Izzy Willow will be just fine.

I will have experienced the physical agony of seeing her hurt by other people I am sure.

I am not looking forward to that.

And I may still be around to see her create little people of her own.

I am looking forward to that.


Anyhow, in case I die all of a sudden (a heart attack or a Laurel and Hardy type piano accident) I’ve written Izobel a letter, asking her to do just one thing for me after I die.

I honestly only want her to do one thing.

It’s to live for 100 years.

Anything else she does between now and then is fine by me.

Now that she’s here, all I really just want is for her to stay here.

And think of me, once or twice, in each of the 66 years that she outlives me.

Because wherever I am, I will be thinking about her.

George Michael had everything. 

Talent. Adulation. Critical acclaim. Deep respect from his peers.

Hang on, let me start that again…

George Michael had everything. 

Tragedy. Addiction. Failing health. Endless ridicule and unreasonable hounding from the mainstream media.


I don’t know which ‘everything’ is the everything that George Michael would have identified with.

Probably both.

But, and this is the point of this little story, here is a George Michael quote that may even explain why he is no longer with us.

In a documentary shortly before his death he asked this rhetorical question:

What happens when everything is not enough?

This is an important question for all of us I think.

Chasing the wrong everything must be a terrible thing.


Because it can leave you feeling empty and lost if you don’t ever get it.

And if you do.

Think forward.

Imagine you get everything you want.

Imagine you have your everything right now.

And ask yourself if it’s the right everything.

It’s an important question.

Of course!

It’s totally obvious.

Of course we all have a shadowside.


This notion makes me feel better.

The insight relaxes me.

I feel at ease with the notion that (this is my interpretation anyway) we all are a balance of light and dark.

It’s OK that, sometimes, I feel confused or lost or paralysed or ‘down’ or – quite literally – dark.

It’s natural.

If there is light in your life – so too there is shadow.


In Jungian psychology (so Wikipedia tells me), the ‘shadow’, ‘Id’, or ‘shadow aspect/archetype’ part of me is:

1. An unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not identify in itself, or:

2. The entirety of the unconscious, i.e., everything of which a person is not fully conscious.

In short, the shadow is my ‘dark side’.


Whatever the case, I am happier now that I (re)realise that I know this thing that I knew anyway.

Half of me will always be in shadow, for as long as there is light in my life.

I accept that if lose the shadow, I also lose the light.

This acceptance is valuable.

Now I know for sure that my shadow side is there, it’s somehow less powerful and alluring.

Because I used to worry about how to get rid of it.

Now I know that I can’t get rid of it, I also realise that I can chose when to visit.

Or not to visit.

And I think that – increasingly, now I am accepting that my shadowside is part of me – I am more inclined to choose ‘not’.

And that’s a good thing.