Thursday 31 December 2015

Look to the future now . . .

Although the final bars of Slade's Christmas tune are barely audible now as they now disappear into the distance, the message it sends is ringing loud and clear: 'Look to the future now, it's only just beguuuuuuuuuuuun'.

Yes, the Christmas sleigh bells are fading over the horizon, but the clanging chimes of the brand new year are getting ready to bong. But the real question is, are we?

It's the point in the year where we all make promises to ourselves and call them resolutions. But why do we do it? Are we so unhappy with ourselves that we are desperate to find a brand new us? Or rediscover a long-forgotten us? New Year resolutions has become more of a tradition than a true reflection of what we actually want. 

The trouble is, most of us still don’t really know what we do want in life. I'm 42 years old and still not really sure I'm doing this whole life thing right. A lot of us go steaming into New Years and end up making resolutions about the 'wrong' things, the things that don't really change anything and so make us feel like our lives haven't gone anywhere in the course of another passing year.

There's nothing wrong in wanting to make positive changes of course, but rather than making them New Year resolutions, why not make them just stuff to try and achieve over the course of the year. Don't give yourself barriers to jump over, just so you can hate yourself if things don't work out.

My advice? Just try some of these, not as resolutions, but simply as 'reminders' of something to have a go at:

Do Something Unexpected
The catch here is to do something you are proud to tell your children about, (so you can stop that thought right away!). It might just be something as simple as trying that food with the names you can't pronounce. Or just trying to make amends with family or friends that you have had run-ins with. Let's not forget that one of the greatest pleasures in life is doing what people say you can't do!

Be Human Again
It is quite normal these days to spend more time with your gadgets than with people. There are side effects from this but there are also plenty of ways to regain control. This item has to do with reconnecting with your emotions, your humanity. You could even try a total tech de-tox for a week!

Show Gratitude
There is kindness in the world, and it can come from the strangest of places, even though we are told not to expect it. The important thing is that when you are in the presence of an act of kindness, participate, extend it or if you are on the receiving end, appreciate it.

Life is too short to hold a grudge. Go into 2016 feeling positive about other people, as well as yourself.

Find A Reason To Be Happy
Because that’s all we ever want really, isn’t it? We want a reason to be happy, yet instead of aiming for that, we choose to ignore it, because our happiness isn't important. We strive to keep everyone else happy and put our needs to the bottom of the pile. Well don't! You deserve a big slice of happy too – We all do!

So, if you do make a resolution today, make it to avoid the word 'resolution' altogether. Instead, use the word 'reminder' for the coming new year. Don’t fall into that same trap again. Make the coming new year a different one, a happy one, and one you can look back on and smile.

So rip up that wish list, burn those same old resolutions, and just strive to be the best you, you can be. You might well find that you're a pretty good you just as you are.

Happy 2016 people, let's make this one count.

Sunday 13 December 2015

Working while it's Christmas Everywhere.

Phone still rings
Are you listening
On the line
Clients are grizzling
Not a snowflake in sight,
It just don't feel right,
Working while it's Christmas everywhere.

Gone away, is our shirk mode,
Here to stay, a massive workload
So we'll sing this song,
As we carry on
Working while it's Christmas everywhere.

There's no time to go and build a snowman
And every face you meet just wears a frown
You'll ask for a bonus
They'll say 'No Man'
'Just go and do your job and knuckle down'.

Later on
We'll perspire
As we try to not be fired
There's things to be made
So we can get paid
For working while it's Christmas everywhere.

Phone still rings
Are you listening
On the line
More clients grizzling
Still no snowflake in sight,
So far Christmas is shite
Working while it's Christmas everywhere.

Gone away, is our shirk mode,
Here to stay, a massive workload
So we'll sing this song,
As we carry on 
Working while it's Christmas everywhere.

Not long now before its time to go man
Just pretend its now so you don't drown
Then it's time for fun, maybe a Snowman?
When Christmas starts and work has to shut down

Not long now
ain't it thrilling
We'll be home, happy and chillin'
We'll frolic and play, then we'll all say
It's awesome that it's Christmas everywhere.

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Idleness is a virtue

We're busy doing nothing,
Working the whole day through.
trying to find lots of things not to do,
We're busy going nowhere,
Isn't it just a crime?
We'd like to be unhappy,
We never do have the time.

So the song says, and who are we to argue with those lyrics. Although as it turns out, it makes a very good point!

Do you ever feel like you're constantly chasing your tail, or that time is running away with you. Which would be lovely if it decided to run away to the Bahamas, but sadly we normally remain under our anticyclonic gloom filled skies. Wouldn't it be nice if we all had a little more time to do the things we want, or more importantly, to do nothing at all.

"There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want", is a quote is from Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson. Who was basically reminding us that sometimes it's best to do nothing at all. The trouble is we're all so busy, and when we're not busy, we're filling our time with other things to do that keep us busy. It's like we're addicted to tasks! Then if we don't do them, we end up feeling guilty about not being busy. 

Well I'm here to tell you to stop feeling guilty about it. Enjoy those down times when you're scratching around for something to do. Make the most of any and all moments nothingness. Savour the slothfulness and languish in the languorousness. You deserve some down time – we all do! In fact we actually need it!

I'm not suggesting that we all just start slacking off and just stay in bed all day, but 'nothing time' is almost as important to your brain's health as sleeping is. Pondering and procrastinating, and embracing all your day dreams all help your brain to function. Scientists and people far brainier than me have proven that mentally switching off actually helps you understand decisions better. You learn things quicker. You even become more creative and our productivity gets better. It improves our heart rate and can actually improve our bodies function of fighting illness. As it turns out, neuroscientists are now saying that always busying ourselves with something actually diminishes the quality of our lives. 

We can't all be inactive all the time sadly, but it certainly should be an item on our 'to-do' list that we seem to be losing touch with. You don’t have to become a monk or go on a retreat where you sit in isolation in a room and meditate for months in order to reap the benefits of doing nothing. You only need to silence your mind, and devote yourself to idleness, for just five to ten minutes a day. Preferably a few times throughout the day. 

Like all things, it's about balance of course, but the next time you're sitting at the bus stop, maybe leave your phone in your pocket. Take a walk without plugging in headphones now and again. Or just lay back on the sofa and procrastinate away to your hearts content. A lot of things in life happen at warp speed these days and if you don't slow down once in a while and stop to look around, you just might miss something wonderful. 

Do look after yourself, and each other.

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Hello . . .

Not many people know that Adele's number one Hello, was originally inspired by a telephone conversation she had to her home town months before. So below is the original lyrics she penned to her hit before changing them to something more marketable.

[Good morning! Greggs, Tottenham High Street.
How can I help you?...]
Hello, it's me,
Tummys rumbling after all these years now I'd like some meat,
To go order, everything
They say this time I'm thinner cos I ain't done much eatin'

Hello, can you hear me?
I'm in California dreaming 'bout the pies I used to eat,
When I was younger and free
I'd forgotten how it felt before when I could see my feet.

There's such a distance between us
About a million miles.

Hello send another pie,
Sausage rolls or curry slice
I need food, I'm hungry, for everything that you've done
But when I call you never send me iced buns.

Hello send another pie
At least something that has been fried
I know you, will tell me, it's bad for my heart
But it don't matter, my BMI is way off the chart
Send me more.

Hello, how are you?
It's so typical of me to think about my food, I'm sorry
I hope you're stocked well
Still waiting for something from Tottenham town but nothing yet has happened.

It's no secret that the local bus
has an arse the size of mine

So hello send another pie
Your pasties and your bakes I'll buy
I need food I'm hungry for everything that you've done
But when I call, you never, send me current buns.

Hello send another pie
A Belgian bun and Christmas slice
I won't tell you, I'm sorry, for risking my heart
Send me a platter, but don't be downwind when I fart
I need more, ooooohh
I need more, ooooohh
I need more, ooooohh
I need more, I need more

Hello send another pie
A baguette filled with chicken thigh
I need food, I'm hungry, for everything that you've done
But when I call you never send me cream buns.

Hello send another pie
There must something I've not tried?
I need food, I'm sorry, do you have treacle tart?
Cos it don't matter, my diets gonna have to restart
I need more.

Sunday 15 November 2015

Father Ed

It's mid-morning on Monday, and a lone figure leans into the wind holding a small suitcase against his chest to protect him from the elements. Wearing a yellow storm proof coat and trousers with matching sowester hat, they try to not trip over stray sheep as they make their way towards the grey, rain-soaked, hurricane battered walls of Craggy Islands Presbytery.

Inside, Father Dougal McGuire is kneeling the wrong way on a moth-eaten arm chair with his hands resting on its back as he stares, with the kind of open mouthed excitement that is normally only associated with a highly strung labrador, out the grubby front room window.

“Oh my God, I can see him! He's coming!” Dougal squeaked with unbridled glee as he bounced on his knees on the badly sprung seat. 

“Quick everyone, get ready, he's coming up the path!” He continued in a near squeal, as he leapt from the seat and repeatedly bounced on the spot.

Mrs Doyle rolled her eyes, tutted and shook her head as she shuffled out of the room and headed towards the kitchen. While on the other side of the small front room, Father Jack Hackett stopped snoring with an abrupt snort from his stained chair, opened one bloodshot, crazed eye and let out a guttural growl, before closing it again and continuing his loud sleep. 

Dougal was still bouncing with his fists clenched and his eyes tightly closed as the doorbell rang and he shot off like an over-enthusiastic toddler towards the front door.

“Ah hello there Father,” The stranger loudly announced as the door swung inwards and the tempest outside continued to batter his drenched features, “you must be Father McGuire?”

Dougal said nothing, just continued to stare directly at the sodden Priest with the same open-mouthed glee that had been on his face since he'd awoken that morning in his Iron Man pyjamas.

“I'm Father Edward McGuinness,” The stranger continued, bellowing above the roar of the untamed wind, and holding out his hand to be shook, “I'm the new Priest in residence here, may I come in at all?”

Again, Dougal continued to say absolutely nothing for what seemed an ice-age as he studied every inch of Father Edward's face, before he looked down at Father Edwards hand and slapped it with his own.

“What you standing out there for Ted!?” Dougal suddenly blurted, with a look complete confusion, “You'll catch your death out there. Come on inside, and I'll go get the Ker-Plunk from my room.”

Father Edward looked concerned, but nevertheless, after removing his bright, rainproof attire and placing his suitcase in the hallway, he followed Dougal into the front room.

“No Father Dougal, I'm Father Edward, Father Edward McGuinness,” he tried to explain, “but you can call me 'Ed' if you like?”

“Where have you been Ted, you've been gone ages!” Dougal said shaking his head, “You had us all worried there for minute.”

“No Dougal, I'm Father Edward! Father Ted died some 17 years ago, don't you remember going to his funeral?”

“Oh yeah!” Dougal replied, with a knowing nod, “That was brilliant Ted! How did you manage to do all that?” He then leant in with a conspiratorial whisper and added, “You know I think Mrs Doyle actually believed it, she was crying and everything! But then she is very stupid, not like us ay Ted!”

Father Edward shook his head, wondering what he had to say, before Dougal piped up once more.

“Have you died your hair there Ted? I think I preferred it grey meself.”

“No Dougal,” Father Edward said as he tried to slowly explain, “this is my hair. I have brown hair. Father Ted had grey hair, but Father Ted is dead Dougal.”

“Oh right you are then, Ted.” Dougal said tapping the side of his nose and theatrically winking. “I'll tell you one thing though Ted, I'm never playing hide and seek with you again. You just take it way too far!

It was then Mrs Doyle came shaking through the doorway carrying a fine china, cup of tea on a silver tray. 

“Ah, you must be Mrs Doyle!” Father Edward brightly said as he rushed towards her holding out his hand, “I'm Father Edward, but you can call me Ed if you like.”

Mrs Doyle stood motionless glaring at him, looking him up and down as she screwed up her face.

“No, I don't think so.” she finally said after shaking her head.

“I'm sorry?” Father Edward said feeling even more confused, then looking down at the tray Mrs Doyle was carrying, added, “Ah, is that cup of tea there for me Mrs Doyle?”

Mrs Doyle looked completely affronted, and turned the tray away from Father Edward.

“No, it certainly is not!” She said before turning on the spot and shuffling back towards the hallway.

She muttered as she left the room, although her muttering was done at volume that everyone could hear.

“Coming round here wearing his provocative cardigans, acting like some sex-crazed Casanova, with his 'oh you can call me Ed if you like'! Who does he think he is!? What's wrong with a nice long name like Ted – THE BASTARD!”

Father Edward stood confused in the front room, as he looked across at Dougal still full of wonder, and noticed Father Jack was stirring. Maybe he needed a rousing speech to get everyone on side. 

“Well, everyone,” he said clapping his hands, “it's a Monday. It's the start of a new week. A new chapter in all of our lives. So let's make it a grand one ay. What do ya say?”

Father Jack snarled as he open both his eyes, and grabbed the armrests of his chair before bellowing,

Thursday 29 October 2015

How to happy.

Daft punk were staying up all night to get it. Pharrell was it! Bobby McFerrin told us not to worry and to just be it. And the, surprisingly still not late, great Ken Dodd told us, it was the greatest gift that we can possess. But just how easy is it to find our fair share of happiness?

It's such a simple little word, but it means SO much to the way we view our lives. We actually measure our well being by how much time we spend just being happy. And it's not always easy to achieve in the general humdrum of our daily grind. So what is the secret?

Well the truth is, there isn't one. There's no magic formula we can all do to find our happy because everyone's view of being happy is triggered by different things. To some it's just spending time with loved ones. To others it might mean getting the latest gadget or a must have pair of shoes. Or it might just mean getting the chance to do nothing at all.

I recently watched 'Hector and his Search for Happiness', a Simon Pegg film based on a book by Francois Lelord. It's about a psychiatrist who goes in search for the meaning of happiness initially so he can help his patients find it it. During the course of the film he jots down little facts taken from the people he meets along his journey, about their views of happiness. Here's just a few of them, mixed in with a few of my own:

1. Making comparisons can spoil your happiness.
2. Happiness often comes when least expected.
3. Many people only seem to see happiness in their future.
4. Many people think happiness comes from having more power or more money – they are generally not happy people.
5. Sometimes happiness is not knowing the whole story.
6. It’s a mistake to think that happiness is the goal.
7. Happiness is being with the people you love; unhappiness is being separated from the people you love.
8. Happiness is doing a job you love with people you love doing it with.
9. Happiness is having a home and a garden to sit in.
10. Happiness is feeling useful to others.
11. Happiness is to be loved for exactly who you are.
12. Happiness comes when you feel truly alive.
13. Happiness is knowing how to celebrate properly.
14. Happiness is caring about the happiness of those you love.
15. Happiness is not attaching too much importance to what other people think of you.
16. The sun and the sea make everybody happy.
17. Women care more than men about making others happy.
18. Happiness means making sure that those around you are happy.
19. Happiness is highly contagious.
20. Happiness is spending more time with happy people.

Have an awesome day people – now go chase your happy!

Tuesday 30 June 2015

Found the Summer

[To the tune of The Sound of Silence by Simon & Garfunkle]

Hello sunshine, my old friend,
I've come to walk with you again,
'Cause the weather's gonna be baking,
No rest at night there's no sleeping,
And the umbrella that I keep beside my door
Is used no more
Now that we've found the Summer.

On sun drenched streets I've walked alone
I've burnt my neck just strolling home,
'Neath the sunshine like a heated lamp,
Sweaty bits that leave my clothes all damp
Then my eyes are blinded by the flash of the solar light
This don't feel right
We've actually having Summer.

Want to run naked out the door,
Don't care what people think no more.
At least I won't be over heating,
The sun can just go on beating,
Who needs to book a flight and take to the air
The sunshine's here
So let's all bask in Summer.

Swimming pools that are outdoors
Is not a pipe dream anymore.
Hear the words that I am singing you.
Take my hand that I might lead you.
Not till Thursday will any raindrops fall
So let's have a ball, it's Summer

There are those that bow and pray
That the sunshine's here to stay.
But we know our Summers are fleeting
There's storm clouds we'll be greeting.
And the weathergirl said, that storms are on the cards,
What a bunch of arse

Oh well, I guess that's Summer.