Music to Die For

Today is my birthday. Somehow I’ve made it to 48, the age Mum was when she died. Today is a day for celebrating, for being happy, and thinking ahead.

If I have a faith, it is in people – past present and future. My funeral won’t be a religious affair, so in place of hymns, there will be music instead. Currently, here’s what will be on offer and why:

1. I Fought The Law

Breakin’ rocks in the hot sun 
I fought the law and the law won

This song is carved into the heart of my late teenage years. Mum died just before I turned 19. She not only endured my interest in the punk movement, she encouraged it. The prospect of stomping around Croydon in shiny black ten hole Doctor Martin boots sporting a black Harrington jacket and a bad attitude is what used to get me out of bed on a Saturday morning. That and the fact that my £1 weekly allowance was enough to get the bus to and from town, buy a copy of the Cost of Living EP from Virgin Records, and have change left over for a Mars Bar. Happy days.

2. Rock O My Soul

My soul is weak
Rock my soul
And thou art strong
Rock my soul

Before Elvis and The Beatles, there was Lonnie Donegan. Donegan was born in Glasgow in and began playing in London clubs in the late 1940s. With his simple guitar rhythms, powerful voice and rock solid band he chalked up 24 consecutive top 30 singles. This quote of his speaks volumes to me in terms of making music accessible:

“In England, we were separated from our folk music tradition centuries ago and were imbued with the idea that music was for the upper classes. You had to be very clever to play music. When I came along with the old three chords, people began to think that if I could do it, so could they. It was the reintroduction of the folk music bridge which did that.”

My Dad grew up listening to Lonnie Donegan, and as is the way, so did I. In my teenage years, my interest in Donegan waned in favour of bands like The Clash and The Damned, and when Dad died in early 2012, I rediscovered Lonnie Donegan’s simple power, and humour. Listening to his music has been a significant part of evolving grief into cherished memories.

3. The Garden

The treasure of a life is a measure of love and respect,
The way you live, the gifts that you give

In the fullness of time,
It’s the only return that you expect

Earlier this year I took myself and two very close friends off to the O2 to see Rush on their Clockwork Angels tour. We took the riverboat down to the venue, treated ourselves to seats right down the front, drank beer, spilled beer, and watched the band play. This song was a highlight and since that day it has pencilled, painted, inked and now tattooed itself into me. I love this song because it reminds me of my shortcomings, and of how far I still have to go. I love the idea that life is a garden to nurture and protect.

I have much nurturing to do. I’m off to do some now.

Have a great day.

There are successful bands all over the world with average guitar players, and singers that can hold a note, but every great band seems to have one thing in common. This post is for drummers and percussionists everywhere. To those who keep the rhythm, so the rest of us don’t have to.

Take a walk

Last week we shipped more Stop Doing Dumb Things cards in the UK and to the USA. Some of our very first shipments have arrived in the USA and Canada, and the feedback from people is lovely. Thank you.

Salima Nathoo was kind enough to pop a photo montage of her cards on Facebook and I’d like to share it here.

Salima Nathoo Stop Doing Dumb Things

Salima picked a couple of her favourite cards, and today’s blog post is about one of those, the one that says ‘Go for a walk with someone. Set up a walking meeting with some colleagues’.

Salima’s choice reminded me of our Facilitation Jam earlier in the year when Martin Couzins invited us to take a walk in the freezing cold at Greenwich Park. The different surroundings led to all sorts of interesting conversations, and different perspectives.

I’ve written previously about the importance of walking around as part of wellbeing, and Salima pointed me to this short (3.5 minutes) video by Nilofer Merchant about walking meetings.

Once you’ve ordered your set of Stop Doing Dumb Things, why not go for a walk with someone and share a few ideas about how you can make work better.

Have a great week.

When I Die…

…you will find me at the bottom of a box of memories.

For years now, I’ve been collecting little bits and pieces, treasured things and moments. I keep them in this box. Once in a while I get the box out, add one or two things, and sometimes take one or two things out too. We had a look through the box today, it prompted a lot of laughs, and just a few tears.

When I Die

When I die, you will find me at the bottom of a box of memories. I expect I’ll have a smile on my face.