Tuesday, 17 August 2010


A few years ago I took my Grandad for a pint.

Just to set the scene; He was 93 – all faculties still in working order – especially his brain. It was about 12.00 and we went to The Nags Head. The pub he’d been drinking in for decades was now one of those beefeater pubs, with raised platform away from the main bar where you can eat your scampi and fries.

This is where we sat – Backs against the wall, so that Grandad could survey the place. And with half a pint of Guinness in his hand, off he went with his stories. How he played for Everton Boys; How great Dixie Dean was; The time he went on holiday with Danny McGrain’s mum and dad; A barrage of tales from his days as a Liverpool Docker, and In between tales he’d send me back down to the bar for the ‘refills’.

Anyway, as lunchtime progressed, the place filled up and I noticed my Grandad had gone quiet and was looking around the pub. He was in another place completely.

“What are you thinking about” I asked.

“Eh? “What” – oh er… I was just thinking... was just thinking I need another ale lad – off you go.” he replied.
So I did, and joined the now 3-deep crowd at the bar.
While waiting my turn, I heard him shouting at me…
“Ay Ant'nee – Ant’nee – get it there lad – get in there. Theres a space there.”

From his place on the eating deck, he’d seen that there was an empty space at the bar where there was nobody standing. Unfortunately for me though, he hadn’t seen the sign above the gap that read,
“No service here – glass collection point.”
But Grandad knew best, and it being the only way of stopping him shouting at me - I moved to the gap.

The barman instantly came over and said, “Same again? I’ll bring them up.”
And he did.
A bit later on - as the lunchtime custom disappeared, Grandad said
Do you still want to know what I’m thinking?”

“Eh? Oh yeah – what’re you thinking?” expecting another story from the docks…
“It’s all rush, rush, rush isn’t it?”
Wheres that come from? I wondered

“Well", he said. “We came in here, sat down, had a pint and a nice chat, and then lunchtime came and brought all these guys rushing in. Ordering their burgers and chips and rushing down a couple of pints. Now look – they’ve rushed back to work, to probably rush through the afternoon, before rushing home in the rush hour. They’ll rush through tonight and then go at it again tomorrow. It’s all rush, rush, rush with you guys. You’re all missing it all. You’re missing what’s going on around you. Just like that space at the bar that you missed. You’re not taking time, to see what’s around you".

Then he asked me the question that has affected me since, and indirectly my work and my clients…

He looked at me and asked,

“Why are you all trying to get through your lives so quickly?”

And, as most 93 year old Grandad’s are, he was right.

We all generally rush about, doing things as fast as we can, and we do miss so much. Usually the best bits.
The obvious spaces.

So what I’m suggesting to you is work quickly yes – hit that deadline yes. But don’t rush – you’ll only miss the best bits.

Occasionally, deliberately, SLOW DOWN!!

You’ll still get where you’re going, but on the way, take the time to have a good look around – look at all the possible options available. Break from the norm. The expected. The rules even.

Just like the empty space at the bar, just because the little sign said not to stand there – didn’t mean that I couldn’t try – and look at the outcome!

And by slowing down, chances are - you’ll get where you’re going a lot quicker.

Thursday, 11 February 2010


“Life’s too short…”

How many times do we have to hear those words before we actually listen to them?

They usually follow a monologue about how a young life is no more, or a tragic circumstance headlines a daily read – but I tell you what, I got a rude awakening today – not by a sudden death or by some irrelevant tragedy, but on the train home tonight.

I’ve been travelling on the train now for some XX years, and by doing so have got pretty familiar with the tannoy voices and their various announcements. The fellow frequent travellers - commuters lost in iPod-dom. The friends who do not follow you on Twitter – the friends that have no facebook wall – the friends that, well aren’t really friends. Merely platform furniture that you become acquainted with.

A smile here, a nod there. A “bloody trains…” here, and a “it’s ridiculous this…” there, soon start to bond the platform posse.

Anyway I digress. There was one such person that I would nod to, occasionally bid good morning to, and on the famous ’last trains home’ would often share a few slurred words about the beauty of Guinness.

The last time I saw him was about the end of the Summer. He used to sit in a sharp suit, focused on some paperback or other, and whilst reading would spin his wedding ring around between his fingers.

He used to.

Tonight I saw him again. But he wasn’t there.

Tonight there was no smart suit, no book in his hands and most apparent, no ring on his finger. There was a lady next to him though that wiped his mouth for him as he stared blankly across the carriage - his mind in a completely different place. I don’t know what has happened to him, and God help him, he’s in not fit state to tell me. And if I’m honest - I’m not sure I really want to know.

What I am sure of is that by seeing him again tonight I’ve realised yet again - that life’s too short. We dont know what's around that corner, and we really don’t have time to stand around waiting for things to happen.

I hope I remember that tomorrow.