Thursday, 25 February 2010

Lucky Star

I was chatting in the office to a woman that sits right behind me about day-to-day stuff and she mentioned that she’d seen on the news testimonies relating to the Toyota acceleration pedal problem. I must confess I’ve been going through a “low news” phase of effectively avoiding most television news programmes and less in the way of the printed word, simply because there’s a lot of unnecessary noise that comes with it all. Still, I was very much aware of this hot topic though missed the testimonies in question. My work colleague told me how she had been touched by the story of a woman who had been driving along when the car wouldn’t stop accelerating. The lady in question thought she was going to die and phoned her husband, aware that he was helpless to do anything but just wanted to hear his voice just one last time. Thankfully, she survived to tell the tale but it was one of those wake up calls on the fleetingness of life.

In the course of our conversation, we then progressed onto 9/11, and specifically flight United Airlines Flight 93, the plane that was so bravely, but tragically, diverted by the passengers to avert a full-blown disaster. The thought of those final phone calls made to loved ones in the knowledge that they weren't coming back are still so haunting. But the added twist in our chat was that my colleague was not only visiting Washington DC for the very first time that week, but as she put it: “I still have the entry pass: ‘8.30 tour of the White House’” Had things turned out differently with United 93, she may not have been around to tell the tale. She said it has put an entirely new slant on her life and she keeps the entry pass as a reminder – to remember what’s important in life and what’s not. Hopefully, we don’t have to experience such wake-up calls before we live the life we want to live.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

One night in Bangkok

Bangkok does still have a reputation for the seedy, the salacious, the sinful. And to be honest, that’s all there if you’re looking for it. But at the same time if you are looking for a different type of experience it’s actually quite a cool place. Great cheap shopping, fantastic food and some top-notch bars. And it was at one of these bars on a recent trip I was fortunate enough to have there, that I got thinking.

We found ourselves at a bar-restaurant called Vertigo, on the roof of the plush Banyan Tree hotel and sixty one floors up. On a clear night like we had the view is breathtaking – a sea of lights and silhouetted buildings as far as the eye can see in every direction. The sky just felt huge and so all around us. And as we sat and took in a late night drink, I couldn’t stop thinking about how small everything was down there. Loads of lives living behind all those lights yet from where we were sitting it all seemed so distant and inconsequential. Being able to take a step back from it all made all the noise in my little head seem so small in the bigger scheme of things. It’s so easy to get lost in the fog of what is immediate and just around us and fail to fully appreciate a grander perspective. So if you ever get the chance to go to Bangkok, check out Vertigo for another view on life.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

All you need is love

It’s that time of the year again when husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, “lovers”, prospects and the hopeful get excited about that very special day. Ok, maybe it’s not all a ‘walking into the sunset Hollywood ending’ moment, but I’d like to think that beneath all the commercialism and ‘pressure to do what’s right’, people are at least thinking a bit more about that certain someone. Who knows, you may have read my blog a year ago and had an entirely different someone that time round. It doesn’t matter as far as I’m concerned. As long as the spirit of giving is there, that’s cool. We’re going to be lounging around a swimming pool in Bangkok, as one does, sipping all sorts of colourful fruit juices laced with a kick. It kind of works for me… So, spread a little love I say and put a smile on someone’s face.

And as it’s also Chinese New Year, Xin Nian Hao / Kung Hei Fat Choi/ 恭賀發財

After all, what the world needs now is love sweet love, as I like to say.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Money’s too tight to mention

There's one thing that I'm really trying to get to grips with - money. It's not money, per se, as I have enough to eat, sleep and make merry, but I seem to find myself beating myself up over nothing at times. A case in point - I have a pretty tatty and rubbish mobile phone and have been thinking quite a lot about getting an iPhone or some other new-fangled smartphone. I can afford it and quite like the look of those kind of things. But I just can't quite dig into my pockets.

Without wanting to over-analyse the basis of this, I was brought up to be very aware of how I spent money. We didn't have much and knew how to make money stretch so to speak. I guess I developed a sense of the importance of value. To be fair, I'm quite good with money - I don't get enticed into spending by a nice window display or a bad mood. I tend to know how much I've got in the bank, where I can get discounts and when I should be investing. But I still don't think my relationship with money is as healthy as it could be. That's because I think I'm limited by fear. Fear that I'll need the money one day, perhaps. I can almost feel the caution overwhelming me everytime I go into a mobile phone shop. Very strange.

And being limited in such a way I kind of feel I'm symbolically doing the same for life generally. I don't have any great urge to splash incessantly, and I guess I'm reasonably generous towards others. Maybe I need to get it into my head that I can deserve some of the nicer things and damn the cost. I need to be a little more trusting that I'm actually pretty decent with money and always will be. I can't let this limit the need to upgrade things generally in life. Food for thought.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010


I had one of those breakthrough moments today. I've been doing Wing Chun kung fu for about 18 months now and I go through moments of trying hard to really get it right. But, let's face it, Jackie Chan won't be losing any sleep over my performances. But today I stopped forcing myself to do things in a way that I felt I was meant to do things and just relaxed into it. Okay, the instructors have been telling me for months and months to just chill a bit more but today I actually couldn't be bothered to force things. And, voila, things felt so much easier. The focus was just on relaxing. That's a message for many things in life for me. I really must do what I'm told more often.