Thursday, 3 December 2009

Steve Chadwick - Life's Short

Hi Dave and Lifesshort,

Ole' Steve Chadwick from CWS checking in.

I took your Lifesshort advice quit my job at the end of last year and went travelling to the US and Canada, checking in with mates over their that I've made over the years. I just needed to chill out for a while. I did 30,000 miles from coast to coast following first the ice hockey and then the baseball ! There is nothing better than a Mid-May afternoon game at Wrigley Field in Chicago, with maybe the exception of Vale Park on a wet and windy Tuesday night in November !

I got back in late-Spring, with a hankering for Excel spreadsheets, so it's back to full-time employment.

How are things going for you ?


Wednesday, 29 July 2009

My birthday

Hey, hey, hey, it's my birthday.

Well, I haven't really celebrated birthdays in a while. I used to go to clubs and give it a good go - the week before and the week after, dance all night. Excuse for a big one so to speak. But not done that for quite some time. Maybe it's the process of getting older...things had changed, it had become passe.

For some reason, this year feels different. I'm happy it's my birthday, I want people to know it's my birthday, sound the sirens, it's Dave's birthday - 47 !!! Not 21, or 30, or 40 - 47 and proud of it. Got all me teeth, got all me hair, all working order, and fitter than the previous ten.

My nephew, Archie, who is 8 said last night "I know how old you are and how old you look - you look 25 but I don't want to say how old you are cuz I shouldn't"

Very kind, Arch. I'm well past looking 25 but 'shouldn't' ? You most certainly should. 47, 47, 47 !!!

I told him that every year I get another number, it's a bigger number. A number that makes me grander, larger, higher, smarter...well maybe not smarter...but maybe I am smarter...maybe that's why I want to town-crier it across the wires, to banner it over the land.

I've gone through a period where I just accept that I keep making the same mistakes in life, but because I have a good time, wild times, mistakes will happen, like a hedonists occupational hazard. That period has gone by and as the high times have subsided, I've started to operate with slightly more clarity...only slightly ! Breaking the chain.

Anyway, I'm pleased it's my birthday. I don't want to sheepishly say "Oh I'm 29" (not that I ever have - except when I was 29). I'm 47 and happy with it. I've got a lust for life, but in a more thinking way. A standback way.

I'll have to add more when I've stood back !

Life's short, roll on the 2nd third ;-)

David x

Monday, 29 June 2009


So the death of Michael Jackson was a shock. Well, it wasn't really was it ? I mean, from the earliest eccentricities in the early 80's, of having a vicious chimp as an omnipresent chum, through the ghastly mutilation of his face, to the unproven child molestation trials - this was a man with self-destruction programmed into his very soul. By the time I watched his quite astonishing performance at Wembley in '88, I was certain that he wouldn't go the full term.

But what soul he truly had. The music of his early years remains the most emotionally charged legacy for me, and although I was unimpressed with his output from Thriller onwards, Michael's place in musical history will endure. I've never listened to 'Lookin Through The Windows' without being wholly affected by a voice that seemed to 'know' how we all feel in the throes of adult relationships - he was just 12.

The 'Off The Wall' album was inspirational. Although much can be attributed to Quincy Jones, it almost single-handedly brought black and latin rhythms to a mainstream white audience. It was the largest selling album by a black artist at that time, and it was very not mainstream. 'Rock With You' remains one of my favourite tracks ever - try and find the very rare but unequalled gem of the Frankie Knuckles remix from about '94 - a stunning showcase of how his voice touched even the most dulled of nerves back in his early career.

But as with all high profile entertainers, he suffered from the media's obsession with hyperbole. Off The Wall was the new 'Heartbreak Hotel' highlighting that he was something special at a time when the media had just lost it's other 'whacko' darling, Elvis, and it really fed regally on every aspect of his life. I'm not sure that anyone could remain normal under the strain that the media weighed down on Elvis or Jackson. I saw a headline in one of the quality papers on Saturday - 'Death By Showbusiness' and from the record-busting sales of the Thriller album and video onwards, he didn't stand a chance. No one in the entertainment industry had been subjected to the kind of pressure and scrutiny since Elvis. Sure, neither helped themselves with wild excess and daftness, but we mere mortals can only guess how we'd cope.

There are of course many parallels between these two icons.

Presley was pretty much solely responsible for breaking black music into middle class white America which is known for its conservatism. Jackson was stage 2 in the same process. Just as we'd become accustomed to black music being customised and corporatised to comfy white tastes, he went out on a limb with Jones to bring those swervy latin rhythms to the same audience. When the largest ever audience watched the terrestrial broadcasts of the 'Thriller' video, MTV still refused to show it, opting for safe white artists. Under pressure from Jackson, his record company forced MTV's hand by threatening to boycott it by withdrawing its other artists. The safe door was bludgeoned open and the devil's music stampeded in.

Elvis and Michael were both prolific in their early careers, changing music radically, but never again (in my view) recovered from, or regained that profundity of being who they really were as artists. Thriller, like the film-making phase of Elvis career, cast Michael as a the white audience's new toy, rather than leading the musical way himself. It was an album which was tailored for them without challenging them. It rewarded them for buying 'Off The Wall' but broke no boundaries other than stellar sales.

Jackson, as did Presley, fell into the hands of unscrupulous business partners and, it seems physicians. Both made and lost huge fortunes, both were notorious for gob-smacking decadence, both started to believe the media's deifications, both were embarrassingly out of touch with all other human beings, both died under questionable medication.

I mourned the passing of neither. When Elvis died, I was 15 and he seemed to me to be a bit irrelevant to music, a fat relic of a time gone by. I asked my 15-year-old son what he thought of Michael's death and he said all he knew of him was that he was weird. And that's the point here - he hasn't made a seriously good track since we were kids ourselves. All the world sees is the madness, the mutilation (I can't even bring myself to include a later pic here), the dodgy court cases and pay-offs. I'm never interested in the lives and opinions of entertainers - just their art.

So, we'll be subjected to all the hype and feeding frenzy of the media which loves a high profile death, a funeral with all the nauseating sentimentalism of the vile Diana, endless plays of 'Beat It' yet none of the beauty of the purest vocals and dance of pre-Thrillerism, the years of court-cases to sort his estate, his father's shameful and premature promotion of the new Jackson label, and the unabating conspiracy theorists amongst life-free fans. 'He's not really dead'. Yeah, we know...

Finally, dying at 50 for whatever reason, is pretty rubbish, but again it's a challenge to us all to fill what maybe our last day with all we can. The world has been relieved of a cringing embarrassment, a long-lost soul, an unrivalled song and danceman...that's all.

David x

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Happy 50th Birthday Mr Grumpy

It was 5.00pm on Wed 11th March, Mr Grumpy sat in his office, contemplating the results from Cheltenham, and looking forward to the Gold Cup on Friday the 13th. This auspicious date was to be his 50th birthday, an occasion he could well do without, and didn't want anyone to know or to notice.

Into the drive came parents-in-law whereupon the realisation that a proposed meal of decadence at The Stag at Titley was not really going to happen. Mr Grumpy complained bitterly about a) missing the Gold Cup and b) wanting to see his three sons on the Sat night.

Told to take the dog for a walk, he did as requested, with many chunters. So after as much grumpiness as he could possibly muster, he was scolded haughtily and sent to bed early. "But prepare a case for an early start tomorrow" said Mrs Grumpy (who wasn't really grumpy at all, she was just unlucky enough to have married Mr Grumpy. In fact, before she was married she was called Miss Happy).After the promised early start, Mr Grumpy was taken right out of his stride when the taxi dropped them off at Heathrow, and was starting to show worrying signs of an improved demeanour when guided towards Club Class seats to New York ! He hadn't guessed a thing even in the departure lounge, because Mrs Grumpy had worked her happy magic in grave secrecy.

What a lovely surprise to saunter into Manhattan for dinner on Thursday in a small but perfectly formed (slightly like Mr G) Italian restaurant. Mr Grumpy was taken sight-seeing on Friday - the Empire State building, then went out on the Statue of liberty ferry and onto Ellis Island.

Back at the swanky apartment Mr Grumpy got ready for dinner, thinking he was losing his grip on his rancourous attitude, when the now retitled Lady Grumpy went out to get some crisps ?

Anyway, by now he was missing his boys on his 50th, so maybe he could be grumpy about that. Crisps, he thought ? She hates them. Then a loud knock on the door. Who the bloody hell is that he thought.Surprise ! There at the door stood the missing teenage sons, Harry, Jamie and Joshua who had flown from Bristol to Newark on Continental and then enjoyed a limo to town and apartment in the same emporium, all arranged by Lady G. Completely knocked over by this arrival Mr G could not hide his joy and shed a (quickly wiped away) tear.

They weren't finished there. Fantastic food in Soho, a helicopter ride over Manhattan, Madison Square Gardens, the site of the Twin Towers, Wall Street. Followed by dinner in a jazz club which had a really typically schmoozy atmosphere

Next day to Times Square and then on to Central Park and then flew back to UK.

What a week end !! And all because Miss Happy thought "Life's short, do it now !"

Mr Grumpy has since had his name changed by deed poll to Laughing Jonny. The spirits - they did it all in one night !

Life is indeed short, too short for anything other than regular doses of fun and good times.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Life is today, not tomorrow

I get plenty of circular emails and most of them I delete without reading, but this one was from my Dad, and he'd got it from my cousin who now lives in deepest, darkest France. Circular mails often feel insincere, unfunny, American, cheap. This one, whatever it is, is an image-laden expression of Lifesshort, so I've avoided decorating it with pictures - let your mind see them :-

Too many people put off something that brings them joy just because they
haven't thought about it, don't have it on their schedule, didn't know itwas coming or are too rigid to part from their routine.

I got to thinking one day about all those women on the Titanic who passed up dessert at dinner that fateful night in an effort to cut back. From then on, I've tried to be a little more flexible.

How many women out there will eat at home because their husband didn't suggest going out to dinner until after something had been thawed? Does the word 'refrigeration' mean nothing to you?

How often have your kids dropped in to talk and sat in silence while you watched 'Jeopardy' on television?

I cannot count the times I called my sister and said, 'How about going to lunch in a half hour?' She would spit and stammer, 'I can't. I have clothes on the line. My hair is dirty. I wish I had known yesterday, I had a late breakfast, It looks like rain.' And my personal favorite: 'It's Monday.' She died a few years ago. We never did have lunch together.

Because we cram so much into our lives, we tend to schedule our headaches. We live on a sparse diet of promises we make to ourselves when all the conditions are perfect!

We'll go back and visit the grandparents when we get Steve toilet-trained. We'll entertain when we replace the living-room carpet... We'll go on a second honeymoon when we get two more kids out of college.

Life has a way of accelerating as we get older. The days get shorter, and the list of promises to ourselves gets longer. One morning, we awaken, and all we have to show for our lives is a litany of 'I'm going to', 'I plan on', and 'Someday, when things are settled down a bit.'

When anyone calls my 'seize-the-moment' friend, she is open to adventure and available for trips. She keeps an open mind on new ideas. Her enthusiasm for life is contagious. You talk with her for five minutes, and you're ready to trade your bad feet for a pair of Roller blades and skip an elevator for a bungee cord...

My lips have not touched ice cream in 10 years. I love ice cream.It's just that I might as well apply it directly to my stomach with a spatula and eliminate the digestive process The other day, I stopped the car and bought a triple-Decker. If my car had hit an iceberg on the way home, I would have died happy.

Now...go on and have a nice day. Do something you WANT to......not something on your 'SHOULD-DO' list. If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?

Have you ever watched kids playing on a merry go round or listened to the rain lapping on the ground? Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight or gazed at the sun into the fading night? Do you run through each day on the fly? When you ask ' How are you?' Do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed with the next hundred chores running through your head? Ever told your child, 'We'll do it tomorrow.' And in your haste, not see his sorrow? Ever lost touch? Let a good friendship die? Just call to say 'Hi'.

When you worry and hurry through your day, it is like an unopened gift....thrown away..... Life is not a race take it slower. Hear the music before the song is over.

'Life may not be the party we hoped for... but while we are here we might as well dance!

David x

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Simple Site Company

Life's short and it should never stand still, so the Lifesshort team is now offering its services to the world on web building.

All types of site are available from our new sister outfit, The Simple Site Company, from complex commercial selling sites to simple 3-page information sites for schools, playgroups, mothers mornings, 5-a-side leagues...and the most important thing is it won't cost you mad money.
Or you may have a Facebook, Bebo or Myspace page and want to attach more information in a new and innovative way. Instead of working within the confines of the networking functionality, let us put your own personal site together with pics, videos, games, that'd look original amongst your friends - "Yeah I've got a Facebook but I just direct people to my own site !"

Contact us now to discuss what you want and we'll give you a FREE quote for your new personalised website. Simple sites at simple prices.

Lifesshort - do it now !

David x

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Lifesshort - the big picture ?

Lifesshort is many things to many people. To me it is a mantra to cast off the shackles and take advantage of life's opportunities. But it's whatever you want it to be. We are constantly reminded how tenuous our grip on life is, how frail and fateful it might be. Every day (and night) is a chance to enjoy the living part of our universal entity. The advent of Lifesshort was a consideration and attempt to understand what it all meant, if anything.

The concept of God in the old sense of a guardian to look after us if we pray and live good lives, has switched so many people off the track of true spirituality as the acceleration of science and technology emphasises the reality of matter, but tends unwittingly to discount whatever is inexplicable in those terms. That old concept of God was constructed to connect with pre-technology/science peoples. A modern portrayal of God might be far more palatable for the highly educated 21st century-adjusted person, than merely blind faith.

So if God is a conscious entity within every part of the fabric of the universe then many of the phrases of the various religions would have resonance in both old and new concepts. 'God is love', 'God is all around us' etc. We've spent so much energy working out the physical aspects of the universe that we haven't even begun to contemplate the metaphysical side - which is the true honeycomb of its existence. A close friend of Lifesshort is a devout Christian who believes unerringly in God. She says that she is helped every day by God at her side and draws supernatural strength from His love. But she feels that God is not able to control all things that happen in the universe, and thus wars, death and natural disaster lead people to question His existence. Is love for all things the answer ? Modern spiritualists say that whatever vibrations you send out into the universe, you get the same back. If you vibrate darkness and hate then that will be your lot. Love and caring will be returned correspondingly.

However, this hocus pocus all seems so hit and miss to todays westerner. If 'believers' cannot articulate, permeate, demonstrate the truth and law of God or the universe then how can the sceptical masses be swayed ? If we'd started the process of understanding this at the same time as the pursuit of physical science then we might be closer to our God than the fading numbers of blind faithers sitting in cold stone sheds built in the Middle Ages.

It struck me over Christmas that the vast majority of the 6 billion people on this planet want a peaceful existence, have no desire to eradicate their neighbouring country or take it's mineral wealth. They care not to want to convert the other half of the world to their own version of faith, but to live in harmony with it without impacting on others. How then, do we achieve endless warmongering, death and destruction on a scale beyond the supposedly primitive times ? We know that although our actual intelligence has not increased in 20,000 years, our collective knowledge is so much higher from the experience of history and indeed science. That experience teaches the majority that war, greed and dishonesty is immoral, and for the most part we follow the tenets of the Ten Commandments (don't start me on Moses !) but still we are at the behest of the tiny but ruling minority who for some sinister coincidence become our governors. Our society asks us to praise and admire those who rise to the top, but these are the men and women who consistently break the code of the universe. Blair, Bush, Saddam, Churchill, Hitler, Stalin, Thatcher, Galtieri, Mao, Ahmadinejad, Olmert...all claim to be righteous and that God is on their side.

When will the collective consciousness of the good-vibration-masses obliterate that of the murderous few ? When that happens, maybe we will be closer to all our gods, and to real spiritual nirvana...or maybe just in a better place to live.

David x