This could be the last time

Good morning Tash Appreciators,

In the past, TF has said that dealing with perceived defeat requires nothing more than picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and moving on. That’s too simplistic.

Let me give you two examples of what I mean – they’re both from The Shawshank Redemption. The story of Andy Dufresne’s  imprisonment after he was wrongly convicted of the murder of his wife has become a classic movie. You’ll also probably remember that the other main character in the film was Ellis “Red” Redding.

At first glance, you might imagine that it would be Andy who would have the most difficulty in dealing with his situation. However, he comes up with the phrase “get busy living or get busy dying”, which seems to give him the encouragement he needs to press on.

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Andy was faced with a tangible obstacle to his happiness – prison walls. In a way, a prison wall or another tangible barrier is easier to overcome than a mental barrier. It’s like looking into the abyss and realising that there may be a path around it. Knowing that there is something tangible on the other side of an obstacle can give a person hope that, one day, they will overcome. Sometimes, thinking to ourselves “get busy living or get busy dying” will be enough for us to pick ourselves up from whatever has gotten us down.

Red, on the other hand, had a different problem. After spending decades in prison, Red became – to use his words – “an institutionalised man”. He was faced with a physical and a mental barrier in that he had spent so much time in prison that his mind couldn’t contemplate anything else. He had stared into the abyss for too long and he needed more than self-motivation to help him survive his freedom. Many of us will have times in our lives when we need the support of others in the same way that Red did.

So what saved him? Well, Red’s thoughts after he left prison give us a clue:

“I find I’m so excited that I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel. A free man at a start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain.

I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams.

I hope.”

Like Chris Moltisanti in the Sopranos, Red is looking at his future as a journey which he wants to start. Like all of us, he hopes that he gets to where he wants to go. However, crucially, Red has identified that seeing his friend is an essential part of that journey and, in a way, would mark the end of it.

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The point of these three editions of TF is that ambition and resilience are not all that’s required to be successful (in the widest possible sense) in life. The third – and perhaps most important aspect of success – is what old John Donne said: “No man is an island, entire of itself”. LCD Soundsystem put it another way in the TF anthem “All My Friends” (which charts a person’s life) by ending with the words: “where are your friends tonight?”

Like Red, the time has come for this Tash Appreciator to embark on the next long journey. Rather than simply being excited, it’s a fairly scary proposition and all I can do is give it everything I’ve got and hope that it turns out ok. Unfortunately, the start of the next journey means the end of TF, at least for now. Part of the reasoning behind this final TF has been to acknowledge the help and support that I receive from many of you – I really do appreciate it and I am lucky to be able to say that the expression on Red’s face when he sees Andy on the beach in Mexico is one which I understand and probably quite often mirror. I hope that in return TF has added something to your Friday mornings over the last three or four years.

Also like Red, I have plans to reach the blue Pacific ocean but, until then, I will make do with the blue of Blue Dog in Glasgow at around 9pm. I’m hopeful that a few of my friends will be there tonight – you are all most welcome.

I shall leave you with two things. Firstly, this week’s Tash, which of course is Morgan Freeman:

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And secondly, the question which I hope will continue to challenge all of us, regardless of whether TF is around to provide a weekly reminder:

What’s next?

In your dreams…

Good morning Tash Appreciators,

As has become customary at this time of year, this week’s TF is the first part of an end-of-season double-edition.

The end of this season prompted me to look at TF editions from this time last year. It turns out that the second last edition of 2012/13 was titled “what’s next?” – a question which is now a key element of each edition.

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I can now report that the question “what’s next?” has become one which many Appreciators ask themselves on a regular basis. I’ve had messages from folk who are making bold decisions relating to their career in which they say they must “dare greatly” and that they feel they are standing on a ledge looking out over the world without thinking about the empty space beneath them.

Man on top

That’s not because they’ve read TF and experienced some kind of epiphany. I think it’s because they see that being positive and ambitious encourages those around them to do the same. It’s a virtuous cycle which leads to more people being successful and which also provides a support network for those times when things don’t quite go as well as we’d hoped.

The title of this week’s TF is “In your dreams…” You can say those three words in different ways. One way of saying them is the approach which is perhaps more likely to be used by someone who doesn’t have a positive attitude. They would say it dismissively and sarcastically.

The other way is one which I will explain next week – where having a dream, or a vision, or ambition, is the only way to get anything extraordinary done.

In the meantime, I will leave you with a Tash who dared greatly, who did some pretty extraordinary stuff, but who is now in need in a bit of support. His team has dominated European and world football since 2008 but their time has come to an end after being knocked out of the World Cup in the first round. Don’t worry Vincente Del Bosque, we still appreciate you. How couldn’t we appreciate a man with a Tash this good:

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Have a great weekend folks!

What’s next?

Usual Service Resumes

Guten tag Tash Appreciators,

The last few weeks have been a little “heavy” (i.e. boring) so, this week, TF is going to keep it simple with some good old fashioned Tash related fun. 

I was watching the champions league this week (confirmation, if it was needed, that the premier league is not the greatest league in the world) and it reminded me of, firstly, a superb German football related Tash and then, secondly, that football is a rich source of Tash related material. 

Obviously, there can only be one starting point; Rudi Völler

Interestingly, in this week of footballers behaving badly (again), Herr Völler was also a party to a bit of rather poor behaviour. What makes this even more shocking is that the perpetrator, Frank Rijkaard, was also rocking a Tash at the time:

Many of the better footballing Tashes seem to have come from Liverpool players in the seventies who, I assume, chose to wear one in an effort to look even more menacing than they already were. From my in-depth research into the subject, Tommy Smith looks the most likely to break some knee-caps:

Unfortunately, footballers these days seem to be more concerned with their hair than looking like they could/would break your legs if you dared to even attempt to score. There are one or two kicking about (pun intended) but perhaps Michael Ballack’s strangely forlorn attempt is the reason why the fashionistas of the current footballing generation have left the Tash behind:

Have a great weekend folks!

Keep going!