8 May 2015

Good morning Tash Appreciators,

How about that election, eh? I was really disappointed/pleased that [insert name] won/lost. I voted but the campaigns were so annoying that I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times when I felt like saying:

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Rather than boring you with election chat, I’d like to talk briefly about something which is hopefully a bit more interesting to everyone: holidays. With spring upon us (seriously, I know it doesn’t feel like it, but it is), it’s time to start looking ahead towards summer and the prospect of some time away.

I know that one Tash Appreciator was waiting until today – 8 May 2015 (I warned you I’d remember) – to even contemplate a holiday. When we spoke about it, he claimed that he didn’t know whether he’d be able to get away and he made the whole thing sound like a bit of a chore.

At the risk of being blunt, this chap is a numpty.

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A holiday is absolutely essential – even the Daily Mail says it’s good for you! I won’t dig deeper into the benefits of a holiday – they are obvious – but I will look at the only question which I think is relevant: do you go somewhere just to get away or do you set the bar higher than that?

When the numpty was spouting his nonsense about not having time to get away, there were three of us talking about holidays: me, the numpty and a third pal. The third pal and I were reminiscing about an excellent trip that a bunch of us went on a few years ago. The numpty wasn’t reminiscing because he turned down the invite to come with us. Anyway, the third pal said: “isn’t it about time we made some new memories rather than talking about old trips?”

I couldn’t agree with him more. On that basis, the answer to the question about how high to set the bar is that you set it as high as your budget and time will possibly allow. Go somewhere far away; where there aren’t “British” pubs and you can’t get Eastenders on the telly; go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go and see the things you’ve always wanted to see.

To the numpty (and anyone else who’s swithering about getting away this summer): consider the gauntlet thrown. Get yourself online and get something booked as soon as you possibly can. When it gets to October, you’ll regret it if you haven’t been away. Hell, come with me or meet me there – I’m away from 21 July to 5 August.

As if the prospect of time off work and relaxation wasn’t enough, going on holiday gives you the opportunity to live like Tom Selleck: you too could lie on a hammock; with a terrible shirt; drinking cocktails out of a pineapple with pink flowers decorating it.

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Don’t worry ladies, you can get in on the action too. I found this delightful number on Amazon for a mere $12!

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Have a great weekend folks!

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Aged 30…

Good morning Tash Appreciators,

A couple of nights ago, I suddenly had a hankering to hear a song that I hadn’t thought about for years: “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” by U2. I can hear the hipsters tutting already but, like T. Swift says: haters gonna hate hate hate.

It’s normal for TF to be written during the course of a commute but that’s traditionally been on trains. This week is slightly different in that I’m typing away while sitting in a cramped window seat on a Bombardier Q400, somewhere over the Irish Sea. It’s a clear spring evening outside and the sun is just dipping below the horizon.

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After take off – when I was allowed to put my earphones back in – I put my new tune on. I’ve listened to it a couple of times now and I’ve reached the conclusion that Bono isn’t looking for something which can be found just by looking for it (like a set of keys). I think the lines about “climbing the highest mountains” and “scaling city walls” are about looking for something intangible.

I know what he means – as I’m sure many of you do. We spend a lot of our time looking for things which, no matter how hard we look, we may never find – things that have to find us, so to speak. That can be religion, a career, the ideal home – anything.

At the moment, I am looking for a home. Not that I don’t have a home, you understand; I’m just looking for a new one. I’ve been telling people that there’s nothing out there and I’ve jokingly said I’m giving up the search. However, watching the sea, sunset and blue sky outside I’m reminded that there is a place out there which feels like home but which cannot be found in Scotland. Maybe I found what I was looking for a long time ago and that’s why nothing I’m seeing now seems quite right.

So where does that leave me? Because the captain has just said it’s 10 minutes until we land and I need to wrap this up before I’m told to put my phone away.

I’m reminded of a line I heard recently when I was watching a documentary about a media mogul who’s empire was at its height in the 1930s – William Randolph Hearst. The film starts with William’s father (George) working away on a small mine, trying to make his fortune.  Ultimately, George decides to  gather his possessions and leave the place of his birth. The narrator says: “aged 30, he went to California.”

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I’m beginning to think that Operation Zorro needs to look further than one year ahead. Unlike Bono, I might have found that intangible thing which has sparked something in my soul. Maybe that’s why I spend an inordinate amount of time watching  planes flying west and wondering whether they’re going to San Francisco. Maybe one day…

It’s not really a Tash but a big dream deserves a large amount of facial hair. Thanks for the inspiration, George Hearst:

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Have a great weekend folks.

As ever, I ask you: what’s next?

Todo debe pasar

Good morning Tash Appreciators,

This week has been a struggle at TF HQ. Cases of chronic post-holiday-blues have been reported in all departments following an exceptionally successful visit to California:

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I daresay that post-holiday-blues is a condition affecting many of us at this time of year. Fear not though, TF is here to ease your pain.

When you start working for TF, you accept that you are never off duty. I therefore took notes of quotes or places that I thought might be relevant to future editions even while I was away. The title of today’s TF – “todo debe pasar” – was one of the notes I took. I think it was quoted by one of the characters in The Jersey Boys (the stage show) as something his mother used to say.

In English, that phrase means “all things must pass”, which is apparently a slight variation on a verse from the Bible:

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

Although TF definitely doesn’t subscribe to any particular faith, this passage seems fairly uncontroversial. I may not be a theologian, I think it’s basically saying that “stuff happens, but it’s not the end of the world”.

I think that’s useful to bear in mind in times where it seems that everything we were looking forward to, or hoping for, has passed us by. It also suggests that we should enjoy the good times as we have them, as they will surely pass in the same way as the bad times.

So go on holiday and enjoy it – it will be over before you know it. Alternatively, if you’ve been away and are suffering as a result of being back, don’t worry – it’ll pass. I recommend asking yourself the age-old question “what’s next?” and making a plan to give yourself something to look forward to.

All that remains is for me to leave you with a Tash. Despite the fact that his attire isn’t really breakfast-time appropriate, I wish I’d thought to look up this week’s Tash when I was struggling out of bed on Monday. I give you Mr Motivator!

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If you’re really struggling, you could always try some of the exercises mentioned in Mr Motivator’s music video…

Have a great weekend folks!

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A wooden leg named Smith

Good morning Tash Appreciators,

Many thanks for the texts and emails of complaint following last week’s re-post of an old TF. I was working on an Operation Zorro activity and that had to take priority. Hey, I’m not perfect.

Perfection is something that I have been reading and thinking about recently. Mainly this is because I’ve been reading the incredible book “Daring Greatly” by Brené Brown. The book covers a multitude of interesting topics but, for the purposes of this week’s TF, I’m just going to talk about perfection.

You often hear people saying that they are perfectionists. I assume they are trying to say that they pay attention to detail or that they are thorough. That’s all very laudable but it isn’t really being a perfectionist in the proper sense.

If I were a perfectionist, I’d never get out of the house in the morning. I would have to try over and over again to pour the milk perfectly onto my cereal; I’d spend until the end of time trying to iron a shirt perfectly; and I’d spend so long trying to make the perfect knot with my tie that the threads would eventually come apart in my hands. I may be wrong, but I don’t think human beings are capable of perfection. We can get close (for example, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or Jimmy Page’s solo in Stairway To Heaven) but nothing we create will ever be perfect.

That being said, I do think that we sometimes experience perfection. I’m thinking in particular of those moments when weather, company, music, time, speed, location (and every other factor you can imagine) conspire to create something which is perfect. I remember one moment in particular which I felt was perfection and thinking that I had to try and capture it somehow. It’s not great photography (although the sunburst sums up how I was feeling at the time) but this tht exact moment:

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As we get older, we feel less free to enjoy ourselves and perhaps moments of perfection pass us by. We worry that things are going “too well” and that some disaster must befall us in order to balance the scales of life. Or we feel guilty that we’re happy when others are not. This weeks Tash lost the ability to enjoy life because he got wrapped up in his responsibilities and stresses. However, with a bit of help, he realised that life is best lived when you can laugh and enjoy the company of those around you. The man I’m referring to is Mr Banks from Mary Poppins:

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I wonder if Mr Banks felt that the kite flying out of his hands was a perfect moment.

Have a great weekend folks – enjoy it! Maybe go and fly a kite or something?

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