Mark II

Good morning Tash Appreciators,

 

The Notorious

Some of you may have seen or heard about the Conor McGregor v. Jose Aldo UFC fight last weekend. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t, all you need to know is that McGregor predicted exactly how he would win and he delivered upon his prediction within 13 seconds.

Tash Friday 18:12:15

He said after the fight:

“If you can see it – and you have the courage enough to speak it – it will happen.”

On its own, that’s obviously rubbish. I could say that I’d smash one of these UFC lads in 13 seconds (indeed, I frequently do say things like that!) but that doesn’t mean it’ll happen. However, in a facebook post the next day, McGregor said this:

“To the naked eye it was 13 seconds, but to my team and my family it has been a lifetime of work to get to that 13 seconds.”

It’s a lot easier to say that you’re going to do something – and then go out and do it – if you’ve done the work before-hand. It looks like clairvoyance but it’s actually just the culmination of years of training and the execution of a well-laid plan.

Operation Zorro

Some of you might remember that this approach is one that chimes with me. In January 2014 – there’s an edition of TF to prove it – I set out my plan for Operation Zorro.

I can’t remember if I stated the three goals explicitly in TF but I did mention them to plenty of people:

  • get a job at a particular company doing a particular type of work;
  • complete the Etape Caledonia in under 4 hours; and
  • buy a flat with the other half of Tash Friday.

That was almost two years ago and the only part of Operation Zorro (Mark I) that didn’t eventually work out is that the quickest time I’ve managed for the Etape is 4 hours and 11 minutes. I’d be lying if I said that the 11 minutes doesn’t grate…

I know that plenty of you have had some exceptional experiences in 2015 which are lot more impressive than any of the Operation Zorro goals. Within this group we have folk who’ve started / are just about to start jobs which are extremely difficult to get into; backed themselves by taking roads less-travelled; started businesses; got engaged / married; moved abroad… the list goes on.

Set controls for the heart of the sun

So: what’s next?

I don’t want to stop at just one Operation Zorro: I want to see what else I can do; I want to develop Operation Zorro (Mark 2).

Pretty much my whole experience of the last two years can be summed up in one paragraph from this week’s Tash, Theodore Roosevelt. I’ve mentioned snippets of this quote before but the words “dare greatly” have been going round my head for a long time and it only seems right that I give them their proper context:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

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Regardless of whether you’ve known the triumph of high achievement in 2015, or you’ve stumbled, I hope that in 2016 you back yourself to dare greatly and fulfil whatever you have in mind for your own Operation Zorro

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a photo taken during this year’s pilgrimage to TF’s spiritual home. Like McGregor said, it’s the team and family which are ultimately responsible for whatever we as individuals achieve…

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Have a great Christmas everyone!

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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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Money talks

Good morning Tash Appreciators,

In 2002, a man from Grand Rapids, Michigan, was given a six-month suspended sentence; two days of house arrest; and ordered to undertake 48 hours of community service following his conviction for two counts of domestic violence and one count of battery.

In 2004, he was convicted of two counts of battery against women; was given a one-year suspended sentence; counselling; and either a $1,000 fine or 100 hours of community service.

In 2010, he was again found guilty of domestic violence. This time, he was sentenced to 90 days in prison; 100 hours of community service; and a $2,500 fine

Tomorrow, the same man will make a minimum of $180m for a maximum of 36 minutes’ work.

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Disturbingly, it seems that all of Floyd Mayweather Jnr’s illegal acts of violence against women are nought compared to the 47 times he’s entered a professional boxing ring and left victorious. I’m sure this appalling turn of events has everything to do with television companies supporting the rehabilitation of convicted criminals rather than it being purely about the vast amounts of money which people will pay to watch the fight.

Apart from his character as a man, I also question Mayweather’s claim that he’s the greatest pound-for-pound boxer of all time. His argument seems to be that he is the greatest because he’s won all 47 of his professional fights.

Boxing is strange in that way: it’s basically one massive game of “winner stays on”. Mayweather is the boxing equivalent of a 38-year-old student (who’s been a student since they were 17) in the Uni Union who claims to be a world-class pool player just because they’ve beaten every punter that’s had the audacity to play them. You know the guy I mean, he brings his own cue and refuses to let you play against your pals.

Mayweather has avoided Manny Pacquiao (his opponent on Saturday) for so long that you have to assume he’s only fighting him now because he’s sure he’ll win.

Speaking of Pacquiao – who’s this week’s Tash, by the way – apart from an issue about not paying his taxes, he’s much more my type of guy: he’s fought everyone (he’s had 57 fights compared to Mayweather’s 47); has lost five times; come back from each defeat; and even been elected twice to the Philippine House of Representatives.

I really hope that Mayweather catches a glimpse of the following image a split second before finding himself flat on his back looking up at the lights in the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

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As it happens, the big fight in Vegas isn’t the only Battle Royale taking place this weekend. I’m due to enjoy a “sociable” bike ride up some stupidly unpleasant stretches of road in horrible weather on Saturday. The trash talk for this race has been raging for weeks and we’ll see who comes out on top. I suspect no-one will leave with their dignity intact. Perhaps more about that next week.

Anyway, whether you’re staying up until 4am on Sunday morning to watch Mayweather get clobbered, or just taking it easy, 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?

Cops and Robbers

Good morning Tash Appreciators,

I hope you all had a good break over the Easter weekend.

While most of us spent the weekend relaxing / nursing hangovers, others had to work hard. In particular, a group of burglars were working hard smashing through concrete walls; drilling through 18-inch-thick metal doors; and abseiling down lift shafts in order to ransack 70 safety deposit boxes in the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit building.

The papers claim that the burglars got away with up to £200m of jewels – like it was an Ocean’s 11-esque heist…

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but I’ve seen enough episodes of Storage Wars to know that the majority of those boxes were probably stuffed with old towels and Christmas decorations.

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Such a cinematic sounding crime got me thinking about who the robbers might be and what made them turn to their life of crime. However, rather than thinking about the social circumstances which led them to take their criminal path, I started to think more about what they would look like. It was then that I started to worry. If popular culture is to be believed, at least one of these villains was bound to have a moustache – and that’s bad for business. Just take these ruffians and baddies as proof that “the media” discriminates against the Tash by portraying it as the facial hair of choice for all villains:

Ming the Merciless

Ming the Merciless

Danny Trejo - the man who's been type-cast as the must-have baddie in any film involving Mexicans.

Danny Trejo – the man who’s been type-cast as the must-have baddie in any film involving Mexicans.

White Goodman - the evilest man in Dodgeball.

White Goodman – the evilest man in Dodgeball.

Dick Dastardly - with a name like that, he was never likely to race by the rules.

Dick Dastardly – with a name like that, he was never likely to race by the rules.

Thankfully, though, I remembered that the position of the Tash as a symbol of truth and justice has been somewhat saved by two of the greatest crime-fighting minds ever:

Hercule Poirot

Hercule Poirot

and

Jacques Clouseau

Jacques Clouseau

Thankfully, these righteous men protect the reputation of the Tash and go to show that the moustache is really the most democratic and fair of facial hair: it looks equally good on the robber as it does on the person tasked with putting the robber behind bars.

Have a great weekend folks!

What’s next?

Trust Your Power

Good morning Tash Appreciators,

This week marks the beginning of what will hopefully be the return to normal service of TF. I say “hope” as editions may not appear every week but it wouldn’t be TF if we didn’t at least give it a go. You know, daring greatly and all that.

I wonder if any of you know who this chap is:

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His name is Derrick Coleman – he won the Superbowl with the Seattle Seahawks last year.

What’s interesting about Mr Coleman isn’t that he won the Superbowl (loads of folk have done that) but that he’s been deaf since he was three years old. That’s a problem in a sport where a key part of the game is hearing and implementing a particular play. If you’ve ever seen an NFL game, you’ll have seen the coaches giving instructions from the sidelines and plays being called on the field.

You’d think that a deaf person would find it difficult to play football at any level; let alone in the NFL. You’d be right. Derrick Coleman was told from the beginning that he couldn’t play. Even after he’d played in college, NFL teams didn’t think he had what it took and none of them picked him in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Looking back on those who said he’d never play in the NFL, Coleman said: “I’ve been deaf since I was three, so I didn’t listen.”

He was in an excellent series of Duracell adverts called “Trust Your Power”. It’s worth a watch:

I like that phrase: “trust your power”. I like it even more when you add “it’ll take you anywhere you want to go”. I take it to mean that if you back yourself and your own ability to get where you want to be; you’ll get there. The other point is that if you don’t trust your own power, and your own ability, no-one else will.

The other interesting point about Derrick Coleman, at least from my perspective, is that he’s almost exactly the same age as my younger (but bigger) brother.

Unlike Derrick Coleman, my brother isn’t deaf. He doesn’t have a Superbowl winner’s ring either. However, he has recently beaten very daunting odds by trusting his own ability and persevering when others would have either given up or compromised. His achievement is testament to the fact that hard work will take you literally anywhere you want to go.

There is one further similarity between my brother and Derrick Coleman in that most of us would love to work in their offices. Coleman’s office is a stadium but my brother’s office will look like this:

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Congrats, pal – you deserve it.

All that remains is to roll out this week’s Tash.

He did a different type of flying but, who knows, maybe the Wee Man will do a bit of flight instruction when, sometime in the distant future, he packs in the jet-set lifestyle. This week’s Tash is Tom Skerritt, aka Mike “Viper” Metcalf from Top Gun.

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Have a great weekend folks!

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It’s not about space

Good morning Tash Appreciators,

Alas, this week’s edition does not mark TF’s return to normal service. Hopefully that will come in the New Year. Until then, consider this a Christmas card.

My birthday was a few weeks ago and my brother gave me the exceptional present of a book containing pretty much every TF that has ever been written, all the way back to April 2011. It’s a great thing to have and I’ve been showing it off to anyone who swings by TF HQ:

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Apparently, when my brother took the book to be bound, the woman in the shop asked “you mean he’s written 66,000 words about moustaches?” Putting it that way, the whole thing does sound ridiculous. However, as I trust has become clear over the last three years, TF isn’t really about Tashes at all.

Around the same time as my birthday, I had the pleasure of seeing Interstellar. The IMDB synopsis for Interstellar reads: “a team of explorers travel through a wormhole in an attempt to ensure humanity’s survival”. There’s so much more to it than that. It’s a film which can easily be spoiled by a mis-placed comment but describing it as being about “a father’s desire to get home to his children”; or “a documentary on physics and interplanetary travel” would be equally accurate and equally mis-leading at the same time.

Even though it doesn’t involve space or wormholes or fifth dimensions, this picture sums up Interstellar for me:

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Similarly, the traditional meaning of Christmas bears very little resemblance to the commercial behemoth which we are all experiencing at the moment. For many of us, it means time off work; a few decent nights out; food; presents; and stress (?) rather than a celebration of the birth of Christ.

In the same way that TF isn’t about Tashes; Interstellar isn’t about space; and Christmas isn’t (for most of us) about religion, life isn’t just about the simple exercises which make up our daily existence. It’s about so much more than that, isn’t it?

Unlike editions of TF, films and even Christmases, we can’t look back on life after it’s finished and work out what it was really all about. By the time we get to that stage, it’s too late to do anything about focussing on what is actually important. However, I wonder whether one way of taking stock and evaluating priorities is to think back on the memories that we cherish the most. If we have plenty of memories that we look back on fondly, we must be doing something right,

It’s for that reason that I’m not really giving my normal array of (outstanding) presents this Christmas. Instead, where finances allow, I’m giving envelopes. Inside the envelopes will either be tickets, or the means to buy tickets, to some kind of experience which I think/hope the recipient will remember for a long time. I’ll perhaps do another TF in the New Year on whether folk prefer getting envelopes to something which they can unwrap…

Speaking of presents, this week’s Tash was particularly pleased when I emailed him with my wish-list and mentioned that he would be featuring the end-of-year TF:

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I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a memorable 2015!

As ever,

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