Helplessness Blues

Good morning Tash Appreciators,

This week, I watched the last episode of The West Wing for the umpteenth time.

There were a few TF related points to take from the last 5-10 minutes before the curtain fell on President Bartlet’s regime:

  1. As he stands in the West Wing for the last time, President Bartlet looks out the window onto the White House lawn. It’s clearly hitting him that his time in power is coming to an end and he’s thinking whether he could have done more. His wife reassures him that he “did a lot of good” but he’s clearly not convinced.
  1. Later, at the end of his first staff meeting in the Oval Office, the new president (I won’t tell you his name just in case any of you want to watch it in the future) asks “what’s next?” and smiles. He’s full of ambition and determination to achieve all of the things that Bartlet didn’t.
  1. Finally, in the last scene of the series, President Bartlet is flying on Air Force One to his family home. The new president has been sworn in and Bartlet’s job is at an end. Again, he’s staring pensively out the window as the sun sets in the distance. This time, when his wife asks him what he’s thinking, he simply smiles and says:


I suspect that from time to time we’ve all experienced those emotions. We’ve all been full of enthusiasm at the beginning of a great undertaking and, by the time we reach the end, we have all found ourselves wondering whether there’s more we could have done.

That’s where perspective comes in. Once we realise, as President Bartlet did when he looked out of the window of Air Force One, that we are but functioning cogs in this great machinery we call humanity, we understand that it’s an achievement to have made even a small positive change to the world around us.

Peppered through this week’s TF are references to a song called “Helplessness Blues” by Fleet Foxes. The song starts by describing someone suffering from the helplessness blues but in a line that marks a change of pace and message Robin Pecknold sings:

What good is it to sing helplessness blues?

Why should I wait for anyone else? 

As much as we all sometimes feel helpless, or that we could have done more, a bit of perspective should change that. The only way to deal with that feeling is to remember that our  feelings of helplessness will continue only for as long as we choose not to take control; that we cannot wait for someone to tell us what to do; that we must think of tomorrow rather than yesterday; and that we must ask “what’s next!?”

Although President Bartlet doesn’t rock a Tash, it turns out that the actor who plays him did. Martin Sheen, take a bow, this is a smashing effort:

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Have a great weekend folks!

What’s next?

2014 and Beyond – Part 2

Good morning Tash Appreciators!

Welcome to the last TF of 2013.

Last week, we looked back at this year and I said that adversity drew out our true character. This week, I’m going to challenge everyone (especially myself) to take our experiences of 2013 and use them to make 2014 count.

In order to look ahead to 2014, and beyond, I’d like to pose one question:

 Tash Friday 20:12:13

My honest answer to that question is that I haven’t got a clue.

Not having an answer to that question doesn’t mean that I’m not ambitious or that I don’t care, it just means that there is a wide world out there and I don’t yet know where my place is within it. I hope I’m not the only one who feels like that; I suspect I’m not.

I also don’t mean that I feel lost or down about life – quite the opposite, in fact.  It’s just that, for too long, TF has been about “keep going”. Keeping going is all well and good, if you know where you want to go but, if you keep going without a thought as to where the final destination is, are you not lost? From now on, I’ll be thinking to myself: what’s next, what’s next, WHAT IS NEXT?

This week’s Tash (Samuel L Jackson in “Coach Carter”) was a leader: he  was able to encourage those around him to listen to their better angels. In order to draw out a member of his team, he kept asking him “what’s your deepest fear?”

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For a long time, the young man had no response until, one day, he came up with a secularized variation of a quote from Marianne Williamson. I’ll give you the full quote and you can choose to take the word “God” as meaning whatever makes sense to you:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves: who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

In 2014, and beyond, I’ll work out what’s next and TF will shine. Consider yourselves liberated to do the same.

Have yourselves a thoroughly wonderful Christmas and hopeful, happy, New Year.

What’s next?

Winter Warmer

Good morning Tash Appreciators,

As the clocks fall back, the nights draw in, and the cold winds begin, we could all do with a winter warmer. This weeks TF will offer two types of warmth: practical advice for avoiding a winter chill and fire for the soul.

First, the practical advice. As this is TF, the most obvious tip is to suggest that you all rock a Tash. This appears to be good advice – even for the ladies – as there is plenty of cosy looking Tash-wear which would both be fashionable and a public proclamation that you appreciate the Tash:

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For the gents, Movember begins today – why not join in? I understand that the key advantages of having a Tash in November are as follows: looking fly; using it to pick up chicks – I understand they dig them (apologies for the sweeping generalisation and crass language, ladies, I’m sure you understand that it is done in the name of charity); and that you will be helping to combat prostate and testicular cancer as well as mental health challenges. As if that wasn’t enough of an incentive, if you decide to participate in Movember then you effectively are this week’s Tash – Nick Offerman:

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For chaps like myself, who are not blessed with facial follicles capable of bashing out a worthy Tash in 30 days, we can always donate to the cause. I already have:

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Naturally, any Appreciators who decide to sport a Tash will, if they wish, be included in one of this month’s TFs.

Now for the fire in the soul stuff. As I think I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been working my way through the West Wing (again). It’s the ideal winter warmer – when the nights are cold and dark, and hibernation seems a very attractive proposition, there’s nothing better than watching President Bartlett and the gang blow the walls off every room they enter just by being good folk. It may be a political drama but it’s very accessible and the characters are likeable. If you have any doubts about it, ask someone for a loan of episode one – I’ll be surprised if you don’t stick with it.

I’ve just finished season 2 and – without giving away any of the plot – the President has a decision to make. He’s challenged God; he’s seen the ghost of an old friend; and has made a deal with his wife. However, with the words “If you think we’re right and you won’t speak up because you can’t be bothered, then God, Jed, I don’t even want to know you” ringing in his ears, he stands at the lectern, puts his hands in his pockets, looks to the side, smiles and…


It’s magnificent on too many levels to list but, if you like reading TF, then you must watch it.

Have a great weekend folks!


TGI Friday

Hello Friday Appreciators,

The last few Tash Fridays have seen some examples of classic Tashes. While that’s all well and good, I wonder sometimes whether TF focuses too much on the Tash and not enough on the Friday.

Like the Tash, Friday is one of those things that is universally appreciated (hence the change to this week’s usual greeting). I bet that if you all looked on your Facebook news feeds today, at least one person will have posted something like this:

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For most of us, Friday at 5pm is the point where we are furthest from our next day of work and for that reason we can’t get enough of it. To prove that universal appeal, you only need to look at the global chain of restaurants which uses an acronym of “thank goodness it’s Friday” as it’s name.

It may mean something different to all of us, but the feeling of turning the computer off and flying out of the office on a Friday evening is common to us all. I think that feeling it’s a combination of this :

And this:

Of course, there is a Tash connection to both of those clips. The song in the first video is “You Make My Dreams” by Hall and Oates and the second is an example of Carlton Banks’ dance from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air (essential Friday viewing when I was younger). John Oates had one of the greatest Tashes in rock and roll:

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And both Will Smith and Alfonso Ribeiro are well versed in the ways of the Tash:

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The point is, both Tashes and Friday are part of that long list of small things that make life worth living (along with cider on a hot day, showers with good water pressure etc) and it’s no wonder that the combination of them seems to have an appeal.

Have a fantastic Friday and a great weekend.


What’s next?

Good morning Tash Appreciators,

It’s clear that, for the first time in years, summer is truly here. Let’s hope it’s sticks around for a while.

Summer can be the best time of the year. When the weather is good, people tend to get out more, see their friends and generally have a great time. There’s also the prospect of getting away from the drudgery of daily life to somewhere exotic; where the grass really is greener.

Speaking of places where the grass is greener, TF was ecstatic to receive a present all the way from Cambria, California (a few short miles from the spiritual home of Tash Friday) this week. It was a book containing tips to groom one’s Tash – smashing stuff and much appreciated!

My favourite so far.

My favourite so far.

Anyway, back to summer. It can also be a time when you take stock and you realise that half of the year has already rushed by. That chance to reflect can leave you either with a sense of satisfaction about how the year has gone so far or it can leave you thinking “what have I been doing for the last 7 months!?”

I’ve recently started watching the West Wing (I think this is the third time!) as a bit of a morale booster. For those who haven’t seen The West Wing, you need President Bartlet in your lives. Immediately:

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In the first episode, Bartlet gives some advice which I think is useful for the summer. His staff are caught up in their own squabbles and difficulties and they’ve taken their eyes off the bigger picture (righting wrongs, saving the world etc etc). Bartlet gathers them together and says:

“Breaks are good. It’s not a bad idea to take a break every now and then… But break’s over.”
He sends them on their way with a suitable anecdote, then turns to his secretary and asks purposefully “what’s next?”  This summer, we all need to take a break. We’ve all worked hard for the last seven months. But once we’ve had time to rest and think, we need to get cracking with what we really want to do. We need to work out what’s next.To the Tash. Two things which spring to mind when summer arrives are beaches and ice cream. A type of ice cream is Magnum. Magnum P.I is the name of a show in which Tom Selleck played the lead. In Magnum P.I, Tom Selleck was often at the beach; sometimes while making important phone calls. Therefore, logically, this week’s Tash could only be the great Tom Selleck:
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What? It makes perfect sense, honest…
Have a fantastic weekend folks – I’ll be taps aff by 5.01pm!Keep going!