50. What does it even mean?

Today, March 16th 2017, is my 50th birthday. I’m rather ambivalent about. In fact, for the benefit of my close friends who are wondering where their party invite is, it’s a milestone I have no immediate plan to celebrate.  I know I should be feeling something, but I’m mostly just confused.

I remember some years back when my older brother turned 50. He lived in Zimbabwe at the time and I was unable to attend his party, which was no doubt his way of embracing the grand sounding age. I do however remember thinking “Holy shit, I can’t believe he’s 50”.  It didn’t make sense to me, but I remember thinking how bloody old it seemed. It didn’t actually even suit him. And here I am, not quite sure how I feel about it. And wondering whether it suits me.

But it has got me thinking. What exactly does 50 years old mean? Perhaps the problem is not me, but the way we describe how long we’ve been on this earth. Einstein once said ‘Time is relative”, and I’m not even sure what that even means. But I’m starting to develop my own hypothesis. Perhaps its age that is relative.

For some reason, we use the calendar to measure and describe our age and subsequently our time on earth. But I guess we could have chosen a different measurement entirely.

Instead of saying X years old, we could quite easily have said X something-else old.

We could have chosen meals eaten, which would make me roughly 57 400 meals old today, not factoring in the meals I missed, the snacks I might have eaten or the many feeds I demanded daily as a baby.

We could just have easily chosen farts or orgasms, which might have made me 146 000 farts old or 18 000 orgasms old, which I need to declare is a fictional total based on an ambitious average of 1 orgasm a day. I repeat, this is fictional.

This would leave the average man my age declaring he’s 18 000 orgasms old compared to the average woman my age who might say she is, um, 203 orgasms old, if men had anything to do with it. Interesting aside question; would you exaggerate your orgasm age, or understate it? And in what way is that any different to how many lie about their age. Whatever the measurement, I guess we like to keep people guessing.

But years is indeed the measurement the ‘powers that be’ chose, and even that can be challenged.

I’m 50 years old on earth because a year is what our beautiful planet takes to circumnavigate the sun. Other planets take less or more time, so technically, I’m only 50 Earth years old.

Mercury takes 88 days to circle the sun. Venus, 224 days. Mars, 687 days. Uranus, 30800 days. And I only included Uranus because it makes me and (let’s be honest) all of you chuckle. This is a planet that is severely prejudiced by its own name. Neptune however has a rock star name because clearly there are no Greek Gods named Uranus, proving that even the ancient Greeks found it funny. Correction. I just googled the Greek God Uranus, and he does indeed exist, so the laugh is on you ancient Greeks. Regardless, Neptune takes a staggering 60 190 days to circle the sun.

At this point I’d like to ask all nerds and trolls to not get too critical about my facts or my calculations. The facts are from Google and Math was never my strong point. It’s the principle I’d like you to think about. Because while I’m 50 earth years old right now, I’d be a different age if we were all on a different planet. I’d be roughly 207 mercury years old today. 81 Venus years old.  26 and a half Mars years old. 7 Uranus months old or just over 3 and a half ‘Rock star’ Neptune months old. Of all of these ages I find my Mercury age most appealing, obviously because it makes me sound wise and threatening, like a Vampire.

I guess I’m suggesting that time, or at least age, is indeed relative.

The powers that be might easily have decided to state our age by the amount of km’s we’ve traveled while on this earth, which is in itself an interesting (and I need to remind you, not necessarily accurate) measurement.

We humans are essentially spinning around this earth at 1666km/h (if you’re on the equator) while simultaneously crabbing sideways some 942, 2 million km’s around the sun, giving me the rather respectable total distance travelled in my lifetime to 47 billion km’s, not counting my numerous trips to Greyton and back. I think 47 Billion km’s old is a rather magnificent sounding age and I might just stick to that if anyone should ask. I might even campaign for the government to include this as a legitimate way to state your age on tax returns. Besides, what do they care how old I am?  It’s my salary they really care about.

But it’s also occurred to me that age in years is a rather finite, set-in-stone measurement that is not at all consistent with how we measure everything else. Nearly everything you can think about, as exact as it is, has another way to describe it. You can, quite literally use different words and numbers to describe exactly the same thing, and people’s understanding is exactly the same.

1 degree Celsius is also known as 34 degrees Fahrenheit. So today in Cape Town it’s both 24 degrees Celsius and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. 1 km is also .6 miles. 1 cm is .4 of an inch. 1 kg is 2.2 pounds. 1 foot is .3 metres. So, I’m both 5 foot 9 inches and 1.75 metres tall. I’m also 72 kg (the exact weight I was when I turned 21 *he writes smugly) and 158 pounds and also 11.3 stone, whatever that is. I guess I’m suggesting there must be other, more descriptive ways that might also give everyone a greater, deeper sense of who I am. I believe we should have a few ages.

I think there’s room for a physical age. Maybe an intellectual age. Even a maturity age.

Looking at myself in the mirror this morning, I think I’m looking quite good for a 50-year old. So, I’m boldly going to suggest my physical age is 49. Maybe 49 and 9 months on a bad day. I think my intellectual age is 42, because there are a few things I haven’t done, a few places I haven’t seen, a few books I haven’t read and, because I still don’t fully understand how TVs work, a few things I need to learn about. More importantly, I think my maturity age ranges anywhere between 14 and 60. Some days I surprise myself at how I’ve handled things. On other days, I feel like I know jack shit and I need to grow up. But on average, I’m going to suggest I’m a 50-year old man with the heart and spirit of a 24-year old.

So, that’s me. I’m 50 years old today, as well as 57 400 meals old, 166 000 farts old, 47 billion km’s old, 49 physical years old, 45 knowledge years old and 24-ish maturity years old.

I’ve left my orgasm age out because, obviously, I haven’t been counting, and I’d rather keep you guessing.

That’s my story. And I’m going to stick to it on this very weird day

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Stellenbosch Academy Address – 2016.

Good evening everyone.

Thank you for inviting me to speak here today. I have to be honest, I find such events quite stressful.

You’re essentially entrusting me to land the last profound piece of advice to all these young minds as they embark on a life time career in various creative fields.

That’s quite a responsibility to carry.

And ideally, I’d prefer not to cock this up.

So I sat down some time ago to gather my thoughts. I started collating all the pearls of wisdom that I could muster, when I had a rather disturbing thought.

I’ve automatically assumed that I’ve been invited here to inspire and motivate you. And offer you some invaluable, career altering advice.

It occurred to me that might be very presumptuous to say the least.

Do you know how schools sometimes take their kids on day visits to prisons so that they can see with their own eyes what happens when you make bad choices in life?

It occurred to me that maybe that’s why I am here today.

Maybe I’m here not as a symbol of moderate success but a symbol of failure and bad decisions. Maybe I’m here to show you what you shouldn’t strive to be.

I’m hoping that’s not the case.

But the idea is not totally ridiculous.

The line between success and failure in the creative industry is a very fine one – on a razor edge in fact. And if I think back on my life and the decisions I’ve made, it could have gone either way.

And the question of success and failure is one that will sit in your mind for your entire life. You will think about when you’re 30. Again when you’re 40. And by 50, you may even have come to terms with where you are at, and with what you’ve achieved.

It’s very in-vogue for successful people write books in which they tell you that you need to embrace failure. Welcome it even. They’re very quick to tell you that you must take the shots, be prepared to miss and fail, and be OK with that because its an integral characteristic of success.

And that’s all very well coming from people who generally have managed to succeed much more than they’ve failed.

But I guess if you string too many failures back to back, that’s eventually what you become.

No one has ever written a book

“How I failed 9 times out of 10, but look at me now.”

Or

 ‘How I failed so often I got to meet the president’.

I’m personally not convinced that failure is such a romantic notion. It never feels good. And I never want to be comfortable with it.

But I also think that failure is misunderstood.

I mean, who decides on whether you’ve failed? Who decides what failure looks like? Why does it seem that your failure and success is nearly always determined by others?

And why does luck seem to play a big part?

In any creative field, issues of failure and success are murky as hell.

Is Rodrigues a failure? Is Miley Cyrus a success?

I’ve come to believe that failure and success are much like beauty.

“It’s in the eyes of the beholder”.

So I think that makes success a rather dubious thing to pursue.

Good creative people have a sometimes-overwhelming drive to create things of obscene originality. Things that look familiar to us aggravate us because we know that anyone else that looks at it will know that they have seen it before. So we push our boundaries out, further and further. The norms shift constantly for those of us who strive to bring a unique perspective and a unique voice to what we do.

It’s important to understand that this is not normal.

Normal people don’t seek out the uncertain. Normal people don’t keep gravitating to the unreliable, the unpredictable and the uncomfortable. Normal people prefer the security that is found in their comfort zones – and in the comfort zones of others.

When you operate outside of those comfort zones and you dare to challenge those comfort zones, it goes without saying that you’re going to rub up against those who’s lives you’re unsettling.

Picking a life in a creative field is essentially picking a life of interpersonal friction.

You will always have to fight for ideas that have no precedent. You will always have to fight for ideas that don’t come with a guarantee they’ll succeed.

You will always come up against people who don’t see the need to constantly reinvent. They don’t see the point in venturing into unchartered territory. They don’t see what you see might see – that small idea that can be turned into greatness.

And history is full of such examples.

We all know about the guy that passed up signing the Beatles. We all know about the guy that suggested to the Rolling Stones that they drop Mick Jagger.

And we are so busy celebrating the triumph of those bands by overcoming the dumbness of that ‘one guy’ that we forget that not everyone survives that ‘one dumb guy’.

Don’t you think One Dumb Guy sounds like a Thai Soup?

Great ideas, by their very nature, are uncomfortable to recognize by those that didn’t create them.

Van Gogh, as you no doubt know only ever sold one painting in his lifetime.

So technically he was a failure his whole life, only becoming a success after it. Which is pretty damn sad in my opinion.

John Kennedy Toole committed suicide when his book Confederacy of the Dunces was repeatedly turned down. His mother later fought for it to be printed and it went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

But imagine taking your own life because others called it wrong. Egg on the faces of all concerned – including, sadly, John Kennedy Toole.

Andy Warhol, who was so desperate to be noticed, gave his Marilyn collection to the New York Museum of Modern Art, and they sent it back.

When Queen released Bohemian Rhapsody, reputable music magazine Melody Maker said that Queen ‘Contrived to approximate the demented fury of the Belheim Amateur Operatic Society performing the Pirates of Penzance.”

  Today that song is considered to be one of the greatest songs of all time.

Steven King’s First book, Carrie, was rejected over 30 times. His wife rescued it from the trash and resubmitted it.  The rest is history.

Dr Seuss First Book To think that I saw it on Mulbery Street was rejected 27 times.

When Physician Ignaz Semmelwis proposed that Hand Washing could save lives, he was ridiculed by other scientists during his lifetime.

Great ideas get rejected all the time. And they will continue to get rejected. That’s the world you’re entering. That’s intangible world of creativity.

With all of these people the question has to be asked:  Are you a failure until you’re become a success. Or are you just a ‘pending success’ all along?

It’s a lovely thought actually.

‘We’re all just undiscovered successes’

 Or to put it another way….

“We’d all be successes if we could get past that One Dumb Guy.”

 Or series of dumb guys as the case may be,

When George Lucas and Steven Spielberg pitched the idea of Raiders of the lost Arc to movie executives, they were rejected all over town. No one could see the merit, as one person put it, of a film about an archeologist looking for relics in WWII.

That’s the thing about ideas. Some people see what they can become. While others find it easier to reduce it to something so simplistic that they can easily and rationally discard is.

So I guess the big question is, if those judging your work are essentially always going to be flawed in their assessment of it, and of you, is success worth pursuing.

Is it worth attaching your entire sense of self-worth to the judgment of others.

If people consider you a failure until proven successful, what does that say about humanity? And if people’s judgment is really that flawed, should you be assigning so much importance to it in the first place?

I’d suggest not.

I have many very close friends, in music, art, photography and performing arts. And I’ve come to learn a very important lesson from them all.

All of them have sought success in their lives, and many have attained it to varying degrees. But when you change yourself, when you change what you do in pursuit of success, it hardly ever works.

I’ve seen musicians be proud of albums that sold very little and be embarrassed by albums that did well. When you achieve success with a voice or a point of view that’s not your own, it never sits comfortably. I’ve seen artists crave commercial success but then feel slightly awkward when it arrives. People want to be famous, but only if it’s the good kind of fame – the fame that comes with a deeper respect.

Imagine creating the artistic equivalent of Achy Breaky Heart or Gangham Style, achieving massive global success and reaching No 1, and then having to sing that song for the rest of your entire life.

I guess what I’m saying is this:

Don’t crave success. Don’t hunt it. Don’t got bogged down on issues of success and failure and definitely don’t set yourself deadlines to achieve it. Don’t spend your life rating yourself according to the opinions of others.  Just be who you are and create what you create. And be prolific at it.

Try new things constantly. And be prepared for whatever consequences that may bring. If there is one thing I want you to take from me today, it is this:

You must determine what kind of work you spend your life creating. Don’t let others impose their agendas. Don’t second-guess what you think the world wants to see and hear.

It’s all inside your head – just let it pour out.

Know that not everyone will see it. Know that not everyone will get it. Know that everyone will have an opinion and they’re probably wrong. And be ok with that.

Because when you’re sitting there one day in your rocking chair, being proud of what you’ve spent your life doing is significantly more important than which side of the success and failure line you may have landed. I genuinely believe that.

You’re entering one of the greatest, most valuable industries on earth. You’re going to have obscene levels of fun, while simultaneously changing the world.

The best you can do in life is to strive to create bold, beautiful, original ideas. And one day, hopefully far from now, die peacefully having being proud of your attempts.

I hope that doesn’t sound like a bleak premise for a speech aimed at such young people, but I genuinely worry that you will stop being the creative person you are when One Dumb Guy puts a spanner in your works.

You’re bigger than that, and greater than that.

I realize of course that all of you leave this Academy with a mark that has been assigned to you, and I guess that mark might be considered a symbol of your success and failure over the past few years, but put that all behind you. Your creative life starts anew. Clear your mind. Wipe the slate clean. These are new beginnings and it is that which you should embrace. Go and express yourself any way your imagination sees fit. And take a lot of creative risks. That’s where all the good stuff can be found. There’s more risk these days in not taking risks.

The greatest tragedy is if you choose to live your creative life in that cold, soul-destroying, mediocrity-infested place called the collective Comfort Zone.

I wish you nothing but the best.

Good luck and congratulations for getting this far.

THE END

My favourite conversation of 2014.

The Time: 1am

The Drink: Tequila

Location: My balcony, Camps Bay.

Subject of conversation leading up to this: Haemorrhoids

Mate:   Ooh, I finally saw QI the other night.

Me:       It’s good hey?

Mate:    Brilliant. I couldn’t believe it. (Leans over and points at anus). I saw on there that suppositories don’t actually work.

Me:       What do you mean?

Mate:    They don’t work. There’s no medical evidence that they do anything. People just think they do.

Me:       What, so, they’re like a placebo?

Mate:    (After a brief pause). No, wait. Placebos. Placebos don’t actually work.

THE POSITIVE SPEECH. Red&Yellow School Graduation Feb 8, 2014.

 

Good afternoon everyone.

In 1994, I worked as a copywriter for an agency called Rightford Searle-Trip and Makin, which I’m sure you’ve all heard of. And we were asked to make a TV ad commemorating 10 years of Citi Golf in South Africa. It was a difficult brief because we were asked to show every generation of Citi Golf in one commercial.

We eventually came up with an idea about a young man’s love life over a 10-year period. In the ad our man would meet a girl, date her and then inevitably would break up with her, as one does. But each time he met a girl he’d fall in love so much that he would do what any man his age would do; he’d tattoo her name on his arm. Eventually he found himself, after being dumped at the alter, in the unfortunate position of having 4 girl’s names tattooed on his arm, before finally realising that the only thing that he could rely on was the many Citi Golfs he’d owned during that same period. The final shot revealed his arm with all the girls’ names scratched out and Citi Golf being tattooed beneath.

The title said: If only everything was as reliable as a Volkswagen.

It sounds pretty twee now that I describe it, but this was the 90s.

A day before the shooting of the commercial, someone at Volkswagen uttered the words that no creative person ever wants to hear.

(Title: “How did it do in research?”)

Well, it hadn’t been researched. So the client decided to quickly do so. The shoot of course had to go ahead. And on the morning of the last day of the shoot, we got back the results.

(Image: Nuclear Explosion)

To say the ad had bombed in spectacular fashion is an understatement.

Everything you could possibly think of was wrong with it, according to the researchers. And there was a very long list of why Volkswagen shouldn’t make the ad.

1)  It was mentioned in some of the research groups that if the guy can’t keep a girlfriend, there’s probably something wrong with him. And so by implication, with all men who drive Citi Golfs.

2)  One person suggested if he couldn’t keep a girlfriend, he might be gay. And by implication, so might all Citi Golf drivers.

3)  This was the mid 90’s, right in the heart of the AIDS scare, so one person wondered if a man who had had so many girlfriends might have AIDS. And by implication, so might all Citi Golf Drivers.

4)  The black market research group said that anyone black who has a tattoo must have been to prison. So by implication, all Citi Golf drivers might be criminals.

5)  And finally, most people didn’t like the soundtrack, a Sonny and Cher song called ‘I got you babe’. Many regarded Cher as trashy, so by implication, so was the Citi Golf.

It wasn’t possible to have had worse results. And all of this while we were standing shooting the ad in Jozi.

In sheer desperation, we finished shooting the ad, edited it and put a rough copy into research again so people could judge it as a finished product instead of an idea in their minds. And a remarkable thing happened. People loved the ad. More than loved it. They thought it was sincere and genuine and cute and emotional. And it went on to get some of the highest likeability scores at the time.

I came out of that experience with two things.

1)  A life-long distrust of pre-testing that still holds true today.

2)  And the realization that it’s easier for people to tell you what’s wrong with an idea than it is to tell you what’s right about it.

If you had to ask me what the single biggest enemy of our industry is, I’d say it is this.

(Title: Negative minds.)

Now, it’s probably true to say that living life with a negative frame of mind is almost definitely not a good idea anyway, but in the business of advertising, the career you’ve chosen, the career that will determine your salary and all of life’s luxuries that your salary will buy for you: this career that will decide how much fun you will have for 10 hours of every day until you retire, a negative mind is the poison that will slowly suffocate your career.

Now, I’m not some new age hippy that likes to see the world through rose-coloured spectacles and sprinkle love and light wherever I skip. I’m as capable of dark thoughts as much as the next guy.

But I think attitude to life is a choice, and the choice you make will vastly affect whether you will be great, average or weak in this career you are about to embark on. You will either be someone who walks into a room, and people will want to know you and hear what you have to say…

(Image: Ron Bergundy)

…or you will suck the room dry of all the joy and energy that exists within it.

(Image: Voldemort)

Over the 25 years that I have been in this business, I can tell you without any hesitation that our industry is split between these two types of people. Those that approach ideas with fear and trepidation and those that leap at any idea that makes their bum itch or their heart beat faster. The people who do the latter ignore the voices in their head that like to point out what is scary about an idea. They know that that whatever that thing is that makes them ‘feel’ something is infinitely more important than whatever faults their brain can conjure up.

I watch many clients spontaneously love an idea and then slowly talk themselves out of it, sometimes over days.

Your mind is not as clever as you think it is. Your heart however is. And anyone who lets their mind override the decisions of the heart will always be safe, but ultimately never accomplish anything truly remarkable.

This business is first and foremost, an ideas business. And not matter who you are or what role you play in an agency or on the client side, loving ideas, allowing your eyes to sparkle when you hear them, letting your face grin in spectacular fashion, is at the very heart of idea generation and idea recognition. And you absolutely need to be aware at where your head leans in this regard.

I realize of course that the Red & Yellow School is the School for Logic and Magic. But I respectfully disagree.

In my opinion this is not a business for rational minds. It is a business for dreamers and fantasists.

To be successful in this career you have chosen, you have to believe in the intangible, often inexplicable magic of ideas. You have to believe and acknowledge that sometimes the things that surprise you and grab you by the gonads don’t make any sense at all.

If making sense was a key ingredient of creativity, some of the worlds greatest advertising would never have be made.

(Play Cadbury’s Gorilla TV Ad)

Imagine for one moment being a client and having that idea presented to you.

So you want to have a gorilla?

Playing the drums?

To a Phil Collins Song?

For a chocolate?

Does he eat the chocolate?

Do we see the chocolate, ever?

Sounds good to me, let’s go for it.

And yet someone did and changed that brand for the better forever.

Imagine this.

(Play Budweisser Wazzup TV Ad)

So you’re saying there are 5 guys, lazing on their couches, drinking beer, shouting at each other?

I like it, but could we include a beer pour, a look of satisfaction on one of the guy’s faces when he sips it. And can we shoot it in a more sociable environment, like a bar?

That’s what 99.99 percent of all marketers on earth would have said. And thank god one didn’t.

How about this one?

(Play Southern Comfort Beach Ad)

Where do I even begin?

If you approach everything looking for its faults, you will find them. And you will never feel and see what makes ideas like this blow the hem of your proverbial imagination up. You will never have your fancy tickled.

But negativity doesn’t just happen.

Negativity is an insidious little animal. You start out picking holes here and there and after awhile you look up and find you’re incapable of saying anything nice to anyone about anything. You stop seeing the joy in the things around you and start to see criticism and judgment as proof of how smart you are, as if no one else could see what could go wrong.

I often see people in meetings fall over each other to find the biggest fault first. And if someone point out a fault ahead of them, they might say “Yeah, that bothered me too. But I can add to that”

Negativity is a virus. It starts out slowly and before long it’s who you are.

Anyone who has been in this business, or any business for that matter, can confirm how easy it is to become cynical and jaded with time. It’s often what experience gives you.

But in recent years, I’ve watched those traits become normal in very young people.

I watch with abject horror as people in our Industry use social media sites like twitter to judge and criticize the work of other people in the industry. I cannot imagine any acceptable scenario in which I could walk up to someone in the flesh and say, “Hey bud, I think your ad is crap”. And I can’t imagine doing that on twitter either.

Before you become that person who punches holes in everyone else’s work, think very carefully about what others could say if they cast their beady little judgmental eyes in your direction. You’ll discover you’re pretty vulnerable.

When I look at the twitter feeds of those people I often discover that judging and slating has become a habit for them and is often typical of people who are yet to create anything worthy of praise themselves.

I won’t lie. If someone applies for a job at King James, I check out their mood in their twitter feed. It tells me what kind of energy they will bring to my company. Life’s too short to surround myself with Voldemorts.

But you have the choice to decide right now what kind of a person you want to be as you embark on this career.

This business is one of the most rewarding, satisfying, enriching, and joyful careers on planet earth. And only by embracing that and seeing that what we do is remarkable, will you be any good at it. That I can promise.

Go out and enjoy this. It really is an obscene amount of fun – embarrassingly so, in fact.

And if you ever stop feeling that get out and try something else that will make you happy.

It’s a hard intense career that will batter and bruise you and stomp on your confidence in ways that are unimaginable. You must brace yourself for that onslaught. And learn how to roll with it. Because only the most positive, optimistic hearts will thrive in it. But when you do, you’ll be so happy that you’re doing this for a living.

But if you find it easier to see fault than you do to see merit, you are not only going to be really rubbish at this, but you are going to be the sole cause of many others having a miserable time as well. You will look up one day, after 30 years in the job, and realize that you’ve never created anything iconic. You’ll never sit at a braai and have someone say, “You did that? I love that ad”.

You’ll be doomed to a life of awkward silences when others inadvertently insult your life’s work as they pass you the gravy over dinner at a friend’s house.

You are about to enter what is truly one of the greatest jobs on planet earth. You will get to work with the most remarkably talented people: musicians, artists, actors, filmmakers, designers and geeks.

You will get to throw insane ideas at people who have the talent and skill to throw them back at you better than they were.

You will get to sit at your desk and think in pretty pictures and you will have clients who will give you generous sums of money to bring them to life.

And all this at a time when technology allows you to bring whatever your crazy mind can conjure up into reality. You will get to banter with creative minds that fire on all cylinders 24/7.

And you will look up frequently and say to yourself, with a Cheshire sized grin on your face, “I can’t believe that I get paid to do this shit”.

(Image: Boy with a massive grin)

And if you can’t see the joy in that – if you can’t see this job as an invitation to be the happiest person you are capable of being, you will have missed the point entirely.

Good luck with your job hunting. If it takes longer than you expected, don’t lose faith. Remain positive. And stay like that, forever. It’s the best quality we humans have.

(Title: Thank you)

 

A NOTE ON THE STATUS OF MY CURRENT CONNECTIVITY.

Ok, I just dropped my iPhone and it’s completely buggered. Screen all smashed. Can’t even answer an incoming call. So just wanted to tell friends and family not to call me on my cell this week. In fact, while I’m at it, I’d like to ask Cellular Service Providers, Cell phone shops, Direct Insurance Companies, Investment Brokers, Car dealerships, Estate agents and Vehicle Tracking companies not to call me either. Not just this week while my phone is being repaired, but ever. And when I say ever, I mean never ever, for the rest of my life ever. Your discounted offers are lame and stupid and an insult to my intelligence and the chances of me listening to more than the first five words that come out of your offensively cheerful and intrusive mouth is zero. And also you guys who call me every year to sell me a fire extinguisher or a Medical Aid kit in the name of charity, when you and I both know that 10% of the donation goes to the actual charity, and you bastards take the rest, you guys mustn’t call me either. And finally, I know I haven’t won two million pounds this week in spectacularly random circumstances. You dipshits especially mustn’t call or text me from this day forward. In fact, I have a special suggestion for what you can do with your phones.

 

AN OLDIE, BUT AS FUNNY AS IT GETS.

Image

 

This week, I remembered this classic email exchange from a few years back. I read it again this morning and I still find it one of the funniest things I have ever read on the internet. It literally has me wheezing with laughter, still. Knowing that the world pumps millions of new people into the system every year who would never have been around when this first came out, I thought I’d share it again.

What went down in Greyton.

Close friends will know that my wife and have had a fairly dramatic start to the year with regards to our guest house in Greyton. The Lord Pickleby. The man managing our guest house turned out to be more of a rogue that Lord Pickleby himself and after several months of questionable and evasive behavior, and almost 10 months of non-payment, I was forced to race out there a few weeks back to fire and evict him. In hindsight, we got off relatively lightly, unlike the poor people who own The Post House, Greyton’s iconic historic hotel. The full story is here, as reported in the Sunday Times, Sun 17, 2013. The good news is that the Lord Pickleby is likely to continue to operate, new and improved under new management.

And there we thought Greyton would give us a taste of the quiet life. Image

A beautiful, heart warming story.

 Friendship

In 1986, Peter Davies was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Louisiana State University .

On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Peter approached it very carefully. He got down on one knee, inspected the elephants foot, and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it. As carefully and as gently as he could, Peter worked the wood out with his knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot.

The elephant turned to face the man and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments. Peter stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned and walked away. Peter never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.

Twenty years later, Peter was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teenaged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Peter and his son Cameron were standing. The large bull elephant stared at Peter, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man.

Remembering the encounter in 1986, Peter could not help wondering if this was the same elephant. Peter summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Peter legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.

Probably wasn’t the same fucking elephant.

This is for everyone who sends me those heart-warming bullshit stories.