Saturday 21 October 2017

The Saturday List #151 - The ten sayings that can get me through anything

I've got through a few things in my time. Job interviews, bereavements, medical procedures, relationship break ups, band break ups, professional disasters, football disappointments, etc. Over the course of my life, I've built up a collection of little sayings that I tell myself, when I need some inspiration to do something which seems impossible.

I thought I'd share my top ten with you.

1. "Faint heart never won fair lady". My Dad used to say this, whenever a situation required a little courage (as opposed to Dutch courage). Whenever I am about to do something scary and daunting, this is what I tell myself.

2. "If you don't try, then it's goodbye". This was the last line of a chorus of a False Dots song written by Allen Ashley and myself. As a songwriter, it is one of those really frustrating songs that has a great vibe, but just doesn't really work as well as it should. But the chorus is great. This is what I sing to myself if I need to run for a bus, or when I've been doing charity 10k runs and needed to push myself on.

3. "I may be old, I may be past it, but I don't quit". These words were spoken by Judge Dredd in an 2000AD comic strip, as he was battling a younger, stronger assassin who was taunting him. Most useful in 5-A-side football against the young whippersnappers.

4. "Think like a king, live like a king". My Dad once said this to me whilst purchasing some ham at a delicatessen shop in Mill Hill. He always bought ham, cut thick from the bone. I'd foolishly asked him why he didn't simply buy a packet. He said that he only bought the best, because anything else was false economy. He said that you should give yourself the very best, because no one else will. I have always lived by this. Always good advice at the Deli counter.

5. "Don't look at the splinter in your brothers eye, when you have a plank in your own". This is a biblical phrase from Jesus. He was berating hypocrites who can see everyone elses minor faults, without seeing they are the biggest problem. When I get cross with people, I always try and ask myself whether the plank is in my eye. Whenever I hear people sounding off about religion, if I don't see a degree of humility and self criticism, I conclude that they are the hypocrites that were being referred to.

6.  "Feelings may change, we're helpless they must". A line from a song by Richard Hell and The Voidoids (Betrayal takes two). This song got me through a very bleak time. Feelings do change. If they didn't we'd never move on. It is strange how I find one of the most cynical songs ever to also be one of the most inspirational. I often sing myself this song when I am feeling down.

7. "He thinks he's Picasso!". I used to work for a Hungarian painter and decorater called Mickey Domegal, who passed away many years ago. Mickey believed that a good job was a job done as quickly as possible, where he could collect the cash and move onto the next job. I was once carefully painting the eve's of a house in Golders Green, when Mickey looked up and made this exclamation. His view was that I should slosh the paint on as quickly as possible and get on. He explained that it was idiotic trying to get the same finish on something 30' up that no one would ever look at, as you would on a front door. Whenever I see someone pointlessly over elaborating, I think of this and it makes me smile.

8. "No one has dignity on the toilet". This was another one of my Dad's gems. We were chatting and he told me that when he arrived in the UK as an Aussie bomber pilot, many stuffy RAF officers looked down their noses at their colonial counterparts. My Dad found this condescending attitude insufferable. He told me that he once accidentally walked in on the worst of the lot, sitting on the throne. The poor chap was mortified, but my Dad thought it was hilarious. The next time the guy irritated him, my father replied "at least I know how to operate a doorlock" and the guy never bothered him again. He said he realised that if someone was a pompous jerk, all you had to do was visualise them on the loo and they suddenly seemed rather ridiculous and harmless. It works.

9. "He's faster than you, more skilful than you, but he can't do anything when he's on his backside". This was the advice I was given by an old manager of a football team I played for. I always played in defence. The team we were playing had a superstar striker. My manager wanted me to kick him off the park. He felt that if I could impose myself at the start, the guy would "disappear". He said that "fear is a great tool". It was a lesson I took on board. Useful on a football field, less so elsewhere.

10. "The only good reason to not do something you want to do, is because you physically can't". I spent a hell of a lot of time with my mum in her final years. She'd had a stroke and lost the ability to communicate effectively. Strangely, I found that if I had a couple of Guinness with her and she relaxed she'd become quite lucid. One of the last conversations I had with her, she told me that she had no regrets. She said she was so pleased that before she had a stroke and became housebound, she'd travelled and seen everything she'd wanted to. She said that she'd have hated to have been stuck, living with regrets. I asked her if she had any. She said the only real one was that she'd not persuaded my Dad to retire a couple of years earlier. I think she was probably right. I always let this advice guide me, when my wife, who is far more sensible and cautious than I, tries to inject some financial realism into our relationship!

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