Four simple rules

Life is a mess if you don’t impose a little order on it. It’s impossible to control every little moment but it handy to have a set of rules.

The rules I have are not very complex, in fact I copy most of them from major religions or motivational posters, but they are the code that I try to live by (but like most rules they are merely guidelines for acceptable behaviour).

This is not an attempt to say that how I lead life makes me a good person, or that if you follow these rules, it will make you a better person, I just think they may help.

So the rules, and none of them will reference Fight Club.

Rule 1 – ‘That’ rule.

No, not ‘that’ rule but ‘the’ rule. The do unto others one. I think there is a reason it is a universal and well-accepted rule, it is for most people an ideal way to live your life. I mean nobody really wants to be badly treated so why would you do the same to others?

Rule 2 – Don’t make others cry.

Sometimes it is hard to follow Rule 1, and sadly there are some people who just don’t care, so I think it is important to add in an error rule that tries to capture any failures. Try not to do anything that will hurt someone else, this doesn’t apply to ‘telling’ them try not to do anything which means you have a guilty secret.

Rule 3 – On balance try to do more good.

None of us are saints, we can’t and won’t lead lives that are examples of perfect human beings. We all like to think we follow moral or religious teachings but we all slip. We all judge we shouldn’t and we all have our prejudices. So Rule 3 is about balancing that by trying to be better than that. This isn’t a “you gave money to charity so you can hit a dog” kind of deal, follow Rules 1 & 2 so you don’t do that.

Rule 4 – Do your best.

Even if you fail at all others, just try


Breaking your resolutions

It’s the first week of January which means it is the traditional time to break all the resolutions that we all set a few days ago. Already I’m doing less exercise and treating vegetables as the enemy.

I’m trying to recall making a proper resolution to keep, one of the big “I will change my life” resolutions such as finding love or learning Klingon. Or even something as absurd as taking up running and eating humus. However, I can’t recall making a single one of these promises.

I am always confused why people determine that they will change their lives based upon the arbitrary date chosen to start a new calendar. Is there a difference to your willpower from the 31st December to the 1st January, what is it about the changing of the year that makes people decide that this is now the point at which they are going to the gym or to sort out their lives?

I would think the science behind keeping a New Year’s Resolution would show that you are more likely to fail at a life changing pledge if you select a start date as opposed to just doing it when you first think of it. Surely you would be more successful at exercising if one Tuesday in June you just started going to the gym or running around the park.

In effect by marking the beginning of the year as a new start you are writing off any chance for improvement for the rest of the year. If on November 7th you decide that you will attempt to go on more dates won’t this just mean you will not try for the next seven weeks? In my experience putting something off once just means you will put it off time and time again.

Just like a puppy a New Year’s Resolution is not just for the festive period, real life change is not just a flash in the pan with a half-hearted attempt to learn to knit or start saving for a house. It’s hard work to break habits and by choosing to use a method notorious for broken promises and not being taken seriously it is surely a set-up for failure.

So rather than making resolutions (which as the United Nations shows are unenforceable and ineffective) set goals, aim to do something by June or October. It gives you more time to recover from any setbacks and won’t make you feel like a failure should you open that bar of chocolate later today.


Leaving a legacy

To have a legacy, you need to have done something that is worth remembering. History is not fickle, the good and the great are as notable as the bad and the wicked.

Some will live in a collective consciousness. Names like Julius Caesar, Napoleon, or Einstein. Known by many, but perhaps by some without having a clue why. Yet what makes these figures more famous than other less well-known, yet arguably more important, people. What about Augustus, Qin Shi Huang or Brahe? (I am speaking mainly from an anglo centric point of view here, I know the Chinese or Danish may see things differently).

The ancient Egyptians used to destroy the cartouches of pharaohs they wanted to strike from history, yet we still know of Hatshepsut. For some cultures being forgotten was like a second form of death, as if some way your spirit would cease to exist if your legacy was erased. Maybe this is a consideration, how long do you want to be remembered for?

Once you are forgotten you have no legacy

We have lost the names of countless millions to the ages. The sailors on the Greek triremes, the wives of crusader knights, the faceless victims of colonialism. Those who live on only in records, disembodied names who only exist when somebody observes them. Heisenberg humans.

Most of us will be lucky to be remembered for anymore than a few generations, first as parents then as grandparents. Yet as your grandchildren pass who will be there who can remember your face, the way you smile or how they used to play football with you in the park? There are 7 billion people who will need to be forgotten in a hundred years.

Yet many if us are building our own legacy. More of us than ever are producing information about ourselves and the world. We are living in a legacy gold rush, furled by Facebook, twitter and blogs. Sites like YouTube and Wikipedia have given my generation a way to push their existence to millions, should the technology exist in a century there may be someone who stumbles upon an article or video you gave produced.

Myself? I am not going to be remembered as a great writer, scientist or leader and I do not wish to be known for my infamy.

All I ask for is to be remembered, at least for a little while.


2010-2019 A decade in my life

If the last decade has taught me anything it is that a lot can change in a decade. Not just the tumult that has exploded around the world but in the complete overturning of my personal life in the last quarter of my existence.

2010 seems a lifetime away and due the nature of cell regeneration I am a different person to the one who rang in the Tens (or whatever we agreed to call them). As I begin the Twenties (as we all agree to call them) a reflection on the last ten years seems apt and consistent with the rest of the posts I am seeing on social media!


  • Jobs: Two – Scrivens/Calor
  • Made redundant: Once
  • Relationships: None
  • Breakdowns: One
  • Holidays: Maldives
  • Moved House: To Birmingham
  • Hours played on Football Manager: 1,508

While the world looks at 2016 as possibly the worst year, the 2010s started off at the bottom. Directionless, made redundant and preparing for a lonely existence. Yet from this the seeds of the decade were born.

I started a job that would indirectly lead to marriage, I learned to cope with the stresses of life and I also started with this thing called ‘blogging’.


  • Jobs: Three -Calor/HSBC/Legal & General
  • Relationships: One
  • Holidays: New York (twice)
  • Engagement ring: Tiffanys
  • Hours played on Football Manager: 895

Single, then in a relationship and finally engaged. All in the space of a year. I moved quick and decisively to lock that down. This is the beginning of the crazy period in life where everything began to happen at once. If 2010 had been the low point, this was the start of the rise.


  • Jobs : ONE! – Legal & General
  • Holidays: China and Maldives
  • Months incapacitated with a stomach bug : One
  • Hours played on Football Manager: 1,122

A wedding! This is definitely one of the top 3 years of the decade, and one that was remarkably stable. No change of jobs, no change of address. The stability of life was balanced by the instability of my digestive system that couldn’t handle two major holidays in one month.


  • Jobs : Two – Legal & General/nPower
  • Holidays: Kefalonia and New York
  • Moved House: To Coventry
  • Hours played on Football Manager: 686
  • Children: The Feliciraptor

If 2012 was the stable year, then 2013 was the year of mega change. New Jobs, new houses, new children. Also, the last time for years my life would not revolve around poo.


  • Jobs : One – HomeServe
  • Holidays: Berlin, Corfu and New York
  • Ice Cream Whales eaten: Zero
  • Hours played on Football Manager: 1,066

Maybe it is sleep deprivation or perhaps the comedown from the previous upheaval, but the best I can say about 2014 is that it happened. It must have happened because 2015 came around but other than that there is very little I remember about the midpoint of the decade.


  • Jobs : Two – Homeserve and M&B
  • Holidays: New York
  • Ice Cream Whales eaten: Zero
  • Hours played on Football Manager: 1,126

Another year, and a rot is setting in. Life is simple, life is easy, Life is boring (as it can be with a toddler). Is this how life will be from now on? It looks like it both personally and globally. 2016 will bring zero changes to everybody’s life.


  • Jobs : Two – M&B and H&B
  • Holidays: None
  • Moved House: To Nuneaton
  • Disappointing Elections: Two
  • Hours played on Football Manager: 1,536
  • Children: A-Rex

The meltdown. Brexit and Trump. Meanwhile, our Home life is upended with Child 2 and another house move. In the 4 years since life has not calmed down. The previous two years are looking like peak 2010s.


  • Jobs : Two – H&B and Elemis
  • Holidays: Crete
  • Shakespeare plays: Three
  • Hours played on Football Manager: 1,633

At this point I am grasping for the calming things, so the acquisition of a fancy BBQ and a new obsession is a bright spark. The house is getting full of poo which makes a nice break from the magnolia walls.


  • Jobs : One – Elemis
  • Holidays: Rhodes
  • Where did time go moments: One
  • Hours played on Football Manager: 484

The sure sign that life is progressing is when milestones are hit. The Feliciraptor going to school was one such moment as she didn’t seem old enough to be wearing a uniform and learning to read and write. It is also the moment where I felt like I was a real parent as I had managed to prepare a bundle of bones and muscle for the next stage in life.


  • Jobs : Three – Elemis, Citizens Advice and MRM
  • Holidays: Boston, DisneyLand Paris and Italy
  • Oldest Whiskey drank: 30 years
  • Hours played on Football Manager: 1,612

Finally we come to the end of the decade, and a year where it seemed to be all worth it. We were able to go on the best holidays of the decade, the house was in the best shape it has been and with the kids at their cutest (so far).

If the 2010s have taught me anything it is that you can be totally prepared for nothing and life is going to divert you from every course you imagine.

It will be full of despair and hope, and neither will last long enough to dominate. It is a decade of my lowest lows and highest highs and the first time I have felt like me.

It has been the best ten years of my life.