1 Take a full measure of passion
2 Add to this a full cup of commitment and courage (there should be no half measures in this recipe)
3 Then stir in a good dollop of inquisitiveness
4 Take a large heap of emotion and pass through a fine sieve, removing any unwanted lumps of apathy
5 Sweeten with some love
6 Add a generous pinch of don't give a fuck and a sprinkle of hope
7 Turn up the heat
8 Pour into a serving dish and savour each and every mouthful
There are enough hours in the day. There’s good cause to get up early during the autumn and winter months – I’m not talking about the crack of brunch, or just in time to catch the end of GMTV – I mean EARLY, like way before the sun comes up. When it’s a toss-up between setting the alarm clock for a few hours after you go to bed, or just staying awake all night. For a start, nobody else is up (apart from the milkman and the occasional dirty stop-out).
It kind of feels like you’ve got the planet to yourself.
There are no crowds, no commuters, no spluttering engines, just that dawn chorus of birdsong and the sound of your own footsteps.
It’s the point when the new day still thinks it’s last night and the eerie low light tells your body clock that you should be in bed. When the air is cold, crisp and fresh, and before it’s had the chance to get all polluted and smelly – it tastes like it’s just been exhaled from the lungs of the trees for you. Aaaaaah, you can’t beat that.
No sleep ’til breakfast.
You have the world at yours.
But do start off on the right one.
Then put your best one forward.
Keep them on the ground.
Be sure that they are loose and fancy free.
You might even have one in the grave, but don’t let that stop you.
If you get tired along the way, put them up.
When you know you’re right, have the courage to put yours down.
Don’t back-out if they get cold.
Think on them.
Don’t go putting one in your mouth.
And if you meet someone special, sweep them off theirs.
But above all, be sure the prints they leave are as small as possible.
Everything I know about making tea is down to Jim’s Nan. (Jim was an old school friend who lived with his Nan.) Whenever I went around to see Jim, his Nan would offer me a cup of tea whilst I waited for him to get ready. He was very slow at getting ready so we used to spend ages chatting. In the end I used to go round to Jim’s just to see Jim’s Nan.
She would just sit there and pass on the bits of wisdom that she had learnt throughout her life. Typical of Jim’s Nan was that she never told me how to make the perfect cuppa, but rather she taught me why it was important to make the perfect cuppa.
- If you do the small things well, you will do the big things well.
- Show respect for the person you are making tea for. You should show all people an equal amount of respect.
- There are no short cuts in life, making a cup of tea can teach you that.
- You will only be as good as your last cup. Consistency is important.
- Always have the right ingredients and the right tools for the job. Never skimp on either.
- No matter how busy you are, you always need time for a break. It helps put everything into perspective.
- Always put others first. If someone likes weak tea don’t give them strong tea just because that is what you like.
- Be open to new ideas. Maybe putting the milk in last has some benefits.
- Don’t look for compliments about your tea. If they come, they come.
- Don’t go to the trouble of making a good cuppa only to spoil it with cheap biscuits.
Summer used to be long. Cast your mind back a bit and you’ll see what I mean. It went on forever.
It seemed to start just after Easter and would go on until there were piles of leaves that you could give a good kicking. I reckon it was almost six months long, give or take a week here and there.
And I used to do so much in the summer. We’d hang out by the old swimming pool, all overgrown in the woods, hunting for toads. Or it might have been frogs.
We’d play football all day. We’d go walking through the nature reserve and sit in the hide, looking at birds (for about ten minutes). There was fishing at the weir. Once we caught a pike and it bit my brother’s finger.
We’d stay out late round the back of our house until the light got dusty. Dusty, not dusky; that pink/red dusty, all warm smelling. And then you’d get shouted in for bedtime, and you’d sleep quickly, waiting for it to be morning again.
Before I go on, I should say that I’m not an old man. I’m not reminiscing about the 1950s. My childhood wasn’t that long ago. But it does feel like another world. It feels sad that my summers aren’t as long, mainly because I work most days and I don’t fish or hunt for toads. I don’t spend unstructured time doing nothing except wandering around with friends. I don’t lie in the grass for an hour for no reason other than to lie in the grass for an hour. And summer feels a lot shorter as a result.
So this summer is going to be the summer of getting back to unstructuredness. Summer will get longer again.
To make it longer, I’m not going to try to fit my summer into a week somewhere slightly warmer, on a beach or up a mountain. I’m not going to waste two days in an airport getting sweaty and uptight. I’m going to stay right here, at home. And I’m just going to take more days off. I’ll use up all of my holiday. And then I might buy a few days back from the company. I’ll cobble together as much non-work time as I can muster.
Then, when I’ve got all of those days in a nice pile, I’ll do something proper with each and every one. I’ll lie under a tree for a whole day. I’ll swim in an open air pool. I’ll ride my bike as far as I can by 3pm and then ride hard all the way back home. And I’ll sit out in the pinky red dust afterwards and drink a very cold drink.
I can play out as late as I want, because I can make the rules this summer.
Hear the clock tick in your head.
Let it remind you that time goes quick.
Sunrise soon becomes sunset.
Spring soon becomes winter.
Time doesn’t do holidays.
Time doesn’t have a pause button.
Old men sit on doorsteps with regrets for company. A mountain not climbed, a friend not made, a country not seen.
So don’t plan for tomorrow.
Tomorrow might never come.
Don’t say ‘one day’.
Don’t defer, delay or put off.
Don’t wait for your dreams to come to you.
Go hunt them down.
You are here to do something.
Today will not come your way again.
Can you hear the clock in your head?
Listen to it counting down.
Hear the clock.
Fight the clock.
Call them what you will, but they are all learning.
You need to make more mistakes not less.
Because you know that great idea you will have one day, it will come from a bunch of not-so-great ideas first.
Make more mistakes.