A bridge too far and a bridge too late…

On Saturday I was a disappointed man.

Usually, when I’m disappointed on a Saturday, it’s due to Arsenal losing. But, as the Premier League hasn’t kicked off yet, this Saturday was different.

I’d gotten up early with a mission in mind. It involved a trek across the fair city of London, so once showered and dressed, I slipped on my comfiest shoes.

Or perhaps my second comfiest, my actual comfiest pair don’t go well with shorts.

But, I digress.

My apartment is a forty minute (relaxed) walk away from Tower Bridge, and it was the other side of the bridge where my adventures would take me.

So off I set. The sun was shining, the street markets were buzzing and the hipsters were relaxing outside with deconstructed coffees and digital cigarettes.

(As a side note I also ran into the barber from my last blog post – he was standing outside his establishment trying to solicit some passing custom. He recognised me. Asked if I needed a haircut. I declined. It would have to be a very snowy day in hell for me to reconsider.)

You can tell you’re getting near the bridge when the tourists start to appear in hordes rather than occasional swarms. Polaroids flashed and people posed while a determined looking man conspired to sell them caramelised peanuts throughout.

I crossed the bridge. Reached my destination and disaster struck.

Did you read about the huge statue of Jeff Goldblum that had been installed in London?

It was that I’d come to see and it had gone. Far too soon. I even did what any (near) millennial would do and checked Twitter to see if anyone was talking about it. Twitter sadly confirmed my suspicions.

It’s terrible, isn’t it? That feeling of disappointment when things don’t go as you expect them to.

We can all relate.

But, do we play upon our own experiences, to summon up empathy when someone else is disappointed? Whether they be a client, customer or friend.

If not, maybe we should.

by Ashley Brown, aged 27 and 11 months.

photo: the metro

Cheating’s cheating…

I want to start off by saying I’m not normally a cheat.

Sure, when I was a teenager, I used the cheat to get all the weapons on Grand Theft Auto: Vice City – but most people in my age group have done that, right?

Other than that I’ve always stayed (relatively) honest. Whether it be tax returns, girlfriends or telling a friend how much they owe me for the night before’s drunken cab ride.

But, today I cheated and I paid the price.

Like many men and women I have a preferred barber. In fact I have two. One in London and one back in my home town. Two chaps who I trust with my barnet and face fuzz.

As I walked back from work this evening I mused over the fact I soon needed a trim, and began to wonder when I’d have time to go – should I make the trip on the weekend or on a week night?

As I thought about it more I began to play with my beard – which is something most bearded guys do when they’re being reflective, and as I did I realised just how tufty and itchy my beard was getting.

I then passed a barbershop. One that I’d walked past many a time but never been inside. I made the fatal error of stopping to look at the price list outside – and, before I knew it, one of the barbers came flying out of the door.

“Sir! Step this way! Step inside, right this way…”

And I did. I fell hopelessly for this Siren’s trap. As soon as I crossed the threshold I realised I was in the wrong place – to say it was dingy inside would be like saying the Las Vegas strip was slightly illuminated. An understatement of titanic proportions.

I looked to the exit. But already I was flocked either side by razor-wielding barbers, jaws slathering like zombies for flesh.

Before I knew it I was tossed into a chair and a towel was wrapped round my shoulders. And there I sat, as helpless as one of Sweeney Todd’s victims, awaiting my inevitable fate.

After some arguing over whose turn it was, the biggest of the barbers lurched forwards – razor in hand.

“WHAT DO YOU WANT DONE?” he roared in a baritone that would rival all of Satan’s evil.

I managed to say that all I wanted was a beard trim (no way was I trusting these guys with my locks!).

And, thus, I got the worst beard trim of my life.

I emerged battered, bruised and clumpy-bearded within 10 mins. £5 lighter (they’d tried to charge £10 but I was less than willing to comply).

So, I’ve spent the last half an hour tidying up my beard.

My lesson in life? Don’t cheat.

We walk past a lot of barbers and hairdressers in our lifetimes, but if we’ve got something good – perhaps we should really think about whether we need to stray or not?

P.s. it’s national emoji day today… how does that make you feel? 

by ashley brown

Shoedog

WARNING: Don’t read this book unless you want to feel inspired.

At the heart of it, it’s about someone who had a crazy idea and, after a few risks, made it work.

But, in a wider context, I think this is a reminder to all of us that we’re all under the same sky as one another, as well as the people we admire.

And no one can dream higher than the sky because we can’t see any higher than the sky – which surely means it’s worth chasing your dreams?

I know I am.

One of those quotes…

Can you remember the last time you heard or read a really good quote?

One that left you thinking about it for hours, or even days afterwards?

For me that happened on Friday, and it was from a family friend:

“Times elastic.

It’s a fixed thing.

I’m convinced of it.”

It was context as to just how quickly time it seemed that time had passed.

And for some reason it just really hit me.

It still does now.

That’s it. To add anymore would detract from its impact.

I’ve got some bad news

Let’s say someone you know walks over to you sombrely and says:

“I’ve got some bad news”

No doubt you’ll get a sudden knot in your stomach and a hankering to know just what the news could be.

What’s the cause of that sudden anxiety?

Well, lets face it…

Your first thought is naturally; “how will this affect me?”

Can’t help it. Can’t fight it. It’s human nature. Even if the news will only affect you by proxy that’s the first question your mind and body asks.

That’s why WIIFM is so important when trying to sell something.

‘What’s in it for me?’. WIIFM.

That’s the most important question to answer – way before anything else, way before you even try to engage in a sale.

If you haven’t answered that in your sales call/article/advert/email then any conversions will be due to blind luck.

Ashley Brown

(image credit: The Telegraph)

Does your writing crackle?

I’ve been trying to do some screenwriting recently.

It was actually the first kind of creative writing I ever really did.

Because, as a kid (and as an adult), I’m the kind of person who couldn’t just watch a movie and enjoy it, I’d want to do my own version.

Anyway, I re-watched the movie ‘When Harry Met Sally’ the other day.

Why?

A) Because it’s a successful film that I really like

and

B) because it’s a very dialogue heavy film, and the dialogue is great.

After watching it I found a copy of the script online and, man, even when written down that dialogue is still incredible.

It crackles and sparkles. The screenwriter, Nora Ephron does an amazing job.

hazsall.png

You can see why Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan agreed to star in it.

As someone with more than a passing interest in acting I’d bite my agent’s hand off to be in it if I was sent the script.

(Although, I’d probably be kind of shocked as I don’t have an agent…)

Is your writing alive? Does it jump off the page and grab hold of the reader? Is it compelling?

If you answered no to any of those questions maybe you should try and turn that no into a yes.

Here’s the screenplay if you’re interested…

(image credit: Columbia Pictures)

Seeing the big picture – the creativity hack you often overlook…

Growing up, I lived in the countryside – which meant I was used to country roads and the pace that life moved at.

So, when I started driving, I was a little nervous about motorways and dual carriageways.

“Why?” asked my driving instructor, “if anything it’s easier. The more you can see of the road ahead, the more you can be ready for”.

And he’s right.

It’s like that with creativity.

The more you can see of the big picture, the easier it is to plan.

But I go one step further than this, I take it literally.

So I bought an A3 drawing pad. A nice big space for me to draft out and plan what I do.

It works.

Too often I see people writing on their phones.

Sure that’s okay for a Tinder message or a Whatsapp. But if you’re crafting sentences, writing paragraphs it’s better to see the whole page.

The bigger picture. It’s good.