It’s been a week now since a group of friends surprised me in São Paulo with an Elvis-themed birthday celebration party. I thought I was on my way to the theatre to see a play when my wife said that we needed to call in at a bar to collect a friend.
Only once we got inside, the pub was packed full of friends and family all waiting to celebrate my birthday!
It was a really special moment. I know that Angelica visited São Paulo several times arranging this now and she must have been emailing and chasing people for weeks. When I saw everyone there and realised that we were not going to the theatre I was a bit stunned – I think I probably just looked shocked when everyone was singing ‘Happy Birthday’.
It’s at times like this – when you can see a big crowd of friend who all got involved to set this up – that the importance of friends and family really hits home.
I’m really looking forward to my brother, sister-in-law, and nephews all coming over to Brazil next Easter. I have lived in Brazil for over three years now and nobody from my family has visited. It’s really expensive – I’m well aware of that – but this is also why it felt nice to just see an entire pub full of people all singing happy birthday.
The pub we went to doesn’t even open on Saturdays usually – Angelica convinced the owner to open up because a big crowd would be ordering food and drinks at the party.
I’m really grateful to Angie for arranging this. It’s one of those crazy moments in life that I will never forget. And it was also really fantastic to see everyone who came – some had travelled hundreds of miles to be there.
Thank you everyone for making my birthday weekend a lot of fun, I really enjoyed it and I appreciate all the effort that went into arranging the party and just being there!
Photo sharing service Flickr turns ten today. This news has been a little overshadowed by the news that Facebook was ten last week, but I still love Flickr, even though it is now part of the Yahoo! empire.
This is the most popular photo I have ever uploaded to Flickr. It’s my Staffordshire Bull Terrier Matilda wearing a pair of boxing gloves in London. As I write this blog today, this photo has been viewed 12,980 times.
This photo of Matilda on the beach at Woolacombe in Devon is considered by Flickr to be the most interesting photo I have ever uploaded – with interestingness being different to just views because it includes a measure of how many people commented on the photo or made it a favourite photo of theirs.
However, this Rothko image from the Tate Modern art gallery in London comes in a close second…
My photos on Flickr do still get quite a few views. Today they have been viewed 10,693 times and in total my collection of 30,008 photos has been viewed 4,130,107 times. Yes, that’s over 4 million views on my photographs on Flickr!
So happy birthday Flickr and here’s to the next decade 🙂
It started off by seeing Stephen Fry on Thursday evening at the Royal Albert Hall… though I prefer him on TV to this live show on stage. The endless chat about his memoirs felt quite forced in front of a theatre of 5,000 people. But then I stayed at the Hilton Tower Bridge that evening and spent a day as a tourist on Friday – saw The Town at the Vue Leicester Square and War Horse at the New London theatre.
Then on Saturday I had a karting race near Heathrow with mates in the afternoon and a great evening at the Rose and Crown, Ealing, where the Biblecode Sundays were playing… and about 50 friends all taking over a big section of the pub!
It was really special and something I won’t forget. Thank you to everyone who gave me gifts – I have not managed to respond personally to everyone, though I have been trying to on Facebook.
Oh, and Chippy – I guess the Billy Bragg T-shirt was from you! No name on the wrapping paper, but who else would buy me a ‘Milkman of Human Kindness’ T-shirt?
So that’s it. The end of my thirties. I’ll be 40 tomorrow – that sounds very middle-aged, worse than heading from your 20s into 30s.
In the last decade I got divorced, I bought a house in London before prices exploded, I published my first book… followed by several others, and I also started working for myself rather than a company as an employee.
It’s been seven years now since I quit ‘regular’ employment and it’s been fruitful at times, and close to the wire at others. Fortunately things are OK right now as the companies I work with are fairly positive about a recovery from the recession… though who knows if they are right?
But I have lot of new plans for the future, and a great partner. I remember the BBC journalist John Humphrys once saying that you shouldn’t live each day planning for the perfect holiday, you should try to adapt your life so each day can be like a holiday.
Obviously most of us still need to work, but I like what I do – it’s very flexible and allows me to travel the world and meet interesting people. It’s certainly not a holiday when clients are chasing me over blogs or presentations, but being the master of your own destiny is a far nicer life than being in a bank or a consulting firm where your soul is exchanged in a Faustian pact all in the hope of that annual bonus.
So I’m not all that worried about getting older, life has got more exciting through my 30s – I expect it can only get better now!
Can you help me? It’s my birthday in September and as one part of the party, I’m planning a charity auction. I’m going to ask some celebs to sign photos or other stuff so I can auction them off to raise cash for charidee – I haven’t really decided which one, but it will probably be for Alzheimer’s research as that’s what killed my grandfather – over a pretty miserable period of several years.
I’m thinking about things like Ricky Hatton signing a boxing glove, Cheryl Cole signing a CD, David Cameron signing a photo of Big Ben… if you walked into a pub and they were holding a charity auction, who or what would you bid on in a dream auction?
Companies across the world often try to do some good for the community in which they operate – it’s called Corporate Social Responsibility in business jargon, but sometimes the action of the company jars so much with the intentions of the community or charity that it leaves me open-mouthed in astonishment.
Take the 140th anniversary of the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi as an example. German pen maker Montblanc has produced a special limited-edition anniversary pen in his honour. The pen retails at $25,000 and a proportion of that money will go to the Gandhi Foundation. In a clumsy reference to the famous Salt Tax protest march, just 241 pens will be sold – referring to the 241 miles of the march.
Gandhi led a simple life, focusing himself on creating work and prosperity for India as well as peace and understanding between the various religious groups in his country. He promoted Indian products, but even then he focused on craft and the retention of the traditional skills that were being lost through urban modernisation.
What would he think of a pen, made in Europe, and priced so high that an Indian worker on an average salary would take around 26 years of labour to buy it?
Personally, I think he would be horrified. I’m a European and I think it’s in poor taste. It looks like a beautiful pen, but it remains just-a-pen. Some might argue that it raises money for charity and therefore it must be ‘a good thing’ – probably the same people who argue that rock concerts full of has-beens and nobodies are ‘a good thing’ so long as they are staged for the benefit of charideeee.