Friday, June 26, 2009

MJ Day

I had to do this. I'm sorry to anyone who's sick of this already, but I had to.

During primary school, my best friend and my brother's best friend were coincidentally also brothers- Harry and Sam Skinner. Quite often, we would invite Harry and Sam over for sleepovers. We would come up to our bedroom and hang out. Not long after, one of us would insert the cassette of Michael Jackson's "Dangerous" in our mini hi-fi which had the crappiest tiny speakers, turn off the main light, switch on a couple of lamps, and proceed to dance our asses off.

I loved those days.

The weird video for "Leave me Alone". The "Moonwalker" movie. The "Moonwalker" videogame! That camera trick in "Smooth Criminal". The claymation in "Speed Demon". The giant statue along the Thames to celebrate the launch of "HiStory". The concert where he descended to the stage in a space suit to perform "Man in the Mirror". That's Michael Jackson.

Recently I shared this sleepover-dancing anecdote with my good friend Aaron, and he told me he had virtually the same childhood experience with his friend Greg. We were both very excited to find we had such a quirky bond. For us and millions of others, Michael Jackson literally shaped our musical experience as we grew up. I love music anyway - I don't think I could happily live without it. But to this day I still thoroughly enjoy the energy, passion, and variation of Michael Jackson's music.

Watching the news last night, hearing he had been rushed to hospital, I was slightly fearful but considering his age, not overly concerned. I flicked over to BBC24 anyway. As time went on it was more and more obvious what had happened, but somehow, even now, reading the words


is one of the most unreal sentences I have ever read. It seems almost impossible to me that someone with such stage presence, vitality and talent could just stop existing. To be honest I'm not that upset- I didn't know him, he was at the end of the day a performer who I was (am) a great fan of. It's just...really weird. His music is still there, but the man himself isn't. It just doesn't make sense to me, and I don't know why.

I didn't feel this way when James Brown or Ray Charles passed away. I'm a big fan of their music, but it seemed more acceptable that they should pass- perhaps because of the age difference, or perhaps because I didn't grow up with them, who can say?

Whether or not his forthcoming UK tour would have been a renaissance or swan song is a moot point now. His music from the past stands forever, and I think anyone who makes jokes about a dead man is a disrespectful moron, and I fully anticipate that karma will one day deal with them sufficiently. Regardless of what happened in his personal life, he is dead, and that much at least should be respected. I would have hoped in death all that nonsense can finally stop.

I know it's a monumental occasion, but in a few days I'm sure we will find there are other news stories occuring in the world. In such times of global conflict, I would at least hope so.

I'm not going to be too cliche as to post an original MJ song, but just enough to maintain my cheesiness - a cover instead.

I am very, very thankful for Michael Jackson.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I was on the tube today, and as it was pulling in to the platform, there was a guy with a magazine in his hand running alongside the train. I can't lie- I giggled a bit inside as I thought he was trying and failing to make it in time. As he and the train were running side by side, it soon became clear he wasn't running for himself- he was trying to give the magazine to a guy who had just walked off further along the platform. As the train stopped and I walked off with music playing in my ears, it was clear that Magazine Recipient Man was extremely grateful and somewhat surprised that his item was so swiftly returned.

This action, in turn, made me smile and feel good.

Recently, I have undertaken the task of training for a 26 mile Bikeathon for Leukaemia Research (although my friend Ed is pushing me for the mammoth 52 mile challenge). Through the process of donations, it has slowly and only slightly re-connected me with people I haven't spoken to in a long time - albeit in the virtual world of Facebook . It gives them an idea of what I'm doing, a sense of a huge challenge I am accepting, and, through their generosity, it shows me their more caring side. Not that I was unaware of that side anyway. The overall activity of fundraising gives me a great feeling of being connected to so many people. In total, I think I have invited upwards of 300 people to donate- a fraction of which will be kind enough to empty their pockets - but it's a very satisfying feeling nonetheless.

Last week I attended an alumni networking event of the Windsor Fellowship; a charity which runs various programmes for ethnic minorities, one of which I was lucky enough to participate in. All in all, there are about six thousand alumni out there in the world, and the possiblity of connecting to, interacting with and working with even 1% of that is overwhelmingly exciting. I had no idea I had a network that extended so far. Lucky me.

I guess this is a continuation of my last post, but connecting with people who you know, knew and probably more importantly don't know is such an immensely powerful prospect. I have, over time, come to appreciate how powerful networks can be - beyond our comprehension. They can help you achieve your goals in no time, help you help others, and help you start something you had no idea you could create in the first place (like a bestselling book, a film or even a business).

I swear I am not sponsored by Nokia. Connecting People.

The above picture is a representation of the internet, and this is an absolute tune to wake you up. If you don't love it, you're dead inside. It's Stevie Wonder for crying out loud:

Almost forgot: Here's the link to my Just Giving donation page for the Bikeathon. Please donate!

Thursday, June 11, 2009


There are over 6 billion people on this convoluted planet. The human race has existed for thousands of years, and each of us can be expected to live for around 80 years. Logically then, we can conclude that we're all just minute blips in a massive, constantly moving pool of life. Hence, there lies an ultimatum for the humble human; focus on your own life, live only for you, work hard to become rich, retire, then die. Game over.


Refute the notion that you are insigificant and choose to live outside of yourself, to influence and change the lives of others. If, in your short amount of time on this earth, you can create a ripple effect that lives on and reaches out beyond one John Doe, your life will have actually meant something.

What I'm trying to say is that if your goal in life is to be rich, have a great job and a steady family, that's nice and all, but you're not really doing anything, are you? You are simply existing, and what's the point in that? Personal achievements can mean nothing they only benefit you. If however, you can reach more people and create action or change, you can take part in something epic, something much, much greater than 2.4 children. If you can do that, you will have truly lived.

I'm not saying you should try to get into the history books purely to be remembered, but try to live beyond yourself. Engage with other people, other families, other communities, because before you know it, it'll all be over. Don't be just another number; another tombstone; another name. Make no mistake, as one person on your own, serving yourself, you are definitely not important. As a self-involved human, you are a pointless spec of dust on mother nature's vast windscreen as she races down the motorway. But you, with your actions and your ability to influence others can be immensely important, perhaps even literally life-changing.

This video clip is the final scene from the film "Bobby", depicting the aftermath of the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy. The clip is visually, a manipulation of emotions. But the actual message is, I feel, vitally important.