Relax August 28, 2018

Mindfulness, Zen.

Breathe from your groin, feel your right knee…your thigh, your stomach, your chest, your right arm, your shoulder, your left arm, your little finger, let your whole-body melt through the table…

Yoga, Reiki …?


Sorry, but I’m just not getting it.

My favourite story with all this new age nonsense was recounted by my wife after a weekend break at some Yoga – life changing tantric massage and womanly bonding – weekend. The ladies were invited to a Reiki session taking place in a large tent filled with incense sticks and chiming bells designed to rid the space of any evil (probably male) vibes.

The participants were asked to lie on the floor with their feet facing the outside of the tent. They were also advised that during the Reiki session they may feel localised heat or a burning sensation as the Reiki took hold of their system – they were asked to ‘go with this’ and to ‘enjoy’ the feelings that this would bring.

The session started and after a few moments my wife’s friend started to feel a warm sensation on her leg – the warmth turned to a burning – then the burning turned to a searing pain ….at which point she jumped up as her leggings were alight.

One of the incense sticks had fallen onto her leg and set her on fire.

I’m all for a bit of relaxation and I’d love to think I could go with a bit of massage or Yoga but I’m too wired to allow my brain to switch off in these sessions. I always just lie there thinking about cash flow or sales targets (sad man that I am) ….

The only way to get me into a state of ‘mindfulness’ is hurtling down a hill on a mountain bike – or driving a car along a technical piece of road where 100% focus is the only way you can be in control.

…. its during moments of extreme danger that I finally find inner peace.

I did test the ‘extreme danger’ theory by goading my wife when she asked recently about whether I ‘liked her new haircut’…. I gave the wrong answer which was extremely dangerous …. this DID NOT lead to any ‘inner peace’…none whatsoever…


Back to the drawing board.

Mike C

Power. August 22, 2018

Power? ….an interesting concept.

Who actually has the ‘power’ in your life? Your partner? Your boss ? Your parents? …all possibly hold some sort of hold over your behaviour.

In my life it’s definitely my wife.

She can make my life so bloody miserable if she isn’t happy so I try and do everything in my power to keep her smiling. This involves a cup of tea first thing in the morning – always made to exacting standards as prescribed by Mrs Clough – brewed for the correct length of time, with just the perfect amount of milk …not too much, not too little.

The day then moves forward in a positive manner…provided that ;

– no hairs are left in the sink after beard trimming
– towels are folded neatly in the bathroom
– the soap is left in the soap dish not on the side of the bath
– the toilet seat is left down
– the kitchen surfaces are not left covered in crumbs
– the fridge has no finger prints left on it
– any juice is consumed from a glass – not direct from the carton

You get the drift.

– I must also always drive slowly

Get the tea wrong – you’re screwed – the day will never recover.

Apart from the Mrs though… nobody else holds much sway over my behaviour.

I used to be in awe of certain clients and certain clients agents, architects and quantity surveyors used to be the bain of my life. I’m not sure whether I’ve grown up or just don’t give a fuck anymore but none of them hold much sway over me anymore. I know what I’m doing and I know what the costs should be for the works that I’m suggesting… so …if people start getting all cheap and shitty with me I now tend to take the higher ground and walk out.

JKSL are the best company in the field of invasive weed management so we tend to charge fees which show us a profit at the end of the job.

Working for nothing is not something we do anymore.

We also don’t do works on the basis of some future ‘huge project’ that may or may not happen.

We don’t do freebies just because somebody is (or at least thinks) they are important.

So ‘power’ pretty much removed from the equation then.

Years ago I used to ‘wine and dine’ clients and can specifically remember on one occasion taking a big developer guy out for lunch. I was paying – he chose the most expensive red wine on the menu – drank a bottle then ordered another one to quench his insatiable desire to be the fattest fucker in Manchester.

We never got any work from this guy and found out that he had in fact given works to one of our competitors and bragged about how he had screwed me over with the lunch.

I remember coming away from the lunch with a commitment never to do the same thing again – and I’ve stuck to my principles.

Perhaps the greatest power lies with being successful in what you do.

If only I could make a better cup of tea ….my life would be sorted.

Mike C

Youths a mask… August 15, 2018

‘Youths a mask…but it don’t last, live it long and live it fast’.

Lyrics from some long-forgotten Rod Stewart song if memory serves me well. Yet there’s something very pertinent in those words. I’ve found myself reminiscing of late about my life and what I’ve done with it …and where the fuck it’s all gone.

Jeez I’m bloody 57 ffs – how did that happen? Somebody once said to me that time just flies by as you get older and boy were they right.

2018?…. Where the hell has that gone …it’s August yet in my head I’m thinking it feels like the year has only just begun – yet Mrs. C is already planning Christmas …aaaarrrgghhhh.

It was twelve months ago that I had my first heart attack. A day that’s easy to remember as it was my daughters 29th birthday. She was phoned early in the morning by her mother not to wish her ‘happy birthday’ but rather to say that ‘your dads in hospital undergoing surgery to repair damaged arteries in his heart’. Not the greatest birthday gift I’ve ever organised.

One thing a heart attack will do for you is make you think about where your life is heading. It is definitely the proverbial ‘wakeup call’. I’ve always had a bit of a cavalier attitude to life – ‘fuck it your only here once’ – has been my rallying call when faced with a night out and a few too many cocktails and maybe a brandy and a desert and another whisky …

I think I’ve always thought – ‘I don’t want to die wishing I’d tried …whatever…’ so I’ve always gone for it …

But putting me to one side for a moment.

What worries me more is younger people wasting the life that they have. I see so many people just stuck inside on their computers playing games when there’s so much more that they could be doing.

Younger people in general seem more restrained and introverted than they used to be. I grew up during the punk era where if you didn’t like something you did something about it.

I hear young people all the time complaining that they aren’t ‘happy’ yet they seem to just put up with their misery and yet do nothing to change things.

This is it guys – this isn’t a rehearsal – this is your life…. if you don’t like it – do something about it before it’s too late. Once you’ve got a huge mortgage and children and two dogs and a cat it’s hard to change what you’re doing. Financially it’s just not feasible – far too many ‘outgoings’ for you to suddenly stop and make a change.

Is it because there’s too much choice, or is it the complete opposite – with not enough choice?

Are people pushed into making decisions as to where they are going in life before they are old enough to make the decision? Once you are on a certain track it’s very difficult to stop and say – ‘hang on I’m not liking where this is heading’.

In my day young people that changed their minds about which university course they were doing were treated as pariahs who were indecisive and were a bit ‘lost’. Looking back at them now I can see that they were incredibly brave in making a life changing decision because they weren’t happy.

I think what I’m on about here boiled down is – you’re only here once.

So, make the most of it – don’t sit around complaining about shit – do something about it.

Coz once you’re an old fucker like me you’ve lost your chance.

Mike C

If you don’t know what you’re talking about… August 8, 2018

My father always said to me … ‘if you don’t know what you’re talking about – keep your mouth shut’…

This little gem has saved me endless times in meetings and in marriage – where if I had run with my first thought and spoken up – I would’ve made a real ass of myself.

So why, oh, why can’t some of my clients use this handy little saying?

The number of times I’ve had to listen to customers try and tell ME about invasive species – when they know nothing about what they’re talking about and have gleaned their information from an article they read in the Daily Mail four years ago.

How many times have I had people say to me – ‘I don’t really believe Japanese knotweed is a problem – it’s all been hyped up in the newspapers…’ or…. ‘I’m not going to do anything about Himalayan balsam …it’s good for bees…and bees are struggling…’

Please, please let the experts talk to you about invasive species – don’t believe everything you read. You know newspapers are just trying to make headlines to gain readership. A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing – let us resolve your problems without the need for drama.

Why employ an ‘expert’ …if you’re not going to listen?

I think within certain industries some people have made their job by just bullying everyone around them into submission. Nobody dare argue with them as they’ve been there so long that they’ve almost attained mythical status and cannot be reasoned with.

I consider myself pretty open minded. I listen. I think. Then I respond.

I’ve often been known to say to people – ‘give me twenty-four hours and I will get back to you’. It’s much better to do some research, check a few facts then make a reasoned judgement and a decision than to chatter on, talking about something you know nothing about.

I’ve even been known to go back to someone I’ve fallen out with, apologise, admit I was wrong and try and patch up the working relationship*. It’s all part of running a business and being a human being.

Marriage can be pretty similar to running a business.

Many decisions need to be discussed and compromises made.

Most of my early married life I was a complete asshole and now look back on some of the things I did with painful embarrassment. My wife not only put up with me but took it upon herself to manage and train me into some semblance of what she wanted from a husband. It wasn’t easy and there were a few moments where she left and moved back with her mother – but in most instances I took on board what she was saying and managed my behavior accordingly.

I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut and only speak when I’ve got the facts straight. I’m usually wrong about most things within our family life but luckily, I have a partner who gets most things right.

Not listening and not taking advice is a sure way to fuck up in business …and to fuck up in life.

Mike C

*NB I’m not talking about you – you dick head – there’s no going back on that situation – fuck you.

Bored August 1, 2018

I don’t know whether it’s an age thing but I’m finding myself bored with most of what’s going on in the world. It’s all way too predictable – and whenever you get a sniff of something potentially interesting – it lets you down.

I was quite excited by Obama becoming president, thinking to myself ‘this could shake things up a bit …’ …. but did it? …. not really. What would you pinpoint as the legacy of Obama other than being the first black president? I was hoping for a resolution to discrimination- maybe some deep cleansing of the obviously repugnant racism in some sections of the police force in the US. A better society for everyone??

Brexit – there was something that shocked and surprised me. Yet here we are however long after we voted to leave Europe and the most likely thing to happen is a second referendum – or a third or a fourth …. or do we carry on repeating the exercise until we actually all vote to stay in the European community because nobody can figure out how to leave…??

TV programmes – along comes ‘Westworld’ series one – which I enjoyed …but series two I couldn’t make any sense of …and just found myself thinking that the writers didn’t know which direction they wanted the story to go in. Had the second series just been written because the first was a commercial success? Nobody had a plot …but somebody green lighted the budget.

The rest of TV seems bent on abusing women and children and taking down every boundary of good taste and decency that we have. How about we have a series based around a man being kept in a cellar and tortured or an elderly person being abducted rather than a child …that would be novel?? The most exciting thing that the papers had to say at the weekend was that ‘Frasier’ the most successful sitcom ‘ever’ – was being re-booted. Is that the best we can do …??? Re boots of ‘Will and Grace’ and ‘Frasier’ …jeez.

Cars – used to thrill and excite me but somehow the roads we have and the volume of traffic on them have reduced every journey to a traffic jam. Yet somehow you know every time you press the accelerator there’s a camera or a police speed trap ready to take your money and give you penalty points.

Music – I’m driving around listening to Led Zeppelin – how the fuck did that happen. Surely something better should be hitting my eardrums. I never listen to the radio anymore because it’s shite – pubescent presenters talking crap and thinking they’re funny when in truth they just need to grow up a bit and realise that selfies and the whole associated crap involved in self-promotion is just soooooo fucking boring.

Women – I used to enjoy the opposite sex in friendly and mostly appropriate way. Now I feel that I cannot say or do anything for fear of causing some politically incorrect upheaval. I constantly think twice or even thrice before saying anything that might remotely be deemed sexist. This means most of the time I just don’t talk to women …

Meat – I’m kinda not enjoying my food as much anymore. Both my daughters are vegetarian and one is vegan. We’ve even got a vegan dog in the family. I understand what it’s all about and I can see the reasoning behind their decisions and I’m immensely proud of both of them. But it leaves me feeling a bit guilty every time I munch down on a steak.

The Royal family – holy crap have I had enough of them ALL. Big headline yesterday Meghan gives kiss to husband after polo game. ‘After polo game’ – well whoop de fucking do – really…. really ….is this NEWS?

All I’m saying is let’s have a punk revolution again please.

Can we all do something a bit more ‘out there’ …


Perhaps I’m just a dinosaur still walking the earth when really, I should be extinct??

Mike C