THE SECRET OF LIFE

August 19, 2010

 

Every month, I send out a newsletter. A few months ag, I put forward my Theory of The Secret of Life. There was more feedback to that piece than anything I had written before or since. So, I thought I might share it with you.

But first, let me explain: my life is wonderful, it really is. I’m a very lucky little mind reader.

I’ve never had any real ambition – an attitude which was always perceived as a negative trait. Financial aspiration was never a driving force in my life.

I’ve been too busy having fun. You see, I reckon life is an adventure; or at least it should be. Certainly, I’ve been involved in all sorts of weird and wonderful things. Over the years I’ve performed alongside some of the most talented people ever to have graced a stage. I’ve travelled all over the world, from the Caribbean to Mainland Europe and from the US to Africa – this month I’m off to perform four gigs in Russia.

I’ve been down in a submarine, up in a hot air balloon. Swum with sharks and met most of my boyhood heroes, from pop stars to astronauts – I’ve even become friends with many of them. I’ve had the good fortune to meet some of the most remarkable people on the face of the planet.

Then there’s been the radio and television work – I was even once in a film with Brian Blessed and Oliver Reed. I mean, how cool is that?

The list goes on and on… But where does all that come from? It can’t just be luck, surely. And it has nothing to do with intelligence or good looks; that’s for sure!

Well, I’ve been thinking about it recently, and I recalled a time many years ago when I looked at my new school timetable and realised that the Tuesday and the Wednesday consisted of exactly the same classes at exactly the same time on both days. In that moment it struck me like a blow to the head that the Tuesday would be fine… but what was the point of exactly duplicating it the following day? What possible point could there be to living a carbon copy 24-hours?

It was madness. I might as well not have lived that day – and every day is incredibly precious; we have a strictly limited number of them, and they are steadily decreasing in number.

I promised myself that from that day on I would do something – anything – that was unique and exclusive to every 24-hour period. It didn’t matter what it was, how insignificant it was, as long as it marked that day out as being different.

It’s this questionable attitude that gets me into these really weird situations – and leads to such fabulous experiences. “The answer is ‘Yes’. What’s the question?”

Could I be more fulfilled? I doubt it very much.

So, the next time you have the opportunity to do something “different” – something new, an activity you’ve never even considered before – don’t even think about it; just say “yes”, as a child would, before the cynical adult in you has the chance to weigh up the pros and cons.

I guarantee that the experience will lead to two more “different” things, and those will lead to even more… Before you know it you can hardly keep up, and every day will be a fun-packed adventure. Every single day will be an exciting bookmark in your life.

Nobody on their deathbed ever lamented that they had done TOO MUCH with their life.

Isn’t that what life is all about? Isn’t THAT the secret of life?

I rather think it is.

Drew McAdam

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THE HUMBLE POST OFFICE

August 19, 2010

Shopping online has become a way of life. Everything from music to books, and from shoes to video games. It’s all just a dozen clicks away.

You just switch on the computer, go online and order what you want. A couple of days later it turns up. Easy as that.

So, setting off abroad for a few weeks would prove no problem. Currency and travel insurance over the internet would be dead easy – of course it would. However, as it happened I had to go to my wee local post office for something. While there, I noticed a leaflet for their foreign currency service. It offered a 0% commission rate. I thought I would give them a wee test.

I needed Roubles, and a friend of mine had experienced all sorts of problems trying to get them, eventually ending up using an airport Bureau Exchange at the very last minute. Online, you will discover that: “You can not generally obtain Roubles in the UK, and will have to buy them in Russia using a ‘hard currency’.”

Roubles at the wee local Post Office? No problem. The very friendly chap behind the counter explained that he could get the currency I needed, and that it would be there the following morning. You don’t get that service on the Internet.

But there was a problem; at the time I got them there was the possibility of an airport strike, and that meant the currency might not even leave the country. Surely I would have to pay something to have the Russian dosh converted back into real money? “No. Just bring them back and we will refund the exact amount you paid for them.”

Eh? How does THAT work?

Travel insurance? Well, all I had to do was go on the internet, sift through the various companies, refine the options, complete the paperwork, fill in the bank details, then wait for the policy to arrive.

The Post Office? “We can do it here.”

“I’m in a bit of a rush.”

“How long do you have?”

“About five minutes.”

“This will take two.”

And it did. He filled out the simple form, stamped it, took my £20 and handed me the policy. I mean, honestly, how much simpler can it be?

Like millions of others, I have become so enamoured with shopping online that I’ve forgotten “the old way”. The traditional way; the humble Post Office. It was good enough for my Mum and Dad, and – you know what? – it’s good enough for me.

Good enough for all of us, I reckon.

Drew McAdam


PRISONER PLAN

August 15, 2010

 

A good friend sent me a remarkable email recently. And in the light of a damning Care Commission report about a specific West Lothian nursing home, it seemed all the more relevant.

The email suggested that it would be a good plan to put all the pensioners in jail, and all the criminals in a nursing home.

Crazy? No, consider this: such a move would mean the pensioners would have access to showers, hobbies, daily exercise and walks. What’s more, they would be entitled to unlimited free prescriptions, optical, dental and medical treatment. Oh, and they would receive money instead of paying it out.

Even better, they would have constant video monitoring, so they could be helped instantly if they needed assistance. Their bedding would be washed and changed regularly. Their clothing would be ironed and returned to them daily.

They would have access to a library and a gym. They could attend free educational classes. Each of the old folks would have a free PC, video game consol and flat screen colour TV. There would be a board of governors to hear their complaints, and the guards would have a code of conduct that would be strictly adhered to.

On the other hand, the criminals – who would be in the nursing home – would be served cold food, be left unsupervised, woken at 6 am, lights off at 8 pm and given access to showers once a week.

They would live in a tiny room, have to pay a fortune for the privilege, and be abused or ignored by staff. They would share a single TV in a communal lounge and watch whatever channel everyone else was watching.

 They would rarely receive visitors, and would serve each day in the knowledge they had little hope of ever getting out.

It’s crazy, but it might just work.

What makes this suggestion all the more remarkable, is that the original idea was sent to me by an ex-Governor of a major Scottish jail. Me? I’m on his side!

Drew McAdam


THE FACE NOT THE PLACE

August 8, 2010

 

Hooray – it’s holiday time again.

It’s a time when people from all over West Lothian travel to exotic locations ranging from the other side of the globe to the other side of Glasgow.

In my time I have been fortunate – thanks to my job – to visit tourist sites, cities and islands that I never thought I would ever see outside of a picture book.

In fact, later this month I’m off to Saint Petersburg in Russia to perform four gigs in the palace where Rasputin was murdered.

And yet, despite having been to the Caribbean twice, and despite visiting countries like America, Spain, and Zambia, I have trouble actually remembering the places: which islands and what towns. Mainland Europe is a blur. Iceland hardly exists in my memory.

Rather, what I remember with crystal clarity is the people. I can recall the individuals I met as though it happened only yesterday.

In New York I chatted with a fireman who had been at the Twin Towers. On Barbados I met Heather, a taxi driver who took me to the beach and returned at exactly 5 o’clock to pick me up even though she had been paid in advance. Malachi was the old Rastafarian who took me in his boat and revealed the best places to snorkel. Do-a-deal-Dave sold me cheap beads.

Then there was Sean in Zambia who sung to me. Fanwell, the bushcamp guide. The grizzly old farmer I chatted with when I was cycling to Paris.

Dozens of locations, and hundreds of people. But what I have come to realise is that the places and the sights fade with time. They quickly become a faint mind-picture, while the people you meet there remain with you forever. You forget the place: you remember the person.

You might have to rack up a fortune on a credit card to travel and see the sights, but people are all around.

And that’s why I’ve promised myself that I’m going to make a conscious effort to meet more people. To get to know them. To form bonds and friendships.

It’s the memory of the people that will still be with me a decade from now… And that’s what really matters.

Drew McAdam