Posts Tagged ‘self-improvement’

The Importance of Education

“Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.” – H. G. Wells (1866 – 1946)

I first came across the above quotation about ten years ago when I read a book on prophets, the quote has stuck with me over the years but I must admit I had always thought it was Jules verne that said it. (Doh!)

Science fiction writers are by their very nature good predictors of the future and H. G. Wells’ words have always resonated with me. Potentially, the next twenty years or so are going to be the most critical years we will ever face.

So much is happening so fast these days that it is vital that we have the werewithall to keep up with it. Therefor the role of education is taking on a greater and greater significance.

A hundred years ago it was only the priviliged few who were fortunate enough to receive an education and reading and writing were considered great skills. Fortunately, we’ve reached a point in our evolution where illiteracy has for the most part been eradicated.

“Only the educated are free.” – Epictetus (55 – 135 AD)

There are five ways that we absorb information, in order of popularity they are; Verbal, Visual, Tactile, Kinesthetic (info manipulation) and Aural.

Personally, I think people learn better if they enjoy what they are doing. Ocassionally, people contact me and ask me things like “why are you always fooling around?” or “Why don’t you take personal development seriously?”

I always give the same answer: I DO take PD seriously, I get up at 4:30 am every morning to write my website’s daily update, now that’s taking things seriously! As for the fooling around part, well old habits die hard…

“What we learn with pleasure we never forget.”  – Alfred Mercier (1816 – 1894)

As parents we cannot force our children to study, we can only advise them that it’s in their best interests to do so. As a child I received zero pressure, only encouragement from my parents and their approach paid off.

Psychology is one of my passions and I’ve always appraoched the subject of success with the same attitude: ‘Try your best and then forget it’.

Why waste time worrying about things we can’t influence?

Education and schooling prepares children for life, it teaches them the improtance of discipline and routine. It’s only the fortunate few who are naturally gifted, most of us have to work damned hard for a living, so the sooner we learn the work ethic the better.

If you want to teach your children about life, get them a pet. Learning to care about something other than ourselves is a vital life skill.

I think the most important part of education is ‘vocabulary’. The ability to communicate effectively with people is one of if not THE most important life skills. Being able to express oneself is so important.

I believe a large percentage of violence stems from the inability to communicate ones true feelings effectively and the subsequent frustration that that brings. Wars have been fought in the past simply because of prejudice and a lack of tolerence and understanding of others.

The world is undoubtedly becoming a ‘smaller’ place and our understanding of each others cultures and traditions is improving. I just hope that we don’t become to reliant upon technology because I’m a firm believer in the concept of moderation in all things.

“The great thing, then, in all education, is to make our nervous system our ally instead of our enemy.” – William James (1842 – 1910)

Andy.

http://www.wealthnuggets4u.com

 

Everyone loves a scandal, none of us like to admit it but who could honestly say they have never gossiped about anyone?

People have gossiped since the birth of mankind, there is obviously something very addictive about it, it’s ingrained in our psyche and although it is wrong and often unfair people we will never stop doing it.

“A rumor without a leg to stand on will get around some other way.” – John Tudor

Gossip is one way of letting off steam about the frustrations of our own lives. We all strive for bigger, better and more rewarding lives and when we struggle to meat our own expectations other peoples’ misfortunes become an antidote for our own shortcomings.

We all love to bring people down a peg or two especially if they are perceived to be doing better than us.

Jealousy is a catalyst of rumour and scandal. Revenge is never pleasant and it’s often as harmful for the perpitrator as it is for the recipient. Therefor, it is unwise to disrespsct people just because we don’t like them, or we believe they have done something to upset us.

Celebrities are an easy target of the rumour mill. We could argue that the extreme scrutiny they are subject to comes with the territory but they are still human beings with the same frailties as everyone else and they are entitled to their privacy.

“It is the gossip columnist’s business to write about what is none of his business.” – Louis Kronenberger

Don’t get me wrong, some celebrities make a living just from being a celebrity and if you make a living just from being in the news then you have to be prepared to accept the negative consequences.

But genuine ‘A’ list celebrities, people who are famous for what they actually do or what they contribute towards society should be given a certain amount of freedom so they can live their lives in a relatively normal way.

Unfortunately, bad news sells, hence the media exploit and exagerate it, it boosts their ratings, which is fine, they are doing their job, they are giving us what we want. However, what do the media do when there is no bad news to report and their ratings start to suffer?. Obviously, they go looking for more bad news or worse still they invent it.

Revelling in other people’s problems make us feel better about our own. It’s human nature to enjoy feeling superior and self-righteous, it makes us feel good, It satisfys some inner need.

Communication is the life blood of society so we could argue it would be foolish to try to supress it. Improved communication makes the world a smaller place and that for the main part is a good thing. The more we talk to one another the more tolerant we become of each others views.

Gossip is just the down side of communication, it’s like a raw material before it has been processed and purified to make the finished product. It’s always better to get our facts straight before we pass on any information and if we do have to gossip it’s more constructive to concentrate on the positive because the negative can be extremely dangerous.

People take insults to their graves, we are all a lot more sensitve than we like to admit, a loose comment can create a life-long enemy and the fewer of those we have the better.

Knowing that people will always gossip and talk about us as much as they talk to us we can use the ‘grapevine’ to our own advatage. For example we can praise people that are important to us as long as the praise is genuine of course, sure enough the praise will eventually find it’s way back to them. Furthermore, if we know someone is prone to gossiping we can use them to spread news fast.

Words are extremely powerful and if we can limit the amount of times we criticise and/or disagree with people to a minimum then we will undoubtedly improve our own lives.

we all live in glass houses and if we throw a rock at someone they have a tendency to throw one back.

“Fire and swords are slow engines of destruction, compared to the tongue of a Gossip.” – Richard Steele

Andy.

http://www.wealthnuggets4u.com

The five senses; Taste, Touch, Site, Sound and Smell are undoubtedly the greatest gifs we will ever receive but how many of us can honestly say that we make the most of all of our senses?

Most of us live our lives, at least to some degree on auto pilot, the days turn into weeks, the weeks into months and before we know it another year has passed us by.

It is possible to ‘slow’ this process down and to get more out of our lives if we chosse to and the main way to do this is by increasing our sensory perception.

“I think this is true for all artists. My senses are very important to me.” – Sharon Olds

Visualisation is a great method for bringing about desired outcomes, in fact the majority of successful people from all walks of life practice it. Rather than just wishing we had something it is much more productive to visualise having it.

Importantly though, to acheive the best results we must ‘visualise’ with all of our senses. By doing this we fully engage our subconscious mind and once we convince it that we really want something it will go into overdrive in order to deliver it to us, that’s what it’s programmed to do.

Practice fully utilising one sense at a time, you’ll be amazed at how clearer your thinking will become. With just a little practice we can double our ability to process and remember information.

“Observe, record, tabulate, communicate. Use your five senses. Learn to see, learn to hear, learn to feel, learn to smell, and know that by practice alone you can become expert.” – William Osler

Greater use of the senses promotes greater understanding, not just of ourselves but of others, we begin to exhibit greater empathy for others and empathy is one of the tools of success. People like people who understand and sympathise with them.

People like people who are like they are.

Whenever I go on holiday I make a conscious effort to remember as much of the experience as possible. Yes, we take snapshots and video but there’s nothing like the memory of actually being there.

People that are unfortunate enough to lack one or more of the senses develop their remaining senses to compensate. Pop Star, Stevie Wonder credits a great deal of his success to his blindness.

Rather than constantly griping and complaining about all the things we lack we should concentrate on celebrating the most wonderful gifts in our posession, our five senses.

“Purity of speech, of the mind, of the senses, and of a compassionate heart are needed by one who desires to rise to the divine platform.” –
Chanakya

Andy.

http://www.wealthnuggets4u.com

We buy things for many reasons, we buy lots of things we need and lots of things we don’t need. If you have serious designs on making money it is vital that you understand why people buy.

# Necessity:

We can’t live without things such as food, water, shelter etc, so we have to aquire them. However there is a subtle difference between actual necessities and perceived necessities.

Human beings can be extremely impulsive and exposure to products and services can make us think that we cannot live without them. Furthermore we are very susceptible to the power of peer pressure. ‘The kid next door has got a new bike so our kids have to have one.’

We actually feel guilty or bad if we don’t buy our kids everything their conmtemporaries have. Thus, we as a society leave ourselves wide open to exploitation by the advertising industry.

“An object in possession seldom retains the same charm that it had in pursuit.” –  Pliny the Younger (62 AD – 114 AD)

# Emotions:

Our emotions play a great part in our shopping habits, lots of people comfort-shop, they buy things to give themselves a boost. Our mood is easily manipulated and our senses our susceptible to music, visual displays, enticing smells etc.

We buy for fun, we buy things that give us pleasure, we buy things that make us feel good, we buy to escape reality.

Mementos are also big sellers, there is nothing we like more than something that reminds us of a cherished memory – The power of nostalgia is immense.

We are all capable of greed, we all love a bargain, we all buy bulk items that we will never use.

# Real benefits:

We are fortunate to live at a time of great technological advancement, the labour-saving devices that have become available to us over the last 50 years have been astonishing.

Most of us like to improve ourselves, we will buy something if it will educate us or our children. Education is now available to a large proportion of us whereas less than a hundred years ago it was only available to a priviliged few. Furthermore the internet has made it possible for us to access information like never before.

We also buy things that we hope will make us money, we invest in all manner of things from jewellry to stocks and shares.

“To have little is to possess. To have plenty is to be perplexed.
Lao-tzu.” (604 BC – 531 BC)

# Image:

Everyone loves to look and feel good. image and prestige are both key buying motivators, if something makes us look good in the eyes of other people then we will buy it.

# Health: If we don’t have our health then we have nothing. People will pay to become healthier. Too often though we think we can get a ‘bargain’ a ‘quick fix’. Prevention is always better than the cure, moderation in all things

# Influences:

I started my career in retailing so I know a bit about sales psychology. I think the most important thing you can convey to someone in order to get them ito buy from you is TRUST.

We all like to buy from people we trust, someone that is going to make sure we get value for money, someone who is going to guide us through the minefields of their particular product or service. Trust is a key ingredient of repeat business.

Top advertisers and retailers are extremely adept at influencing our decision making when it comes to buying things, they create the right ambience for their products and services. They appeal to our ego’s, they make us think buying their goods will improve us in all manner of ways.

Personally, apart from life-saving products I think freedom and space are the most important commodities. If we can acheive these things then we owe it to ourselves to find the time to enjoy them.

“Before we set our hearts too much upon anything, let us examine how happy those are who already possess it.” F. Rochefoucauld (1613 – 1680)

Andy.

http://www.wealthnuggets4u.com

How to Get Promoted

When pitching to a group of people it is crucial that we ascertain as early as possible who the decision maker(s) is. A good way of doing this is to ask the group a key question and look who they all turn to for the answer.

It’s very similar when we are looking to advance our careers. Find out who the key people are in your organisation and start getting to know how they tick. Find out as much as possible about them and what you have in common with them. Nurture this common ground.

‘My own business always bores me to death; I prefer other people’s.’
Oscar Wilde.’ – (1854 – 1900)

# Empathy:

Don’t kid yourself that your boss will promote you just because they think you are a wonderful person or even because you’re good at your job.

They’ll promote you because they think you can help them realise their OWN ambitions, they want someone who will act as an extension of themselves. Thus, if you want to get promoted you must learn to live and think like your boss.

# Responsibility:

Ask for more responsibility, be honest, don’t bite off more than you can chew, but do everything well. Produce quality work that has impact, not mass output that anyone can do. Keep asking for more and more responsibility and if you keep doing a good job then eventually you will become indespensible.

*If your boss refuses to give you additional responsibilities ask why and what you have to do in order to be considered for more important tasks.

# Image:

Act as if you’ve already been promoted, not in a conceited way but simply assume the position you are aiming for. Dress smarter, walk faster, this conveys importance, stand up straight. Convince yourself and those around you that you are capable of greater things.

‘I find it rather easy to portray a businessman. Being bland, rather cruel and incompetent comes naturally to me.’ – John Cleese (1939 – )

# Knowledge:

Be in the know, not just about your own business but about business in general, I read the financial pages on teletext every day, it takes less than 5 minutes.

# Confidence:

Don’t be afraid to be a bit cheeky but know where to draw the line. Ask for a better car/package/salary. If they turn you down on one thing ask for another. It’s hard for people to keep saying no.

# Determination:

Don’t give up, you’ll keep improving and learning, eventually you’ll get to where you want to be and if you don’t then at least you can rest easy in the knowledge that you gave it everything you had.

# Patience:

All good things take time, rather than hopping from one career to the next, find out what you’re good at and keep doing it.

‘In the business world, the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield.’ – Warren Buffett (1930 – )

Andy.

http://www.wealthnuggets4u.com

Time is precious, we all know that. We all get the same amount of time each day, time is perhaps one of the few even playing fields in life. Thus how we utilise it is vital to our success and happiness.

We must use time as a tool, not as a crutch. – John F. Kennedy (1917 – 1963)

Dashing around like a headless chickens acheives nothing, thus planning is vital in everything. If we take a relatively small amount of time to plan it will pay us great dividends later on.

I always start a task by brainstorming, just jotting down everything I (We) know about a subject, it doesnt matter how crazy the ideas are, it’s just important to get it all out.

Next add to your own ideas with a bit of research and then arrange your information into some kind of logical order.

Time is so important and non renewable that we must try to make the most of every second of it. For example even when we are doing mundain things such as queueing we can still occupy our minds in a useful way such as reciting affirmations or ‘compiling’ articles.

Rather than dashing everywhere it is more productive to build TEMPO. The earlier in the day that we can manage this the more prooductive our day will be. It is also important to pace ourselves and to take breaks for food and rest. Burnout sucks, believe me.

There is never enough time, unless you’re serving it. – Malcolm Forbes (1919 – 1990)

Once we have planned our day or task, we must then prioritise, contrary to most other PD specialists I believe in working through easy to tough, except of course when something is time critical.

The easy jobs help build tempo and as the difficulty of the tasks increases we have also gained in fluidity. Furthermore if we spend hours on our most difficult task we then find ourselves short on time to do everything else.

It’s better to have one unfinished piece of work than twenty.

I think that routine gets a bad press, routines can be very beneficial to us and are an integral part of success, we should always try to become quicker and more skilled at all our daily tasks and eventually we will be able to do more and more in the same amount of time and with the same amount of effort.

If something saves me 20 seconds then I’ll do it.

Leisure time is vital, not only do we all need time to re charge our batteries but rest and play gives the subconscious mind time to mull over all our goals and problems.

It is possible to ‘stretch’ time by being more aware about what we are doing not just going through the motions of life.

Time is infinite, it will still be around long after we are gone. If we all achieve emotional happiness our time here will have been well spent.

Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend. – Theophrastus (372 BC – 287 BC)

Andy.

http://www.wealthnuggets4u.com

I’ve written numerous articles on this subject in the past many of which I’ve posted on various forums and blogs across the internet and they have always created a lot of interest and reaction, not all of it positive I might add!

There is a lot of moral high ground concerning the subject of looks and ageing but all I can say to the people who congregate up there is that people spends billions of pounds every year on anti-ageing products and procedures so lets stop being so hypocritical about it.

The fact of the matter is that the majority of people want to look better, this may or may not include wanting to look younger. Personally, up until the age of about 23 I hated looking young, I felt that it held me back, it’s only in the last 10 to 15 years that I have actually started to apreciate the fact that I look younger than I actually am.

‘To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early or be respectable.’ (Oscar Wilde)

Regardless of wether you want to look, feel or act younger than you actually are there are certain simple things you can do in order to look and feel healthier.

1. FACE

# Facial hair: Always keep your eyebrows neatly trimmed, bushy/long eyebrows add years to a person and the ‘uni-brow’ is not a desirable look. Definitely no nose or ear hair this is the height of unsightliness.

Some men can look attractive with beards or stubble but they do add between 5-10 years to a man’s perceived age.

# Moisturising: Come on, we are living in the 21st century there’s nothing unmanly about a man who moisturises. Good hair and facial care is bound to pay dividends.

# Sun: Use good sun creams and no sun beds.

2. BODY

The body is most definitely our temple and if we put crap into it we can’t complain if it malfunctions.

# Quit Smoking: The biggest single thing you can do for your body is to free it from the torture of cigarette smoke, trust me it will thank you incessantly.

# Food and water: Eat fruit as soon as you get up, it creates a good chemical reaction in the body, conversely, never eat fruit on a full stomach, ie as a dessert because it creates the opposite effect. Buy fresh fruit and veg and stick it in the fridge so that you see it every time you go for something to nibble on. Drink lots of water.

# Exercise: Do a little every day, some is most definitely better than none, plus try and get more fresh air, again 5 minutes is better than nothing.

# Posture: Stand straight(er) and walk faster. If you saw a person hunched over and shuffling along would you think they were important or even worthy of respect? Good posture makes you look taller and feel better.

# Clothes: Wear smart clothes, they do not have to be expensive, if you are used to or like ‘comfy’ clothes start wearing ‘smarter’ clothes indoors and they will soon start to feel more comfortable.

‘Youth has no age.’ (Pablo Picasso)

3. MIND

# Psychology: People tend to be as old as they want to be, you can be old at 20 and young at 90. I am not suggesting that a person should suddenly start acting as young as their kids, they’d just look stupid but I am a big believer that people of all ages should strive to get along with one another.

We are all living our lives on this planet at the same time. The universe has been around for billions of years so why should age gaps prevent us from communicating effectively and sincerely with one another.

# Meditation: Meditation is as important for the mind and soul as food and water is for the body.

# Laughter: Smile and laugh as much as possible, there is no better medicine or anti-aging product available to mankind than the positive effects on the body of smiling and laughing.

‘Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young.’ (Sir Arthur Pinero)

Andy.

www.wealthnuggets4u.com

There are essentially six basic things that all human beings NEED. These are: Air, Food, water, clothing, shelter and sex. Everything else is a bonus. Unfortunately, the more we attain the more we tend to want and this if we are not careful can become extremely self damaging.

“Man is the only animal whose desires increase as they are fed; the only animal that is never satisfied.” (Henry George)

Although all our tastes vary, generally speaking we all want the same things.

If we can identify what these core things are not only will we improve our own quality of life but also that of others. Furthermore, we are paid in proportion to the amount of value we add to society. Therefor, the more value we add the more we will get paid.

Here is a general list (in no particular order) of what I think most people want:

To be loved, financial freedom, happiness for their children, a good partner, a nice house, friends they can trust, a career, a car, to be happy, regular holidays, recognition, to be needed, pets, hobbies, excitement, laughter, to help others, good food, challenges, status, to look good, to feel good, security, comfort, freedom, sport, entertainment, choice…

I suggest that you draw up your own personal list of what YOU want and then prioritise it, I guarantee you’ll be surprised by it. You have to be really honest though because much of our early lives are spent being pre-conditioned. From an early age we are told what we should and shouldn’t like, we need to strip away this pre-conditioning in order to get to the truth of what it is we really want.

Once you know what it is you REALLY want you can start to go after it.

Most elderly people don’t regret the lack of material goods in their lives they regret the lack of emotional fulfillment. They say things like they wished they’d laughed more or stayed in contact with their old friends or cared about people more.

“Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the acheivement of one’s values.” (Ayn Rand)

Money and material goods are important, particularly if you suffer from a lack of them but we should always keep them in perspective and moreover be grateful for what we DO have. Instead of always chasing the rainbow we should concentrate on FEELING HAPPY NOW.

“The bird of paradise alights only upon the hand that does not grasp.” (John Berry)

If we can acheive true happiness for ourelves and those around us I think we will have acheived our main purpose in life.

Andy.

No matter what we think about money it is vital to everone’s existence. Money often gets a bad press but placed in the right hands it can do amazing things.

Money is meant to be fluid, to flow from one person to another, it is not meant to be horded.

“Money can’t buy you happiness but it can buy you the kind of misery you prefer” (Author unknown)

Many people prevent money from comming into their lives for a variety of reasons. Some people don’t think they are worthy of it, it’s not the money they cant handle it’s themselves. To allow more money to come into our lives we have to believe we are worthy of it.

How do we do that?

We must practice what it is like to have lots of money, get used to the ‘feel’ of being rich. In fact if we want to be good at anything we must practice how to do it. Hang out where rich people do, save up and buy quality clothes and products. Start dressing, acting and thinking like a wealthy person.

Ignore your shortcommings:

Too many people get hung up on their weaknesses instead of concentrating on their strenghs. Just because a person has a limited education, comes from a poor background, speaks with a common accent etc doesn’t mean that they cannot become wealthy. On the contrary most rich people have major shortcommings in other areas of their lives.

“Money frees you from doing things you dislike. Since I dislike doing nearly everything, it comes in handy.” (Groucho Marx)

Money can come to us from many different sources.

Too many people think they can only get money from their jobs. This is such a limmiting belief. Money can come to you from everywhere if you let it. Start thinking positively about it and it will start to flow to you.

Right out of the blue last week I got a cheque from the taxman for over £1,000, the week before my wife found a £20 note whilst clearing out a drawer, the week before that we received an insurance cheque for £850.

Start expecting it, asking for it, wanting it, thinking positively about it, stop moaning abouty the lack of it, being grateful for it and it will start comming to you.

Yesterday, I dropped a penny down the side of my car seat and spent 15 minutes retrieving it, not because I’m a skinflint but because I respect money and what it can do for us.

Andy.

They say that patience is a virtue. I couldn’t agree more, it’s just one that I dont posess, I try, I really do and I’m not making excuses BUT there are just certain things that people do that would make even a saint swear.

However, this year I decided to turn over a new leaf and not let those little niggles get to me.

I get up at 5am and make my way to the bathroom. It does not irritate me that the toilet roll holder is empty, In fact I smile to my self feeling quite confident there will be some in the bathroom cupboard but nope the cupboard is  also empty, no problem, I go down to the garage and get a fresh pack.

On my way down the stairs I think back to the film I watched last night what a great film it was, just a pity the last five minutes hadn’t recorded but I dont mind, I’d only sat riveted for almost 2 hours, I didn’t really want to know the end.

I must’ve set the DVD incorrectly because I’d been interupted for the third time that evening by one of those wonderful telesales people who insist on saving you money, they always become annoyed though when I suggest ringing them back an hour after they have finshed work for the day to discuss the matter further, funny that.

I pass the kitchen sink and spot a dirty cup and plate on the side which one of the kids must’ve left out for me to stow in the dishwasher, I’m still smiling even when I discover jam in the butter.

As I leave for work, I glance at one of our neighbours houses and think for the hundredth time ‘why have they not taken down their Christmas lights yet, it’s May for God’s sake.’

As I head for the petrol station, someone pulls out right in front of me, then proceeds to go at twenty miles an hour, I’m a little late but I dont mind. I try to fuel up but the attendant wont switch my pump on, I’m sure he will eventually, when he’s finished his first cup of coffee of the day, after the second maybe? I then go 1p over the amount I intended putting in, no problems, £20.01 is just fine and dandy, well ok I top it up to £25, that feels better.

As I am leaving the forecourt a young lad pulls in, stereo blaring, no one else bar him has the foggiest idea what the tune is, get me out of here, sorry I mean, we all like a good tune first thing in the morning especially when it’s played by someone else at 500 decibels.

At work we hold an early meeting about the effectiveness of yesterday’s  meeting and what we plan to discuss in tomorrow’s meeting. This afternoon we are having another meeting to discuss wether to divert time away from customer support and use it to hold more meetings.

I must dash I’m late for another meeting. Colin the finance director is chairing it and I promise to smile every time he uses the words ‘cool’, ‘dude’ or ‘sweet’. I also promise to laugh politely whenever he mimicks speech marks with his fingers  or says “Let’s not go there”. I’m still smiling…

Thank God, It’s the weekend at last, the alarm clock goes off as usual at 5am because I forgot to switch it off last night but that’s cool, sorry, I mean that’s okay.

We are doing the weekly food shop but can’t move for OAP’s, they have all week to shop but hey, the more the merrier on a Saturday that’s what I say. It did not irritate me or annoy me for that matter that the woman vacating the parking space that I was waiting for spent five minutes on her mobile before leaving even though she knew I was waiting for her spot, no it didn’t, really.

Inside the store, we choose the checkout with the smallest queue but then discover it’s the smallest queue because it’s being operated by a trainee who has to keep calling for assistance.

Whilst waiting patiently I notice the couple in front of us are wearing matching sweaters and make a mental note to get a pair for my wife and I, sweet.

On the way out we bump into someone I haven’t seen in years, I can’t remember his name so I don’t introduce him to my wife, this appears incredibly rude  but what was the alternative?

As we load our groceries into the car I notice someone else has left a shopping trolley in my way but I don’t mind struggling to the trolley park with two trolleys, honestly.

We unload the shopping at home without breaking our necks on one of the cats that insist on brushing round our legs or tripping over the kids’ discarded sports bags.

Finally we walk into the village and reach the sanctuary of the pub, this should be great a few drinks and a nice meal, no cats, no kids just my wife and I, pure bliss.

Wrong, there are more kids here than at the local creche. Their parents don’t appear to be anywhere in sight. When eventually they do materialise they refuse to take their screaming brats out of the pub no matter how loud they cry or complain.

I go to get another round of drinks and to order some food, the guy in front of me proceeds to order food and drink for his party of about twenty people, he keeps getting it wrong, changing his mind, going back to ask other members of the party what they’d ordered. Like I said, bliss.

Eventually 10 minutes later, the order is complete, double and tripple checked by the waitress, I breathe a sigh of relief, the waitress breathes a sigh of relief before aunt Ethel suddenly appears and asks if it would be a great incovenience if she changed her meal.

YES IT WOULD YOU OLD…of course not maddam.

We finally make it home, kick off our shoes and switch on the TV. Up pops Simon Cowell, smiling that all-knowing smile of his – Perfect.

Life doesn’t get any better.

Andy