#Blog100: How do I break out of these old patterns?


Centennially speaking, it is my delight to report to you, gentle reader, that this wee blog of mine has somehow reached its 100th post (aka #blog100, as literally no-one else will ever dub it). This post contains words of thanks and words on change… and it ain’t over ‘til Obama drops the mic.

The dear departed music magazine Melody Maker used to have something of an editorial klaxon* that would resound in their offices any and every time yet another shrugging indie band would say in interview: “We just make music for ourselves. If anyone else likes it, it’s a bonus.”

Klaxons at the ready…
Klaxon time.I started this blog a few years back with no agenda beyond the sheer enjoyment I get out of writing, blogging and – from time to time – sharing stuff that I find interesting. If anyone else likes it, etc. But just occasionally it’s nice if someone out there does like it.

Quite possibly the proudest and most delightful moment in the life of this blog so far happened just this week.

During a dreadfully restless night t’other night, I got up and checked my phone. I was frankly amazed to see that my last blog post had been retweeted by none other than the filmmaker Judd Apatow** (creator of such meisterwerks – to me at least – as Superbad, Knocked Up and The 40 Year-Old Virgin).


A guiding rule in my blogging and my social media use is never to worry if something I’m interested in is so obscure as to be only of interest to me. It doesn’t matter if that is the case. And it is truly lovely when it turns out not to be the case. There’s often at least one person out there who’ll get the most unlikely reference and join the conversation.

Over the life of this blog to date, I’ve been delighted by the completely unexpected conversations that can arise. I would like to thank my dear friends Heather Bussing, Sarah Miller Helen Tracey, Siobhan Sheridan, Kate Griffiths-Lambeth, Tash Stallard, Amanda Sterling, Rachael Tooher, Bryan Wempen, Mervyn Dinnen, Matthew Stollak, Steve Browne, Jay Kuhns, Mervyn Dinnen, Steve Toft, Sue Toft, Mathew Davies, Michael VanDervort and many more for their blogular interactions and inspirations.

There’s no particular overarching topic to my posts.

But over the years and the course of the past 99 posts, a number of recurring themes have bubbled up, including introversion (and how to deal with it), music (and how I will never get enough of it), literature (ditto), Star Wars (ditto encore une fois), London (and how no-one ought ever to tire of it) and change.

What you want, where you’re going, what is and what has been

Change is really what it’s about, what all of life is about. I hope never to stop changing. None of us has any choice but to keep changing.

By way of a centennial blog post gift to you, dear reader, I would like to share a fascinating, clear-eyed perspective on change from one President Barack Obama (from his outright brilliant June 2015 appearance on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast).

You may be aware that on taking office, Obama had change on his mind. You may also be aware that his plans for change have been – to put it mildly – somewhat frustrated over the years. Obama is clear on what his overarching goal was on moving in to the West Wing:

“How do you break out of that pattern? […]
How do I break out of these old patterns that our politics has fallen into?”

It’s one thing to talk about change. It’s another to go about achieving it:

“As soon as you start talking about specifics, then the world’s complicated. There are choices that you have to make. And it turns out that the trajectory of progress always happens in fits and starts, and you’ve got these big legacy systems that you have to wrestle with. And you have to to balance what you want and where you’re going with what is and what has been.”

I love that last sentence.

But it’s one thing to go about achieving change. It’s another to face the sheer level of frustrations and “blockers” that Obama has these past eight years. He remains optimistic, but is also realistic.
He tells Maron that it would have been naive to believe he
could effect change to the extent of moving the US 50 degrees from its
course. The supertanker has to turn gradually:

“Progress in a democracy is never instantaneous and it’s always partial. You can’t get cynical and frustrated because you didn’t get all the way there immediately.”

Thank your lucky stars that you don’t face the obstacles in your life that Obama did and does. Your life has its own seemingly insurmountable obstacles. But you can get around them. As Neil Morrison once said in an ingenious blog comment from years back, talking about strategic change via the metaphor of supertankers and surfers:

“[A]gility allows the surfer to turn around and start again within minutes.”

Thank you for taking the time to read this and any other posts from this blog over the past 100. You have no idea how much I appreciate it.

Obama out.***



* A metaphorical klaxon, obviously; the kind that if it did have a sound would be closest to the derisive cries of a brace of journos who have – to borrow a phrase from David Hepworth’s superb book 1971: Never a Dull Moment – “partaken of strong waters.”

** The actual, real @juddapatow – not that there are necessarily legions of fake Apatows out there…

*** A final centennial blog post treat for you. If you’ve not watched Obama’s recent White House Correspondents’ Dinner speech – from which the mic drop moment comes – then you have a true pleasure yet to unwrap and enjoy.

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