Life Musings

Getting back into something and going for it

I’ve changed a lot as a person over the years. I’m more confident, cooler-headed, organised, disciplined and resilient in tough times, with a more positive outlook on life.

All of which I’m proud of. However what I’m not proud of is, due to various circumstances and wrong choices, letting some of my bigger interests drift.

This in turn has created levels of self-doubt and questioning who I really was. Despite putting on a brave, "shut up and get on with it" face among family and friends.

Letting my serious hobbies (presenting, voiceovers, podcasting and blogging) [although I still aim to turn into serious careers eventually] drift apart, felt like a part of my soul was dying.

Not to mention real-life got in the way and once you have an independent life (amazing as it is) then you have to survive as well as live.

Of course, I have discovered many new hobbies and interests too in recent years. So it isn’t quite the "end of a happy life" post as you may think.

In recent months, rediscovering blogging and podcasting has felt like getting the good parts of the old Matthew back.

The most difficult step came recently while preparing July content for this blog.


I guess one flaw – of many – I have is being a perfectionist. Obsessed with creating that perfect blog post and even a slight flaw can transform my view of it from being fantastic to s***.

Which then bred the "waiting for the right moment" routine.

Classic case study of perfectionist procrastination.

Procrastination is the bogeyman of productivity and for someone who aspires to be a productive person it’s a source of inner frustration.

Interestingly, according to many articles and research on the subject, procrastination isn’t defined as laziness nor is it exclusively about perfectionism or being overwhelmed.

It can stem from overconfidence, fear of being successful, failing to convert from a dreamer to a doer; as well as having – what I like to call – the magpie effect. Easily distracted by literal and metaphorical shiny things.

Thankfully it can be tackled and there are many solutions out there which merit their own blog post.

For me, I think how I partly curbed it was reaching the "f*** it" stage and like switching on a diesel generator, I’m gravitating towards changing for the better.

Besides having a hobby, according to experts, is good for the mind, career and your character.

It’s still work in progress. It will take time. No doubt there’ll be hurdles along the way.

But at least it’s a start.

Current Affairs Musings

Oyez oyez oyez! Calling the world’s town criers

Did you know today is International Town Criers Day?

If you’re in Chester or London then a town crier has probably already proclaimed that. Otherwise, like me, you’re probably intrigued and befuddled.

"Town criers? They still exist?" you ask.

Yes they do, but not as prevalent as centuries ago. In fact, the only regular Town Crier in the entire world* can be found in Chester [Tuesday to Saturday at midday in the town square].

I only found out about this special day by conducting a google search while searching for July blog post ideas. Yes I am that creatively bankrupt.

Self-deprecation aside it’s fascinating such a day exists. Before social media there was TV news; before TV news there was radio news and newsreels; before radio news and newsreels there was newspapers; and (you’ll be glad to hear this) before newspapers there were town criers.

Town criers – also known as bellmen – would stand in the city square and begin their cries with "Oyez oyez oyez" [pronounced as "oh yay"] which means "Hear ye" in Ye Olde English. Then they would launch into their cry with important announcements such as bylaws, the latest news and any other important information.

They then finished their cry with "God save the King/Queen" depending whoever was on the throne at the time, before attaching their message to the door post of the local inn. Hence the reason why newspapers are commonly referred to as "the post".

This was a very important duty considering much of the population was illiterate during medieval England.

Alongside their news presenting duties they were also tasked with peacekeeping, assisted in any hangings and dampened any fires before the curfew.

They were also paid by the cry – between 2d and 4d per cry. An early example of freelance public speaking there.

Attacking a town crier was viewed as a treasonous act – especially useful when any tax hikes or unwelcomed laws were announced.

Town criers were also common in other countries such as India, much of Europe and Canada. Their existence shrank once newspapers became common and as literacy rates rocketed.

Here endth the quick history lesson.

Personally I think it’s great that Chester still has its own town crier. Learning about historic traditions opens our eyes to how far we have progressed as a society.

It also adds a certain charm to a city. For Chester – a lovely, classically designed English city that I visited when I lived in Manchester – it adds to the medieval architecture and quintessentially English vibe.

Comparing town criers to how we breathe and consume information nowadays, I sometimes wonder where we went right and where we went wrong, especially in these interesting times.

* At a minimum, the United Kingdom

Life Musings

Welcome to part 2 of 2019. Remember those New Year resolutions?

Do you remember your New Year’s resolutions?


New Year resolutions. You know, the promises you make to become a better person usually on New Year’s Eve? Like with getting fit by going to the gym, to stop smoking or even to give up drink for a few months.

Ok. How are you doing with that? Are you keeping those resolutions? If yes, then that’s great and I’ll see you in next week’s post. If no, then all I can say is…

Congratulations…your resolution is halfway to becoming a complete failure.

Ok, that’s a little harsh but logically speaking it’s true. Bear with me for a minute.

When you speak about that resolution, do you just say "I want" or do you say "I want … by the end of 2019"? If it’s just "I want…" then that, along with lack of motivation, not measuring progress and perhaps being overwhelmed are common reasons for your resolutions failing dramatically like my chat-up lines.

However don’t despair, you’re not the only one who struggles to keep them. Only 20% of people who make them are successful in the US according to US News; and in a YouGov survey, 22% who make them in the UK also succeed.

Most fail by mid-February where the passion fizzles out and old habits rise again.

Perhaps that’s why in the UK, the majority of those who make new year’s resolutions are 18-24 year olds.

"So how do I become part of that exclusive 20/22 club?""

Perhaps you could start in February? "Come on Matthew you’re losing your marbles now! You’re five months out of date!"

No no no. Hear me out.

January is a depressing month and frankly not a real beginning to the year. You come out of the festivities wondering where it’s gone. When you reach February, Christmas and New Year are long gone.

Don’t take my word for it, even NBC’s Craig Melvin starts his New Year’s resolutions in February. A way to "ease into them" as he puts it.

Anyway, enough of talking about January and February, we’re 5/6 months past that (or 6 to 7 months to go depending how you view it). There’s still time to turn it around.

Break that new year resolution into chunks like cutting that chocolate cake into smaller pieces. Tweak your new year resolution towards being Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-limited. Or make them SMART – a popular goal-setting tool, especially in business. I never heard the end of it when I studied business management.

"How do I make my goals more likely to be achieved?" Do these and another important thing…call them "yearly goals" rather than new year resolutions. You’re more likely to treat them as an all-year aim than a resolution where you’re likely to forget by the end of the first quarter.

Rome wasn’t built in a day; Fernando Alonso didn’t win his second Le Mans 24 Hour race recently by acing it in the first three hours.

So get up, tweak that resolution (or goal) and go for it! You never know, by New Year’s Eve you’ll have pulled off a huge turnaround worthy of a Hollywood movie.

Nothing is impossible…only you make it impossible!

Life Musings

My honey soothed my throat

For the last few weeks I’ve been ill with a back-to-back virus and cold. No violins for me please – I’m the last person you want to give sympathy to. Especially when the bad boys of the disease-verse such as Measles are unfortunately and frustratingly trending.

During my virus’ phase, I woke up one morning at 3am and as soon as I swallowed, it was like opening a tub of scissors with the razor sharp blades pointing outwards with your bare hands. Very uncomfortable.

That evening I remembered a homemade remedy a former girlfriend gave me. Black tea with squeezable honey.

This time I poured a reasonable amount, more than a few drops but not enough for Winnie the Pooh to confiscate my squeezable honey pot.

Took a sip…it became my magic elixir!

Within 24 hours the tub of scissors disappeared.

It shouldn’t be surprising since honey is widely known for its antibacterial properties, able to improve levels of "good" cholesterol, help suppress coughs (especially for children) and it’s much healthier than gorging on refined sugar.

DISCLAIMER: I’m not a doctor or a medical expert (definitely a proud non-expert in nearly everything) but I can agree with much of this.

Plus, it tastes damn good! Much tastier than gargling warm water with salt. A good antibacterial mouthwash but not a drink I’d order in a restaurant.

Safe to say this is now in my voiceover toolkit (and I’m not alone) along with the standard throat lozenges and water.

A sweet solution that was definitely the bees knees (yeah that was intended).

Announcements Musings

What a stinker of a cold!


You might be wondering there isn’t any blog post and podcast today.

That’s because I caught a stinker of a cold with a throat feeling as sharp as a tub of sicssors!

So long story short, it developed during the weekend, it got worse and I decided earlier today to give my voice a much needed rest. Monday is blog and podcast day so therefore I decided to postpone it this week.

The next musings post with the podcast should be back next Monday, all being well.

Apologies for causing disappointment and many thanks for understanding.

Health comes first.