Is there anything Mo Farrah can’t do?
10,000 metres Olympic champion. 5,000 metres Olympic, World and European champion. Inventor of the Mo Bot. Object of one of the internet’s greatest memes:
And now, Twitter Superstar and bastion of British politeness as well!
The story starts yesterday when Farah won the New Orleans Half Marathon (please note the word ‘half’). Just after the victory, he was interviewed by an American journalist who had seemingly failed to do any research on Mo whatsoever:
My first impression of the interview was how awkward it was. Mo, bless him, isn’t quite as used to being on camera as you may expect. I’m not trying to disrespect the man – he’s just run 13 miles in 61 minutes. Plus English isn’t his first language, so we need to cut the guy some slack.
But the general awkwardness flowed both ways and the real talking point of the video was not Mo, but the journalist. “Haven’t you run before?” was the silliest question of the interview. You don’t have to be an athletics expert to know who Mo is. The fact she kept calling it a marathon not a half marathon didn’t help her case as half of the internet started laughing at her. There was “lol”, “LOL”, “LMAO”, “ROFL”, “ROFLCOPTER”…and worse. Poor girl.
But what the animals on Twitter did appreciate was Mo’s reaction. We can all think of celebrities who would make the interviewer look stupid by listing the number of medals and championships they’d won to date. But Mo didn’t. He remained humble throughout. He never even mentioned the Olympics. I don’t know about you, but if I won Olympic gold I’d make sure it came up in every conversation I ever had for the rest of my life! (I’m just being honest here)
The interview didn’t get much better when the journalist asked if he had any other races coming up. The fact that Mo will be running only half of the London marathon has been much discussed and debated. So it’s another lesson to aspiring journalists: Before your interview, do some research!
There were other gems in the 2 minute clip. I liked how Mo said “A marathon is double the distance of what I’ve done today”. Showing off his maths skills!
But the best part of this particular story is the ending. Earlier today Mo Farah tweeted:
“Just wanna say to everyone being nasty to LaTonya Norton please stop!! She made a mistake like we all do!! She didn’t mean anything by it”
What a gentlemen! And it just goes to show that despite arguments to the contrary, British politeness is still very much in fashion. And he likes White Cafe Mochas. Legend.
White chocolate mocha… Can’t go wrong…!! So sweet…. twitter.com/Mo_Farah/statu…
— Mo Farah (@Mo_Farah) February 25, 2013
Early on in the journey I announced that although we’d asked to be taken to the local cinema, on a Sunday morning it’s actually a church! Sadly the driver didn’t share my enthusiasm for this exciting fact, but as we went on our way he did point out a new church in the city which I hadn’t seen before. As I looked toward the converted warehouse, I immediately recognised the logo on the front of the building. The church belonged to the fastest growing Christian denomination in the UK.
After I shared this useless piece of knowledge, the driver voiced his concern that the organisation was probably only interested in taking money from its members. Rather than being meek and mild about his comment, I got a little agitated. I wasn’t rude, but I was straight with him. I told him that just because an organisation is big, it doesn’t automatically make it solely interested in money.
In my experience, (and forgive the generalisation) much of the non church going public are quite happy for their local parish church to run a fete, do a little community work and help the poor, but as soon as church membership and resources expand beyond 10 members and 50p in the offering, it’s a different story. Mr Taxi “Grumpy-grumps” Driver emerges to spoil the fun with his own brand of anti-religious cynicism.
This negativity is often reflected back to us by the media. I am a strong believer that we get the media we deserve. Every newspaper and news channel (with the exception of the BBC) relies on consumer interest in order to stay afloat. The Sun exists to give Sun readers what they want. If Sun readers change their minds, the paper changes its mind. The media doesn’t tend to force content on us. It simply gives us what we’ve always wanted.
Why is much of the media negative and cynical? Because much of the public is negative and cynical. And that’s why a story like this one titled “Religious satellite TV show Miracle Hour ‘risking lives’” has made its way onto the BBC.
My issue is not that the TV station has been pulled up on their actions (praying for sick people), but that the BBC chooses to report a negative story despite there being thousands of testimonies from people in the UK – all claiming to have been healed of all sorts of conditions.
The media decides it’s better to criticise people praying, because people praying is a more interesting story than someone actually being healed. They decide this because much of the public has decided this.
In the same way, ‘real life’ magazines decide that a story about a 20 year old having an affair with an 80 year old would interest their readers more than cancer being instantly cured. Welcome to 21st century Western news values. And remember, the media doesn’t create news values. We do.
Who is Mr Grumpy-Grumps, anyway? It’s not the cat. It’s me.
Yes, the title of this post is my fiancée’s (affectionate?) nickname for yours truly. Perhaps I’m proving her point by writing this blog post? Because if you boil my few hundred words down to their most basic essence all you’ll find is ‘a grumpy young man ranting about a grumpy old world’ (this is also known as blogging).
And if that wasn’t shocking enough, I have another bombshell to end on: The Daily Mail published an excellent article this week. I’d go as far to say it partially discredits much of what I’ve written here today. Perhaps our society isn’t as grumpy as I thought? Maybe the problem is me. Mr Grumpy-Grumps.
You do not appreciate the power you have.
I often see you writing things on Facebook which totally dis-regard the fact you are sitting behind the world’s biggest and best super computer.
Why do you insist on asking such simple questions? These include “does anyone know what time X Factor is on tonight?” and “can someone translate this [insert foreign text] for me?”
Are you so blind? Are you so foolish?
As you waste minutes seeking a pathetic surface level exchange on Facebook which you hope will bring a simple answer to your puny question, you forget you are seconds away accessing the aforementioned super computer!
The last thing I asked this computer was (for purely demonstrative purposes, I’m not emigrating) ”temperature in Cyprus”. (Those who are wise among you will note this is not strictly a question, as the grammar is incorrect.) But I do not need to correctly phrase my question – and that’s because this super computer is not as dumb as one of its predecessors (ridiculously dressed as a Butler I seem to remember…) which constantly begged you to ask, ask, ask(.com).
Anyway, not only can this super computer manoeuvre its way through bad grammar, it does not require me to spell words like antidisestablishmentarianism correctly (thank the good Lord!).
For example, If I were to write “Ciprus”, this computer (without so much as a tut at my inability to spell even the most basic of names) will automatically display results for “Cyprus”.
What can this super computer do exactly? At its most basic level, it simply searches for words. But words is not its only forte! Oh no, it’s not just a dictionary. It’s rather good with numbers too. It’s a world clock, a thermometer a currency exchanger and a calculator. It’s also managed to map the entire earth (no need to ask for directions guys, the super computer has it covered).
It’s easier to tell you what it can’t do than it is to try and explain everything it can do!
What about when your pathetic brain can’t remember even the most common of words? I remember once I forgot the name of an ‘ambulance’ midway through a conversation. I called it a “big hospital truck thing”. I should have consulted the super computer. I could have typed “mobile hospital truck is called *” into my smartphone as the super computer completes your sentence if you use the asterisk at the end – thus revealing the word you had momentarily forgotten!
Google, I salute you. You’re the world’s biggest and best super computer. You’ve earned your reputation as the world’s biggest and best search engine, providing information on any subject you could ever imagine. But sometimes, I have to wonder if you’re also the world’s best kept secret. Your potential is huge, and so much greater than many realise.
So, world. Until you stop asking your silly questions, I’m going to do the following. *copies silly question* *pastes into lmgtfy.com* *follows on screen instructions* *pastes link back into facebook box*
Yours sincerely and much too sarcastically,
Today I’m exactly six months away from the big day and wanted to share some thoughts on this season of life. I’m also hoping to blog one month before getting married to add to my reflections and see if my opinions have changed on what it means to be engaged.
Everyone is Different
Firstly, I think the most important message to state is everyone is different. I know couples who have met, got engaged and married within six months. I know one person who has been engaged for 10 years!
Every couple is different. So these thoughts are not me preaching on ‘how to’ or ‘how not to’ live your life as an engaged man or woman…you’ll be pleased to know!
Long Time Coming?
Two years is longer than average (1 to 1.5 years) to be engaged and so far my emotions have gone from shock and amazement that I’m getting married to feeling like the event is a long way in the distance (and perhaps giving it less thought than I should) to now a growing sense of excitement again.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been wildly excited about marrying Stacey (even before we were engaged) but when you feel like an event is a long way away it doesn’t occupy your mind constantly. At least it hasn’t for me.
A long(er) engagement is not a sign of doubt or weakness. Neither me nor Stacey opted for extra time so we could have another think and give ourselves the option to reconsider. This hasn’t stopped her father joking with me on more than one occasion ”you know Sam, it’s not too late…?”
Our reason was purely practical Stacey has her studies to finish, and I wasn’t going to complain about having extra time to train myself to be the best man she could ever hope to live with!
Ahh the big one.
What do you do?
Leave it to her? Do it all yourself? Share it?
Stacey is the kind of girl who has dreamt about her wedding day for most of her life! She has hundreds of pre-conceived ideas while I came to the table on day one of being engaged with precisely, none.
The way this worked out practically for us (so far) is any major decision is often first suggested by Stacey but has to be agreed by me. Which car to have, the colour of the Bridesmaids dresses and what food to eat at the reception are all good examples.
This means I still take an interest and have an opinion. There are some things I couldn’t agree to, but the vast majority I’ve been really happy with and we’ve gone with.
The best thing about this arrangement from my perspective has been that I get to watch Stacey having the time of her life, planning planning planning, but I still get to be involved and do my fair share of the hard work!
I don’t mean to sound like I just sit there either saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to ideas! While Stacey has sent a lot of the emails and gone to a couple more wedding fairs than me, I still put the effort in with making telephone calls or researching ideas. It’s about teamwork.
The Big Lie
Linked in to wedding planning, there’s a strange expectation and a pressure that your wedding planning will be “really stressful”.
Granted: If you’re trying to get married in 6 months, not 2 years the stress levels will undoubtedly be higher. But society’s views seem to be that there will be this terrible time of arguments and frantic running around which will come upon you, and you’ll be powerless to stop it.
Is this why people always ask me “how is wedding planning going?”. Do they expect me to say “terrible, there’s just so much to do in so little time!”?
I hesitate to write this (and we’ll see if I still believe it the week before the wedding) but the idea that wedding planning is unavoidably stressful and difficult is a lie.
It doesn’t have to be like that.
Of course, it helps if your fiancée is amazing and you’re both organised people with more than a year to plan…
Check back in 5 months time to see if I’m eating my words on any of this…
What promises will you be breaking making this year?
The list of last year’s most popular New Year’s resolutions included quitting smoking, getting fit, and (you guessed it) losing weight.
The strangest resolution on the top 10 list was ‘to fall in love’.
Does anyone really believe that joining an internet dating site or changing their appearance will result in falling in love with that special someone?
If I eat 500 calories and run 5 miles a day, I’m guaranteed to lose weight. But falling in love isn’t a science. You can’t merely ‘resolve’ to fall in love, as if willpower is all that is required. Anyone who has been lucky enough to fall in love knows this.
Unsurprisingly a 2007 study by the University of Bristol found that 88% of those who set New Year’s resolutions fail to keep them.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with New Year’s resolutions. It’s just they only seem to work for 12% of the population!
As well as having a dismal rate of success, New Year’s resolutions can also result in an unhealthy focus on order, perfection and structure. An over-emphasis on these things can tie us down and make us miserable.
But by failing to get on board with the ‘self improvement resolution’ in the first place we can learn a valuable lesson: We’re never going to reach all of our goals…and that’s OK.
Learning to accept our imperfections is just as important a life skill as making our disordered lives more ordered.
Think about it. No matter how many years you have on earth, there’ll always be another resolution you feel obliged to make. Another area of your life to improve on.
Could it be that learning to accept some of our imperfections could lead to a more satisfied self? I’m not talking about ethics here. If you lose your temper easily you need to sort it out! But if your biggest concern is a purely selfish one like losing a couple of pounds, you may be surprised to learn that accepting yourself for who you are is a million times more fulfilling than attempting to keep a resolution.
Resolving not to resolve is not saying “I won’t be able to keep my resolutions, so I’m not going to bother”. Resolving not to resolve is in itself a resolution.
But it’s a resolution that everyone can keep. And by keeping it, you give yourself a slice of freedom. No longer will you be tied down by counting calories, struggling to drag yourself to the gym or avoid the temptation of a cigarette. You’ll be free from your self-inflicted rules and instead learn to live with yourself, in all your imperfection. You’ll be forced to make peace with yourself.
Resolving not to resolve is not a lifestyle. Neither is it a yearly promise. It’s best thought of as a holiday. A holiday from a world that’s always telling you to be healthier, skinnier and sexier. Always pushing you to work harder, get better and achieve excellence. So whatever your resolution was going to be this year, resolve to ignore it. Just for 12 months. Give yourself a break.
In 2013 why not take each day as it comes? Live and let live.
The reward won’t be a better body. The reward will be a happier self as you learn to accept yourself just as you are. Resolving not to resolve reminds us that no matter how many years and resolutions role by, we’ll never be perfect.
Life is too short for any of us to reach perfection. So quit being so serious and resolve not to resolve. It could be the best year of your life.
A friend of mine who has been living out of the country for the past 4 years recently remarked: “We British don’t have much of a culture…other than being cynical”.
Before the Olympics there was a lot of truth in his words. But now? I’m not so sure…
The day after London won the Olympic bid, the 7/7 terror attacks struck and security for the games became a huge concern. British cynicism kicked in.
G4S suddenly deciding they couldn’t deliver on their security promise didn’t exactly alleviate our fears. The army was called in. The D word (disaster) was being thrown around before a moment of sport had been played.
Remember turning on the news to hear the top story that some teams bags had been lost by airlines or that coaches had got lost on their way to the Olympic Village? These events added to our collective sense of miserableness and self doubt. This was despite the fact that bags being lost at an airport wasn’t exactly a new phenomenon (and was hardly deserving of the top spot on the 6 o’clock news).
Our cynicism wasn’t to last.
Super Saturday saw names such as Jess Ennis, Sophie Hosking, Katherine Copeland, Andy Murray, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farrah take gold in their respective finals. But even before that unforgettable day, Team GB had been steadily picking up medals.
And before the medals, we’d put on an opening ceremony which was widely praised and celebrated as the best ever!
Anyone who regularly reads a newspaper (yes, all 5 of us) knows that the British press are notoriously gloomy. So to see jubilant front pages and read jolly columns was not just exciting but almost unheard of!
2011′s royal wedding had produced similar warm and fuzzy feelings, but the Olympics took us to the next level. People were actually starting to feel patriotic.
Prior to July 2012, it was uncool to be proud of your Britishness. But those two weeks turned the tables. Suddenly it was cool to wave the union jack, shout at the TV and chant “Team GB, Team GB”. And the celebrations continued into the Paralympics too.
As if the success of these two great events wasn’t enough, we had the Diamond Jubillee and the royal baby announcement. And what with Downton Abbey really taking off, it’s time I expressed my Britishness by getting my butler (who doesn’t exist) to pour me a cuppa (even though I can’t stand tea) while I enjoy a spot of Eastenders (which I also hate) omnibus (does that still exist?)…
So yes, I’m British and I’m proud. 2012 might have been our most collectively patriotic year since 1740 when Thomas Arne set James Thompson’s poem Rule Britannia! to music. But when it comes to what it actually means to be British, we’re more confused than ever.
Look out for a new series of posts on patriotism from various authors coming to this blog in 2013…
Welcome to the fourth annual holymansam.wordpress.com music awards!
This year I’ve added 1000 songs to my iTunes library. Hear the top 10 by going to Spotify and checking out my best of 2012 playlist.
Now onto the awards…
Best Live Album
A Creation Liturgy – Gungor The decision to not overdub anything on a live album is always going to be a risky strategy. But Gungor’s first (and eagerly anticipated) live album is mind-blowing. Here’s a wonderful taste of their organic sound.
Best Worship Album
Live from New York – Jesus Culture & Martin Smith – “I’m so proud of it, I put my name on it!” That’s right, the UK publishers were kind enough to send me an advanced copy and print my words on their advertising: “Surpasses already sky-high expectations. This has all the hallmarks of a classic in the making”
The Remission Flow – The Irish friends have an incredible story (see here). They remain the most humble and polite band I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing. Oh, and their music is pretty cool too!
Best Debut Album
Bullet Proof- Thorntree This is full on old-school unashamed rock music. Not many bands can say their first album was mastered at Abbey Road, but the musicians in Thorntree are all pros. I hesitate to use the word ‘superband’ but after hearing Everything I Need (see above playlist) for the umpteenth time I couldn’t find a better word that sums up their collective talent.
This award goes to Tom Read for his adaptation of popular poem Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep. Born in England but now residing in Hong Kong, China, Mr Read has drawn on a variety of musical styles to pull together his debut album Compass.
Next up it’s the award for Best Pop Album.
There’s been so many melodic, beautiful and chilled albums this year, I felt such music deserved an award of its own. My top three of the year are:
Safe Place – Kristene Dimarco - A stunning collection of chilled, pop influenced songs with soaring melodies and top quality production.
Light For The Lost Boy – Andrew Peterson - As above, but with more of a creative and storytelling edge.
Honeycomb Tombs – Karla Adolphe. Karla’s voice is stunning while the musical backing on the album proves there’s beauty in simplicity. Perhaps the best thing about the record is it’s absolutely free. Click here to get your copy.
And the winner is:
Finally, it’s the big one. The award for Best Album
The nominations are:
Chaos Curb Collaboration - Combines the best rock and dance sounds together. Musically mature, it’s a debut like no other.
Give Us Rest – David Crowder Band - As their 16 year career came to an end this year, one couldn’t help but feel sad to lose one of the greatest bands Christian music has ever seen.
Cold Hard Want – House of Heroes - Arguably their best offering yet. And that’s saying something! Full on, unrestrained rock at its best.
Eye On It – Toby Mac - He made history again. The first Christian album since 1997 (LeAnn Rimes) to reach number one in both the gospel and mainstream US charts. So well deserved.
And the winner is:
Song of the Year
Over to you for this one…Simply listen to the songs here, then click your selection!
Well, that’s it for another year. Over to you…tell me what I’ve missed by listing your favourite songs and albums of 2012 in the comments below.