My girlfriend keeps asking if I'm going to write about shoes, handbags and make-up any time soon. Perhaps I'll get browny-points for mentioning a clutch.
I come from a long line of bodgers, which is why my current mentor is so important to me. A bodger, one what bodges, is a repairer of things without finesse (the dictionary claims a clumsy repairer, I prefer sans finesse!). The task may not turn out perfect or in fact how I’d planned, but it'll do. Helping my father at DIY was a constant source of hilarity at three or four years old, and of infinite frustration for my father which was vented at inanimate objects. Exclamations like "oh you want some of that do you, you motherfucking nail son of a bitch?! <arms swinging like a windmill with hammer in hand> Take some of that, you bastard!" were commonplace. I learnt a lot from my Dad. There were a scant number of kids that possessed the ability to swear like a particularly querulous pirate.
Three Unwise Men
One of the only hand-made presents my father received from his own dad was a small square block of wood with a nail in it. This, growing up in the midst of Word War London, was a tank. In fairness, resources were scarce and rationing only stopped in the UK in 1954, a full 9 years after the war ended, simply due to absolute penury. The price in defending our small island. For my father, a compositor trying to run a farm and bring up two kids whilst my mother worked (a rarity now let alone 40 years ago), the jobs were endless and just needed finishing. Perfection could wait.
So with my paternal grandfather being a bodger, and my father being a bodger, I have indeed grown up to be a bodger’s son. The Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, despite my best endeavours. And this is where my world collides with that of one of my mentors and dearest friends, David Shepherd, of Shepsters motorbike community.
A Star is Born
With the purchase of my Landcrusier, Izzy (short for ‘issues’), there are many things I need to fix. I feel I should be able to do most of it, but there is a vast chasm of difference between doing it, and knowing how to do right. This schism was evidenced in its entirety when my friend suggested I first glue and then screw together my cupboard to which I replied without a beat "well I can do that, and I should, but if I fuck it up then it'll be harder to undo". And lo . . . I could feel my Dad whispering in my ear “good job son, I’m proud of you”. Whilst in the workshop, I can also detect David’s OCD heckles rising every time I misplace another screwdriver. His experience in fixing motorcycles, houses, cars or anything requiring artistry or skill vastly outweigh my own. However, contrary to Kipling’s ballad, the twain do meet.
Fixing The World
Sometimes you need to just get things done, regardless if how pretty it is. A quote often attributed to Einstein runs along the lines that if he only had one hour to save the world, 55 minutes would be defining the problem and 5 minutes on the execution. I would be closer to 30 minutes thinking and a cup of tea, 15 minutes in the execution, and 15 minutes trying to find my tools. I would save the world, but I’d probably cause a bit of damage in the process, like forgetting a country or two and wiping out billions of people. David is the type of person that would not only save the world in that hour, but probably make some improvements like tapping into infinite sources of clean energy and ending world poverty. And making grass slightly more Kawasaki green.
In my corporate life, there is an obsession in having a mentor or coach. Whilst the concept is excellent, the execution often ends in the need for some kind of formal relationship where the student asks no questions and the maestro espouses what they believe to be knowledge to fill the time. In fact, the best mentors are simply people you can learn from, and if you have friends or family you can reach out to for that, then that’s mentorship in its purest form. Whatsmore, I have come to realise, you don’t even have to know your mentor. You have access to the greatest minds the world has ever produced, philosophers, scientists, entrepreneurs, engineers, all available to you at your local library or on the internet. I have admit, the library though is where you can feel the knowledge chasing you down the aisles. I often battle against myself in baulking at prices for books or audiobooks, yet I know the biggest investment I should make in my life isn’t in a house or a car, it’s in myself. We have the ability to surround ourselves with the best minds in the business, nay the best minds ever to grace the planet. When listening to the most successful minds alive today, they all have several traits in common: incredible work ethic and drive; oodles of money (now, anyway!); starting their day early; meditation or mindfulness; and above all, reading. Read. Just pick up a book and read. I’m not sure how much Seneca’s Letters and Marcus Aurelis’ Meditations are going to help with fixing my Landcruiser, but when I’m done fixing, I’ll want to be going somewhere. And to help me make sense of it I may well be calling on two-thousand-year-old mentors. And David, for when I break down and bodge something else.