We’re officially into the final month of the year. Over the next few weeks we’ll find out who wins the prestigious glitter ball on Strictly, whether Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield reprise their respective roles as Spiderman and how many of our Facebook friends get an engagement ring for Christmas.
It’s a time where decorative lights brighten the streets as we stuff ourselves with festive treats. And, with Christmas Day just a few weeks away – autobiographies dominate the shelves so celebrities can tell us all about themselves.
I’m indifferent when it comes to autobiographies. I’ve read some I’ve liked – Robert Webb’s is superb. There are also some I couldn’t finish. To be honest I don’t read too many of them these days. All too often it’s the story of a well-known celebrity talking about how great they are. Effectively social media put into a 300 page book that costs £10.
Taking a stroll around Waterstones over the weekend I noticed Ex Chelsea and Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud and Made in Chelsea star Jamie Lang have written one. I have nothing against either of those people but I can’t imagine they have anything groundbreaking to share.
There is, however, one person I always hoped would write one – Dave Grohl. For those of you who are unaware, Dave Grohl is the frontman of Foo Fighters and was the drummer of Nirvana. I was lucky enough to see Foo Fighters headline Reading Festival back in 2012. Exactly twenty years after a 23-year-old Grohl was sat behind a drum set on that very stage as Nirvana played their final show in the UK.
He always struck me as someone who has a lot of stories to share. Which, having read his 2021 autobiography, The Storyteller, he certainly has.
The book documents his humble upbringing in Virginia. His early North America and European tours with punk band Scream, his days in Nirvana as well as the story of Foo Fighters so far through a series of anecdotes.
What I loved about it is he isn’t telling you how life should be lived. None of this ‘make your bed in the morning’ talk. It is simply a series of short stories from his journey through life so far. And every one of them is interesting.
Prior to Grohl’s, the last book I tried to read was Instagram PT James Smith but I couldn’t finish it. All it consisted of was 300 pages of him saying he’s found the meaning of life – despite it’s title ‘Not a life coach’.
When it came to Grohl’s there was no agenda. He doesn’t try to say if you do X, Y and Z you will be successful otherwise you’ve got it all wrong. It was simply him saying, ‘This is how my life has unfolded so far, for the most part it’s been awesome’. Enjoy. In layman’s terms – there was no bullshit.
Applying that to my own life.
What I loved about reading Dave Grohl’s book is that when he’s talking about these rock ‘n’ roll shows I know from personal experience what they feel like. Despite our lives being completely different I found the whole book somewhat relatable.
When he’s describing what an audience feels like I’m not tapping into that by translating the words into an image like when I read a piece of fiction. Instead, I know what those crowds feel like because I’ve been a part of them so many times. Whether that be Foo Fighters, Green Day, Taylor Swift, The Libertines, The Rolling Stones or Wu-Tang Clan. The energy from a live audience is so unique.
Another example from Grohl’s book is when he talks about the years before he found global success. Sleeping on a sofa while Kurt Cobain took the bedroom in a house they shared in Washington while writing Nevermind, all with minimal budget for food. Stories like that instantly took me back to backpacking where accommodation and diet weren’t perfect. Completely different, yes, but stories that made us who we are nevertheless.
The same goes for when I’m watching Sir David Attenborough documentaries on TV. I love that man to pieces and will watch anything he puts his name to. But despite knowing how much I’ll love one of his shows about The Andes, what I’ll always love more is telling you how thin the air is at the highest point of the Salkantay Trek having hiked it in 2017.
My flat is a bit of a shrine to the traveling I’ve done and the concerts i’ve been to. With my London Marathon finishers medal the latest to join my hall of fame. To me they are warm reminders that I’m living an interesting life. At least in regards to how I would perceive life to be interesting.
I just can’t become that person at a work event who talks about business all the time. Or someone who makes a point of slipping into conversation that they’ve just been to the gym or, the most recent unwelcome addition – ‘what COVID vaccine did you get?’
I’m not saying I’ll start a band tomorrow which will headline Glastonbury within five years. Not at all. What I’m saying is I’m at a point in my life where I know what makes it interesting for me. So I’m going to drift towards more of that. Whether that be work, people, the type of holiday I go on or how I spend my free time. Conversely I know what things have the opposite effect so will naturally avoid those.
There is a lot more to be said on the subject and how it isn’t as straightforward as it should be. It’s what I refer to as ‘the society trap’ and is something I want to write a blog post about. Perhaps before the end of the year – we’ll have to see.
A final word on the 2021 London Marathon
As of November 30th 2021 my fundraising page has been closed. Bringing my 2021 London Marathon journey to an end. It was without a doubt one of the most fantastic experiences of my life and came to me at the perfect time. The training runs in the summer heat, baltic winter and even on Christmas Day gave me a reason to smile when there wasn’t a lot to smile about.
I’m absolutely thrilled to share the total we’ve raised for Mind – £7776.00. From the bottom of my heart thank you so much. I know I received a number of anonymous donations from people who read this blog and I can’t thank you enough for your generosity. The money we’ve raised is going to make such a huge difference to the lives of so many. As soon as Mind announce the combined total of all their London runners I’ll be sure to share it here.