Love to listen aka taxi for #Duke


“The value of oneself is the cornerstone of mental health” – quote provided by the most inspirational taxi driver I have had the pleasure of sharing a journey with (Aberdeen)

“Our sense of our own inner character is just an illusion” – unknown, but source as above

You know you’re going to have a phenomenal conversation with someone when, within 2 minutes of getting into their taxi, cognitive behaviour has been thrown in as a discussion point.

Welcome to an inspired blog from the passenger seat.

I love taxi journeys, particularly in Scotland. There is never a boring journey and there is never a repeat conversation.

It’s strange because, put me on the train to London and I can’t get my headphones in quick enough. Even if they’re not plugged into my iPod. The facial expression and body language say ‘conversation forbidden’.

But taxis are different. You can learn so much about people. If, of course, you are ready to listen.

So many people get into the back seat of the taxi and attach themselves to their mobile phone to talk to someone they have spoken to a thousand times. In my humble opinion, that is a wasted opportunity to learn. Jump in the front passenger seat and get ready to learn.

In this crazy world that we inhabit, we seem to allow ourselves to live in this bubble of chaos. Certainly in the UK, we make ourselves work – both through employment and what we do at home – what feels like 24 / 7. No rest; little break in routine. And little consideration to just listen.

Having said that, as #TeamDurky we have our meals at the dining room table so do take time to talk. But what I’m getting at is, when we get chance to hear a different perspective on life, we sometimes fail to take the opportunity to listen.

It’s not just on a taxi journey. How many of us take time to talk to and listen to the person on the check out at the supermarket? When we drop into the local take away for our Friday night dinner, do we chat to the person dealing with our order? Over the years, I’ve learned so much by listening.

As we all know, there’s a whole lot of anger in the world today. Be it incited by certain world leaders; be it provoked by the inabilities of our elected governments to recognise and respond to inequality and misappropriation of wealth; be it through intolerance of our fellow human being and an unwillingness to accept that we are all beautifully different (although, I accept I am just different) – we are in the depths of angry times. But, we can change it. Can’t we?

But, a chat with, and a listen to, your taxi driver is a starting point to learning. A recent drive through the chaos of London was a prime example. A tube train delay, caused by some poor soul deciding they’d had enough of what life had dealt them, meant a panicked stride outside Aldgate tube station. Poor me! Sometimes I need to think more about that. Poor me my ar5e. I should think more about the cause of the tube delay and less about me.

Anyway, up drove a taxi and I still had time to catch my train. Within minutes, I had heard about and discussed the magic of the architecture in London, York, Cambridge, and a few other places. I love architecture and there’s not many people better placed to discuss the local structures than your friendly taxi driver.

As many will know, my home base is Leeds (Yorkshire, England, Europe, the world). The taxi rides there and discussions have been many and varied. From the drunken ‘When you do finish?’; ‘Busy tonight?’; ‘What’s this cr@p music?’ type questions, to talks of holiday and, well, holidays. There are early morning drives – usually to the airport with sedate conversations, and later – back home – drives when there could be a bit of religious diversity thrown in.

It’s all good for learning. It’s good for understanding the wider community and the breadth of knowledge that can be gained. If we just listened.

This year, I would have to say my most interesting journeys have been centred on Aberdeen. I’d never been before but have always been intrigued by the city. So, my first taxi ride was built on snippets of information I had gleaned from the web, therefore I had a few questions and then the magic starts. The conversation weaves around the oil industry, football, the local economy and so forth. That information then meant I could connect better with the people I was meeting – just through a bit on interest, talking, and listening.

Since then I’ve learned more about the oil industry, about the local wealth, the tobacco industry, the decline of the paper mill industry and which school Annie Lennox went to.

But, then, as mentioned right at the start of the blog, the most recent taxi ride from Aberdeen Airport was the game changer.

My flight was delayed by an hour and, when I arrived, there was an unusually long queue for taxis. So, when I fell into my eventual ride, I was focussed on getting to the office. But fate tapped me on the shoulder and the next 30 minutes, including sitting outside the office for 10 minutes, was thought provoking and inspiring. The end result including me scrambling onto Amazon to preorder Nick Chater’s book – The Mind Is Flat: The Illusion Of Mental Depth and The Improvised Mind. Reading the review blurb, it should be a thought provoking read.

However, the conversation that morning really was fascinating – based around what we do and who we think we are is not necessarily who we actually are. What we are is not a creation from the depths of our consciousness or subconsciousness. We become who were are through life experiences and, sometimes, as a protection due to life events. However, by opening our minds through discussion and listening we can become who ever or whatever we want to be.

It was also interesting to share my thoughts on certain matters with a stranger and to find we were aligned in our thinking around things that have disturbed me for some time.

An incredible person to meet and I truly believe I will take a lot of our discussion and use it in my continued quest to learn.

Sometimes, fate does give you the opportunity to learn. It’s our responsibility take the chances we are given. We can then take that learning and share it. Let’s spread the knowledge and allow others to decide whether that knowledge will help them to grow.

And, so, the taxi ride for #Duke has reached its destination………….. for now. I hope you enjoyed the journey. I paid a tip. It was worth it.




Simple mind(fulness). It’s rather great to be alive and kicking.


“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” – Omar Khayyam

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” – Charles R. Swindoll

#Love is all around, as Marti Pellow once sung (yes, covering a song by the Troggs) and as each day goes by, I realise the importance of feeling that love – in an exact moment – and sharing that love – in the same moment. Making sense? Read on, please, as I look out from my perch.

Welcome to the first blog in a while. I’ve been thinking of taking the blogs offline for a while. Partly to think about a new direction for them. And partly to shape what has been written so far into some kind of book. Or, maybe I’ll just keep on blabbering on. Who knows 😀.

Anyway, enough of the future, let’s celebrate the present. How much time do we spend looking back and looking forward, rather than enjoying the moment. How often do we say ‘I can’t wait for ………..’, rather than ‘I #love the right here, right now’?

We were lucky enough to see The Architects play at Alexandra Palace in London a few days ago. Now, their music style might not be to everyone’s taste. We love them and I’m so grateful for Ben introducing them to me.

However, The Architects’s story is one of sadness, strength, love and hope. Their guitarist and songwriter, Tom Searle, died not too long ago after a brave battle with cancer. So young; so sad.

The band, including Tom’s twin brother, have bravely chosen to continue and every performance is a tribute to their love for and memory of Tom.

To be one of the 10,000 at Alexandra Palace to enjoy such a magnificent band and to celebrate the memory of such a talent man was nothing short of an honour and a privilege. To feel the emotion and unity between band and audience is something that will stay with me for a long time.

But, one of the many abiding emotions that I came away with was to live in the moment, to enjoy and love what life I / we have because you can never anticipate what tomorrow might bring.

We have a duty to enjoy each and every day that we are blessed with and to share that enjoyment with as many as we can.

And, if a like sImple mindfulness can help us focus on enjoying today, then even better.

I know I talk a lot about mindfulness but, let’s be honest, it’s a bit of an obsession. It’s something that I have to work on personally on a daily basis – as I walk across the greased floor that life sometimes feels like?

I am lucky to enjoy a daily early morning walk so that gives me a great chance to zone out and focus literally on what I can see in front of me, listen to the sounds around me, and intake deep lungs full of the fresh morning air.

The challenge, of course, is not allowing the mind to become cluttered with what I need to at work, things that are going on at home, or whether the Leeds Rhinos are going to win the next game.

To win the challenge though is magnificent and very grounding.

Practicing simple mindfulness in the car on the way to work is also magnificent – providing I keep an eye on the road in front and behind of course. It’s a great method for reducing road rage to start with – and that is a daily challenge. It’s also a super way of not overthinking. In fact, it’s a great way of not thinking.

It’s all good though. The passage that #TeamDurky walks remains strong. We are lucky to be just that – a team. As has been charted over the last few months #TeamDuke evolved into #TeamDurk with the arrival of Audrey, and then #TeamDurky with Gaby coming on board. We have the subdivision of #TeamRingKee, with the wonderful Zeekee and Ringo. That could be #TeamRingSuKee, with the inclusion of Audrey’s dog, Susie.

But, a team we are and I’m proud of the bond that we have. Let’s not forget Eilidh and Liam. They are equally important within the team.

Its good to reflect sometimes. Live for the day with a recognition of the strength you have drawn to help you through the day. Looking back on The Architects. Look at the strength and, as a band and as an entire collective – including their families a friends – the determination they have drawn from their true sadness. I have true admiration on how they appear to focus on today but also how they also share their emotions openly with their fans.

We need to be there for each other. And in these rather challenging times that is more important than ever. Look at the true horror of the latest school shooting in the USA. How long must this go on? Guns available freely. Evil peddled on the dark web. Maniacs apparently reported to the FBI who appear clueless. And more innocent people lose their lives. The killer is remorseful. Whoopy doo.

The issue is far greater than one maniac. But, let’s not focus on the issue right now. Let’s focus on the poor souls who went to school never to come home. Let’s focus on the family and friends who will never see their loved ones again. Let’s focus on those who had to witness the true horror that what was happening right in front of them. And let’s focus on the emergency services who has to deal with after math.

And, when I see such atrocities happening around the world I give thanks for every day that I am blessed with.

So, yes, it’s great to be alive and kicking. It really is. I hope the same applies to you. I hope your life is filled with #love, laughter, and unity. I hope you have family and friends who you can share your #love with.

Keep well. Keep smiling. Keep real.

Thank you.







A cat. A dog. Time to paws for thought.



“Dogs come when they’re called; cats take a message and get back to you later.” ― Mary Bly

“Dogs will give you unconditional love until the day they die. Cats will make you pay for every mistake you’ve ever made since the day you were born.”
― Oliver Gaspirtz, A Treasury of Pet

“If someone had told me 2 years ago that I would have a cat and a dog and love them so much, I’d have laughed at them” – me!!!

And the last quote is where the latest blog starts. A cat. A dog. You couldn’t make it up.

I’ve always had a leaning towards animals. But, equally, I was always a bit nervous around them; perhaps a little scared. I certainly had no intention of allowing an animal (Ben and Liv excluded 😀) to set foot in the house. All that hair and dirt and puke and pooh. No way.

And then that fateful day just over 2 years ago, when It was mentioned to Liv that a rescue centre had taken in some cats that were looking for a home. And, clearly, I’d had a glass of wine when the question was asked ……. could she? Could we? And, I said ‘maybe’. Never, ever say ‘maybe’. That always means YES!

You see, I was always the blocker but, in that moment of ‘maybe’ that block was mysteriously removed. I had said ‘yes’. I should have known but, before I knew it, a trip was arranged to said cat rescue centre and before I could say ‘Me? (H)ow?’, a 6 month old Zeekee was yelling ‘meow’ through the vent holes of her travel case as we brought her home. Purrfect!

Clearly, Liv was delighted with this addition to the family, whilst Ben and I looked at this timid 4 legged creature wondering what had happened. To paraphrase a song by 70s legends Hot Chocolate, ‘it started with a maybe’.

But, a beautiful addition to the family Zeekee is. She’s a house cat, rather than marauding outdoors and bringing dead mice and birds as gifts. Her presents tend to be either another stinker being deposited in her Shit Box or a trail of 3 or 4 lumps of puke as she rids herself of the fur that she has swallowed whilst cleaning. If cats are that intelligent why haven’t they realised swallowing fur is not good. Then again, it’s not her that has to clean up. I’m just trying to train her to do this when Aud is at the house. Zeekee is such a key part #TeamDurky. Peaceful, serene, beautiful. Anyway, enough about me. Zeekee’s very special as well.

A beautiful thing with Zeekee is the way she pads her paws when she wants a stroke or just attention. And then, when she is laying, being stroked she stretches her paws in and out in bliss. It’s very therapeutic, stroking her and watching her paws. In that moment, everything else in the world just falls away. I’ve got to say, I just love the #cat.

And then, we move on, just short of a year from Zeekee’s arrival – Liv raised the question of a dog. She’d wanted a dog from a very young age but, again, I was the blocker. Too much like hard work. How would we look after a dog? But, again Mr Maybe struck. And then, Mr Maybe became Mr Let’s Have A Look.

We agreed, maybe for Liv’s birthday. My cunning plan was that Liv would lose interest. We did a couple Dog Trust visits and then things went quiet. However, Tenacious Liv then discovered what turn out to be a beautiful small rescue centre near Hull. Originally, she identified a lovely dog for us to visit. However, to cut a long story short, our visit turned into 3 visits – having being introduced to Ringo on the first, making sure Ben was comfortable with him on the second, and then Liv, Audrey and I bringing him to his new home on the third.

I know I’ve talked a lot about Ringo in previous blogs, but him joining the family was one of the best things we have done.

He’s a handsome, kind, funny, playful boy. Anyway, enough about me. I wish!

His love for #TeamDurky is clear. But our love for him could never be overstated.

He’s often described by a Liv as her therapy dog. Buts he’s that for us all. When you wake up, he shuffles up the bed to remind you how good it is to be alive. When I’m working from home and I get wound up about something and nothing, he plonks his head on my leg with those ‘what’s up Jon’ eyes. When Ben swears at his FIFA 2018 PS4 game, Ringo plonks his head on Ben’s leg with those ‘FFS, it’s just a game’ eyes.

He uses his paws with power – when playing with a ball or trying to make it difficult for Audrey to get his harness on. He uses them gently to give you a little tap of affection or to ask for a treat.

And then, the two of them together. An interesting bond. In the early days, Zeekee would cuff at Ringo with her paw as he walked passed. He would look at us with the look of ‘what did I do?’ She would have that look of ‘I just bossed you big boy!’. Whereas now, best of friends. It’s a joy to see them.

I have to wonder what took me so long. The unconditional love they both bring to the family home could never be measured. Both bring, almost, healing therapy, but bring fun, relaxation, and escapism from all of the madness we see in the world. They both, bizarrely, watch TV, but obviously they don’t see what we do – thankfully.

It’s a wonderful existence that Zeekee and Ringo live in. And for that, I’m grateful, because they’ve made our world bloody marvellous, beautiful, and happy.

A cat. A dog. It’s good to take time to paws (sic) for thought.









“No one should see how laws or sausages are made. To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making. The making of laws like the making of sausages, is not a pretty sight.” – Otto Von Bismarck

“Writing is like sausage making in my view; you’ll all be happier in the end if you just eat the final product without knowing what’s gone into it.” – George R R Martin

“I am not an intellectual. An intellectual is someone who looks at a sausage and thinks of Picasso, whereas I just say ‘pass the mustard’.” – Sebastian Horsley

So here we are, 2018 isn’t yet a month old and the blogs have descended into sausage references aplenty. These titles aren’t just plucked out of thin hair (or air). They are crafted references to something, somewhere in the blog where everything ties together. Which means by the end of the blog love and chorizo (and I do love chorizo), love and pepperoni (and I do love pepperoni pizza), love and salami (and ………..), love and battered sausage (………………), love and any other sausage I can reference (…….. guffaw) and unconditional love (time for a breath) need to get mentioned.

Welcome to the butchered ramblings from the View From The Ground or should that be a View From The Dinner Plate.

Love is definitely a feature in the blogs. #TeamDurky is blessed (whoops, the 1st use of the ‘w’ word of the year) to be full of and surrounded by love.

There’s also a define need to lift the spirit of people at a time of so much frustration in the world. I’ve just been reading the latest nonsense that has allegedly spewed from the mouth of Donny Trump. OMG! If true, what the hell is going on? Donny has also cancelled his trip to the UK. Boo hoo! His reasons are no worth repeating. The fact is, in the UK we have managed to avoid the mass protests and unrest that would have followed him. I think Donny needs to understand he is not welcome. We love our American friends; there is a true connection between the UK and USA. But Donny is too bigger risk.

So, the reach of love needs to be stretched to the USA. And, if Donny could step forth and join the human race rather than being an (alleged) (in)human(e) race(ist) we’ll include him.

So, back to the quest for love / of love – real love. Love that you can feel in your heart; love that you can see; and love you can share with as many people as possible.

It feels like 2018 has presented us with few options. We either embrace real love and share it, or we roll up into a ball and allow the darker forces to take hold. Those forces that proclaim love whilst actually seeking to divide society.

I choose the former and so see 2018 as great opportunity to explore love and to seek it where ever possible. And once discovered, let’s share it.

So, imagine my surprise when an early encounter of love came in the form of a bowl of chorizo in scrumpy. Audrey and I had heard rumours of this taste bud sensation – hidden in a quaint little bar in York. OMG! Love in a bowl! You couldn’t make it up. But, it’s the simple things that can bring such unbridled joy. Shared over a beer and a laughter filled conversation. And for our vegetarian friends, a plate of Yorkshire cheeses went down almost as well. For our vegan buddies, there was an option of a rather spectacular salad. I know we are lucky to be able to enjoy such a love feast, and believe me, I will never, ever take it for granted.

As I’ve written before, gratitude, and expressions of gratitude, are a key feature of my life. We should always be grateful for what we have been granted. I guess the title of the blog suggests I have gratitude for for – and, oh boy, I do. But, as #TeamDurky, our blessing to be able to enjoy food transforms into using the celebration of that food to spending quality time with each other.

How many of us take our food into the living room and pluck ourselves in front of the TV, occasionally glancing at our mobile devices for the latest Facebook contact? No? Really?

It’s easily done but I enjoy nothing more than a slice of pepperoni pizza and a slab of peppered conversation around the dining table. Or a salami and chilli panini and a chin wag with family and friends. Conversation – one of the greatest relaxants.

To share conversation with loved ones, priceless. Although, don’t try eating battered sausage whilst discussing Donny the Trumpmaster. You just might spray your nearest and dearest with the contents of that tasteless sensation as you launch into the subject (sorry, I was struggling to insert battered sausage into the blog without suggesting it been place sideways and whole into the mouth of said Donny.

And, again, for vegetarian and vegan associates, think cucumber and Theresa May’s insincere smile.

And, so, time for me to close another love laced lingering blog.

I read a great quote – “It’s okay not to be happy all the time” – Sam Carter (Architects). A man I have utmost respect for. An incredible vocalist in a brilliant band. He and they have been through so much but they are open about their live events – including the sad loss of their fellow band member, lyricist and twin of the band’s drummer. Their spirit is to be admired.

Keep spreading the love. It’s our duty.

Take care.




INTERVIEW: Victories at Sea

Believe In Sound is an awesome blog site, which deserves massive support.
This latest blog is a great Q and A with one of my current favourite bands – Victories At Sea. A real gem waiting for mass discovery. Wake up people!

It’s hard to see how this band won’t become huge. Victories at Sea have an incredibly eclectic and blended sound to their music, and it’s quite easy to see why bands such as Slow Readers Club and Boxer Rebellion have them along as support.

Following the announcement of their support slot with the aforementioned Boxer Rebellion, the band very kindly answered a few questions!

Believe In Sound (BIS): Following the release of your EP A Place To Stay last year, can we expect any new music this year?

Victories At Sea (VAS): We were really pleased to get that record out there and touring it has really given variety to our sets, but yes we are always writing and with no shortage of ideas at present we definitely plan to get back to recording at some point this year.

BIS: Do you plan on sticking to a similar sound on…

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Architects – the genre defining giants

A wonderful from the heart blog from my awesome son, Ben. Written from the heart and with passion. Please read and enjoy.

Metal music has always had an affinity with me. Linkin Park were the first band to expose me to “screamo”, songs like One Step Closer stepped out of the boundaries for me personally, and out of the safety zone of bands like Sum 41 and Blink 182. Fast forward 15 years and I’m on the cusp of seeing Architects at London Alexandra Palace, a 10,000 cap venue that seemed a far cry from any sort of venue that a band of this type would ever play, but they’ve made it, and no one has ever deserved it more.

Bands like Bring Me The Horizon, A Day To Remember and Bullet For My Valentine led the original charge of heavier modern music to the bigger venues, and now Architects with Sheffield outfit While She Sleeps in support lead the recent charge. It’s a refreshing change in the playing field, and to…

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Where is the love. The love? The love! ❤️


“What’s wrong with the world, mama. People livin’ like they ain’t got no mamas. I think the whole world addicted to the drama. Only attracted to things that’ll bring you trauma.” – Where is the love. The Black Eyed Peas

“And I’ll be the sky and you be the bird” – Backroads – Lonely The Brave

Welcome to Top Of The Pops; A View From The Ground style. Welcome to 2018. Welcome to an uncontrollably energetic launch into the New Year.

In the charts today, we’ve got a look at why the blog has started with not one, but 2 excerpts from songs (including one of my all time favourite lines). We’ll look at why View From The Ground will carry on reGarDLess (typo!). And we will look at what we want to focus on in 2018.

Okay, I’m knackered now after a quick burst of energy. Let’s sit back in our favourite chair and breathe. It’s January; it’s windy (the weather) and we have a magnificent year ahead. Well I am keen to launch into the year with a focus on making it the best year yet. Are you?

Do you know that feeling when you’re just about ready to start afresh. You’re excited, you’re ready to go and then whoosh, someone starts a drama. An attempt to have the spotlight firmly fixed on them. Do you know that feeling? So, how do we respond? At the end of the day, we have a choice. Accept a role in the drama, forgetting our own storyline. Or, remain in our own story and to ignore the drama as it’s not our’s to act out.

Surely we should choose the latter. I believe as a general statement we should all choose to remain in our own stories, unless stepping into someone else’s will enhance their story and, in turn, our own. Does that make sense?

Throughout society there are situations that are being created where our natural instinct is to get involved in something we don’t need to. Something where we forget what page we are at in our own story. And, by actually getting involved in this separate drama, can we actually effect its outcome anyway? Probably not.

For 2018, I choose to leave the drama to those who seek it. Leave it to those whose life is perhaps so empty the way they can fill it is by creating drama. Good luck to them. I hope it brings fulfilment and happiness.

Homemade soup – that brings me fulfilment and happiness.

So, back to the Top Of The Pops. Two song lyrics referenced. Why, oh why? 2 reasons – I like the songs, and they have relevance to the blog. Actually, as I’ve said above “And I’ll be the sky and you be the bird” is one of my favourite ever lines from a song. An awesome song anyway but such a simply wonderful lyric.

Where is the love? I have actually written a blog previously with those words in the title but it feels so appropriate again. So much anger in the world; so much blame in society; so much nonsense spoken. Surely, the start of a new year gives a chance for us all to concentrate on our own lives and, where possible, enhance – truly enhance – other people’s lives, but only in the context of their own story.

All of a sudden, by doing the right thing, we’ll find there is the love. The love!

And at Number 2 on Top Of The Pops – the future state of View From The Ground. I certainly intend to carry on publishing blogs, even for 1 reader. This isn’t an ego thing. It’s a passion to lift people and hopefully bring a smile. As I said in a recent blog, perhaps some blogs had become a little, let’s say, pointed. Always for good reason and not written with the intent of being ‘personal’. The blogs were a reflection of circumstances and to help the reader to understand the journey that #TeamDuke, now #TeamDurky, had been on.

However, I want to use the blogs to bring that smile and to hopefully help others. As I said, if that is one person, then I see that as a result. I will be a rich man emotionally. Well, I am anyway, emotionally, as part of #TeamDurky.

Just one word of advice, if you access the blogs from Facebook, they will only be available in the View From The Ground page and my own page (and those I tag). It would appear other options have taken flight for View From The Ground. I guess the blogs aren’t cryptic enough.

And, the top of the Pops for 2018 is where the blogs will go this year and what the focus will be. To be honest, the blogs will be as they were last year – when something pops into my head, which can be committed to writing, it appears as a blog. I’m not sure what regularity they will be and I can’t predict the content.

Aside from the blogs, these bl00dy books need doing. They are both works in progress. I’m really excited about them both but I need to sit in a darkened room, or on a sunny balcony, to get the work moving. The fictional book keeps changing shape and needs to be committed to an initial storyboard. The characters are pretty much mapped out. The finish and start and finish (when it comes out that will make sense) are committed. Let’s see where it goes.

The book based around the blogs needs developing. I keep changing its format, so watch this space. It’s looking like ‘a year of in the life of’ meets ‘rebuilding your life’ type of thing. Positive thinking and other such cliches 😀.

So, there is the love. Where is your love? Why? Find your love first and everything grows from there.

I started with some song lyrics and I’ll finish with a Swedish proverb – “Those who wish to sing always find a song”.

More from the #TeamDurky Centre as it comes through. You never know when that might be.

Take care and enjoy your story. It will make a good read.