Archives for the ‘Celebration’ Category

Uke the World

The Lost and Foundlings

“Without music, life would be a mistake” – Nietzsche

When I was little, I was taken to Yamaha piano classes every Saturday. I remember sitting between two mini world talents as I banged at the keys, vaguely wondering how the other children managed to translate those tadpole scribbles into beautiful tunes.

Then one auspicious day, my mum asked, “Would you like to stop going to piano classes?” To which I replied, “Yes!” And that was one of my earliest memories of the sweet taste of liberation. And many other things besides.

The conclusion from this experience was stored in perpetuity in my brain’s computer. Because my computer was efficient, it readily replayed its recorded message at every opportunity: “I am not musically talented. I will never play a musical instrument. I cannot sing…”

… Until the day came when I became a parent and learned that, as a parent,”You can only give what you have”. Suddenly, from across the misty distance of time and space, I heard the familiar sound of banging keys and I was paralysed with fear. Of not being good enough. And this time, my child’s fate is at stake.

Then somewhere from deep within me, amidst my chilling and profound sense of loss, a gentle and defiant voice spoke up. “Wouldn’t it be nice to make my own music? To sing and play with all my heart?”

Without knowing how or when that wish would come true, the most important thing had happened, a pre-requisite for all wishes before they can come true: my heart had made a wish.

Within days, my friend Vira offered me the gift of music in the form of the ukulele so that I could share music with my little girl. And what better way to celebrate life than by sharing the gift of song?

Play for Your Life

I hope you’ll be able to join our uke jam keynote (our uke troupe’s called The Lost and Foundlings) at BCS SPA on Tuesday, 28 June where we’ll be supported by The Fleas who’ll bring along ukuleles so you, too, can have a go. No previous experience required, just the willingness to play!

And if you already play an instrument, do bring it to the conference with you that day because uke jams sound even better with all sorts of different instruments!

And if you’ve always had a longing to learn to play the uke and you fancy buying one to bring along, then a decent starter uke costs around £20-£30 (we recommend Kala or Mahalo available from Amazon and good music shops). Let the music play!

Sincere Seekers in Search of True Love


Years ago, I made a wish. A wish that one day, I’d be brave enough and mad enough to take part in the movement that is taking the world by storm, or should I say love? I’m, of course, referring to the Free Hugs Campaign started by one man in an attempt to reconnect with humanity.

I first came across “free hugging” during a visit to Helsinki back in December 2008. It was a bitterly cold winter, the kind that made you worry about losing a toe or two if you spent too long stomping the white pavement on your own.

I was wandering around the city after a jam-packed day of Agile training and who did I find beaming with warm smiles and arms wide open towards me but two young women at the train station?

Incredibly, these two young women were offering free hugs. To anyone and everyone.

A Wish Come True

After 6 long years, this random wish of mine finally came true. On Sunday, 18 January 2015, to my great fear and delight, I was offered the chance to give free hugs to the people frequenting Pimlico (home of Tate Britain) on a chilly winter afternoon.

And in spite of of the butterflies in my tummy screaming “No!!! Don’t do it!!!”, I knew my time had come. To connect with the rest of humanity like I’ve never dared to but have always longed to do.

Together with a bunch of well-wishing strangers in search of inner peace, I stomped the pavement and offered free hugs to anyone and everyone.

Between us, we hugged over 80 people in under an hour and didn’t get arrested.

For me, the most remarkable takeaway from that experience is that I learned more about what it means to be human in those 60 minutes than I have in my lifetime so far.

I learned that strangers can be kind and generous. That most of us want nothing more than to connect with one another. That we’re all in search of true love and when we find it, what better way to celebrate it than with a hug?

Happy Valentine’s Day!