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Just what’s around that next corner? It’s behind you… book review of ‘Wild Guesses and Dreams’ by Rick Hoegberg.

In the years Before Covid, Before the Credit Crunch and even before Punk, there was the summer of 1973: the time when we young boys would skive off PE lessons, be oblivious to girls and the state of the nation and muse: what lies beyond Watford?

Fast forward through the next 50 years and whilst the names and faces, the times and places may differ from continent to continent and from generation to generation, what binds us all, wherever we are in our world, are the big existential questions we all face as we grow up: who am I? Where am I from? Where am I going?  What does my future hold?  What’s just around that corner?

Rick Hoegberg’s book, Wild Guesses and Dreams is set within the comforting rural and fading industrial landscapes of the British Canal system of the early 1970s.  It charts the unsteady courses that Rick and his chums navigate to answer these questions which they do by building a small cabin cruiser, Zehranadilla, and then setting out on various intrepid adventures, ostensibly to ask, what lies beyond Watford? 

Hoegberg retells many charming and alarming incidents from the voyages of Zehranadilla, and deftly paints what life was like in the not so fast lane for the lads and lasses in those halcyon 70s days when the oil crisis and national strikes were just whispers in the wind, to be given no more consideration than the question of where the next beer was coming from. 

But more than just a youthful travelogue revolving around copious underage drinking, nautical mechanical challenges and fending off hostile swans, the book also explores in its own wistful way how friendships grow and fade and how young people can develop agency and begin to control their own destiny in a world which is so easily disrupted by adults: whether they be well meaning parents, obsessively disciplinarian teachers or canal workers intent on doing no more, no less than their jobs are worth.

By now, we young people of Hoegberg’s generation are reaching the age – if we’ve survived – where we’re asking ourselves, what did we do with our time then? Did it enable us to find out who we were, where we were going and what was just around our corners? Or did we let those moments slip by, ignorant to the opportunities that life presented to us sometimes from the most unexpected directions?

A deceptively innocent exploration of the questions Hoegberg and his school chums asked of themselves in those BC times, Wild Guesses and Dreams prompts us all to understand our pasts better to ensure the young people we see growing up before us are better able to answer those questions for themselves. 

Our BC Years are soon turning into their LWC (Living with Covid) Years and they will all need all the help they can get to prepare for what’s behind them, in front of them and around those increasingly threatening corners.

Wild Guesses and Dreams is available on Amazon here.

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This Courting Life: how to deal with the ‘L’ word

My next book, dear reader, builds on the stellar success of my first publication.

Where my first volume gave you invaluable instructions on how to win at Dumbledon, develop a personality and lead your local club to previously unimaginable heights, my second volume in what is shaping up to be a truly encyclopaedic compendium of skills, insights and wisdom from the outer reaches of the tennis universe, focuses on the even harder challenge: the second grand slam.

It also offers some seriously sought after advice  on perhaps the most elusive of all holy grails: the mysteries of the heart.

Philosophers have mused lyrical, musicians have waxed musically and scientists continue to try in vain to define the phenomenon of that thing that beats erratically under our Fred Perry singlets with their data, spreadsheets and formulae about the mysteries of the L word, but it is fair to say that none have come close to the experiences of the ageing tennis player.

There may be musical scientific philosophers who have applied the might of their unique knowledge to the L question but I am oblivious to them.

There is nothing quite like hearing about the experiences of the ageing tennis player when it comes to the L word and this book, dear reader, is guaranteed to transform your life (for the better) when it comes to assessing your prospects in the L department.

So, let’s continue our journey together with the immortal and prescient ‘Love All’.

Next stop: Melbourne!

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The Courting Lives of an Ageing Tennis Player: launching on 1 February 2022

We’re delighted to let you know that the creative team that bought you Confessions of an Ageing Tennis Player will be launching the sequel on 1 February!

Get ready for The Courting Lives of an Ageing Tennis Player!

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Court Life: it’s No Vacc for Novak!

Continued from Court Life: 100 Days

I am used to waiting.  I have waited a lot in the years leading up to my inauguration as Chairman of the club so am no stranger to the waiting game.  But after five hours of being perched on my head honcho cushion, without seeing a tremble of my tepee curtain became, as you can imagine, dear reader, a tad irksome.

Where are my people and why are they are taking so long? I muttered to myself as I perambulated around an ever decreasing circle on the floor of my teepee.  Do they not realise who has called them?  Do they not realise who I am?  Do they not know what is at stake?

Just at the moment I had come to the centre of my tepee with no-where else to perambulate, my mobile phone rang.  At last I thought, they have finally seen sense and are going to ingratiate themselves with their grovelling apologies.

“Hello!”  I snapped. “What’s taking you?  We have a lot of business ahead of us!  Setting up a a brand new regime doesn’t happen just by itself you know.”

Read more here…

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Back to school armed with weapons of mass destruction and learnings of the third kind.

It’s a new school year and memories of tests failed, repeated years and thwarted ambitions waft through the air again as the leaves start to turn, the air chills and the first signs of Christmas appear on the supermarket shelves.

What did we learn from our summer break that will see us through the darkening days? That some weapons are more righteous than others? That whilst we might hope that it’s never too late to become the tennis player we always wanted to be, that in fact it is? Much too late? That our grandiose political aspirations are crumbling faster than a cup cake straight out of the oven in the Great British Bake Off?

The sound of lives cut short, the acrid smell of relationships souring, the sound of economies going pop, this is what we’re learning this summer.

It may that after the heady hazy days of summer that we cast a quizzical look at our new school pals, throw an astonished glance to the teachers in charge and run out of the school gates as fast as our little short trousered legs will carry us.

It worked for me for a while when I was about to turn five although the inevitable grip that school was to exert eventually meant I donned my cap and blazer with the best and the rest of them.

Teachers, when you’re back in that classroom, counting them in and counting them out, please save some extra time for those in front of you who are yearning to run a mile at top speed out of the classroom, down the hall and out into the road. They may have learnt far too much for their own liking over the summer and just may not be ready to soak up your phonemes and calculus.

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The Business Allotment: testimonials from business gardners!

Ruth Pringle of Blue Noun, an English language school specialising in coaching English to learners in creative professions, has recently read one of our articles in our Business Allotment publication and very helpfully fed back the following testimonial:

A nice bit of positivity for my morning. At the beginning of this year I signed up to a couple of online business trainings (which were themselves very good), but ever since, my socials have been flooded with self-proclaimed gurus trying to get me to invest with them and their ‘unique methods’. Their adverts more often than not laced with fake positivity, false goals – and assumptions about me that are frankly offensive: their currency is the transparent exploitation of what they presume are business owners’ insecurities – and not a celebration of their strengths (apparently we need them to feel strong). I love this Dr. Nick Owen FRSA MBE. Very wise. Very refreshing! I feel powerful for having dipped my toe in!

If you’d like some more helpful tips for business start ups, lessons for life, just check out our site here.