What I did when I was 7 – it’s what I do now

The Adventures of Boba Fett Star Wars

The Adventures of Boba Fett comic book

It’s obvious to me now. Obvious that in the work you do you should build into it what you enjoy doing and what you’re good at. Today I spend my days creating brands and books for experts, giving talks on creativity and branding as well as writing and performing my songs.

But it wasn’t always that way. Or was it? Actually it was. It just took me a long time to realise it.

If you look on my website you’ll see a few of the books I’ve written for sale. But they weren’t my first books. Not by a long way. My first was called ‘Daleks in Vain’ written in 1978 when I was 7. It was bound like a book and had a cover which my teacher showed me how to laminate. I produced my own monthly magazines and created countless comic strips (about Doctor Who or Star Wars, the most extensive saga being the Adventures of Boba Fett). They too were produced as actual books with quizzes, facts, subscription information and dates and prices. I was doing back then what I do now.

English exercise book

My English exercise book with 12/10

I loved writing stories, whether I was tasked by a teacher to write them or not. Two of my English exercise book stories when I was in class 1M were given “12/10 Excellent!” By the teacher. This means just one of two things: either I was a literary genius, or my English teacher wasn’t very good at maths.

By age 12 I’d devoured The Lord of the Rings and was writing my own fantasy stories. Some took the form of those Fighting Fantasy ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books (“do you want to use the potion, turn to page 44” etc). Again, they were produced as complete illustrated books. My industrious work prompted the teacher to write a letter to my parents. It said, “We need to stamp out this indulgence of his with fantasy”.

How many of us have had a (sometimes a well meaning) slight or damning report on our creativity? How many of us have had our creativity and excitement snuffed out, our passion extinguished? I had no further support with my writing and drawing. It was slowly put to one side, deemed by everyone to be an unimportant diversion and a distraction from proper things like Chemistry, Physics and Maths. (Even though I was best at Technical Drawing and Art).

For good or ill I pursued an education in science and by some miracle got a degree in physics and physical science. But just as the degree came to an end, something happened that would change everything as I unwittingly made a decision that would bring my expertise full circle.

I ran for office for the Students’ Union to run the student magazine. Then, it was an 8 page newsletter that 8 people wrote and just about 8 people read. I turned it into a 48 page magazine that had the highest number of student contributors to a student journal before or since. We had 60 student contributing to it in some way each month. I was an editor, a designer, a writer and a performer (I hosted shows, did stand up comedy and performed my songs at events). But the job was about something else. It was really a question of motivation (and I suppose, leadership). I managed to inspire people who would never have got involved in such things to come to my office. “What are you good at?” I’d ask them. “What do you like doing?” One fellow replied that he liked writing poetry. “Great” I said, “You’re the poetry editor” (He went onto become a good friend, my deputy and later on, took the editorship himself.)

TLE the last edition Oasis Definately Maybe Oxford Brookes Students' Union magazine

TLE issue 305, October 1994

A girl came to the office. She said she was interested in bands and music. I knocked up a badge with the magazine logo on it (TLE – The Last Edition) and told her to take it to the Venue and they’ll let her in to review the bands. Take it to the record shops and they’ll give her singles to review. She came back a week later to report that it had worked. She’d done an interview with one of the bands and got some photos. It looked great, although I’d never heard of the band. She said they were going to be huge so we put them on the front cover. The band was Oasis and we had published an exclusive just before they hit the big time.

With that job, which lasted two years, I’d created an Eden, the perfect job where I was using all my skills. When it ended and I had to get a real job, it was a real jolt to the system that I was put in a corner and told to use such a small part of my skills and experience. I counted the days (which amounted to six years) until I had enough nerve to set up on my own and recreate that Eden again.

So here I am, doing the same things I was doing when I was 7. Sometimes we think our dreams are somehow ‘out there’ and distant from us. I’ve realised that mine we here all the time. It just took me such a long time to realise that my hopes, dreams and passions were with me all along.

Are you victim to the voices of decent that have manipulated you into thinking what you should be doing, not what you could be doing? has your creativity been dulled and dumbed down, your passions diverted? Or are you building into your working day who and what you are, what you’re good at, what you enjoy? I hope so.

Drop me a comment with your experience of self re-discovery.

Read more on www.aydinstone.com

Pipedream – the song I wrote in my sleep

This is one of my favourite songs that I’ve written. My subconscious wrote it. Many songwriters have described how their songs were ‘transmitted’ to them and all they had to do was write them down. Sometimes they had to leap out of bed to catch the tune that played in their head before it was lost.

This has happened to me quite a few times, the first and greatest was this song, Pipedream. I awoke in the night with the song fully formed, with music, lyrics and title complete. I jumped out of bed and played and sang it on the guitar as quickly as possible. It shows that creativity is something that can happen in your sleep and that you should always keep a notebook or some recording device to hand as you never know when inspiration may spark a wonderful idea.

Paul McCartney said that about the creation of ‘Yesterday’, (which became the most recorded song ever). In early 1965 he woke with a melody in his head. It was so powerful that he was sure it must be an old jazz tune. He played it to a few people, but no-one knew it. At that time he didn’t have the words, and as it was breakfast time it came out as “Scrambled eggs… oh how I love your legs…”.

He later worked out the real lyrics and the song was released on the Help! LP in the UK and as a No.1 single in the US. (At the time the Beatles found the song too sentimental to release as a single in the UK). Paul McCartney nearly always wrote about other people in his songs, unlike John Lennon who nearly always wrote about his own feelings.

It wasn’t until 1995 that Paul realised, while compiling the Beatles Anthology that his 1965 song about the loss of a lover was actually about the very real loss of his own mother a few years earlier from cancer. Have a listen to the song again with this context in mind and you’ll hear a pain coming directly from Paul’s unconscious that he wasn’t aware when he wrote it.

Pipedream became my second music promo from the 50 minute film ‘Ayd & Jase – The Visitation’. Filmed on cine Super8 in August 1991 in and around Odiham and Hook in Hampshire by John Bloor. Like ‘The World Turns All Around’ it was featured on ITV’s ‘Freescreen’ programme in 1992. The song was written and recorded that same month, again with me playing all the instruments.

See the Pipedream video on YouTube here.

Pipedream became a live favourite and I perform it to this day. There are other recorded versions (some with mandolin instead of harpsichord) but this is still the definitive. Perhaps in 2021 I’ll suddenly realise what it was really about…

You can see the other song from the film, The World Turns All Around, here

Book Ayd to speak at your event.
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Don’t be modest or ashamed – always vote for your own brand

Ayd Instone and Joel Roberts

Ayd Instone and Joel Roberts

I was an attendee (and sponsor) of The Business Wealth Club networking group Open Day in Oxford last week. 150 business owners had gathered to see Joel Roberts, one of America’s top media coaches, give a talk about how to sell and present yourself to an audience.

To start the event and to have something to discuss over breakfast, our host Dave Griffin said we should all get out business cards out and vote on our tables for the best one. These will then be passed to the front and Joel will choose his favourite from those 15.

Business cards were distributed to everyone on our table and we held up our favourite. I help up my own. All but one other of the ten people held up mine too. One lady said, “but you’ve voted for your own?”. “Of course” I said. “I’m voting for the best one.” She then put mine down and held up her own. I still won of course by 8 votes to 2.

What would you do in a similar situation? Assuming there’s not an amazingly good card around like mine, would you hold up your own? If not, why not?

Are you too modest to vote for your own brand? If you feel unable to push forward your own marketing materials without feeling a bit immodest you clearly haven’t externalised your business brand: we need to talk.

Are you too ashamed to hold up your cheap, flimsy embarrassing cards that you’ve invested not time and effort in or that still has the old logo on, or are those free ones with the generic stock image every plumber uses? If so we REALLY need to talk.

You wouldn’t go out to a business meeting to see potential clients in a big bag, or still dressed in your pyjamas so why send your business’s brand out there dressed as a buffoon?

Book Ayd to speak at your event.
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The World Turns All Around – my first music promo

In 1991 my friends and I made a film called ‘The Visitation’. It was 50mins long. We wrote a script, hired a camera (they were too expensive to own in those days) and filmed it over three days. I recently got the footage digitally transcribed and am re-editing it.

The story was a unique comedy drama about aliens coming to Earth and take the form of me and and my mate – with amusing consequences. It was interspersed with ‘pop videos’ of our latest songs. Here’s one of them, The World Turns All Around.

Filmed on cine super8 in August 1991 in fields near Oakley, Basingstoke town centre and Hook with camera work by John Bloor. You can see a clip of the futuristic mirrored ‘Churchill’ building in the centre of Basingstoke with the fire damage from the massive fire earlier that year.

The laser effects are where John scratched the film and added coloured ink. John shot all the footage and then edited it together by hand, with scissors! We knew we needed five minutes of footage and just about had enough. There was no way we cold sync up the pictures to the music accurately, but it ended up fitting pretty well.

The song was recorded by me in the same month, written in July, and was featured on my 3rd LP ‘Between the Worlds’. The original edit of the video was featured in the Ayd & Jase comedy Sci-Fi film ‘The Visitation’ and was also broadcast on ITV’s ‘Freescreen’ programme in 1992 along with my other song and cinefilm ‘Pipedream’ recorded and filmed at the same time. My band Dreamweaver re-recorded the song (with a faster tempo) in 1997 as the title track of our debut CD EP and it remains one of my favourite songs.

Hope you like it. You can see another song from the film here and once the main film is edited you’ll be able to see that in all its glory too.

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