Nosy died on the 22nd of January 2021 a few months shy of 7 years old. In human years he would have been 120. When first undertaking the promise to look after a pet, the ultimate aspiration is that they live a long and happy life. What you don’t tend to fully appreciate is that the longer your new family member stays with you, the harder it is when the time comes to say goodbye.
It’s been a week and I’m still pretty raw. I feel as though someone has given my very being a violent shaking and I don’t know whether to sit down and try and regather myself or be sick. Just like any other loved one, you give up a part of yourself in looking after them and they in turn give a part back which you welcome graciously into your soul. Once they go they forever take that part with them and you are left feeling incomplete.
Nosy was the one stable thing in my life these past 7 years.
When I left my family, friends and job in England to start a new life in Austria he came with me. In fact he rode shotgun driving from London to Vienna taking the title of the world's fastest chameleon as he held on for dear life in his carry bag as I pushed my car past its limits on the German Autobahn.
He was by my side when my nephew died, and then my father 6 months later. He was there through the break-up between me and my son's mother and the subsequent ugly fight just to be able to continue seeing my son. Nosy was there when I was finally granted full custody of my son and there when Luca came to live with us permanently.
To say he was my friend is an understatement.
Many would not look at a chameleon in the same respects as a furrier pet. Perhaps it’s the inability to cuddle such an animal that some people can not comprehend. In his younger days when cage bound, Nosy would run across the vines across his terrarium to jump onto my hand and climb up my arm the second the cage door opened.
As he got older it became apparent that being confined to a cage wasn’t for him and I adjusted his enclosure so that he could come and go as he pleased and venture out onto potted trees provided for him. Not content with having his own trees, many a time I would open the bedroom door to find him patiently waiting on the floor for me to get up, fully waking me up with a heart attack over the possibility of potentially stepping on him. I would scoop him up and put him back on his tree which he would hastily work his way back down again to crawl to the other side of the room and give me another heart attack when I came back from the kitchen with a cup of tea.
He truly was a social chameleon. I would speak to him about the things going on with my life and he would sit there rolling his eyes, forced to listen. I have a fond memory of my son who having grown up around this interaction, seriously asked him if he would like a coffee, and got upset when he didn’t reply. As my son developed he once curiously looked at me when speaking to Nosy and matter of factly asked me “Daddy do you know that Nosy can’t speak?”
The first thing I would do when I first woke up or when I first came back home was to look for him on his tree, to see if he was okay or determine if I would need to search for him because he decided to go on an adventure in the living room. It usually wouldn’t be long before I found him or I would spot him on his way back crawling to where I was standing as if to say “where the hell have you been, I’ve been out here exploring the cables behind the monitor, it’s really a mess back there, you need to sort it out.”
One time I couldn’t find him for hours and looked in all the usual places to no avail. It wasn’t until I was on my way back to the kitchen to make a tea to try and calm down that I found him fast asleep on the rim of the bin snoozing away having little chameleon dreams. Never thought to look for him in the bin, so he went overlooked for a while.
I still look for him out of habit and am reminded again and again that he is no longer there which breaks my heart every time. To try and ease this we have made a memory tree using his old java tree that he used to climb on and a chameleon lamp my girlfriend bought for our new flat. Every day we print a photo and hang it on the tree and remember him. Sometimes I catch a glimpse from the corner of my eye and think it’s really him, and have the memories of him all around to help console me when the truth sinks in again.
I made the following video so we could reminisce and have him in our thoughts while he was being cremated. I think it captures how amazing he was.
I miss you my boy.
I was inspired from a forest shot from Michael B's last wordless Wednesday and so grabbed my trusty Ricoh and we went out into the wild.
I haven't done a Wordless Wednesday in a while now, and although this could be categorised as one (even though it's not Wednesday) I like to think of it as a sequence of images that tell a story / a storyboard.
The Wordless Wednesdays series that I began, where I unleashed my son onto the world with his camera had so much promise.
However this came to an abrupt stop when scrolling though (with his permission) photos he had taken over a given week. Remember finding *#1 He has no fear* ? I clicked through the sequence
Written FEB 15 2012 #Reblog
Another year passed and I felt it was time to get round to getting my license and ditching the L plates. I took a four-day Direct Access course on a Yamaha XJ6 at Advantage Wimbledon and passed first time. Boom Baby!
First thing I did was take the plates off and throw them in the bin. Stupid move in retrospect, within a couple of days I was pulled over by the police for not displaying L plates. FFS, the system had not been updated and I was being flagged up as a provisional rider. I didn’t have a license on me as I was waiting for the pink to come through the post and the police didn’t believe me. Although it was a great excuse for being late for work.
After all that had resolved itself it was time to find a new toy.
I love spontaneity. The first thing I did was try and get the fastest bike I could think of. The Yamaha R6. I found a tidy second hand R6 for sale and eagerly went down to see it. It was beautiful and I fell in love with it when I took it for a test drive. Compared to my ever so powerful 11bhp Sayuri this thing was like sitting on a lightning bolt, all 118bhp of fury.
Now the thing with spontaneity is that you don’t really think that maybe a young’n who has just passed his test should be looking for a R6 for his first big bike. That’s exactly how the insurance companies viewed it. Nobody would touch me with a barge pole. They only saw two possible outcomes with me having that bike. I’d either crash it or it’d get stolen. I went home deflated, and having to drive home on a CBF125 after playing with an R6 only added to the dejection.
A couple of days of searching and I then found a Kawasaki ER-6N. I thought it looked cool. I saw an ad online for one which was bright yellow and it reminded me of some kind of mutant bee. Alas it was not meant to be. I drove all the way out to have a look at it and someone’s only gone and put a deposit down the day before.
What was going on? Surely getting your first big bike wasn’t meant to be this hard.
Again I sulked back home but this time I drove past a second hand dealer and thought, meh, let’s see what he’s got inside. And there it was; All the other bikes on sale were on display outside the shop. This one was hiding indoors, like a caged animal that needed to be kept away from the rest.
**Honda CB600F Hornet
“ha ha you went to look at a ER-6N, it’s a nice bike but you’d be bored of it within a month” the owner of the bike shop chuckles at me. “Now the Hornet, shit loads of fun and it’s bulletproof”
And oh how he was right.
I can still hear the roar of the engine when he started it up for me. It was a jet black beast, I named it “Bagheera.”
The Hornet really opened my eyes to the world of bikes. The previous rides were merely a means to get to and from a place, the Honda made me find excuses in order to ride.
I remember in my first week of having it and needing to post a letter, which was a 5 minute walk from my house. I drove. But first I needed a stamp, and of course not any stamp would do. I drove 15 miles around London and back to get it, then drove back to the letterbox by my house and posted the letter, missing the postman’s pickup.
**Riding was becoming an addiction.
When was the last time you really grinned ear to ear, like when you were a child? It was like that every time I got on the bike, the perfect way to start and finish a day.
There’s so many memories that I’m grateful for that the Hornet brought along with it;
• Driving along the Thames, the sun reflecting off the river, a beautiful girl nuzzled up behind me.
• Being part of a swarm of thousands of bikes riding down to Hastings on May Day.
• Kitting out the bike with green neon lights and looking like a complete tool.
• Driving around in the snow, learning how to use my feet as sleds.
Out of all of these I think the most memorable had to be my first crash at speed. I still use it today as a reminder when I’m maybe pushing it too hard or doing something stupid. It helps keep me in check!
After about 7 months riding the Hornet I started to get cocky, and that’s probably the most stupid thing you can do on a bike. You need to respect the fact that you are vulnerable on two wheels, despite how good or invincible you think you are. The moment you forget that, the bike will chew you up and spit you out on the road.
I was driving hard in the rain and went into a turn too fast. One minute I’m leaning into the corner with a cocky smile on my face, the next I’m watching my bike skid down the road in slow motion. I lowsided.
I remember skidding down the road and yet clearly thinking to myself “I need to stand up.” Now when you’re skidding at around 50 mph on your arse, you don’t really want to try and stand up. I ended up rolling around like a ragdoll and then the face of my helmet dragged along the concrete finally slowing me down. The sound of the crash at the end of Cool Running’s comes to mind.
Now remember the part about the bike being bulletproof? The bike had £10 worth of damage to it. Thank god for crash mushrooms. Me on the other hand, ruined my leather jacket, my gloves, helmet and oh yea the iphone which was in my back pocket.
I use it every now and then as a coaster for my cup of tea.
I call it a good crash. Nobody got hurt and the bike didn’t really receive any damage. Do you remember your mum giving you a smack when you did something stupid. That was my smack, an incentive to“stop riding like a knob”
...speaking of “Riding like a knob....”
In these trying times keeping your CV up to date is always a good idea. You never know when you might need it to hand. Being a designer you have to also be ready to not only show who you worked for and when, but also what you can actually do. This is where a portfolio or a showreel comes into play.
The issue I have is that I treat my CV and Portfolio as a means for recruitment, a reactionary process that only needs to be actioned when you need a job. I haven't updated my CV or Portfolio since I expatriated from London to Vienna 5 years ago. Like a photograph of the past it is a snapshot of who I was and what I could do.
Someone recently asked to see what it was that I do and I shamefully brought up my work from 5 years ago. I felt like someone who had been busted for Catfishing using a younger, more attractive photo of myself. But in this instance I had more experience and cooler things to show, but couldn’t.
I collected all the things that I have done since moving to Vienna and looked at it as a whole.
If you ever have moments of insecurity and doubts of self-worth I suggest giving it a try. It is like when loosing weight you don't really notice the day to day cumulative increments of weight loss. It is when someone you haven’t seen for a while looks you up and down and says “Holy Sh*t” you've lost a lot of weight, that you really appreciate the hard work you've put in and the journey you’ve taken.
I decided to put some key projects together into a show reel which shows some of the cool stuff I've been fortunate to work on since being in this beautiful country. I am proud of the work that I have done but also able to take note of where I can improve.
Next step is to update my archaic portfolio / website and then try and set up yearly or bi-yearly personal retrospectives to not only see how far I've come over a period of time, but where it is that I can improve.
I slowly pressed the knife through the packing tape and under the lip of the cardboard, ever so careful as to not penetrate too deep. The blade slid through the plastic effortlessly, releasing the two cardboard flaps that had been taped down, springing up like two outstretched arms inviting me to embrace what lie within.
Sandwiched in the box between two blocks of foam lay the packaging for the Freewrite Traveler, it's name emblazoned alongside it's depiction with the accompanying tagline **“The Laptop for Distraction-Free Writing.”
I freed the box from the clutches of the foam buffers and looked it over from all sides as though studying a Rubik’s cube. One of the long edges of the box was inscribed with the sentence “The perfect writing tool for your...” and was followed up with some illustrations of books, movies and newspapers. My finger tapped on the illustration for Blog as the words “Yes it is” escaped through my lips as they formed a smile.
I flipped over the box again in my hands and found a little red button on the side inviting me to push to open. My finger was met with resistance and a childlike disappointment when nothing happened. On the other side I found some camouflaged packaging stickers that needed to be sliced open in order to free the Freewrite. My finger pushed again and the box slowly slid open as I let out a breath of anticipation.
As the small opening grew larger I peered through the gap in the hopes of first laying my eyes on the treasure, resembling Howard Carter peeking through the cracks of Tutankhamun's Tomb. The Freewrite Traveller lay wrapped in a sarcophagus of plastic that I eagerly removed like a tomb raider.
Light traversed the shiny black surface of the case and a glint of light drew my eyes to the silver Freewrite badge. It oozed elegance and class like the enclosure of a grand piano. With a sense of reverence I carefully placed the Traveler, my Traveler, onto the table and opened the clamshell revealing the white keys of a full-sized keyboard with accents of red.
I found the Eink display nestled behind a sheet of protective foam. The combination of the screen and the keyboard simultaneously gave off retro and futuristic vibes, as though I just watched a floating Old-timer Cadillac hover past me.
Before I had a chance to turn the device on, my fingers instinctively found their place on the keys. They involuntarily tapped out “Hello my name is Peter..” as fast as they could before my index fingers rested again on the F and J keys.
The keys felt good. They were quick with a decent amount of travel for a keyboard of it's size. I pressed the red metalic “on” button and my fingers impatiently drummed on the table as the Freewrite Traveler booted for the first time.
And so the journey begins.
Last week it was my son’s Birthday and I was able to continue a tradition that I have stolen from my late Father. Growing up, on the night before my birthday, my Dad would sneakily take my colouring pencils and make my birthday card while I slept. He would draw a character or something I particularly liked on the front and then leave a typically funny Birthday message that only Dads find funny. I have a vivid memory of a custom Sonic the Hedgehog card with a speech bubble saying Happy Birthday.
Now of course this tradition could simply have been born out of necessity. Perhaps one year my Dad simply forgot to buy a card and out of desperation scribbled Sonic the Hedgehog hoping I wouldn’t notice the cheap A4 printer paper.
**Nevertheless it stuck with me.
When it came to his first birthday, trying to create a card with a character was particularly troublesome. His overall hobbies pretty much consisted of eating, pooing and crying. However there was one thing he was infatuated with. The vacuum cleaner. The loud noise, the suction, the retracting cable, the hidden brush compartment… I think he loved the vacuum cleaner more than me.
Around this time my son was infatuated with water, in fact he still is today. He would happily sit in the kitchen sink and turn the tap off and on, and off and on again. God help our water bill. Like a mad scientist he filled up bottles, cups and tupperware till the frothy water spilled over, unknowingly re-enacting Pompei engulfing any unfortunate cutlery that lay it’s path.
For this card I chose to immortalise the running tap spilling over the number 2. When I look back at this drawing I regret not spending more time on it. For his second birthday I tried my hand at baking a cake. A chocolatey slab of goodness. The first (and subsequent last cake to date) that I have made. All the love went into the cake leaving only scraps of affection for the card, which was made hurriedly and last minute.
His third birthday was a little easier to accomplish. By this time he was obsessed with Peppa Pig. Growing up bilingual, finding a children’s program which could be found in both English and German was really a blessing. Regardless of what language he is watching it in, to watch him belly laugh when Grandma Pig screams after being woken up by the kids early Christmas morning is something to behold.
Accompanying the number 3 are two ice creams. What kid does not love ice cream? However, as he is coming from a patchwork family, it’s not always clear who has given him ice cream already and when. Top that off with differing levels of discipline and you really have an ice cream monster on your hands. I’m talking full meltdown because someone refused to give him ice cream for breakfast.. that someone being me. “How can I be the bad guy for not giving you ice cream at 7 in the morning?”
**When my son turned 4 came the time that I broke the Birthday card run and was unable to make a card in time. In this period of my life I was one month in looking after him solely and I just had to take the “L.” As the saying goes, choose your battles wisely. I chose not to add another straw to the camels back and promised I would double the effort the next year.
Which brings us to...
****Birthday No 5
****There were too many things to add to this card! So much so that I worked till 4 in the morning on the eve on his birthday, knowing that his excited little self would be up early and hunting for presents (which was 5am should you want to know.) It included characters from Helpsters and Fraggles from the Seasame Street workshop, Ahhh breathe in the wholesome goodness. I threw in a drawing of Duggee and two members of the boyband BTS (see this blog for more) oh and Ryan, from Ryan’s world.
If you are running around in the morning trying to get breakfast on, whilst simultaneously trying to put out clean clothes for your kid and yourself whilst trying to put dirty dishes in the dishwasher with your remaining feet. Do not give into temptation and put on Ryan’s World to give yourself a little space. All it does is give them inspiration for a billion more toys that they don’t need and the sudden urge to pie you in the face.
Seeing the wonder on his face when he saw his card for the first time made the lack of sleep worthwhile, and only strengthened my resolve to keep this up as long as I can.
It was April of 2018 and I was just beginning to crawl out of another dark and stressful chapter in my life. Like a newly emerged butterfly looking to dry its wings, I sought out any and all forms of light to help spread my wings and help me fly again.
A message from an English film maker popped up on the British Expat community in Vienna. He was urgently reaching out to try and find film extras to play United Nations security guards for his upcoming film City of Spies. I just happened to still have security clearance for the United Nations Office in Vienna after I took a side job assassinating King T'Chaka secretly known as the Black Panther, so I was very familiar with their security and thought I could bring a sense of realism to the part.
The position was non paid just your name in the credits, perhaps a little clout. Sold!
I reached out to him on Facebook
And just like that I was going to be in a movie...
Waking up on filming day I had a spring in my step as though someone had left Stevie Wonder’s “Once in my life” on repeat in the depths of my mind. I stood in front of my wardrobe contemplating the days attire. All the security guard parts had been taken so I would be playing the fabled “Man in Background.”
Slightly over thinking things, I pondered just what exactly does the man in the background choose to wear? On the one hand he is there to go unnoticed, to blend into the background, but on the other he is the butter to the baking tray of the whole scene, allowing the leading actress' performance to rise to the occasion without get stuck. To not get stuck.. Teflon
I trotted over to the kitchen and rummaged under the counter for a frying pan. Smooth matt black surface with a red teflon stamp in the center. Black and Red !
As I donned my black shirt with red lined collar, I reminisced over the only ever time I have acted in front of a camera, when I interrogated an A.I. Drug smuggling suspect who had been caught trying to smuggle kilos of imaginary Heroin.
2017 All Rights Reserved - LAW-TRAIN
Like Keyser Söze she too had limped her way to freedom and become just another figment of my imagination.
Arriving at the film site, I found the director Phil Moran sitting at a kitchen table going through emails, I said my hellos and joined him at the table. I could have been sitting in someone’s home, this was an ordinary everyday kitchen, where was the set? I looked around and tucked away in the corner were a pair of heavyset industrial doors. What magic lay within?
As the time passed more actors arrived and found their way over to the table. I felt a sense of comradery between the actors making me feel somewhat like an imposter, as they treated me as one of their own. Everyone was really nice and relaxed.
[City of Spies](https://www.facebook.com/cityofspiesfilm/)
We ran through what it was that we were filming and what needed to be done. In this scene Kindra the leading actress was escaping the United Nations after getting up to no good and fled via the security entrance. It was our job as extras to populate the security entrance and go about our business getting into the United Nations. We would then react to someone fleeing from inside like she had let off a cherry bomb in one of the toilets.
The director then left the room through those mysterious doors and began to prep the scene for filming. He would periodically come back into the kitchen and collect a few more actors then disappear with them. As if being picked last for a team I began to feel a little left out as more and more actors left the kitchen. My imagination ran wild as I envisioned what was going on beyond those doors.
As mentioned previously I have experience going through security at the United Nations (think TSA airport security without the chip on their shoulder) but knowing what it’s really like seemed to make the anticipation worse. Like a child peeking through a hole in a Christmas present, you know whats inside but that doesn’t hold back the pre-excitement of actually opening it up and experiencing it.
When I was called, I stood up and headed towards my destiny. It felt like walking to the ring before a fight, with people giving me head nods which I returned whilst simultaneously trying to compose myself mentally. Emerging through those doors was akin to the technicolour revelation as Dorothy stepped through her front door into OZ.
I now saw the magic and was now part of it.
The sparce scene was setup to come to fruition through the angle of the lens. To us, what seemed like intelligently positioned cardboard and styrofoam boxes held together with duct tape became a fully functional security gate on screen. For someone not in the theatre or film business it was truly magical to see these props take on a different life from another angle.
[City of Spies](https://www.facebook.com/cityofspiesfilm/)
I was asked to do two scenes.
First scene I had to reveal my skill and passion as “man in background number 3.” I took that role seriously and queued up like never before. I mustered all my experience as an English man and put it into that role, looking as though everything is fine on the outside, politely calm and composed, but inside I am screaming with impatience ! In my scene I twiddle my imaginary security pass between my fingers, put it into the machine and walked through the metal detectors. For a moment I even thought to myself “I hope my belt doesn’t set off the metal detectors” then nodded a sigh of relief when I remembered that they were in fact made of cardboard. Who knew such incredible method acting pulsed through my veins.
My second scene I was tasked for the role of “man who gets bumped into by leading actress.” I was to be first in line for the ID machines when Kindra makes her escape, subsequently body checking me on her way out of the building, leaving me confused and rather annoyed that not only do I have to put up with waiting in-line but now people are bumping into me.
[City of Spies](https://www.facebook.com/cityofspiesfilm/)
For this scene I had to fight the urge not to tackle the star of the movie. My years of playing rugby and experience chasing shop lifters whilst working at WHSmith Oxford Street, habitualised me into grabbing people if they tried to run past me so close. Not only that but I wasn’t allowed to do anything about it. I channeled my inner stiff upper lip and took the hits.
After more than a few practise runs being abused by Scarlett Sheriff who plays Kindra, it started to feel she was enjoying it a little too much adding some venom into her shoulder barges. Perhaps she was using the opportunity to unleash a little stress. At one point I wanted to raise my hand and tattle to the director like a school child, “Sir, she’s hitting me!”
We started to joke around and wondered if we could add a little flair to being bumped into. Perhaps we could ad-lib a Bourne Identity close combat scene, or even recreate the famous lift from Dirty Dancing.
[City of Spies](https://www.facebook.com/cityofspiesfilm/)
In the final take after being bumped into, I simply re-enacted my everyday experience in Vienna when people choose to stand directly in front of me when I am obviously trying to choose a sandwich at the sandwich bar of a supermarket. “Do you not see me standing here?”
Overall I had fun being an extra for a day. It was a nice insight into a world that I have not known before. I was also invited to the wrap-up party and I got a little taste of the glitz and glamour that comes along with making a film, minus the red carpet.
Unfortunately for the film, like most films that were scheduled to be released this year, Coronavirus has had a huge impact. The producers have had to find alternative ways to get this movie seen and enjoyed while the pandemic keeps us away from our beloved cinemas.
Good news for you however, you have the ability to watch the film for free from the comfort of your own home.
The film premieres for FREE at 8pm Central European time, November 3, 2020.
That’s right ! On US election day. What better way to put you in the mood for whether Donald Trump will become leader of the free world again, then by watching me get bumped into, or better still, not even making the film cut and thinking of me sitting at home crying “WHY DIDN’T I MAKE THE CUT!”
Here is the trailer to whet your appetite
You can request your free tickets to see “Man who got bumped into” Peter Ray Hicks over at
Streamed online Nov 3, 2020
**8pm – Vienna
**7pm – London
**3pm – New York
**12pm – San Francisco
I would like to thank Philip Moran and all the City of Spies team for letting me be a part of your world, and giving me the opportunity to share my experience with my son, family and friends.
I made the cut, below you will find my award winning performance