The School of George

I’ve tweeted this before but it deserves more than a 140 character mention. I totally agree with Caroline Brimmer – the Programme Director of The School of Life – on her pedalling thoughts. She writes…

‘The saddle is one of the very best places from which to contemplate the world. As Robert M Pirsig, author of the infamous Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, said “In a car you’re always in a compartment…You’re a passive observer. On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re in the scene, not just watching it. The sense of presence is overwhelming.”’

It’s not surprising then that The School of Life offers a Philosophy by Bicycle day trip. 20 miles to cover the whole of Western philosophy. That’s speedy Sartre, rapid Rousseau and hasty Hobbes!

On my recent holiday – 2 wheels, trois belles, 230 miles – there was a lot of time for philosophical contemplation between crepe breaks, chain fixing pit stops (I only properly learnt how to use the gears of the bike I borrowed on our 4th day!) and cursing those unexpected Norman ‘monts’ and that ferocious coastal ‘vent’.


I found myself thinking about the conversations I’ve had with friends recently about their own informal rules/ quotes/ film and song lyrics/ sayings that they live by. Typically, in that initially surprising but probably subliminally determined way, at the same time as talking about it I came across articles in the media (a supplement about how to be happy in the Saturday Guardian), was recommended books on the topic (like Jonathan Haidt’s The Happiness Hypothesis) and was introduced to organisations including The School of Life with its ‘ideas to live by’. I’m intrigued by their MOT of your mind service although I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to test it out!

With these timely prompts, recent musings over my freelance offering, and mile upon mile of thoughts from the saddle I’ve come up with a few rules of my own. I’m not sure if they make me cry or cringe, but they’re an articulation of my values/ beliefs/ motivations/ whatever, that I’ve illustrated by some of my favourite quotes/ sayings/ advice.

So, here goes…

1. Give it a go

The hardest part of doing anything is making the decision to do it — My brother

He who dares wins — Del Boy Trotter

2. Be an individual

In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different — Coco Chanel

3. Keep calm and carry on

Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose – Eckhart Tolle

Never worry about anything you can’t change — Michael Caine

4. Live it and love it

Dance like no-one is watching — Mark Twain

5. What’s the rush?

Wisely and slow, they stumble that run fast — Friar Lawrence, Romeo and Juliet

6.  Trust your instinct

Instinct is there for a reason — My friend Emily

There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so — Shakespeare

7. Believe

Influence can be made, inspiration and passion can’t — Brains on Fire

Lloyd: The least you could do is level with me. What are my chances?

Mary: Not good.

Lloyd: You mean like one out of a hundred?

Mary: More like one out of a million.

Lloyd: So you’re tellin’ me there’s a chance.

Jim Carrey (Lloyd) in Dumb and Dumber

8. Less is more

Listen more than you speak, read more than you write — Anon

9. Great just isn’t good enough

What’s the point of competing if you’re not out to win — My other brother

10 Keep it short (and simple)

Brevity is the sister of talent — Anton Chekhov (via Andy Maslen, copy writer)

And if I’m allowed an 11th, it’d be two wheels good.


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4 Responses to “The School of George”

  1. Andy Maslen Says:

    I’m flattered to be included on your list. But possibly under false pretences! I did say that in a book but it’s a quote from Anton Chekhov.

  2. georginacombes Says:

    Oops, thanks for alerting me. I’ll amend now.

  3. Who am I? A blog about identity « Says:

    […] And picking my favourite quotes which I’ve talked about in a recent post. […]

  4. Belles, bikes, bridges « Says:

    […] bikes, bridges By georginacombes This morning at the crack o’ dawn, the Normandy touring trio were reunited for an early morning ride through London. The challenge was to snake our way down the […]

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