Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Do You Think You Could Help Me?

I was scuttling along Leith’s Great Junction Street last Saturday afternoon and was passing Tesco’s Express store when an elderly gentleman approached me.

‘Excuse me, son’ he said with a voice like gravel. He waved his walking stick at me as an attempt to ensure I wouldn’t ignore him.

‘Yes, sir’ I replied.

‘I’m sorry to have to ask you this’ the auld fella went on, ‘but could I ask you if you have any spare cash?’

Now this is far from the first time I have been accosted in the street and asked for money. Usually by members of my family....But something about this fella intrigued me and before I could ask why, he furthered his request.

‘I’m no’ gonnae lie to you son. I want to go in there and buy some tobacco’ he said, pointing to said Tesco’s.

I have to say I was immediately taken by his honesty. So many people have stopped me in the street and regaled me with some story about needing money for their bus fare to get them to the hospital to see their dying wife/sister/mother/husband/brother/long lost second cousin twice removed. But not this chap. He wasn’t attempting to hide the fact he wanted some fags.

‘I’m sorry to bother you’ he went on. ‘I had a stroke recently and having a puff is the only thing that keeps me going’

I asked how much he needed. ‘£3 should cover’ it he replied.

‘I’ll tell you what’ I ventured. ‘I won’t give you £3 – but I’ll give you £1. It’s a bit ironic you’ve asked me to help you buy tobacco – because my profession is to try and help people stop smoking’

‘Aye,?’ questioned the auld fella, ‘whit de ye mean?’

I then explained how hypnotherapy is used to help people stop smoking and gave him my business card for my hypnotherapy practice at

‘Gee!’ he exclaimed, ‘that’s brilliant. Dae ye think ye could help me?’

‘I can certainly try’ I replied.

‘Can ye help ma sister? She’s been trying tae lose weight for years but nothing helps'

I gave him another business card. ‘Tell her to give me a call’ I said.

The old man thanked me, shook my hand and headed into Tesco's. 

Now I don't know if I'll hear from him or his sister. But if you want to stop smoking, lose weight, want help with self-confidence issues, or have a fear of spiders, flying or any other phobia, give me a call on 0752 135 3787 (24 hours) or email me at mike.smith@mgs-hypnotherapy-services.co.uk 

Together, we can change your life for the better.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Really Need to Lose Weight?

How many times have you uttered these words ‘I really need to lose weight’?  And how many times have you said, ‘I’ll do it after such-and-such or I’ll wait until after the wedding/holiday/Christmas etc etc’ - but still don’t do anything meaningful about it?

If you've ever tried and failed to lose weight before then you probably know just how frustrating it can be - especially when feelings like stress, low self-esteem and boredom are also issues and can act as an all-too convenient excuse.
There’s a cycle people can fall into e.g. overeating, feeling guilty and dieting again. Then celebrating a small weight loss by ‘treating’ oneself to a cake or chocolate bar and the whole process is triggered again.  Does this sound familiar? Known as 'yo-yo dieting' this cycle can make weight loss difficult to sustain.

So, I hear you ask, how can hypnotherapy succeed where all other methods have failed? A good question, I grant you. However, part of the answer is simple really. While diets, nutrition plans and targets focus on what you eat and how often, hypnotherapy changes how you feel about what you eat. Oh yeah, I hear you ask, perhaps cynically? Well, I can understand your cynicism but read on

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Open For Business

About two years ago I was off work as a result of a stress-related condition. It was a difficult time but it made me take stock of my life. As part of my treatment I attended counselling. This seemed such a power of good that I decided I would change my career from the sometimes bureaucratic world of human resources and train to become a counsellor myself. 
The first year of the three year course was hypnotherapy. Although, like many people, I was aware of hypnotists I considered them as stage acts, putting people to sleep and getting them to do things they weren't aware of. Hypnotherapy isn't like that.
Hypnotherapy is a skilled verbal communication, used during hypnosis, which helps direct a client’s imagination in such a way as to bring about intended alterations in sensations, perceptions, feelings, thoughts and behaviour. In a typical hypnotherapy session, the hypnotherapist will ask the client questions about previous medical history, general health and lifestyle. The hypnotherapist and client will decide together on the changes or goals that are desired. 
Hypnotherapy can be applied to a wide range of medical, dental and psychological problems. Areas of application include anxiety and stress conditions, weight control, addictive behaviours (including smoking, alcohol and substance misuse) and confidence issues. It is also used to enhance performance in several areas such as sport and public speaking. 
With the benefits of clinical hypnosis becoming clearer, it's no wonder there has been a massive growth in hypnotherapy training during the last ten years. 
There's no doubt it is fast becoming a popular career choice for those who want to work in a role where they help others to stop smoking, lose weight, overcome fears and phobias and more.
I completed my hypnotherapy qualification at the end of 2015 and set up my private practice in Edinburgh in 2016. Having now received my Diploma in Hypnotherapy (see above) I'm now open for business. 
My new venture is called MGS. This stands for Mind Generating Success – and MGS is also my initials (see what I did there?) My aim to be one of the leading hypnotherapists and counsellors in east central Scotland with a reputation for being professional, trustworthy, reliable and accessible.  
Now I'm a fully qualified hypnotherapist I am a member of the National Hypnotherapy Society.  
So, if you are someone who sets New Year resolutions every year to either lose some weight, stop smoking, cut back on alcohol – but find your willpower evaporates after a few weeks – or have a phobia or an issue you feel is holding you back, contact me to arrange an appointment.
Mike Smith Cert Hyp CS. 
tel: 0752 135 3787 (24 hours)
email: mike.smith@mgs-hypnotherapy-services.co.uk  
twitter: @smith_mgs 07521353787

After an initial consultation, we can decide together the best way to enable you to achieve your goals. Bookings being taken now - book early to avoid disappointment!

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Tom Jones The Musical

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, my mother sought an escape from the travails of bringing up her young son on her own by switching on the Dansette record player and putting on the long-playing records (ask your parents, young ‘uns) of artists such as Engelbert Humperdink and Tom Jones. I grew up with the hit songs of these two crooners so when I heard that Tom Jones – The Musical was coming to Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre then I jumped at the chance to go and see it.

Now, to be clear, the show doesn’t actually feature Tom Jones himself but it does feature some of the great man’s early songs as the story of one the greatest singers Wales has produced is told. Starting out as Tommy Scott with his band The Senators, the lads wowed the dance halls and working men’s clubs in South Wales. They then had a fall-out with their London based producer Joe Meek before another London impresario, Gordon Mills, took them under his wing.

Eventually, a record deal with Decca was signed and….well, you know the rest. The show was decent entertainment although I felt the first half was rather overly-focused on Tom’s relationship with his childhood sweetheart Linda Trenchard (splendidly played by Elin Phillips) and the fact they were expectant parents at just 16 years of age. At times it seemed easy to forget this was a musical.

After a short break, the second half featured more music with early numbers such as Ghost Riders in the Sky, Spanish Harlem and Lucille. Tom and the lads pitch up in a dingy London flat courtesy of Gordon Mills and the story is then of the struggle to make it big.

Tom Jones – The Musical is enjoyable enough although the quandary was obvious to this observer. By its definition, the show clearly attracts devotees of the great man. As such, they will already be well-versed in his early career and his struggle to make it to the big time. What fans may have wished for was more of the big songs which made his name. The story ended with Delilah although the excellent Kit Orton, who did a fabulous job performing as Jones, treated the fans to a few post Delilah songs for which the Welsh wonder is renowned.

A decent evening’s entertainment although if you’re expecting a compilation of Tom Jones’ greatest hits you may be disappointed.

Tom Jones The Musical is at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre until Saturday 19 March. Ticket information here

Thursday, 10 March 2016


This Saturday these two blighters will be spending the night at chez Smith. Strict rules will be in place. Bed at 7.00pm. Lights out at 7.15pm. No noise. No sweeties. Strict discipline will be in force. There'll be no getting round me. Oh, no...

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Modern Day Nursery Rhymes

'Stolen' from Facebook but it made me smile.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Style, Bottle - Neilson's the Man

Hearts Head Coach Robbie Neilson with Jack - Oct. 2015

In adjoining countries there are, on the face of it, two similar scenarios.
In one country there is a team which is five points clear at the top of their league and enjoying the multitude of kudos deservedly going in their direction. They have been described as a breath of fresh air and history may well be in the making.
In the other country there is a team which is four points clear at the top of their league. However, they are enduring much criticism and are experiencing plenty of flak being thrown in their direction.
Leicester City of England and Celtic of Scotland may well be competing in next season’s Uefa Champions League but the circumstances of both clubs could hardly be more different. While City are enjoying being in the limelight and have lit up the top flight of English football, north of the border Celtic are perceived as toiling with a manager who has reportedly lost the respect of some of his players and who many are suggesting will be replaced in the summer. The difference can be put down to levels of expectation. No one in their wildest dreams – apart from the Foxes fan who stuck a fiver on his team winning the Barclaycards FA Premiership this season – expected Leicester City to be top of the league and heading to the Uefa Champions League at this stage of the season. Conversely, there were few in Scotland who thought Celtic would be just four points ahead at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership going into the spring and looking anything but convincing champions. However, the expectations of the Celtic support are that their team should be coasting to all the silverware, certainly domestically – and anything falling short of this is deemed as failure.
Expectations can be a heavy burden. A club as huge as Celtic has to contend with this every year. But even other clubs have a level of expectation which can be ridiculously high at times and leave realism a frustrated and bewildered on-looker. Tynecastle on Saturday was a graphic illustration of this.
Two years ago Hearts were not only facing relegation from the top flight of Scottish football but the horrific prospect of liquidation as the Vladimir Romanov era drew to a sorry close. Then Ann Budge and the Foundation of Hearts stepped in on a white charger and rescued a Scottish football institution from the abyss. Former Hearts players Craig Levein and Robbie Neilson were given the task of restructuring the football club and within a year had taken Hearts back to the Premiership in convincing fashion, leaving the arguably more fancied Rangers and Hibernian in their wake. Ah, said the cynics, the real test for Hearts would be how they fared in the cut-throat Premiership where every mistake would be punished and one-sided games such as the 10-0 romp against hapless Cowdenbeath would be a million miles away.
Less than a year since running away with the Championship, Hearts have already achieved what many supporters believed would be a realistic target – a top six finish in the Premiership with no fears of relegation. Not only that but the Maroons sit pretty in third place and are looking more than likely to qualify for next season’s Europa League, albeit the qualifying stages, a fate which greets every Scottish club given the performances of Scots in Europe in recent years.
There was, admittedly, disappointment in the domestic cup competitions. Defeat at home in the League Cup by league champions Celtic was hardly a shock, disappointing though it was. The one that sticks in the throat of many Hearts supporters, however, was the Scottish Cup defeat by Hibernian – particularly after throwing away a two goal lead in the first tie at Tynecastle which necessitated a replay at Easter Road. And we all know what happened there.
It was this defeat which proved too much for some supporters and, on Saturday just as the team kicked off against Partick Thistle, a light aircraft flew over Tynecastle with a banner declaring No Style, No Bottle, Neilson Out.
It was an incident that provoked much booing among thousands of disbelieving Hearts supporters as well it might. Head Coach Robbie Neilson has his critics – as most managers do – but to call for the hero of Hearts 2006 Scottish Cup winning team (who can forget that tackle against Gretna’s David Graham which prevented a certain goal) and the man who has transformed Hearts from also-rans to one of the best sides in the country is, quite frankly, ridiculous.
I’ve been a Hearts supporter for nearly 50 years. Jambos of my generation have experienced more highs and lows than a hyper-active lift operator. We’ve been angry – remember the journey from the Scottish Cup final of 1976 to relegation a year later? We’ve been very angry – try as we might, who could forget Hearts losing at home to East Stirlingshire and Forfar Athletic in season 1981/82? We have felt despair more than most – we’re approaching the 30th anniversary of losing the league at Dens Park in the last eight minutes of season 1985/86 after going unbeaten for eight months. Yet these heartaches have made the good times all the sweeter. The three Scottish Cup triumphs of 1998, 2006 and the Edinburgh derby to top all Edinburgh derbies of 2012 are occasions Hearts supporters will never forget. I had waited three decades to see Hearts win anything of any note and when Stephane Adam score Hearts second goal in the 1998 Scottish Cup final which secured victory over Rangers, I was too numb with disbelief to let thirty years of hurt break down the emotional barriers.
European victories over Bayern Munich and Bordeaux (I’ll skip the bit which relates these teams turned around a first leg deficit) and countless victories over Hibernian in the last 33 years – some of which have turned the likes of Wayne Foster and Rudi Skacel into Gorgie folk heroes – are part of the story of following Hearts. You can’t go wrong, the song goes but we all know that’s far from the case.
Things certainly went wrong in the Scottish Cup replay at Easter Road three weeks ago. But even Hibernian have to win an Edinburgh derby now and again. Some cite Robbie Neilson’s record as a manager against Hibs as the reason Hearts ‘don’t have the bottle’. How soon they forget Hearts finished 21 points ahead of Hibs in the Championship last season.
We live in a democracy and for that we should be grateful. Everyone is entitled to their opinion provided it’s reasonable and isn’t offensive. Those behind the plane stunt at Tynecastle on Saturday were making their feelings known – even if these feelings are against what the majority of Hearts supporters feel about their club right now. From the depths of despair, the ridicule of the Vladimir Romanov era and the very real threat of the death of their club – to a return to the Premiership, sitting pretty in third place and the almost certain prospect of European football back at Tynecastle next season. Not only that but under the astute and excellent stewardship of Ann Budge, respectability and integrity has returned to Gorgie (plane stunts notwithstanding)
Back in season 1957/58, Hearts record-breaking league championship winning side lost only one league game all season and won the league by 13 points, scoring an astonishing 132 league goals, a record unlikely to be beaten. However, they were knocked out of the Scottish Cup at Tynecastle by Hibernian. I suspect no one was inclined then to fly over Tynecastle with a banner declaring ‘Walker Out’…
Hearts are beating strong again thanks to Mrs Budge, Craig Levein and, yes, Robbie Neilson. Hearts remain a work in progress and, therefore, of course mistakes will be made. But Hearts are also back because of the financial dedication and passion of their loyal supporters.
I hope Leicester City do go on to prove the doubters wrong and life the FA Premiership. The comparisons of their season to Hearts ultimately heart-breaking campaign of season 1985/86 are obvious. If the Foxes don’t win the league I’m pretty sure their vociferous supporters will still be grateful for what has been a marvellous season.
Great expectations bring their own burden. Something Robbie Neilson – a former Leicester City player – is beginning to find out. However, ‘The Tackle’ can rest assured the majority of the Hearts support are grateful for what he and his players have achieved in such a short space of time.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Happy Birthday, Max

This little fella is 2 years old today. He's a wee smasher - and his mother scrubs up not too badly either...