Following on from the stories about the terrorist attack yesterday at the Houses of Parliament, the BBC has a piece on the people from St Thomas’s Hospital (literally just over the bridge from the Houses of Parliament) who, on hearing about the incidents, ran to help. And not just doctors and nurses – I feel a huge dollop of recognition should also be due to Tobias Ellwood, the MP for Bournemouth East, who went to help resuscitate the stabbed policeman.
I don’t care what the hell else is said about those events, but those people are heroes. Stories like these always remind me of the speech from the West Wing TV Series, (The episode “20 Hours In America, Part II“, if you want to look it up) in the aftermath of another (fictional) terrorist attack …
… and two others are in critical condition, when, after having heard the explosion from their practice facility, they ran into the fire to help get people out. Ran into the fire. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels tonight.
Gets me every damn time, the people who don’t stand and take pictures, who don’t run away, but instead run towards the danger. I’d like to think I’m of a similar ilk – but who really knows, until that time comes?
I wrote a while back about how bad I am at doing nothing – something I hadn’t properly realised before this year.
In a related way, I’ve also found I’m not great at days when the only thing I’ve got planned is in the evening. It’s not too bad during the week, because I’ve done stuff during the day, and then just adding bits in the evenings.
But on weekends, it’s not the same. There’ve been a few days this year where I’ve had afternoon or evening stuff planned, and it’s left me feeling like I’m at a bit of a loss in the mornings, like it’s kind of freeweheeling a bit, not knowing quite what I want to do, or where I want to be.
Honestly, it’s not a feeling I’m overly comfortable with – I like having a plan, and getting on with it. Being in a holding pattern ’til later in the day isn’t something I do well.
I’m more aware of this now, and come 2017, I’ll be making better plans, knowing this about myself. If I’ve got something in the evening, I’ll also do something in a similar area earlier in the day – or just get better at having a half-day.
As it turns out, the entire Festering Season thing hasn’t annoyed me too much this year. Sure, it’s got the standard annoyances and irritations – the same old, same old adverts on TV that you can’t miss for a good couple of months, the inane bollocks that shops do (filling the shelves with tat, blah blah blah) and so on, but that’s all pretty much par for the course.
What’s different, and has been for the last couple of years, is that I have less and less people trying to tell me how I should feel, or how I should be, around the Festering Season. I’m rotten at doing (or feeling) what I “should” do at any given time anyway, but for some reason this Season always exacerbates that, with people telling me I “should” be more festive, or “should” decorate my office, or “should” do a Christmas meal/party with clients, and any number of other things that I should be doing, because ‘everybody else does it’.
So it turns out that really, my enjoyment (or at least tolerance) of the Festering Season is more than a little dependent on (and inversely affected by) the number of people who feel it’s their place to tell me what I should do or feel in that season.
This year, far fewer people have done it, so conversely I’m OK with the season. More or less.
About six weeks ago, I wrote about the changes to my intended savings plans for this year, and how it was affecting things.
Basically, I’d had a plan of how much I wanted to put into my savings account this year, and that hasn’t happened. There’s been a lot of other stuff going on instead, but all the same, it’s been a bit annoying to have not managed that target.
Since then, though, I’ve been adding in to the savings account, and making progress. I won’t get to the original target figure for this year – but putting some in is better than putting none in. So since that first post, I’ve put in the full amounts of a couple of invoices for work I’d done, but also a bit more than 10% of each piece of income has gone straight back out to the savings, so I don’t even really notice it’s gone.
In honesty, that’s what I should’ve been doing all of this year, but I was looking at it from a flawed perspective. (I can’t be bothered to explain that right now, but may do some other time) I’m intending to keep doing the same for the rest of this year, and do the same but with more money next year, and see how we go.
Whenever I’m going somewhere, whether to meet friends, or just for a timed event, I tend to be pretty early. Stupidly early, in some cases – mainly because I just figure “Well, once I’m there, I can find something to do“. At worst, I have a Kindle and a phone, so I’ll always be able to do something with that time.
I don’t expect others to follow the same thing, though – that’s just a world of hurt, because then I’d still be earlier than the expected early time, and it can get stupid. (I have one friend who’s of a similar mind-set, and we ended up being – unconsciously – competitively early for a while, ’til we realised it was just getting dumb)
Sometimes, though, it turns out that there’s a good reason for being early to things. Saturday was one of those times.
I was going in to London for a concert in the evening, and then booked a lunch at Hibiscus as well. My plan was to park up at an Underground station I knew well, Tube into Central London (well, kinda – I still wanted to walk as well), go for lunch, wander around London a bit/lot, get back up to the concert venue, meet up with another friend, go to the gig, and then get back to the car and drive us both home. That plan survived until the first stage…
What I hadn’t realised was that the Northern Line (the only line from the station in question) was shut for the weekend. No trains at all. Of course, London Underground being the useless shitbricks they are, there were no signs at the entrance to the station or car-park, so I’d paid for parking (fortunately only £2 for the day), walked into the station, to be faced with “Nope, no trains”. The useless bell-end outside had no idea how I’d get back from the gig at all – well, he suggested taking no less than four buses, at midnight on Saturday-into-Sunday. So that was no use.
But, I’m well early at this point. So it’s time for a replan. Drive down to the concert venue, find somewhere close-ish to park, and juggle things from there.
And that’s what happened. Drive down (only about four miles, in fairness) and find a side-road with parking. Permits only, but only Monday-Friday. It’s a Saturday, so I’ll go for that. Check the parking meter. Nope, that Mon-Fri only too. Double-check with the online-app for paying, and nope, can’t take any money for that parking, sir.
Then start walking to find where the hell I am – I know I’m closeish, but not exactly where – turn the corner, and oh look, there’s the venue. Literally two minutes, car-to-venue. Wander past to find a bus into central London, oh look, there’s one that’ll do it, hop on, and job done.
That entire re-plan and reorganisation, and I was still at Hibiscus 45 minutes early…
So sometimes there’s a really good reason for being idiotically early to things. If I’d been cutting things fine already, that change would’ve completely chiffed me for the day, and been uber-stressful all the way. As it was, it was still an absolute doddle, and everything went well.
Indeed, it actually made life easier – because coming out of the gig, we were in the car and out of London before we’d probably have even got to the original station…
This week, Channel 4 had a one-off programme called “Life Stripped Bare“, which turned out to be pretty interesting.
It was basically about how people handle having no possessions. All their items, furnishing, clothing – everything – is taken away and put in storage, leaving them with absolutely nothing except the walls of their homes. It was slightly gratuitous, as all the participants had to strip off, leaving them to start the process completely naked. I understand the reasoning for it, but yeah, there seemed to be a lot more focus on that than was strictly necessary.
Each participant (a single woman, a house-share of a man and woman, and another house-share of two men and a woman) was allowed to get back one item a day from storage – although in all three cases, that storage unit was at least half a mile away, so they had to make the effort and journey in order to get those things. In autumn/winter. The first couple of days, where clothing was limited (to say the least) showed off their inventiveness all round – and the single woman in particular, whose first choice was a bolt of material, from which she fashioned a load of things, rather than just one thing.
It was interesting though, seeing what the people valued, what they couldn’t live without, and then what they did once everything was returned. Naturally, with the participants being late-twenties and early-thirties, one of the things they had real problems living without was their phones, and being pretty much permanently connected to the world.
It also made me think about my own attitudes to possessions, what I have, what I value, what I could live without if I chose to. I think a lot of that would come down to semantics, for example whether “books” counts as one possession as a whole, or whether each one is an individual possession.
All told, there’s a lot I could live without if I had to or chose to. I wouldn’t want to be reduced all the way to zero possessions – I don’t think anyone truly would – but I think I probably could handle a significant reduction if I had to.
Anyway, it was an interesting programme, and made for some interesting thoughts – which I may write more about at some point in the future. Or not. We’ll see.
While I was ill last week, it occurred to me – I had a fair amount of time to contemplate things, after all – that really it’s one of the few times where I’m less good at being self-reliant.
Being unwell and alone is, frankly, No Fun at all. I think the only times in the last four-or-more years that I’ve wished I weren’t single, when I’ve thought “It would be nice to have someone” have been when I’ve been ill. Not even to be nursed, or anything pathetic like that, but just someone to be there and vaguely sympathetic.
Hell, I’m not even good at being ill, or being cared for when I am ill. It’s just a shitty time for being on one’s own.
And really, that’s no good reason for a relationship, or for stopping being single, is it?