Back in March, I wrote about my starting to get back into archery after way too long – it’d been a decade or more since I last went, and this year I found a local(ish) club and went through their ‘beginners’ process (for insurance purposes etc.) before getting my bow checked over and slightly updated. In a spectacularly piss-awful piece of timing, I got that done on the same day that lockdown was announced. Bugger.
Fortunately, the club has its own field, so it’s been possible to use it during the lockdown. I had to sort out a first induction meeting (to establish that I knew their rules and so on) and get my membership card, and from there I’ve been able to go on a regular basis.
So far, I’ve been for eleven sessions, and enjoyed pretty much all of them – last week’s one was less good, but that was just weather and environment being a bastard, plus a healthy dose of hubris from having had a really good session the week before, and it all just clustered up into a shitfest.
As it turns out, it seems I’m generally OK at the whole thing. I’ve been taking my time, building up my strength and stamina through the sessions, rather than aiming to be super-competitive or anything.
The thing for me is that I’m good enough. As with a lot of things, I find I don’t have the obsessive side of things, so I lack that desire to do everything exactly the same way, that push for perfection and rigid routine. Indeed, the people who are like that bore and annoy me. I’m doing this primarily for fun – I like the challenge of getting things right and doing well – and it’s another way of building up my strength and stamina, which is fine with me. But no, I don’t think I’ll ever be at the high end of the club’s score table and so on, because I get to the point of “That’ll do”, and it’s enough for me.
But I’ll keep on going, and see how things go.
In an ongoing thread, there are times where I realise I really am a silly sod. This is another of those things.
A fair while back, the Cowboy Junkies (one of my all-time favourite bands) announced they were coming to the UK. It had been a fair while since they’d been here last, and even better, it was happening the weekend after my birthday. However, that was also the end of the week I was already booked up to spend in Northumberland, which was a Friday to Friday booking. And they were playing Manchester on the Saturday, and London on the Sunday.
So I figured what the hell, it’ll be a weekend, and booked tickets for both Manchester and London. Well I was up in the area anyway, and the London one was billed as being different to the Manchester one (although that has since changed). So why not? (Other than mileage, of course) I’d drive over from Northumberland to Manchester on the Friday, stay in a hotel overnight, do the gig on the Saturday night, and then drive home afterwards. Easy.
And then the plan changed a bit. When I saw the play Queen Margaret in Manchester, I realised how painless the journey was by train. So instead I figured I could drive home from Northumberland on the Friday – allowing me to get laundry and so on done in the evening and so on. Then on the Saturday I could get the train up, have lunch somewhere new and fancy that had grabbed my attention, then walk down to the hotel, check-in, drop off bag etc., go to the gig, stay overnight on Saturday, train home on Sunday morning, then down to London for Sunday night.
Yes, I’m an idiot, and an absolute loon. But I cut my mileage by taking the train, and improved my own safety by not driving home from Manchester late on a Saturday night. So that, at least, was sensible…
One thing I hate (I know, one of the many) is being late for stuff – so I’m pretty much always on time.
Actually, that’s a lie. I’m always early – sometimes by stupid degrees. I don’t mind being early, I’m happy with waiting once I know I’m where I’m supposed to be, and I’ve always got a book or my phone with me, so I can be doing stuff once I’m there.
Even with the conference I was at a couple of weeks ago, I was daftly early. I came into London, and then walked down from Euston to Westminster, and still had an hour-ish to kill before we were let in. But both days were pleasant days, so I didn’t mind the walk, nor sitting outside and reading. Yes sure, I could’ve left an hour later and still been on time, but in my experience, then there’d have been delays, things would’ve gone tits-up, and I’d have been stressed about it.
If I’m early, I don’t get stressed – it’s more just about being where I’m expected to be, and from there, *shrug*.
I don’t expect anyone else to do it – although I have previously been in situations where we ended up being competitively early (if two people are pathologically early for stuff, and one knows the other gets there first each time, they want to be there before, and it all just escalates until it gets silly) and while I appreciate it if the people I’m meeting are on time, it doesn’t bother me if they’re not.
My earliness doesn’t force itself on others, and really I don’t mind even if those people are late (within reason – being chronically late all the time will annoy me, for example) – it’s more about “Well, I’m where I need to be” and that’s it.
There was going to be a point to this – but I’ve forgotten it. Hey Ho.
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.
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…