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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

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Location: Bracknell Towers

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Fear and self-loathing in Liverpool

I have to go out tomorrow. I have a long-standing professional commitment which I really don't want to break. But there's a problem. A big one. Heavy snow is forecast. If I have checked the BBC weather forecast once today, I've checked it a dozen times. And it hasn't budged an inch. Heavy snow all across the region. Possibly interspersed with light snow. Maybe. Snow, anyway. They're pretty definite about the snow.

I am terrified of snow. Paralysed with fear. (Well, not of the snow itself, obviously. Snow is white and fluffy and innocent. Hardly the stuff of nightmares.) No, what scares me is that the ground will be slippery and I might fall. And hurt myself. More. And worse.

"But, Editor!", I hear you cry, "you have a (frankly rather dodgy) IT set-up at home as part of your reasonable adjustment. You won't need to go out: surely you can work at home?".

Er, yes. Ordinarily. But I'm actually on leave tomorrow. My professional commitment isn't connected with the day job. It's Something Else Entirely. I have committed myself to sit on an interview panel for a different organisation with which I'm involved on a voluntary basis. And I've had to let them down so many times before that, frankly, if I have to do so again tomorrow, I'll feel that I have no option but to resign.

Remember what Westley, when he's still disguised as the Dread Pirate Roberts, says to Inigo Montoya when he's bested him at sword fighting? "Get used to disappointment." And I have. Trust me, I am used to disappointment. I've lost count of the things I've missed because I've been in too much pain, or too ill, to go. I spent an entire day queueing on the phone to get front row seats to see Patrick Stewart at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, and I couldn't go because the doctors couldn't work out what was preventing my blood sugar levels from balancing. I missed Paterson Joseph's Othello at the Royal Exchange. After six months of agonising pain, I missed Adam Hills at the Neptune because I'd picked up a sodding stomach bug the day before. It sucks at the time, but I've become very skilled at rationalising these things, and convincing myself - in the teeth of a mass of wholly contradictory evidence - that it was all for the best, and that I hadn't really wanted to go anyway.

But things are a bit different when other people are involved. If I miss something I wanted to do, well, it's just tough. Life's like that for ouchy crips, and there's no point being bitter and twisted about it. But if I miss something I was doing for other people, well, that I can't rationalise away. I probably should be able to, and it's probably a Great Failing in me that I can't, but I can't. The bottom line is, with the best will in the world, I'm just not reliable. Hell, I wouldn't take me on, regardless of how impressed I was by my knowledge and skills. (I would, of course, take on somebody else with exactly the same impairments: but one is always harder on oneself than on others.) I am, frankly, neither use nor bloody ornament. To anyone. And, yes, I am stupid enough to risk my health to avoid confirming my belief that I am neither use nor bloody ornament.

So, what is an Editor to do? Well, I spoke to Pop. Pop was not pleased. He was Stern Pop. He frightened the pants off me (er, in a manner of speaking). He had to, I suppose, because he's got to make me more scared of what he will do if I go out in the snow than I am of the snow in the first place. And, as I think we've already established, I am very scared of going out in the snow. So he'll be phoning tomorrow morning, and I've no doubt that he'll be Stern Pop again if he thinks it's necessary. And I am now, of course, consumed with guilt for having bothered him when he's away on business in Perth. Which, in itself, is more indicative than anything else I've written of just how much of a state I've got myself into over The Snow Issue. As if it matters where Pop is, as long as Pop is somewhere. And has his phone with him.

So, that's it. There's nothing I can do but wait for the morning and see whether the forecasters were right. And pray (in an entirely agnostic way, you understand) that they were wrong.

The Editor


Anonymous Boogaloo Dude said...


[Not that I regard this as in any way being a competition with the estimable Pop, but] if I discover that you have been risking life and limb in inclement conditions simply to prove to yourself something which is amply proven to the rest of us before you ever leave the front door, I shall have to seriously consider my position.

AND FURTHERMORE, if it transpires that you are subsequently confined to barracks for several weeks as a result of such arrant foolhardiness, I shall be minded to withdraw my services completely - and then you'll have to find someone else to get your daily fifth of Bombay Gin and 10 cigarillos from Mr Cohen's off-licence and tobacco emporium.




2:00 am  
Blogger Mary said...

Oh dear. It is horrible having to let someone down at the last moment. But then it's also horrible to find oneself even more incapacitated than usual due to having done something silly and reckless.

Especially when it's "productive" things. I have very little difficulty in saying to friends "I'm not up to going to the cinema tonight", but it's really hard for me to tell someone they'll have to wait for me to sort out their computer.

7:55 pm  

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