Sunday, 19 April 2015

I Solve Most Of My Problems

I was chatting on the phone to a friend (one of my best) this weekend, and she was telling me how she'd failed in a situation she was describing involving the unexpected arrival of a More-Than-Annoying-Person.

"Did you lose it?" I asked.  "Did you run around screaming?  No?  Under the circumstances, you did well not to break the law."

The problem is, we concluded at the end of laughing, that we both routinely set ourselves standards which are not only unattainable, but also unnecessary.

According to Wikipedia, a source I can now (having resolved to lower my standards) consult without shame, perfectionism is a personality trait characterised by a person's striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high performance standards, accompanied by overly critical self-evaluations and .... [yawn].  The next sentence says something about unattainable ideals.  Well stuff that.

"So," I said to my friend, with the conviction unique to hypocrisy, "your standards are far too high.  Lower them.  If, say, your benchmark was in this instance, 'Deal With Annoying Person Whilst Avoiding Criminal Activity', you'd have reached it with, dare I say it, room to spare.  Instead of feeling like a failure, you should be proud of yourself."  She had to agree.  

Taking my own advice, I am spending this evening with a glass of wine, busily lowering my standards all round. 

Friday, 17 April 2015

I Review A Performance

I’ve been to Rome – did I tell you?  It amazed me.  Whilst I was there, I mislaid my duties for a while – it wouldn’t have been a holiday otherwise.

I missed doing several loads of washing, I missed quite a few meetings, and I missed April’s Shrewsbury Poetry @ Eat Up which included one of the few available performances of Standing for a Seat featuring the Triumvirate of Paul Francis, Ian Lakin and Steve Harrison.  So this evening, after a day of meetings at work, and dressed in cleanish clothes, I popped down to Much Wenlock for a showing at the Priory Hall.

Standing for a Seat opens with Steve’s poignant poem in which he recollects ‘the first time’ (that he cast his vote).  He’s right.  It’s a big moment – a coming of age, a rite of passage, a transition into adulthood which only makes sense in the remembering, with the benefit of hindsight.
Next we were teased with the non-appearance of Dave C. before Paul’s satirical tribute to Russell Brand – Russell is a movie star, and we’re his backing band.    The musical theme was made a reality by Ian and his first song, with its lyrical nod to Bob Dylan – Hard times, they are a-changin', was sung in his rich and easy-on-the-ear voice.
What then followed was a well-informed tour in five parts through some familiar and less familiar political history and commentary.  For me, the highlights of the 45 or so minutes of poetry and song included Steve’s vivid imagery – his idea of our ballot paper Xs as penciled kisses hadn't struck me before, and the thought of my folded ballot paper amongst many, poured out like fish to be counted and sorted into species is simply beautiful.  Ian’s songs are lyrical and feature interesting chord transitions for the discerning musical palate.  I particularly enjoyed his anti-London-focus song which recommended: Let’s all move to Birmingham, it’s really quite large, They’re building a John Lewis, there’s no congestion charge.   Paul’s sharp commentary also took me to new places – the real split in politics, he argues, is not between parties, but between those who are daft enough to give a toss, and those who aren't.  The thought of A little touch of Tony at the polls sent a shiver down my spine whilst his Verity poem, delivered without script, is a tour de force.
I know from speaking to university students that there are many political virgins out there who have never used their hard-won right to vote.  They would do well to see Standing for a Seat.  It might prompt them to make this May 7th, however confusing an experience it might be, their first time.

Next Show -  Victoria Hall, Broseley, Friday May 1st 7.30pm