Point of View

Reading-Festival-2I spent the Bank holiday weekend at Reading Festival. Being well past the age when camping in overcrowded conditions with thousands of insomniac teenagers stopped being fun I now temper my festival experience by staying in a local hotel. Being a true Yorkshireman and appreciating the value of money (or being mean if you want to apply that reframe) I stayed in a basic bed and breakfast with my brother in law. He had booked it about 9 months in advance and called them to confirm all was well and there was on site parking. His text to me was typically cryptic.

Hi just checked B&B all booked in, check in from 1400.
No alcohol
No talking
No having fun
No music
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But it did set the scene for my first meeting with our hostess.

On the Thursday my daughter was keen to get going to secure a reasonable place to camp and after grinding through the traffic I arrived at the B&B at 13.30. I parked and leaving my bag in the car, in case , went into the B&B to see if I could check in or at least leave my car in the car park while I went for a stroll to the pub.  The Landlady greeted me with a gruff:

it’s 1.30. Another one who can’t tell the time.

I said I knew I was early and if the room was not ready I was happy to come back in an hour or so. The landlady said that the room was ready and I was welcome to come in.

I’ve had them here at 9.30. ¬†It clearly says 2pm. ¬†And checking out, asking if they can check out later. ¬†It says right here on the key fob 10.00. ¬†This weekend of all times. ¬†You get all sorts, especially this weekend

I took it from the tone that ‘all sorts’ was not seen as a desirable state of affairs. But wanting to help her achieve a higher state of being (OK wanting to wind her up a bit) I said “How lovely, it must be great to meet a different type of guest than the usual business travellers”.

Her expression suggested that it wasn’t great at all. ¬†She showed me to the rather tired room. ¬†Never has the word ‘adequate’ been so apt.

It will soon be getting busy.  The great unwashed arriving.

I said that it was already very busy and when I dropped my daughter off the town centre was at a near standstill.

I don’t call that¬†traffic. ¬†Soon it will be nose to tail all along here. ¬†That’s traffic. ¬†Every day it’s terrible it is.

“That does¬†make getting about awkward but it’s great for you having so many people pass by, no need to advertise! ¬†And great for the town too. ¬†If the town is¬†busy it must be good for your business.”

Apparently not.

Looks like another muddy one.  Last year the mud was terrible.  They walked it in everywhere they did.

“Well” I said, looking at the grubby decor “I am surprised as I was at the festival last year and don’t recall any rain. In any case, it doesn’t seem to have done any lasting damage. ¬†I guess a wet festival must be good for business as it makes people more likely to use a B&B¬†”

Forecast for rain, even snow.  That will be nice for that lot.

“Oh, the¬†forecast I saw is for it to be a bit chilly but mostly dry. ¬†Snow in August. ¬†That would give us all a tale to tell!”

The next morning over breakfast the landlady chatted with various guests about various guests.  Interesting as I wondered what she was saying about me.

I wonder if we’ll see those two girls? I doubt it. ¬†I bet they won’t surface.

“That saves you the trouble of cooking and the cost of the meal. ¬†All extra profit.”

That Indian girl’s dad rang at midnight last night to see if she was in. ¬†He booked her in here and paid for it.

“It’s wonderful to see a father¬†allowing his daughter the freedom and yet keeping a discrete check.”

One guest asked if the doors were locked at any time and was treated to a sarcastic refresh on how one of the keys opened the front  door and the other his room followed by threats of physical harm should anyone lose a key and require letting in late at night, further followed by a critique of the headline acts

Noisy rubbish. ¬†Dreadful thumping all night, no proper tunes. ¬†Hasn’t been an act worth seeing for years.

“The organisers have to move with the times. Most of the people sitting here paid a lot of money to watch these bands, 90,000 people will be watching tonight plus a large TV audience.”

I’d love to report that my repeated reframing changed her in some way. ¬†I doubt it did because she was rarely listening out for anything except a lull in the conversation into which she could inject her opinions. ¬†It wasn’t even annoying her so I gave up.

It did change me though.  I decided not to ask if my daughter could pop in mid morning to use the shower in my room and I decided to hide the fact that I spilled a large glass of red wine all over the bed.  I am sorry Рnot to the Landlady, the laundry would get it out anyway, but to my daughter who had to go a few days as one of the great unwashed.

At least it didn’t snow.

Two different people, two different places
Through a one way window with two different faces
Agreements are not reached, faces are forgotten
The other person’s shoes, you’ve not got in

Stubborn minded enclosed to your own world
Wake up and see someone else’s morals
What right to you
Might be true

It’s a different point of view to you
You cannot see things that are different to me
And I can’t understand why you cannot see
The things that I cannot see

I see what you don’t see
I see what you don’t see
Turn around and the shadows are all around me

Two different people, two different places
Through a one way window with two different faces
Agreements are not reached, faces are forgotten
The other person’s shoes, you’ve not got in

Point of View – Blink 182

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Living in the moment

Last week we had a very special houseguest, ¬†meet Lottie a young ‘labradoodle’. ¬†She is very cute. ¬†And naturally all of the family were smitten with her.

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Well maybe not all¬†the family. ¬†Jake, our geriatric and athritic labrador (13 and a half years is very old for a lab) was tolerant as befits a gentleman, but he was a little aloof and he certainly was not up for Lottie’s bouncy games.

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I was worried that she might be too boisterous for Jake and that in giving her all the attention such a youngster craves he might somehow miss out.  Having an excitable, hyper active puppy around the house was more challenging than I remembered.

Then my wife commented how wonderful it was to see Lottie being so alive.  So energetic, inquisitive, loving and full of joy.  How could you not feel energised by her and adore her unquestioning love of life?

Her enthusiasm is tremendous and I started to wonder what it would take to recapture that puppy like excitement for myself.  Opening up to new experiences and enjoying the moment seems to be the key.  Living in the here and now, not analysing past mistakes or over planning the future can be joyous.

So thanks to Lottie for reminding me to live in the moment and to my wife for reminding me that simply looking at the situation in a different way utterly changes your reaction.

Oh and to Jake too РI think he secretly enjoyed having her around, after all he let her share his best blanket!

If this life is one act
Why do we lay all these traps?
We put them right in our path
When we just wanna be free

I will not waste my days
Making up all kinds of ways
To worry about all the things
That will not happen to me

So I just let go of what I know I don’t know
And I know I’ll only do this by
Living in the moment
Living our life
Easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
With peace in my heart
Peace in my soul
Wherever I’m going, I’m already home
Living in the moment

Jason Mraz

One hand in my pocket

On the one hand it has been a depressing week:

Firstly I have been waiting to hear from a potential client regarding a pitch for a large project. ¬†The pitching process took months of effort. I’ve been on tenterhooks and can’t settle, checking my email constantly. ¬†I can’t understand why they are delaying the result and am starting to be convinced we haven’t got it.

Secondly I heard that a number of friends have lost their jobs. This made me very angry at the people that did this and I spent a whole afternoon in a bad mood.

The incessant wind and rain and ever rising flood levels (I live by the River Thames) has been a real worry. I am increasingly frustrated by the politicians who seem to offer nothing but platitudes.

Finally I have an injury and after 6 weeks of rest I am still only able to run 3 – 4 miles a day very cautiously.

On the other hand it’s been a good week:

Firstly I have been waiting to hear from a potential client regarding a pitch for a large project. ¬†We did great to get through to the final round and learned loads in the process. ¬†I had weaned myself off constantly checking email and being on tenterhooks has lead me back into bad habits, it’s noticeable how it distracts you and prevents you from fully attending to the here and now which I hadn’t really appreciated before.

Secondly I heard that a number of friends have lost their jobs, I was quite angry for a while.  Of course once I calmly looked at it I realised that raging is pointless.  Having compassion and finding ways to help would be more useful.  So I contacted them and offered to help.  By reaching out they know I care.

The incessant wind and rain and ever rising flood levels (I live by the River Thames) is a concern.  Yet there is nothing I can do about the weather.  Accepting the issue and getting on with what needs to be done in the short term is more productive.  And maybe if we keep the pressure on this will help the climate change naysayers see the truth.

I have an injury and after 6 weeks of rest I am now able to run 3 – 4 miles a day albeit cautiously. ¬†If I do some cross training and keep healing I’ll still make a spring race or two. ¬†And today a gentle 4 miler in a rare burst of sunny, calm weather felt just great.

I know which week I chose to have.  What will you choose?

I’m broke but I’m happy
I’m poor but I’m kind
I’m short but I’m healthy, yeah
I’m high but I’m grounded
I’m sane but I’m overwhelmed
I’m lost but I’m hopeful baby
What it all comes down to
Is that everything’s gonna be fine fine fine
’cause I’ve got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving a high five

Alanis Morrisette

Lightening the load

On my morning commute today a very worried young man sat next to me. ¬†He pulled out a thick text book and feverishly pored over it. ¬†It’s no exaggeration to say that he was working himself into a real state of anxiety – mumbling sentences out loud, pressing his fingers to his ears and rocking to and fro.

Most of us would have put our earphones in , shut our eyes and put it down as another ‘commuting nutter’ story. ¬† ¬†I decided to see if I could improve his day.

I asked him what the subject was and he sheepishly said that it was the Chartered Institute of Taxation foundation course.   We briefly discussed what a huge, complex, ever changing and desperately dry topic that could be.  Not only that but his day job only covered about a quarter of the subjects and he was trying to study in his limited spare time via a correspondence course.  He knew no one who had passed first time, even the partners at his firm had struggled. With only 30-40% of candidates rumoured to pass outright he felt it was a hopeless task.

I wondered out loud whether making the exam seem harder than it was might serve any purpose for those that had passed? Perhaps it gave more kudos to the senior guys? ¬†Maybe telling scare stories and frightening the juniors was a bit of a rite of passage? ¬†I also asked what the pass mark was and this was rumoured to be 40-50%. ¬†So I mused that if his day job covered 25% of the syllabus and he was good at that then he had half the required marks in the bag before starting. ¬†All he really had to do was work out how to scrape together 25%. ¬†That didn’t seem too daunting especially as it was an open book exam.

If my new companion applied the 80:20 rule and chose topics carefully he could quite easily get to a point where he was confident of getting the pass mark. ¬†Ok he might not win any prizes but he could relax and really focus on doing a few things well. ¬†After all when in practice as long as he knew what he didn’t know all would be well.

He went very quiet, but as we pulled into the station he said that he’d never looked at it this way. ¬†If he thought about it logically he started to feel confident. ¬†I could visibly see the change in him – as he stood to leave the carriage he looked a few inches taller, less stressed, more confident.

I have no way of knowing how he will perform in his exams, but I will guarantee he had a much better day today than he might otherwise have had.  Perhaps we can all have a better day if we take the time to look at things in a new light.  Getting a fresh perspective can really lighten the load.