Thursday, 16 August 2012

No Medals For Unsung Skills and Hidden Talents

The Olympic Games are over for another four years,  participants and their retinues have long left the Olympic Park, the news programmes once again concern themselves with the dire state of the economy and public life is back to its dreary normality. Most ordinary mortals will never be known for great sporting prowess, nor, come to that, will most of us ever receive recognition for any skills or talents which we might secretly even be quite proud of; on the other hand, they might be so much a part of us that we have long forgotten to appreciate them ourselves.

We are all good at something. It might take a bit of head scratching to unearth our particular talents, most of which are neither remarkable nor marketable. But we have them.

Here are a few of mine:

I remember conversations, more or less word for word; somebody says something, and good or bad, stupid or clever, I will be able to repeat their words for years to come. Don't try it, people hate it when I do that.

I remember people's food idiosyncrasies, which is a good thing. Once you have told me that you hate fish, and that strawberries bring you out in hives, I will take careful note, and either feed you nothing else - if I hate you - or never even mention them - if I like you.

I am very good at overlooking dust, an acquired talent, more or less in open rebellion against my parents, both of whom kept their glance permanently fixed on the carpet when indoors, in case a stray bit of fluff settled on its pristine expanse.

Procrastination presents no problem for me, neither does dithering. I firmly believe that decisions made on the spur of the moment will variously bring nothing but regret, remorse, remonstrations from others, with retribution to follow. No, nice and easy does it, sleep on it, tomorrow is another day and a decision may either no longer be needed or somebody/something may have made it for you already. It is possible that this skill could get you into trouble, so think carefully - for quite a long time, in fact - before you adopt it.

Give me a tangled ball of string, shoe laces, washing line or dog lead, anything that's long and windy and complicated to undo, I'll undo it for you, patiently, skilfully, expertly.

One of my most noticeable talents is the crossing of bridges before I get to them. Examples for this are too numerous to mention, suffice it to say, that if I can fret today about something that may never happen, something that exists only in my imagination, like a rain free English summer or a motorway being cut through the valley, I will fret, copiously, whole-heartedly, until I make myself sick.

I have the ability to make children and dogs obey me, almost without any effort on my part at all. Children have cried at the wonder of it but dogs love me for it, they love knowing what comes next.

I can whistle.

I can drive a car - forward only - through the narrowest of openings, with only an inch to spare on either side.

And finally, I am a master at what I call smaller-vesselling. All who behold me doing it are in awe. Give me any quantity of any substance, liquid, or solid, and a row of any size of suitable containers and I will unfailingly, by pure eye-measure alone and at the first attempt, find the smallest container to hold the whole of the substance. It is an invaluable skill in the kitchen, my fridge is never as crowded as any one else's because all my containers are filled exactly to the brim. Perhaps that skill would be marketable if the right people knew about it?


  1. You are very skilled and talented, indeed. These are not small matters, they are the very things we most need, more than all the Olympian accolades. Such are the things that make a good life.

    I've been recalling the first post I read of yours, well over a year ago, where you were up at night worrying, checking email and such. Your honesty and candor was so refreshing and I could relate to those nights of struggle. I'm glad you've shared both your worries, which we all have whether admitted or not, and your talents. I can't whistle. Any attempt is pathetic and deservedly open to derision.

  2. That was most entertainingly written, Friko, and honest — and just a wee bit scary!

  3. That last skill has totally eluded my husband. I am always finding the largest mixing bowls covered in plastic wrap and holding a cup or two of something unremarkable. I am a look before I leap type, but find that I do that less as I age. So I guess I am learning something!

  4. I wish I had all the skills you catalog except the one about procrastinating and not acting on impulse. I married Jerry about 6 weeks after the very first day we met, and never wondered whether it was the right thing to do. And that was after 3 failed marriages. I have never regretted marrying him for even a minute. Dumb luck, I guess.

  5. Frico, you say very wise:"I firmly believe that decisions made on the spur of the moment will variously bring nothing but regret". I agree!

  6. Hello:
    Yippee the Olympics are now officially over and one no longer has to either pretend to be in the remotest sense interested in them or to skip the news for fear of being embroiled in medal tables wrangles or the raw emotion of people crying in public. How reassuring to be back to the everyday concerns of the price of milk, which NOTW reporter is in court and who will be the celebrity chosen to model this year's H&M fashion line. Now, this really is the stuff to fuel the imagination!!!

    And, your own talents are indeed prodigious. Could there not be an alternative Olympics on an odd year when there is a sporting gap? Speed reading? Procrastination hurdling? Fast talking? It is sounding quite interesting to us at any rate!!!

  7. My brother-in-law, who is now an exemplary nurse, once took my hairdryer (which I rarely use as I nearly always pull my hair in a bun or into plaits) and unwound that cord until it was perfectly straight. To say it had been twisted like a corkscrew is an understatement, but his skill and patience and quiet determination to see that through left an impression on me. Perhaps I am seeing too much in it but I felt like the act spoke volumes of his character.

    He is, after all, one of the best I men I know.

  8. Incidentally, what do you like to whistle? I think people who whistle (if they can) are among the better adjusted.

  9. Oh my, you are multi-talented.
    I cannot whistle...
    I like to put left overs in the smallest of bowls.
    I do try to think a lot before I do something.
    Always go with my heart.
    If I feel uncomfortable with a decision
    then I do not do it.

  10. What a delightful read Friko! You've pinned a smile on my face with this post. I think there is one talent you forgot to mention: you are able to wrap the sweetest heart in such a no-nonsense package. Your ever-growing list of followers demonstrates that that particular talent is not too well hidden, however.

  11. Speaking of crossing bridges before you come to them, Yes, Yes and Yes.

    I never knew I had this talent until I became more introspective. I worried myself silly about things that never happened.

    My daughter calls this behaviour cleaning up the wreckage of the future and reminds me yesterday is a cancelled check and tommorow is a promissory note.

    Great read Friko. Glad to hear you are so human. Dianne

  12. Gosh, you sound so much like me, except maybe driving a car through the smallest gap - definitely - not one of mine.

  13. haha i overlook dust as my detriment come chore def have the talents friko....i can touch the tip of my nose with my tongue...smiles.

  14. oh my...I think we were seperated at birth

  15. I needed a jolly good Friko read over my morning cuppa. Now please, do not worry yourself over putting up a daily post just for me. ;)

  16. We share many of the same talents! I would delete the string one and the children and dogs one, but the rest, absolutely! And you're perfectly correct. People do hate it when you can recite entire lengthy conversations. They never believe that they said what they said so rudely (those are the ones I remember really well . . . the ones that were insulting).

  17. An interesting, and emminently practical, set of skills... but no, I don't think any of them would make good spectator sports...

  18. Oops. I can't whistle. Never could.
    A friend of mine used to recite: Whistling women and crowing hens, All will come to no good end.
    So beware.

  19. I just have a couple of your talents – whistling and not caring about dust. I usually don’t care about bridges until after I have passed them and may take a look back, or not. You are a gifted woman.

  20. These are truly impressive talents. I would like a few of them myself. I smiled ruefully at your crossing bridge before you arrive talent - I too do it, often crossing them before I am sure there is a river which needs fording. Sigh.

  21. That last skill is a wonderful one, Friko! :) I would love to be able to remember what people can and can't eat. I often do sort of remember it, I mean insofar as I can remember that there's something about strawberries or onions... but WHAT it is, I never can recall!

  22. Oh - if only I had some of your "better" talents, Friko - unfortunately I only have the crossing the bridge one and that brings us both grief.

  23. There should definitely be a Nobel Prize for Getting Children and Dogs to Obey.

  24. Wow. You and I have nothing in common except the ability to whistle. Can you do tunes or are you a 2 note wonder?

  25. I was chuckling all the way through this post!! I love dithering! I love the word dithering. It is an art in itself. You are truly a woman of many talents.

    I have to confess, don't hate me, but I didn't watch any of the Olympics at all.

  26. Very, very worrisome that you can remember conversations word for word for years. I can't remember what I said minute to minute . . . nor can I whistle. As for the smaller-vesselling, yes, that ought to be marketable! I am constantly on a little stool in front of our fridge trying to figure out how to fit everything in (not to mention what is overdue to come out). Smaller-vesselling would certainly come in handy there.

    (If you wonder about the deletions, I keep forgetting to sign in--one thing I seem to have become very good at!)

  27. Dear multi talented Friko - what a smiler this post is!
    My sister was an expert opening all kind of tangled string and wool. And please remember: I hate cilantro!!! :-) And translucent onions!

  28. you are a wonder!

    Aloha from Honolulu
    Comfort Spiral
    > < } } ( ° >

  29. Oh dear I did leave a comment earlier, and I'm sure it must have been terribly witty but I obviously didn't hit 'publish'! :/ I'm doing that a bit lately, perhaps that constitutes a 'talent'?

  30. Your wit and humor - and honesty - astonish me, Friko. They truly do. I'm ending my day here with your refreshing post, pleased as punch that I am part of a group of smaller-vesseles.

  31. You are a wonder.
    No....really, you are! The Smaller Vessel skill is the one I'd like to have.
    I have a gift for remembering names of even the most boring people. Especially the ones who make a virtue of not remembering anyone else's name.

  32. I never cared about Olympic games, never watched. But this time it was different I just arrived in London one day before the opening of the games and didn't even know ! I was quiet surprised when in St. Pancras "I" was greated with different flags and welcome committees, music etc, because without knowing it there were lots of atlethes in my Eurostar train, lol ! The atmosphere in London was so special I enjoyed it so much. The opening ceremony I watched in Eastbourne and found it the best !
    My fridge certainly doesn't look like yours, I throw everything in and wonder why I don't find what I am looking for !

  33. I began conducting an experiment without TV when my set ceased to share its picture, so I did not view the Olympics this year. The games popularity has waned as quickly as it began and no one is talking about the events this short time later since they ended.

    Your talents are a marvel that include some which I thought were only mine. I've often found it best to not do today what I can put off until tomorrow. Also, the older I become, I've concluded my remaining time is best devoted to matters other than those that require repeating, such as dusting and sweeping. Note: this philosophy does not apply to personal grooming and dietary matters.

    I'm a whistler, too. My mother shared with me that in her day when she whistled she was told, "Whistling girls and crowing hens often come to no good end." Our generation has come a long way, baby!

    I did long ago cease crossing bridges too early -- most of the time. On the other hand, I sometimes exhibit impulsive behaviors that all too frequently I come to regret.

    Enjoyed your humor which my response likely reveals.

  34. You are definitely multi-talented. Ha!! Me? Well, I can barely whistle...I used to worry about everything..don't anymore! And I am thankful for that!
    And I can procrastinate with thew best of them.

  35. Friko what hidden talents - I am so impressed; dithering, dust over-looking and controlling children/dogs I add to my own list of talents ... and the conversation one, which gets me into heaps of trouble!

  36. Marvellous, Friko - and particularly your aptitude for recognising these traits as talents. Perhaps I should regard my endless ability to worry as a talent - I have often said to my children 'You do what you have to and I'll do the worrying.' It is, after all, something I am good at;-)

  37. Your list of talents inspires me to make one of my own. Of course, I could never begin to match the amazing talents that YOU have, but it's wonderful that we all have our own little lists. I was amused by some of yours, and awed by others. :-)

  38. #1 That's no special skill. All women posses it. Ask any man.
    #2 Remembering food idiosyncrasies is a good thing. It's like remembering someone's name. There is no higher compliment.
    #3 Me and dirt have come to an understanding, much like yours.
    #4 THANK YOU for releasing me from my procrastination guilt. Free at last! Free at last! Great God Almighty, I'm free at last!
    #5 Give me a tangled ball of string and you will get back a tangled ball of string.
    #6 Foreseeing the future is a good thing. It's the sign of an analytical mind who can see the outcome before it happens. I'm cursed with it as well as it basically means a lifetime of arguing with those who can't see past tomorrow.
    #7 & #8 Do dogs and children come running when you whistle?
    #9 No comment (a no win proposition)
    #10 Me too! I always feel so proud of myself when the lid snaps into place over a full container. I am equally as good at gestimating percentages and weights and measures although a total failure at math.

  39. Came back...39 comments. OK now I am jealous. I mean, really, you were once thinking of NOT blogging!?

  40. Formidable ! When the time comes for us to defend Earth from the Dark Forces , I want to be on your team .
    I do have some skills to offer .... I can see round corners , interpret silences and tell when someone's going to throw up ( though calculating the exact size of container that will be needed might have to be your department ) . And I keep calm in emergencies .
    A mother .

  41. I am so glad the games are over...

    Dust and me are in a happy relationship and procrastination is one of my most faithful friends.

    The conversation thing - not quite as skilled as you Friko but I do remember what I consider important content...

    Never thought of the above as talents before. Thanks Friko!

    Anna :o]

  42. Very entertaining post. I share your last skill. Frank and I often bicker about whether or not the container I hand him will really hold the contents in question. It always does. I could use you around here particularly with that first skill... for all of the "he said... she said" situations which are so conveniently misremembered. The fretting over non events is also shared by me. We both need to drop that one.

  43. You have some wonderful superpowers!

  44. I can do your driving thing BUT Daughter can do it backwards which awes me so much.

    I love untangling now, but did not because I was so impatient once upon a time. It was a skill I forced myself to stick with and I am so glad now as it is a meditative experience not be be missed. A test of serenity.

    I don't worry anymore, it is such a huge amount of energy thrown out, I'd rather keep it for myself.

    I'd like to untangle with you on my porch with a cup of tea and lots of bits....:)


  45. Oh Friko! So many talents! I share several with you,the dust-ignoring, the procrastinating and dithering, the skillful untangling, the whistling and greatest skill the crossing of bridges I may never actually come to......We should have a contest.

  46. I'm reminded again of something Mark Twain said." I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened."

    Fabulous talents you have!

  47. Another soul who can ignore dust! I'm not alone, after all. Some people tease by writing their name in my dust, but one unfortunate took it upon himself to not only sign, but date! Not really polite, at all.

    My mother was so good at "What if...?" I hardly could leave the house, for no sooner than I did but she'd have me dead in a ditch with my throat slit. I loved her dearly, but her worrying could drive me crazy!

    Vis-a-vis your container skill, I'm reminded of the market women in Liberia. They could look at a pile of rice on the ground and tell you within a quarter-cup how much was there. It was as completely astonishing as your ability to find the perfect container. I use the Three Bears method - one too small, one too large, and finally one just right!

  48. I wish I could have more talents like you have. But positive thinking is my attribute: I consider myself a late bloomer and I think I’ll develop more skills and hidden talent will germinate.


  49. I think I share that talent for crossing bridges in advance...worrying far too much about what never happens. Love your open honesty...your sense of humor!!!

  50. Thanks so much for your visit, sorry that I am a bit down at the moment but I am sure I will soon pick myself up again. Love your talents, wish I had your last one and also your memory. I don't remember anything from one day to the next. Good reason why my French is going backwards rather than forward. If only some one would give me a wish, then speaking French would be top of the list. I love the French people and their language but I can not hold a conversation, so infuriating. Take care Diane

  51. Herself nearly got a gold medal in dithering at the Olympics, only she was so busy dithering that she never got to the start line (joke)

    I could do with more focus - what skills i do have are so thinly spread that it's hard to notice them

  52. Dear Friko, and another talent you have is a discerning eye--not just for containers--but for essence within a plethora of sound and fury and muddled "facts" and sound bits and human folly. Peace.

  53. I read your comment at One Woman and had to come to visit. I especially love your talent of looking at dust and procrastination. I'm getting better at both of these skills as I wander into old age.My house was always neat and clean. I used to make excuses for an untidy more. I have learned to live with will get done tomorrow.

  54. Hi Friko .. what a great post - we've all skills in those directions .. particularly as we get to Eastbourne retirement living! I will sort the mess out - one day ... my mother would be amazed - as she was always tidying before I turned up ... now she's probably gazing down at her daughter's chaos ... oh well tomorrow is another day isn't it?! cheers Hilary

  55. I think you have just scored perfect 10s on many important skills and from where I sit, that's at least three or four or ten gold medals! (I think I could compete with you on the dust, though!)


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