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?