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Are you Dour or a Do-er?

Updated: May 24, 2021


Every-night when I go to bed I go through the same routine. I pick up one of my pillows and throw it on the floor and then I batter away at the other one trying to plump it up a bit and then I grumble that its nearly, but not quite comfortable enough to rest my head on. I then spend a few minutes moving my noggin around and I flip myself from side to side trying to get comfortable, invariably have a row with my wife about it, and then at some point I fall asleep.

If I wake in the night, which is usually what happens on more than one occasion in the wee small hours, I repeat the same routine until I hopefully fall asleep again. Usually of course I fall into the deepest of sleeps when it’s time to get up which leaves me in terrible ratty form.

I’m in this state more often than not that my family and closest work colleagues probably don’t realise that I don’t always have anger management issues!

Lockdown life was actually a bit of a godsend to me as I could sleep til 9 and roll into the home office in my PJs and eat toast and drink my coffee before I had to put the camera on on the Zoom!

But then by the evening time I am again cursing my headrest and vowing to go out and get new more appropriate ones so as to rest easy. You know, the way you see people in the adverts doing. And of course once I get into the day, breakfast, coffee, kids to school, office etc I forget all about it and sixteen hours later I end up roaring expletives at the headboard all over again.

When our now 18-year-old daughter was about 6 months old we found our ‘forever home’ as ‘Kirsty and Phil’ would have called it. We moved from a 3-bed-semi, that we had just finished decorating after four years of living there, to a four-bedroom detached house in the countryside. Although it was the show home in an 8-house development, it was also a magnolia-blank-canvas requiring wallpapering, painting, blinds and curtains that has taken many more years to get around to.

We were very excited at the time we moved in to have that most middle-class of essential household requirements - the ensuite master bedroom- at our disposal, albeit there is not a lot of room in it.

On the other side of the wall of the tiny ensuite is one of the biggest family bathrooms you’re ever likely to see. It was huge with a large corner bath and an almost as big quadrant shower unit on one wall and then enough room to play a game of football in the space between them and the toilet and wash-hand basin.

The bath was so big that it was totally impractical. We had to buy a child-sized plastic basin in see-through aqua blue that was filled when the girls needed to be bathed. And as soon as they were big enough to be able to use the shower then that’s what they used. I think I’ve had at most 3 baths in there in all the time that we’ve lived here because I’ve not generally had the time to wait on heating the amount of water that is required, nor to await the time taken to fill it to the right level.

After a couple of years of use the lights around the mirror in the big room broke somehow and for about 15 years we’ve been thinking, ‘we must get an electrician round to look at them’. And the pull cord for the ventilation fan got snapped off at one point and for about the last ten years we’ve been thinking, ‘we must get an electrician round to look at that’.

But we never did.

And for all of the last eighteen years we’ve had the thought that the room really doesn’t work and we must do something about that.

And along with many many other people, lockdown and post pandemic life has finally got us – or should I say- my wife- to do something about it. Living for so much time at home has helped create the impetus to overcome the inertia.

As I write this blog, I can hear the workmen banging away with hammers and chipping tiles off walls. For the last few days our neighbours have probably been looking at the piles of radiators, old sinks and toilets and shower trays and a massive bathtub lying in the garden and wondering why we never hired a skip!

Already we can see that the changes, which involves redistributing the space to increase the ensuite and decrease the main bathroom is going to create a much more proportionate, workable and enjoyable couple of rooms. We’re still not upper-middle class enough to have a bidet but maybe one day..one day.. we can but dream! I feel sure that when its all complete my eldest will be wondering why we waited until she was leaving home to fix a problem she’d been living with all her life.

The youngest has a bedroom with one large king-sized pinewood framed bed and one small wardrobe. Living in that room these last few days I now understand why her quarters are always such a mess. It’s not that she is messy - which is of course what we’ve always thought - its just there’s nowhere to put things other than on the floor! And so built-in wardrobes and a smaller bed are now on the shopping list!

Of all the minor, ‘first world problems’ that I have, the one that rivals the pillows for triviality is the extremely petty margarine vs easi-spreadable vs real butter conundrum. Ever since the culinary abomination that is ‘Flora’ was invented, it and its in-bred cousins like Lurpack and Anchor have been a staple of our kitchen- on-bread of all kinds. The problem of trying to spread hard just-out-of-the-fridge Golden Cow over toast in the morning or when making a sandwich lunch was just too much to bear and the rectangular plastic tub of evil emulsion has just had to do.

And in all that time I have consistently said to myself, ‘why are you eating this stuff? There’s no flavour from it, its just yellow moisturiser for the bread. Why don’t you leave the butter out the night before or get up a bit earlier and take some out?’

But I never do.

I tried the heat it up in the microwave option but that never worked properly. Raising the temperature of a knife up over the elements of the toaster always sounds like a good idea until you realise that cutting the butter like a hot knife through butter only cuts it - it doesn’t spread it!

I am now ecstatic to reveal, exclusively here and now, that my wife has finally brought nearly four decades of disappointment to an end with the purchase of...da..da.dah - wait for it...a metal insulated butter dish that -and this is the really good bit... that she doesn’t mind me sitting out on the kitchen worktop 24/7!!! 

Whoo hoo!!

Ok so, its not all sunshine and rainbows. I have to hide it around the side of the toaster and partially obscure it by the kettle so she doesn’t have to see it too often, but it’s there and it contains lovely lovely buttery goodness - well it did until yesterday when I went to sort out a pancake and discovered the dish was empty!

Quick visit yesterday to the local shop and I’ve stocked up on so much foil wrapped dairy that the shop assistant even remarked that they couldn’t believe its not margarine I was purchasing!

When we look around at people who we think are successful, what is it that makes us think that way about them?

Generally, it’s the trappings of wealth like a nice car or their propensity to buy a myriad of expensive consumer goods that convinces us that they must have it all. Everything they want when they want it.

Moving on from that, we probably then look at what the source of that financial prowess is, and that can be an assessment of their career and -especially if they work for themselves- a best guesstimate of what we think they earn.

I was speaking with a gentleman yesterday who was ruing that he was having a lot of success recently in terms of being very much in demand but he was so busy he didn’t have time to buy a new pair of shoes or get his hair cut. Indeed he wasn’t giving the vibe of the go-getter because he hadn’t gone and got.

And that really is what the actual difference between success and failure is. 

Its not a lack of money or power, its simply a lack of organisational abilities.

Having the idea in the back of your head that you must get around to doing that certain something sometime soon rather than resolving in your mind to do it and then doing it. 

For me I end up usually needing to write it down, create a plan and think about actioning whatever it is that I need. To a large extent I am dour rather than being a do-er. Which is why it can take me the majority of my time on this earth to get even the most simple thing done -if its left to me to do it on my own. Hence why unless I can figure out how to get my missus to buy me a ‘My Pillow’ I’m going to be left with my pillows.

Being left to your own devices works as a strategy for success if those devices actually have the batteries included and you’ve read the instructions. The thing we forget is that it is our own mind that inserts and recharges those energy sources and we make up the rules for what they can do.

To get what you want in life you just have to flick the switch to ‘ON’ a bit more often than we’re used to and in doing so you’ll find that you’ll be more than just margarine-ally butter off!

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