Over the years you get to know your strengths and weakness and though I made half-hearted attempts in my youth to work on my failings, I have long since given up on that.
(One of those failings being no self-discipline…)
So, here I am in village life with a role for which I am deeply unsuited – the role needed an eye for detail, and that isn’t me.
The role was organising the more than 30 stalls for the village festivities and then fitting them into the (closed-off-for-the-day) village street, making sure all their many and varied requirements were dealt with, too-ing and fro-ing with emails and pro-formas beforehand so that they all knew when and where to be, and everyone was sorted, cars parked off site – and ready to go before the brass band and old men of the village paraded down the street.
Piece of cake, I hear you say – those of you with an eye for detail.
And indeed, I was frequently told by many and varied villagers, all will be fine on the day.
But my best beloved and people who have known me over the years, had furrowed brows and did sharp intakes of breath at the prospect of me organising it successfully.
However, I am also aware of my strengths, and one of those is getting lots of people to help me with any task.
I have a well-used habit of waving my hands in the air and asking all and sundry to help in any way I can think of.
And dear reader they did – and it was just as well.
The man who was bringing the carousel, trampoline and hook-a-duck (don’t ask) was so fed up with me emailing him about the footprint of his stuff and whether I could get it in and still leave room for the necessary space to get a fire engine through, that he offered to come for a ‘site visit’.
He did, and it did fit, and he was very nice about it.
There is a woman on the festivities committee who has spent more than enough time on calming me down and telling me it has always worked, with a little chaos, and would work again this year.
And she told me that again, and again, and again, and at no time could I see her gritted teeth though I am sure they were there.
Then there was the nice neighbour who doesn’t much get involved in village stuff but who I spotted outside the shop and asked her if she would spare an hour on the day to help me get the stallholders in place, and if she could persuade her husband to do an hour or (maybe, at a push) two hours traffic marshalling.
She said yes, and they both turned up at 8am.
I was very proud that I had done a list of stalls and a map of where each was to go.
But because my (eye for detail, proof reader type) husband was ‘working’ in various European capitals, the map and list had not been thoroughly checked.
On the day my nice neighbour came running up the street on several occasions saying that some stallholders had arrived but weren’t on her list or map.
Ah yes, that lack of an eye for detail…..
But they slotted in, and we juggled, and people were nice and, thanks to the weather gods, the sun was shining and that always makes life easier.
I mentioned that I had asked them to work for ‘oh an hour or two at most’ and they were still there at the end of the day picking up litter, collecting traffic cones – and, amazingly, saying they had enjoyed it.
Other thanks must go to the friend who sat me down in her back garden and made me concentrate on the map and the list – if only I had gone back to her and asked whether everything was covered…
But despite her husband ‘languishing’ at the other end of the county with a newly-broken wrist, she turned up, did stuff, and told me (very nicely and very accurately), how to make sure it was as good, if not better, next year.
There was the young man – at least by my standards – who knows how events work because he learned it at his mother’s knee.
He knows you just do stuff – whatever needs doing.
That included walking an unsteady 95-year-old back from the car park, putting up his gazebo, finding chairs, putting up other gazebos ( there are a surprising number of gazebos to put up) and, and, and.
My eye for detail will never happen, but thanks to all those people, it didn’t matter.