On my list of things in sixes, was to learn six new things.
(If you are a late arrival to this blog, the list is in ‘celebration’ of my next big birthday and instead of a party, I have opted for doing things in batches of six.)
So, this week, courtesy of my best beloved, I spent a day learning how to throw pots.
I learned how to centre my clay on the wheel (essential, and not that easy), how to ease the clay into a (in my case, less than perfect) cylinder which is the basis for all vessels, how to make a (small) bowl and (small) plate.
And, I learned that the gentle art of creating or initiating or helping along, a conversation between a group of people who don’t know each other, seems to be on the wane.
So, there were six of us, eating a very delicious lunch at this pottery and my ‘training’ at many a diplomatic meal came in useful, even necessary.
No one seemed to be able to ask a question of their neighbour to get chat going, or even of the potter himself who, it turned out was as engaging as any well-informed, interesting expert/enthusiast.
But anyway, my slightly askew pots are, of course, not a delight to the stranger’s eye but from the ‘parental’ view, they are amazing.
Just waiting for them to be fired and glazed, and I can get them home.
(There is a three-day course I have my eye on and, as it includes Reiki firing, that would count as something new learned too.)
Another on my learning list to do is a Health and Safety course.
I can imagine you might think that a little eccentric, and not as creative an outlet as pottery, but it has to be done.
For some years now, I have been the H&S person for an event and not a small event either – I won’t name it because I don’t want to alert anyone to the fact that the H&S person is woefully ignorant of the rules, regulations, current advice, best practice etc etc.
Some of the car parking staff are better H&S qualified than I am.
So, this year, after many years of flying by the seat of my pants, keeping fingers crossed and charming inspectors with the chance to shop whilst they check, I will have to do something about it.
And, finally for this list anyway, I am re-learning the art of real (as in paid) work.
So, let me give you a small taster:
Juggling two experts on the Orkneys – not literally of course, though that would be a skill – just their information.
Charming a European Commission official to break off from his day job to check through what I have written.
Understanding the three legal briefs for an activity – two on a Scottish planning issue and one, rather surprisingly as it is supposed to be in the same case study, on Belarusian politics.
Doing a run down of when coffee-producing countries do their harvest – yes the harvesting moves around the calendar.
Creating a profile of the refugee influx into European islands and why Guernsey and Jersey are quite so complacent about everything.
And as anyone who knows me will tell you, I am not a woman for detail.
But now I find myself thinking ‘Ahh, yes there was that email a while back from X mentioning that 50% of the housing stock in the smaller Orkney islands dates back to 1914. And, yes I must check what the dress code is for the students for the formal dinner. Can we adapt the profile of Sardinia to meet a general archetype of Sunny and Sandy or do we need to use Corfu as an example…….’
The bonus today has been that I have the budget to check into a hotel haven to sit and do nothing but sort out and write this stuff.
I have not been distracted by demands from the garden, the dog, nor a conversation with anyone except hotel staff.
It is not the Premier Inn, which I tried but was useless – nowhere to plug in a laptop, room not available until 3.30, and then apparently a desk but no chair…
Given all that, on spec, I called a local, very nice hotel, and they said yes.
They found me a corner to sit quietly, with a plug, tea and regular checks that I was fine.
Despite the fact they had been fully booked the previous night, they sorted out a room for me by 12 and got me a good chair to sit on as I worked.
And there are very nice touches.
It was last minute, so I got a good deal and it was only £30 more than the Premier Inn.
Do you know, I think I might get into this….