#94: Go to a nightclub and actually dance

The ‘most avoided’ challenges are coming thick and fast this week! And once again, thank Heavens for mates who can be persuaded into joining such enterprises!

I have no weekends left, so the offer I put out to my local acquaintance was the opportunity to go clubbing, in Cirencester, on a school night. Apparently this mid week event is ‘popular with students of the agricultural college’. I checked whether student status was compulsory, and was assured that EVERYONE is welcome to ReVA on a Wednesday. Nor would we need student cards to take advantage of the extraordinarily well-priced drinks.

My suggestion met with a mix of enthusiasm and incredulity, but in the end, a small but committed party of 3 left the village at 9.55pm last night, to the astonishment of our friends and other halves, who were all going to bed. We popped into the pub for a couple of sharpeners, then it was on to the main event.

One of my friends was appalled to be recognised as soon as we walked in! We did not imagine we knew anyone at all in the 18-21 bracket these days, and certainly she almost fell over in astonishment to see him in that setting! She and her friends were all drinking an unpleasantly sweet looking concoction out of a jamjar, filled half full with gummi bears. How queer. We resisted that temptation and ordered a round of jager bombs instead. For £10 we were given 5. We realised we had not brought enough people. No matter. We got through them!

Each round cost £10 and consisted of 5 drinks to share between the 3 of us. A quick round each, and it was time to hit the dance floor. And imagine, the cage was vacant! We got involved. We were on fire!

For the first hour or so, we did not recognise any of the music. So we amused ourselves surveying the youth. We played a game of ‘If you really had to, who would you ‘do’?’ The more we considered it, the more preposterous the prospect seemed. Fresh faces abounded. No one looked a day over 20. There were really no contenders other than the security staff! (This was unlikely to be a problem, as we were not drawing any interest whatsoever from the younger clientele! Oh, and of course we are all happily married anyway.)

Around midnight, they played Teenage Dirtbag. And the 3 of us went wild! We had a whole dance floor to ourselves at this point, and we made most excellent use of it. We flung ourselves the full length of the space available, strutting, leaping, air guitar-ing, throwing out shapes. God we looked good. From then on, the 90s classics came thick and fast, and we paused only to see off another round of jager bombs.

I can offer some very poor imagery of our exploits:
20140508_005524 (Large)

me on dancefloor
I had taken the precaution of booking a cab for 1am, which we were all thankful for next morning. But we left wondering why on earth we spend our time going to sedate dinner parties these days. Why stop leaping around a dark room to some banging tunes?? Club night might become a regular event!

Certainly we were looking good….
me and adam in cage

#93: Go to a networking event (and speak to people)

This one was marvellous for reflecting upon how far I have come. A few years ago I went to a similar networking breakfast, and I tied myself in knots about it. I planned it weeks ahead of going. I crafted my objectives to achieve from it. I created a host of marketing materials to capitalise upon the opportunity. I drafted and redrafted a 40 second spiel, introducing myself. I rehearsed it to death. I timed myself saying it. I had it word perfect. Then I perfected saying it with a couple of ums and pauses, so that it would sound more natural. I got through the event (I even picked up a client), but it took me so long to recover from the whole ordeal that my marketing plan went woefully out of date.

This time, I looked online yesterday for a networking opportunity, found one, booked it, and turned up this morning. I thought up a spiel in the car on the way there, failed to write it down, and so made it up on the spot when my turn came. The whole thing was natural, easy, fun. I have arranged to meet someone for coffee, picked up a fistful of business cards, and enjoyed having half a dozen grey-headed entrepreneurs assure me there is a winning business to be found in my blogging and adventuring endeavours. I was composed, confident, colourful, interesting… a bit like a Ginger Legend in fact!
networking
I had to eat a lardy cooked breakfast that I didn’t want in the least, but otherwise there was no downside. The whole affair was compered by a helpful chap who explained the format and kept us to time. Everyone did a 40 second intro, then there was a pause to refresh our coffees, and we all arranged our 3 one-to-one meetings with anyone who we liked the sound of from the introductions. Then another chap did a 10 minute talk (about accessing government money for one’s business), then we all went into our pairs for the individual meetings. Each pair has 10 minutes to talk before swapping round. The whole thing is friendly, social, supportive, and completely unintimidating. I would recommend it to anyone who needs to network and hates the idea of it. It is structured enough that everyone is involved and no one gets to hide in a corner, but not so formal as to be fearsome. (www.4networking.biz)

I was almost persuaded to sign up for membership, until I did a quick reality check and remembered that I don’t yet have a business. Possibly there are a few steps to take first, before I launch my promotional activity. But I will be back!

#92: Stand up/ open mic

I have been avoiding this for some time. There are a few challenges that I have substituted from the original list, mainly because of timing and opportunity issues, but I knew if I took this one off it would be pure chickening out. So it had to be done.

Having left it to the last minute, I did not have a massive choice of open mic nights. But I found one advertised in a pub in Torquay, which is comfortably far from home, and also very convenient from Dave’s mum’s house, and therefore a highly amenable babysitting opportunity. Dave was persuaded to join me, on the clear understanding that he would not be required to perform. Thus it was planned.

My actual act was a matter of some consternation. The pub’s website suggested they welcomed ‘acoustic, electric, comedy and poetry’. The first two sounded a little too musical. I rang the pub landlord to enquire further. ‘Do people do comedy, then?’ I queried. ‘Well. We’ve certainly had a few monologues’ he answered unconvincingly. ‘Do I need to book a slot?’ ‘No, no, just come along. And they’ll probably persuade you to pick up a guitar’. Well, whatever, I thought. It’ll work somehow.

My comedy routine has eluded me for some months now, which is why I have not ticked it off before now. And the ‘monologue’ comment made me fear that incompetent comedy might be rather tiresome for all concerned. But the poetry idea had taken root. Now I am not a gifted poet, but if there is one thing I flatter myself I can do rather well, it is crafting a smutty limerick.

So I spent the whole day scribbling rhyming filth. And sniggering aloud at my own great wit. I quickly generated 10 verses, about people I had met from various towns in Devon, and their appalling sexual practices. I could scarcely wait to share them with the world. They were, in my eyes, works of absolute brilliance.

It is odd how desensitized one becomes to the actual content, when you spend so long on the technical craft of making lines rhyme and scan correctly. When I read my works aloud to Dave he almost choked. I fear with horror rather than mirth. But I was undeterred. The people of Torquay could take it, I was sure.

I was still giggling all the way to the pub in the car. And still at our table, as we sat with our drinks. But as we observed the pub, and the clientele, and the general set up, I began to giggle slightly less.

There was no sign of any mic, open or otherwise. The dirty old men who I confidently imagined would love my wit, all left. In one corner of the really quite small pub, was a table of folk with guitars, all strumming, and singing folk songs, looking rather absorbed in themselves and their music. 2 old men sat at the bar. Me and Dave lurked in our corner. And that was it. There were no ‘acts’ as such. Just a bunch of musicians, sharing their craft.

It was quite literally unthinkable, that I should go up to the table, and ask them to pause in their music-making to listen to my catalogue of obscene limericks. There was no reason to imagine they would be interested, for example, in the gentleman from Ashburton, who expended himself into a curtain.

My anticipation faded. What to do? Could it be, at number 92 of the 100 – a failure??? There were no more open mic nights available before the big birthday. (And in any case, I would have to rewrite all the smut for a different geographic location.)

The only way to save it, then, was to join in with the musicians. And praise the Lord that a) they were a welcoming bunch after all; and b) one of them had a spare guitar.

So I joined the table. I strummed, haphazardly. A slightly drunk, slightly simple-seeming man was happy to help me by shouting out chords as they all sang along. (Thankfully I know how to form about 5 chords already, due to my endeavours with #93: learn a musical instrument. Transferring from one chord to the next in the time available was another matter, but there were enough folk playing to drown me out.)

‘How long have you been playing?’ asked one of my new friends. ‘Oooh, about three weeks’, I replied, for all the world like a serious musician. ‘Brilliant!’ they all cried. And we all played on. I must have been with them for about an hour!

Around the table everyone was taking a turn to suggest a song and lead in the playing of it. The inevitable happened. The faces turned to me. In truth there is only one song that I have been learning, and I can only play that very slowly, with the music in front of me, in the privacy of my own home. Without any music to refer to, it went very badly indeed. It was possibly the worst rendition of Eric Clapton’s ‘Wonderful tonight’ that has ever been given. Thankfully Dave was too absorbed in nursing his bleeding eardrums to film it. You will have to trust the still photograph. It did happen, and it was dreadful.
open mic
But it means I have done an open mic night! Of sorts!

(If anyone would like a copy of the Hilarious Limericks I would be delighted to email them to you. Just ask! It does seem a travesty that they will not reach the audience they deserve.)

#91: Light a fire and cook my dinner on it

This was entirely brilliant. We were on the south coast of Cornwall, on a totally beautiful and empty beach, ready to bivvy for the night after an afternoon’s boating, and my task was to make fire, and cook dinner. (Luckily we had anticipated failing to catch any fish, and packed some ingredients from the cupboards at home).

So, entirely unilaterally, I foraged for wood, built my fire, lit it, and tended it into a roaring toasty blaze. I prepared my ingredients and brewed up a remarkable pasta /pesto extravaganza, with mushrooms and chorizo. The fire blazed. The waves crashed. The sun was setting. All was right with the world.
cooking on fire

fire
As I tended my quite brilliant fire, I realised I was indeed, doing everything entirely myself. And I wondered how on earth it could be, that Dave could bring himself to leave the fire making to someone else. (For that is why it is on the list: I have become so accustomed to him taking over all such endeavours, that I rarely have any need to test my own survival skills.)
dinner from fire
But now, I have done it, and no doubt you’ll agree that I am clearly gifted at outdoor living. I will probably be asked to do a TV show soon, a kind of female Ray Mears. Such were the happy thoughts going round in my head as I assembled the meal. But when I looked around to summons David for his tea, I realised why I had been allowed to proceed unbothered. For he had been building his own fire, except he had built a fire that he could charge his mobile phone on. I am not joking.
davids fire
Still. No one likes a smart arse.

#90: Attempt kayak surfing

Over the bank holiday Dave and I had a free pass, to go sea kayaking around the coast of Cornwall. Which was absolutely lush. I have failed absolutely to master the eskimo rolling which was supposed to be one of my challenges, but I guess you have to take opportunities as they present themselves. The sea was too rough for an effective lesson on rolling, but conditions were totally ideal for learning to surf the waves in a boat.

Basically you paddle in front of the wave, the wave lifts you, you put in a stern rudder, then you either power into the shore like a legend or you spin round 90 degrees and come off the wave, then paddle back out to sea and start again.

Or, as I discovered, there is a third way. The wave takes you, you stick the paddle somewhere at random, whereupon you are unceremoniously deposited on the bottom of the ocean. You exit the boat, cursing as cold water penetrates your clothing from every angle, hopefully retrieve paddle and kayak, and retreat to dry land to rectify matters.

This was my preferred method on most attempts. The first day I caught a couple of waves without mishap. But for most of the time, I was upside down. It begins well:
kayak surf 1
It continues well…
kayak surf 2
And then, ah yes – over I go.
kayak surf 3
Ah well. There is some value I suppose, in that it takes the fear out of capsizing. Once I had been in once it didn’t matter if it happened again, and again! So we had a thoroughly enjoyable morning of it!

#89: And then bury all your clothes

bury all my clothes (2)
Yes I know, it is entirely pointless, ridiculous, etc.

But it does amuse me slightly, to think of the builders coming to knock down our sorry little bungalow in a few weeks’ time; then digging the foundations of the 2 swank pads that are going to replace it, only to unearth a random selection of my pants, not very far from the surface.

Am I abnormal?

#88: Fly a jumbo jet

Well not exactly a jumbo jet, but I have been flying one of these bad boys!
Check it out!
aircraft

We have been viewing Ashton Keynes and the surrounding area from the air, and while I cannot claim to have been in any way instrumental in surviving the experience, I did get to fiddle with the control stick rather a lot (oo-er). And I must say it was extremely responsive!

Here is Ashton Keynes from above:
AK from the air
And here is me, looking more than slightly anxious at wobbling about 1800 feet in the air or thereabouts (if I understood the controls correctly, which is enormously unlikely).
anxious pilot

Thank you very much Auntie Tina for my early birthday present! Very splendid.