It’s been some time. I haven’t got down to it for a while. Circumstances were never quite right for a prolonged session. I didn’t even want it. It felt more refreshing to go for a long, hard run. In short, things had to change.
Now I’m not a huge fan of business cliches or TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms, LOL), but there is one I find useful on a daily basis. So once I’d decided it was time to escape my personal Gobi, my only thought was JFDI. Just F-, er, Do It. “Just do it,” I tell my boys, when negotiations have run their course or I’ve already delivered at least one, “We’re super-late.”
So, under JFDI rules, I pack my bag of essentials and set out first thing Monday morning after dropping off the kids – at school, rather than in the euphemistic sense. And I walk. I walk with no destination in mind. A destination would need planning and planning is the parent of procrastination, which is JFDI’s enemy.
A few minutes pass, the nods of acknowledgement and quick-fire exchanges of pleasantries diminish, the sun peaks through the only gap in the clouds and I find that I’m alone.
Alone, smiling and strutting.
I’m convinced it’s a quirk of being a 24-7 stay-at-home-dad for so long. I can’t recall ever feeling a natural high from being alone when I was single, or even childless. Then again I struggle to recall the last unbroken night’s sleep or names of people 2.3 seconds after they’ve introduced themselves, but that would more than double this entry.
So I am strutting, and thoroughly in the right frame of mind for what I need to do. However, as Brian May almost sang, “Too much choice will kill you, every time.”
In passing, I dismiss some as too quiet, others as garish or obviously chaotic. You might think JFDI requires me to choose quickly. Not so. There’s a natural balance between standards and strutting fatigue. Sure enough, after eight minutes, I am on the threshold.
I enter a church. Oh yes, a church. But not your common or garden church. This one contains a post office and a cafe. It has a three-story kids’ soft-play area down the entire north side, tucked under the ornate, arched roof. And there’s even melodic music and singing emanating from the toddlers’ session in the Ladychapel.
Yes, apparently that’s what it’s called. Now Ladychapel is officially my favourite word and, although it probably settles my mental age at fourteen, I shall sprinkle my sentences with ladychapels or Ladychapels at my discretion. And I’m not so discrete. Clearly.
So I reluctantly swerve the Ladychapel and head to the cafe on the far side of the post office, away from the soft-play hubbub. As I order a large pot of green tea, I smile at the familiarity of the music on the waitress’s playlist. Like an enticing party, it’s half ones I’d have selected myself, half carefully selected strangers.
Now to the task in hand. Selection is critical.
Backs to the wall, obviously. A view of the post office queue. Shielded from the chaotic soft-play, but subject to its conducive white noise. Viable sideways glances of the Ladychapel. Tables for two are out for several reasons. Too cramped and inhibiting. Also in here they are bizarre little cupboard doors attached to mismatched table legs, the doors being great for stopping coffee cups sliding off but nowhere near smooth enough for my tastes. The only viable option is a long rectangular four-seater, with the bonus of accommodating an additional like-minded individual us being in each other’s laps.
I lay down my bag and sit, but there is a problem. The chair has one shorter leg and wobbles. That just won’t do. The second one has sagging thatch and rocks to and fro. Coming over all Goldilocks, so to speak, the third is capacious and sturdy, with wood smoothed by a thousand bottoms.
The waitress arrives with the tea, a family-sized pot, and a smile.
I withdraw my pad and pen. Is it that easy? Can I begin?
p.s. I have been writing in my Glorious, Golden, Gratuitous spot for two weeks now. A consistency worthy of a blog entry, I thought. One of the friendly waitresses, politely asked if there was anything else I wanted. “Alcohol would help of course,” I offered, with surprising self-censorship.
“But we serve alcohol,” she replied. “Beer and wine.” She gestured to the full fridges that the quest for my glory spot had filtered from my vision. Green tea suddenly tasted too medicinal. “We even have a quiz night, the poster’s beneath the huge sign for, er-”
The chunky gold portrait frame held a chalkboard, containing the only words my fading eyesight could manage to read within the church – there was, unfortunately, no visible sign for the Ladychapel. Maybe someone stole it. The sign read, “BEER AND WINE HERE.” Yes, all capitals, it wasn’t even whispering.
Of course I’d read the sign, every day for a fortnight in fact. Tricky to read between the lines to dismiss the obvious but I’d somehow managed it. “I guess I thought it was like one of those traditional Coca Cola posters or mirrors,” I replied feebly.
“Yeah, we sell that too.”