A Confident Crisis

“Ok, I’ll go have a shower – perhaps that’ll get me going. “
En route from office to bathroom I stop and address the dust motes swirling around in an early sunbeam:“think I’ll have a coffee first”.

Downstairs, in the kitchen as I faff around, MCV (my critic’s voice) makes itself heard. Didn’t think it would take long before it made an appearance on stage.
“You’ve not written a word; you said you’d do three chapters a week. You’re still on the first. You’ve not written a word.”
“I know I know, but I’m stuck. I can’t think of anything to say – so get off my back. Anyway, I’m just going to iron these few things.”
“You…iron? You don’t know one end from t’other. Can you actually remember where it is? Have you unpacked it yet? You’re only been here two years now. Just how desperate can you get?”
Well pretty desperate actually.

This silent conversation that I have with MCV has been going on now for a few days. I find myself in a pother of procrastination. I have work ahead of me; deadlines to meet; people to see. For once I actually have stuff to write for which people want to pay and I find myself la-la-ing around, titivating, fiddling, fancifying even ironing (in a half-hearted sort of way)…anything to stop myself going up the stairway to hell – aka my office. Even if I do get there I gaze out of the window and the sea twinkling benignly in the sun invites me to cast off a clout or two and go for a paddle. I’m not deceived though. I know from bitter experience that emerging from an icy dousing in the North Sea is not like Venus rising from the waves in her scallop shell. No, it’s more akin to a frozen turkey lugged from the freezer on Christmas Eve. I did wonder at the time why all those kids wore wet-suits whilst I frolicked in a modest swim-skirt…but I digress…again.

I usually have a number of tricks to overcome the occasional slice of procrastination – make a game of it; do 1 minute’s worth and then stop; analyse the “why”; divide and conquer…I could go on but I’d rather you bought my book (see sidebar and sorry about the plug).

Actually this isn’t a dose of the put-offs. It is what my mother called “a phase she’s going through” in response to my rather feeble adolescent rebellion that consisted entirely of teaching my eyebrows the trick of independent suspension so that I could flick just the one to create a quizzical, faintly supercilious effect.It’s a skill I’ve cherished all my life.

Am I having a “forty is the new sixty” life crisis or do I mean “sixty is the new forty” life crisis? Either way it’s a pile of goose-poo. I can tell you with confidence that I’m just having a crisis of confidence and I have had those since I was knee-high. To quote my mother again, this time on the subject of puppy fat, “it’ll disappear when you grow up.”
For the record I’m on my fourth diet this year alone.

However, I have a solution.

Stuck for words? Can’t seem to put pen to paper? Rather do anything, anything at all but write?

You need…A BLOG, probably the most effective displacement activity in the world.

Oh to be a polymath now that April’s here

Today is a day-job day or rather it’s a get-all-the-office-stuff-sorted day because the end of the financial year is nigh. I love my day job but loathe the pernickity admin that clings to it – in particular THE ACCOUNTS. I haven’t done them since last September and there are little heaps of paper, post-its, bank statements, receipts and parking tickets (all carefully filed not piled please note) at various strategic points in the house. Now I know I’m Mrs Time for Your Life and hence the world-renown expert on taking control of your life and the stuff in it but give me a break – I’m half human after all and entitled to the odd bad fur day.

Anyhoo, today is the day I round up and corrall all this paperwork before converting it into finance speak. Therein lies the rub. When it comes to numbers and maths my head is in a dark place where it was never intended to be. Even the calculator takes on a life of its own as it flashes, blinks and spews up impossible answers.

HOW much tax? That’s half the national debt. It’s no wonder I’m in my very own, truly personal triple-dip recession. The machine is no more helpful when it comes to income either – £0.0012 for a year’s work or did I just press the square root button?

Then I have the dilemma – use an accountant or fill in the forms myself. It’s quite possible the accountant’s fees will exceed my income so I’ve resolved to tackle the beast that is an income tax return myself. I know before I start I’ll be totally befuddled by the multiple choice questions and propositions “if you answered X to question A then go to section 2 and answer question Z. However if you did not answer X…blah blah.”

After that, assuming I survive, there’s another side to my financial world. My measly ISA (that’s a tax free savings account)comes to the end of its special for one year only interest rate. Now I have to trawl the internet to find an ISA that is kind enough to let me access my own dosh when I want to and yet pays me something more than £0.00012 in monthly interest equating to an APR of 0.5%. When it comes to finance – it’s a foreign language.

It’s no good going in person to a bank and asking for help. I’ve tried this and was met by a brightly smiling infant in uniform who told me the so-and-so bank has sooooo many products it’s impossible to tell me the interest rate of their one and only internet-only, instant access ISA. Instead, she tippitoed off to print out a list of all the products. When she returned, limping a little under the weight of the paper, she thrust it into my arms and with another bright smile wished me “have a nice day”.

A well known Anglo Saxon phrase came to mind ending in “off”.

I wish I’d acquired a broader education – if it wasn’t history, french or english literature I didn’t want to know. How much easier life must be for those characters who, like a sponge, absorb all the learning and knowledge thrown at them so that, in real life, they can fill in a tax return without spending the next three months in therapy.

So methinks no literary pearls from me for a day or two but y’all have a nice day now.