Sunday, 3 June 2012

I Can't Whistle Either

Boredom warning:  This post will contain an average of the use of the personal pronoun 'I' more than once a line.

A few days ago on Eagleton Notes I posted about the mediocrity of many of my achievements.  One of the one's I didn't mention but which is the one that most often reminds me of my lack of ability is my inability to whistle.  Not, I hasten to add, for lack of trying nor lack of other people trying to teach me.  I have stood (or sat) on many occasions trying to work out a way to fold my tongue or put two fingers into my mouth and emit that piercing sound that would alert the very souls in Hades to my presence.  But all to no avail.

I was, I have to confess, touched and amused at the comments on my previous post.  As the comments came in I and I re-read what I had written I realised that it might have looked as though I was either being falsely modest (definitely not, I am very proud of my modesty) or fishing for compliments (which I was not, truly). 

After doing well enough in the Eleven Plus to get to my first choice at one of the most sought after Grammar Schools in Liverpool, I suddenly realised that I didn't take after my Mother who both loved academia and excelled at it.  I disliked school and I definitely didn't excel academically.  I have absolutely no ability to perform in exams - for example I was first (or thereabouts) in class in English Literature throughout school but I fluffed the GCE in the subject (but that's an entire topic on its own).  I never got less than alpha or alpha plus for my written work at Uni (except occasionally in Economics I seem to recall)  but I only managed the most mediocre of degrees.  It was the same when I did post-grad. 

Why am I telling you this?  I'm not quite sure but it started out because readers' comments on my original post made me realise that I believe that I really do understand my own worth.  I realised many years ago that I am by no means stupid but neither am I particularly bright academically.  Apart from anything else to achieve in academe one needs two qualities (at least): a reasonably analytical mind and a good memory.  I have the former but I lack the latter.  

Had I completed my law degree and pursued my Bar studies I would have made a perfectly acceptable living as a hack barrister on the Northern Circuit.  I have met too many Queen's Counsel in my career to realise that there are many brains far sharper than mine and for some reason in that field (as in the field of music when I realised early on that I would never be able to play the piano well enough to satisfy my own targets) I decided that if I could not be amongst the best then I would rather choose to do something else.

I could go on but by now I'm sure you will have been able to fill in the blanks on the canvas.

So I really was not being falsely modest when I said what I did.  I really do not mind being average and had I used that word instead of mediocre I suspect not a single person would have felt the need to comment and yet mediocre is only a more derogatory form of that word when applied in the context in which I used it.

Of course academic and material achievement is not everything in this life and different people measure success by different criteria.  
If, for example, one believes that the ultimate goal in life is happiness then my achievements are above average.  It may have taken me most of my life to get here but I suspect that I'm luckier than many.

For that I am very thankful.


  1. Ah, if only you'd learnt how to whistle properly, I'm sure your whole career would have taken a different turn and you'd become a renowned barrister, famous in every court!

    I think I did get your point already in the other post you're referring to. Very few people do get to enter the Hall of Fame and somehow not all of those who do seem the be overflowing with happiness either.

    And now you're trying to explain your mediocrity in a post starting with a boredom warning because you fear you may be using the word "I" a few more times than usual.

    Sometimes you're just too cute for your own good ;)

    Now let's see if I can prove I'm not a robot... (WV!)

    1. Thanks Monica. Cute? Not, even in the context you used it, is that an adjective I've heard used about me before.

      PS Thanks for reminding me that I hadn't removed WV from this blog. Now done.

  2. This post makes me want to happy hug you because of the connection we have in our make up.

    Whistle? I can whistle, a poor little fleeting squeeeee but cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to make a big whabam of a whistle with my fingers like my husband can. Wish I could. There are many 'wishes that I could' and lately, it seems that God's making me aware of how often I think that way {and how I'm less and less thankful for what I am}. I don't like it.

    Yesterday, at church service, there was a worship song that I was singing and when a particular line danced it's way through my thought and out my mouth....I felt it, deeply. So deeply that it's resonated in my mind since. It's almost as if I'd forgotten, Graham.

    And when I begin doubting myself, in any mind is reminded - Jesus is enough for me. I am enough for He.

    I wouldn't have thought you were fishing for compliments or encouragement but just sharing your thoughts.

    One of the things that I've learned this year about myself, mostly as I've been made aware through my youngest and testing that they've done with him - - my loss for memory is REAL and it's not because I'm lazy or not trying or even because I don't care {things that I knew but have never been able to create an understanding in others}.

    I always worked around it in school. I've said that I enjoyed doing homework, I had to - that was my way around the inability to do well on tests. I excelled in other areas but could not be called upon in the 'heat of the moment' because I would lose all thought....and did the same with tests.

    Okay, I've babbled on enough.

    Love to you!!!

    1. Whoa! Stop that doubting, Heather. You know you can because you have achieved so much already. As for the whistling I've discovered someone who can let out such a piercing whistle it's not a good idea to be standing right in front of her when she does so. More soon!