I’m not sure when as a kid I got my first inkling that grown ups didn’t know everything. I’ve got a feeling it was when we were on a family trip to the US about 1992ish. Yes that’s a bit vague but my parents would save up each year, for a few years in a row, just so we could take a three week holiday to the States where my dad would drive us around for hours and do things like try not to get charged at by bison or get attacked by a cowboy I’d accidentally spilt mustard over (and he was wearing a cream suit at the time). You know, classic family holiday stuff like that. So I think it was the 1992ish trip, when I was about 11, and I have no idea what bit of ‘Murica we were in, but we were in a bit and we were in a Wendy’s or some other fast food diner type place in that bit. While in the restaurant, we’d all sat down with our food after being served, when we noticed a very old man with a zimmer frame collect his food at the till. He then looked at his zimmer frame and at his food tray and tried to pick up the tray but then couldn’t move his frame in order to get to a table. Then he tried moving the frame but realised he then couldn’t pick up the tray. After a few minutes of trying both, he looked rather upset with life, so my dad offered to help carry his tray to a table. The old man looked at my dad then barked at him that he didn’t need any help. My dad returned to our table looking a bit flummoxed by this and we all watched as the old man spent a very long time neither sitting down or eating.
Of course, this man was probably angry at his ageing body making him need the aide of others, no doubt trying his very best to retain some scrap of his independence. But at the same time, he was clearly an idiot who could’ve just accepted a bit of help from a fellow human being, eaten his food then romped around on his zimmer frame all independent for the rest of the day. At 11 years old I was completely confused as to how or why someone who had lived to be that long still hadn’t worked out various aspects of life. 25 years later, as a supposed adult myself, I find myself still surprised when I realise other grown ups have no idea what they’re doing. It’s not particularly reassuring finding out that people you would assume have some sense of the world or life, in reality, are winging it and making mistakes just as often as everyone else, blustering through with ignorant stubborn bravado like the old man in probably Wendy’s. In the past week I’ve watched news about an authoritarian dictator threaten nuclear war against another authoritarian dictator, the world assuming each has a plan other than hot headed stupidity to uphold their own narcissistic values. I’ve watched parliament today where the Secretary Of State For Brexit, an elected MP and government official, contradicted everything he said only a few months ago while opposition MPs laughed at him for even pretending he had a clue. I regularly try to reassure myself that no one can be that careless and indeed callous about such important decisions that affect so many people’s lives, that somewhere there must be a plan or a reason that anyone would want to do any of this. But the more I read up on all of it, the more I think, actually, I think everyone is just winging it.
I mean, of course they are. No one knows everything. I wing it all the time, and I’m often amazed when people think I haven’t. More often than not at the end of a show, I’m just relieved I got away with doing my job again, without someone finding out that seconds before going onstage I was still trying to work out what to start with and end with, and say in the middle and regretting not doing a job where I could mostly be at home. But part of being an adult must be making it look like you’re not winging it. Convincing children and younger people that actually you have everything under control and accidents or mistakes are a rare thing rather than the default that you have got extremely jammy at avoiding. I sometimes wonder if this is why older people vote more conservatively than younger people, simply because by a certain age they’re sick of pretending they know what they’re doing so rebel against it and make purposefully stupid choices. No wait that wasn’t my point with that. Oh well. It’s what came out though I really was trying for something more intelligent but I didn’t really know what it was. But it wasn’t too hard pretending and I’ve realised that’s almost all I went from those in charge now. Just for a week or two, make it appear you know what you’re doing. I know they say Brexit will do brilliantly or that we’re all protected from nuclear attack blah blah blah but none of it is said convincingly, or without gaping holes that can be torn asunder with a simple google search.Yes that’s where we are. I no longer care about having people in charge who do know what they’re doing, I’m now so miserable with it all I just want people who are at least pretty good at pretending they know what they’re doing. Is that too much to ask? Is it? Can we just have a few weeks where we can all have a breather and those in charge can pretend they aren’t complete useless arseholes who were they at maybe Wendy’s with a food tray and zimmer frame wouldn’t just end up on the floor covered in burger sauce crying? I don’t know and if I said I did, look closely and you’d be able to see that actually, underneath it all, I’m as terrified as you are. I’m just very good at smiles and jazz hands because I’m a grown up and that’s my job.
If you would like words from me direct to your mailbox, please sign up to my mailing list at www.tiernandouieb.co.uk/contact. You only get one a month and that’s it. Even if you ask nicely.
My Partly Political Broadcast podcast has started again. Check it out here:
If for some reason you want to sponsor me to do the podcast or write stupid blogs about toast or try and spend time touring my shows or even just have extended writer’s blocks, then please head to my Patreon at:
Or buy me a coffee at ko-fi.com/parpolbro