Why I have to earn my time in front of the telly | Alun Newman
It’s the winter evenings that provide the most testing of psychological challenges.It gets dark so quickly that I can easily think it's time to settle down into fully committed sedentary living, only to see that it’s just gone 4pm.
I have to tell someone, ‘It’s just gone four o’clock, I thought it was more like seven?’
They often reply that they also thought it was later and then they give me their time ‘I thought it was even later, I thought about eight.’
At a recent family evening meal we were taking it in turns to do impressions of each other.
They were really very funny and insightful and it proved a great opportunity to reflect on what it’s like living with each other.
Only family can give that kind of feedback and get away with it… most of the time.
My daughter did one of me, walking into the kitchen talking about all the things I’ve ‘got to do today…’
This was followed by rallying cries to see if anyone wants to help/join in? No-one ever does.
The family laugh (a lot) as they point out that if I don’t get what I want then I get grumpy and start complaining that we’re ‘turning into human doughnuts!’
They do this while waving their arms around and getting into full method acting mode. This is hurtful.
Having to do ‘something’ could be seen as avoidance, the inability to be able to sit and relax.
Buddha would want to be present, in the moment, enjoying the breeze/rain/sunshine.
But I have recycling to do, a car to clean, Christmas decorations to find, a dog to walk, bulbs to replace, ceiling lights to fit, fuses to blow.
The reality is that I get bored. Easily. And when I do, I like everyone to know about it.
David Banner (also known as The Hulk) used to say: ‘Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.’
My catchphrase would be: ‘Don’t let me get bored. I annoy myself and everyone else around me if I get bored’.
It’s not as catchy as the one from Hollywood’s Jekyll and Hyde but it’s still tedious to be around when the monster’s on the way out.
In order to try to work with this, my wife might say something like ‘what’s your plan for the weekend?’
Or she might come out with something more direct such as, ‘please find something to do before you make all our lives as miserable as the look on your face’.
To be honest, it’s all fair.
I come from a family of people who ‘do’. It’s in our DNA. In fact we see not doing as a cardinal sin.
TV is the last thing you sit down to watch and only when you’re tired.
I’ve been known to walk for miles, just to walk for miles, so I could say at the end of the day, I’m going to have a sit down, I’ve walked for miles.
My latest project is the garage.
It’s already pretty tidy, but it can be the 'out of sight out of mind' dumping ground.
I have decided that I’m going to throw/donate/recycle everything we’ve had for years and not used.
This includes car axle stands, an old fish tank, Hoover attachments for Hoovers I haven’t got, cricket bats, wooden table and wobbly chairs.
One thing I can’t seem to get rid of though is this wretched need to be busy!
Saying it with garage flowers
Some of the men in the road I inhabit, gather for a quarterly trip to the pub. It’s largely a sensible occasion including car chat, holiday ideas and demonstrating sporting knowledge.
At our last meeting the subject of buying flowers for our partners/wives appeared. Without any exception common ground was found as we discovered all our spouses had requested a more consistent/any delivery of flowers.
Not one man around the table had ever reached nirvana but all could see the rewards for such delivery could be well worth it!
From this revelation ‘Flower Club’ was born. With the slogan ‘what happens in flower club stays in flower club’.
The agreement was this, we vowed to buy one bunch of flowers every Wednesday, every fortnight, until we reconvened. The expectation was high. The fantasy of finally being ‘that guy’ they hoped we would always become seemed much more tangible.
Within seven days I’d forgotten I was even in Flower Cub. My neighbour went for garage tulips and it did more harm than good. The bloke opposite left a note in his online diary and his wife read it, and next-door-but-one bailed because it would look like he was having an affair.
We’re reviewing the idea at the next meeting.
• Tune into Alun Newman and Lou Hannan on BBC Radio Solent, weekdays at 10am.