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Living with the fails

I've never held back from criticising myself (and others, sorry!). I can't hang a picture on the wall without it falling off soon after, but I can tell you the picture isn't straight and point out why you're hanging it wrong.

I wouldn't trust myself to hang it, I know it would fall and then, in my mind's eye, it falls on the cat/the son/the foot I need to brake the car. Every disaster ensues from my dangerous picture-hanging, so I don't do it.

But what about the fails I can't avoid? The everyday mistakes that follow me around and remind me how bad I am at such-and-such, how I got it wrong again, how I forgot again. What can I do to stop them?

So come the fails. Imagine them like a row of grubby little chickens, one after the other. Clucking in protest or panic they run after me as if I can lead them home and safe. The fails, that little group who gather each day when I do this wrong or that the right way then forget it. There they are, just when I thought I'd dodged them today, rounding the corner with their pointless wings flapping and their little faces desperately seeking mine.

Some days I could fill a hen house: other days I might only have one or two with very familiar faces and a tilt of the beak as if to say, When on earth are we going to see the last of you?

I run and run and never move, with the little group of fails running on the spot behind me. How can I get rid of them?

The truth is, I can't. And even if I could, I shouldn't.

There they are, flapping, squawking, showing me up when I fall over nothing, pull the wrong door, fall into the bank and stare, really, really hard at someone's chin until they wipe it and I realise I'm staring.

This grubby group of what went wrong today is nothing to be ashamed of, though.

Today I caught myself before I hit the floor, I laughed as I tried the right door the second time and joked with the sales assistant on the other side; I fall into the bank so regularly I've started not to notice and...well...I was never staring at that chin.

I was thinking of all the golden ideas I had on my way to the bank and wondering if I can text them to myself in the time it takes to get served or whether, on the way home, I should find the little seat next to the crossing and write them down there, before I forget.

Later, as I sit on the seat next to the crossing, tucking in my feet in case anyone trips, forgetting the wind blowing down the street - then the little fails line up under the seat to shelter as they wait for me, or sit next to me and flurry out of the way if someone else wants to sit down. A rogue fail might linger at the edge of the crossing, noseying at the cars going past and wondering what to have for tea.

You see, the fails are part of me - they are me. I can't chase away part of me, how would I know when I get things right if I never get them wrong? And how boring to be right all the time.

Golden words are soon texted to myself  (one of my fails is losing notebooks). I stand up from the seat and look around, discovering afresh where I am and when. The impatient fail at the crossing hops til I reach it and the others bustle themselves behind me as we cross the street and head for home.

In my pocket my own words beep at me as the text bounces back into my phone. Much later, in my darkened bedroom, I look and remember the hard seat, the cold wind, the distant sound of cars and the memory of the day when I was someone ever so slightly younger.

The fails nestle quietly while I read, content and unashamed.


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