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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The Delights of Doing Bugger All

It's now the third day of our two week break, and I've managed to relax for the first time

I can now sleep until 10am.  To be accurate, I can sleep until 5:23 (my normal waking time), get up and have a cup of tea, and then GO BACK TO BED AND SLEEP.

Absolute bliss.

Snuggling back among the still-warm sheets and duvet, and back besides my gently snoring (and sometimes dribbling) beloved.

The dawning realisation from my body, that it's allowed to relax and sleep.

The slow unclenching of the muscles as they warm and soften.



The problem of being a Scot, is that we're raised to think that the old Presbyterian values are inviolate.
The work ethic is incredibly strong, and every time I relax and do nothing, I start to feel guilty.

It's a simple series of equations.

  1. Work = Good
  2. Hard Work = Better
  3. Parsimony = Good
  4. Spending = Bad
  5. Fun = Bad
  6. Pleasure = Sin (Bad 2 )
  7. Sleep = Essential = Good (or at least Neutral)
  8. Sleep-in = Pleasure = Sin
  9. Education = Good

Following these rules (I like to think of them more as guidelines really) is part of every Scot's makeup and character, apart of course, those poor bastards who were raised differently. Like Catholics, Gypsies and other disreputable creatures. (This is not a biased opinion.  Anyone who reads my blog knows I'm not a biased man. Ask Ringo. It is however the opinion of my family, clan and sept, so must therefore be true)

Breaking these guidelines brings on the guilt, and it is really only in the last 5 years that I've managed to understand at a deep and emotional level, that relaxing can be good, and enjoyable.

So I'm happy nowadays in doing nothing.  Lying comfortably on the couch, a good book in my lap and an adequate Aussie Cabernet (Banrock Station) in my glass, and a little bowl of nibbles on the table and away from the bloody little shit-machine (the dog, not m'son) who snaffled the last load of salsa-flavoured chips and subsequently covered half the available deck area in slurry-like deposits.

But like all concepts of perfection, there has to be something imperfect, to add weight to the beauty of the ideal.

In my case the imperfection is my beloved.

Not that she is in any way wrong, you understand, just that there is something even stronger than the Scottish Presbyterian work ethic, and that's the Chinese Work-Them-Till-They-Drop ethic, used to such good effect by such leading names as Adidas, Nike, Apple etc.

My beloved thinks that if there is even one job unfinished then relaxation (on my part anyway) is verboten.

She is really inventive in this area.  I can be lying there, reading Chapter 4 and sucking at the vino, when she can appear; out of nowhere it feels.( Do ALL women have this power, or only those who have sold their souls to Old Nick.)  (Or perhaps their partner's souls.  Hmmm.  Could explain a lot)
She can invent spot an unfinished job at 300 paces.  Like one rootlet dangling over the raised flower bed railing, after I've weeded half the garden and dumped all the evil that is Japanese Anemone in the gully below the front deck. (It's actually our neighbour's gully, but he can't even see it through the thick bush, and he hasn't complained yet, AND it saves me a fortune in dumping fees at Silverstream Landfill, so it's got to be good (see Rules Guidelines 3 & 4 above)

However, after all the little jobs are done, back to relaxation.

I wonder how my students are doing on their holiday homework.

At the moment I don't really care

Sheer bloody bliss

PS: You may have noticed that I've decapitalised my beloved. She just woke me up again at 10:15.  Seemingly too much sleep is bad.  Aparently.


  1. Now I know why I feel guilty all the time when having fun - it's in my genes!
    Enjoy your relaxation.

  2. I know what you mean.
    My Scottish Methodist background gets the better of me sometimes but for the last couple of years I've just about beaten it out of me through golf, kayaking, swimming and generally lazing about.

  3. Pinky: It's something we just have to live with.

    TC: It's hell, isn't it, but someones got to do it. Pity you are rejoing the ranks of the gainfully employed, even if it is just marketing.

  4. I too suffer from this guilt. Does that mean I'm Scottish?

  5. Richard [of RBB]: No it just means you're a normal guilt ridden bloke.

    I blame the women.

  6. I'm very lucky - the guilt bit of my education didn't really sink in, and I mislaid my work ethic when I was about 16 and have never looked back. I do work hard, but only on things that interest me. I suppose partly it's seeing my parents work themselves to the bone yet now, in their 70s, they have absolutely FA to show for it, no house of their own, and hardly two ha'pennies to rub together. So why bother?

  7. looby: Welcome back. Guilt wasn't exactly part of my education, we just sort of soaked it up, like osmosis, with the occasional skelp around the ear to remind us that the Sabbath was Sacred, and not to have any f*cking fun.
    Mu Mum & Dad worked all their lives as well, but manages a quiet wee retirement in the Black Isle, North of Inverness. Quiet but fairly comfortable.

    All depends on the breaks I suppose, but if you don't try, you don't get.

  8. You have a hilarious blog. I found you through that grumpy old man named Don who seems to be irritated with everything. I'm trying to get him to teach me how to be a grumpy old man. My wife says I'm well on my way. As you can see by my gravatar, I'm already bothered by most things. I'm sorry that I'm catholic, but I still love your blog. Take care.

  9. I agree with everything you say here TSB. I too suffer from the guilt issue but I'm hoping that by practicing hard {continually ignoring what needs to be done} that in a hundred years or so I'll be over it.

    Please NEVER bring your wife to my house as my wife has been carefully weaned off much of the list making/demanding behaviour of her youth and I would hate to see her suffer from disappointment at her age.

    You can meet every goal if you set expectations low enough but, being a teacher working for an education authority, you'll know that already!

  10. Bothered: Welcome, thanks for dropping by. I too admire the grumpy old Don, as I aspire to becoming even grumpier. It's so much fun. I may conduct a seminar on ” becoming one with the grump”, keep watching the posts. Don't feel guilty about being a Catholic; oops, sorry, I forgot it's de rigueur for all members of that faith to be steeped in guilt. From the moment you're born I believe.
    You may realise that we don't treat religion too seriously around here.

    Alistair: No problem, I've just waved my magic wand, and created an invisible, impenetrable shell around Lothian, so your wife will remain inviolate. Keep working at the guilt, work harder, drink more, you'll get there.

    I'll have you know that as a poorly paid and otherwise poorly recompensed (only 12 weeks holiday for goodness sake)teacher, we banned the use of expectations by staff and students after the poor souls found out in 2009 that staff weren’t allowed to leave, and that students didn't have anywhere else to go. Job cuts you know.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. Sorry, didn't mean to delete my comment...

    That Presbyterian work ethic true. Very glad there are others out there who feel/are the same!

    1. We keep trying, but the last bastards keep on coming back.


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