Well, I graded yesterday. I got up at 5.45 so I had time to relax with a coffee before I needed to go to London to grade. This was the first time I had been to a patterns grading as opposed to a foundation grading, so it was interesting for me to see the difference in format.
I was a bit jittery, not allowing myself to get too nervous until the time came when my name was called and it was my turn. Thankfully, unlike some who were also grading, I didn’t have to go up on my own, but I still needed to ask permission to start again as my mind, about halfway through a pattern that takes less than a minute to complete, went completely blank. ‘Shit,’ I thought, ‘what do I do next?’ even though I knew perfectly well what came next. I was not, however, the first person to have asked permission to start again and one person even needed to re-start twice, so I didn’t feel too bad. I suppose it’s expected that nerves will take over and this will happen. Anyway, now I just have to wait and find out the result, which is almost as nerve-jangling as being up ‘performing’ in front of the chief instructor and my own instructor. Thankfully, both Dave (my instructor) and the chief instructor are nice people, so any nerves I had were countered to some degree by my knowing I was in safe and expert hands. I actually find, when I look through other clubs’ websites (out of pure interest), that instructors calling themselves ‘Master Barry’ or ‘Sifu John’ or whatever is quite pretentious, not to say a little big-headed. In spite of being the only master in the world of this particular system of kung fu, our chief instructor knows the meaning of humility and we all call him (and refer to him) by his first name.
The other day, I found I was one of only five people (out of many who took part) who asked Jasper Fforde questions on Twitter to be chosen by the man himself to receive a signed copy of his latest book, Shades of Grey. I’m not really accustomed to winning things, so when the Twinterview (the name makes me cringe a bit, so forgive me) was taking place, on Tuesday morning, I asked him several, determined that he should notice me. He did. He answered three of my questions and then Waterstone’s posted a tweet giving the names of the people whose questions were his favourites. I was listed! So, after I’d finished bouncing off the walls and bending Greg’s ear about it, I rang my mum, who reckons I’ve got some jam (I must have inherited that from my dear Nan, then, who had, as my mum always said, more jam than Hartley’s). I got a message today asking for my address, so now I’m trying to stop myself going down to the postbox every five minutes to check if the book has arrived yet (which, of course, it won’t have).
You may have got the impression by now that Jasper Fforde is a writer I particularly admire and much of that is due to the sheer absurdity of his books. I find the way his mind works fascinating and, besides which, not many writers can make me collapse into giggles at two in the morning when I really should be getting some sleep.
One last thing. It’s Burns Night, tonight. Happy birthday, Rabbie Burns. National bard of Scotland, who was born on this day in 1759. I always think he must turn in his grave every time someone sings the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne wrong. It is not, and let me be very emphatic about this, it is NOT ‘For the sake of auld lang syne.’ It is ‘For auld lang syne,’ roughly translated as ‘For old times’ sake.’ (The fact that ‘syne’ actually means ‘since’ would make the translation technically inaccurate but, trust me, this is what it means.) I miss Scotland. I miss Inverness. I especially miss Alison, my extremely talented best friend. Cheers, Scotland. Slainte mhath to you all.