Lent – Day 12: Revisiting the Old Firm

Today’s nothing was partaken of in the office of my ex-church. I’ve been re-employed as relief caretaker and, this evening, I was caretaking for a big (for an evening) service led by Youth For Christ. Once everybody was let in and everything, I retired to the office, plugged my laptop into the internet and messed around for a bit, then turned everything back off and sat doing nothing for fifteen minutes.

Or I would have, if I hadn’t been roused five minutes into my quietitude by a church member slightly panicking about what to do with a book stall that had been landed upon them with no notice. Once that was sorted out, the following ten minutes passed reasonably smoothly. One of the main thoughts that my mind kept returning to was about my employment and the non-desirability of continuing to work two and a bit part time jobs – I really need to get a move on with the Giant Form of Doom! I’ll have a crack at it tomorrow and then write a bit about it in Day 13’s blog entry.

Lent – Day 11: Good Stuff List – Part 1 (probably of many)

Today’s doing nothing was spent on Platform 3 of Central Station, waiting for a couple of friends to arrive.  Maybe waiting doesn’t count as deliberate nothing but it’s as good as things got today. Seeing the pair of them again and giving them a lift home was a pleasant end to the early part of the day and I drove home to pie in the oven and cup-cakes on the table – to be fair, I had baked the cakes and displayed them on the stand but Ros had iced and decorated them (she did most of the pie too).

So, onto the good stuff list:

  • Mostly that I have a wife who enjoys cooking and is willing to spend time and energy making me tasty things to eat. There are many (so very many) other good things about Ros but that’s the one for today’s list.
  • I’m grateful that I have friends who feel that it’s all right to ask me for a lift home, it’s great that people feel comfortable enough to ask for the kind of help I’m able to provide.
  • Having house guests is another huge blessing and being able to be hospitable is one of my favourite things.
  • Oh, and my giant, comfy bed, to which I must now retire…


Lent – Days 9 & 10 – Guest Posts and Guests for Tea

Yesterday, the guy who started off the whole Not Busy idea, posted a cobbled together version of some of my Lent-based witterings on his blog. It can be read here and the rest of his thoughts as he tries to live in a non-busy fashion are worth a look too.

In the aftermath of my sitting-doing-nothing last night, Ros and I watched Question Time together for the first time. I think it qualifies under the “rubbish on TV” category discussed earlier – nobody’s going to say anything that’ll convince me and the guff spouted on all sides (especially by the question-askers) is enough to have otherwise sane and rational people shouting at the telly. It’s not worth the bother, especially if it’s just so I can know what my Twittermates are talking about.

Today, we’ve had a friend from work round for tea and an old friend descending to stay for the weekend. All good fun, and another evening that I’m happy to write off as not being busy at all but not having time to sit and do nothing in.

We’ll see how tomorrow goes.

Lent – Days Six and Seven: Two for the Price of One

One week into Lent and a quick recap seems in order – every day, I’ve been attempting to sit and do nothing for at least ten minutes (in a Lenten discipline kind of way, not an unsurprising slobbing around kind of way) and then sitting down to write something on the blog, whether inspired by the inactivity or otherwise. My own introduction to the idea can be found here.

Yesterday, for reasons that will become apparent, I did neither.

Day Six: A Halfeversary Mystery Tour
Yesterday, there wasn’t much deliberate ‘nothing’ – we did chores around the flat until lunchtime and, pausing only to drop off post-bacon-cake at the church office, we set off for unknown territories. Actually, I had a fairly good idea where we were going – all Ros had was a bit of paper with some very rough driving instructions scribbled on it – the three destinations were listed simply as “Destination 1”, “Destination 2”, and “Destination 3” and the instructions were along the lines of: A1 North, A695 West, Left onto Bradbury Grove.

The eighteenth of February marks our sixth luniversary and we’d decided to do something to commemorate having been able to put up with each other for a whole half a year. Ros wanted a surprise and had been devastated when, about a week ago, I heartlessly forgot about the surprise part and discussed a tentative plan with her. I had to improvise, and so we found ourselves driving north.

Anyway, my darling wife chronicles our day out in much more detail than I want to go into here. Suffice it to say that I wasn’t particularly busy (in the way I’ve been trying to avoid this Lent) but neither did I have time to sit and do nothing, much less write anything about it.

Day Seven: Making a List
Today, I was back at work after what seemed like a very long weekend. It still feels like there’s way too much to do and two hour calls from tech support do little to ease the workload. This feeling of too much to do and not enough time continued right up until I sat down and forced myself to stop. Cue my internal monologue coach suggesting that it might be a good idea to make a list of the things that were important to me and his being rudely heckled by the question as to why I wasn’t doing them and instead was filling my life with other stuff.

This seemed to call for four lists (and I swear this was as far as I got before I calmed myself down and tried to stop busily thinking):

  1. Things I can’t avoid but need doing anyway: taxing the car, paying the bills, et c.
  2. Things I don’t particularly want to do but find myself doing anyway: watching pap on the telly, mindless Twitter consumption, doing killer sudoku, extra jobs
  3. Things I do that I want to continue doing: spending time with Ros, hanging out with my friends, doing my job, eating good food
  4. Things I do want to do but never get round to or I don’t have the time for: read more novels, read more proper books, fill in the Giant Form of Doom, write some more stories, do some research

As I tried not to make plans regarding the various bits of lists that were forming, an overwhelming desire seized me. However, I knew if I acted on it that all my nothingness for the evening would be wasted. I really, really wanted to know what was in that box-I-didn’t-quite-recognise-on-top-of-that-cupboard-there! I lasted until the alarm went and then I checked.

Reflecting on this evening’s nothing – it seems to have been the most productive so far. Now it’s just a case of doing something with what’s been thrown up from my brain.

Lent – Day Five: Bacon

So, today I woke up feeling like death. Nine times out of ten, if I’m feeling rotten, I’ll go to church anyway. This morning was not one of those nine. I went back to sleep.

I finally got out of bed mid morning and took the car-full of old post-move cardboard boxes to the tip.

I felt better but still fairly non-human.

Lunch improved things slightly and then we started getting things ready for a semi-regular get together of Church 18-40* for bacon sandwiches and general sitting around. Because Ros was baking a cake, the grill was out of action and I ended up on frying duty, providing bacon for about a dozen hungry people who turned up from half past seven onwards. There was a fair old mix of characters there this evening and lots of little conversations as the night went on – everybody seemed to be having a good time, which is always gratifying when you’re hosting.

For me, the most notable thing was the presence of our two new downstairs neighbours who we’d invited up when I went down to warn them about the evening’s activities – it felt good to be behaving in a neighbourly fashion after years of not really having had much chance to speak to any immediate neighbours for one reason or another.

This evening’s nothing didn’t feature any sleep but did involve a flicking through one of Adrian Plass’s books to find his poem, Jenny and reading it to myself.

Still tired and feeling rotten, but it’s been a day of getting-some-stuff-done that has included some very good bits.
*My only-just-made-up name for a group of students and other footloose and family-free people in their twenties and thirties.

Lent – Day 4: Arg

Today’s sitting and doing nothing included one or more minutes asleep. I’m exhausted and am beginning to realise that my diary is way too full of things – all of which need doing. Task for tomorrow (another one) is to draw up a list of what I get up to and to try to rationalise it into something more manageable. Ho hum.

Right, time for bed.

Lent – Day 3: Chaos in the City

With alarming earliness in the grand scheme of things, my sitting doing nothing vanished in a heap of guests for tea and games-playing. Still, today’s another day – we’ll see how it goes.

After dinner we played Ankh-Morpork – a game based on the major city in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. It was interesting in a number of ways but an idea I really liked was that, in order to win, each player needed to achieve a wildly different goal that the others had no idea about. These weren’t just different areas or players to conquer (as in Risk) but different types of task: one of us had to cause havoc in the city, one of us had to build a certain number of buildings, one of us had to accumulate a certain amount of wealth, one of us had to try to keep the game going until we ran out of cards – all the while, engaging in the same activities as everybody else, trying to work out what the other players were up to, in order to throw spanners in their respective works, and trying to keep your plans under wraps until you were on the verge of winning.

I’m looking forward to playing it again.

Lent – Day 2: St Valentine’s Pizza

This evening’s #notbusy sit and do nothing was slightly harder than last night’s – I was back home and in my study where shelves full of books cried out to be sorted out into some semblance of order rather than just grouped together loosely by type. Still, I avoided planning anything, or reading any of them and I only checked the timer twice.

This followed a meal out at Pizza Express. Ros and I had decided to go and use the voucher we’d been given earlier in the week. Ros wanted to try one of the pizzas with a hole in the middle that they filled with salad which seemed wrong in my eyes – she duly paid attention to the holy diet pizza of saladitude section of the menu whereas my eyes were drawn to a strangely familiar word towards the bottom of the proper pizza section:


Now, whilst honeymooning in Rome, this particular variety of pizza had become a firm favourite – ham, mushrooms, a boiled egg and an artichoke. Utterly ridiculous but very tasty. I glanced at the description to check I wasn’t mistaken and there it was: ham, egg, mushrooms – I paid scant attention to the medium length word beginning with A that ended the description. Ros made her mind up about which kind of salad to have in the middle of holy-cheese-on-toast, we ordered and the waitress took our menus away.

In due course, our main courses arrived. It tasted somewhat saltier than I remembered. And fishier. About halfway through the pizza I asked myself where the artichokes were and realised that there were tiny fish-shaped bits scattered over the pizza’s surface. Anchovies! The menus not being present, we spent the next fifteen minutes trying to use Ros’s 3G signal to ascertain whether or not the menu said Artichokes or Anchovies in an effort to determine whether I should say anything to the staff or not.

As I finished my final mouthful, the answer flashed up on her phone – the menu, in complete disregard for what I’d spent a fortnight eating in Rome advertised the wrong A-topping. It’s just as well I didn’t mention anything.

Then they brought us the wrong pudding…