On being sensible

Sitting down at ten past nine in the evening to start writing five hundred words after a day like today is probably not the most sensible thing I’ve ever done. But I suppose ‘sensible’ never was one of my favourite adjectives. Google it for a moment. You’ll find a string of sleep-inducing synonyms. Practical. Realistic. Balanced. Sober. Serious-minded. Level-headed. Very few of which could be applied to a woman who decided to bring her new vacuum cleaner home by bus this morning, in order to save a delivery charge of £3.95.

Truth is, all that reasonable, pragmatic stuff’s missing from my genetic make-up. I wasn’t at the back of the queue when it was handed out. I didn’t even know the queue was there. As a result, I’ve had a lifetime of people looking at me oddly. Saying you’re very brave. In a tone that means you’re stark raving mad. Shaking their heads. Just the way the woman in Argos did this morning, when I told her I was taking Hetty home on the bus.

Of course the best thing about growing older is I have the perfect excuse. Can’t expect sound, logical, no-nonsense behaviour from a woman in her dotage. If you can’t be a bit bonkers when you get to my age, when can you? I did the wise, prudent, mature stuff in my thirties and forties. At least to the best of my ability. Time to kick over the traces. Live a little. Start wearing purple. Before it’s too late.

To be honest, the older I get, the more I doubt the wisdom of circumspection. Why toe the line? Keep your head below the barricade? What’s wrong with being different? Does it matter what people think? I’m not about to ride roughshod over anyone. That’s not my style. But when the only things that stand between me and walking on fire are fear of the unknown and worry about others’ opinions, it’s time to get a grip.


Fear’s the thing isn’t it. The worst thing in the world. It controls us. Keeps us in line. It’s purveyed subtly by advertisers. Do you measure up? Will the woman / man of your dreams reject you if you don’t own this? Are you letting your children down by not buying this? Less subtly by newspapers and politicians. Telling us the country’s going to the dogs. I’ve just checked Google for random examples of headlines. The first word I turned up was ‘beware’.

At a personal level, fear tells me what I want is impractical. Unrealistic. Irresponsible. Following my heart is unreasonable. Irrational. Unbalanced. Fear tells me I’ll fail. I’ll look stupid. People will hate me. It makes me behave practically. Pragmatically. Prudently. Fear makes me sensible. Sensible of risk. Sensible of danger.

I love the English language. It has a wonderful way of standing things on their heads. Suddenly sensible kicks back.  Thumbs its nose at chary. Staid. Soporific. Because it also means aware. Conscious. Mindful. Alive. I can be sensible of beauty. Magic. The presence of God. I can be sensible of your needs. Desires. Deepest longings. Just so long as I never become insensible. Callous. Indifferent.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m sensible that it’s almost one in the morning. Which is definitely not a sensible time to be writing about being sensible …



I’m blogging to raise funds for a charity close to my heart. I’ve given up NOT being a writer for 125 days in support of One25’s work with vulnerable women in Bristol. If you’ve enjoyed reading this, you can find out more about what I’m doing by visiting One25’s website at http://www.one25.org.uk/. You can also support them by visiting my fund raising page at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=JeanMutch where you can make a donation and suggest an idea for a short story or a post on the blog. Thank you.


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