Saturday, 11 May 2013

Magic of a second chance after a first-time screw up

Charles Venables, the government minister in J M Barrie’s play What Every Woman Knows, tells us that the man whose second thoughts are good is worth watching.

Barrie strikes me as a deeply suspect individual (what is Peter Pan really about?) and this play is a vehicle for some pretty troubling social attitudes. Despite my reservations, however, I can’t help enjoying it and I particularly like the sentiment about second thoughts.

Of course, I work in business where it’s a fundamental principle that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Where the mantra is getting things right first time. Doesn’t stop companies getting things wrong again and again, or not getting them done at all, very often, but the mantra’s there.

So it was wonderful to have a second chance to get something right this morning. I’ve already recounted how two weeks ago I screwed up by taking us to the wrong place for an early morning bird-watching walk, in the breathtaking splendour of Ashridge Forest. That meant that we were up at 5:00 a.m. for nothing, and I’d spoiled my wife’s birthday: she'd set a lot of store by the charms of early morning bird watching in a delightful setting.
Even at stupid o'clock, Ashridge is a magical place
for a walkin the sunshine
Fortunately, the Ashridge National Trust people had organised another walk for this morning and though it meant a 5:00 start all over again, it was a tremendous relief to have an opportunity to correct things so soon. This time, I made a point of checking the details the night before, even looking at the map to be sure I knew where we had to go (like instruction manuals, I feel a real wimp if I have to consult a map). We were at the right place and a few minutes before time. A major success compared to the last occasion.

We’ve had nearly two weeks of nearly summer weather here in England, which is pretty long for any kind of summer compared to the last few years. It was no surprise therefore that we left this morning facing a grim weather forecast, with the skies turning grey and temperatures 10 to 15 degrees down on the last few days (and that’s real degrees, not the trivial little Fahrenheit ones). Why, it was even beginning to spit a little rain as we set out on the walk.

But still, England’s weather hadn’t fully plunged us back into November yet (that didn’t happen until this afternoon), and we had moments of glorious sunshine when, if we got out of the wind, it felt positively warm. As the guides warned us, we didn’t do so much actual bird watching as bird listening: the leaves are out and birds are mostly concealed, but on the other hand they’re pouring out their hearts in song. The first two species we were introduced to were jackdaws and yellow hammers, and I was just enchanted: town dweller that I am, I’m much more used to the sound of the jackhammer.

Two hours walking through fabulous scenery in sunshine that kept constant quite a lot of the time more than made up for the stupid o’clock start. And finishing it all of with a full breakfast in the National Trust café really put the icing on the cake (not that we had cake: it wouldn’t have gone with the bacon or egg).

Second thoughts had more than made up for my total lack of thinking first time round. And my wife got her wish at last.

Happy birthday, again, Danielle. Just a couple of weeks late.

No bird pictures, I'm afraid.
But here's a Whitebeam catching the sun,
with all of Bucks and Beds laid out behind it

1 comment:

MalcDow said...

Barrie strikes me as a deeply suspect individual (what is Peter Pan really about?)