One of my Favourite TV shows these days is the American comedy 'Big Bang Theory', a wonderfully funny, wordy and thought provoking look at the lives of four anally retentive OCD research science geeks.
It chimes with the nerdy educated side of our brains, as opposed to our drink-a-lot, rufty tufty Jock side of our brains, (maybe this is just a guy talking, Ladies please comment), and the fond hope that an understanding of every branch of learning is our key to "Approval Status" and "Goodness" for those of us who never quite qualify for the Highland Games.
Of course in our nimble youth, we can all claim to be hot in our own particular sports, but gradually being cerebral takes over from the rigours of training, and the denial of "thinking we are hot at sports" takes over when our timing, prowess and skills are, in turn, over taken by more youthful people.
Actually, corner any older English guy in a bar and have the "I wish " type of conversation, and often second to the "being stinking rich " wish....the name C.B.Fry crops up.
In America, if you had a guy, who not only went to Yale or Princeton, but went on to be a top Major League Baseballer and play in the World Series AND at the same time played NFL football AND appeared in the Superbowl AND at the same time hold world records in Athletics Long Jump and 100 yards AND play top Rugby AND at the same time be a Teacher AND then go on to be elected to Congress AND be an Editor, Writer and broadcaster...you'd be pretty darned impressed...
and so it was with Charles Burgess Fry. (1872 - 1956 ).
...who did the English equivalent of the above, by going to Wadham College in Oxford, and was a top class Cricketer for county and Country, and at the same time played international soccer for England and his team Southampton Football Club, who he got to the FA Cup Final
(our Superbowl ), who held the world Long Jump record, of over 23 ft, for years, and the 100 yard dash, who played Rugby for the Barbarians club, taught in schools and was elected to Parliament as a Liberal.
Sheesh!! just one of those and I would feel like the King of England.
But 'CB' bless him...was a rarity,and every school boys hero...and I digress from my original point, that I picked up on in the Comedy Show...when a throw away line briefly covered, that in life humans do a majority of things for some kind of deep seated approval; mostly from our parents, or our partners, or our peer groups or friends, keeping up with the neighbours or even just a status in what society expects of us by a certain age. Very rarely and honestly do we do it for ourselves. We somehow need that kind of pressure or we would follow, like water, the easiest course in life.
They even have a term in America, that we don't in the UK...that of Under-Achiever, which quite shocked me when I first hit the colonies in the 70's.
On the surface anyway, we never got around to drawing a line like that across a life. Class distinction...sure..we were world famous at that, but Under-Achiever...what the hell was that??...
Worse still, I found, a more feverent belief that in religious terms, there might be an accounting, a "Judgement Day"..."A Day of Reckoning", which to be honest... I tend to flip a finger to this particular fanciful notion...preferring to be prey to the Alfred Nobel type of Posthumous Paranoia and having just my ears burning in hell listening to what people really thought of me at my memorial service.
Alfred Nobel, the armaments manufacturer and inventor of Dynamite and Nitroglycerin, did this so well. One morning in 1888, Alfred Nobel was quite surprised to read his own obituary in a French newspaper. Obviously, it was a journalistic mistake.
One of his brothers had died, and a careless reporter had used a prewritten obituary of the wrong man. But as he read, Nobel was shocked and deeply disturbed to learn what the world really thought of him. He was seen simply as the dynamite king, the merchant of death, who had amassed a great fortune out of explosives.
Nobel had hoped his inventions would be useful to people and to nations. At that moment, Nobel resolved to show the world the true purpose of his life. He revised his will so that his fortune would be dedicated to the recognition of great creative achievements with the highest award going to those who had done the most for world peace. Today, we all associate him with the Nobel Prizes."
So from the Big Bang Theory to a man who grew rich through Big Bangs, to a Jerry Springer like thought at the end;
We all lie when we say we don't care what people think of us. Being able to say great things about other people at memorial services is hugely life affirming...but can you look at yourself in the bathroom mirror everyday, and honestly say, you've done your best? Well, I'll leave it with you.
Sir Dayvd (the lapsed tryer, who seeing as its his birthday soon, is willing to overcome all his cynicism and prejudices and lazyness and give it another go) of Oxfordshire.