The title might equally have said “inaccurate” as you will see. I try to live by the Delphic maxim to “Know Thyself” and as this blog has oft noted, I live both alone and with an idiot. Like everyone else (I assume), I am occasionally dazzled by my own genius – but this feeling is quickly replaced as my default stupidity re-asserts control.
I have as recently as the last month been referred to as “young man” by someone who was not obvious mentally or optically deficient nor in imminent hopes of an express communication from Her Majesty. I like to imagine this is down to my boyish good looks (well, I like to imagine that I could imagine that), but fear it may have more to do with my childish demeanour.
A while back, a friend – who knows me reasonably well – asked me the following question: “When did you realise you had an extraordinary mind?”. I admit I struggled to furnish them with any sort of answer, though like to imagine that I blushed modestly (maybe even coquettishly). If there is one thing a maths degree, the 27 years thereafter and writing this blog has taught me then it is that I have a very pedestrian mind. At best, I have a half decent memory and have managed to maintain a curiosity about the world around me – which helps to keep the contents of my memory topped up with new pieces of useless information.
A few months ago, a chap approached me in the gym and asked me how I managed to be so “super-fit”. I will admit that he was somewhat more stricken in both years and girth than I am (and seemed to have put his whites and reds into the same wash), however, I am a country mile from super-fit. Trying to be a gymnast in my late 40s, I do sometimes watch real gymnasts who would merit this label – and my level of fitness is a very very long way away. I suppose I am probably fitter than your average bear (of 48), and would certainly by willing to pilfer some dainties from an unguarded picker-nick basket (if the opportunity arose) – but that is as close as I get.
This very morn, when the mercury was still cowering under the duvet with its electric blanket on, I cycled across town to the gym. I did this, as is my wont (unless it is very wet), in shorts – as this means one less item of clothing to put on and remove and means that I can forego the cycle clip (which can bite into my calves). Whilst waiting at one of the many traffic lights that Southampton affords the traveller, a youth scampered across the road by me. His gaze seemed drawn to my lallies – catching as they were the gloom of the morning sun obscured by cloud – and he called out “You are a lad” [his emphasis], grinning broadly before he continued to scamper across the road (in a manner which would have horrified Tufty) before entering the nearby Police Station. He didn’t strike me as a PC or brief, so may perhaps have been a local scally – though one, I like to imagine, with a heart of gold. I’ve never really thought of myself as a lad – even when I was age-appropriate to the epithet (and would a true lad use the word “epithet”?) – but this compliment (however misplaced), from one who should probably know, buoyed me up on a chilly morn.
So, if I were to believe others, I could start to see myself as a hyper-intelligent, lad-hunk. They do say “See yourself as others see you” – but in this case I should probably pass. Luckily, all the while that reflective surfaces and even a modicum of self-awareness remain available to me I shall continue to recognise myself as a middle-aged, clumsy idiot – which is a lot closer to the Delphic truth (and not a tripod seat in sight).