Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Boy life versus girl life - how one's activities change!

Another friend of mine, R---, has just bought herself a small tent in a '50% off' sale. It cost her £25. She is thrilled at the possibilities it opens up for an instant getaway to an Atlantic beach (she surfs) or a nature reserve (she watches birds and butterflies, and really all wildlife). Everything needed for a weekend in the open air is in her car, and, jobs on hand permitting, she can take off whenever she feels inclined.

What freedom! Even more than I have, because there are certain preparations I always need to make before I set forth with the caravan, and of course I load it up with clothes and food and a host of home comforts that R--- knows she can do without. She can literally be out on the road inside an hour, heading westward to where the surf is perfect.

R--- lives in Brighton, in the heart of it, but scorns the frenetic social scene that is the backdrop to my last few posts. Last weekend's Trans Pride wasn't her cup of tea. The upcoming Gay and Lesbian Pride weekend is a big annoyance and irritation, and not something to plunge into and relish. For her, it represents a succession of nights with sleep interrupted by drunken and loud-voiced celebrants, and the discovery of vomit or worse on her doorstep next day. I'm not knocking the G&L participants especially - all of Young Brighton tends to hop aboard and party loudly till they can't stand up. The other side of Fun City. If she possibly can, she'll be out of town.

I think R--- has a firm grasp on the simple things of life. Which brings me on to whether my life is full of simple things, or has it all got a bit complicated and fussy. Should I look at what else I could do with my time? Things that will suit my likings, but be worthwhile, and in some way good for me.

I made just such an appraisal six years ago, in 2007, and now I've done it again, to see what may have changed. Boy world versus girl world, you might say.

The 2007 appraisal was made after retirement had lost its first novelty, and I was thinking that I ought to consider some new activities to add interest to my life. It's a curious historical document, a relic of the Old Life. Of a moment before I realised that I'd need to transition, and look instead at a host of challenges that were not yet imaginable. It was all set out on a spreadsheet, which ranked a longish list of activities according to how each of them scored. The activities included ones I currently pursued, or had pursued in the past and enjoyed, and activities I had never tried. Every one was scored under two main heads, with subheadings:

Mentally stimulating
Gets me out of the house
Good in the evening
Physical exercise
Physically skilful
Can produce income

No appeal
Stressful or potentially troublesome
Physical injury possible
Must join a group to pursue
Time commitment
Storage problems at home

I allocated a positive score from 1 to 3 against each of the Positive Aspects, and a negative score from -1 to -3 against each of the Negative Aspects. Or a nil score, if I was neutral about any aspect. In that way I arrived at a net score for each activity. I then sorted all the activities into order, with the highest-scoring at the top, and the lowest-scoring at the bottom.

It was a method of rationally taking into account all the key elements that mattered to me when deciding what to commit time to. The words 'to me' are vitally important - it wouldn't matter two hoots how someone else would approach these activities, or what their own score might be. I had to be completely honest about what I personally felt about these things, and not bow to conventional opinion.

So how did the 2007 exercise turn out? What seemed good or bad six years ago, when I was still stuck in the Old Life? Here is the result, the 'best' activities for me coming at the top, with their scores, and the ones I was regularly following at the time in bold:

Photography (14)
Writing (11)
Setting up a new home (11)
Caravanning (10)
Extensive travel (9)
Walking (9)
Cooking (7)
Learning DIY skills (7)
Painting (6)
Learning a language (6)
Genealogy (5)
Map collecting (5)
Reading (4)
Badminton (4)
Driving (3)
Eating out (3)
Listening to radio (2)
Watching television (2)
Surfing the Internet (1)
Listening to music (1)
Going to the cinema (0)
Going to the theatre (0)
Opera (-1)
Cycling (-1)
Dancing (-2)
Part-time job (-2)
Full-time job (-4)
Learning to fly (-6)
Voluntary work (-7)

There you are. Remember that the items in bold were the ones I was actually giving time to. And that while I loved doing some things, their score might be dragged down by high cost - driving for example. Strange that DIY ranked so high, and opera so low! But the runaway best activities are no surprise.

This obviously called for a retest! So I did just that, on the same basis, but adding girly things like blogging and pleasure shopping. This was the result now, in 2013:

Photography (17)
Blogging (15)
Writing (13)
Caravanning (13)
Driving (11)
Learning a language (11)
Seeing friends (10)
Perfecting my female persona (9)
Walking (9)
Extensive travel (9)
Painting (9)
Cooking (8)
Eating out (3)
Visiting museums and galleries (7)
Setting up a new home (7)
Opera (6)
Visiting historic properties and gardens (5)
Map collecting (4)
Badminton (4)
Surfing the Internet (4)
Reading (3)
Listening to radio (3)
Watching television (3)
Pleasure shopping (3)
Genealogy (3)
Going to the theatre (2)
Learning DIY skills (2)
Listening to music (1)
Dancing (1)
Buying artworks (0)
Going to the cinema (0)
Part-time job (-2)
Full-time job (-3)
Learning to fly (-4)
Voluntary work (-5)
Cycling (-8)
Horse riding (-10)

The front runners are still there, but several things have changed. Although I have lost many people from the Old Life, including my partner, my social life has blossomed, and with it the activities that go with having friends to see. And the discovery that I am good at some important new stuff (such as how I now speak) has clearly made some activities less daunting - learning a language for instance.

But there are still things with minus scores, which will almost certainly not be pursued, such as work on any basis. And there is no way I will be committing myself to a saddle. I've become very nervous of injuring myself.

Obviously, if you ever meet me and wish to grab my lasting attention, here is a ready-made list of things that I find interesting and would enjoy discussing! You know, we all could do something similar, and it might suggest who would make ideal friends. Or even partners, if the chemistry fits.

Only kidding!


  1. I like R! She is my kind of person.

    Shirley Anne x

  2. I'm having such a good time catching up on your writing! I will save the list because I may just meet you someday, Lucy! If you would like to meet, that is. Jenny is saving some cider for me, and that, plus you (and Jenny and Nicky, and so many others), are certainly good reasons to again visit England (with a side trip to Scotland to see one or two friends up north.

    Calie xxx


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