Certifiable achievements

September 10, 2010

When we are young we are given certificates if we do something well, even up until a degree (when we are still, effectively, kids). Maybe they help. Maybe they give us the encouragement we need. Maybe, like Steve Martin in The Jerk, posing with a fancy cocktail by the side of a swanky man in a swanky magazine, maybe they help us “be somebody”.

And then it stops. As adults I guess it’s just expected of us to do as well as we can; in life, in work, in play. Every now and then someone may say “well done!” but there’s no badge, no piece of paper.

Perhaps a wage is the adult form of approval. If so, I have let standards slip since my young days.

What da ya want for nothing? A rrrrrrrrrrubber biscuit?

Here’s some of my earlier, certifiable achievements.

1- The swimming certificate.

That’s not too bad. An Endeavour Award from The Swimming Teachers’ Association of Great Britain and the Commonwealth! Signed (well, as a 9 year old I would have taken it as a signature) by Henrietta, the President.

I was also given a sew on badge which my Mum sewed on to my trunks… no picture, I’m afraid.

Well done me! Now let’s take a look at the back of the certificate:

Hmmm. That’s specific. I can’t remember now just exactly what I did to achieve this award, but going off the Examiner’s Remarks it could have been anything from a full length of the pool to sticking my feet in the disinfectant tray. I suspect the latter. Still, it’s nice to see “tenacity” being used. It was only about a year ago that Jim, one of the players on my pool team (cue sports here, not swimming pool), paid me the compliment (I think, I hope) of calling me a “tenacious fucker”.

2- The singing certificate.

My Mum can sing. My sister can sing. My Dad played the piano and was also the church organist. I was expected to sing too. And, when I was 10, I entered some kind of singing competition. Here’s my certificate:

Sound work generally. Ha! Who’s going to tell a 10 year old they were awful? Even Cowell wouldn’t stoop. The song was The kangaroo. “The kangaroo is bouncing on his big fat tail/ he bounds across the hillocks da da da da da…” Yes, I’ve forgotten the words.

Years later we (me and Trev) resurrected this song for our first live tour. I was the kangaroo, and we had a huge fat tail made. The song had a pause in it, sort of like this; The kangaroo is bouncing on his… (pause) big fat tail! I would keep coming in too early and Trev would chastise me. I’d leave a longer and longer pause, but never long enough,and Trev would taunt and chastise me the more. Then, when I would leave the longest pause acceptable to a paying audience, Trev would jump in ahead of me, taunting, chastising, berating; demanding to know where I was.

We performed this on the first night of the tour. The show lasted three hours. We had to cut stuff. The kangaroo song went.

At this same festival I sang another song. One I can’t remember and for which I have lost the certificate. Some sort of classical piece. I remember one thing; I came third. Out of three.

3- The flower arranging certificate.

Let’s end on a high.

It’s the same year. 1973. I’m 10, possibly 11. And it turns out I was good at flower arranging. I got two first class certificates. One for an arrangement using only one type of flower (sweetpea’s) and the other for a miniature arrangement. Sadly, there’s no pictures of these winners. But they were good. I promise.

Maybe I should have taken note of these early signs. I wasn’t cut out to be a swimmer or a singer, though this hasn’t stopped me joining Note-Orious, the choir to which I now belong.

But perhaps I should have been a florist.


2 Responses to “Certifiable achievements”

  1. Sharon Mason said

    Ah, happy days. To think I was there to share in those glorious moments. I can still remember The Kangaroo, the little boy version and the Trev and Simon version.

  2. Pat Hickson said

    I remember all the tablets Ihad to give you to stop you sneezing all the time,because of the flowers.
    Your teacher Miss Tress was delighted with your efforts!!!

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