Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Not enough fun

I'm not very good at self-indulgence, at enjoying myself freely and spontaneously. I always hold back, as if too much personal fun might be a bit decadent and immature.

I see other people letting themselves go - boozing, bingeing, joking, raiding the shops, cheering football teams - with so much enthusiasm I'm taken aback. I'm seldom that enthusiastic or uninhibited about even my biggest passions. A sort of quiet pleasure is the best I can manage.

I guess I come from that social background where too much obvious enjoyment was seen as "showing off" or "drawing attention to yourself". All horribly undignified and childish. Enjoyment was all very well up to a point, but not if it meant "making a spectacle of yourself". That would never do. I suppose it's all related to the stiff upper-lip tradition that used to riddle the English middle classes.

There's also a part of me that thinks too much enjoyment can only be a slippery slope to total debauchery and public humiliation. One drink too many and I'm bound to end up an alcoholic. Too much cheesecake and ice cream and naturally I'll be a 20-stone tub of lard in days. Just go a bit too far and in a trice I'll be out of control like a runaway car.

Maybe I'm influenced by past occasions when enjoyment turned sour. I can remember driving a girlfriend home when I was roaring drunk, lucky not to have killed us both. Another time, on a heavy dose of LSD, I was oblivious to traffic and almost killed myself again. I've played practical jokes and seriously upset the victims. Such memories make me wary of too much abandon.

But I do my best. When others around me are getting wilder and wilder, I tell myself to loosen up and get in the swing of it all. For pity's sake, Nick, throw away the rule book, forget all those childhood vetoes and let your natural impulses take over. And the result? Usually a bit like a lifelong virgin sampling a brothel. It's hard to change the habits of a lifetime.

19 comments:

Baino said...

Ah I wouldn't let it worry you Nick. Sounds like you've sown your wild oats in your time. I'm not much of a party girl either. Love the company but can't be bothered being the centre of attention. Someone has to retain a level of decorum!

Hullaballoo said...

Despite my natural extroversion, I too find it hard to totally let go and enjoy myself.

Grannymar said...

'It all reflects on the home training!' I am sure you heard that mantra many a time in your young life , just as I did!

Somehow it sticks, but I am ready to wear purple and a red hat!!!!

Nick said...

Baino - That's it exactly. Someone has to retain a level of decorum! But it would be nice if just occasionally I could chuck decorum out of the window.

Hulla - Always the same isn't it? There was I thinking I was the only one, the total oddball....

Grannymar - Funnily enough, that wasn't the phrase in the London suburbs! It was more like "Well, at least we've brought you up properly".

Quickroute said...

I'm mostly quiet these days but every now and then I go a bit OTT with the demon drink and put it down to blowing off steam

Wisewebwoman said...

If you really want to change yourself Nick (and I, for one, would think you just fine the way you are!) they say the best thing one can do is take voice lessons and find your voice. Not for performing per se but to re-discover oneself. I've known very shy friends who did this and it gave them confidence and presence.
As for me, I can relate. I need to be totally comfortable to really blossom but lately I've been doing better with the stage work, etc., and was amazed that I actually told that skirt story about myself on the weekend.
XO
WWW

Nick said...

Quicky - Of course if alcohol gets you going, that's an easy way to open up. Unfortunately after a couple of glasses, drink doesn't do me any favours.

www - My voice is pretty effective already. I have one of those posh English voices that a lot of people find tantalising (can't think why). It's more a question of too many inhibitions.

conortje said...

Having too much fun with a posh English voice sounds ridiculously great - but I agree with www - you sound just fine the way you are. I'll just enjoy everthing that little bit more to compensate for you ;-)

Nick said...

Conor, what a lovely thing to say, you'll enjoy everything a little bit more to compensate for me. Mind you, there'll be a small charge for the extra enjoyment I'm permitting you....

Mudflapgypsy said...

We are all different aren't we?
Don't beat yourself up. I recommend taking part in something exhilarating. Give yourself a huge burst of adrenalin once in a while. That'll clear out the cobwebs alright. As for LSD and traffic, the cars scared the pants off me too. Youth, eh?

Wisewebwoman said...

Nick:
I wasn't too clear before, but these voice lessons involve learning outrageous show tunes and then getting funky in costume on stage in front of the class and just getting ridiculous and stooooopid and having a great time in a safe environment before taking the metaphorical show on the road and losing the fear of appearing an idiot.
Letting go in other words ;^)
But you are ABSOLUTELY fine the way you are!!!
XO
WWW

Nick said...

Muddy - Yes, I do go in for huge bursts of adrenalin once in a while and it sure gets the old system going. In fact I'm about to go to Australia for four weeks so that should do the trick for a bit!

www - Ah, now I get you. It sounds like a gas, but there's nothing like that here to my knowledge. Perhaps I should have joined a circus? Still, if I'm fine the way I am....

Mediterranean kiwi said...

I came from Mr Mudflap's blog
i've been reading through your posts, and I think they're very interesting, the kind of things I would have said about the cases yo mention...

gaudiumdegaea said...

Phew! I am glad this post came about before your imminent travel to Oz. Knowing you are not enough fun, I think I will just have to NOT meet you. And here I was sitting thinking how much fun it was going to be. Thanks for shattering the hope!
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(you know I am joking!)

Nick said...

Kiwi - Very kind of you. But would you really have said just the same things? My views are pretty off the wall sometimes....

Gayé - He he. Yes, I'm sure it would be a desperately miserable experience if we met (which of course we won't). We'd sit around not having any fun at all, in fact we'd be positively suicidal.

Which reminds me, must send you an email....

Jenny Muir said...

I think there is a lot to be said for dignified quiet enjoyment as we get older.

And if in doubt, ask people about themselves. Never fails.

Nick said...

Jenny - I think dignified quiet enjoyment has its place, but it can be very liberating to really let your hair down occasionally. I love asking people about themselves, but unless you know them well, they tend to stick to the safe clichés.

Dave Hampton said...

The things that I *have* to do have a way of running over the things I *want* to do. I leave space in my date book to scribble down a leisure list, books that I want to read, articles, movies, and I do circle around to them. I keep space in my day for simple no-plan / no-guilt indulgence, and have started snuffling around the local music cafes.

And I agree with WWWoman: a class is a great idea (I like a life drawing class rather than voice lessons, but anything social works).

There is just too much pain the following day if I just go on a binge, but it does seem to be popular in the UK...

Nick said...

Dave - Ah, the problem of things you have to do and things you want to do is another headache altogether! Don't get me started.

Yes, a drink-fuelled spree is just too much pain the next day, and always was even when I was young. But a more natural sort of spree can be very invigorating.