Looks like my bone marrow autograft might be going ahead. I am booked to go to Leeds next week to undergo some tests and to talk to the nursing team. I am also booked in York for lung function tests – I guess I need to pass the fitness test (oh dear it reminds me of school gym tests – not my strongest suit). I was quite enjoying the ‘holiday’ from hospital letters although I miss my bi-weekly visit to York to be poisoned by the jolly people so it’s a bit of a rude awakening to get three appointment letters in one week. The third was from the amyloidosis centre for an appointment in March 2015. I like long distance commitments, inspires confidence – perhaps I should symbolically plant a vine or asparagus seeds (5 years to fruit). Still I am pleased to get things going and hopefully to get it all over before Christmas. As ever we will have to see.
I have been wanting to write a piece on mediocrity for some time, but my thought processes were interrupted today by the very bad news that UKIP have an MP! Oh no ! – still I suppose the theme of mediocrity is rather apt in the case of Douglas Carswell. His life experience includes education at Charterhouse (so we can all relate to that), working in corporate affairs for an Italian TV company (from my experience you might as well say working for Berlusconi, that bastion of political propriety) – my relatives in Italy once apologised that they could not get me a job in Italian TV because they did not know which Camorra boss to pay – and some ambiguous job or other, hedge funds and whatnot, in INVESCO. A company that specialises in ‘distressed investing’. Apparently this and the fact that he fiddled his parliamentary expenses qualifies him to represent the good people of Clacton. Ahh me! Stll perfect UKIP material.
So as well as Carswell and most of the political establishment, let’s face it some of us subscribers are, at best, pretty mediocre human beings. This is brilliantly expressed in ‘Amadeus,’ (Peter Shaffer) by Salieri, one of my favourite (not mediocre) film performances of all time by F Murray Abraham. His frustration at being overshadowed by Mozart drives him to indirectly murder him.
It seems to me that most creative people I meet (that of course includes lots of scientists as well as artists and me of course) find the notion of mediocrity pretty unpalatable. We all want to be exceptional and strive for opportunities to try to show that we are. Trouble is to be a Mozart or a Shakespeare, an Einstein or a Darwin involves a hell of a lot of hard work and most of us can’t be bothered. We settle for the illusion of a secret exceptionality (that really shouldn’t be a word), that for whatever reason has yet to emerge or be given a chance. We blame a lack of opportunity, family responsibility, old age, youth, money or whatever when the truth is we are too arrogant, too untalented or just cannot be bothered. We would rather do nothing than get on with the big something we feel we are destined to do. I suffer from this a lot and need to constantly kick myself up the butt to actually do what I am deluded enough to think I should be so good at doing. I suspect I will die with the epitaph “I’ll do it once Antiques Roadshow has finished.”
Still what is perhaps sadder is those unfortunate individuals who cannot come to terms with their own mediocrity and frantically chase the illusive exceptionality dragon. I have sat through countless auditions with singers with ‘unfortunate’ voices who are clinically deluded about the quality of their voice relative to those who are ‘successful’. Embittered with a strong a sense of injustice they continue auditioning into their 40’s accusing successive generations of perky Guildhall graduates of ‘stealing their jobs’ just like Farage’s fictitious Romanian’s.
Being mediocre is perfectly fine – I say to myself – being mediocre and not accepting it, is painful, humiliating and embarrassing for others. As Salieri says
“God bless mediocrities everywhere.”