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A Talent to Amuse!

Jan 07, 2016

Is it not a given fact that everyone should acquire at least one special skill, talent, party piece or whatever you want to call it, during the course of their life? For example, when I was young I developed the art of being able to produce a tune on my skull by rapping my forehead with my knuckles. This talent has served me in good stead over the years, and once almost got me a job as ‘Head of Music’ with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. 

A school friend of mine studied for a degree in astrophysics, but I always found that I was more popular at parties – compare: 

This is Brian, he has a degree in astrophysics. 

This is Tony, he can produce a tune by rapping on his skull with his knuckles. 

No contest! 

It is fascinating when you learn what hidden talents people have. I recall that at one particular removal conference there was a Caribbean evening and we all dressed up in the appropriate gear. During the course of this jolly evening, there was a limbo-dancing competition and on the next table to us was a slightly portly and rather conventional gentleman who decided to enter. Who’d have thought! 

The upshot was that he turned out to be an absolutely superb limbo specialist and won the competition hands down – or without hands down if you prefer! I later learnt that he had acquired this skill during a longish stay in the West Indies, when he was younger, and had waited throughout his life for his big moment to arrive - or as Andy Warhol would have said: ’his fifteen minutes of fame’.  Although I must say that it has lasted longer than that, because, even to this day, I am sure that there are people around in the industry who still remember this event. If nothing else, it certainly beats astrophysics! Apparently, the only other time when limbo dancing had been of use to him was on one occasion when he was locked in a gent’s toilet cubicle, he had utilised his skill to escape under the door - and if you believe that you’ll believe anything. 

As individuals, we seem to fall into two categories, namely artistic or practical. The artistic person is also likely to be good at music, design, acting and so on. The practical person is likely to be good at maths, mechanics, accountancy, and so on. There is room for us all, and this has nothing to do with our basic personality. I must confess, for example, that I am absolutely useless at anything to do with DIY. I try very hard, but in the end I am totally dependent upon a team of practically minded friends, neighbours or relations. For me it’s a challenge, but they always seem to make it look extremely easy.  

Of course my non-practical nature can often create problems. One day I decided to convert a single plug socket which we had in our sitting room into a double one. I first chipped out an appropriate sized hole which I then packed out with an appropriate size of Weetabix packet as the hole was too large. I duly inserted the fitment; made all of the necessary connections and Hey Presto! My next door neighbour happened to be passing at the time and asked me if I had tested my handy work and I replied that I had not. Fortunately, he told me, he had recently purchased a new testing screwdriver which actually lit up, and this would be a good opportunity to give it a try (got there yet?). We went into the sitting room at which point he was kind enough to tell me that the fact that the socket had a slope to the left gave it a kind of bohemian quality. Anyway, and with great aplomb, he duly inserted his testing screwdriver which unfortunately did not light up -in fact it blew up - and so did he! In a blinding flash I was left with a vision which can only be described as similar to that of the cat in a Tom and Jerry cartoon under similar circumstances. My neighbour was OK but I got the impression that he was slightly overwrought. In addition his brand new testing screwdriver appeared to have melted and, I must say, so had our relationship.  

So just remember, hone that special skill. You might never need it but maybe   there will come a moment in your life when you can have your one moment of glory. Whether it be humming and whistling at the same time, dancing, conjuring or any skill you like, just have a go. If you can’t think of a skill just try rapping your knuckles on your forehead, that’s what has got me where I am today. 

A merry Christmas and happy New Year to all 

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