Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Good and Bad at Games



Fame - what is it anyway? “The advantage of being known by people of whom you yourself know nothing, and for whom you care as little,” said Lord Byron, and he was experienced. But now we have Battle of the Blogs, courtesy of Leesa, and as I have been nominated (my one is here) it is only proper to enter into the spirit of the thing. This is quite out of character as I am and have always been bad at competitive games, the spirit of them I mean. I am sure that this is one of the reasons I was booted out of my Very Good School. Certainly it was an attitude thing, but it was not a case of I’m a free spirit and bollocks to the system, I would have obliged if I could; I was always, and remain, baffled by the concept of team spirit. I had none and couldn’t imagine why others did. I would rather have spent the entire games period scuffing my shoes behind the painted white line on the tarmac ground than run around trying to get the ball into the net.

Also (with hindsight) I was not robust, or my energy was not that kind of energy. I wanted to play the sort of game where there was no winning and losing, there was just the playing. This also ruled out board games like Monopoly or Risk and most card games. It was transformation I was after, pure and simple. Call it an active imagination or the desire to be anywhere but where I happened to find myself in the given moment. Luckily there were always one or two stragglers behind the lines that were kindred, and so it has continued. And there are those in the ranks of the game-players and trophy-collectors with whom I have contact, eye to eye, heart to heart, who take time out to stand in my territory, who graciously invite me into theirs.

I did win a couple of medals, though, for ski-ing: one of them was a gold one for racing. I competed because I was on a trip with the school and was told I had to. I didn’t mind, I was in it for the whoosh on snow and the mastery, the joy of the slalom weave around the posts, transformation, pure and simple. Being given a medal for something I loved doing anyway was strange and good. The golden medal (I imagined it was real gold) was something solid I could hold in my hand, feel the weight of. I wore it on my anorak and it lent me a shine. A bit of fame. It was ok.

25 comments:

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi Lovely Signs,

So much of this resonated for me, although I am aware that I also have a competitive edge too that I never quite know what to do with. Big family, scarce resources, everything was a fight...and now I shy away from having to fight for anything, prefering to just give in and slink away feeling sorry for myself. So strangely I am quite enjoying the lovely, good-natured quality of our all competing together. I guess because the outcome is entirely inconsequential.... (Watch me back out, if I get through to the next round!!)

Reading the Signs said...

Dear ms melancholy, I know you will know this but, standing apart from the competitive game, behind the line, could also be seen as a strategic move in the game - because of course one then has nothing to lose (considering my own stance here). Though most games do truly bore me. Apart from the Man Booker, I find that rivetting. My father, when told as a child he would forfeit the sweet if he didn't do such and such always chose to give up the sweet. I remain undecided about whether or not this was a good move.

Gael said...

Nothing clever or incisive to say. Just that I enjoy reading your blog and I don't like 'lurking.' As you were.

Reading the Signs said...

gael, thanks for looking in and the comments but I don't understand what the "as you were" refers to. Something in my post?

THE PERIODIC ENGLISHMAN said...

Oh dear. I am entirely in sympathy with the team spirit - or lack of it - thing. I have more of it now than I ever did when I was younger, but it remains an excruciatingly difficult concept for me to feel comfortable with. I just don't get it.

Unlike you, however, I was excellent at competitive games when younger, but now, honest to God, they cause me intense pain. It is entirely alien to me to enter into conflict with anyone, about anything, ever. Polite arguments, no problem. Anything else, serious problems.

You spoiled your gold medal moment a little bit, I can't help feeling, by pinning it to your anorak, RTS. Gold Medal = Cool. Anorak = less so. What were you thinking?

This is another really gorgeous post, RTS. Were you feeling sad when you wrote it? Sorry for asking such a thing, but it feels a little bit like that to me. It may just be my mood, I suppose. Bit weird today for some reason.

Incidentally, when I read the words "as you were" in Gael's comment, I just immediately assumed she was meaning "don't mind me" or "that's all, don't let me stop you" - that sort of thing. Maybe not. But I have a feeling that she wasn't saying that you were a "lurker". Not, of course, that there is anything wrong with lurking. I do it all the time.

I loved Risk, by the way. Just loved it.

Kind regards etc

PS. your word verification thing has been playing up badly. Most frustrating.

Anonymous said...

this is a test of the word verification

THE PERIODIC ENGLISHMAN said...

But did it work, Anonymous?

nmj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nmj said...

Hey Signs, I was never interested in sport even before the ME days, was too busy studying. However, I was in the B hockey team at school, ie the crap one, & I scored a goal once by accident & everyone was cheering me, they didn't realise I hadn't meant it. I love that you got a gold medal & while PE's observation about the anorac is wildly amusing (hello, darling PE), did he expect you to be going around in an evening dress as a medal-winning schoolgirl? Don't let him ruin your shine, Signs. Tell me, did he meet your friends yet, his wee fan club - he has been very excited about it? (& that was me deleting my mistakes above)

Reading the Signs said...

Hello Mr. P.Englishman - that was me, trying from our other account, (because the letters don't come up on mine) and it went through no problem. I have noticed that on nmj's I always have to do the letters twice. Is it like that or worse? If so I don't know how to fix it.

Thank you for the warm response which is much appreciated. Sad: this is interesting. I was not feeling sad when I wrote the post but I can see that there is an aspect of my style which leans towards the melancholic, and I do not refer to the lovely psychotherapist who goes by the name of Melancholy. You remember about the four temperaments from your Steiner school years? I have a fair bit of choleric and sanguine in me as well, but the melancholic does seem to express itself quite often in my writing. Perhaps anything that is reflective about the past will have this tendency. I was in a sense (obliquely, I must admit) celebrating my non-competitive stance.
These words - I have only recently learned that lurking means looking at a blog without commenting. And I'm sure you're right that nothing more was meant, just that the word itself is a bit shadowy and maybe took me by surprise.
To anyone stopping by here, having a look or a listen: greetings.

Hope this find you in the pink again, Mr. P.E.

Ms Melancholy said...

I know you will know this but, standing apart from the competitive game, behind the line, could also be seen as a strategic move in the game - because of course one then has nothing to lose (considering my own stance here).

I think you are spot on here, Ms Signs, and it sums up my own position nicely. Competing from a non-competing place, as it were. I did once get very competitive at a 'for fun' music quiz at a very middle class dinner party. And I made a total arse of myself, so keen was I to win. It was a sobering moment, particularly considering how much red wine I had drunk. I have been very mindful of the nature of competition since.

I am so jealous that you went to a school that taught the four temperaments. I have a fair dose of choleric, alongside my melancholia, which causes me grief at times. Cholerics are known for their competitive spirit. It's just that my early years didn't exactly encourage a healthy expression of it. I will stick to feminist wrestling. No winners, big hugs.

Reading the Signs said...

nmj, you slipped by me invisibly there - have just been posting over at yours, having spotted those cheeky remarks by Mr.PE.

When I said anorak, of course I meant ski jacket - the thing with elasticated sleeves and padding to keep you warm. Words, words.

Mr. PE's wee fan club will be looking in here, oh yes. Lurking, my dears? Of course they are too well brought up to show themselves. But I may be wrong.

Reading the Signs said...

and now I see that you too slipped by me, ms m.

Re. the four temperaments: it isn't that we were taught about them as pupils, but it's an aspect of the whole philosophy (my own kids went to a Steiner school for a while too - where teachers try to meet the "being" of the child, including the particular temperament. It is on the one hand a lovely notion and wonderful if one gets it right - but it can, of course, go wrong because of how complex we humans are. I'm not saying that the temperament of the child is all that is considered, but it can be a bit crude in the wrong hands. It can be a good way of assessing things for oneself and people close to us, though, so one works with, rather than against, temperament.

THE PERIODIC ENGLISHMAN said...

Hello - I've been at NMJ's, but she's out. How selfish is that? Anyway, I briefly assured you that my arrival here had been in good faith. What happens after the arrival, of course, may well be something altogether different. Either way, nothing is my fault. Ever.

Yes, by the way, that was exactly the problem. The letters, if they appeared at all, had to be repeatedly typed in. It happens a lot and is very annoying.

I don't remember ever feeling that I was on the receiving end of anything untoward or unusual at Steiners. As children, we were left entirely in the dark as to what the school might be about. I can't make up my mind as to whether this was a good thing or not.

I hardly think I would have been interested as a child, though. So who knows? I have a brief flickering of recognition when you mention the four temperaments - but this may just be something I found out about later.

NMJ - Yes, I did expect her to be going around in an evening dress as a medal-winning schoolgirl. What of it? Would it have hurt RTS to lie? I hardly think so. Had I been telling the story about myself, NMJ, I think you'll find that I would have been wearing something altogether more fetching and dramatic. An anorak? Please.

RTS - did you feel your children gained anything by going (briefly) to a Steiner school? Many parents would take their children out of the system after Class 8 (about 13 - 14yrs old, I think) and place them in a "normal" school - reasoning, I believe, that this would improve their academic performance. They'd got their arty fix and it was time to get real. Well. This would make me bash my knitted woolen sheep quite vigorously on the table. Could they not see what we were achieving? I would shriek indignantly, as I waved Lamby furiously before their eyes.

So basically, yes, I'm pretty much right again. (although I forget what I was actually trying to be right about this time - it happens, get over it, move on).

I was very interested to read the "competing from a non-competing place" remark from Ms Melancholy (hello therapist - sober up, please). I wonder if it is possible to NOT compete from a non-competing place. Even in the midst of a competition. Certainly, this is my default setting. I'm not joking. But then by being seen to not compete, you are under a cloud of suspicion - ha! they're just trying to compete on the sly by pretending not to compete. That sort of thing. I may need to lie down. Did that even come close to making any kind of sense?

I'll be over later, if that's okay, to see you again.

Kind regards etc....

(the thing is playing up again - I've been here for ages trying to break into your house. I'll try again)

Reading the Signs said...

Righto Mr. PE, I have got rid of the word verification thing as one or two others have also complained about this. I've enabled comment moderation in case of spammers and co.

Steiner schooling suited one very well, the other not so much. Neither of them went all the way through, but that wasn't because I was twitchy about academic success.

Mr. PE, when are you going to put up a new post and/or admit visitors to comment over at yours? Of course you are welcome here, but is an Englishman's home not his castle? Especially one who is always right?

Gael said...

Me again. The periodic Englishman was entirely correct in his interpretation of my meaning. In fact the confusion is a great example of why I hesitate to comment. So I'll shut up now, before I dig myself another hole.

Reading the Signs said...

hey, you again, no worries, just me not getting it - you are welcome to come back and comment, or lurk.

THE PERIODIC ENGLISHMAN said...

Hello RTS - let me know how the comment moderation thing goes, would you? I had been considering it once, but then thought perhaps it would feel too much like hard work. I'll need to ask NMJ, in fact.

Now, you see, you will have the pressure of trying to maintain the flow. No-one will know what anyone else has said, until you release it for public consumption. Am I making you feel bad about yourself, yet? And worse, much worse, I can't see my own lovely contributions until someone else says so. That hurts.

I still have it in mind, however, to try something similar myself. So do let me know how it goes. I really dislike spammers, by the way. It seems so unfair that their wretched actions should force others to take defensive measures. Necessary defensive measures, I should add.

It's true, yes, my blog is both my home and my castle. Truer still, however, that I am always right. It's a burden, certainly. I just want to be like everyone else and get things wrong once in a while. Can you feel my anguish? Still, I'm a trooper, and there's work to be done etc...

I'm not sure when I'll do another post, RTS. Quite soon probably. I'm certainly not in any hurry to do so, and I certainly have nothing to say. Mind you, that's never stopped me before. Hmm. I should maybe just convert it into a chatroom, because that would suit me better.

Or a golf course, perhaps, because I hear there's good money in that (esp. with summer coming up and everything). Or I might just start writing my posts in your comments section - although your latest wheeze of moderating your comments may rather stop this self-aggrandising plan in it's tracks. Damn.

But I don't know, really. I like to hang about in other people's blogs best of all.

Gael - if RTS hasn't already said so, COME BACK. Even if you did dig a hole for yourself - which you emphatically did not - but even if you did, don't worry. I do this all the time. In fact, I spend a large part of my day digging extravagantly large holes for myself. That doesn't matter, though. The real fun is in trying to get out of them.

RTS - I'll try to let you know when I have finished converting my blog into a golf course, and then you can come over and play a round with me. There is no membership policy and admission is free. Expect to meet dismaying amounts of poorly dressed Japanese men.

What am I talking about?

Ms Melancholy said...

It is on the one hand a lovely notion and wonderful if one gets it right - but it can, of course, go wrong because of how complex we humans are.

I think that is the problem with any system that attempts to categorise human behaviour. It has to be used with intelligence, otherwise it can become a barrier to understanding rather than an aid to understanding. It's better than having no understanding at all though. Shan't say anymore, for fear of seriously offending mainstream teachers out there.

Reading the Signs said...

well Mr. PE, it's been you and Ms M so far and it's fine, apart from getting the message twice (second time is to let one know it's been published). But I'll keep you posted if I change my mind.

and I like what you said about digging holes, hope gael sees it, blogosphere can be somewhat overwhelming.

I'll come and walk on the golf course but don't play it. Never mind, I'll bring sandwiches and lemonade. Meanwhile you can carry on being a travelling house guest on various blogs because you seem to be welcome on all of them.

Ms M, I think you have beautifully summed it up. And you have talked about this very thing in some of your posts, I remember.

Liz said...

Well first I want to say that I think anoraks can be very sexy, you've obviously not seen Signs in one--well I'm not sure I have either actually, but I imagine it well. Secondly, where and how can I get in on some of this feminist wrestling?? Anyone up for a game of cards, dice? I love board games but not real games where a ball of any sort (or a puck) is involved. I've had too many instances of smashed glasses and bloody body parts to enjoy that. It's not that I'm competitive, just very very bad at sport.

Reading the Signs said...

I look pretty cool in anoraks as it happens, Liz - especially if worn over purple shell suit trousers.

For feminist wrestling, go and pay a visit at Ms Melancholy's (see above). She's very friendly. Say I sent you. I should warn you that there's mud involved. You may like that sort of thing though.

THE PERIODIC ENGLISHMAN said...

Hello again, RTS. One day, in the very near future, I will actually get myself up to speed with your blog and comment on a post the very same day it appears.

Until that day, however, I find myself back here. We caught up with each other last night a couple of posts back, and I liked that very much - and tonight, I have edged that little bit nearer to the present day with my return to this space. Tomorrow, I may just overtake you, who knows? I could rush forward to Friday and simply hang about nonchalantly in the future waiting for you to arrive. This seems unlikely, though.

Anyway, after that pitifully short introduction: hello. Is it at all possible that I have just failed to meet Liz, again? Is this actually happening to me? Surely, RTS, you have an obligation to come and tell me when someone new can be met in your blog. I'm not quite sure why such an obligation should exist, but feel as adamant about this as it is possible to be, whilst knowing full well that I'm wrong. And that's pretty adamant, let me tell you.

I really enjoyed going through your blog the other night - I know, I've told you this already, but where is the harm in saying it again? Hmm?

Oh, and I've voted for you, AGAIN. I wasn't quite sure how this action would find you. You did say, however, that you were going to enter into the spirit of things. I'm still licking my wounds, as you can imagine.

And Liz, if you're there, I have seen RTS in her anorak on many an occasion, I'll have you know. Me and Signs go back a long way. Don't we, Mary? Sue? Geraldine? Bethany? Lucy? DEREK?

Sorry, RTS - I'm feeling far too happy and boisterous today. I should go to bed. Did Liz ever go to Melancholy's house, by the way? I hope so. It's good there, too.

See you soon, RTS. You too, Liz, hopefully. And Gael, come to think of it. Where is Gael?

Kind regards etc....

Happy Englishman

THE PERIODIC ENGLISHMAN said...

Back to the old system of word verification? Probably better this way, all things considered.

And I meant to say ski jacket, of course, not anorak. So watch it.

Reading the Signs said...

Yes, I found the comment moderation quite a pain. Don't really recommend it, unless there is good reason.

I rather like the idea of you being slightly ahead of me. So I put up a new post and there you are with a comment already in place. It means you would either have to read my mind or put something up that would be relevant to anything I might say - so nothing too particular.

Don't really know what's going on with Battle of the Blogs. I saw that my "opponent" said that she didn't want to be part of it, so I put something up saying that was ok by me (my heart not really being in it an all). But I felt rather bad for the organiser who has put in all this work. And I see the voting is still going on, and don't see why I should go out with a whimper. So your vote is appreciated.

I'm sure Liz is lurking somewhere - catch her at my last post, perhaps.

Kind regards etc.

(how did you know Lucy was the name I always wanted as a child. I tell you, life ain't easy for a girl named Derek.)