I have been at this game for about ten years now, so you’d expect that I had the hang of it.
It’s certainly reasonable to assume that, at this stage, I’d know how to chat to yarn dyers, that I’d be adept at introducing myself to other designers, and that I would be capable of both formulating sentences and expressing myself intelligibly in front of people whose work I admire
But alas, I am not.
Well, in fact, I am. Intermittently.
But much like a kitchen tap with air in the pipes, I go on and off at a moment’s notice, and usually end up either disappointing, or startling my unfortunate, hapless victims.
I feel the need to apologise to the likes of Ysolda Teague (I didn’t mean to interrupt you mid conversational flow that time and cause an awkward silence), Kate Davies (it’s not you, trust me, it’s all me making those short exchanges unbearable), Louisa Harding (I didn’t snub you, I was just just scared!) and Kieran Foley (it seems every single compliment I come out with about your work ends up sounding like an insult, I have no idea why…) a huge apology for acting like a half human, half whirling dervish in their midst.
I have considered it may be a long, long, loooong-lived case of imposter syndrome, but I don’t think that’s the all of it, really.
In actual fact, I suspect it may be that I simply don’t know how to human.
Yes, I’m using human as a verb here, folks. Bare with me.
You see, I grew up in the country, and spent the vast majority of my formative years blissfully under or literally in one hedge or another (no, really), or in the middle of a field with sticks in my hair (no… really).
I made houses for myself out of oil barrels, and two by fours, and the giant, slate roof tiles left over from my aunt and uncle’s next door house build.
I made kilns and baked mud pottery; I hammered together rudimentary aeroplane-shaped swings and slung them up on the tired branches of ancient, groaning apple trees. I took time to identify and tag wildflowers along my country road with little, home-made flags so that I could come back in autumn and collect a few, precious seeds to add to my own, tiny wildflower meadow down by the rhubarb patch. I knit, and crocheted, and sewed on my Mam’s old hand-crank Singer sewing machine.
You’ll notice, perhaps, in all of this there’s no mention of other children, and so it was. Well there was my little sister, but she doesn’t count because she was younger and way, way cooler than I was (cooler than you Aoibhe?! Noooooo…), and seemed wholly uninterested in the somatic delights of hedge-sitting.
So, now, as a 36 year old, who is apparently supposed to be able to both adult AND human, I over-react when I’m in social situations and forget how to word.
You see, I panic, and I immediately misplace everything I know about the person I’m talking to. Even if I know them well. Even if I love their stuff. Even if I’m literally making one of their patterns at the time and adoring every minute of it. So, I can’t ask questions, in case I ask something dumb. I barely trust myself to say their name out loud, in case I garble it. I can’t comment on their work, in case I mix it up with someone else’s. Oh, boy, folks… honestly, the inside of my head is a mess.
So, I guess, this post is both an explanation, an apology, and a warning.
If you fall victim to my garbled babbling in the future, I am sorry, so so sorry. I’m really much calmer when there’s no one around.
If you HAVE fallen victim to it. I understand entirely if you resort to ducking behind the nearest available bush when you next suspect I’m around. I’d do the same thing if I had to witness me in a public setting. Trust me. It’s fine. I understand.
Just remember, I have long history of hiding in shrubbery, so I might already be in there …