Following the recent departure of number one son to Manchester (see “University challenge”), on Sunday afternoon I decided to address a small issue that's been troubling me for a while. For several years, in fact. When I say troubling, I mean causing my blood to simmer gently on a pretty much permanent basis, and to boil over about once a week, often punctuated by the phrase "...and tidy your @*~%#& bedroom!"
I've often wondered whether life would have been easier if we'd had girls instead of boys. I imagine that they're probably altogether more wholesome and helpful creatures who do things like washing up (and just general washing); and being pleasant and considerate to their wonderful parents; and not trashing the whole house; and keeping their @*~%#& rooms tidy. I'll never know though, because we were blessed (at least I think that's the right word) with two boys. Perhaps someone can enlighten me.
Anyway, I ventured into my son's now vacant bedroom, bin bags in hand, to begin the process of decontamination. I picked my way - perhaps a more accurate word would be "waded" - through the debris on the floor and set to, starting with his desk and the area beneath it, soon regretting my lack of thought for any personal protective equipment.
It was a bit like an archaeological dig : carefully scraping away one layer of compacted debris to reveal the layer beneath; painstakingly liberating any interesting, useful or valuable artefacts from the years of accumulated sediment and carting the spoil away. Amongst other things, some of which are best left undescribed, I retrieved the following items from his desk and his floor :
- Four teaspoons, one knife, one fork, two plates and five plastic food containers, two containing several species of living organism;
- Seven socks, all odd, which goes some way to explaining a conundrum that's been puzzling me for some time;
- The plastic tops from five Pringles tubes - although, strangely, only one Pringles tube - and several dozen (I didn't actually count them) sweet wrappers;
- One empty beer can and one empty beer bottle - empty, that is, apart from the metal tube jammed in the top and welded in place with a lump of melted plastic - I've no idea, you tell me!;
- Twelve ballpoint pens (helping to explain why I can never find one when I need one) seven pencils (ditto) and fourteen (yes, fourteen!) paintbrushes;
- The guitar tuner that we couldn't find, despite searching high and low (clearly not low enough) before we left for Manchester;
- And...wait for it... tucked in the corner, one almost empty pedal bin!
As so often happens, the experience made me think of some of the issues I come across from time to time with various organisations’ business continuity arrangements. Because it can be very revealing to dig beneath the surface of one’s business continuity strategies and plans.
It's often surprising and enlightening to see what's actually there when you scrape away the superficial layer(s) and examine what's underneath (see also "A bumpy landing"). With some plans the important or useful stuff is buried beneath layers of superfluousness (to put it politely). It's usually far more beneficial to move it to the surface where it can be easily found and to discard some of the "sediment".
We did another Skype call with number one son the other day and I just couldn't resist asking him to hold up his webcam and show me his bedroom floor. I'm delighted to say that for the first time in a very long time I didn't have to suggest that he tidies his @*~%#& room. I'm just off for a little chat with number two son now!