The Worrying Thing

It’s a difficult time of year for those of us who are creatively challenged.

The world seems full of people baking and making, crafting and creating, bedecorating the halls with hand-wrought garlands and darling home-made candles. I try, I really do, but something is lost between the wish and the fulfillment. Last year’s Christmas cookies for the teachers looked like the bag of broken bits I used to get from the factory shop…if they’d been in the flight path of an icing fairy with a bad case of dysentery. I’m sticking with shop bought this year.

There is one making thing I’m good at, though.

I have an outstanding talent at making a mountain out of a molehill.

Give me a small trouble, an unlikely bad outcome, a glimpse of a theoretical calamity, and I will weave it into a beautifully detailed disaster scenario. I will embroider it with fine needlepoint work into a Bayeux Tapestry of catastrophe. A Catepestry. It will be the grit to my oyster, as I work it into a pearl of a problem to hang round my neck and bow me down with improbable weight.

Is it the result of an overproductive imagination? Years of reading, years of telling stories in my head hardened into a habit of foreseeing drama where there’s likely to be none? Is it the hangover of years of legal training and practice, a tendency to look at the everyday as if with well-honed hindsight in a court of law five years hence? It’s less a dread of bad things happening, more a fear of inadvertently sleepwalking into disaster, and I think the catastrophising is a futile attempt at self-protection: envisaging the worst-case scenario to banish it, much as I switch on the lights to turn shadow-monsters into their boring, banal, real-life shapes for my children.

It’s wearing and it’s wearying and it stultifies with the fear of Getting It Wrong.

Perhaps I should have another go at those biscuits after all.

What’s the worst that could happen?

(Don’t answer that)


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