Uncommon sense

I’ve been accused of many things. Some – if not most – manifesting to the big difference between ‘waving my arms shouting big ideas’ and the actual delivery of these crowd pleasing promises. But yesterday I was blind sided by something tangential with a heartfelt “You have No Common Sense whatsoever“* being dropped into a pit of quite ego-stroking flattery.

What struck me most was the assertion that us Right-Brained “Look out of the Window and make something up” types can not – and should not – belittle our cerebral creativeness with the desultory drudgery of everyday tasks such as remembering how door handles work.

This bothered me a little because I’ve always craved the heavy competence that comes with practicality, but when God was handing out those kind of skills, I was accidentally setting fire to an Angel. So let’s examine the weighty term “Common Sense” shall we as, from my analysis, it is neither very common nor entirely bedded in sense.

First definition is all about practicality especially in the face of a crisis. Take, for example, when our state of the art heating system morphed to state of the ark when pissing mains pressure hot water down the sitting room wall. I was your shrieking Joe Pesci to Carol’s unflappable Danny Glover but afterwards I was the voice of calm whilst the remainder of the family refused to accept that one crap joint does not put canoe building at the top of your agenda for “Things to do at 1am in the morning

So if it’s not all doing the right thing when everyone else is considering the benefits of personal explosion, maybe the focus should shift to an all round excellence in the shed. Common Sense is merely outstanding tool usage and the genetic ability to bevel. I’ve met people like this who can turn their hand to absolutely anything; wood into furniture, metal into cars, electronics into weapons and these people all have a name. It’s engineer and frankly they shouldn’t be allowed outside without a minder and a a translater.

Flip side is the practical types who can explain – to the point of eye-forking tedium – how stuff works, but let them within three metres of a power tool and there’s a good chance the world will end. And not in a good way. So I’m no closer to what ‘Common Sense’ may be unless it’s something a little less aspirational. Are we talking about choosing to mitigate risk when considering reward? Is it saying “no” when “yes” might be quite a lot more fun? Especially if whipped cream and one of the Mynogue’s may be involved.

I hope so. Because – at 42 – I’m pretty well set on not dying wondering. Most of my biggest mistakes** resulted from an impulsiveness that treasures a quick hit over a long term benefit. A cheap laugh rather than sparing a feeling. 30 seconds of stupidity instead of choosing a line better suited to my skills. A “Fuck it, that’ll go” rather than a week in Hospital. Twenty seconds of bullshit over 20 hours of research. Maybe Common Sense is nothing more than understanding you can be stupid or lazy, but not both.

You see I’m starting to find Common sense, well, a little dull. Let’s look at another human attribute shall we? For example being Brave, which I’ve always associated with a lack of imagination and a DNA lacking the mortality gene. But you will never feel more alive than when wrapping cowardice in a bravery straitjacket and trusting life to something other than stuff that you know is unlikely to kill you.

Common Sense starts to feel like being old. A good mate of mine was 40 years old at the age of sixteen. He’s not changed much in twenty five years except for a big house and even larger wine cellar. He is the personification of common sense; not dull, not boring just happy with his lot and plug-wiringly competent. He cannot understand, never mind answer, my question “Is this it then? Is this as good as it gets, is this ENOUGH?”

Stop being a dick Al he tells me. You’re not an astronaut and you never will me, but you’re luckier than most people. Get a grip, don’t shoot for the moon, disappointment is omnipresent. It’s out there waiting for you to fuck up. Stop wondering about what could be, and enjoy what you have. Now that sounds to me like common sense.

I’ll give it a miss thanks. While I can scare myself shitless on my bike, chuck toy gliders over landscape that feel like CGI, convince my kids that at least one of them is related to an elephant and make people laugh at me or with me, I’m not very interested in conformity, acceptance or death by a thousand cuts.

I am thinking of this as Uncommon sense and I hope you can join me in raising a toast to its’ two fingered salute at this ever more regulated world.

* Not Carol. She worked that out LONG AGO. About ten minutes after we met probably.

** I’ve asked my archivist, and she tells me this is true. Although there’s a few thousand examples to consider.

10 thoughts on “Uncommon sense

  1. Dave


    I’m in the throes of going back to work after my 5mnth enforced lay off (broken back/climbing in swiss alps). The amount of people the just don’t understand why i want to continue climbing and especially want to go back to the alps (maybe not next week – but next year, give me a chance still another 2 mnths of physio to go).

    Its the same with biking, i fell off jan last year, did i get up dust off and get back on the bike? you betcha.. i might have suffered the next few weeks – but it’s that pitting yourself against the mark and seeing if you can come out smiling. I just don’t see how the other lot live, crossing the road being the most dangerous thing they do.

  2. Alex

    Bloody hell Dave. You have been in the wars. Is there any part of you not battered or broken?

    What kind of fall was it to break your back? Blimey!

  3. Dave

    There’s quite a few bits not broken and i’d like them to stay that way too!

    re fall: a long and painfull one? Mate and i were acclimatising in zermatt to do the matterhorn, doing some of the other peaks about there. We were roped up, I had dropped out of sight of mate so a bit of slack coupled with a swing + 4m fall meant i swung with my back into the wall. Fractured 2 vertabrae and compressed a disk. But walked off the mountain, ok slowly 9hrs after fall – was a 17 hr day total. Then walked down from the hut to valley, and finally after 2 more nights of camping took myself to the hosp in some serious pain (well ok the first night wasn’t too bad – but lots of beer was involved) and got the first diagnosis + given some drugs. Flew back to UK where they spotted the other break and the disk got some much stronger drugs, a back brace and told not to move too much or lift anything! Copious amounts of physio later and here i am…

    it will all go back to normal, but it just needs more time.

  4. common sense is over rated – I was playing* with a reflex hammer whilst listening to a physio explaining how to use them only to watch the head of said hammer fly across the room and skelp her in the chest :O

    as for reaching for the stars – well i’m nearly 28, in my third 1st year of uni, not a penny to my name but I’m as happy as sandboy**, I figure even if i fall short of the stars i’ll still hit the tops of some trees***

    *I wish I could say I was using it constructively
    **realised i’ve no idea what a sandboy is
    ***and probably suffer the injuries described above by Dave (get well soon!)

  5. Alex

    Dave – Ow. Well it’s good you’re on the mend, but – again – ow! I blame that Singlespeed you bought, they are always responsible in the end for “bad things happening”!

    BD – it’s a topic I oft return to. It’s not even – for me – about being good at anything. Because I’m not really. It’s more refusing to accept the passage of time, and the fact that 99{45ac9c3234d371044e23e276755ef3a4dde8f1068375defba7d385ca3cd4deb2} of the population seem terribly concerned with stuff I really have no time for.

    But 28! I don’t even remember what I was doing at 28. Although strong drugs may have been involved at the time! Being skint is a normal fiscal state I Reckon; you finally get a few quid behind you and then you have kids!

  6. Dave

    i know.. and now i’m weak it’ll be doubly hard to ride it!

    and since i’m now in the chilterns (chesham) i’m going to need (need i say) a geared road bike if i’ve any chance of commuting to slough – the road out of amersham is a bitch loooong and 1:12 or something like that.

    but since i’ve yet to ride a bike i suppose it’d be wrong to buy one just yet…

  7. Pouch

    Common Sense is just a stick for parents to taunt kids with…. God love it šŸ™‚

    Its really all about the bigger picture, which could, quite frankly be anything.
    I tend to use common sense in conjunction with statistics so as to justify any impulsive decisions I may* have made.

    *or may not have

  8. urrgh! Doing things sensibly? that sounds really boring. As you say it’s just …not right. I’ll be much happier when I reach the grand of age of [whatever] knowing I’ve spent a bit of my time in a hospital bed with metal rods holding me in place or sitting there in a meeting feeling the scabs that no-one else can see gently weeping fluid onto my clothes.

    Can you imagine being asked as you reach your old age what you did that was special and sitting there thinking, ‘fuck, I’ve just realised, I never nearly died, what a plonker’?

    No way man. I’d rather sit there in my death bed covered in scars thinking, ‘yeah, I might never have been rich or famous but I scared the shit out of myself so many times I lost count and it was grade ‘A’ brilliant!’

  9. Alex

    I dunno. I have two from operations, one chainring slash that ended up getting infected, two bits of chipped bones floating around somewhere and a big gash on my forehead where I nutted a car. Maybe I’m just clumsy šŸ™‚

    I’ve tried sensible. It doesn’t work for me. There are many, many others who are naturals at it. Poor sods.

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