Saturday, April 17, 2010

Can't Explain

The week started badly (depending on what day you start the week on). My beloved Spurs capitulated in the FA Cup semi-final and then Lee Westwood was beaten by a man inspired on the final round of the golfing show piece of the year - The Masters. I went to bed last Sunday night thinking that some days are just best spent under the covers, forgetting there's a world (and a general election) going on.

Monday didn't have the most auspicious of starts. my project, which I have referred to a number of times, is going along swimmingly, but sometimes shit happens and Monday morning I was left with no young people to teach older people how to Wii or whatever it is we do. If it hadn't been for a young volunteer, I would have had even more egg on my face. But from that point on it just started to get better...

In the afternoon, I spent an hour with a group of people in Wellingborough, showing them how to get their bid for funds into shape - the project has now gone from impossible to fund to a must include in the next budget rounds. On Tuesday, I was told that I was doing a really excellent job and to carry on doing what I'm doing. This might sound like great news, but when it was delivered it came as a huge relief. You see, that morning, when I arrived at the office, I was presented with literally loads of photocopies of an excerpt from the previous night's Evening Telegraph - Kettering's own newspaper. The clipping was a news story about my project and its public launch and, well, we're in the middle of a general election, in case you hadn't noticed, and I work for the council and well, the nerves from up high were almost visible. But, the piece was both benign and very positive and subsequently I soaked up the praise rather than wondering if I was going to be a step closer to a P45.

Wednesday was another Intergenerational session and another success, despite some of our equipment being either temperamental or just not working. Wednesday night was a nail-bitingly awful evening that ended with huge elation. Spurs had just beaten the dreaded South London Woolwich Arsenal team at football, for the first time in the league since 1999. Could it get much better?

Being a glass half full kind of person, and a Spurs fan, I tend to look at all the good that is happening around me and then spend the rest of the time I should be enjoying myself worrying about when and how its all going to go wrong. Thursday was causing havoc with my nerves and despite all the good around me, I was a big bag of stress. I shouldn't have worried...

The Intergenerational project I do, to recap for those who missed it or didn't read about it, is taking young people into the community and getting them to show the over 50s how to use all that confusing modern gadgetry that is just an anathema to them all. This, of course, is a front, what it really is doing is sitting these two groups down together and getting them to talk. It has been simple and highly effective; but being me, I take everything really personally and failure isn't an option.

I set up a partnership with Northamptonshire Libraries, whereby I took groups of young people, armed with our cache of modern technology, into libraries around the county and offer to show people how to use the things they're frightened to use; or if nothing else, have a go on the Wii machine. As our funding originated from the east of Northants, we held the first one in the quaint little library in Thrapston (just off the A14 and between Corby and nowhere else in particular). Careful planning and much hand wringing passed and on Thursday it was D-Day. I took along 4 young people and the library got a few of their members in to help, so we had 9 young people in total; we kicked off at 10.30 and within minutes we had an elderly woman asking for help with her new laptop; several men who didn't have a clue how to use their mobile phones and a man who wanted to know how to set a Wii machine up. I stood there with an increasingly wide grin appearing on my face; my two bosses, both in attendance, had the same.

The sight of a 17 year old showing an 82 year old how to play the games on his mobile phone will stick with me until I die.

The grin stayed on my face for the rest of the day, well into the evening and throughout Friday. I was so proud of my young people, they did brill! My project was justified in one fell swoop and the big wigs from the library were all in rapture at the success of the thing. Result - all round!

I could have woken up in a bed of cow shit with electrodes connected to my delicate bits on Friday morning and I wouldn't have cared less. I've had some fantastic days since I started working with people; going into the care industry was the best thing that could ever have happened to me and on Thursday, after 9 years of doing this thing, I finally felt like I had achieved something tangible - something I could say, "Hey, look what I did!" (Except, I could never have done it without my fantastic young people, my brilliant bosses and the support of a lot of people).

Frankly, times like these have to be treasured.

It would be good for this positive time to extend for just a few more days. I have a busy, but hopefully fun-filled, long weekend ahead of me, culminating in that 48th birthday thing. Just so long as the food is good, the result is right and the weather stays warm, I'll be a happy man.

There's one thing that would make it even better, but that's a real long shot...

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