The Serenity Prayer. We’ve all heard of it. What is it again, exactly? This from Wikipedia:
‘The Serenity Prayer is a prayer written by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971). It is commonly quoted as:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.’
….and the stushie going on in the UK Parliament at the moment about Boris Johnson breaking international law? What’s that about, exactly?
This from esteemed organ Scottish Legal News:
‘The UK Internal Market Bill allows ministers to “disapply” rules agreed over the goods that cross between Britain and Northern Ireland. Section 45(1) of the Bill states that certain provisions “have effect notwithstanding any relevant international or domestic law with which they may be incompatible or inconsistent”.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis conceded that the bill would break international law in a “specific and limited way” raising a furore over the government’s contempt for international treaties. This has led Lord Keen of Elie QC, the UK Government’s principal legal adviser in Scotland, to resign.’
England’s principal law officers, incidentally, have still to resign. Just saying. Anyway, the phrase encouraged an amusing meme on Twitter: ruin a film title by adding ‘in a specific and limited way.’ My mate Keith came up with The Empire Strikes Back In A Specific And Limited Way. My best shot was Four Weddings And, In A Specific And Limited Way, A Funeral.
What exactly does that all have to do with the Serenity Prayer? Well, on Friday morning, between around 9.30 and 11.55, I experienced a state of serenity. But only in a specific and limited way.
Apart from the distant sound of Steven across the road spending his Friday morning hoovering the car, all that I could hear in the garden was birdsong. The garden itself sat in a fathoms-deep golden well of autumn light. I had it and the house to myself.
I had spent the first part of the morning making a start on a challenging and exciting work project – not because I had to, but because I wanted to. Then I had switched to songwriting, finishing one song and writing new lyrics for another.
I made myself tea in a mug of my own design and, on the way to the seat at the top, took some seasonal pictures of the garden, as you’ll see. Then I sat with my old-fashioned notebook and a newspaper, reading, writing, and experiencing serenity.
The rest of the day wasn’t too shoddy either. I met an old pal for lunch, then walked home and spent the afternoon doing stuff I wanted to do. I made my Portuguese Roast Chicken for our evening meal, Mrs F and I spoke to Daughter and Heiress by phone; there were a couple of new wines to taste; arrangements were made to see family the next day. And so to bed. There was nothing that was not lovely about Friday, actually.
To paraphrase the Serenity Prayer, I felt able to accept a lot of stuff. If I wanted to be a bit sick-inducing, I’d say all of that happened because I’d had the courage to change things I could change: namely, my employment situation. However, rest assured, dear reader, it was serenity in a very specific and limited way.
Thursday had not gone so well. So, to fill out the Serenity Prayer a bit with specifics, here’s my contribution:
Lord (insert appropriate deity or philosophical alternative) grant me the serenity to accept that I cannot change the following:
- When my internet breaks, it will take an hour on the phone to get through to someone who can tell me there’s a network fault in my area and it might be fixed by 4 o’clock. But not definitely.
- In the course of that hour, I will need to summon Mrs F as the ‘account holder,’ and there will be two sets of security questions.
- That I’d better not get any of those questions even slightly wrong.
- That we can buy Mrs F a new mobile phone, but it’s down to us to contact the service provider for a new sim card EVEN WHEN THE SAME SHOP ORGANISED THE CONTRACT FOR US IN THE FIRST PLACE.
- That, despite being about the most careful people in the world about keeping contracts and so forth, the documentation about the phone contract will have disappeared into a wormhole in deep space. Or where the odd socks go, if that’s different.
- That, when we do get the right number to call the people we need to call to get a new sim card, we will be held in a queue, and that we will have to accept that our call is important to them, that a customer adviser will be with us as soon as possible, and that the shite music they blare at us in the meantime is a necessary component of the whole process.
- That, when we do get through, it won’t be as simple as the shop said.
And yes, Lord (insert appropriate deity or philosophical alternative) I do appreciate these could be categorised as first world problems, and not worthy of your immediate attention. Indeed, if giving them even the slightest bit of attention (‘your existential angst is important to us, and we’re working as hard as we can to connect you to one of the Heavenly Host as soon as possible’) will interrupt you smiting the anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, and anyone who ever thought Donald Trump talks a bit of sense, I’ll hang up now.
Please focus on the smiting, and step it up a bit if you can: these people seem to be on the increase. To be clear, I’m not even suggesting you do your smiting in a very specific and limited way. In a very general way is just fine.
Meantime, don’t worry about me. I’m grand. Most days are more like Friday than Thursday.
This week’s track is part of an ambitious project with my Isaac Brutal mate, Graham Crawford, which I hope will see the light of day some time. No guitars have been used in the course of this track! And no singing neither!
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this blog post, don’t call anyone. You’ll just be held in a queue.
An essay that goes here, there and almost everywhere. I like it! Here’s to many upcoming days like your most recent Friday.
Thanks Neil – and yes indeed!